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Dec 30 2012

Accommodationists are so easy to outguess

Brace yourselves. Keith Kloor promises to rebut me once he finishes watching some football game today.

Just to make it easier for him, though, I threw together a simple accommodationist bingo card. Let’s see if he can do it while avoiding these extraordinarily cliched words and concepts.

accommbingo

I’m going to predict it will be the same old tired whine, without a single original idea in it.

123 comments

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  1. 1
    irisvanderpluym

    I got a headache just reading the bingo card.

  2. 2
    Inaji

    He pretty much hit all those previously. Gad, it’s tedious having to go through and refute each one again. It doesn’t seem to matter at all that all the bingos have been handily refuted many, many, many times. It’s the same old song and I’ve heard it enough that it makes me nauseous.

  3. 3
    Gregory Greenwood

    Let’s see if he can do it while avoiding these extraordinarily cliched words and concepts.

    It is a dead cert that he will include a fair selection of your bingo card PZ. A better game might be to try to guess how many he will cough up like furballs (gambling optional).

    Can Kloor catch ‘em all?

  4. 4
    Inaji

    Gregory:

    Can Kloor catch ‘em all?

    I’m not as interested in that as I am not having to wade through knee deep furballs.

  5. 5
    Ing

    Accommodationist pokemon would be horrible. They level backwards: the more you make them fight the worse they get

  6. 6
    Ashley Sloop

    I predict it go from top left to bottom right. post the response if you can please.

  7. 7
    Argle Bargle

    PZ, you forgot the “religion does so much good” and “religion makes people feel good” squares.

  8. 8
    Gregory Greenwood

    Caine, Fleur du mal @ 4;

    I’m not as interested in that as I am not having to wade through knee deep furballs.

    I see your point – frankly, the things my cat coughs up from time to time make more sense and are more pleasant to deal with than accommodationist blather.

    ————————————————————————————————————————-

    Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”;

    Accommodationist pokemon would be horrible. They level backwards: the more you make them fight the worse they get

    You’re right. I don’t imagine Nintendo will hammering on our door looking to secure the rights to that particular concept anytime soon…

  9. 9
    shouldbeworking

    And no quantum anything! Everyone knows that quantum explains everything

  10. 10
    Ing

    Klooradile used HandWave…but there was no effect

    Stedmar used Anecdote…it’s not very effective

  11. 11
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I’ve gotten to the point where I mostly link to MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with a hearty “fuck you” appended.

  12. 12
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Can Kloor catch ‘em all?

    I wanna be the very best…

    Oh, wait. That’s pretty strident. Better ratchet it back.

    I wanna be rather milquetoast…

  13. 13
    Ing

    I wanna be rather milquetoast…

    To not stand out from the rest!

    *DU DU DUDU*

    To appease them is my true test!
    To be best friends is my cause!

  14. 14
    noelplum99

    This is an issue we both largely agree on but i don’t really think the rehashing of arguments or use of phrases on this bingo card ‘amusing as it is’ really is the heart of the issue.
    After all, I doubt you would offer him any arguments he has not heard before (actually i don’t know the guy, but I know it is exceedingly unlikely you will offer him any arguments i haven’t heard before) and he could ofc produce his own bingo card of words and phrases any one of us would reasonably be expected to use.

    Most of the arguments on either side are as old as the hills. So just as I don’t think the last century has brought us very much new in terms of the philosophical arguments presented on either side for or against religion itself (aside from the impact computers and our consequent understanding of a simulation has brought – and all the new ground that results from that), so it goes for the arguments on how we should handle religion.

    in your linked video you said:

    deep cosmic truths, answers hallowed by nothing more than generations of prophets pulling stories out of their asses? It is “inconsistent with the spirit of science” to simply accept those claims unquestioned

    I think this is far more the heart of the issue than the bald fact that ideas are rehashed (after all, good ideas are sensibly rehashed at least as much as bad ones) and probably gets to the heart of the issue.

    A year ago I had an email exchange with Ken Miller on this. I couldn’t (and can’t) get my head around how he reconciles his spiritual beliefs, which NECESSITATE an immortal immaterial component, with his absolute acceptance of humans as evolved material agents sharing common ancestry with the rest of the natural world. You read his book ‘Finding Darwin’s God’ and this discontinuity is smuggled in, yet it shines out, glaring at you like some kind of intellectual distress beacon. The shocking thing was his answer as to how he deals with this; how he rationalises humans having fully evolved and yet possessing a necessary characteristic which is unevolvable.
    You know what he said to me?
    He effectively said he ignores it – that the question of the soul is not a scientific concept so with his biologist hat on he simply ignores it! It was as if the two ‘facts’ (as he sees them) he compartmentalises, presumably as some kind of dissonance reduction mechanism.

