Atheist Meme of the Day: Atheists Have Not Hardened Our Hearts


Scarlet letter Today’s Atheist Meme of the Day. Pass this on; or don’t; or edit it as you see fit; or make up your own. Enjoy!

Atheists have not hardened our hearts against God. Most atheists have given the question of God’s existence serious consideration, and we keep asking believers to show us evidence that our atheism is mistaken. But if “open your heart” means “engage in wishful thinking,” we’re not willing for that to be the basis of our beliefs. Pass it on: if we say it enough times to enough people, it may get across.

Comments

  1. says

    “But if “open your heart” means “engage in wishful thinking,” we’re not willing for that to be the basis of our beliefs.”
    This demonstrates that you have indeed hardened your heart.
    Why? Because the move that you make here, that of stereotyping and mocking your opponent, is one way of closing oneself off from any possibility of dialog. Let’s use substitution to make it more clear:
    “We are not a racists, but if not being a racist means treating blacks as if they were our equals then I’m not willing for that to be the basis of our belief.”
    See how that works?

  2. says

    Brenda, I fail to see how this meme is stereotyping or mocking. The “wishful thinking” argument is one that I have encountered several times from serious believers who make it in all sincerity. I cannot tell you the number of times people have made the argument that religion is valid, not because there is good evidence supporting it, but because religious belief makes people happy. And the “You just have to open your heart” argument is an argument from wishful thinking: it’s basically telling atheists that what we have to do to believe is not to look at this piece or that piece of evidence, but to try really, really hard to believe. This is not a stereotype: it is a genuinely common form of religious belief.

  3. llewelly says

    This meme is ridiculous. And blatantly false. You know damn well babies are loaded with saturated fat. Not good at all for your heart or your arteries. Tasty, yes, but definitively a strong cause of arteriosclerosis.

  4. says

    I sincerely doubt that any religious person has ever said “My faith is nothing more than wishful thinking.” That’s just what you think they said because you already passed whatever was actually stated through your atheist ideology. You heard what you wanted to hear.
    “it’s basically telling atheists that what we have to do to believe is not to look at this piece or that piece of evidence, but to try really, really hard to believe.”
    No, what you have to give up is the very idea that your life should revolve around evidence. Evidence is a hard Master isn’t he?

  5. says

    Brenda, they didn’t use the phrase “wishful thinking” — but they certainly made the arguments I described in my comment, which amount to wishful thinking.
    And if you’re sincerely asking me to ignore evidence when deciding what is and is not true about, you know, reality, I’m not going to be interested in conversing with you for much longer. What on earth would be the point? You’re essentially making my argument for me. When you say things like “what you have to give up is the very idea that your life should revolve around evidence,” you’re demonstrating that you’re less interested in what’s really true than what you want to believe, and that there is no possible piece of evidence that would persuade you that you were mistaken. You’re entitled to do that — but I’m not going to waste my time debating people who aren’t interested in whether the things they believe are true.

  6. Eclectic says

    Brenda, actually I have personally spoken to a couple of people who have said as much. One christian, one jewish. They knew their religions were fairy tales, but they were pleasant and comfortable fairy tales, and they preferred the fantasy to facing reality.
    You also might read Dan Dennet’s interviews with non-believing clergy.
    There really are quite a few.

  7. says

    ” if you’re sincerely asking me to ignore evidence when deciding what is and is not true about, you know, reality”
    You haven’t been listening. Of course you should consider evidence when deciding the truth value of propositions. Nothing I’ve said contradicts that.

  8. says

    I’m really confused. We should consider evidence when deciding the truth value of a proposition, but it’s a problem when we apply that principle to the proposition that there is a deity?

  9. Valhar2000 says

    Brenda wrote:
    You haven’t been listening. Of course you should consider evidence when deciding the truth value of propositions. Nothing I’ve said contradicts that.
    Brenda wrote before that:
    No, what you have to give up is the very idea that your life should revolve around evidence. Evidence is a hard Master isn’t he?
    So, when should we consider evidence and when should we not? When you say so? When your friends say so? When doing so might cause us to acquire opinions that you disapprove of? When doing so could lend support to our “atheist ideologies” which are, like drugs, bayad!
    Please, Brenda, enlighten this poor misguided soul, but don’t you dare consider any evidence while doing so!

