Justice for the 800 Tuam babies »« Open thread for episode #870

Comments

  1. Lea says

    If you do revive the Godless Bitches podcast, will you consider changing the name? The “Bitches” part I mean….seems to me it 1) is a derogatory term and 2) gender-exclusive (no possibility of ever having a male cohost?).

  2. xscd says

    Tracie makes an important distinction that the “tu quoque” (“you too!”) logical fallacy is only a fallacy if it’s used to try to justify the position, argument, or actions of the person making the “you too” statement.

    “You’re a brain in a vat!” — “Well you’re a brain in a vat too!”

  3. AhmNee says

    Isn’t the proper response to that, “that means I don’t have to listen to a word you say because you don’t exist.”?

  4. Narf says

    “If you’re a brain in a vat, then why are you imagining someone as aggravating as me?”

  5. kimsland says

    These shows should really be on public TV (APT BBC ABC etc).
    I’m hoping your promotional staff have looked into this.

  6. kimsland says

    My confirmation email states: Secure Connection Failed
    So, I hope it went through?

  7. Matt Gerrans says

    Well, that’s true of many (maybe even all?) logical fallacies. That is why the best of them are effective on people who don’t think all that critically. They have some of the feel of a good point and some of them might even be legitimate when used correctly. Often though, even when people try to deny their use of a particular fallacy outright, they can’t plausibly deny that it was at least a red herring.

    In a recent nearby thread, some guy was employing the tu quoque fallacy (along with a lot of ad hominem slathered rather generously and a generous helping of appeal to consequences) to absolve the Catholic Church of its facilitation of child molestation by saying other organizations do bad things too. That’s a fallacy on two levels: first, tu quoque proper and second, even if the claimant back-pedals and says they weren’t saying that (denying the tu quoque), it is at best a red herring, because it is just a distraction from the point being discussed.

  8. Narf says

    There are several logical fallacies that have very specific structures and such, too. We had someone several months back running around screaming about the naturalistic fallacy, when no such thing had occurred. We were having a discussion about our evolutionary heritage, or something similar, and how we have to work hard to compensate for things programmed into us by our instincts.

    His perception seems to have been that if you use the word nature in an argument or refer to anything in nature, in any vague way, you’re committing a naturalistic fallacy. No, there’s a specific formulation that makes it a fallacy, which is that if something occurs in nature, it’s good.

    Even more painful is one usage that I’ve seen from some anti-gay bigots. They’ll say that homosexuality is a result of man’s sin, as evidenced by the fact that only humans engage in homosexual behavior. When we, the non-bigots, turn around and point out that there are in fact many species that engage in homosexual behavior, they accuse us of making a naturalistic fallacy, because we said that homosexuality is good, because it occurs in nature.

    #1, you made the naturalistic fallacy (that homosexuality is bad, because it doesn’t occur in nature), and we only pointed out that even if it wasn’t a fallacy, you would still be horribly wrong, because … well, you’re wrong.

    And #2, we never said that it was good. We only said that homosexuality is a thing, and some people like it … and without a good reason to oppose it, which you don’t have, they can freaking do what they like with other consenting adults.

  9. Nate says

    As a male, what is wrong with gender-exclusive content? The future of my children depends on the empowerment of women… more power to them! Although I admit I cannot know, I feel like a message for women from women has more power.

    As for derogatory, I reject that some words synonymous with “acceptable words” are can be considered derogatory.

  10. Andrew Ryan says

    Yup, this happens all the time. Fortunately if happens regularly and predictably enough now that one can now head off their response ahead of time.

    I wonder if it’s simply poor debating on their part, or a deliberate disingenuous trap, like telling someone they’re always starting arguments in the hope they’ll say “No I’m not”, so you can reply “There you go, disagreeing again!”.

  11. ChaosS says

    I usually go the other way and argue that driving cars, shopping at stores, using medicine, etc… are also all unnatural behavior… why aren’t you against those activities?

  12. Russell Glasser says

    Just want to say that men have been guests on Godless Bitches before. I have asked if I could be on sometime, and they said I could, even though I never have gotten around to it. If I do, I’d gladly call myself an honorary bitch.

  13. says

    There is one thing I think the hosts may have missed on the tu quoque fallacy is with implied arguments. Tracie (and Russell agreed), if I recall, was saying pointing out hypocrisy is not a fallacy. It’s only a fallacy when the person adds something like, “Therefore, your criticism is invalid” that it becomes a fallacy. Well, I’m looking at another post on the FTB network where a commenter keeps calling out hypocrisy. They’re not actually explicitly stating that conclusion that the criticism is invalid, but they’re not otherwise addressing the criticism, so it seems like an implied tu quoque.

  14. Russell Glasser says

    I agree. I regret not scolding that caller as soon as he said that. I understand it led to a lot of bans in the chat room as they couldn’t wait to agree with the caller. PLEASE, viewers, just don’t do that.

  15. Matt Gerrans says

    You ought point to a specific post in there, instead of expecting everyone to sift through all that manure.

    It is a valid point you make though; someone is either pointing out what they perceive as hypocrisy to imply tu quoque, or it is a pointless tangent (red herring). If they are doing it without specifically saying what they mean to imply, then they are just adding some weaseliness to the red herring or tu quoque.

  16. says

    Beth has spent time explaining the name. it’s a method of owning the term and taking it back–much like what was done with “queer.” The fact that there is a gender disparaging term that can still offend, should be sufficient to demonstrate the justification for a demographic-based vehicle. In other words, the fact we have vile racist terms that still are in use in society and used with effect, shows racism is still an issue, and therefore justifies the existence of racially oriented vehicles that oppose racism.

    However, GB has many times explained they are a feminist podcast, and that they interpret that to be about gender equity for all people. However, it is publicly stated at their home page that part of the intent of the podcast is to “help increase the presence of women’s voices in the secular community.”

    As a woman who has been strongly encouraged to participate in the secular community by many diverse people, and a woman in the secular community who has no problem “being heard,” I was skeptical of the need for this podcast when I was invited to participate. However, I had to admit my assessment was a huge error, after doing a few episodes and finding out that there was, in fact, a great deal of need for such a program. Not only did it get a great deal of community response (mainly positive), but the fans, just from my subjective perspective of working on TAE for many years now, are far more dedicated to the cast.

    Beth nailed it, and it has been fairly successful.

  17. says

    The request is a little strange… it’s like the Christians who call into the only atheist show around, insisting that they give a chunk of their time for “equal representation” from opposing viewpoints… when the rest of the time the channel is practically back-to-back religious programming.

  18. says

    >His perception seems to have been that if you use the word nature in an argument or refer to anything in nature, in any vague way, you’re committing a naturalistic fallacy. No, there’s a specific formulation that makes it a fallacy, which is that if something occurs in nature, it’s good.

    Yes, this one is also heavily abused, especially by ethical vegans/’vegetarians, as a method of shifting the burden of proof. When I point out we are, in fact, omnivores, they incorrectly counter that I’m making a naturalistic fallacy–saying that eating meat is good. What I’m actually doing is pointing out that they must demonstrate their claim that eating meat is immoral–for an omnivore.

    1. You are claiming that eating meat is immoral for a species that scientific consensus has confirmed is classified “omnivore.”

    2. Since behaviors of species tend to be gauged by inherent natures of species (it is normal for a rattle snake to strike and poison things–ergo, this is exactly what I would expect rattle snakes to do, and if one was not doing this, I would wonder if something was wrong with it, because the behavior is an aberration; I also would find it odd to expect rattle snakes to not strike or poison, based on the facts of what we know/understand about rattle snakes. That is, I judge rattle snake behavior by what is factually known about the nature of the species), I would wonder how someone has concluded that we should judge human beings by non-human standards. What are we comparing humans TO, that they fail so miserably, as depraved, just by being innately human?

    I don’t think that asking that question falls under the “naturalistic fallacy”–but that is how it’s often treated in my experience when I address vegetarianism/veganism. Expecting humans to be different than they are by nature, can be done, but I hardly see how humans who do not comply can be judged as “bad” (immoral) humans–for behaving like humans…? I don’t assert it’s “good” to behave in line with your actual nature. But I do assert it’s to be expected, and one should not be condemned for exhibiting perfectly normal behaviors, thoughts and tendencies…isn’t that what the church does to us? Sets up a dehumanizing model of perfection, then judges us all failures unless we comply? I reject that for all the same reasons. If someone says that a human is immoral unless they’re monogamous, I’m going to ask why they expect humans to not behave like humans, and how they judge humans as a fail unless they act very unnaturally for what constitutes human behavior. If someone WANTS to be monogamous, I don’t say that is “wrong.” But if they begin condemning all the rest of humanity for not jumping on that band wagon, I think it’s fair to ask where that metric has come from. And I don’t see that a naturalistic fallacy.

  19. says

    LOL…what promotional staff? We are a handful of volunteers in a studio supported by a local nonprofit secular group with less than 200 members. I mean, thank you for the well wishes and the compliment, but we’re a small operation. :)

  20. says

    Yeah, on the air, I am far more lenient than in the e-mails we get. On the show, I just tend to make light or let it slide off just to keep things moving. But in e-mail, I generally don’t even reply to those types of letters. And on the RARE occasion they get more graphic, I might send someone a “don’t ever contact me again” note just to cover my bases, so they know to never contact me–because that’s just weird.

    To be fair, someone wrote to us once to ask Matt to marry them–so it’s not just the female hosts.

    I’m sorry it led to bans, but it can degenerate very quickly, I’m sure, once that line has been crossed. I might have better responded to the call with something like “I’m married, but if I weren’t, I’d totally accept a proposal from a stranger over the phone!” That would have been both humorous, and also have gotten the point across as to how odd it was.

  21. says

    I’m not sure I’d call it a pointless tangent. I would agree it’s tangential, but not pointless. Off topic, but a fair point of curiosity. If I see someone who beats their kids railing against people who beat their kids, I think that immediately makes most people think “Wait…if you’re so against it, how do you justify what you do?” I don’t see that as an unfair or even an odd question to ask.

    Additionally, what if, as well, the person being criticized does not accept the criticism as valid, and they retort that their actions are not really that bad? And their point is to show that even the person being critical doesn’t deem the behavior as all that bad? So, for example, let’s say Ted Haggard is railing on gays, and a gay person says “I don’t see what’s so wrong with it–and additionally, you can’t think it’s as bad as you’re claiming, or you wouldn’t be going to the “boy massage” therapist you keep seeing.” In such a case, they don’t even feel their actions NEED justification, as they don’t see the claim homosexuality is wrong as even having foundation/merit. However, they wish to demonstrate that the person being critical is also being dishonest in their claim that even they find it harmful or offensive. How is that not on point–to point out the other party is arguing dishonestly?

  22. Lea says

    I didn’t mean to imply that I object to the idea of a feminist or all-woman podcast–I’m very supportive of that. As for the idea of “owning” or taking back the term: I figured that is what the idea was, but don’t agree that it works. I don’t like the word and don’t use it, but it’s your podcast and totally your choice. I’m not offended and it wouldn’t stop me from listening; just offering my feedback as a woman.

  23. Lea says

    Huh? Why do you think my request is the slightest bit like that? Did you interpret it to mean I was demanding that men be given equal time on it? Read more carefully.

  24. says

    That’s the implication. If you’re asking for a gender-neutral name, you are, in fact, asking for male involvement, otherwise, the name would not be an issue in that regard.

  25. Matt Gerrans says

    I think it is still a red herring at best. A smoker can quite rationally argue that smoking is a bad thing, is bad for the people who do it, bad for the people who are nearby and is generally a immoral. Pointing out that the person smokes herself doesn’t mean the argument any less valid.

    I guess, on the other hand, if the person would benefit from some course of action that’s being argued, then the hypocrisy angle would be valid. Eg. a Phillip Morris executive arguing that smoking isn’t addictive and is a great pastime for children.

  26. Lea says

    You are simply wrong and have no basis to conclude that I asked for “male involvement”. At least you’ve backed off a step from claiming I demanded “equal representation” for men. Now go back and read it one more time and maybe you can finally accept that I did neither.

  27. Muz says

    So far afield from atheism but the relative risk involved in taking a phone call while driving is interesting, particularly with the various methods.
    A wireless link to the stereo system should be ok, as there’s nothing really that different about it than talking to a person in the car if the system is set up properly ( and you’re not actually doing the dialing and so forth while driving).
    I mean, arguably the safest of all is no talking, no radio, no music, no unnecessary distractions of any sort. But the real concern of late is people convinced you can drive ok while holding a phone to your face and/ or messaging at the same time. There’s probably some case to be made that many people talking on the phone behave differently than talking to someone in the car, giving the phone undue concentration,. and the other person isn’t there to moderate their conversation or go “look out!” according to what’s on the road.
    A blanket ‘no calls while driving’ advice to the general public seems wise. At the same time a wireless system you don’t physically interact with should be mostly ok.
    It’s a tricky question.

  28. adamah says

    Great show, Russell and Tracie!

    To the ex-Muslim caller asking for ways to deal with the “No True Scotsman” thing, I’m not sure if there’s parallels in Islamist beliefs, but it should NEVER be a problem with Xians, since it implies they don’t understand and/or follow their beloved Bible (surprise, surprise….).

    I’d recommend this tactic used as a final resort, since theists absolutely HATE IT when an atheist uses the Bible against them (all the worse when they know you’re RIGHT, lol)!

    Ask them innocently, “Oh, so you don’t actually believe what Jesus told you, in Matt 25:36?”

    When they give you a blank stare of non-recognition, remind them it’s Jesus’ ‘parable of the sheeps and goats’, where Jesus says it’s HIS sole responsibility to pass judgment on humans on the Day Of Judgment to determine who’s one of his ‘sheep’ and who’s a ‘goat’. It’s NOT the Xian’s job to decide who’s a “true Xian” and who’s not, since it’s the gig of sweet bubba Jesus.

    Adam

  29. adamah says

    Great show, Russell and Tracie!

    To the ex-Muslim caller asking for ways to deal with the “No True Scotsman” thing, I’m not sure if there’s parallels in Islamist beliefs, but it should NEVER be a problem with Xians, since it implies they don’t understand and/or follow their beloved Bible (surprise, surprise….).

    I’d recommend this tactic used as a final resort, since theists absolutely HATE IT when an atheist uses the Bible against them (all the worse when they know you’re RIGHT, lol)!

    Ask them innocently, “Oh, so you don’t actually believe what Jesus told you, in Matt 25:36?”

    When they give you a blank stare of non-recognition, remind them it’s Jesus’ ‘parable of the sheeps and goats’, where Jesus says it’s HIS sole responsibility to pass judgment on humans on the Day Of Judgment to determine who’s one of his ‘sheep’ and who’s a ‘goat’. It’s NOT the Xian’s job to decide who’s a “true Xian” and who’s not, since that’s a solo gig for sweet bubba Jesus.

    Adam

  30. says

    You are simply wrong and have no basis to conclude that I asked for “male involvement”.

    I’ve already stated the basis – if you didn’t care about male involvement, there would be no need to change the title to be gender neutral – “no possibility of ever having a male cohost?” – as you put it.

    At least you’ve backed off a step from claiming I demanded “equal representation” for men.

    I said it was like that – as in, similar. In this case, implied without demand.

  31. mond says

    Its not really a tricky question.
    It is best practise to minimised UNNECESSARY distractions while driving.
    With the greatest respect to the callers. I don’t think ANY call to the show is that necessary that you have to call whilst driving.

    Anyway the hosts and caller are getting short changed if one party of the conversation is not as focussed on the conversation as they should because they are concentration on something else.

  32. says

    >I think it is still a red herring at best. A smoker can quite rationally argue that smoking is a bad thing, is bad for the people who do it, bad for the people who are nearby and is generally a immoral.

    What if the person though, declares that all it takes is will power to stop, and that if you don’t stop, you’re deviant and awful, and it’s not an addiction, but a free will choice? And then we find out the person smokes, because they are addicted? Again, they aren’t being honest, they are LYING, and it’s fair to point it out. Haggard did not argue that homosexuality is innate to those with such tendencies, and although he finds it wrong, he, himself, due to his own experience, realizes that for those who engage, it’s overpowering as a drive. He argued flatly to condemn it, and that philosophy entails that homosexuality is a “choice.” For a person who smokes, who is addicted, and knows they are unable to stop, to declare we can condemn people for smoking because addiction is bullshit and anyone can stop any time–they’re just “choosing” to smoke–they’re outright lying. And I think it’s fair to point it out.

    > Pointing out that the person smokes herself doesn’t mean the argument any less valid.

    See above. This is why I used the “gay” argument. People who are, themselves, addicted to smoking RARELY argue that it’s wrong AS WELL AS not addictive. They usually say something along the lines of “I know it’s not good for people, but I can’t quit.” In my example. I specifically chose homosexuality and Haggard, because Haggard only became honest about how powerful a drive homosexual tendencies are, AFTER his hypocrisy was discovered. That was the ONLY thing that made him honest. He still believes it is wrong–but at least now he is forced to argue with more integrity, by admitting it’s not so cut and dry as “just stop doing it, or you’re a wicked person.” If he had not been busted–would he ever have owned up to a more honest argument? I don’t think so.

    >I guess, on the other hand, if the person would benefit from some course of action that’s being argued, then the hypocrisy angle would be valid. Eg. a Phillip Morris executive arguing that smoking isn’t addictive and is a great pastime for children.

    This as well, yes.

  33. corwyn says

    When my state made it illegal, I believe they checked the research, and found that talking on the phone, whether with a handset or hands-free increased the likelihood of getting into an accident, above just talking with a passenger. I can’t find that research at the moment.

  34. Lea says

    You’re getter closer, good for you! I stated that using “Bitches” (being a gender-specific derogatory term) would exlude the possibility of ever having a male cohost; now the only thing you have left to understand is that I didn’t say that I had any preference one way or another whether they ever actually would have a male cohost. I hope this is the last clarification you will require to gain a complete understanding of my sentence.

    BTW, I was not yet familiar with the stated goals of the podcast as intended to be a feminist podcast. Even so, that doesn’t mean that having one on would conflict with feminism. Your original reply comparing my post to Christians demanding equal representation makes it sound like a male voice on the show would be somehow representing “the other side’s” (opposing) point of view. But that doesn’t follow either– did you know that men and women can agree on issues and men can be feminists too?

  35. corwyn says

    I don’t think that morals should be determined by what is expected given our biology. That is, in fact, what differentiates human morals from other behaviors. And I would equate ‘expected given our biology’ with ‘natural’. Therefore I would say that if the question is ‘is eating meat moral’, a reply of ‘eating meat is natural’ would be the the naturalistic fallacy.

    As always the easy way to determine how one feels about the fallacy is to find two situations which are similar, but about which one has opposite feelings. If one thinks that eating meat is expected, therefore moral; think about extra-marital sex which is also expected, but immoral. Only if one can’t find a single thing (and other can’t find any for one) that one thinks is expected, but immoral, or can’t imagine someone discovering is natural, that one thinks is immoral, does the ‘expected’ argument get one out of the naturalistic fallacy.

  36. jacobfromlost says

    “I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'”

    I’m not seeing the connection in Matthew 25:36.

  37. adamah says

    Sorry, I was referring to the ENTIRE parable of the sheeps and goats, found in Matt 25 (beginning in verse 31 and concluding in verse 46).

  38. adamah says

    Well, just to play Devil’s advocate (amongst atheists,no less!), a common theme of the ex-Islamist’s on-air marriage proposal (which I interpreted as hyperbolic, btw) and the caller driving in Houston is the sense of social isolation due to being immersed in a world of believers, and living in a culture which glorifies the likes of the Kardashians. That’s the role model for young females today?

    So when such individuals who already feel like ‘strangers in a strange land’ see someone in the media who possesses what they view as desirable traits (which is obviously a matter of opinion: Tracie is seen as wearing horns to theists!), it’s more understandable why they’d be smitten with what they perceive as a simpatico, a kindred soul.

    I suppose some might feel offended at being offered a compliment (!), but perhaps it’s a matter of looking at the possible motivations, if not the thought behind the actual spoken words before assuming ill intent.

    Of course, Tracie obviously already understands this, as she did a great job of taking it all in stride with humor and a smile (as always).

    Adam

  39. Monocle Smile says

    So you didn’t do your homework concerning the podcast, had a knee-jerk reaction (and were wrong), and then whined about something that you don’t actually care about. Does that sound about right?