    I found that really fucking unsatisfying tbh but it seems a very good example of what you are talking about here.

    Jim.

  15. 15
    noelplum99

    Should have read “in your linked blog entry you said”

    Sorry about that!

  16. 16
    Ing

    Comment by noelplum99 blocked. [unhush]​[show comment]

    And nothing of value was lost ^-^

  17. 17
    Inaji

    IJoe:

    I’ve gotten to the point where I mostly link to MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with a hearty “fuck you” appended.

    Good thing you weren’t around for the accommodation wars a la Mooney. Anymore, I’d like to be able to copypasta the first 9 chapters or so of Greta Christina’s Why Are You Atheists So Angry?

  18. 18
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Comment by noelplum99 blocked. [unhush]​[show comment]

    That describes the lack of cogent contribution to a tee. Let Xim join the Islamophic bigot in my hushfile…

  19. 19
    Inaji

    Yeah, I’ve killfiled noelplum99 too. There’s only so much willful idiocy I’m willing to take.

  20. 20
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    Caine,

    I was “around” but not as active with the comments as I am now I guess? Mooney about broke my fucking brain, and then I think I got into it with Russell Blackford and Michael De Dora for being shithead tone trolls… the phrase “come at me, bro” may have been uttered at some point.

  21. 21
    vaiyt

    I wanna be rather milquetoast…

    *sporfles nonexistent drink!*

  22. 22
    adam quate

    cult of null-hypotheses?

  23. 23
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Hello Adam, you fine young accommodationist.

    Do you have a point?

  24. 24
    Inaji

    Janine:

    Do you have a point?

    Do they ever?

  25. 25
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.
    Do you have a point?

    Do they ever?

    Yes. The point is, ‘Pay attention to MEEEE! Ignore reality! Ignore society! But don’t ignore MEEEE!’

  26. 26
    soul_biscuit

    Naked Bunny, Ing, the Pokemon stuff is making my night. What does that make me?!

  27. 27
    zombie

    Is there anything good left at Discover or did all their good bloggers get poached?

  28. 28
  29. 29
    brucegorton

    If we are going to do accomodamon we really should start thinking about types.

    I am not entirely sure any are supereffective though.

    Sexist

    Believes that women who complain about sexism are just as bad as the sexists. Loves to say “Free speech” – which only ever seems to apply when they are criticizing other people, not when they are being criticized.

    Political

    Loves to argue that one shouldn’t politicise events. Somehow maintaining the status quo doesn’t count as politicizing. Will also call for “tough action”, while simultaneously arguing that any stances a politician might take is alienating potential voters. Generally treats any policy as being a special interests position.

    Religious

    May disagree with religion, but thinks actually stating that and why they disagree with religion is being strident. Will argue that all ways of knowing are valid, while utilising technology created by the one form of knowledge that they are busy decrying.

    Economic

    Argues that people should be willing to make “hard sacrifices” for the good of “the economy”. The hard sacrifices are of course human ones (as in the working class), and “the economy” is the rich.

  30. 30
    DLC

    My favorites are NOMA and Social Usefulness.

  31. 31
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    he could ofc produce his own bingo card of words and phrases any one of us would reasonably be expected to use.

    That “bingo card” you refer to is called “The Periodic Table”.

  32. 32
    Reptile Dysfunction

    “I think we’re going to need some more Deepities.”
    — “Little Bill”, the Sheriff from “The Unforgiven”

  33. 33
    Nick Gotts

    So just as I don’t think the last century has brought us very much new in terms of the philosophical arguments presented on either side for or against religion itself (aside from the impact computers and our consequent understanding of a simulation has brought – and all the new ground that results from that), so it goes for the arguments on how we should handle religion. – noelplum99

    No, it doesn’t. What the last century has produced is societies where, for the first time in history, large proportions of the population are openly non-religious, and the influence of religion on public policy is much reduced. These societies are among the most successful ever in terms of human welfare. So we have clear empirical evidence, which we never had before, that religion is unnecessary to human welfare at both individual and social levels.

  34. 34
    khms

    Sure, we got a few new arguments. So did the other side (what was that idiotic argument again WLC loves so much?).

    And I’m sure some arguments more specific to the accommodationist debate are also not several centuries old.

    But that doesn’t change the point that in both the more general and the more specific debate, people on either side very rarely come up with a new idea.

    And of course, that isn’t what actually matters. What matters is how good the points are people make, not how often they are repeated.

    And both the religion and the accommodationist sides seem to love using shitty arguments. Such as those the poopyhead listed.