  10. says

    There is a division, some would say a wound, that cuts through reality. Some people, atheist and theist alike, seek to deny this division exists. They dream and in their dream they fantasize of being whole and unbroken again. This cannot be so they construct their philosophy or theology around denial. We call such people Fundamentalists.
    It’s a kind of grief really. A desire to return to or to recover what was lost.
    Valhar, there are no rules for what you ask.

  11. says

    There is a division, some would say a wound, that cuts through reality. Some people, atheist and theist alike, seek to deny this division exists. They dream and in their dream they fantasize of being whole and unbroken again. This cannot be so they construct their philosophy or theology around denial. We call such people Fundamentalists.
    It’s a kind of grief really. A desire to return to or to recover what was lost.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

  12. Eclectic says

    Brenda, that’s a very lyrical dodging if the issue, but it’s definitely a dodge. The quest for the comfort of certainty is an issue, but it’s not apropos.
    As JenR pointed out, and Valhar expounded on at more length, you made two mutually contradictory statements. He asked which one would you like us to take as your opinion.
    And your response? “Valhar, there are no rules for what you ask.”
    Does that mean that I get to make a rhetorical straw man out of whichever of your statements best suits me at the time?
    That’s both disrespectful, and pointless: I like to discuss things with someone who actually has an opinion, not no opinion and no rules.

  13. says

    Eclectic, there are no rules for life. Facts exist, there is no doubt of that but they are not what people are really interested in. We want to know what values should inform our lives but we can never never derive those values from the facts of the world.
    Religious fundamentalists want their values to dictate the facts. Secular fundamentalists want facts to dictate their values. Both are mistaken. Both are like insects pined to a board.
    Stop struggling.

  14. DSimon says

    Facts exist, there is no doubt of that but they are not what people are really interested in.

    Maybe you’re not, but I sure am. The truth is important to me. And here’s why:

    We want to know what values should inform our lives but we can never never derive those values from the facts of the world.

    I suppose that you could say that a person’s primary goals and values are actually fact independent. For example, people want to be happy, and also want to be around other happy people, and that would be true no matter what the external world is like.
    However, once you’ve got those basic values established (and there’s really not too many of them), the next question is: how do I go about fulfilling those goals? What sub-goals do I need to establish?
    That’s where facts and evidence become super ultra important. And it’s because we’re very interested in actually accomplishing our goals that we put such a big emphasis on evidence and empiricism.

  15. Valhar2000 says

    Brenda:

    Facts exist, there is no doubt of that but they are not what people are really interested in.

    Speak for yourself! I find facts plenty interesting. Theories are better, I’ll grant you that, but facts are very nice.

    Secular fundamentalists want facts to dictate their values. Both are mistaken. Both are like insects pined to a board.

    And you know this how?

  16. says

    Brenda: Please, please, please, tell me that you’re kidding. Tell me that you’re not really arguing for values that are divorced from reality.
    Yes, values are crucial — but our values have to be informed by reality. Otherwise they’re useless. Without understanding reality, we won’t know how to act on our values effectively in the real world. What good is it to have values, if we’re divorced from the reality of how the world works and how our actions do and don’t affect it? To give just one very obvious example: What good is it to value the alleviation of suffering… if we don’t understand that when people get sick, medical treatment often works, and prayer does now?
    What’s more, I would argue that prioritizing our own beliefs about the world over the reality of the world itself is unethical. The core of human ethics is the understanding that we are not the center of the universe, and having the ability to step back from our personal experience and see it from an outside perspective. What you’re arguing for is the exact opposite of that: rejecting reality in favor of what you want to believe. How is that sort of solipsism any sort of a positive value?
    More on this:
    Do You Care Whether the Religious Ideas You Believe in Are True or Not?

