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Jul 16 2009

Blogospherics

I’m a bit late to pointing people to this thread, but Minnesota Atheists put up a top-ten list of their favorite anti-hymns — songs that can be best described as the orthogonal opposites of the more popular God-praising ones like “Jesus Take the Wheel”. The comments have a number of fantastic suggestions, and one of the commenters put together a bunch of them into an “Atheist Manifesto” playlist at playlist.com. This is going to be my soundtrack for the workday in all likelihood.

The comments on this post at Greg’s, which I’ve linked to on the Two boats post I put up a few days ago, has spiraled well out of control and evolved into a perfect example of back-biting and in-fighting where an eloquent writer but poor debater who purports to be an atheist, questions our “faith” in science being capable of comprehending everything in the universe. The worst part about this thread is that Nathan Myers (no relation to PZ) fundamentally misunderstands everyone’s arguments repeatedly, assigns greater import to their application to our belief systems than we do ourselves, then follows it up with the insinuation that he’d had sex with DuWayne‘s girlfriend, the lovely and intelligent Juniper Shoemaker, exposing utterly his inability to argue a point effectively without resorting to a modification of “yo’ mama”. This backlash ought to convince anyone interested in debating that “oh yeah, well I screwed your girlfriend” isn’t exactly going to win you any friends. It also, sadly, had to come on a thread where the main thrust of the original post is that incivility toward religious folks is sometimes merited where their religion directly hinders scientific progress or education of children.

Mike Haubrich has also written a fantastic post deserving of much attention right now, explaining exactly how he came to educate himself in science in order to counter creationist nonsense. He hits the nail right on the head — the so-called “New Atheists” aren’t the problem when it comes to science education and adoption in the US, the problem is people being kept from the real answers, being fed caricatures of science as being “the devil’s work”. You might have to skip through the Kent Hovind stuff, but I won’t blame you.

And over at How Good Is That, Jim Gardner posted an insightful article about the disingenuousness of people who claim to be “former atheists”, who abandon their understanding of non-belief (which is not founded in rationality to begin with) to instead fall to their knees and worship the warrior god of the Bronze-age middle-eastern tribes. The comment thread is especially illustrative of how hateful and bigoted certain creationists can be, with Zdenny claiming that atheists are incapable of loving their children.

Oh, and to round things out so we’re not only linking stuff to do with religion, here.
As a cyclist (well, a lapsed cyclist I guess), I know full well the importance of wearing your helmet. Greg Laden illustrates what can happen if you are not properly equipped and something unexpected happens.

Also, Toaster Sunshine (AKA Mad Scientist Jr.), and DuWayne at Traumatized by Truth, prepare for the first wave in their plan to subjugate Canada to finally obtain universal health care, gay marriage and sex in canoes The American Way: through military conquest. The first wave mostly involves mind control of moose, for some reason. To arms, fellow Canucks! Don your polar fleece plaid shirts and fire up your chainsaws, we’re at war!

13 comments

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  1. 1
    ZDENNY

    Hey my man! Thanks so much for the mention on your website!

    I don’t follow your logic though. If God is love, then it is true that an atheist is incapable of loving their child. Atheist by definition reject God; therefore, an atheist is not capable of loving their children.

    God’s love never fails; however, an atheist love will fail based on the chemical make up of that person. In fact, evolution when determined by natural selection informs us that our chemicals will eventually change so that a parent is justified in not even caring for their children. We witness this in nature so it is very possible that it could be true for humans.

    It is not hateful; rather, it is logical.

    If you define love as the right chemical balance in a person that results in a person taking care of their child or even having feelings towards that child, you really just end up with chemicals forcing a person (parents) to take care of their child.

    If love is merely a chemical solution, then we really should create it and inject it into everyones veins so that everyone could love their children; however, everyone with an ounce of common sense knows this isn’t love.

    If love is based on material reality, then a rock has as much love as an Atheist in theory.

    Chemicals may help explain emotions, but they do not explain the reality of love. Love that never fails belongs only to Christians who participate in the nature of God.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    You’re… kidding, right? I don’t often enjoy putting people in their place on my own blog, but I’ll do it when I need to. I’m a lot less civil here than I am elsewhere, fair warning. I only give you this warning because I’ve noticed you’re terribly disingenuous elsewhere, and I want you to know ahead of time full well what you’re calling down on yourself.

    I don’t follow your logic though. If God is love, then it is true that an atheist is incapable of loving their child. Atheist by definition reject God; therefore, an atheist is not capable of loving their children.

    If atheists believe God probably doesn’t exist, then does it not follow that they also don’t ascribe any particular properties to this non-existent deity (e.g. love)? Why would an atheist, that does not believe in God, believe that God is love?