    If they have a list of the arguments on our side together with refutations, I haven’t heard about it.

  35. 35
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    Well said, Nick. =^_^=

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I get annoyed by people who make this excuse for accommodationism: because so many cultures have had some kind of religion, ‘belief’ itself must be somehow hard-wired into our brains.

    No, no, NO; even if the desire to form social groups and the drive to understand our surroundings are found to be hard-wired, religion is actually parasitic on those drives. It diverts them to its own ends.

    Religions pervert social drives.

    Religions lie about the way the universe actually works.

    I really wish I hadn’t been brain-washed by religion. I wasted decades of intellectual effort trying to reconcile what I had been taught about reality with reality itself, and blaming myself and feeling guilty for my inevitable failure.

    I have a fervent wish that it shouldn’t happen to any more generations.

    My hope is that those who know reality stop being elitest about it, as if they are looking down on the people with thought-processes corrupted by religion and saying “There, there, it doesn’t matter. Keep trying to hang on to those delusions; you aren’t as clever as me, so there’s no point in me explaining to you just why what you were taught is wrong.”

    That’s why I love the Horde. You don’t accommodate the delusions. You don’t allow the lie-peddlars to get away with unevidenced assertions. You admit that humanity doesn’t yet have all the answers, but also show that it isn’t ‘having all the answers’ that matters.

    It is honesty that matters. Being prepared to admit to being mistaken. Discarding wrong assumptions in the face of new evidence.

    The genuine humility of the real scientists here when exploring the great questions and the genuine awe at the marvellous universe around us are so refreshing when compared to the conceit of people who claim to know for certain not only whether any God exists, but the very mind of said God (which, predictably, always seems to concur with their own prejudices).

    In what way can the people following the scientific method possibly be considered to be equivalent to the people who close their minds to reality and instead cling to ancient myths?

    Accommodating the latter only leads to more young minds being broken by them. I think that it is the moral duty of enlightened people to rail against the damage done by religions, not to appease their practitioners because they may have a superficial ‘niceness’.

    Good people do good things regardless, or in spite, of religion. By all means let us acknowledge the good things that people do – but we should refuse to attribute those good deeds to whichever religion they may have been indoctrinated into.

  36. 36
    Edward Gemmer

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality. A lot of religious people really don’t care about evolution or science or grand answers to the universe. They do care about having hopes and dreams and their lives having meaning. An afterlife is an attractive proposition.

  37. 37
    vaiyt

    he could ofc produce his own bingo card of words and phrases any one of us would reasonably be expected to use.

    Sure, this could be a bad thing, if you think all bingo cards are equal.

    It’s not the repetition itself that is the problem, it’s the repetition of PRATTs, meaningless clichés and strawmen.

  38. 38
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality.

    Gee, since spirituality can’t be properly defined, it is a meaningless concept.

  39. 39
    vaiyt

    @36: Oh, great, another “atheists live meaningless lives!!111″ dribbler. Tired of trolling on the other thread, asshole?

  40. 40
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Edward Gemmer: “One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality.”

    WTF does this even mean? If by spirituality, you mean a “connectedness” to the world around them, then my wife–who was raised an atheist–is one of the most spiritual people around. Biologist bill hamilton wanted to be set out on the rain forest floor to become part of the rain forest–that is certainly “spiritual”.

    Edward Gemmer: “An afterlife is an attractive proposition.”

    So is winning the fucking lottery or becoming a millionaire playing the fucking slots in Vegas. Or being a NFL quarterback or a rock star. Eventually you have to grow up.

  41. 41
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality.

    Yep.

    And?

    A lot of religious people really don’t care about evolution or science or grand answers to the universe.

    And a lot of non-religious people are equally oblivious. So?

    They do care about having hopes and dreams and their lives having meaning.

    Funny, but the way of thinking that has given most people reasonable grounds for hope is the scientific method. Vaccinations = hopes that any children you may have probably won’t die of some horrible disease before their fifth birthday, but will reach a healthy adulthood; and you will probably be kept healthy enough by evidence-based medicine to live long enough to see their children grow up.

    It has created amazing tools that we can use to communicate with one another even when in remote places on opposite sides of the planet, and a way of recording images and speech of our loved ones so that we can still see them after they are gone.

    You create your meaning in having a fulfilling life and relationships that aren’t cut short by early death and seeing your descendants grow up happy, healthy and educated.

    What religion ever managed to do that?

    An afterlife is an attractive proposition.

    Only if actual, real life is as miserable as many/most religions try to make it. Anyone giving a second’s thought to the idea would realise that it is horrifying.