    Looks like Nathan nailed it.

  40. Lea says

    Sure, you win. Congratulations! The important thing is that you made sure that a woman expressing her opinion about the name of the podcast is silenced because you disagree with it, picking apart each word and comparing me to a Christian demanding equal time on an atheist show as if I were demanding that MRAs be allowed equal time on GB.

    A woman who says she doesn’t like the word bitch is nothing but a tone troll and should be atacked and driven out immediately! I’m so proud to be a member of the welcoming, supportive and morally superior atheist community.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    Get off your cross. No one said or did anything concerning “silencing” you (FYI, if you stop posting because people find your opinion ridiculous, you’re not being silenced. You just have a thin skin and no spine), no one said anything about you being a woman, and with that last all-too-familiar quip, you’re no longer tone-trolling…you’re just plain trolling.

    YOU chose to escalate, YOU pulled out the rank condescension, and then you stuck a rod up your ass towards Jasper after saying you “weren’t offended” to Tracie.

    I’m sure that ax you strolled in with is awfully sharp at this point.

  42. Lea says

    I was defending myself from Jasper’s equating my post with christians demanding equal time, because that was not in any way what I was doing, and I don’t think anyone would reasonably think I was. The next response doubled down on the claim. So according you I shouldn’t have “escalated” (alternative to being silenced) , but at the same time you say I have no spine. I defended myself from being misrepresented. I was also taken aback at being attacked in that way and at the accusation of tone troll. Sorry but most women I know are not fond of the word “bitch”. I am not offended by them using it for the podcast and said so. What I am offended by is the the reaction to my opinion. So anyway, consider yourself the victor of the battle that I never intended to happen. Take pride in your thick skin, the highest mark of superiority on the internet, and enjoy your future battles.

  43. says

    I don’t myself tend to look at it in terms of motivation. Such behavior would be quite inappropriate in a work setting, for example, even in jest.

    I’m not really familiar with sexual harassment laws/code, but I can imagine it at least gets close to crossing a line.

  44. says

    Though not paid, Tracie is basically doing a volunteer job. Suppose she was working the check-in counter at a hotel, and someone came up to her and jokingly propose. I don’t think the people on staff should have to deal with that.

  45. Monocle Smile says

    Adam, I really don’t mean any offense, but it’s rather obvious that you’re a man like me.

    Not that such behavior would be appropriate if the roles were reversed, but women suffer from unwanted, public male attention to such a high degree that our ability to empathize is severely limited. In this country, and in most others, even things like public compliments come across differently to women (I’m just speaking in generalities, FYI) due to the crazily disproportionate amount of sexual harassment that occurs on a daily basis.

    Yes, social isolation is rough. I can empathize with Adnan on that. But that doesn’t automatically mean all social cues and conventions go out the window.

  46. Matt Gerrans says

    “You just have a thin skin and no spine” + more trolling accusations.

    I don’t agree with this line of “thought” (giving more credit than warranted).

    I think if you behave like a dickhead and go overboard attacking people and accusing them of “tone trolling” and being unnecessarily aggressive and rude, you are being the troll. Think about it. By accusing people of being tone trolls and hurling other completely unnecessary insults and accusations, all you do is derail the discussion into silly tangents, which is exactly what trolls seek.

    The idea that everyone should suck it up and also behave like assholes or GTFO is ridiculous. That’s trying to say that the standard of “discussion” should be set by the least socially aware and most immature people in the discussion. I think we ought to strive for better. If you have a low social intelligence, you should be trying to learn a bit more and improve on that front, rather than drag others down to your level.

    Sure, it is difficult to be polite and courteous and extend others the benefit of the doubt, but it is worth the effort.

  47. Monocle Smile says

    Matt:

    Read this thread again.

    Tell me who was aggressive and condescending first. Tell me who started insulting people first. That’s what I thought.

    The rest is just posturing. Sorry, sometimes I feel the need to call out contemptible behavior, especially when said behavior is intentionally designed to provoke. Typically, returning fire (in a subdued manner, at that) reveals true motivations, which is exactly what happened here. Furthermore, we’ve seen this kind of behavior on this forum dozens of times on this forum, and given your posting frequency, I imagine you’ve probably seen it before.

    Seriously, you’re siding with the person who started screaming about censorship when they’re halting of their own free will? And then devolved into “BAAAAAAH SOME PERSON WAS MEAN ON THE INTERNET SO THE WHOLE ATHEIST COMMUNITY IS FULL OF ASSHOLES” bullshit that we’ve all heard a billion times?

  48. KK_Me says

    I enjoyed the show a lot. It contained some very nice calls (prank free as well). The only weird call was the socialism one, and the car call. But generally well handled. Keep it up!

  49. adamah says

    Jasper said-

    I don’t myself tend to look at it in terms of motivation. Such behavior would be quite inappropriate in a work setting, for example, even in jest.

    Don’t throw your back out, moving that goalpost all by yourself, lol!

    Sexual harassment law is a completely different issue, and is off-topic: this was not a situation that occurred at a workplace setting (as you note), but a call-in talk show.

    (But playing along, let’s say this WAS a workplace incident; the first step is for the recipient of the unwelcome attention to make it perfectly clear to the person that their advances ARE in fact unwelcome behavior, asking them to cease and desist. In fact, Tracie handled it just the same as she’d have to do if it were a workplace setting.)

    Monocle Smith said-

    Not that such behavior would be appropriate if the roles were reversed, but women suffer from unwanted, public male attention to such a high degree that our ability to empathize is severely limited.

    “Empathize”?

    My experience with sexual harassment was as the BF of a young woman who was being harassed at her workplace over a long period of time by her bosses boss (the owner). Being ex-military, I knew an abuse of power when I saw it, clear-cut sexual harassment.

    She was in denial (similar to religious delusions) and ended up getting fired (ie wrongful discharge); she eventually sued him for sexual harassment and he settled out of court a few yrs later (the employer was a radiologist who had a nasty habit of serially-harassing his employees, then firing them when he tired of them or they got underfoot).

    The situation placed an incredible stress on our relationship and we broke up due to it (we were living together before). Yeah, I’m a victim of sexual harassment too, since I lost someone i dearly loved.

    Yes, social isolation is rough. I can empathize with Adnan on that. But that doesn’t automatically mean all social cues and conventions go out the window.

    Who said anything like that? Not me.

    I was actually thinking of Ash Beckham’s TED talk, when she could’ve chosen to ‘throw grenades’ at the foibles of others for their failure to jump thru the “PC gay hoops” she brought with her to her sisters wedding, but didn’t.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/ash_beckham_we_re_all_hiding_something_let_s_find_the_courage_to_open_up

    Point being, we can choose to take offense or not; only we can control our reactions.

    Since Tracie and Russell remained in control at all times (ie they could hang up on the caller), it’s a wild over-reach to compare that situation with someone who is dependent on their salary for their continued well-being and hence might feel pressure to comply or risk losing their job (and talk about a MASSIVE false equivalency! Really?).

    Adam

  50. Monocle Smile says

    adam, your post sounded for all the world like an apology for Adnan’s behavior and even the green light that it was okay because isolated atheists like Adnan can’t possibly be held to any social standard. That was the message I gleaned from it. Everyone with half a brain understands why quips like that are made, but that’s utterly irrelevant.

    It was NOT okay. This has absolutely nothing to do with someone “feeling offended for being offered a compliment” and you should understand this. Tracie handled it well, but that kind of behavior is still not okay.

    Also, sympathizing is not the same as empathizing. That’s a glaring error on your part.

  51. adamah says

    MS said-

    adam, your post sounded for all the world like an apology for Adnan’s behavior and even the green light that it was okay because isolated atheists like Adnan can’t possibly be held to any social standard. That was the message I gleaned from it. Everyone with half a brain understands why quips like that are made, but that’s utterly irrelevant.

    Oh, we’re talking about our impressions now, are we?

    OK, since you brought it up:

    My initial impression of YOUR post was that you were attempting to play the role of a ‘highly-sensitive male’ who’s sympathetic to and supportive of the feminist cause, but you’re not very convincing in the role, since you’re over-doing it by protesting too much (it’s your ‘tell’). I’m referring to the comment below, a bit like smacking a puppy with a rolled-up newspaper (“BAD DOG! It’s NOT okay to piddle on the rug!”).

    Am I getting warm?

    I have some empathy for that, since I’ll admit to trying to play that role when I was a much-younger man (that is, before I figured out that playing such roles is silly).

    MS said-

    It was NOT okay. This has absolutely nothing to do with someone “feeling offended for being offered a compliment” and you should understand this. Tracie handled it well, but that kind of behavior is still not okay.

    Cool. So it’s NOT okay then.

    Now then, shall we use your magic wand or mine to magically make everyone not say stupid things with which other people potentially might take offense?

    The topic of thin skin seems prevalent around here lately: not such a bad thing to develop, esp if minor annoyances (like four-word telephonic proposals on a call-in show) get under one’s skin.

    Point being, even if everyone here agreed that humans acting in accord with their nature is “NOT okay”, it’s still a pointless conclusion to reach. In fact, we all DO agree sufficiently to label ourselves as atheists, and we can see how much profound effect THAT conclusion has on the rest of the World, lol!

    Ultimately the only person you can possibly hope to control is yourself (and that’s often a challenge), since people have to WANT to change their Worldview and attitudes.

    Also, sympathizing is not the same as empathizing. That’s a glaring error on your part.

    Yes, “glaring”, isn’t it?

    (I’m a stones throw away from claiming a DWD, difference without distinction.)

    For as a practical matter, how exactly do you differentiate whether my comment above stems from empathy vs sympathy? i.e. what visible tell-tale signs do you look for in someone’s writing that allows you to be able to discern my past life experiences (heck, how do you do it in, even in face-to-face communications)?

    Is it not possible for me to have OTHER experiences as a victim of sexual harassment which I haven’t shared, such that my comments above stem from empathy?

    Yeah, you seem to jump to many conclusions pre-emptively, excluding all other possibilities; that’s not a trait often associated with TRUE ‘highly-sensitive males’.

    (Oh, NO I DIDN’T just play the ‘No True Scotsman’ card, lol!)

    Adam

  52. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Russell – what’s up with the socialism call?

    If it’s because you cannot be political on the show, and economics fall under that, then say that.

    IMHO the caller obviously was talking about a socialist economy with some capitalist elements. I don’t know why you would even bring up “no incentives and all the way over to the side of total sacrifice”. That’s just an argument against a strawman.

    Of course libertarianism is selfish, amoral, and evil. Of course to be a decent and moral human being you have to support some amount of socialism. Again, my example is food stamps. Food stamps is socialism. Anyone who does not support food stamps is a miserable excuse for a human being (or grossly ignorant).

    Why would you argue against this position? You seem to be bending over backwards here, and I can’t tell why. Would you do the same for a caller who says divine command theory is evil, or a caller who seriously suggests that we should stone to death our disobedient children? Why are you giving libertarians so much extra defense? Makes no sense.

    You just came off as very swarmy. Wouldn’t promoting humanism, food stamps, and socialism fall under “promoting positive atheism”?

  53. says

    Adam

    I don’t myself tend to look at it in terms of motivation. Such behavior would be quite inappropriate in a work setting, for example, even in jest.

    Don’t throw your back out, moving that goalpost all by yourself, lol!

    Sexual harassment law is a completely different issue, and is off-topic: this was not a situation that occurred at a workplace setting (as you note), but a call-in talk show.

    How in the world is that moving the goalposts? We’re talking about whether it’s appropriate, and workplace rules, such as sexual harassment rules, are a point of comparison… as in, something to compare to, in order to understand.

    The proposition doesn’t magically become appropriate because she isn’t paid, while performing some task.

    Ideally, this would be considered inappropriate behavior in any circumstance.

    the first step is for the recipient of the unwelcome attention to make it perfectly clear to the person that their advances ARE in fact unwelcome behavior, asking them to cease and desist. In fact, Tracie handled it just the same as she’d have to do if it were a workplace setting

    … which isn’t relevant to the point I was making. I’m talking about a generally accepted understanding of what’s considered appropriate/inappropriate behavior. If people behaving themselves, it wouldn’t even happen in the first place. The exact “rules of engagement” for dealing with it, when it happens, are beside the point.

    It’s like I’m having to explain why it’s inappropriate to go around insulting people, and I bring up workplace rules of behavior as an example of how it’s already considered inappropriate. “Yeah but this isn’t work LOL!”… okay, I guess going around insulting people is okay then.

  54. jdoran says

    I think a good example can be made from the accounts from abortion providers of anti-abortion advocates either getting abortions themselves or bringing in their female relatives to receive abortions. Pointing out to one of those advocates that they found abortion to be the best available choice in their situation despite being so strongly against it would be a “well, you do it too” which is neither fallacious nor a red herring.

  55. says

    Nature isn’t concerned about something being good or bad. The only concern of nature is balance and order.
    The fallacy is from men not nature. If someone is gay then that’s the way they were born, and to me I would rather have someone who can be honest about themselves then to have someone who is dishonest about others.

  56. corwyn says

    This is the same mistake that the caller was making. Atheism does not imply anything else. If you think that all atheists must have similar characteristics about anything else, you are going to be mistaken (This is the halo effect). Secondly, you are assuming that morals have been completely resolved, and thus there is one political form which is moral and all the rest are evil. This makes things convenient, as all your political opponents can now be considered evil, but that is in itself evil. We just plain haven’t figured out the ideal way of dealing with each other, certainly not at the level of -isms.

  57. Monocle Smile says

    Adam, what exactly is the matter with you?

    My initial impression of YOUR post was that you were attempting to play the role of a ‘highly-sensitive male’

    Yes, my first post does sound a bit white knight-y. I should have proofread and edited it. My point is really that while I personally would brush off a public random proposal and make a joke about it without having much feeling in any direction, that doesn’t mean I should condone said behavior towards others.

    Point being, even if everyone here agreed that humans acting in accord with their nature is “NOT okay”, it’s still a pointless conclusion to reach.

    No, it’s not. It’s not pointless at all. Societal behavior changes when we decide to stop condoning inappropriate behavior. Jasper nailed it in his last comment. People can become convinced that their behavior is wrong based on the reactions of others.

    Now then, shall we use your magic wand or mine to magically make everyone not say stupid things with which other people potentially might take offense?

    No, we merely identify said behavior as inappropriate and stop trying to justify or rationalize it (i.e. enabling). This is my entire point, which you missed by a country mile somehow.

    how exactly do you differentiate whether my comment above stems from empathy vs sympathy?

    Um, how about the definition of those words? I can’t believe I have to explain this, but there’s a difference between understanding why someone feels a certain way and what type of feelings they’re experiencing and actually knowing what it’s like to experience those exact feelings.

    Is it not possible for me to have OTHER experiences as a victim of sexual harassment which I haven’t shared, such that my comments above stem from empathy?

    But you didn’t bring up those experiences. You brought up a single one that shows that you have heightened SYMPATHY for sexual harassment. You may have other experiences, but you chose not to share them and I have no reason to think they exist. And now you’re being a dick because I can’t read your mind.

  58. Monocle Smile says

    I think Russell was pretty clear that he was addressing extreme capitalism vs. extreme socialism, mostly because the caller made that faulty black-and-white distinction. I didn’t get the impression whatsoever that the caller was talking about a socialist economy with capitalist elements. I DID get the impression that Russell was defending such a system, though.

    I also didn’t hear a single defense of libertarianism.

  59. says

    No, it’s not. It’s not pointless at all. Societal behavior changes when we decide to stop condoning inappropriate behavior.

    I’d add that it’s not that dissimilar from cultural sensitivity. Some people are better at it than others. Americans… not so much.

    I don’t think anyone expects everyone to get it right all the time, but that’s part of life – learning.

    But the example of calling up an international show to jokingly propose to the host of the show is so unambiguously over the line, that it’s difficult to understand how anyone wouldn’t understand that there’s a high probability to cause embarrassment/discomfort.

    Sure, this can accidentally happen, and sure, it’s also up to the targets how they’ll handle it…. but we have this word that describes those who wantonly disregard the fact that an action may cause offense/discomfort/embarrassment to others.

    “Asshole”

  60. houndentenor says

    I was (am?) a fan of the show. I’m a gaytheist and as bitchy and godless as the women who co-hosted the show. The point was to talk about women’s issues. I took the title as a playful way of taking back a pejorative and turning it into a positive. (Like gay activists did with Queer Nation.) Women who speak their minds are often called bitches. If that’s the definition then wear it with pride. I learned a lot on that show. How refreshing to hear from smart-well-informed women. Usually when serious topics are discussed there’s 5 men and one women who can barely get a word in. Or it’s a daytime show where most of the panel are idiots (Elizabeth Haselbeck, Sherri Shepherd, et al.) It was good to listen in on women talking to each other about issues that affect them. Please bring it back. These discussions are too rare!

  61. houndentenor says

    Yes, and there’s a lot of this in our culture. “Republicans/Democrats do it too!” Yes, they do, but that doesn’t make it okay. Sometimes both sides of an argument are wrong. We are so often given false binaries. Either one or the other has to be true. Sometimes its neither. And sometimes the issue is complex and neither point of view is entirely right or wrong.

  62. houndentenor says

    I thought the problem with her thesis was that she didn’t define socialism. But I don’t know how she gets from atheism to socialism without an argument that could just as easily apply to (fill in the blank with the name of almost any religion).

  63. Lea says

    I would like to apologize for being a source of disruption on the forum. First, I shouldn’t have asked the question. The idea I had in mind was to express my dislike of the word, but I phrased it as asking for the name to be changed instead of just stating my opinion. I don’t know if it would still have been considered tone trolling or anti-feminist, but thinking about it, I shouldn’t have posted anything at all, because:

    Obviously, the podcasters would have put thought into the decision and deliberately chosen the name for their own reasons. As Monocle Smile pointed out, I didn’t research the podcast’s history before posting. I got the feeds for GB and NP from the TAE site. There were no recent episodes of GB so I listened to a few old ones. The subject of the name wasn’t discussed in the ones I listened to, but I didn’t go to their website and search for an explanation. So I appreciate Tracie’s patience in politely responding to my post.

    Everything after that was my response to what I felt was an unfair mischaracterization of what I said in my OP. I wasn’t looking for a fight but also didn’t want to imply tacit agreement by keeping silent.

    To wrap this up, I regret starting that thread and you can be sure it won’t happen again.

  64. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Where did I say that “atheism implies you have to be a good person”?

  65. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Mm, I said “positive atheism”. For example, the ACA has position statements. It’s my understanding that they mean a lot more than “atheism” when they say “promote positive atheism (and the separation of church and state)”. That last sentence where said Wouldn’t promoting humanism, food stamps, and socialism fall under “promoting positive atheism”? was meant to be a jab, an attempt to perhaps point out some hypocrisy.

    I do forget if the caller pedantically made the argument that atheism leads to socialism. I believe not. I believe the argument was to be a good person you have to be a socialist. That’s the position I’m defending too.

  66. Frank G. Turner says

    This is the same mistake that the caller was making. Atheism does not imply anything else. If you think that all atheists must have similar characteristics about anything else, you are going to be mistaken (This is the halo effect). Secondly, you are assuming that morals have been completely resolved, and thus there is one political form which is moral and all the rest are evil. This makes things convenient, as all your political opponents can now be considered evil, but that is in itself evil. We just plain haven’t figured out the ideal way of dealing with each other, certainly not at the level of -isms.
    .
    So in a sense what you are saying is that the caller is still establishing an “us vs. them” seperatist mentality and just linking it to something other than religion? That makes sense if it is what you are getting at.
    .
    I have met plenty of “black and white” thinkers who have this attitude of if one person is considered evil, say Carl Marx, then every idea which comes out of their mouths is bad and evil. Yet we have graduated tax systems (you make more money = you pay a larger percent) in the USA, which is a Marxist idea. And it is not a bad one, people who make more tend to have larger surpluses. I don’t agree with all of Marx’s ideas mind you but that one, and worker’s unions too, are not all bad. (I will admit some worker’s unions are not that great, some can be greddy or apathetic). Of course Tea Baggers will object to this as they want to be on top and paying no taxes (fat chance) yet still have the benefits of government while claiming that government needs to be smaller (just to tie this in with what the caller was talking about regarding the burning building etc).
    .
    Of course people who take strong views about extremes don’t like the idea of balance because it might not obtain the ideal they think they can have but will never get. You never hear about people taking a strong and loud stance for being middle of the boat and balanced do you?