    Additionally, you said “God is love”, which you’d have to prove anyway, rather than “love is God”, which would then apply the transient property of God-ness to the state of love, which makes your argument make a whole lot more sense. Since you did this the wrong way around, I could say “God is Love, love is blind, therefore God is Ray Charles”.

    Love is an emotional state of attachment to someone or something to which you have grown accustomed or attached through standard, fairly-well-understood (to a point) electro-chemical processes in the brain. Just like the hurt of a lost loved one will fade over time, a new and real emotional connection can be formed either over time as with relationships, or through the electro-chemical changes (real, and measurable) that happen when a woman is pregnant. Once that attachment is formed, the emotions (need to protect, nurture and guide through life, for instance) are electro-chemical processes.

    You’ve just had your mental state short-circuited by another process that ascribes all love to God, and reinforces your existing mental-state connection with this being that you believe you owe everything (your life, your emotions, etc.) to, therefore you think that other people cannot feel love if they do not also know this short-circuit that you feel. I admit that it probably amplifies the emotions that you feel (for instance, every time you pray and obtain a blissed-out state from it), but I do not feel that it justifies your telling someone that they are incapable of love just because they don’t experience the distorted feedback loop that you do. I strongly suspect a very good friend of mine who happens to be very religious would defend me on this point, in fact. I will ask him if he can chime in as soon as I can.

    God’s love never fails; however, an atheist love will fail based on the chemical make up of that person. In fact, evolution when determined by natural selection informs us that our chemicals will eventually change so that a parent is justified in not even caring for their children. We witness this in nature so it is very possible that it could be true for humans.

    It is not hateful; rather, it is logical.

    Humans are not Mr. Spock by nature until such time that an invisible man breathes love into them. I’ve been told I’m too logical, but I’ve also been told I’m one of the most expressive and emotive people around. Also, fuck you for telling me that I don’t love my fiancee, or my sister, or my father — even despite his actions against myself and my sister. (That was anger. Which is also an emotion. Just like love.)

    Aside from that, why do piranhas not eat their own, despite not knowing God’s true love? Why do dogs and lions and penguins protect their young, care for them, allow them to grow and sacrifice their lives for them? Do they feel God’s perfect love, despite being put on Earth for humans’ sole dominion, or are they simply subject to the same electro chemical reactions that all other life forms with similarly functioning brains have evolved to experience? Guess why atheists generally believe the latter rather than the former — that’s right, because the latter, the one involving electrochemical reactions in the brain can be measured and even altered given the right stimulus.

    If love is merely a chemical solution, then we really should create it and inject it into everyones veins so that everyone could love their children; however, everyone with an ounce of common sense knows this isn’t love.

    Neglecting for the moment that a sensation of love can be effectively faked (either directed at you via the universe, or a sensation that you love everyone around you) through recreational pharmaceuticals, true love is a forging of new neural pathways associating a person (or in some weird cases, an object) with a level of need to protect, cherish and be around as much as possible. Imagine what would happen in your view of the universe for a moment if nothing else was different, except that you learn you were mistaken about God’s existence. Would you suddenly shun all those things that you love, because you learn you were wrong? Or would those electrochemical pathways in your brain continue to fire regardless of your epistemological views?

    If love is based on material reality, then a rock has as much love as an Atheist in theory.

    No. A rock is an inanimate chunk of matter. It does not reproduce, it does not self-perpetuate, it does not consume other rocks for food, and it does not have a brain.

    Love is not unconditional, there is no love that “never fails”, and love is fleeting, because love is merely the word we have for the same evolutionarily derived needs to protect and cherish other valued humans in our lives, and as soon as we die, that’s it, we’re done. Others may continue to remember and cherish you after you die, but there is no floating on a cloud, no burning in a fire, and especially no great big game-over screen on which you get to post your high score of converted heathens by entering your initials as “FUK”.

    I’m sure you’re going to tell me what I do and do not feel again, because you are so thoroughly short-circuited by this God meme that it’s scary. You will neglect the mountains of evidence presented over at How Good Is That, and you will ignore the fact that people loved one another long before the Old Testament was written proclaiming that God created the Earth from the body of the great Dragon Tiamat, and long before the New Testament was written some ~100 years after Christ’s supposed death. Go back to your mythology, and stop telling human beings that they’re incapable of the very emotions that define them just because they don’t believe in your psychotic warrior god who slays dragons and extinguishes cities and demands of followers that they slay their children. Yours is not a deity of love, yours is a deity of war and death and destruction.

    It’s also a deity that inspires the worst aspects of humanity to get out there and annoy the living piss out of the rest of us. Sod off.

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    Also, I am not your “man”.

  4. 4
    ZDENNY

    “Love is not unconditional, there is no love that “never fails”, and love is fleeting, because love is merely the word we have for the same evolutionarily derived needs to protect and cherish other valued humans in our lives, and as soon as we die, that’s it, we’re done.”