    I can imagine that having some more years in which to see your loved ones in is attractive, provided you are healthy; funny – that is exactly what science has given us! But eternity? How would you find something to amuse yourself after the first hundred years? The first thousand? Then next thousand? The first million? The million after that? After a billion years, what would be the favourite pastime of a disembodied mind, assuming it were still sane? And eternity has barely got started.

    Believe me, the thought that I will cease to exist when my brain dies is the most comforting thought ever. There’ll be no ‘me’ around to experience the incredible tedium of the post-heat-death universe in however many trillions of years’ time when there is no longer anything to experience. And yet eternity will still be at the very beginning.

    Hope for an afterlife is a dreadful thing.

    Hope for more of this one (which is, after all, the only one we know we have), in health rather than in illness, is entirely reasonable and there are scientists working on that – despite the fact that the major religions often condemn them as ‘evil’ for the research they do.

    Religion has been a millstone around the neck of humanity for far too long.

  42. 42
    No One

    Edward Gemmer

    They do care about having hopes and dreams and their lives having meaning. An afterlife is an attractive proposition.

    An existential placebo? I waste my money on lottery tickets instead. At least I have a chance, as remote as that might be, of actually getting the prize. In my lifetime.

    “Spirituality” has less to do with dreams & hopes and more with lazy, superstitious, thinking.

  43. 43
    noelplum99

    khms @34

    Sure, we got a few new arguments. So did the other side (what was that idiotic argument again WLC loves so much?).

    I am assuming you refer to the Kalam Cosmological argument. The Kalam school dates from (i think) about the 9th century which is about when this version of the cosmological argument dates from.

    But that doesn’t change the point that in both the more general and the more specific debate, people on either side very rarely come up with a new idea.

    And of course, that isn’t what actually matters. What matters is how good the points are people make, not how often they are repeated.

    And both the religion and the accommodationist sides seem to love using shitty arguments. Such as those the poopyhead listed.

    I think i agree with all of this. I don’t think we are really in any way on different sides on this discussion.

    Jim.

  44. 44
    noelplum99

    PS: I suppose Alvin Plantinga’s EAAN is perhaps a genuinely new argument, rather than a reworking of something else.

  45. 45
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people the ability to fart rainbows.

  46. 46
    noelplum99

    Nick Gotts @33

    What the last century has produced is societies where, for the first time in history, large proportions of the population are openly non-religious, and the influence of religion on public policy is much reduced. These societies are among the most successful ever in terms of human welfare. So we have clear empirical evidence, which we never had before, that religion is unnecessary to human welfare at both individual and social levels.

    I don’t think this is a sound rebuttal of the point I made. The most openly non-religious societies i can think of are some of the Scandinavian countries and the UK. Yet these are amongst the most accommodationist countries i can think of. In Sweden, by way of example, rates of irreligiosity are amongst the highest in the world and yet even those openly non-religious still count themselves as members of the Church of Sweden (of which over 70% of Swedes are still members). Here in the UK the BSA survey in 2010 counted 50% of the population as not believing in a god, yet out head of State is the head of the Church of England; we have bishops sitting in our upper chamber and liberal policies that go very easy on religions and encourage accommodationism.
    Why i think you argument is a bad one is that the really anti-accommodationist governments have been the ones we really wouldn’t want to emulate. Stalin wasn’t the greatest of accommodationists and suppressed the orthodox church across the Soviet union but I don’t really think this is the kind of approach we would want citing back in our faces (as Jonathan Sacks did in his book last year, as if this is the only irreligious country to ever have existed).

    I totally agree with you that religion is far from necessary for both societies and individuals to act in positive ways. Recall, i am not an accommodationist. I just feel that the grounds for criticising accommodationists are on the grounds that there is actually something to be said for believing what is actually fucking true rather than sticking your head in the sand and trying your hardest to believe just what makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside or believing something because your parents believed it (in which case most of us would need to make more of an attempt to be overtly racist!)

    Jim.

  47. 47
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Edward Gemmer

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality.

    This “spirituality” you speak of is understood in many different ways. Could you, for the sake of argument, give us your own working definition of “spirituality”?

    .

    For myself, I cannot think of “spirituality” as any more than a connectedness to reality. As far as I can see the only way we can achieve this is to embrace reality. Very much in the way that science does.

    I can imagine someone seeing “spirituality” in entertaining an overarching discriptive myth, but cannot see how this could be divorced from reality. Religions simply cannot hack it even in this interpretation.

    Please enlighten us.

  48. 48
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    noelplum99: “I suppose Alvin Plantinga’s EAAN is perhaps a genuinely new argument, rather than a reworking of something else.”

    So, maybe we should have stipulated that we are not interested in fatuous misunderstandings of evolution, naturalism and atheism, huh?