  17. says

    But if “open your heart” means “engage in wishful thinking,” we’re not willing for that to be the basis of our beliefs.
    This statement is pure win (ignorant ramblings upthread notwithstanding).

  18. says

    DSimon
    “And it’s because we’re very interested in actually accomplishing our goals that we put such a big emphasis on evidence and empiricism.”
    I agree completely. Once you’ve decided that Jews should be exterminated, Science comes to the rescue in working out the most efficient means. Thanks zyklon b!
    Greta
    “Tell me that you’re not really arguing for values that are divorced from reality.”
    I don’t know what “divorced from reality” is supposed to mean. Values are real, facts are real, but they are both different things are they not? Synthetic statements should not be confused with analytic statements. That is what it seems to me that some atheists do.
    Some atheists are quite explicit in their denial of the Is/Ought distinction. Others, I think, like to play games and try to have it both ways. Sometimes affirming, other times denying.
    “What you’re arguing for is the exact opposite of that: rejecting reality in favor of what you want to believe. How is that sort of solipsism any sort of a positive value?”
    Again, I suspect that what you claim as “reality” is really just your own set of prejudices. And yet again, no, I am not arguing that reality is subjective. Quite the contrary, but I do think that you are misunderstanding me. Perhaps even willfully so. Which would be “hardening one’s heart”. Or more accurately, passing everything through one’s own ideological filter.
    That would be my main criticism of the New Atheism, that it functions as an ideology in which one can truly believe.

  19. DA says

    ‘I agree completely. Once you’ve decided that Jews should be exterminated, Science comes to the rescue in working out the most efficient means. Thanks zyklon b!’
    Hey, my friend Godwin showed up!

  20. Nigel says

    Brenda: Wishful thinking is simply “the formation of beliefs and making decisions based on what might be pleasant, rather than based on evidence, rationality, or reality.” As such, what this meme is saying is that atheists are not willing to consider the existence of a god, i.e. ‘open our hearts to him’ if this requires us to abandon the requirement for evidence of such a deity, just because it would be nice to think there is an all-powerful being out there watching over us.
    The term ‘wishful thinking’ in this instance is not intended to be a stereotype of all believers or their belief, but rather to address those specific arguments for theism that make such a logical fallacy.
    “We are not a racists, but if not being a racist means treating blacks as if they were our equals then I’m not willing for that to be the basis of our belief.”
    This is not a correct use of substitution. The correct method would be to say:
    “We are not willing to open our hearts to the concept that blacks should not be treated as our equals if it means doing so requires us to abandon the use of evidence and reason in favor of wishful thinking.”
    Which is exactly what happened throughout history. It was pleasant to believe that blacks were inferior, because it gave people a justification to enslave them (and treat them abominably). We now know that racial superiority of any kind has no basis in reality. A good person can intuitively recognize that racism is bad , but an appeal to evidence demonstrates how false it really is.
    I agree completely. Once you’ve decided that Jews should be exterminated, Science comes to the rescue in working out the most efficient means. Thanks zyklon b!
    Don’t confuse the ends with the means. Science is a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or ill. I’m not sure how science got dragged into this, but while it might have helped the Nazi regime achieve their ends, the decision to exterminate the Jews was based on hatred and insanity, not evidence or reason.

  21. says

    Brenda, not a thing that you said here responds to anything I said, or that anyone else said. We all agree on the importance of values. What we think is that understanding reality — i.e., facts — is how we are able to pt our values into action. An idea you have yet to respond to.
    And equating people who want to put our values into action with Nazis who want to exterminate Jews is purely inflammatory. It adds no light to the conversation — merely emotional heat.
    As anyone who regularly reads my blog knows, I welcome and even encourage dissent and debate in my blog. But I will tell you now that you are in danger of becoming a troll, and of being banned from this blog.
    Please read my comment policy. In particular, please read the section on respecting other commenters in the thread. Equating people with Nazis is not respectful. And please read the section on comment hogging: excessive commenting by one person, to the point where that person’s conversation is dominating one or more threads. if you’re going to keep making the same arguments over and over again in every comment thread, regardless of their relevance and to the point where all threads are being dominated by you, you are going to be banned from further commenting. Thank you.