  67. Robert, not Bob says

    Well, she did say “morally decent atheist”, presumably referring to our freedom to make our own moral judgments without reference to any dogmas. It’s an excessively simple view of things, of course.

  68. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    This makes things convenient, as all your political opponents can now be considered evil, but that is in itself evil. We just plain haven’t figured out the ideal way of dealing with each other, certainly not at the level of -isms.

    I missed this on the first time around. I didn’t full appreciate what you were saying.

    (Thanks Frank for bringing it up again, lol.)

    To corwyn: Wait what? Describing an evil person as “evil” is evil? What the hell are you talking about? I politely disagree. All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Libertarianism is an evil philosophy. People who espouse it deserve ridicule and scorn.

    Yes we have figured out a way to deal with each other. It’s called using language. When someone describes their position with words, this communicates to other people, which can then be judged. When someone describes themself with the word “libertarian”, this communicates many things to me, and I have judged those beliefs, and then I give that person my ridicule and scorn for holding such contemptible beliefs.

    Seriously, I’m about to accuse you of a kind of moral relativism. You’re saying you cannot make value judgments on different economic models? What the fuck. Of course we can.

  69. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    “Excessively simple”.
    Which part? The part where she argued that voting for (some) socialism is required to be a morally decent human being?

  70. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Strange. I heard an entirely different conversation than you where Russell used absolutely no benefit of the doubt, and where Russell committed an effective strawman by implying that the caller wanted a system with no wages.

  71. houndentenor says

    Since someone brought up food stamps, I’ll take that one on. Personally I think it would be immoral in a country with the resources that ours has to allow people to starve. At the same time I am open to alternatives to the current food stamp program. Are there better ideas out there? Perhaps and if so I’d be interested in hearing them. (Usually these alternatives are generalities with few or any practical details of the sort that I would want to hear. The “Fair Tax” is a good example. Is it really “fair”? Is there some calculator that would allow me to see whether I’d pay more or less under such a proposal? That’s important information and it seems to be lacking in most (personally I’d say all) discussions of social policies. Our country has sadly devolved into a “you’re either fer us or agin’ us!” mentality. If you are critical of a liberal program you are attacked as a right winger. If, for example, I express reservations about Hillary Clinton for president the response is something like “Well would you rather vote for Ted Cruz?” As if there can be no other options. (And as if I cannot in the end choose between two imperfect options once I enter the polls.) Along these lines is the need to make the people one supports into perfect beings (a species with a population of zero) or to find a single flaw in someone else and therefore disregard anything else that person has to say. It’s just a minefield of cognitive dissonances and logical fallacies out there and I must admit I am not immune from either.

  72. Monocle Smile says

    That IS strange, and apparently we DID hear two entirely different conversations. The CALLER started out by claiming that socialism is moral and capitalism is not, as if the ideas really are that black and white. Russell actually did his best to avoid straw men by speaking to that erroneous dichotomy.

    Russell did not imply the caller wanted a system with no wages. He merely spoke to the idea that providing incentives for people to be productive and innovative spark production and innovation, and socialism in its purest and most extreme form (as an entire system of society, not just an aspect) provides no such incentive…unless you’re working with a much different definition of socialism than myself.

  73. Monocle Smile says

    The part where she argued that voting for (some) socialism is required to be a morally decent human being?

    Oh, so now I see…you’re being extraordinarily charitable concerning the caller’s meaning.

    I offer no such charity. She wasn’t clear at all and I’m perfectly fine saddling her with the false dichotomy into which she stepped.

  74. Tim H. says

    Russell mentioned the other show that’s running in next Sunday’s slot. He said they welcome atheist callers and encouraged us to call based on that, but (as I remember) he said nothing about what kind of a show it is.

  75. adamah says

    Jasper of Maine asked-

    How in the world is that moving the goalposts? We’re talking about whether it’s appropriate, and workplace rules, such as sexual harassment rules, are a point of comparison… as in, something to compare to, in order to understand.

    It’s a false equivalency, since you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    I cannot imagine you don’t grasp the concept of different rules and norms existing in various settings, ie the workplace, social settings (eg bars), churches, one’s private home, etc.

    There are Fed and State laws which don’t apply once you step out of the workplace and away from your employer, nor should they, IMO: unless it’s a workplace environment (where there’s a compelling public interest to regulate behavior), people should be free to sort out their standards of behavior on their own, even if it means having to learn life lessons ‘the hard way’.

    The proposition doesn’t magically become appropriate because she isn’t paid, while performing some task.

    Straw-man much?

    Kindly point out where I said it WAS appropriate (hint: I didn’t, which is what your statement above implies).

    I saw his words as something that popped out under the pressure of being on a live call-in show which he knows is being watched worldwide, a factor the hosts can surely understand (being under a spotlight, for all the world to scrutinize your every word).

    Ideally, this would be considered inappropriate behavior in any circumstance.

    “In ANY circumstance”? Really?

    This may come as a heretical shock to some ears, but believe it or not, some women actually DO respond positively to such awkward proposals from guys, eg at bars (or even in the workplace), where some actually even say “yes”!

    Shocking, I know, and these women who feel complimented are likely letting their feminist sisters down, even allowing such hirsute knuckle-dragging brutes to reproduce with them!

    However, the ramifications of “survival of those sufficiently and/or minimally-adapted to their social environment to pass on their genes” is a real bitch sometimes, isn’t it?

    (And if you’ve never seen Mike Judge’s dark comedy ‘Idiocracy’, it’s worth considering the point he was making, as we’re already there…)

    I’m talking about a generally accepted understanding of what’s considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior. If people behaving themselves, it wouldn’t even happen in the first place.

    If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candies and nuts, we’d all have a merry Festivus!

    Sorry, but I gave up wish-driven fantasy thinking along with religiosity decades ago, choosing to live in a world where humans actually exist.

    It would be nice to live in a perfectly-sanitized World, free from everything we personally find offensive, such that we’d NEVER have to stand up for ourselves. Fact is, we don’t live in such a World.

    The exact “rules of engagement” for dealing with it, when it happens, are beside the point.

    Au contraire.

    Even though it wasn’t intended or planned, Tracie actually served as a role model for both men and women alike for how to handle unwelcome attention with grace (the first step being saying two words: “I’m married!”). That’s the ‘silver lining’ out of this incident, for those who choose to see such things.

    BTW, there are ‘freedom of speech’ issues in-play here, too, and even such awkward comments made in the public arena (which is what a telephone call placed to a PUBLIC ACCESS CHANNEL is considered to be) remains ‘protected speech’.

    Sucks, I know!

    As I said above, Russell and Tracie could’ve chosen to hang up on the caller at any time, but they chose not to.

    It’s like I’m having to explain why it’s inappropriate to go around insulting people, and I bring up workplace rules of behavior as an example of how it’s already considered inappropriate. “Yeah but this isn’t work LOL!”… okay, I guess going around insulting people is okay then.

    Straw-man much? Jump to extremes much?

    Do yourself a favor and look up the fallacy of the ‘excluded middle’ (elimination of alternatives), and promise yourself you’ll try to banish it from your thinking.

    As a longtime supporter and participant in free-speech groups such as EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group associated with Lawrence Lessig, the lawyer behind the Creative Commons license), etc I’m fully-aware of how free-speech operates (which is what we’re discussing here, whether you realize it or not).

    In the public arena, people enjoy the right to say anything they want, including any ol’ damn offensive comment! However, they can’t expect to be immune from bearing the consequences of their words, ie other people are just as free to protest, argue, or simply walk away, since no one can be forced to listen to anyone else.

    The community is free to censure anyone’s words or conduct they deem as offensive, which is what you’re doing by voicing your opinion: cool.

    But I similarly have the right not to agree with what I deem as a hyperbolic rant, to not pick up the tar and feathers and run the guy out of town on a railroad tie for blurting out something inappropriate.

    Adam

  76. adamah says

    MS said-

    My point is really that while I personally would brush off a public random proposal and make a joke about it without having much feeling in any direction, that doesn’t mean I should condone said behavior towards others.

    And you didn’t condone it, so what’s your point?

    Oh, wait: I see now you actually were trying to imply, “and no one ELSE should condone it, either!” Is that it? You should SAY what you mean, if that was your intent.

    For one, you’d have to show where I DID condone it.

    Hint: I didn’t. Lemme check that once again: nope.

    You seem to confuse my explanation for why such behavior occurs with my condoning it: you’re guilty of ‘confusing the descriptive with the prescriptive’, a tendency which philosopher David Hume described as the “is vs ought” problem.

    Knock it off, please: it’s annoying as Hell when people do it, esp when it’s those claiming to be rationalists.

    No, it’s not. It’s not pointless at all. Societal behavior changes when we decide to stop condoning inappropriate behavior. Jasper nailed it in his last comment. People can become convinced that their behavior is wrong based on the reactions of others.

    Playing the ‘appeal to popularity’ card, I see?

    Thankfully, people also can NOT be convinced their behavior is wrong, as well, or we wouldn’t be atheists if we allowed emotional factors or the opinions of others to sway our thinking (such as a tendency to be persuaded by ‘group-think’, doing what the group does, to fit in).

    Being that atheists are still in the minority, you really want to go with appealing to the ‘tyranny of the majority’?

    Surely you can come up with ANOTHER reason why those four words (“will you marry me?”) represent such a threat to society at large that they should be stricken down as offensive, right?

    We merely identify said behavior as inappropriate and stop trying to justify or rationalize it (i.e. enabling). This is my entire point, which you missed by a country mile somehow.

    You clearly confused my explaining for condoning, but now you’re also accusing me of ‘justifying, rationalizing, and enabling’ too? Work on that ‘is vs ought’ fallacy, and promise yourself NEVER to make the same mistake again by jumping to hasty conclusions.

    As it stands, you’re not actually addressing MY comments, but you’re arguing against a strawman of your own creation.

    Um, how about the definition of those words? I can’t believe I have to explain this, but there’s a difference between understanding why someone feels a certain way and what type of feelings they’re experiencing and actually knowing what it’s like to experience those exact feelings.

    Way to miss MY point.

    I was asking how you ACTUALLY KNOW your experience is identical to theirs (as you said, their “exact feelings”)?

    Perhaps you’re an empath like the the Commander Deanna Troi character on Star Trek TNG, able to know what others are feeling?

    Not that it matters, since we’re on a tangent at this point: I only brought it up after you accused me of making the egregious error of failing to differentiate between ‘sympathy’ and ‘empathy’. (Gasp!)

    I’m pointing out that for all practical intents and purposes, sympathy and empathy are synonymous, so such quibbling is actually trying to make a distinction without a difference (or at least, not much of a difference), since we don’t have any proven empaths around to be able to verify whether it’s “exactly the same”.

    I brought it up primarily to point out your tendency towards over-reach, going for the hyperbolic.

    But you didn’t bring up those experiences. You brought up a single one that shows that you have heightened SYMPATHY for sexual harassment. You may have other experiences, but you chose not to share them and I have no reason to think they exist.

    So using similar logic, why would you assume that women are offended at such an off-the-cuff remark? Have you conducted an extensive survey, a public opinion poll?

    Fact is, many women DO find such unsolicited offers as flattering, as a compliment and ego-boost, even if it’s coming from a total stranger.

    OF COURSE it’s not a serious marriage proposal, it’s hyperbole (ironic that you seemingly cannot accept that it’s hyperbolic, perhaps since those most prone to making hyperbolic statements seemingly show a strong tendency towards interpreting them as if literally?).

    Again, that’s not a prescriptive statement, but merely a descriptive observation.

    And now you’re being a dick because I can’t read your mind.

    Well, despite the childish ad hominem, at least you’re now admitting that you cannot read minds, lol!

    And as long as we’re sharing our personal pet peeves, here’s mine:

    Like many people, I find it offensive to be told by others what I’m thinking, or told what I MUST think (as Sye recently did, telling atheists we truly believe God exists but are lying!) apparently as much as others seem to find clearly-not-serious on-air marriage proposals to be offensive.

    Huh, you mean people might actually have differing values? Whoda thunk such a thing could ever be possible?

    ;)

    Adam

  77. Mark Massingill says

    Why argue against her claim that anyone who considers themselves to be moral as an atheist MUST therefor be socialist? Let see… because it’s absolutely ridiculous?

    To me it’s no different than Christians saying we cannot be moral without God in our lives, it’s a claim that unless we share that person’s views we cannot be in and of ourselves moral.

    For one, I never heard her present a single argument for capitalism being immoral. What’s wrong with working to get ahead? Do not most people work harder when they benefit from doing so? Her response that in her belief (note, her private belief) innovators will always innovate may be true to a degree but we know that just about everyone strives harder for success when it pays off. What exactly is wrong with working harder for your own benefit, so you can have that boat or camper or a more luxurious car? Nothing at all. Anyone who thinks that I should feel guilty because I worked hard so that I could have the things I do because there are those who cannot afford what I have can kiss my very moral, non socialist, atheist butt.

    Her version of socialism sounded like we have the responsibility to care for our fellow man, even if he sits on his butt waiting for a handout. This is socialism at it’s worst. There is nothing wrong with the concept of socialism, it’s great for that matter, all people working for the benefit of all people within a society. The problem is that we’ll always have the lazy, the indigent, those who would work if they had no choice but who would much rather sit on their asses doing nothing if they can. Is their choice to be that way moral? Why then is it moral to propagate a system that allows them to act in such a manner and leech off the efforts of others? Forcing me (or anyone) to share the fruits of my labor equally with those who either refuse to or who are unable to provide any return service to society in return is immoral. This is when socialism becomes taking from the well off to give to the poor even when the poor are perfectly capable of providing for themselves. To me this is about as far from a moral system as you can get.

    As for food stamps and welfare, we know from experience that these systems are abused, people who are capable of work refuse to do so because they do just as well off government handouts or they do work for payment under the table and take the handouts fraudulently. Maybe if we didn’t give them so much and make it so easy for them to abuse the system they would then have to become productive in their own right.

    I have no problem with and support caring for others within reason and I’d never let anyone starve if I could prevent it. However, I see nothing wrong with requiring those who are on subsistence programs to do street cleanup or community service work in return if they are capable. True socialism goes too far for me though and I’d never subscribe to it because I don’t see it as a morally balanced system.

  78. adamah says

    Jasper of Maine said-

    But the example of calling up an international show to jokingly propose to the host of the show is so unambiguously over the line, that it’s difficult to understand how anyone wouldn’t understand that there’s a high probability to cause embarrassment/discomfort.

    Wow, there’s a whole lotta mind readers infesting this forum, lol!

    For one, the guy didn’t call specifically “to propose marriage”, but to ASK A QUESTION about dealing with the “True Scotsman” fallacy constantly used by his Muslim family members.

    Come on now, stop and think: do you actually believe the volunteers working as call screeners would’ve put the guy on the air if he said, “I’m calling to propose to Tracie”?

    Would Russell and Tracie TAKE the call if their computer screens said “caller wants to propose marriage to the co-host”?

    Of course not. That’s absurd. You’re displaying a tendency for hyperbolizing.

    Sure, this can accidentally happen, and sure, it’s also up to the targets how they’ll handle it…. but we have this word that describes those who wantonly disregard the fact that an action may cause offense/discomfort/embarrassment to others.

    “Asshole”

    Hmmm, is there anyone in particular you wanted to throw such a childish ad hominem at?

    You might as well just shout out “Uncle!” as a clear-cut admission of defeat, since in my book the first one to resort to throwing out the potty-mouthed names is confessing they’re all out of logical ammo (AKA facts or arguments), and they’ve got nothing left.

    You’ve attempted to make a mountain out of a molehill, for God only knows what reason…. Is this a hot-button issue for you, perhaps as someone who’s experienced sexual harassment? (You obviously don’t have to answer here…)

    But if not, such righteous indignation is eerily-reminiscent of the kind displayed by fervent believers, only a slightly-different flavor: are you SURE you don’t still cling to some vestiges of religious dogmatic thinking?

    This horse is well and truly flogged: unless anyone brings any thoughts that haven’t been considered that might change my or anyone else’s opinion, this thread is fini.

    Adam

  79. says

    Why argue against her claim that anyone who considers themselves to be moral as an atheist MUST therefor be socialist? Let see… because it’s absolutely ridiculous?

    Yes, but you can consider yourself moral, and still actually be immoral. A lot of immoral shit has been done by people who consider themselves moral.

    To me it’s no different than Christians saying we cannot be moral without God in our lives, it’s a claim that unless we share that person’s views we cannot be in and of ourselves moral.

    Yes, the caller wants to challenge your claim to being moral if you don’t think socialism is good.

    For one, I never heard her present a single argument for capitalism being immoral.

    Really? Well, here you go: Capitalism is defined as the pursuit of profit above all other considerations. One of those other considerations that capitalism ignores is the well being of humans. Therefore, capitalism is amoral at best (if it happens to, by pure luck, not result in any harm) and is directly immoral at worst (if I dump waste from my widget factory into the river, rather than containing it in those expensive containers, I can keep more coins!).

    What’s wrong with working to get ahead?

    If working to get ahead harms somebody, it is immoral.

    Do not most people work harder when they benefit from doing so? Her response that in her belief (note, her private belief) innovators will always innovate may be true to a degree but we know that just about everyone strives harder for success when it pays off. What exactly is wrong with working harder for your own benefit, so you can have that boat or camper or a more luxurious car? Nothing at all. Anyone who thinks that I should feel guilty because I worked hard so that I could have the things I do because there are those who cannot afford what I have can kiss my very moral, non socialist, atheist butt.

    Socialism doesn’t prohibit integrating incentives (via capitalism or whatever) for those that produce value for society. It’s main tenet is that the incentives aren’t going to be “avoiding starvation”, “not dying from preventable disease” and “not having to sleep on a park bench”. If you think those should be the incentives, the caller is saying that you aren’t being moral (immoral, if you will).

    Her version of socialism sounded like we have the responsibility to care for our fellow man, even if he sits on his butt waiting for a handout. This is socialism at it’s worst. There is nothing wrong with the concept of socialism, it’s great for that matter, all people working for the benefit of all people within a society. The problem is that we’ll always have the lazy, the indigent, those who would work if they had no choice but who would much rather sit on their asses doing nothing if they can. Is their choice to be that way moral? Why then is it moral to propagate a system that allows them to act in such a manner and leech off the efforts of others? Forcing me (or anyone) to share the fruits of my labor equally with those who either refuse to or who are unable to provide any return service to society in return is immoral. This is when socialism becomes taking from the well off to give to the poor even when the poor are perfectly capable of providing for themselves. To me this is about as far from a moral system as you can get.

    So, your position is that those who “sit on their butt waiting for a handout” deserve to die of starvation, ear infections or hypothermia? Also, I guess nobody ever was down and out for any other reason than being lazy. All of the folks starting small companies, stores, etc., never have any hard times where keep the lights on (being honest bill payers) means they have to go to the food bank, or look for the free clinic because they can’t afford health insurance (before the ACA, anyway) or they have to take a second mortgage on the house that they then can’t make payments on. Nope, an entrepreneur who’s business doesn’t succeed just “sits on his butt, waiting for a handout”.

    As for food stamps and welfare, we know from experience that these systems are abused, people who are capable of work refuse to do so because they do just as well off government handouts or they do work for payment under the table and take the handouts fraudulently. Maybe if we didn’t give them so much and make it so easy for them to abuse the system they would then have to become productive in their own right.

    Food stamps and welfare (you forgot medicaid!) also feed and house millions of children. Should those children bare the sins of their parents and share in the same fate?

    I have no problem with and support caring for others within reason and I’d never let anyone starve if I could prevent it.

    So, you’re a just hypocrite then? That starving person you gave $5 to the other day just sits on his butt all day, doing nothing. You are taking away his reason to get a job scooping shit or something. Seriously, you know how you can “never let anyone starve”? You want to know how you can prevent it? SOCIALISM!

    However, I see nothing wrong with requiring those who are on subsistence programs to do street cleanup or community service work in return if they are capable.

    Yes, we could force them into “work camps” where they can earn their scraps of food, an injection of penicillin and the cot they sleep on! Oh, we could make them where laziness armbands too.