  49. 49
    consciousness razor

    Why i think you argument is a bad one is that the really anti-accommodationist governments have been the ones we really wouldn’t want to emulate. Stalin wasn’t the greatest of accommodationists and suppressed the orthodox church across the Soviet union but I don’t really think this is the kind of approach we would want citing back in our faces (as Jonathan Sacks did in his book last year, as if this is the only irreligious country to ever have existed).

    Accommodationism:
    1) The claim that we should have a secular society in which people are not persecuted because of their religious beliefs or the lack thereof.
    2) The claim that science and religion are compatible.

    Do you see how these are not even close to the same thing? I don’t of anyone even calls the first “accommodationism” anyway, except for confused dissemblers like you — that’s just called “secularism.”

    But examine Nick’s argument again. It is not an argument that people should be “really accommodationist” like the fucking Stalinists and persecute people for their beliefs. It’s an argument that religion isn’t always a good thing and that there is abundant evidence that secular societies which don’t persecute people for their beliefs are better than religious societies (where by definition some set of beliefs is privileged over others).

  50. 50
    consciousness razor

    I don’t know of anyone.

    Two much drinking last knight.

  51. 51
    consciousness razor

    really anti-accommodationist

    Again with the drinking. Need more coffee.

  52. 52
    Nick Gotts

    I don’t think this is a sound rebuttal of the point I made. – noelplum99

    As usual, you’re wrong. The point I was rebutting was:

    I don’t think the last century has brought us very much new in terms of… the arguments on how we should handle religion.

    Clearly, the new, and now abundant empirical evidence that religion is not necessary to human welfare is highly relevant to such arguments, since it refutes one of the accommodationists’ main claims. All your drivel about Stalin is simply an irrelevance, since opposition to accommodationism has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with advocacy of the forcible suppression of religious practice.

  53. 53
    Marcus Ranum

    In Sweden, by way of example, rates of irreligiosity are amongst the highest in the world and yet even those openly non-religious still count themselves as members of the Church of Sweden (of which over 70% of Swedes are still members).

    Who is doing the counting and how? Are those who identify themselves as members going out of their way to do so? This seems like a place where a lot of sampling bias could creep in, accidentally or deliberately. Especially since the church in Sweden was established by the state until recently. Is this one of those “check here if you are not a member of the official church” on the tax forms kind of deals?

    Here in the UK the BSA survey in 2010 counted 50% of the population as not believing in a god, yet out head of State is the head of the Church of England; we have bishops sitting in our upper chamber and liberal policies that go very easy on religions and encourage accommodationism.

    The preference shown the bishops is not a sign of accomodationism, it’s christian privilege. Unless you’re telling me that they’re also giving tickets to the buddhists and muslims and hindus and so forth… I don’t see that kind of accomodation happening. Sounds more like, “well, here’s your bishop. feel free to ignore him if you want but he’s got a level of political access most lobbyists would trade their souls for.” (I’m joking, lobbyists don’t have souls)

  54. 54
    Edward Gemmer

    And?

    And like it or not, people find a lot of comfort in spirituality, especially in hard times. It increases after major events such as diagnosis of disease or loss of loved ones. People seem to like it. They aren’t interested in trillions of years of development, just that they made an impact in their life and will see their loved ones again. “You don’t matter” is perhaps not the most attractive belief to carry around. Beliefs don’t have to be attractive to be true, but it makes them a lot more palatable.

  55. 55
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And like it or not, people find a lot of comfort in spirituality,

    Still no definition of this null concept, ergo a meaningless statement. Define spirituality before you use it again. Otherwise, nothing but noise.

  56. 56
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Edward please define spirituality.

  57. 57
    Nick Gotts

    Edward Gemmer

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality. A lot of religious people really don’t care about evolution or science or grand answers to the universe. They do care about having hopes and dreams and their lives having meaning.

    And they need religion for this why, exactly?

    An afterlife is an attractive proposition.

    So by “spirituality”, you mean “wishful thinking”.

  58. 58
    Nick Gotts

    They aren’t interested in trillions of years of development, just that they made an impact in their life and will see their loved ones again. “You don’t matter” is perhaps not the most attractive belief to carry around. – Edward Gemmer

    You evidently have the most bizarre notion of how atheists view the world – notions which are common among the religious, but nevertheless absurd.

  59. 59
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    And like it or not, people find a lot of comfort in spirituality, especially in hard times.

    And we have ghouls in the guise of seers, physics, fortune tellers, priest, ministers and all other types who claim “spiritual” knowledge who swoop down and take advantage of these people.

  60. 60
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    They aren’t interested in trillions of years of development

    Trillions?