    Thanks for proving my point… I enjoyed your response! Very thoughtful and honest… Most atheist would try to spin atheist concept of love into something positive. You were just straightforward in your presentation. I can respect that…

    A cure for atheism is sometimes just to get married. A woman in your life can sometimes show you the necessity of having real love rather because the chemical formula generally doesn’t work.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    Thanks for proving my point…

    Your point was that love stems only from God, and God’s love is unconditional and eternal.

    My point was that the only love you see in this world right now, is conditional upon the person being alive. As soon as they are dead, they can no longer love. Our points are not only unrelated, they are for all intents and purposes diametrically opposed to one another.

    Perhaps I assert, like Nietzsche, that God is dead.

    Or perhaps I assert that as God does not exist, the only love that exists is that which humans, and other animals capable of such, experience.

    Most atheist would try to spin atheist concept of love into something positive. You were just straightforward in your presentation. I can respect that…

    “Atheists“, please. You seem incapable of pluralizing the word. If you refuse to do so, I’ll start referring to “most Christian” or “most creationist” or “most insufferable asshole” when trying to paint the social groups to which you belong with such a broad brush as you do.

    Love is most certainly a positive thing, there’s nothing negative about it just because it comes from electrochemical reactions in the brain instead of some invisible, unknowable (though you claim to know him pretty well!) deity. It is positive in that it has evolved along with our social evolution in order to forge bonds between you and other members of your race, especially your immediate family. I am merely realistic about its duration (only, at most, as long as you live), its source (your brain), and its provenance (to help bind society together).

    A cure for atheism is sometimes just to get married. A woman in your life can sometimes show you the necessity of having real love rather because the chemical formula generally doesn’t work.

    No. Marrying a religious woman might force you to subvert your own rationality in order to accept the religious tenets of your wife’s beliefs, and over time you might end up prone to the same short-circuit that religious people have in their brains. I am happy with being a rational, logical, intelligent and yet still emotional person. I do not want to go messing with the wiring of my brain just to appease some hypothetical religious woman.

    My fiancee is a Humanist. She does not believe in a god or gods. I seriously doubt that our love suffers from this fact, and I doubt also that marrying her will suddenly find me “finding God” (by which I mean, short-ciruciting my own brain).

    Do you care to argue against any of the points I made above, or will you, as I’ve seen you do elsewhere, merely ignore them, restate your arguments (possibly throwing in new lines of argumentation out of nowhere), and pretend like you’ve actually rebutted them?

    Because if not, I have no further interest in speaking with you, who tells others that they are incapable of love. You are an evil, disgusting person for doing so, and additionally, you are a hypocrite for claiming to follow God while casting the first stone at every opportunity. You may not see your actions as hateful, but I assure you they are.

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Before you go, however, go read this article. Atheists are most certainly capable of love. And yes, “Jodi and Jason” are my fiancee and I.

    http://quichemoraine.com/2009/07/atheists-in-love/

  7. 7
    Jim

    Zdenny: “God’s love never fails”

    Do you mean apart from every time it does? Really. I’m not being cute. This is complete nonsense. You don’t even understand your own argument.

  8. 8
    Jason Thibeault

    A cure for atheism is sometimes just to get married. A woman in your life can sometimes show you the necessity of having real love rather because the chemical formula generally doesn’t work.

    I sincerely doubt it.

    Not only is this complete and utter bollocks but it doesn’t even make any sense. I know what you’re trying to get at with your ‘chemical formula’ statement, you’re talking about lust. And if you’re already the kind of guy who is hung up on lust and just wants lots of ‘chemical romance’ in the first place then how the hell is a woman who wants ‘real love’ really going to settle anything? That’s just doomed to failure from the outset. That’s the kind of relationship that has him drinking every night and her slaving away in the kitchen pinning for a life she never had. A woman will not be able to change a man like that.

    But aside from that, I am the woman that Jason is soon to marry and I can assure you my presence is not going to make him turn to zombie jesus any time soon. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  9. 9
    DuWayne

    Wow, I totally missed an interesting conversation…I am crossposting my comment at Denny’s blog here, because I actually have to strongly disagree with your comment that love and emotions are fleeting, though I agree with the underlying sentiment…

    Jason is far from the last line on love and atheists. Not all of us would agree with him, just as not all Christians would come close to agreeing with your assertions, here or there.

    I am an atheist, after spending the vast majority of my life trying to reconcile my Faith with reason and reality. I understand very clearly, many different Christian premises about the nature of love. Now you may just decide that because I am now an atheist, I must never have been a real Christian, in which case this is probably a pointless exercise. But I am not going to assume that you are rather bigger than that.