  22. DSimon says

    Brenda, since we’re on a values discussion, let me list one of my most important primary values:
    To reduce the amount of needless suffering in the world
    That’s a pretty good value, right? I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that *most* people share *most* of that value with me; it’s a strong contender for the basis of morality.
    The Nazis *thought*, or at least managed to convince themselves that they thought, that their genocide was an attempt at fulfilling that same value, and other similarly noble values (“Making the world a better place”, and so on).
    They didn’t think the Jews were people; they thought the Jews were inflicting suffering on others; they thought that killing Jews would solve the problem.
    But, if they had been working from the facts instead of their own biases and prejudices and fears, they would’ve realized that they weren’t accomplishing that value at all.
    This is why evidence is important; it’s a way of preventing us from falling prey to the worst parts of our own minds, the parts that rationalize truly horrible actions and ideas, the very ideas that work against our most important ideals even as we blindly assume that they support us.
    So, don’t call me a Nazi; a Nazi is somebody who lets their prejudice get the best of their reason. I’m trying my hardest to do just the opposite.

  23. says

    I do think that you are misunderstanding me. Perhaps even willfully so.
    I’m certain that I’m misunderstanding you, or at least failing to comprehend what you’re saying. It’s not willful, it’s just that I can’t make heads or tails of your argument. You might as well be saying “if x equals y, then walrus”.
    If you choose to take this as proof that you’re right about those small-minded atheists who can’t open their minds to your wisdom, then so be it. But I’d ask you to at least consider the possibility that you’re actually not making any sense.
    P.S., that you thought the Nazi crack was appropriate doesn’t speak well for your own values.

  24. says

    DSimon
    “So, don’t call me a Nazi”
    I didn’t call you a Nazi, I’m sorry if you thought I did. I merely pointed in their direction as an example of what can happen when one allows “evidence and empiricism” to determine one’s values. The best evidence of the time really did suggest that their program of eugenics was scientifically valid. They were not idiots, they had powerful arguments that convinced a lot of people. Even here in the US.
    All the evidence in the universe will never turn a value into a fact.
    “But, if they had been working from the facts instead of their own biases and prejudices and fears, they would’ve realized that they weren’t accomplishing that value at all.”
    But that’s just it, they were working from the facts as they understood them. That is all anyone ever has. Let’s try another example, communist USSR. They also derived their values from a set of facts that they knew were correct. Their social and political economy was based directly on the atheistic materialism of Marx and Engels and backed up with rational arguments that a great many people, even today, believe correctly describe how societies and economies work.
    And 50 million people died as a result.
    Hardening one’s heart = shutting oneself off from a part of oneself = disaster.

  25. says

    I merely pointed in their direction [Nazis] as an example of what can happen when one allows “evidence and empiricism” to determine one’s values.

    And as has been extensively pointed out: No, it’s not. The Nazis were a perfect example of denialism of facts. They allowed their ideology to trump the facts — among others, the fact that Jews were human beings. They were not working from the facts. They were ignoring the facts.
    Yes, many people, including Nazis and Stalinists, selectively choose the facts that support their ideology, and ignore the facts that don’t. Actually, all people do this, it’s a common cognitive error, and it often leads to great suffering. That’s not an argument for your side. It’s an argument for ours. Selecting the facts that we like and ignoring the facts that we don’t is not what any of is mean by caring about the facts and thinking they have an important place in our value system. The whole point of our argument is that this selectivism is not the right thing to do.
    You have yet to respond to the main point: that values have to be informed by facts, and by reality, so we know how cause and effect works in the real world, and we know which actions are more likely to have the outcomes that our values think are good.
    What alternative are you proposing? How do you propose we decide how to act in the world? Are you seriously proposing that we ignore reality? That we base our choices on… what? Being a good person isn’t an abstract: it’s a series of a hundred different choices we make every day. How are we to make those choices, if not by the best evaluation we can make about what does and does not work to produce the positive goods we’re trying to achieve?
    Oh, and as a practical aside: In the future, if you want to engage people in sober debate, don’t compare their positions to those of the Nazis. It’s inflammatory, it’s profoundly insulting on the face of it, it raises hackles and for good reason. And it makes you automatically lose the argument. Godwin’s Law. Look it up. Make different analogies, please. (And no, Stalin isn’t any better.)