    True socialism goes too far for me though and I’d never subscribe to it because I don’t see it as a morally balanced system.

    Well, then argue for a balanced system then, where there are morally sound incentives and a morally sound safety net.

  80. JT Rager says

    To be fair, I recall a lot of people saying “kick the caller for creeping on the hosts!” as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the caller.

  81. Muz says

    Well you’ve added a few aspects to the central debate. Which are admittedly pertinent. All I really care about there is the differences between a bluetooth phone system and a conversation with a person in the car.

  82. Muz says

    I can well believe it. I think a phone call makes people behave differently, even if its completely hands free. The lack of another presence and the audio frequency range requires more concentration. Plus just our cultural baggage of paying attention to the phone. Those would be my contentions anyway.
    It’s a difficult and subtle thing to get across though. Cars come fitted with these things all the time now. Many even have essentially screens built into the steering wheel to handle all the car functions while you drive, so people are going to assume it’s ok. Need the Mythbusters to check it out or something.

  83. Muz says

    While I wouldn’t defend the caller’s fairly broad statement, most of this is the usual fantasies about what Socialism has to be propagated by the Right.

    The first question is what makes you think that your rewards are commensurate to your work? Or anyone else’s rewards or lack thereof?
    To say ‘yes everything I have is from the purest justice’ is to say the unregulated economy is the only moral thing, which is the Randian argument. But they have to bend themselves pretty far out of shape and relabel a whole lot of things in moral terms in order to do it.

    If you don’t accept that a person’s position in life is a pure ‘objective’ moral artifact (and I don’t think you can) – if one recognises even a little bit that things are unequal, that other factors besides a person’s own moral rectitude have some part to play in their success or failure, then that does at least suggest the question of what to do about it.
    Where you go from there is an open question. But it’s more than nothing and I think that’s perhaps the point the caller might have been leaning towards, despite her overstatement.

    This other fearmongering about the lazy is generally unwarranted. Social democracies go through fretting about this stuff all the time and people like that are a tiny tiny fraction of unemployed people and barely have any impact on taxes and services. All systems have outliers and you can only truly combat them with absolutes like getting rid of the system altogether (and then it probably won’t work). The cost of these programs is also usually relatively small.

    By and large conservatives have made a convenient distraction out of worrying about such things, asserting ‘work ethic’ style moral damnations and other things. If you’ve already accepted that people should be helped and members of society can have *gulp* collective approaches to dealing with community hardships then you’ve already accepted, knowingly or otherwise, that it’s not always going to work perfectly for everyone in every situation and the benefit outweighs the cost of those few. Asserting your own judgements and self righteous moral indignation on top of that is pretty pointless and mostly just about people making themselves feel superior..

  84. Muz says

    As a foreigner, the notion of food stamps is weird. It seems clearly to be from that school of psychology , which you can see down the page a bit actually, that says “You can’t just give people stuff! They’ll waste it/snort it/drink it and never work again!”.
    Which is not an uncommon point of view and that sort of paternalistic, Presbyterian and Calvinist disgust with humanity we’ve come to expect from the US, but kind of core to the whole white western thing in a lot of ways too.

    Welfare programs and the debate around them are an interesting and heavily politicised look into public morality and the ‘national’ conception of the human, far more than they are about practical solutions to problems.
    Which is as fascinating as it is frustrating. I mean, at a base level, the idea that you can’t just give people money, say, (which is why food stamps exist) is wrong. There’s even charities that looked at this stuff and the results were as variable as people are. Some people do well with straight up gifts of cash. Quite large ones at that. Some people don’t. It’s the moral offense given to the judgmental public that is the main obstacle to such things though.

    But, equally, the scale of the US presents other outgrowths. I can envisage periods and places where the drug trade was such that giving people money would be a mistake in a way that a less densely populated place wouldn’t have as big a problem dealing with. So I can see why there people would think it a good idea in practical terms..

    Nuance, speed of policy response and the moral mores of the electorate make all of this stuff very complicated.
    On a principle level I think saying that people just can’t be trusted with money and creating an underclass (and probably black currency) is essentially pointless and probably costs even more in the management and policing of it. All of which is mainly as a salve to a certain outdated and conservative conception of the human that has shifted itself into a moral position.

  85. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Around 39 minutes in is when the call starts. I’m listening to it again.

    Ok… I think I did hear what I wanted to hear from the caller. She did say capitalism was bad in a blanket statement. Yeah… she really did rip on capitalism and markets in general without admitting any good effects. She even brings up a comparison to evolution, and I’m not sure why. There’s an appeal to nature fallacy lurking in her thinking I’m betting.

    Still, I’m pretty wrong. Sorry.

    Still again:

    She opens simply with “if you’re an atheist, and if you’re moral, then you should be a socialist”, and Russell already states disagreement. > humanism” and instead suggested that the caller start from the premise of “humanism” rather than “moral”.

    To address what you said elsewhere Monocle Smile:

    I offer no such charity. She wasn’t clear at all and I’m perfectly fine saddling her with the false dichotomy into which she stepped.

    I think good conversation, discussion, and debate means you do not do “that”. Let me explain. What I saw happen was she took the extreme socialism stance, and Russel and Tracie (mostly Russell, but even Tracie to some extent) took the contrary stance as a matter of course. IMHO, to be a good and honest communicator, you need to state your actual position, and what you find wrong with the other person’s position. Instead, I’m hearing all of this hedging, a general refusal even from Tracie to admit that to be a good person requires that you support some socialist programs, and so forth. Instead, I heard Russell state that it would be fun to put her and an objectivist in a room and see who’s right (another example of seeming moral relativism). And Russell continues to provide cover by conflating “we haven’t figured out morality in every case” to “we don’t know if it’s a good idea to have food stamps”. Uggg. Matt would rip you apart Russell for that (in a nice way probably, lol).

    Even in the end, Russell seems to be saying that the value of empathy and not letting people starve is somehow at odds with individualism, and that this is a non-obvious choice. What the fuck am I hearing? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that if you are not in favor of food stamps, then you are a miserable excuse for a human being, and you deserve all of the shame, ridicule, and scorn that can be heaped upon you. (Not that Russell has that position, but he’s providing cover for that position, which is almost as odious.)

    I’d much rather take issues head on, or state that it’s outside the bounds of the show, rather than the … I have no better words … dishonest and evasive responses by Russell and Tracie. Russell seemed to be a contrarian for no other purpose, and in a way that impeded effective communication, and I don’t have better words for that behavior other than dishonest and evasive.

    Instead, I’d much rather have seen Russell and Tracie say something like this: Capitalism is not all bad, and socialism without capitalism is pretty bad too. A good economic system needs some markets, but we also need socialist programs like food stamps [and if they’re feeling adventurous:] and government provided health care. So, we don’t agree with your simplistic black-and-white framing of the issue.

  86. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Sorry – that was a little more disjointed that my usual rants. Meh. Still, I was mostly wrong. Still really annoyed at Russell.

  87. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @houndentenor
    I never intended that food stamps are the only answer. I do not believe a reasonable person could take that away from what I said. I agree that effective alternatives to food stamps which redistribute wealth to prevent hunger are just as acceptable and good as food stamps (or better!) (or worse – depending on the details).

    Of course, I agree it’s premised on our abundant material wealth and that we have plenty to spare. If we lived in a ridiculously lean society where everyone was dirt poor, then I wouldn’t have that strong position on food stamps. That argument was premised in the material wealth of the US.

  88. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Mark Massingill
    I admit that I grossly misunderstood the conversation that actually happened. I realized this when I watched it for a second time.

    I will say just a little. Let me respond to this:

    Her version of socialism sounded like we have the responsibility to care for our fellow man, even if he sits on his butt waiting for a handout.

    I actually think this is vile or grossly ignorant in the context of the current material wealth of the US.

    What you are doing is repeating a talking point of the right which is completely divorced from reality. Most people on food stamps are not freeloaders. I recall a Republican ad campaign involving an interview with a surfer who says that he lives off food stamps so he can surf or some such. That is simply not indicative of the average person on food stamps, and it’s incredibly dangerous to repeat this untruth.

    You do have a responsibility to care for your fellow person. It’s called empathy and being a decent human being. “All it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing.”

    If it would take just a 0.1% income tax, which is already much too high for the figures for the US, to prevent hunger in the US, then anyone who disagrees is a miserable excuse for a human being.

    I find it incredibly hard to think of comparable evils than being against food stamps in the US. The holocaust, maybe, itself a program which involved mass starvation.

  89. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Let me add:

    However, I see nothing wrong with requiring those who are on subsistence programs to do street cleanup or community service work in return if they are capable.

    I think I agree…

  90. says

    Hmmm, is there anyone in particular you wanted to throw such a childish ad hominem at?

    1) I was defining a word, or was that not clear? Nothing in the rest of your response even addressed what I said. It was all a red herring. If I were to call you an asshole, and explain why you’re wrong, besides that observation, that would not be an ad hominem.

    2) Even if I were to call you an asshole, that’s not an ad hominem. It’d be an ad hominem if it was under a construction like “What you’re saying is invalid because you’re an asshole”.

    How is it “righteous indignation” to realize that to potentially embarrass someone with an international audience is an asshole move?

    Do you think it’s appropriate for a complete stranger to hit on the hosts of a show?

  91. says

    You’ve attempted to make a mountain out of a molehill, for God only knows what reason…. Is this a hot-button issue for you, perhaps as someone who’s experienced sexual harassment? (You obviously don’t have to answer here…)

    Weren’t you the one complaining about us “telling you what you were thinking” because we pointed out that you had the construction of “I couldn’t care less” incorrect?

    But now you’re playing psychiatrist?

    No, I have no experience with sexual harassment. I care about my fellow human beings, and the topic of how minorities in the atheist groups are treated is a real problem – one that’s exasperated by hordes of members who are either oblivious to, or engaging in the wanton disregard for, what causes upset or discomfort to others.

    I’d like to have a wider, more diverse community.

    … but apparently some of us are so far desynchronized from social cues or empathy, that even the blatantly obvious example of hitting on female hosts of an international show doesn’t register.

  92. Matt Gerrans says

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that if you are not in favor of food stamps, then you are a miserable excuse for a human being, and you deserve all of the shame, ridicule, and scorn that can be heaped upon you.

    Really? People may be “not in favor” of that particular policy for many reasons. For example, food stamps as a way of helping those who need it also function as a method of “stamping” or branding people as “poor” or “economically inferior.” Many people are ashamed to use them for that reason.

    It is perfectly reasonable to have a “socialist”* mindset and be opposed to food stamps. For example, you might instead favor a system where everyone receives a subsistence level of income (without it being “stamped”) instead. This is an even more “socialist” idea than food stamps and less of a class-brander. Would someone favoring that be “a miserable excuse for a human being” in your somewhat-less-than-humble opinion?

    * These days I guess “socialist” means not believing in economic survival of the fittest. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. I think it is strange that we understand that it is “not fair” for the biggest, strongest person to physically beat up his neighbor, but it is okay for the most financially savvy or most avariciously greedy person to financially trounce everyone and such plundering and pillaging is just the way it should be.

  93. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Matt Gerrans
    As I wrote elsewhere, I did not intend for food stamps to be the only solution. Any solution that works equally well or better to solve for hunger in the US is an acceptable alternative. IMHO, no reasonable person could read my post and come away with that understanding. As I told Russell, you Matt Gerrans need to employ a little principle of charity.

  94. Matt Gerrans says

    “…like we have the responsibility to care for our fellow man, even if he sits on his butt waiting for a handout…”
    What’s so ironical about this right wing talking point is that right wing nut jobs are predominantly religious and religions support people (everyone in the church — priests, bishops, preachers, etc.) who do nothing of value in an economic sense. They are all freeloaders, who sit on their butts and pass around a basket for handouts “for God.” Fortunately for them, the people who spout these kind of talking points are too stupid too see when they are really being bilked, as long as they are fed some idiotic hard line dogma.

  95. Matt Gerrans says

    “If it would take just a 0.1% income tax, which is already much too high for the figures for the US, to prevent hunger in the US, then anyone who disagrees is a miserable excuse for a human being.”

    It doesn’t even take an increase in tax. How about just a small cut in the nearly $1 trillion we spend on the military every year. It costs us about $1 million a head to murder a foreigner. You’d think we could be a little more efficient than that, eh?

  96. Monocle Smile says

    EL,

    Still, I’m pretty wrong. Sorry.

    This is what exactly what separates us from most others. I like this about you.

    As I told Russell, you Matt Gerrans need to employ a little principle of charity.

    And now I’d like you to understand what Matt was getting at…I think. The reason neither him nor I overly indulge in the principle of charity is because there are plenty of people who truly believe exactly what they say. While the caller may not have meant that being “anything other than an extreme socialist” makes you a terrible person, those people DO EXIST.

    Similarly, when you say that anyone who doesn’t support food stamps is a miserable human being, I might understand what you really mean because I’m familiar with you on this blog, but there are people who believe exactly what you said and not what you meant. It’s mostly through dealing with creationists that I’ve realized that there’s a Rule 34-esque nature about exaggeration and hyperbole (i.e. if you make an exaggeration or use hyperbole, you can find someone who actually accepts said modification), and consequently I’ve become much less charitable in discussion.

  97. Matt Gerrans says

    …but apparently some of us are so far desynchronized from social cues or empathy…

    Like calling people “asshole” for example? That’s easy to do in a forum apparently, but a normal social situation might seem a bit “desynchronized” at best.

  98. TheDevice says

    Hello. I wasn’t really sure where to post my thoughts on your show so I just found an open post section and decided to start here.
     
    My name’s Aaron :D. I live in Chicago and I don’t practice any religion. I am however partial to theism as I’ve always questioned why such an idea of an intelligent creator is/isn’t conceivable.
     
    To note, this long and very philosophically-driven content is by no means to sway your beliefs in-favor of a “God”. My main goal is to expand the typical restraint of thought against unconventional theories such as a Deity or intelligent creator, most common among the scientific community.
     
    First off, I’d like to ask any of the hosts of the show if they believe in the possibility of an intelligent creator. (this question might harbor some infractions on the very basis of saying you are an Athiest depending on the answer.) You don’t necessarily have to openly reply to it but I would encourage you ask yourself (if not possibly and most likely for a hundredth time) and answer honestly.
     
    Many I’d presume would answer “No” to this question. The the following is based on that answer including other relevant, more detailed responses such as “I would if there was evidence” (which if so would set you in the category of agnostic rather than atheist) or “If proof of an intelligent creator came to be then it would still not change my position as an atheist since it would then fall into the realm of science”. The third type of response is also controversial to your own standing as an atheist for several reasons: One reason is that it would mean nothing is scientific or fiction; that fiction could simply be a precursor to fact or rather a conclusion absent of scientific development. Another is that the only barrier between you and your belief of a deity is how you define it; a deity (in a very loose definition) is a being who’s existence is not proven by scientific means; this would incur that our science is simply not capable of distinguishing what a “deity” is as of present times.
     
    For now, I’d like to focus on the last example response and it’s implications. If, by chance, a deity does exist and it is only the fault of our scientific methods which fail to prove it, then it could quite possibly mean that our current scientific methods are in fact not-so scientific at all. If science as we know it must evolve further or even completely revolutionize to accommodate such questions, then that just means our current state of scientific processes are fallible and something that cannot be used as a source to validate or make invalid the existence of something like a deity.
     
    Relying on science can also involve faith. When looking at an empty chair with the intent to sit in it, you turn away for a brief moment before conducting the desired act. Using your senses and inherent reasoning, you perform the motion of sitting even though you can no longer see the chair. Or, for example, when you walk into a dark room you flick on the light switch to light the room. This also requires faith in the intended result. You don’t look at the wiring before you turn on the switch nor do you feel a sense of chance. Only when the light does not turn on do you feel uneasy. We practice an inherent form of faith everyday.
     
    Looking back in our own history is also a good source of irony in how our civilization determines fact from fiction. If you told some run-of-the-mill townfolk in a medieval village that you can produce a beam of light from a bulb in a handheld contraption he would call you insane and possibly round up his fellow villagers and condemn you as a witch. Looking at somebody who believes in a “grand designer” or supreme being can be similar. Most people are the product of their surroundings and what they know to be true. This has both positive and negative results in the long-run. Saying that it is impossible for something to be true based on your current understanding of life’s laws is just as ignorant-minded as a common villager from the dark ages.
     
    Law, scientific or even judicial, are both good and bad. Laws form truths or constants which are used to produce further constants and truths. Though this process is indeed helpful to invention, problem-solving, medicine and much more, it can also be the very thing that hinders progress. This is mainly what I mean when I say restraint of thought. If there was ever an example of scientific dogma becoming it’s own obstacle to progress it’s in the true story of Albert Einstein and his theory of general relativity versus it’s own proof of black holes. (see Einsteins Blunder)
     
    As for ones requirement of proof before deeming worthy of fact; in all fairness it is a natural form of reasoning. I’d like to bring up what many would refer to as pseudo science called mulitvereses. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the theory of multiple universes though many scientists believe it not to be considered pseudo at all. In fact, many scientists who’ve shunned the spiritual or religious groups and could not possibly find themselves to be anywhere near the same region of such things have admitted the existence of God or a deity ironically by way of their own deeply dedicated research of multiverses. To put it simply, a multiverse is the idea of infinite universeses and consequentially infinite realities or possibilities. If said scientists where to actually beileive in their own life’s work they could only admit the reality of a supreme being ruling over the universe itself (even if not our own universe). Stephen Hawking is a huge supporter in the theory of multiverses. If there is any scientific theory to date that could mathematically prove the existence of a God(s) it is by looking at the number’s at which our universe expands, much like fractals, repeating its own shape in infinite lengths, resembling the product of some super computer.
     
    As I said, my intention is not to subdue you into thinking there is a god or a religion as fact but instead forgo any confining dogmas that will restrain your freedom of thought; a freedom which comes from an open mind.

  99. Monocle Smile says

    Oh, please.

    As for food stamps and welfare, we know from experience that these systems are abused, people who are capable of work refuse to do so because they do just as well off government handouts or they do work for payment under the table and take the handouts fraudulently.

    Yes, we know these systems are abused…by less than 2% of recipients. I can toss links your way if you like. If you’re so deep into this “principles over pragmatism” bullshit that this is enough for you to condemn an entire system, then you’re exactly the kind of person the caller was talking about.

    Also, for all the talk about the “have-nots” being lazy and entitled…have you ever spent much time around the children of millionaires? I live in the richest county in the country. All of the surrounding school districts have MASSIVE cocaine problems. Yet the arrest and conviction rates for possession are so much lower than those for marijuana in poorer areas. Why is that?

  100. Monocle Smile says

    I’m not a host, and I’m unsure about responding to that big post, but I’ll just drop a few pointers.

    You need to do some work on definitions, namely those of “atheism” and “agnosticism.” You are using them improperly.

    Second, you need to look into logic a bit. You make a mistake early on, and you need to understand that “possible” and “not proven to be impossible” are not the same thing.

    The last issue is that of the word “faith.” This is less straight-up etymological and has more to do with you committing multiple equivocation fallacies. Sorry, I don’t have “faith” that a light will turn on when I flip the switch. I have a reasonable expectation based on prior experience and my knowledge of how switches and lights are commonly assembled and used.

    Meanwhile, religious faith is typically an absolute conviction with NO evidence to support it. If you can’t distinguish these things, then discussion will be difficult.

  101. Monocle Smile says

    As an addendum, I might add that whether or not faith is HAD that is relevant. It’s whether faith is REQUIRED that matters. I could definitely go ahead and have faith that flipping a switch will turn on a light. But it’s not REQUIRED. If I so chose to do so, I could tear down the drywall, examine the wiring, check the filament, and check the contacts in the switch. I don’t NEED to have faith.

    So when you compare this to religion, you’re just plain wrong. Because religions REQUIRE faith. If they didn’t, there would be no need to advocate it…they could just demonstrate that their deity exists and their dogma is true and be done with it.

  102. corwyn says

    No, lumping anyone who disagrees with your political views, into the ‘evil’ bin is an evil act. Politics is not morality. That is the easy us vs. them mentality that causes so much strife in the world. We have in fact not yet solved the perfect morality, to say nothing of the perfect political philosophy. If you think you can determine that someone is evil based on a single word, you are susceptible to all sorts of vile behaviors. Start with the idea that no one is evil; rather that some acts are evil.