    When I was a Christian, I was very caught onto this notion of love and godly love. I have written very extensively over the years, on 1 Cor. 13 and that has been an absolute my entire life. I have believed absolutely in loving everyone, unconditionally. When I was a Christian, I absolutely believed that this was the least I could do – the least I could be, as a living testament to my god. The thing is, now that I am not a Christian, I not only continue to love like I did – I have found a much deeper and meaningful love than I have ever experienced.

    Emotions are chemical based, because we are chemical based – everything we think, is based in chemical processes. The difference between you and who I am now, is that you somehow see this as making you less of a person – less miraculous than you actually are. Rather than arguing that this is somehow mundane and degrading, I would ask; Why do you think that this degrades us? We are truly marvelous and beautiful creatures – what makes us who and what we are, is awe inspiring. It is much like the notion of creation, versus evolution – I am far more inspired and awestruck, by the understanding of how we – these significantly flawed, yet wholly remarkable creatures came to be, than by the notion that we and the universe around us, were just magically “poofed” into existence. I am awestruck by the notion of the billions of years and virtually infinite space that spans out universe.

    But the thing that I actually really have to disagree with Jason about – rather strenuously even, is this idea that our emotions are fleeting things – they assuredly are not. While some of our emotions are fleeting things, that which is most important to us does not evaporate, it usually just gets buried. We humans have a remarkable capacity for compartmentalizing and do so on an ongoing basis. Were we to stop, we would quickly be completely overwhelmed by the inability to process absolutely everything. So the vast majority of what we see, what is happening around us, goes into tidy little compartments – some of them much like the RECYCLE function of our computers. Certain types of information are harder to reach while they are still there and only stay until we have put so much more in, that it disappears.

    But there are a great many things that never leave us – though we may get past the worst of the impact of those events, people and the feelings they inspire. And when we dwell on them, it is easy enough to recall and experience those emotions again – unless we’ve repressed it, which is something that men are especially good at.

    I don’t believe in gods anymore, don’t believe in the supernatural at all. That doesn’t mean I have any less capacity for love and emotions than you do. Indeed, believing as I now do, that such beliefs are dangerous and overall bad for us, I not only love you, but much as I am sure you love me and wish that I would come back to God’s grace, I wish you would come to reason and out of the dangers of magical thinking.

    And I too, love my children. Ever so very deeply and in a way that to you, a fellow parent, can totally relate to.

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    Funny thing is, DuWayne, you’re arguing that love isn’t fleeting but you reference it only in the duration of your lifetime. Every one of my arguments has made your ability to love conditional upon you being alive to have these chemical reactions. So, when you’re dead, your love for others ends, though the effects of your love might continue to resonate for a very long time in the hearts of those your love has touched during the span of your lifetime.

    Your life is fleeting in context of the duration of the universe. Your love is therefore even more fleeting, since the likelihood that any one particular attachment of yours has lasted from birth through until death is rather low (given that you’re not likely to be sentient at birth, unless you’re some kind of creepy Dune-like “pre-born”). That I have to clarify my previous position indicates either that I was unclear to begin with, or that you’re predisposed to assume I meant love is fleeting even in the context of a person’s lifespan. That is assuredly not my meaning.

    Everything else you’ve said, I agree with. I suspect you’ll probably agree with even that which you’ve strenuously objected to, now that you have the proper frame of reference in which I had intended my comments be read.

  11. 11
    DuWayne

    (given that you’re not likely to be sentient at birth, unless you’re some kind of creepy Dune-like “pre-born”)

    Shhh!! Don’t tell anybody…ABOMINATION!!!!! They’ll probably try to kill me…

    You actually gave me the impression that I got, with:

    Just like the hurt of a lost loved one will fade over time, a new and real emotional connection can be formed either over time as with relationships, or through the electro-chemical changes (real, and measurable) that happen when a woman is pregnant. Once that attachment is formed, the emotions (need to protect, nurture and guide through life, for instance) are electro-chemical processes.

    But I can see now, what you are getting at.

  12. 12
    cuz I can?

    The theists in the ‘conversation’ have MISLABELED this particular strain of atheists. They are most correctly: CONTRATHEISTS

  13. 13
    Jason Thibeault

    “cuz i can?” is a newbie troll whose blog has already won Zdenny’s praise for saying atheism is “self-refuting” and “love isn’t an emotion”. I wonder if he’s a sock-puppet, or perhaps one of Zdenny’s children.

    Also, you’re dumb. Theism is Greek. Contra- is Latin. The correct spurious allegation you’re looking for is “antitheists”. And nobody in this thread is specifically motivated by being against THEISTS, just by lacking belief. That’s why we call ourselves ATHEISTS. Because it means “does not believe in a god or gods”.

  1. 14
    Lousy Canuck » What is love? Baby don’t hurt me…

    [...] of my arguments against this stuff are already written in the original comment thread that he took a dump in. He rebuts basically none of it, but imagines that he has come away from the [...]

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