  26. Nigel says

    Brenda: The best evidence of the time really did suggest that their program of eugenics was scientifically valid.
    Actually, as far as I’m aware, there isn’t much debate about the validity of eugenics; current developments in genetics suggest that it is possible to modify the human genome. The association of eugenics with the Third Reich left the subject with something of a stigma, to be sure – which you have used to imply that because the Nazis (who, to clarify, were the baddies) used evidence, that we shouldn’t verify our facts with it nor base our values on it. Rather, it was the motivation for the use of eugenics science – the idea of racial superiority and cleansing – which was based on pseudoscience and no evidence. The Nazi example actually supports our point, not yours, by showing how badly things get dicked up when people base decisions and values on what they want to think alone.
    They were not idiots, they had powerful arguments that convinced a lot of people.
    Of course they did. They had an agenda, and they took that evidence which suited them, real or fabricated, to win people over. If the people had stopped to actually question what they were told by those in authority, there’s a chance, albeit small, that things could have gone differently.
    they were working from the facts as they understood them.
    But evidence shapes facts, and what we view as fact. Bringing this up just emphasizes what can go wrong when evidence is ignored.
    …backed up with rational arguments that a great many people, even today, believe correctly describe how societies and economies work.
    Arguments and belief, yes. Evidence? There was soon plenty of evidence that things weren’t working as planned – yet the government took no action to rectify the situation.
    None of this suggests there is an effective alternative to reason, rationality and sound evidence.

  27. Bruce Gorton says

    Let’s try another example, communist USSR. They also derived their values from a set of facts that they knew were correct.
    That, is actually the worst example you could possibly have come up with, the sort of example that makes me think you are pulling your ideas out of your backside.
    A history lesson:
    Communist Russia, under Stalin, banned teaching evolution on the grounds that Charles Darwin was English and middle class.
    It was also a popular pass-time to exaggerate production reports, and Russia, much like Germany, had a dim view of ideas that didn’t fit their propaganda.
    Propaganda, its nature is an anethema to a fact based values system because such a system relies on honest reporting to reach the right conclusions. Garbage in, garbage out as it were.
    As to eugenics, its major popularity was not based on sound science in that era. There was no real effort to account for alternate explanations for the data (to the point that nobody accounted for the IQ tests being in a different language to that spoken by the people being tested) and often the data itself was wrong. It was pseudoscience of the highest order.
    And much like any number of pseudo-science fads it prospered more because it confirmed people’s already held beliefs, than anything else.

  28. DSimon says

    Brenda, to summarize what other people have said: The Nazis and the Stalinists thought they were working from the facts, but they did a really crappy job of making sure that they actually were.
    They believed what they wanted to believe, and ignored any evidence that might require them to change those beliefs. That’s not empiricism; it’s not even close.

  29. says

    Brenda, do you or do you not believe that judgments about questions of *fact* (such as whether any gods exist) should be based on the best available evidence? A simple, straightforward answer would be great.

  30. says

    Brenda, you seem to misunderstand the distinction between “reality as we understand it” and “reality”. The latter is true; the former is our best attempt to understand the latter. We can be wrong, sometimes completely so or just in certain situations (Newton’s theory of gravity is good enough for most situations, for example), but regardless of what we or anyone else think about reality, it doesn’t change.