  103. adamah says

    Jasper of Maine sad-

    1) If I were to call you an asshole, and explain why you’re wrong, besides that observation, that would not be an ad hominem.

    Yeah, and that would be incorrect.

    If you call your opponent an ass, it’s ALWAYS considered an ‘abusive ad hominem’ (AAH)’ a sub-category or type of ad hominem (AH).

    For it NOT to be fallacious reasoning, you’d have to prove specifically the claim that your opponent actually IS an a-hole, and not just “explain why they’re wrong” (on whatever point they made that elicited the insult).

    Once again, the basic rule of debating is the one making ANY claim has to be able to produce compelling evidence to support THAT particular claim; if they DON’T, the claim should be rejected by observers.

    So until the claim of asshole is PROVEN, the position of the accuser is they’re guilty until they manage to exonerate themselves with supportive evidence to back the accusation (good luck with THAT! Usually the mod steps in before then, not letting the debate be sidetracked down rabbit-holes.)

    In other words, disproving the opponent’s unrelated claim doesn’t automatically prove the claim they’re an asshole: it’s a separate claim, requiring separate supportive evidence of its own.

    2) Even if I were to call you an asshole, that’s not an ad hominem. It’d be an ad hominem if it was under a construction like “What you’re saying is invalid because you’re an asshole”.

    Yeah, you’re absolutely and uttering wrong on that point, too.

    I can’t believe you’re actually trying to defend insulting others, using the lame excuse, “Well, it’s not actually an ad hominem, but merely an personal attack”…. REALLY? Holy Hell, talk about a loss of perspective!

    (And YES, I’m aware such thinking is prevalent on the internetz, but it’s nevertheless incorrect. I’m responding so your misunderstanding doesn’t infect others, since as you demonstrate, some will use the “it’s not an ad hominem, but only an insult” excuse to attack others, then illogically argue in defense of delivering personal insults in a debate, as if the purpose of a debate is to serve as an arena to exchange insults? Maybe that’s the rules of logic/rhetoric taught at ‘Jerry Springer University’ these days, but it’s quite different from my education and training!)

    The phrase ‘AH’ literally means an attack “to the person” (vs attacking the person’s argument).

    The ABSOLUTELY WEAKEST, crudest form of an AH is the ‘abusive (or simple) AH’ (AAH), calling someone a nasty name as an insult.

    Technically speaking, a AAH doesn’t rise to the label of an ‘argument’ (ie a premise and conclusion), but constitutes an unsupported statement. A premise, an opinion.

    In a debate setting, SAH are always considered ‘fouls’, since it’s usually done in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the opponent. The conclusion of an ‘AAH’ is assumed to be implied (baked into the cake, so to speak), so it doesn’t need to be explicitly stated.

    Thus it’s no defense to point out you didn’t actually follow up your “You’re an asshole” claim with an explicit, “Therefore, your argument should be rejected”, since the conclusion is ALWAYS assumed; otherwise there’d be no point in attempting to damage the credibility of their opponent within a debate/discussion setting.

    That should be fairly obvious: no one claims their opponent is talking out their ass, and then says their opponent’s position should be ACCEPTED!

    And regardless of the type, AHs are considered fouls, not simply because they’re insulting (trying to elicit an emotional response), but primarily because they fall under the category of constituting a ‘fallacy of relevance’ (further sub-categorized as a ‘genetic fallacy’, criticizing the source of a idea rather than the idea itself).

    AHs are considered potentially fallacious reasoning, since there is little (and notice I didn’t say NO) correlation between eg someone being an asshole and whether or not they’re correct on the topic under discussion.

    It’s considered irrelevant information, though, since even assholes can be factually-correct.

    The only time it’s proper to question someone’s expertise, credentials, motives, character, etc is when it’s reasonably related to the discussion; otherwise such unsubstantiated and unjustified personal attacks are viewed as “fishing expeditions”, or worse, malicious attempts to “spoil the well”, leading the audience (typically a jury) to view whatever their opponent says with a jaundiced eye, unwarranted suspicion.

    It’s dirty pool, but unfortuntely, sometimes it works.

    In fact, some of the most-brilliant people I know (via work) are more likely to be perceived as assholes by others, since they actually DO know their shit, and rarely are wrong when they open their mouths.

    They’ve learned not to open their mouth unless they’re DAMNED SURE they’re correct.

    Many people tend to hate such ‘smarty-pants’ ‘know-it-all’ types who actually do their homework before they speak. Haterz are gunna hate, regardless of how much they might claim to respect the pursuit of knowledge and truths via logic.

    Generally, their hate is a reflection of their own fragile ego and inadequacies talking (AKA green-eyed envy.)

    How is it “righteous indignation” to realize that to potentially embarrass someone with an international audience is an asshole move?

    Do you think it’s appropriate for a complete stranger to hit on the hosts of a show?

    Sorry, but I popped in only to clarify your misunderstanding of AHs so it doesn’t infect others.

    I’ve already clarified my answers to your questions in my posts above until I’m blue in the face (or fingers tips?), so please read my posts again.

    (If anyone wants to volunteer to help explain my points to Jasper, feel free, since there’s clearly a blockage somewhere between her and I.)

  104. adamah says

    Oh, on this:

    Jasper of Maine said-

    Weren’t you the one complaining about us “telling you what you were thinking” because we pointed out that you had the construction of “I couldn’t care less” incorrect?

    And your point is?

    I found it just as odious then to be told what I meant, just as I did when posting the words above.

    And for the record: with the passage of a few months, I now care even less than I did when I wrote the response that contained the expression you claimed (and STILL claim) was “incorrect”, when I said “I could care less”.

    I’m probably at the point only NOW where I couldn’t manage to care any less, since I don’t actually remember what the topic under discussion was (and I don’t actually care enough to go back and look)!

    Although I suppose I’ll hit absolute rock-bottom in caring about whatever it was I was talking about, when I completely forget about the entire incident, itself?

    :)

  105. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Politics is not morality.

    Yes it is.

    No, lumping anyone who disagrees with your political views, into the ‘evil’ bin is an evil act.

    Start with the idea that no one is evil; rather that some acts are evil.

    I was careful to avoid doing that. I said that the views are evil, and anyone who holds them in a miserable excuse for a human being. However, I agree saying that the “person is evil” is too simplistic.

    We have in fact not yet solved the perfect morality, to say nothing of the perfect political philosophy.

    And again, you’re just wrong. You are right that we don’t know the perfect system. We don’t know everything. However, we do know something. You are falsely conflating the two.

    For example, we might know not what constitutes the perfect diet. However, we can still say some things about nutrient, like eating lead is bad for you.

    Just like we know that eating lead is bad, we know that having a program in the US to provide free food to people who need it in the US is a good thing, and anyone who disagrees is simply wrong. Wrong in one of the most extreme and vile ways that I can imagine.

  106. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh. Acceptable. Guess I’ll have to append “(or some other program which also solves for hunger in the US)” to that rant.

  107. TheDevice says

    Thanks for the reply :D
     
    It was my understanding that atheism rejected the idea of a deity and an agnostic was the more indecisive sort. If I am wrong then I apologize.
     
    You’re clearly right about the “possible” and “not proven to be impossible” contrast. Although I think this also relates to my first blunder of not understanding the definitions of atheism and agnosticism. At least I think that is what you are referring to when I ask if the hosts believe in the possibility of a deity.
     
    Perhaps my question should have been more along the lines of “do you believe deities are proven impossible?”
     
    For the bit about faith; I understand how loosely it can be used (via etymology) but the crux of the point I meant to relay was that what your or even I know to be “reasonable expectation” itself contains a fraction of faith. Maybe that’s way off-base but It makes sense to me. Jumping into the arms of five strangers at a psychological rehabilitation center could have also been an example.
     
    I made no mention of religion as the focus-point of faith. In fact I do not consciously practice any forms of absolute blind faith. But again, you’re correct about the etymology of the word but the way I used it was not meant to endorse blind religious faith or anything like that. When I used the word faith it was meant to relay that we can make decisions without requiring 100% absolute assurance that the outcome will fit our expectations. I could have used the word trust but even that word emphasizes the value of understanding.

  108. Monocle Smile says

    A good definition of atheism is “rejection of theistic claims.” This is not the same as claiming that all theistic claims are false.

    Perhaps my question should have been more along the lines of “do you believe deities are proven impossible?”

    That would be a better question, because none of the hosts (and very, very, VERY few atheists, if any) would respond affirmatively. In fact, no skeptic would ever accept the proposition “it is impossible for X to be true” for all but a few select entries for X. Given this clarification, most of your first post is rather moot.

    we can make decisions without requiring 100% absolute assurance that the outcome will fit our expectations.

    I would say that assurance of this magnitude is impossible to obtain, and thus even discussing it is a red herring. Theists often commit what I call the 99=0 fallacy, wherein they claim that anything less than 100% certainty is all equivalent. They literally claim that being 99% certain is the same as blind faith. This kills discussion quickly because such thinking divorces oneself from reality.

    If there is any scientific theory to date that could mathematically prove the existence of a God(s) it is by looking at the number’s at which our universe expands, much like fractals, repeating its own shape in infinite lengths, resembling the product of some super computer.

    Most of what you posted about science is flatly wrong, but this bothered me the most. This is Deepak Chopra nonsense. The universe behaves NOTHING like a supercomputer. Furthermore, technology mimics nature, not the other way around…so if anything, it would be the supercomputer mimicking the universe (in the way you describe), but that’s not accurate, either.

  109. TheDevice says

    Ah. And about this subject of religion which I truly do not advocate, there is a difference between proof and being shown it. Meditation is a great example of that. Many a spiritualist or even a simple joe shmoe who practices meditation could attempt to convince another person to try it for its emotional healing or even its psychological effects. When someone will only attempt it if another could prove to them what they say is true there could be some obvious cause for dissension.
     
    Even if someone where to actively attempt meditation but did not acquire any of the advertised benefits then they could easily discount the validity of the entire practice, saying its delusional.

  110. corwyn says

    I don’t think any two people in this sub-thread are using the same definition of either capitalism or socialism. Agreement on anything after that seems doomed to failure.

    Do people want to use dictionary.com definitions as a start?

    Capitalism: an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

    Socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

  111. tgman says

    With all due respect, you really need to watch more TAE episodes. Your arguments are old, tired and lame. You could learn a lot.

  112. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    First off, I’d like to ask any of the hosts of the show if they believe in the possibility of an intelligent creator.

    Note that a couple hosts of the show (especially Tracie) have a pet peeve topic on the word “possible”. Sometimes people use the word “possible” in the sense of “epistemically possible”. Sometimes people use the word “possible” in the sense of “allowed by the laws of physics and the laws of reality”. The hosts, and especially Tracie, seem to only allow the use of the word “possible” in the sense of “physically possible” and never “epistemically possible”. (Which IMHO is irritating, but whatever.)

    Many I’d presume would answer “No” to this question.

    False. I believe most regulars of the blog, and the hosts, would answer that an intelligent creator is epistemically possible in a vague sense. (The hsots would say that they don’t believe it’s possible in the sense that they do not accept as true that an intelligent creator is allowed by the laws of physics. They do not accept as true that an intelligent creator is allowed by the laws of physics. They don’t know if an intelligent creator is allowed by the laws of physics. Ugg, again irritating word usage.)

    We do not know if there is some sort of vague intelligent creator. We do know that the evidence about evolution points towards a natural unguided process and strongly supports no intelligent creator of species. I bet most people here would say that the evidence also points towards a natural unguided process for the creation of life on Earth. Ala the god of the gaps, the space we should shove an intelligent designer is very small, perhaps for the “cause” of the big bang or some such. Even then, because the energy content of the universe is zero, it’s even plausible that we don’t need a cause for the universe, and it’s plausible that we don’t need an intelligent craetor there.

    agnostic

    Every famous published self-identified atheist I can find in the modern era of atheism, the last 300 years or so, has consistently used the word atheist to include the “I don’t know” position and the “there is no god” position. We’re the atheists. You don’t get to redefine the label we use to describe ourselves. Further, we were here a hundred years before Huxley coined the relevant meaning of “agnostic”. (Factoid: as far as I can tell, he held the same views of the modern “New Atheists”, except that he wanted to be polite and non-controntational about it, and that’s why he invented a new weasel word, “agnostic”.)

    “If proof of an intelligent creator came to be then it would still not change my position as an atheist since it would then fall into the realm of science”.

    If the proof exists, then it exists. All proof in this sense of the word is scientific. I assert that the “natural / supernatural” distinction is meaningless and should be discarded. I know many atheists who say that they have a position like what you say, but they’re just confused and very bad communicators, and I can argue them down pretty quickly.

    If science as we know it must evolve further or even completely revolutionize to accommodate such questions, then that just means our current state of scientific processes are fallible

    Appeal to consequences fallacy. You say that if science is not good enough to answer a question, then science is flawed and we need something better. You appeal to the notion that being unable to answer the “god question” is undesirable, and thus it’s false (the fallacy), and thus science is flawed or incomplete. Sorry, real logic doesn’t work like that. Maybe the question is unanswerable, and that’s just the way it is.

    Further, it is one of my basic starting presuppositions that the only acceptable way to learn about our shared material/causal reality is with evidence, inductive reasoning, Bayesian raesoning, and science. I refuse to acknowledge as valid other sorts of justifications for claims about our shared material/causal reality. If it exists in our reality, and if we can observe it, then we can gather evidence (observation) and create predictive models of the future, aka do science. If this purported thing in our reality cannot be observed, then definitionally it has absolutely zero effect on my life and thus it’s completely irrelevant. (In fact, I’d go a step further and say any talk about such things is meaningless in the sense of positivism.)

    Relying on science can also involve faith. When looking at an empty chair with the intent to sit in it, you turn away for a brief moment before conducting the desired act. Using your senses and inherent reasoning, you perform the motion of sitting even though you can no longer see the chair.

    Creating expectations of the future based on past experience, inductive reasoning, logic, and reason, is not faith. That’s science.

    Or, for example, when you walk into a dark room you flick on the light switch to light the room. This also requires faith in the intended result. You don’t look at the wiring before you turn on the switch nor do you feel a sense of chance. Only when the light does not turn on do you feel uneasy. We practice an inherent form of faith everyday.

    Again, I am basing expectations of the future on the presupposition that the future is sufficiently similar to the past to allow for the use of scientific reasoning. This is not faith. This is reason, logic, and science.

    When religious people talk about their religious faith, they are not talking about reason, logic, and science. I have good reasons to believe that the light will indeed come on when I flip the switch, whereas faith is the excuse religious people give when they have no good reasons for their beliefs.

    Looking back in our own history is also a good source of irony in how our civilization determines fact from fiction. If you told some run-of-the-mill townfolk in a medieval village that you can produce a beam of light from a bulb in a handheld contraption he would call you insane and possibly round up his fellow villagers and condemn you as a witch. Looking at somebody who believes in a “grand designer” or supreme being can be similar.

    If you produce the bulb and turn it on, then he would not call you insane. (Maybe still a witch, but that’s a separate story.) If you can demonstrate your “grand designer”, then do so. Otherwise I call shenanigans.

    Saying that it is impossible for something to be true based on your current understanding of life’s laws is just as ignorant-minded as a common villager from the dark ages.

    This notion of “being absolutely certain that it’s impossible” is a strawman of the skeptic and rationalist position. In the skeptic and rationalist position, we hold nothing or almost nothing to absolute certainty. Instead, everything we hold is to degrees of certainty, and we are always open to having our minds changed (in principle – sometimes we don’t have the time right then).

    If there was ever an example of scientific dogma becoming it’s own obstacle to progress it’s in the true story of Albert Einstein and his theory of general relativity versus it’s own proof of black holes. (see Einsteins Blunder)

    I have no clue what you are talking about. Google finds hits for Einstein’s cosmological constant. I fail to see what that has to do with black holes. I fail to see how it was a significant obstacle for scientific progress. What are you talking about?

    If said scientists where to actually beileive in their own life’s work they could only admit the reality of a supreme being ruling over the universe itself (even if not our own universe).

    I think you made a mistake. You are referring to the existence of some argument here, but you never actually state the argument. Maybe you accidentally editted the argument out? If you please, could you respond with the actual argument you’re talking about? I am unfamiliar with any argument which could get you from A to B.

  113. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    If meditation helped emotional well-being, you could do double-blind studies on it. You seem to have quite an artificially restricted view of science.

    What does this have to do with god?

  114. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think I’m using the same meaning of “socialism” as the right-winger, which loosely is “any economic policy which is not libertarian”. Of course, that’s not the dictionary definition nor the academic definition, and so I probably shouldn’t so flippantly use the word “socialist” in that meaning. Meh.

  115. TheDevice says

    So, interestingly I found Atheism in a new light. If I understand this correctly, most atheists simply reject what they do not understand or rather even has no bearing for being understood. I’m not being at all condescending in this question. I myself have no extensive history in the atheist culture and though this question is rather blunt I’m not expecting a black or white answer. but it seems that it about sums up the general consensus of atheism.

  116. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I think there is a huge language issue at play here.

    When atheists say “I reject that claim”, they very frequently mean “I do not accept that claim is true”, which is compatible with “I do not know if that claim is true, and I do not know if that claim is false. I am ignorant / undecided on that claim.”

    Unfortunately, in other contexts “I reject that claim” is synonymous with “I believe that claim is false”. When dealing in atheist circles, this particular idiomatic meaning is one of the most important things you need to know.

    Which god hypothesis are you talking about? I have strong confidence that the Christian god hypothesis is false. However, some sort of nebulous first-cause god may exist. I am ignorant / undecided on that issue.

  117. corwyn says

    Start thinking of ‘proof’ as something you do in Mathematics alone, and you will have an easier time here.

    Also if you look up ‘Bayesian’ you will perhaps get a better way to parcel up your thoughts like ‘belief’, ‘proof’,
    ‘being shown’, etc.

    For example, I might say, my confidence in the proposition that there exists a god, matching the one described in the bible, is -500 decibans. Decibans being (sort of) a measure of evidence. This would tell you that I have (extremely) little confidence in that proposition, and that I don’t have infinite negative evidence (proof of non-existence). It would also tell you how much evidence you would have to provide in order to change my mind. Re-frame your original post in those terms and see if some of the questions answer themselves.

    I would define faith, as having confidence in a proposition not consistent with the evidence I have received, and knowing that that is the case. Given that definition, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be in that mind state.

    If one defines faith as acting on a confidence with less than perfect confidence (i.e. with less that infinite evidence), than everything I do requires faith, and the word applies to every act, and is effectively meaningless. In order to be useful a word mostly needs to split the universe into at least two parts.

  118. TheDevice says

    Well it was an example to illustrate how a religious person would be rejected by a person who does not believe in their views. Its just a similarity. Not saying that meditation is religion at all. But they are two similar practices that may be rejected due to lack of proof.

  119. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And if you don’t have the double blind study to back up either, or other equivalent solid proof, then rejecting it as unsubstantiated is the proper course of action.

    I fail to see what point you are trying to make.

  120. says

    Corwyn:

    >I don’t think that morals should be determined by what is expected given our biology. That is, in fact, what differentiates human morals from other behaviors.

    I don’t agree. We are not the only animals with moral tendencies. Other social species have been demonstrated to display the metrics associated with morality—which is generally identified by compassion, equity, empathy and fairness—none of which requires thought processes higher than simply recognizing feelings and acting in accordance with them.

    Morality appears to have evolved as part of social species, as we don’t find these tendencies strongly demonstrated in non-social counterparts. Morality is inherent and demonstrated by behaviors that conform to these metrics. They all, also innately apply this interspecies. This is what we are identifying and describing when we test for morality in other species, for example. We don’t test wolves against rabbits, because we have strong evidence that wolves form social bonds with other wolves, not with rabbits. Social animals extend these tendencies within their species. This is what we are looking at when we say “morality.” I don’t really know what else someone would be labeling “morality” that has any demonstrated existence? It is that element of our natures that allows us to bond within our own species by extending those moral metrics previously noted.

    > And I would equate ‘expected given our biology’ with ‘natural’. Therefore I would say that if the question is ‘is eating meat moral’, a reply of ‘eating meat is natural’ would be the the naturalistic fallacy.