    You’re ignorance is showing, Edward. That’s a ‘mistake’ that YECs make.

    I don’t think we’re likely to get anything interesting or useful out of Edward. Is it telling that I feel that one example of appalling ignorance (no, I don’t think it’s really a mistake) is enough to make such a prediction? Meh.

    The accommodationists are so tiresome. Just once, I’d like to see an argument that isn’t entirely premised on tone and how good religion really is.

  61. 61
    consciousness razor

    Who is doing the counting and how? Are those who identify themselves as members going out of their way to do so?

    I’m sure I’m counted among the Roman Catholics worldwide. It’s been decades since I left, so by now I probably should’ve gotten around to hand-delivering a pile of forms to the Vatican, or tossing rotten fruit at a bishop, or whatever it takes. Obviously, I must be a devout Catholic and therefore you are criticizing my beliefs you are persecuting me.

  62. 62
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Ken Miller and Stalin each deserve a square.

    You know what he said to me?
    He effectively said he ignores it – that the question of the soul is not a scientific concept [false] so with his biologist hat on he simply ignores it! It was as if the two ‘facts’ (as he sees them) he compartmentalises, presumably as some kind of dissonance reduction mechanism.

    That’s a plain admission of incompatibility.

    ***

    No, it doesn’t. What the last century has produced is societies where, for the first time in history, large proportions of the population are openly non-religious, and the influence of religion on public policy is much reduced. These societies are among the most successful ever in terms of human welfare. So we have clear empirical evidence, which we never had before, that religion is unnecessary to human welfare at both individual and social levels.

    We also have a developing appreciation of the social, political, ethical, and psychological necessity of opposing faith/religion. (The political necessity comes with added urgency in an age of emerging ecological catastrophe in which billions of people believe the most absurd nonsense about the natural world.) Oh, and we need science to love.

  63. 63
    noelplum99

    a_ray @48

    So, maybe we should have stipulated that we are not interested in fatuous misunderstandings of evolution, naturalism and atheism, huh?

    I don’t understand your response. The question wasn’t ‘are there any new arguments offered by the religious in the last century that a_ray_in_dilbert_space is interested in’ it was simply whether there are any new arguments.

    A shit argument is still an argument. i really don’t understand what your point was.

  64. 64
    tomfrog

    “You don’t matter” is perhaps not the most attractive belief to carry around –Edward Gemmer

    I think some people asked you to define spirituality and you just keep on talking about it as if it’s definition was a given… not helping.

    About the “you don’t matter” thing and trillions of years (billions actually): the fact that anyone is here today, given how much we know about the history of the universe and the odds playing hugely against each and every one of us can actually give you a sense of wonder and awe, while keeping in mind that no, indeed, at the level of the universe it seems that we don’t matter at all.
    It doesn’t change the fact that at our level, we matter very much. Each of our ancestors —all of them— were winners of a cosmic lottery and we also are. And that should give us the incentive to not let this amazing opportunity that we have to be alive go to waste. IMO obviously.

    Like I said in my “Why I Am And Atheist” thingy (link on my ‘nym):

    Because of the awe of us being here and the sadness that would bestow upon me if indeed everything was premeditated.
    Because the unfathomable set of circumstances is that much more inspiring than just being here because we were suppose to, doomed to.

  65. 65
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    An afterlife is an attractive proposition.

    Not if it is spent reflecting glory upon my creator.

  66. 66
    Nick Gotts

    Here in the UK the BSA survey in 2010 counted 50% of the population as not believing in a god, yet out head of State is the head of the Church of England; we have bishops sitting in our upper chamber – noelplum99

    As Marcus Ranum says, these historical survivals are evidence of Christian (specifically Anglican) privilege. Accommodationism has perhaps contributed to allowing them to survive, but I’m mystified that you should consider this a point in its favour. Those scumbag bishops recently blocked a bill allowing assisted suicide for terminally sick people who wanted it, which polls show had overwhelming public support. They are currently trying to block gay marriage, which again has majority public support.

  67. 67
    Marcus Ranum

    One thing atheism has failed at is giving people any kind of spirituality

    One of the things not being a stamp collector fails at is increasing the size of your fucking stamp collection. Odd how that works, isn’t it?

    Regarding the lack of spirituality from atheism – unless you’re using “spirituality” as meaning (more or less) religion that acknowledges it is untrue, but are referring rather to experiences of universal connectedness and awe and wonderful fluff like that – nonsense! Non-religious music and art are those “spiritual” experiences and provide quite nicely. Listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Johnny Copeland’s “tin pan alley” (Montreux) is pretty fucking spiritual. As is a good bottle of red wine and some pizza. The ritual of the Bowling League is profoundly humbling and human and incomprehensibly beautiful (why do they do that?) Unless the dividing line between normal experience, art, philosophy, pleasure, and appreciation of life is drawn so that “spirituality” REQUIRES the addition of supernaturalism and religion then there’s lots of atheist spirituality – you’re just looking in the wrong places.