  31. says

    Greta
    “The whole point of our argument is that this selectivism is not the right thing to do.”
    My point is that it is next to impossible NOT to. That is the dilemma I propose, that everyone passes “facts” through their own set of ideological filters.
    Following that the belief that “we alone can know the truth” is extremely dangerous. Political movements that believe they have privileged access to truth sooner or later end up chucking babies into the ovens.
    Some atheists today are dangerously close to Naziesque levels of hubris. Sam Harris when he advocate torture, a nuclear first strike on Iran or argues (badly) that science can give us our values come very close to that.
    In my opinion many of today’s New Atheist leaders are right wing neocon fascists. Atheism per se has nothing to say about one’s politics and there are many atheists on both political extremes. I think that there is a general failure within the atheist community to acknowledge the extremists among them.

  32. says

    Sorry I’m late! I’m a bit confused by this meme’s topic “Do Atheists harden their heart?” How can you harden your heart against someone or something you don’t believe exists? I’m not the sharpest tool in the box especially when it comes to philosophy, but isn’t the meme a contradiction in terms?
    What I can say from my own experience as a believer (been in a variety of churches over the years but stopped going during the last 3years) that Evangelical, Pentecostal and Fundamentalist denominations tend to be taught and think that God is so obvious, therefore some people have chosen to ‘deliberately rebel against God by becoming Atheists’. I’ve paraphrased this quote from a Christian tract I used to use in my mid teens as a basis for converting others. Atheists tended to be seen as secretly knowing there was a god, but wanting to live a life of sin instead, so deliberately chose to accept evolution as an excuse to rule out any divine element of how the universe was made, thus making it easier to live lives of debauchery and vice. Seriously this is what some denominations really believe, I know I was once part of it! Sorry!

  33. says

    That is the dilemma I propose, that everyone passes “facts” through their own set of ideological filters.
    What is your proposed remedy for this problem, and how is it better than what Nigel suggested upthread, which is that our cognitive bias is an argument to become *even better* at evaluating evidence?
    Following that the belief that “we alone can know the truth” is extremely dangerous. Political movements that believe they have privileged access to truth sooner or later end up chucking babies into the ovens.
    Atheism in no way implies privileged access to the truth. How could it? It doesn’t allow for special revelation, as the atheist doesn’t believe in a revealer.
    And seriously, is it even possible for you to stop making casual references to the Nazis to try to win an argument?

  34. Nurse Ingrid says

    Brenda,
    Your casual use of the phrase “chucking babies into ovens” in what has otherwise been a polite discourse is really profoundly repugnant.
    Please stop it. You are making me sick. And you are doing nothing to prove your case, and certainly nothing to demonstrate your supposedly superior grasp of moral values.

  35. says

    Jen R
    “What is your proposed remedy for this problem”
    I like Zizek’s solution of a third way.
    “Atheism in no way implies privileged access to the truth.”
    Nonetheless many atheists explicitly make the claim that truth is objective. It is not.
    “And seriously, is it even possible for you to stop making casual references to the Nazis to try to win an argument?”
    When hiking the World Mountain it is wise to keep the abyss always in mind.

  36. says

    Yeah, this conversation’s over.
    The nice thing about Typepad is that the Greasemonkey “killfile” script works on the comments here.

  37. Nigel says

    Some atheists today are dangerously close to Naziesque levels of hubris. Sam Harris when he advocate torture, a nuclear first strike on Iran or argues (badly) that science can give us our values come very close to that.
    Is this a strawman I see before me?
    That is the dilemma I propose, that everyone passes “facts” through their own set of ideological filters.
    Jen R said: What is your proposed remedy for this problem
    Thank you. The question an answer to which we have yet to hear.
    Political movements that believe they have privileged access to truth sooner or later end up chucking babies into the ovens.
    As has been pointed out, political movements have a regrettable tendency to eschew sound evidence if it doesn’t validate their agenda. And as has been pointed out, atheism doesn’t claim to have access to truth.
    many of today’s New Atheist leaders are right wing neocon fascists
    Ad hominem, and patently untrue.
    I think that there is a general failure within the atheist community to acknowledge the extremists among them.
    So far you’ve mentioned one so called ‘leader’ and apparent extremist proposing things I happen to strongly disagree with, and who is generally agreed to be controversial at times anyway. This still fails to demonstrate what’s wrong with basing decisions an values on evidence and reason. Evidence can help to curb extremists if their positions or proposed actions are not supported by such.
    My point is that it is next to impossible NOT to [use selectivism].
    Not really true. Science – our main way of getting evidence – is designed to minimize bias and maximize self-correction. Not perfectly, perhaps, but still pretty well, and moreover we have yet to find a superior alternative. Or have one suggested to us.