    But that is, again, not the question. The question is: “Is eating meat IMMORAL?”—this is what I meant when I said this was often used as a shifting of the burden or proof. Omnivores eat meat. If someone says that is “wrong” behavior for an omnivore—they have the burden of proof to show what they are using for the “template” for a wolf, let’s say? Someone says it is wrong for a wolf to eat meat. And I’m asking, “Where are you getting your template for correct wolf behavior?” Does this represent abnormal wolf psychology? No. Does it represent an affront to wolf morality—the metrics wolves use to form bonds and create social/family structures with other wolves? No. OK—so where is the “wrong” aspect coming from?

    >As always the easy way to determine how one feels about the fallacy is to find two situations which are similar, but about which one has opposite feelings. If one thinks that eating meat is expected,

    Again—shifting going on. The person claiming it’s NOT expected is the one making the claim. The wolf eats the rabbit. I come up to the wolf and say it is wrong to do so. I claim moral grounds—and yet, the only real demonstrated morality for social species does not align with my claim. And from a purely factual (scientifically verifiable) perspective, the wolf is behaving in a reasonable fashion for a wolf. It’s not acting abnormally. In fact, the person asserting it should stop eating meat is asserting that the wolf should behave abnormally in order to be a “good wolf.” But where is their template for a “good wolf” coming from?

    > therefore moral;

    I did not claim eating meat is moral. I claimed it has not been demonstrated to be immoral. Not all behaviors have moral implications. I’m typing a post reply here. There is nothing “moral” about doing this. It is not tied to compassion, empathy, equity or fairness in any significant way. But if someone came up to me to say it was immoral—I would rightly ask them “on what grounds?”

    >think about extra-marital sex which is also expected, but immoral.

    This is news to everyone who is in a polyamorous marriage. What makes extra-marital sex immoral would be when other immoral aspects are added to it that undermine compassion, fairness, empathy and equity. That is—there is nothing at all wrong with being in a marriage and having sex with other people—couples often agree to this behavior. But if you do it, and LIE to your partner—that would be immoral, because it is considered “unfair.” They are deceiving one party into keeping to an agreement through deception, and not giving the other person the ability to provide informed consent. They are, in essence, defrauding their spouse. This is what makes such a thing immoral: It violates the metric of “fairness.” Additionally, it threatens social bonds–the bonds that morality has, apparently, evolved to help maintain and produce.

    > Only if one can’t find a single thing (and other can’t find any for one) that one thinks is expected, but immoral, or can’t imagine someone discovering is natural, that one thinks is immoral, does the ‘expected’ argument get one out of the naturalistic fallacy.

    I didn’t follow this last part. It confused me.

  121. TheDevice says

    Before I reply to most of this I want to say that I personally feel we are simply two different sides of the same coin.
     
    If a person believes in a supreme being (theist), that doesn’t validate the existence if a deity. I agree with that.
     
    The portion that I kinda feel sketchy about, and perhaps its due to my lack of understanding on what the average atheist believes, is that their decision is not swayed in favor of validating a grand creator due to lack of proof.
     

    If the proof exists, then it exists. All proof in this sense of the word is scientific. I assert that the “natural / supernatural” distinction is meaningless and should be discarded. I know many atheists who say that they have a position like what you say, but they’re just confused and very bad communicators, and I can argue them down pretty quickly.

     
    Just because somebody believes in something does not make it true. And if you don’t believe in something it equally has no relevance. Consequently, if this is agreed, then there should be no cause for rejection in any case. People don’t make facts, they are there whether we believe in them or not. Ultimately, not to incite any aggravation, this tends to presume Atheists themselves have their own belief system.
     
    What you disagree with, reject, accept, prove, or otherwise perceive has no bearing on reality or facts. Perception is a reactive sense. Nobody created mountains when they first saw them. The world didn’t magically become round when we first discovered it to be so. It always was. So, in reality, what you or I believe is of no consequence. What may be proven scientifically does not give credit to its existence in reality.
     

    Creating expectations of the future based on past experience, inductive reasoning, logic, and reason, is not faith. That’s science.
     
    …Again, I am basing expectations of the future on the presupposition that the future is sufficiently similar to the past to allow for the use of scientific reasoning. This is not faith. This is reason, logic, and science.
     
    When religious people talk about their religious faith, they are not talking about reason, logic, and science. I have good reasons to believe that the light will indeed come on when I flip the switch, whereas faith is the excuse religious people give when they have no good reasons for their beliefs.

     
    The interesting thing about using correct language, and rightfully so, is that it’s always a two-way street.
     
    There is choice to be had whether you frame it in a way that resembles somebody handing you a cup of coffee and it spills to the ground because you did not grab it, or by saying you only semi hold out your hand to a particular blend or even further by ignoring the act completely as if nobody and nothing was there in the first place.
     
    If our current (or even entire) method of “science” is incapable of proving certain facts about the universe and would require completely revolutionized method of doing so then wouldn’t our current scientific methods and dogmas be obsolete, irrelevant to discovering facts about the universe? Someone who follows a belief system generally expects results no matter the process, whether it be blind faith or deductive reasoning. When greater obstacles arise, even scientifically speaking, you might have to change the entirety of that system.
     
    I would imagine an atheist has no problem with this view. The general methodology of an atheist seems that of going with the flow. “there might be something up ahead but it doesn’t matter to me because I’m right here.”
     
    This way of belief would be drastically counter-productive in the field of science. Everything is a two-way street. We are both reactive and proactive.
     

    I have no clue what you are talking about. Google finds hits for Einstein’s cosmological constant. I fail to see what that has to do with black holes. I fail to see how it was a significant obstacle for scientific progress. What are you talking about?

     
    Einstein had altered his own cosmological constant that was added to his theory of general relativity because it resulted in the proof of black holes (a concept that Einstein did not like) by means of an ad hoc that totally altered his theory. He later reverted back to the original after he finally admitted there was no error in his theories. His blunder was an example of how dogmatic science can become which can cause similar recoils in progress. Though there was no absolute stagnation of progress due to his moment of stubbornness, its merely an example.

  122. TheDevice says

    Maybe they just didn’t do it right? Hah idk. My issue is not that you reject a deity as being factual (in fact I’m having a hard time finding any kind of issue at all here) but I’m still not sure what the distinction is between an atheist and somebody who just doesn’t know enough about something to believe in it.

    Why all the cultural pizzazz? I don’t understand what the big deal is honestly lol. Maybe pop culture brought me here XD. I actually also don’t understand why people get so aggravated with you guys it’s almost the same as getting angry at Canada. How can you get angry at Canada? I’m teasing but still.

  123. says

    I don’t want you to feel like you’re being ganged up on or anything, because it does look like you’re making a sincere effort to make a point. But I have to be honest, you haven’t really presented anything cogent. Your presentation is a little muddled, which makes it hard to unpack.

    The portion that I kinda feel sketchy about, and perhaps its due to my lack of understanding on what the average atheist believes, is that their decision is not swayed in favor of validating a grand creator due to lack of proof.

    Are you saying that you have trouble understanding why atheists don’t accept your idea that there is a “grand creator”? And further, are you agreeing that there’s a lack of evidence for it? Or are you saying that you can’t understand the atheist position that that there is no evidence for a “grand creator”, but that you disagree with that conclusion? Or have I misread it both times?

    I won’t speak for anyone else, much less the “average atheist”, but I’m happy to help you understand what this atheist believes.

  124. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    The portion that I kinda feel sketchy about, and perhaps its due to my lack of understanding on what the average atheist believes, is that their decision is not swayed in favor of validating a grand creator due to lack of proof.

    Elsethread, you also said this:

    Maybe they just didn’t do it right? Hah idk. My issue is not that you reject a deity as being factual (in fact I’m having a hard time finding any kind of issue at all here) but I’m still not sure what the distinction is between an atheist and somebody who just doesn’t know enough about something to believe in it.

    Our working definition of atheist includes someone who just doesn’t know enough about something to believe in it.

    Atheism includes the “I don’t know position”. Someone who doesn’t know enough to make up their mind should be in the “I don’t know position”. Someone who lacks evidence for gods and evidence against gods should be in the “I don’t know position”. Someone in the “I don’t know” position about gods is an atheist.

    We are talking past each other. I tried to explain the linguistic confusions elsethread. Let me try again. In normal discourse, saying “I reject that” is often synonymous with saying “I believe it is false”. When dealing with atheists, they have these interesting idiomatic phrases. When an atheist says “I reject your claim or argument that a god exists”, he often means only that “I am not convinced by your claim or argument”. When an atheist says “I reject your claim”, often he does not mean that “I believe your claim is false”.

    Just because somebody believes in something does not make it true.

    Correct.

    If our current (or even entire) method of “science” is incapable of proving certain facts about the universe and would require completely revolutionized method of doing so then wouldn’t our current scientific methods and dogmas be obsolete, irrelevant to discovering facts about the universe?

    Again, I reject this outright. Further, I say that this is flagrantly false. The only acceptable method about learning about our shared material/causal reality is using evidence, reason, logic, Bayesian reasoning, science, etc. If you cannot do it with that, then you cannot do it at all. This is foundational for me.

    You are welcome to try and change my mind. For starters, you would have to explain what you think is an alternative. What methods, processes, and standards do you propose that we should use instead of science or in addition to science? I cannot properly ridicule your position if you do not state what your position is. And yes, I very much expect that I will ridicule your position. I find it ludicrously unlikely that you will be able to propose something as an alternative or addition to science, and that you can convince me that we should use it.

    Einstein had altered his own cosmological constant that was added to his theory of general relativity because it resulted in the proof of black holes (a concept that Einstein did not like) by means of an ad hoc that totally altered his theory. He later reverted back to the original after he finally admitted there was no error in his theories. His blunder was an example of how dogmatic science can become which can cause similar recoils in progress. Though there was no absolute stagnation of progress due to his moment of stubbornness, its merely an example.

    Analogies by arguments are fraud (-Bjarne Stroustrup). Attempting to explain or teach or aid understanding by metaphor and analogy can be useful. I do not believe you are making an argument by analogy here. I believe you are merely attempting to illustrate some point. However, I do not follow your analogy. It is not useful in this case because it is not helping you communicate with me. I am as lost now as ever.

    Einstein made a mistake. He thought black holes were obviously wrong. He probably thought so on the basis of the available evidence and his understanding of reality. Later, Einstein changed his mind about black holes, again on the basis of evidence, reason, and logic, he changed his position to be the right position. His earlier beliefs about black holes was based on the best evidence and argument he had at the time. His later beliefs about black holes was also based on the best evidence and argument he had at the time. Thus, it was never dogma. Dogma is something held without good reason, and often in spite of good reasons to the contrary.

    Compare and contrast: The usual religious person actually has a dogma that their holy book is the inspired word of a god. They have no good reason for this belief, and it is exceedingly difficult to reason them out of this belief with evidence and argument. That makes it a dogma.

    I see no useful similarity for the purposes of this discussion.

    What I see is you trying to conflate people who use evidence and reason (Einstein) with those who do not use evidence an reason (religious people on religious matters). I’m sorry – there is no similarity. You’re going to have to do better if you want to make the argument that there is.

  125. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Indeed. I’m having difficulty parsing what TheDevice is saying too. He’s being too “philosophical” which has the effect of being evasive.

    For example – I give good odds that he will flat out refuse to explain what methods, processes, and standards he thinks we should employ as an alternative to science or in addition to science. I see that all the time with religious folk – always claiming that science sucks like this, but never willing to put up. I also predict I’ll be here for many, many posts, trying to tease exactly that out of TheDevice.

  126. TheDevice says

    Well I never really mentioned having a solid conception of a grand creator and I don’t think I presented any inclination to have anyone believe in what I believe in. Also, I do not deny the lack of evidence for any type of supreme being.

    The second part I think was illustrating how confusing my statement must have sounded and I think rephrasing it will be the best course for coherency.

    What I meant to say: Atheists reject the claim of deities and I’m not sure how this is a thing?

    Maybe it’s my own ignorance at play here. I admittedly have a problems facing my own conceptions of god or the possibilities of something greater. My entire life sometimes seems to revolve around it and maybe that’s my biggest problem is my reluctance to just chuck it up in the air and let time decide.

    My position has more or less been a play-on-words. I’m not a fan of absolutes and I sensed there might have been a larger amount of that at play here but I think I was flat out wrong. In all honestly It’s confusing to me when I go down this road. XD.

  127. says

    Welcome, TheDevice!

    I don’t have much to add that the other regulars have raised. Since you seem to be seeking knowledge, so I thought I’d point you to a couple of good resources.

    This is a good book to read on science and critical thinking that is lauded by atheists and (non-fundamental) theists alike: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World

    Here are a couple of IronChariots.org articles (linked on the blog’s side bar, a wiki created/administrated by Matt Dillahunty and Russel Glasser) to understand atheism (and the different flavors therein):
    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheist_vs._agnostic
    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheism

  128. says

    I admittedly have a problems facing my own conceptions of god or the possibilities of something greater. My entire life sometimes seems to revolve around it and maybe that’s my biggest problem is my reluctance to just chuck it up in the air and let time decide.

    To me, the problem you describe is one of the most emotionally appealing parts of being an atheist. With no god, you’re in control of your own destiny. There’s nothing “higher” out there that requires anything from you, it’s just you and the people around you and the spot in the universe we all find ourselves. You’ll realize that this life has vastly more meaning, since it looks like this is the only one we’ve got.

    Now, this isn’t a reason, in itself, to be an atheist (and you don’t have to label yourself as one, I’m just saying “a person who doesn’t believe in god”), but if you’re holding on to some belief because you fear what happens if you stop believing, all I can say is that you have nothing to fear and I think you’re in for a treat. I almost wish I could go back to believing so I could experience realizing that I don’t believe all over again!

  129. Matt Gerrans says

    I don’t agree that “agnostic” means wimpy atheist. I think it means people who hold the position that it is impossible to know whether or not a god exists.

    So that would mean that atheism is a position on belief in non-existent magical story characters, whereas agnosticism is a position about belief about a particular question of epistemology.

    Unfortunately, it seems most people don’t agree with me on this and prefer to use “agnostic” as a substitute for “spineless atheist” or “atheists who don’t want to hurt your delicate religious feelings by admitting to you that they don’t believe in your god.”

    I think that’s the wrong understanding, but I only have etymology to back it up, not popular agreement.

  130. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Arguing over definitions is generally annoying at best. However, I am now. Etymology is not how words have their meaning. Consensus is the most important thing. Dictionaries track consensus, not the other way around.

  131. xscd says

    TheDeity (I mean TheDevice) says:

    If science as we know it must evolve further or even completely revolutionize to accommodate such questions, then that just means our current state of scientific processes are fallible and something that cannot be used as a source to validate or make invalid the existence of something like a deity.

    That’s a ridiculous statement. That’s exactly like saying that if we can’t know everything, we can’t know anything, which is apologist Sye ten Bruggencate’s argument.

    Our experience and perception provide us with evidence that allows us to know and understand reality. The mere fact that we can find no evidence for an unnatural, nonphysical “deity” doesn’t invalidate everything we do know and have evidence for. Just because we don’t know whether Santa Claus exists (because we have no evidence that he does or doesn’t) does not mean that everything else we do have evidence for is wrong or untrustworthy. We know that the sun, moon and stars exist despite the fact that we don’t know whether a deity exists.

    Yes, there probably do exist things that we don’t know (yet), or may never know. The nature of consciousness may not be entirely physical, and may provide a way to gather evidence not available to the physical senses. That’s possible, and anyone is as free to believe that as they are free to believe that the conceptions in their imagination are actually real, but fortunately, no one else is obliged to endorse or participate in yours or anyone else’s particular fantasy.

    As always, I’ll mention one caveat. I happen to believe that nonphysical reality does in fact exist, and that physical reality is a subset of a more varied reality, and that our consciousness does indeed persist after death, all because of a personal experience that I no longer (or very rarely) discuss in public. But there is no reason to convince or encourage others to “endorse or participate in yours, mine or anyone else’s particular fantasy.”

    Anyway, please consider, refine and restate your arguments in a way that places them on more solid ground, if you are posing them for the consideration of others rather than merely indulging them for yourself. :-)

  132. Muz says

    Both those definitions aren’t great. But the Socialism one is better than most terse ones you encounter. Usually people/sources seem at pains to point out that Socialism is the relinquishing of private property rights. Which isn’t really true and depends which flavour you’re talking about (not something a lot of theorists spent enough time thinking about really, leaving it open for guys like Lenin to fill in the blanks).

    The capitalism one is actually more problematic in some ways, basically saying “Anything but this implies government control”. Which isn’t really what it means. I don’t expect a potted history of economics in my dictionary definitions, but capitalism is all about distributed ownership and investment. It was so even when you had to get your articles of incorporation from the king when he was in a good mood, but in essence worked the same.

  133. xscd says

    xscd says:

    Anyway, please consider, refine and restate your arguments in a way that places them on more solid ground, if you are posing them for the consideration of others rather than merely indulging them for yourself.

    Either that, or just say any stupid thing you want off the top of your head and see how other people react. It’s fun and very educational. :)

  134. Matt Gerrans says

    Do you believe that Jesus Christ, The One True God, existed and walked on water, withered fig trees and turned water into wine?

    Do you believe that Joseph Smith got direct messages from The One True God, Jesus Christ on magic golden plates?

    Do you believe that Mohammad flew on a winged horse and split the moon in half, with the help of The One True God, Mohammad?

    Do you believe that thetans live in your body?

    Do you believe that that repeating the “Hari Krishna” will give you the pure love of the One True God, Krishna?

    Do you believe that the One True God, Yahweh created man not realizing at first that He should also create a woman and then put them in a garden with a trap and then furnished them with curiosity, accepted human sacrifices, murdered nearly every human and animal on the planet?

    Do you believe in Vishnu and all his millions of fellow gods and goddesses?

    Or do you believe in some fuzzy ill-defined “god” who is all-powerful, all knowing and all-loving, but also “all-mysterious,” invisible and effectively inert?

    If your answer to EACH AND EVERYONE ONE of these is not a heartfelt and sincere “Yes, definitely!” then what evidence do you use to either include or exclude any of them in what you believe?

    …besides the fact that many of them are mutually exclusive, of course.

  135. Matt Gerrans says

    Whoops, got a typo in there. this one:
    “Do you believe that Mohammad flew on a winged horse and split the moon in half, with the help of The One True God, Mohammad?”
    Should be:
    “Do you believe that Mohammad flew on a winged horse and split the moon in half, with the help of The One True God, Allah?”

    I hope Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful doesn’t send me to Muslim hell for that one.

  136. bigwhale says

    Part of the problem is that women who speak up will get called bitches no matter how much they aren’t trying to be. I now cringe whenever I hear someone’s failure being described as “bitch”. What’s wrong with being a bitch? is being a woman somehow lesser than? That’s what is usually implied. Having such a title makes people think about things and wonder why you would be insulted to be called a bitch. What does that word really mean?

  137. Matt Gerrans says

    Etymology is not how words have their meaning. Consensus is the most important thing. Dictionaries track consensus, not the other way around.

    Bleh. So I guess “literally” really does mean “very” now, because most people are too lazy to look up what a word actually does mean. So we just change it around, ’til all words mean the same thing and we don’t any words to express a concept like “literally.” We can also now use the Alanis Morissette un-definition of “irony” as well. A brilliant victory for linguistic expressiveness! I guess we should just use any old word to mean whatever we like. So when someone says the have faith, maybe they really mean they have strong evidence and repeatable methods of verification, eh?

    Seriously, what we do need is some more nomenclature that is specific rather sticking with words that have been so heavily abused that they have virtually no useful meaning. For example it would be nice to have very specific words for these:

    * People who don’t believe in any of the specific gods that humanity has invented thus far.
    * People who don’t really believe, but also are not interested in the topic and don’t want to “rock the boat” by questioning any one else’s irrational belief (this is what “agnostic” has devolved into).
    * People who aren’t “practicing” any specific religion, but also are not rational (or just not very intelligent) and so have vague beliefs in magical/mystical nonsense and think of themselves as “open minded.”
    * Moderate religious people who don’t really believe, but don’t want to identify that way and try to avoid thinking too deeply about it.
    * Serious religious nut jobs or devout believers.