  68. 68
    noelplum99

    Nick Gotts @52

    Clearly, the new, and now abundant empirical evidence that religion is not necessary to human welfare is highly relevant to such arguments

    Yes agreed. New evidence, not new arguments.

    I don’t think that would give you a new square on a bingo card though. An accommodationist could still point at his card and say that you were making the same argument that was made a century ago.

    SC @62

    That’s a plain admission of incompatibility.

    Agreed, that was why i emailed him in the first place. I was profoundly uncomfy with the way he talked around such incompatibilities or simply waved them away. I wondered if he would be able to clarify things if addressed on it directly but he did not (and i presume could not).

    Jim.

  69. 69
    consciousness razor

    If “spirituality” doesn’t imply belief in spirits, maybe you should try another word. But I get the feeling that it does mean that and a belief that “there is meaning,” confused as that is.

    They aren’t interested in trillions of years of development, just that they made an impact in their life and will see their loved ones again. “You don’t matter” is perhaps not the most attractive belief to carry around.

    If something doesn’t exist forever, it doesn’t matter? So if you lived for 10^100^100 years, that would be meaningless because it’s not infinite? (How would you know heaven lasts forever anyway?)

    Since you have no experience of existing for an infinite time in the past, does that mean it’s already too late for you to have a “meaningful” life, or does eternity start whenever you want?

  70. 70
    Edward Gemmer

    You evidently have the most bizarre notion of how atheists view the world – notions which are common among the religious, but nevertheless absurd.

    Hence, the distaste religious people tend to have for atheists. Spirituality, wishful thinking, whatever you’d like to call it – people seem to enjoy it. Like they say in basketball, ball don’t lie. Finding scientific answers for pressing questions is attractive to me, but not to everyone. I would also guess that most people are going to weight some things higher than finding answers – raising their kids, getting a job, watching Arrested Development, etc. Religion gives people pretty easy answers, ones they don’t have to think about much and then they can carry on with their day.

  71. 71
    Marcus Ranum

    Here’s an exercise for those who are trying to tell us how important “spirituality” is: how is it different from playing golf?

    There’s all the rituals, expense, fancy clothes and accoutrements, and – yes, even lots of prayer. It seems to me that “spirituality” is pretending that something you know isn’t true is true. Well, we atheists (especially the supply-side economists) even do that.

    Before we can further evaluate our need for “spirituality” those advocating our need for it have to tell us what it is. And how golf isn’t spiritual.

  72. 72
    Marcus Ranum

    “You don’t matter” is perhaps not the most attractive belief to carry around –Edward Gemmer

    Then by all means feel free to believe you matter! It doesn’t matter if you do.

  73. 73
    nunya bidness

    I’ve always felt that accommodationists are quislings for the religious. Why should we give a flying fuck about the feelings or beliefs of the religious other than to squash them flat when their goal is to bind us. Eugenie Scott, for all her intelligence, opines that we alienate a lot of allies in the fight to keep religion out of science education by attacking moderates in the faith community. I for one don’t feel like stopping there, I want the whole industry beaten down to a size where it can’t bother me in my daily life. I want a world where I can keep my opinions on religion to my damn self because the religious are keeping their opinions to their damn selves. We’ve had thousands of years of accommodationism as witnessed by the fact that the bingo card has many arguments from classic literature. Religion never accommodated disbelief when it thought it knew it had all the answers so why should we give them a millimeter now that we have evidence that they were so wrong. Fortunately for them, all we want is for them to go about their lives and not try to force their beliefs on us in any way. If we were going to try to even the scales of history, to account for what faith did when it had the power, it would quite an unpleasant world for the faithful. Mandatory evolutionary biology classes, government classes that tell the whole story of how our government works and not just the second amendment, History class that explores the whole world history and not just the “America is awesome” stuff, and Religion classes where you actually have to study other religions, maybe even spend a week practicing another religion, and this course would be pass/fail with a fail meaning no diploma. Oh wait, that is what I want to do to the faithful, mandatory fact-based education that they have to really learn and understand before they can leave school, even if it takes till they’re 60. I want republican style accommodation when it comes to dealing with the religious.

  74. 74
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Still would like to know how you define spirituality Edward.

  75. 75
    noelplum99

    Consciousness razor @49

    Accommodationism:
    1) The claim that we should have a secular society in which people are not persecuted because of their religious beliefs or the lack thereof.
    2) The claim that science and religion are compatible.