  38. says

    And that’s all she wrote.
    Literally. Brenda Von Ahsen has been banned from commenting on this blog.
    This is not, as she will no doubt conclude, because she is expressing dissent and disagreement with my views. As any regular reader of my blog knows, I welcome and even encourage sincere dissent and debate in this blog. And in fact, the opinion she is currently expressing (I think, it’s a little hard to tell with the incoherence and vitriol) — namely, that there is a danger in allowing our ideologies to filter which facts we do and don’t accept — is one I agree with, have written about at length elsewhere, and have even been arguing for in these very threads. (It would seem that she is now agreeing with the very position the rest of us have been taking, while maintaining a hostile and oppositional stance. Go figure.)
    I am not even banning her for logical and rhetorical incoherence. Although it’s been tempting. But if that were the case, I would have banned her a dozen comments ago.
    I have banned Brenda Von Ahsen from commenting in this blog because she is repeatedly and persistently using insulting, inflammatory language in her comments, despite having been repeatedly warned against it; because she is (see above) stubbornly maintaining a hostile and oppositional stance even though her position has either shifted or clarified to agree with her opponents; because she has hijacked (by my count) at least three comment threads; and because she does not seem be to arguing in good faith, but instead seems to simply be trying to get attention and spoiling for a fight.
    All of which is a pretty good working definition of trolling.
    I believe Brenda wins the prize in this blog for Shortest Time Elapsed Between First Comment And Getting Banned. She also wins a Special Commendation For Agnostic Obnoxiousness, for repeatedly accusing atheists of being close-minded extremists… while herself consistently being hostile, inflammatory, unwilling to engage in a good faith exchange of ideas, and using extreme language that is wildly out of proportion to the content of the conversation. Congratulations, Brenda. You can pick up your prizes at the door. Which you should not let hit you on the ass on your way out.

  39. says

    I know everyone else knows this, and it’s a moot point since Ms Godwin is gone, but just to put some numbers debunking one claim. From Pew Research in 2008:
    Total Population: 37% Conservative, 36% Moderate, 20% Liberal, 7% DK/Refused.
    Agnostics: 15% Conservative, 39% Moderate, 44% Liberal, 3% DK/Refused
    Atheists: 14% Conservative, 27% Moderate, 50% Liberal, 8% DK/Refused
    In fact, Atheists had the 3rd highest Liberal/Conservative ratio, behind Unitarian & Other Liberal Faiths, and Buddhists

  40. Eclectic says

    (Yeah, this is now somewhat moot, but Brenda used some interesting bait for her trolling. More to the point, I wrote it last night, but got an error when I tried to submit it.)

    Facts exist, there is no doubt of that but they are not what people are really interested in.

    Another impressive-sounding and utterly vacuous statement. What sort of “existence” is meant here?
    Falsehoods exist, too. At least as much as facts do, and there are far more of them. The challenge is to tell them apart.
    But I’m still not sure what kind of existence is meant. Even for mathematical facts, which can be established amidst an epidemic of solipsism, it’s hard to figure out what “existence” means independent of an observer.
    eiπ+1=0 is definitely a fact, but did it exist during the stone age?
    Does “the 10100th binary digit of π is 0″ exist? It’s either a fact or a falsehood, but I’m not sure which.

    We want to know what values should inform our lives but we can never never derive those values from the facts of the world.

    I’m not at all sure. We’re learning a lot about ethics from watching hpw concepts like fairness and ownership evolved. On the other hand, I am completely sure that we cannot derive any values of any worth at all without considering the physical world.

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