    There are probably several more variations that don’t spring to mind, but are worth delineating…

  138. says

    To me being an atheist doesn’t mean rejecting any god(s), but rather questioning the validity of ones claim that someone’s god(s) exist and there cannot be any other god(s) that exist, nor any other possible means to explain the existence of mankind and life. This is nothing more then drawing a conclusion from ignorance. If someone could prove,(establish the truth or fact) that their god exist or even prove the supernatural then I would at least have some reason to believe in the supernatural,(superstition) and I would have less reason to be an atheist. As an atheist it would be my obligation to be objective and reserve judgment (discretion) instead of passing judgment because my faith gives me that warm and fluffy feeling and I that it’s my belief in a god(s) that makes me better then an atheist because my god(s) is/are going to punish atheists and I’m not. This however wouldn’t be enough to convince me to trust their god, it would only mean that they have some creditability to their claim and that I would still question their god(s) authority and why it surpasses other established authorities that do exist. Faith in god(s) or the supernatural is irrelevant and inconsistent if there is no evidence that would support such a claim or belief.

  139. says

    Quoted from EL – “We’re the atheists. You don’t get to redefine the label we use to describe ourselves. Further, we were here a hundred years before Huxley coined the relevant meaning of “agnostic”. (Factoid: as far as I can tell, he held the same views of the modern “New Atheists”, except that he wanted to be polite and non-controntational about it, and that’s why he invented a new weasel word, “agnostic”.)”

    You seem to be using the current commonly used definition of ‘agnostic’ to accuse Huxley of creating a ‘weasel word’ rather than his own definition while also saying that we should be able to define the meaning if words we use to define ourselves.

    I am an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe that the claims of gods have been demonstrated, and I don’t claim to know for sure that he doesn’t.

    Gnostic/agnostic is the y axis to theist/atheist’s x axis.
    Using agnostic as a ‘middle ground’ is allowing a misuse of atheist in by the back door.

  140. TheDevice says

    I suppose I should have said that differently. I don’t discount all our current understandings of reality by way of science. I was saying that if our current methods are not sufficient enough to determine other facts about the universe then those methods might need to change before we can progress.
     
    I’m a little offended at the way you twisted my name into TheDeity since that was never my intent. I personally feel that there are many assumptions being made here across the board about what I’m even talking about most the time. I’ve tried to say simply that I don’t have a conception of a grant creator, I don’t believe or practice any religion, and I don’t deny that there is lack of proof in a deity of any sort.
     
    I’m speaking in broader terms and have tried my best to go without labeling myself as anything. I’m not trying to convert anyone or tell everyone they are wrong for not accepting my ideas or others. I simply don’t believe we know everything to choose any sides. I don’t like absolutes since I believe everything is susceptible to change and will eventually. I’ll also admit to the contradiction of even saying I don’t believe in absolutes (then again I think everything is a contradiction.)
     
    I understand the comfort it brings to not accept proof of something that simply doesn’t make sense. I don’t deny that’s a reasonable place to be and on a scale, as somebody put it in el, there is no absolute 100% confidence against either argument; a deity may be but we don’t know enough to accept it as truth. Many of my statements were simply designed to promote an open mind.
     
    I’ve already admitted also that not only am I not fluent in atheism, but I have been misunderstanding what exactly the definition of an atheist is. I wasn’t trying to put you or anyone on a defensive stance or anything.
     
    When I used the word obsolete it wasn’t meant to discount anything we have gained by science or the value of it’s methods. When somebody says alchemy or even philosophy should be treated as obsolete in the wake of modern science, should that discount all their achievements? I wouldn’t think so. It just means we’re advancing.

  141. xscd says

    xscd says:

    or just say any stupid thing you want off the top of your head and see how other people react. It’s fun and very educational.

    And spontaneous remarks often spur the conversation better than considered and carefully-constructed comments delivered with some kind of authority (even if that authority consists only of appearance, not fact) and finality. Spontaneous comments commonly unintentionally walk into rhetorical traps and trigger other people’s emotional explosive charges, so they stimulate the conversation and can cause it to be more fun and more truly educational, and ultimately more fulfilling, than long, tedious, emotionally-armored discussions.

    Which reminds me– For the young-Earth, evolution doesn’t exist because Noah’s flood wiped all that out crowd–

    How did Noah and his family collect and place on the ark the many tiny or microscopic animals on Earth at that time, the tiny tardigrades, all the bacteria and other microscopic organisms, and all the millions of insects? The insects alone would probably more than filled the ark, and I can only think that Noah and his family would have jumped off the side of the boat screaming to get away from them.

    And since the flood covered the world and must have killed all the land plants from both submersion and the poisonous effects of the dissolved salts in ocean water, and since plants weren’t included in the species listed to be saved by the ark, why do we have the great diversity of plants that exist today? Where did they come from? Did they all evolve after Noah and the Flood?

  142. xscd says

    TheDevice says:

    I was saying that if our current methods are not sufficient enough to determine other facts about the universe then those methods might need to change before we can progress.

    Not until we run out of things to learn and discover about the universe and our reality using the tools we already have, right? Should cave men have given up and stopped learning as soon as they realized they weren’t as smart as they might have hoped, and that their primitive religion-inflected ideas about the universe were probably not really up to the task? :)

    TheDevice says:

    I’m a little offended at the way you twisted my name into TheDeity since that was never my intent.

    You’ll get over it. I was just amused by some of your comments, even though for reasons I’ve stated in other responses above I personally appreciated them. You gave everyone a reason to jump into the conversation, even if it was only to jump on you. You provided a service to the discussion. Thank you.

    TheDevice says:

    then again I think everything is a contradiction

    You’re right. I think that’s it’s wonderful that everything both is and is not as it seems.

    TheDevice says:

    I understand the comfort it brings to not accept proof of something that simply doesn’t make sense.

    For religious people the opposite is true: they try to wrap themselves in the comfort of very-likely-contrary-to-fact religious ideas. I’m sure that the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were comforted by their gods too, even though we now consider their religions perhaps interesting and charming, but quaint and silly. Taking religion (or anything) too seriously can be a problem. But Christianity and Islam will both join those ancient religions one day as interesting but archaic and obsolete artifacts of the history of human culture.

  143. corwyn says

    …the tiny tardigrades…

    Oh please. Like a mere worldwide flood could kill the tardigrades. They can survive in open space! :-)

  144. corwyn says

    You’ll get over it.

    This is why we can’t have anyone nice. Please, xscd, be kind.

  145. jacobfromlost says

    Enlightenment Liberal: For example – I give good odds that he will flat out refuse to explain what methods, processes, and standards he thinks we should employ as an alternative to science or in addition to science. I see that all the time with religious folk – always claiming that science sucks like this, but never willing to put up. I also predict I’ll be here for many, many posts, trying to tease exactly that out of TheDevice.

    Me: I second that. I haven’t read the entire thread but I get the same impression. I can remember holding a similar position as TheDevice intermittently in high school and early college. I just didn’t think very much about what the scientific method actually is, or what an “alternative” method COULD BE in relation to it. It just kind of “felt right”…until I studied science a bit more, critical thinking a bit more, and when put side by side with religious/ philosophical/ “felt right” notions, realized I was totally wrong. The reason there was no good evidence for aliens wasn’t because scientists weren’t taking it seriously, it was simply because there was no good evidence for aliens. And same for ghosts, souls, psychic powers, etc, all of which I entertained as far greater possibilities when I didn’t know how to think very well.

    When it comes down to it, there are legions upon legions of people who take aliens seriously, ghosts seriously, psychic powers seriously, etc, and the scientific method is RIGHT THERE to demonstrate that those things are real IF THEY ARE REAL. And if they are real, it would take very little to demonstrate that they are using the scientific method.

    And yet no one ever has. THAT is what I didn’t understand when was young and ignorant.

  146. corwyn says

    I understand the comfort it brings to not accept proof of something that simply doesn’t make sense.

    This is 1) wrong, and 2) sounds patronizing. It actually does not provide comfort only accepting things to the degree to which evidence has been provided. Hard work, yes. Motivating, Yes. Intriguing, yes. Comforting, not so much.

    I don’t deny that’s a reasonable place to be

    It is the only reasonable place to be. That is what ‘reasonable’ means.

    and on a scale, as somebody put it in el, there is no absolute 100% confidence against either argument; a deity may be but we don’t know enough to accept it as truth.

    This sounds (again) like the 99% = 0 argument. There is never going to be 100% confidence in anything (outside of logical contradictions, etc.). Ever. That would require infinite evidence, and that is impossible in a finite time. So instead of taking the lowest possible justification for a deity, that it can’t be disproved (just like everything else), why not find (and provide to us) a single piece of positive evidence. You may not start with the same prior as I, about the existence of a deity, but you really need some positive evidence to make it something other than just your wishful thinking.

  147. Monocle Smile says

    I recommend picking a relevant topic and staying on it. Long-winded, rambling posts are difficult to address.

    I was saying that if our current methods are not sufficient enough to determine other facts about the universe then those methods might need to change before we can progress.

    Not relevant to atheism.

    I simply don’t believe we know everything to choose any sides. I don’t like absolutes since I believe everything is susceptible to change and will eventually. I’ll also admit to the contradiction of even saying I don’t believe in absolutes (then again I think everything is a contradiction.)

    You sound like a post-modernist. Sorry, that’s just not how reality works. It’s very clear you fundamentally don’t understand logic, and thus you don’t understand our position. You’d be extremely hard-pressed to find an atheist who claims with heavy certainty that no gods exist and are all impossible.

    there is no absolute 100% confidence against either argument; a deity may be but we don’t know enough to accept it as truth.

    I addressed this earlier. Please read my short posts if I’m going to read your giant ones.

    Many of my statements were simply designed to promote an open mind.

    I HATE when people say shit like this, because it’s condescending and a hallmark of concern trolls. You stroll in here and accuse us of being dogmatic when you don’t understand our position at all (and even admitting this doesn’t stop you from doing so) and are flatly wrong about almost everything you write.

    When somebody says alchemy or even philosophy should be treated as obsolete in the wake of modern science, should that discount all their achievements?

    I’ve never heard anyone say that philosophy is obsolete (and I won’t believe you if you claim to have met “atheists” who make this claim), but alchemy achieved exactly nothing, so we can of course discount its achievements. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  148. adamah says

    Don’t let the trolls get to you, TheDevice: unfortunately, those claiming to be atheists aren’t always rationalists, and will use childish arguments (that name-twisting thing is a classic ‘style over substance’ fallacious attack, xscd).

    TheDevice, you bring up some interesting thoughts, ones that crossed my mind when I was a young person.

    TheDevice said-

    I was saying that if our current methods are not sufficient enough to determine other facts about the universe then those methods might need to change before we can progress.

    And what are YOU personally doing to advance the technology used in science?

    What do scientists do, if not look for better, more-powerful mousetraps in order to advance the boundaries of human knowledge? It’s why NASA deployed the Hubble space telescope, and is working on its replacement.

    One only needs look at history to find PLENTY of examples of technology being the limiting factor, eg believing in radio waves in 30CE would be pure madness, since there was absolutely no reason to believe they existed without any means of detecting them. (At that time, believing in radio waves was even worse than believing in demons, since there ARE known physical phenomena (eg sleep paralysis) which might lead one to come up with the ‘demon hypothesis’). It took a few more millennia for the existence of radio waves to actually be confirmed (eg Marconi’s invention, leading to the cell phones we use today).

    I recently wrote about the same phenomena in a discussion of Jesus’ ‘sin hypothesis of disease’ vs Pasteur’s ‘germ theory of disease’, looking at the roots behind Jesus’ eyebrow-raising advice denouncing washing hand before eating meals:

    http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-jesus-protest-washing-hands-before-eating.html

    Jesus obviously lived long-before microscopes were invented, and even though germs obviously existed in his time, their manifestations on the human plane was nebulous enough that just about any old hypothesis worked as well as the others to explain why people got sick (that is, until medical science revealed germs as the cause of some diseases).

    In the context of when it was originally introduced, the ‘sin hypothesis of disease’ MAY in fact HAVE BEEN the best-available explanation of the time, determined by the best-educated men of the period.

    Nevertheless, the ‘sin hypothesis’ was incorrect.

    (It’s easy for moderns to project our modern concepts of different individuals carrying out specified jobs in society (ie careers), but the differentiation of occupations is a relatively-modern concept, where the role of doctor WAS performed by the same individual who acted as the priest, judge, leader, aka a shaman.)

    And when proven wrong, such hypotheses should be discarded; those shown to be valid should be accepted (Note the word, “SHOULD”).

    I have a REAL problem with retarding human advancement by giving long-since disproven ideas any more merit or consideration than warranted: it’s a waste of time and energy, since we DO face many time-sensitive problems today (eg global climate change), dilemmas for which 3,000 yr old failed hypotheses and bountiful prayers are NOT going to answer!

    It’s even more absurd than claiming Colonial period laws from the 17th century are better than our current set, so we should adopt those. And for whatever reason, many people still harbor the illogical belief that “older is better”, where the older an idea is, supposedly the more worthwhile it is, esp if it’s a law? WTH?

    Even worse, some of those making the suggestion actually DO get elected and ARE in positions where they’re able to influence public policies to implement! Utter madness!!

    Anyway….

    I simply don’t believe we know everything to choose any sides.

    I hope you’re speaking for yourself here? YOU don’t know, but don’t project your ignorance of other evidence on the rest of us.

    And you’re going to be waiting an eternity if you truly believe “knowing everything” is required (much less a possibility!) before deciding.

    Many people claim a lack of evidence as an excuse to mask their tendencies towards ‘paralysis of analysis’, as an excuse for deciding nothing, in essence tabling some issues for an eternity.

    Others think “not taking sides” will earn them a leg to stand on, as if playing a form of Pascals Wager. Silly….

    I don’t like absolutes since I believe everything is susceptible to change and will eventually. I’ll also admit to the contradiction of even saying I don’t believe in absolutes (then again I think everything is a contradiction.)

    Well, that last claim is a bit disturbing, since if you truly believe EVERYTHING is a contradiction, then the word is rendered utterly meaningless.

    Hopefully you’re not trying to use that as an excuse, as if it now gives you the right to be contradictory, saying eg:

    I don’t deny that there is lack of proof in a deity of any sort.

    And then saying:

    I understand the comfort it brings to not accept proof of something that simply doesn’t make sense.

    That’s contradictory, since it’s not a matter of atheists not ACCEPTING proof; it’s a matter of such proof not EXISTING, hence it cannot be offered or evaluated.

    On your original question of God’s existence, I’ve done enough research into biological sciences (earned a doctorate, actually), history, psychology, theology, etc to know a skunk when I smell it: the Bible is absolutely COVERED with fingerprints pointing to its origins as being derived from other ancient mythology, serving a useful tool of controlling other humans who fear a boogeyman in the sky.

    First and foremost, I’m a rationalist and a skeptic, and my atheism arises as a result of that. Hence if prove of God were presented, Hell Yes, I’d be a believer, since it would be foolish to deny the existence of a God if such evidence existed. I’d make a fool of myself by denying God in the face of compelling evidence, just as modern-day believers make fools of themselves by defended Jesus’ belief that sin was a punishment from God, claiming he could cure disease via foregiveness).

    a deity may be but we don’t know enough to accept it as truth.

    You’re rephrasing the agnostic position, the claim that there’s not enough information on which to decide. I don’t like the term (for reasons to many to mention), and prefer use of the designation ‘soft atheist'; in my book, you just publicly declared yourself as an atheist!

    :)

    As a rationalist, I don’t clutter MY mind with fairies, unicorns, nephilim, gods, Bigfoot, UFO’s etc. If someone wants me to believe in any of those things, they need to present proof BEFORE I accept the belief.

    Many of my statements were simply designed to promote an open mind.

    Preaching to the choir here, my friend: that’s the entire point of the name, free thinkers.

    One doesn’t become an atheist without being willing to ask questions and not being afraid of what the answer may be, since inquisitiveness is certainty not a trait encouraged by organized religions.

    When somebody says alchemy or even philosophy should be treated as obsolete in the wake of modern science, should that discount all their achievements? I wouldn’t think so. It just means we’re advancing.

    As I point out in the article, Aristotle was famously wrong in believing men thought with their hearts, NOT the brain, which the far majority of humans alive know to be true, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    My point in mentioning it wasn’t to deprecate Aristotle, but to make the point you just did: science advances slowly on multiple fronts, ideally using the methodology of ‘continuous process improvement’, where the only question is whether the idea is true or false without regard for where the idea came from (a logical error called the ‘genetic fallacy’).

    Most Xians aren’t willing to call a spade a spade’ and admit Jesus was wrong, reluctant to throw their Lord and Personal Savior under the bus since they’ve gone ‘all in’ on their Pascal’s wager!

    Jesus is their only hope, since they’re clinging to a fantasy of an eternity spent singing in the Heavenly choir.

    Fortunately, most people who think like that usually don’t actually have anything useful to offer in scientific endeavors anyway, so they’re just going along for the ride on the Planet….

    Adam

  149. jacobfromlost says

    Monocle: I HATE when people say shit like this

    Me: I agree. An “open mind” simply means you accept things when they are demonstrated to be true, and a “closed mind” means you don’t accept things even AFTER they have been demonstrated to be true (not the inverse, as magical thinking often suggests). Entertaining possibilities that WOULD HAVE had tons of evidence for them already if they were true, and yet don’t have any, is not “open minded” at all, and it isn’t “closed minded” to dismiss them with at least as much prejudice as the lack of evidence suggests. It’s as if your neighbor breaks into your house in the middle of the night, screaming that your house is on fire, and when you run down the hall you smell no smoke, see no fire; and when you run outside you look all around the house, and smell no smoke and see no fire. When you say, “My house isn’t on fire because I see no fire anywhere, and smell no smoke at all,” you are not being closed minded, even when your neighbor says, “You need to be more open minded. I saw a flickering light in your window and you can agree it is possible it was a fire, so it’s possible your house burned down and I saved your life. If you don’t agree, you are closed minded.”

    Monocle: I’ve never heard anyone say that philosophy is obsolete

    Me: Stephen Hawking said as much in “The Grand Design”. I think it was on the first page. What he meant by that (if memory serves) is that philosophy can no longer get us any farther in learning things about reality. We’ve gotten as much as we can possibly get out of philosophy, and science has now surpassed it and continues to do so. And I think he’s probably right. Philosophy as a means to learn about the world around us seems to be dead.

  150. Monocle Smile says

    I want to post the Citizen Kane slow clap .gif, but I know I’ll screw it up somehow. This was fantastic.

  151. Jackson says

    The show is Speak to Graffo, it is a call in show where the host draws pictures while he is taking calls. Someone should ask him to draw a picture of God not existing.

  152. adamah says

    MS said-

    I’ve never heard anyone say that philosophy is obsolete (and I won’t believe you if you claim to have met “atheists” who make this claim), but alchemy achieved exactly nothing, so we can of course discount its achievements. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    Being that philosophy still relies on certain archaic concepts and definitions derived from the theological world, although not ‘obsolete’ per se (it still studies the ancient thinkers who were the leading scientists of their say), modern philosophy is certainly approaching its “sell by” date.

    eg philosophy still relies on a distinction between ‘knowledge’ and ‘beliefs’, a concept rooted in the ancient misconception of the existence of ‘gnosis’, claimed to be ‘higher-level knowledge of spiritual matters’ which was deemed as worthier than even one’s beliefs, since gnosis was supposedly from God.

    Utter poppycock which still persists in the foundations of philosophy.

    And anyone who’s read the dribblings of modern philosophers like Alvin Plantinga certainly have good reason to view philosophers as almost as useless as their religious counterparts, the theologians.

    I see philosophy as potentially more of a boat anchor that impedes human understanding, a potential waste of brain glucose and an infinite time sink.

    (But notice I didn’t call it ‘obsolete’.)

    MS, perhaps you’re also unaware that alchemists (who were generally looking to turn inexpensive metals into gold and silver) are considered the predecessors of modern chemists?

    How embarrassing, I know!

    Even physicist Sir Isaac Newton dabbled in alchemy occasionally, his great mind apparently finding it to be a worthwhile use of his time and energies.

    TheDevice’s point seemed to be that past scientific endeavors were only stops along the same path, and should be recognized as such. You’re demonstrating the very disdain he was referring to, thus demonstrating his point!

    What’s so hard to understand about THAT?

    Try to overlook what you perceive as condescending remarks to find the ‘meat’ in others’ posts, not using tone as an excuse to dole out condescension in return.

    Otherwise you’ll have no choice but to rely on a childish and pointless “tuo quoque” defense (eg “But Mom, Cissy hit me first!!”).

    Adam

  153. jacobfromlost says

    “Even physicist Sir Isaac Newton dabbled in alchemy occasionally, his great mind apparently finding it to be a worthwhile use of his time and energies.”

    Actually, Newton wrote more on alchemy than he did on anything else. (It was more than dabbling.)

  154. adamah says

    Yup, Jacob, both Newton and John Boyle (the father of modern chemistry) worked in alchemy, developing the techniques and equipment which paved the way to “real” chemistry:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jul-aug/05-isaac-newton-worlds-most-famous-alchemist

    It’s interesting that later in his life, Newton served as the Master of the Royal Mint, no doubt partly due to his prior experience with the alchemists’ “Philosophers Stone”, a potential discovery feared by the English Crown due to the potential devaluation of gold. Unsanctioned alchemy became punishable by death.

    As the article says, Boyle later lobbied to get such laws removed.

  155. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @TheDevice
    This is the part you may be missing: I don’t have enough evidence to come to the conclusion that there is a god, and I’m pretty sure you don’t either, so knock off saying that there is a god. Or, you know, present evidence and argument in favor of there being a god.

  156. TheDevice says

    Wow so much to soak in there. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
     
    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your article on the anti-hand-washing Jesus. That font is too attractive to pass by. So easy on the eyes :D
     
    I haven’t really offered a whole lot towards advancing technology, I’ll say that much. I suppose that makes me a big back-seat driver in a way. I do art mostly and It’s pretty fitting for me as someone who doesn’t have a very charming background. My interests have been leaning towards these subjects more than usual lately and maybe I just needed some sorting out.
     
    I definitely need to stop using the word “we” since it usually just gets me into trouble. i don’t really know a whole lot compared to a well-rounded scholar like yourself and I’m sure I was getting a bit carried away with some of my statements.
     
    As for the “Well, that last claim was a bit disturbing”, I notice myself saying things where I place far more value in its dramatic or aesthetic nature than its logic. I’m not dealing with a full deck of cards sometimes so yeah… disturbing indeed. Maybe that makes everything I say invalid hah! I’m sure the nefarious forum troll will pounce on that any moment.
     
    You seem to be more capable of promoting open-mindedness than I am, that’s for sure. Although If nobody wasted time on fairies, dragons and things like that It would really be a huge blow to some fantastic words hah. I mean Nephilim is one of my all-time favorites. Of course I wouldn’t find too much tragedy in it if the words were never used or known to me since.. I would not of known it. So deep. Almost like communism. I knew there was something fishy about you. (just kidding.)
     
    To be a bit more relevant, I couldn’t agree more on how evident it is that the bible has become no less then a mind control device for the masses. I’ve always wanted to do some more research into how extensive it’s been edited or rewritten.
     
    Anyway, thanks again.

  157. adamah says

    And just to tag onto this:

    MS said-

    As an addendum, I might add that whether or not faith is HAD that is relevant. It’s whether faith is REQUIRED that matters. I could definitely go ahead and have faith that flipping a switch will turn on a light. But it’s not REQUIRED. If I so chose to do so, I could tear down the drywall, examine the wiring, check the filament, and check the contacts in the switch. I don’t NEED to have faith.

    So when you compare this to religion, you’re just plain wrong. Because religions REQUIRE faith. If they didn’t, there would be no need to advocate it…they could just demonstrate that their deity exists and their dogma is true and be done with it.

    We often hear the parachute analogy (it came up two weeks ago on the show), with theists trying to create a false equivalency saying skydivers place faith in the parachute opening.

    I like to ask:

    Are you forgetting about the back-up EMERGENCY chute, ‘a fail-safe’ addition to the design?

    The presence of the back-up chute implies the jumper does NOT have unlimited faith in the main chute’s flawless operation sufficient to stake their lives on it.

    Such backup systems were invented precisely BECAUSE of the rarely-encountered failure of main chutes that resulted in many cases of SPLAT!

    However, the odds of BOTH the main AND back-up chutes failing simultaneously are sufficiently lowered to an acceptable level, such that some people consider the benefits (adrenaline rush) worth taking the risk (i.e. injury/death).

    Which leads to another important difference:

    Even with a backup chute, the skydiver has full awareness of the POSSIBILITY of a mishap occurring before they jump (they even have to sign disclaimers of liability). So when they step out of the plane, they are fully aware they are taking a RISK.

    In contrast, religious faith requires a complete DENIAL of risk, since strong faith demands the believer NOT to have ANY doubts or express any awareness of risk.

    In fact, believers often claim it’s risky for us atheists NOT to have faith, or even tell other Xians it’s risky to be ‘weak in their faith’ (ie a ‘Doubting Thomas’).

    Why? STRONG faith is required for salvation!

    It’s like those “No Fear” bumper-stickers: that’s the paradigm of Xian faith.

    So religious faith is more akin to jumping out of a plane without ANY chute, then praying to God to provide one before hitting the ground.

    But it’s even worse than that: the believer is not supposed to allow the possibility of hitting the ground to enter their minds, since God may not provide a chute if they have any doubts He will save them.

    (BTW, this demonstration of the ‘false equivalency’ also works with the claim we have faith in car brakes, since most vehicles are equipped with a backup system the emergency brake) precisely because we DON’T have unlimited confidence in their operation.)

    Adam

  158. corwyn says

    Einstein had altered his own cosmological constant that was added to his theory of general relativity because it resulted in the proof of black holes (a concept that Einstein did not like) by means of an ad hoc that totally altered his theory.

    This is quite simply a misreading of the history. The cosmological constant was added by Einstein in order to make his equations work with the then-prevalent idea of a static Universe. When Hubble showed that the Universe was expanding, Einstein called adding it in his greatest blunder, and removed it. Astrophysicists have since added it back (on the other side of the equation) to model an accelerating, expanding Universe. Nothing to do with black holes.

  159. corwyn says

    Well I never really mentioned having a solid conception of a grand creator and I don’t think I presented any inclination to have anyone believe in what I believe in. Also, I do not deny the lack of evidence for any type of supreme being.

    Here, in a nutshell, is the problem.

    You admit there is a lack of evidence for what you believe in. Atheists, and other people who want to be rational, refuse to believe in anything for which there is a lack of evidence. It’s as simple as that. Put more formally, you are holding some idea in a higher degree of confidence than is warranted by the (complete lack of) evidence. This is, almost by definition, irrational.

  160. corwyn says

    We are not the only animals with moral tendencies.

    I never meant to imply otherwise. Human morals are those behaviors with a societal imposed approval or condemnation outside of the moralistic behaviors we might see in other species. Sorry that the adjective was not emphasized enough. Is not stopping at a red light, immoral?

    This is news to everyone who is in a polyamorous marriage.

    Please don’t lose the subjunctive part of that argument. I was trying to find an example you could understand even if you might not agree with it. How about having sex with someone under the age of 18? Should we claim because that is expected for our species that it is something which we must acknowledge is moral? If this isn’t a good example for you please, look until you find one, don’t just argue against that particular example.

    I didn’t follow this last part. It confused me.

    I am claiming that the set A of all expected behaviors given our species, and the set B of all behaviors which we might want to define as moral, are not identical. Only if those two sets are identical, can the argument that some behavior is in set A, so must be in set B be valid. Otherwise, claiming that a behavior is in set A, therefore is good, therefore moral, is a naturalistic fallacy.

  161. adamah says

    TheDevice said-

    I haven’t really offered a whole lot towards advancing technology, I’ll say that much. I suppose that makes me a big back-seat driver in a way. I do art mostly and It’s pretty fitting for me as someone who doesn’t have a very charming background. My interests have been leaning towards these subjects more than usual lately and maybe I just needed some sorting out.

    I wasn’t asking to try to embarrass you, but to gauge your interest and involvement, even your seriousness in the subject. Many people spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about stuff that is “WAY above their pay grade” (eg griping about Washington, etc) since practically speaking, there’s nothing they can do to change it.

    Again, it goes back to the fallacy of thinking you need to know EVERYTHING before you decide.
    That’s a great way to NEVER get ANYTHING done, waiting for just one more bit of information.

    It’s also why it’s reasonable to remain neutral, saying “I just don’t know, since I don’t have enough information to decide right now” until you DO.

    Btw, here’s a thought you might relate to, to tie into your comments above:

    Homo sapiens currently are the dominant species on the Planet, but it’s no big accomplishment: dinosaurs once could’ve made the same claim, if not for a random meteor strike in the Yucatan. It’s interesting to ponder what might’ve been, since their elimination left an unoccupied niche for our distant mammalian ancestors to fill.

    And just as a canine riding in back of a pickup truck has NO possibility of being able to comprehend the workings of the internal combustion engine that powers the truck he’s in, it would be hard to imagine there are not some things that exist in the Universe which are so far-beyond our present ability to perceive and/or comprehend. Sure, we’re top dog NOW (pun intended), but it’s a reminder that if not for a fluke meteor strike, dinosaur logic may have prevailed instead of logic of Homo sapiens.

    One only needs to look back at what humankind has learned over the last century to realize it’s incredibly probable for ‘great unknowns’ to still exist, so it’s a cautionary note to not proudly rest on our laurels.

    Douglas Adams quipped about the puddle hubristically thinking the hole which it fits into so perfectly MUST’VE been specifically designed for it. Of course, his point reminds us the Universe wasn’t custom-made for us Homo sapiens, and our perceptions are limited by what evolution has provided to fit into THIS environment.

    That means we aren’t currently-adapted to OTHER possible environments (eg living underwater, in space, etc) or even aware of other levels of existence (eg insects inhabit a different plane of existence than us for the most part, where even the laws of gravity and relativity (eg time) has a different effect on them vs us).

    Fun stuff to ponder, but ultimately rather pointless, since if an ‘undetectable by our current senses’ tree falls in the forest, it’s irrelevant; such a tree would have to be shown to have even a miniscule effect on THIS plane of existence for it to matter.

    Such an undetectable and im perceivable tree would have to literally exist as ‘matter’ before it matters.

    Hence, all deities, by definition, literally do not matter. When they do, it’ll matter.

    (Waiting to see if someone shouts, “equivocation fallacy!”)

    :)

    I definitely need to stop using the word “we” since it usually just gets me into trouble. i don’t really know a whole lot compared to a well-rounded scholar like yourself and I’m sure I was getting a bit carried away with some of my statements.

    Well, you were one step away from committing an “argument from personal incredulity” (a form of the ‘argument from ignorance’ fallacy), which is easy to do when making hasty assumptions.

    As for the “Well, that last claim was a bit disturbing”, I notice myself saying things where I place far more value in its dramatic or aesthetic nature than its logic. I’m not dealing with a full deck of cards sometimes so yeah… disturbing indeed. Maybe that makes everything I say invalid hah! I’m sure the nefarious forum troll will pounce on that any moment.

    Well, I often use hyperbole, but generally for effect.

    The problem is when we violate the #1 rule that successful drug dealers know:

    “Don’t get high on your own product, the stuff you sell to others.”

    To a drug dealer, it’s a business, and drugs are their product that’ll mess them up if they forget that rule.

    On a lesser scale, it’s easy to fool ourselves by falling for our own hyperbole, since we end up losing a sense of perspective and making mountains out of molehills. It’s an all-too-common tendency which has nothing to do with atheism (although it can effect atheists).

    You seem to be more capable of promoting open-mindedness than I am, that’s for sure.

    Thanks, but like I always say, if there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s intolerance!

    (See, two can play at the paradoxical contradiction game!)

    :)

    Although If nobody wasted time on fairies, dragons and things like that It would really be a huge blow to some fantastic words hah. I mean Nephilim is one of my all-time favorites. Of course I wouldn’t find too much tragedy in it if the words were never used or known to me since.. I would not of known it. So deep. Almost like communism. I knew there was something fishy about you. (just kidding.)

    One of the things atheists often hear is how we’re no fun, as if we’re not willing to engage in fantasy, “once upon a time” thinking. I actually enjoy a good SF/fantasy read or film as much as the next person, but I prefer to clarify whether I’m reading fiction vs non-fiction BEFORE reading or watching. It seems pretty basic to ask whether a film is a claiming to be a historical documentary, or pure fictional or fantasy.

    (Hint to believers: if a story begins with talking animals, it isn’t likely to be literal history, since talking animal characters were often used in the ancient World as literary devices that indicated what follows is a parable, eg Aesop’s Fables is populated with a wolf trapped in a well, talking crows, etc. The device is still alive and well and used in cartoons (eg Shrek’s talking donkey), since children especially seem to be fascinated by it, due to it’s incredibility.)

    Frank Turner (a poster here) relates a story of a believer who just couldn’t handle that Job never existed, per a subtle clue given by the Bible itself (Job 1:1 begins with the idiomatic Hebrew syntax, “There once was a man”, equivalent to the modern fairy tale’s clichéd introduction, “Once upon a time”; both are cues the story that follows is a parable).

    It shattered her World to be told by her pastor that Job never lived, and she just couldn’t accept it, despite his reassurance that the parable still retains its message.

    Again, it’s seems like a basic fact to determine from the beginning, but that’s a very-tiny part of the deception involved in religion.

    Re: nephilim, I recently watched Aronovsky’s take them in the film, “Noah”, which inserted some heavy-duty heretical gnostic and kabbalistic interpretations into the screenplay (deviating from nephilim producing half-human offspring, as claimed in the Bible, saying they existed before AND after the Flood…. Hmmm, maybe they could tread on water for a year?).

    I’m sure many viewers were thinking, “Huh, has it been that long since I read the account? I also don’t remember Noah trying to kill his grandchildren in the Bible!”

    As I explained in the blog article on Cain, per the Bible itself, Noah is rightly credited as the first human to institute slavery, where if one understands the meaning of common phraseology used in the Bible, Noah’s ‘curse of Ham’ implies God not only APPROVES of slavery, but saw that it happened!

    God voluntarily chose to empower Noah’s CURSE of Canaan (to justify the later genocidial campaigns conducted against the Canaanites, the arch-enemies of the Israelites), just as God chose to approve Noah’s BLESSING of Shem (the forefather of the ‘Chosen People’, the Israelites; even the word ‘Semite’ reflects it’s derived from Shem’s name).

    These facts are readily overlooked by believers, since it’s far too ugly for many to accept, eg as I point our in the article, Deut 28 makes it perfectly clearly in God’s own words that He uses the institution of slavery as one of his management tools to punish sins!

    To be a bit more relevant, I couldn’t agree more on how evident it is that the bible has become no less then a mind control device for the masses. I’ve always wanted to do some more research into how extensive it’s been edited or rewritten.

    Yeah, that is a HUGE multi-decade endeavor, depending on your level of interest (the time you’re willing to put into it), since the subject relies on learning about ancient cultures over a period of approx. 1,500 yrs, since the Bible was written over a long span of time (and redacted by many).

    A good start is Bart Ehrman (eg Misquoting Jesus), a New Testament scholar who became an atheist while attending seminary training after learning of the ‘dirty little secrets’ of the evolution of the Bible (and creationists aren’t supposed to believe in evo, lol). A lot of his stuff should be available at your local public library.

    What is known about the Bible is far too ugly for many to accept: most people don’t WANT to know, since contrary to your allegation against atheists, it’s actually believers who prefer their comforting rose-colored fantasies to protect them from the stark ugly spotlight of truth.

    There is no comfort in facing reality: I LOVE the concept of a Sugar Daddy in the sky who will right all wrongs, delivering justice to evil-doers. I’m not an alcoholic or druggie either, for the same reason: I know whatever I might be attempting to mask still remains, despite all attempts to temporarily block my perception of it.

    Instead, the concepts we should be questioning most are the ones we most desperately WANT to be true.

    Xian apologists like William Lane Craig will spend an hour painting a pretty picture of the possibility of some nebulous deity, then at the last minute will insert his God of Slavery from the Bible, as if no one will notice his logical ‘sleight of hand’ trick (the equivalent of pulling a ‘bait and switch’ routine).

    So most people get that completely bass-ackwards, always challenging ideas they DON’T want to be true, instead of questioning those they have already accepted (scammers take advantage of that flaw by appealing to their victims desires, usually greed).

    So I’m an atheist for Bible God (ie Abrahamic God), since as I said, all signs are pointing towards “scam”.

    I would change my mind at the drop of a hat IF sufficient evidence were presented (but I’m not holding my breath, waiting for THAT to happen).

    Like I say, I’m a rationalist first and foremost, where my atheism is secondary, an outgrowth of it.

    Anyway, thanks again.

    Hey, your welcome, and thanks for popping in and sharing your thoughts. :)

    Adam

  162. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’ve never heard anyone say that philosophy is obsolete (and I won’t believe you if you claim to have met “atheists” who make this claim),

    Hey, lots of atheists actually do say this, including prominent atheists. Or they say things very much like it. Hell, there was a recent post by PZ Myers on this topic.

    Whether I agree in part or not depends entirely on the details and nuance. Any epistemology is philosophy, and thus we’re all practicing philosophy when we use reason, logic, evidence, science, etc. However, there may be a point in there if we constrain the definition of philosophy further.

  163. Matt Gerrans says

    …but alchemy achieved exactly nothing, so we can of course discount its achievements. What’s so hard to understand about that?

    Just to quibble (or maybe clarify) a little for those who might be thinking of some herbal remedy or other: it may be that alchemy did stumble upon some correct results. However, since that was essentially by luck and not a scientific method, there is little value to such conclusions, as they are drown out by orders of magnitude incorrect or false conclusions. So picking a correct one is essentially a crap shoot, with very crappy odds. The only way we know about the ones that might have some medicinal value is via the scientific method. So really, we can throw out all of alchemy, as Monocle says, because we have to re-test everything with the scientific method to see what is real and what is just nonsense.

  164. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    If we want to talk economic history, I think we can agree that Adam Smith is paramount, and Adam Smith went to some lengths to trash talk royalty-granted monopolies.

    Let me try to shoot from the hip. Capitalism: An economic system involving some degree of private property, some degree of private ownership of the means of production, self directed production and consumption, self directed mutual exchange usually through a national fiat currency, which allows for the specialization of labor, which allows for increased production of wealth.

  165. i4s8ken says

    You cant let words weld such power over you mind. also the bitches in godless bitches really make it made it jump out at me as a male. Otherwise I might have just scrolled over the blog is it was just godless women or females.

  166. ziplock says

    Obviously there are gross errors made by the “capitalist” caller.

    First, Buddhists are atheists and certainly don’t subscribe to YOLO.

    Two, her oversimplification of capitalism was a disgusting straw man. Not saying I’m a capitalist, but saying the core value system of capitalism is to screw over everyone in your path to get to the top of the money pile is just way too simple of a definition.

    Finally, where in the Wide-Wide-World of sports does it say that not believing in a god translates to an inherent desire to take care of your fellow man? I’ve known atheists that fall into an abyss of depression when they come to terms with no afterlife. Just because you’re a positive atheist doesn’t mean others are going to cast off their religion and sing the praises of atheism.

    Just because capitalist republicans are backed by the religious doesn’t mean that the absent is true for socialist democrats. That’s conflating two things that inherently have nothing to do with one another.

  167. Narf says

    First, Buddhists are atheists and certainly don’t subscribe to YOLO.

    Well, most are atheists. There are many sects of Buddhism, some of which apparently worship Buddha as a god of some sort. Those are some really fringe groups, but still.

    Still, your point is valid for the majority of Buddhists. They tend not to fit very well into the modern atheist/skeptic movement, though. Anyone who accepts, “If it feels right, then it’s true for you,” is going to get pretty seriously mocked out the door.

  168. ChickenMonkey says

    In regards to the caller who was working on the argument that if you are an atheist and you are moral, then you must (or should) be a socialist, I would say that that is a very interesting argument.

    I don’t necessarily agree with this counter argument but in the interest of strengthening the argument for socialism here we go:

    It could be argued that capitalism does value human well being and individual freedom. It supports individual freedom by allowing people to earn wealth in accordance with their ability. And, it values well being in that it incentivises people to provide services for other people using the profit motive.

    Again I don’t necessarily agree with this argument but I have run into variants of this argument elsewhere so I thought I would present it here.

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