    Do you see how these are not even close to the same thing? I don’t of anyone even calls the first “accommodationism” anyway, except for confused dissemblers like you — that’s just called “secularism.”

    I largely agree with this but i can’t helpo but wonder why you aim the comment at me and not at Nick who shifted the reference point in the first place.

    It is not an argument that people should be “really accommodationist” like the fucking Stalinists and persecute people for their beliefs.

    Has ANYONE here at any time suggested that Stalin was an accommodationist, at any stage of the discussion?

    But listen, i agree with you entirely insofar as accommodationism is neither based on societal factors nor does “empirical evidence, which we never had before, that religion is unnecessary to human welfare at both individual and social levels.” which Nick brought up have a damned thing to do with it. As you say, this is about methodological naturalism vs supernaturalism; faith vs empirical evidence. i’d really rather these side issues were never brought up, not least because I am the one who is getting blamed for bringing them up.
    Perhaps we should set them back to one side where they belong?

    Jim

  76. 76
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Hence, the distaste religious people tend to have for atheists.

    Edward Gemmer is making the Ignorance Made Sacrosanct argument.

    Bravo.

    And comparing it to sports.

    If only you realized how funny you are.

  77. 77
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Talkin’ ‘Bout The Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues

    Sorry, I had to do this. I was feeling hit to death in the future head.

  78. 78
    noelplum99

    Nick @66

    Accommodationism has perhaps contributed to allowing them to survive, but I’m mystified that you should consider this a point in its favour.

    If I was to drink ten pints of guinness and read this exchange on a rollercoaster I doubt I could misinterpret comments as badly as you (seemingly willfully) misinterpret mine.

    Where the fuck did i say that the Lords Spiritual was a point in favour of anything? In point of fact I am strongly opposed to the Lords Spiritual (actually, it is more complicated than that, i would like to see them overhauled, maybe to include a basket of faith leaders but overwhelmingly to include ex professors of ethical philosophy and others who could really provide the kinds of ethical consideration the Lords Spiritual are supposed to provide), but simply used it as an example of how these supposedly irreligious countries are actually very soft on religion and run in opposition to the point you had made.

  79. 79
    Ing

    because so many cultures have had some kind of religion, ‘belief’ itself must be somehow hard-wired into our brains.

    Say, anyone remember computers in the 90s? Wasn’t every single OS a POS back then with all the crashes and bugs? But so much of that was shared by every version of Windows and all that it has to be just the way things are right? There was no need to ever go back and fix those mistakes?

    The human brain is not designed and evolution is not a kind craftsman. Our brains are very impressive computational devices. The dumbest human is capable of tasks that far outstrip even our greatest super computer. But it was made by a blind idiot artisan. There are gross errors and gross inadequacies that we see every day. Our optics are easily tricked and glitched, 2D patterns can confuse our sense of spacial processing, we are prone to false positives in pattern recognition, our memories are horrible, and the only debugging method relies on correction from other equally flawed systems trying to talk a system away from it’s flaws. These flaws have given us racism, sexism, superstition, pettiness, hatred, obsession, panic, and sadism. They lead to bad behavior because the system is not perfect. Any hardwired drive for religion is likewise such a flaw. it is irrational processing that takes in flawed or incomplete data, processes it through a scared self centered worldview and spits out garbage results.

  80. 80
    Marcus Ranum

    Btw, the only reason I think the “spiritual” people don’t consider art to be “spiritual” is because they suck at it. To elaborate – it’s emotionally safer to be blown away by a sunset than a Ravi Shankar sitar solo. Why? Because a mountain or a sunset challenges our ego in terms of scale whereas the beautifully humble Mr Shankar confronts the weak ego with an insurmountable challenge of possibility. Great musicians and mediocre golfers use spiritual terms a lot, regarding what they do.

    My parents go to the anglican mass at the cathedral for christmas because dad likes Handel, and incense, and the feeling of singing along with a room full of other humans, and pretending for a few hours that strangers really do love eachother. It’s the ritual. That’s all “spirituality” is – a thin veneer of ritual atop some otherwise worthwhile art-form. When a native american dancer is doing some ritual dance, their belief in the ritual is the difference between them and the football fans dancing the macarena. That and good taste, but that’s a class phenomenon. :)

    My world is full of experiences that would be “spiritual” if I fetishized them in worship of my own self-importance.

  81. 81
    consciousness razor

    I largely agree with this but i can’t helpo but wonder why you aim the comment at me and not at Nick who shifted the reference point in the first place.

    Nope. It’s a response to a typical accommodationist trope. He didn’t “switch” a fucking thing which wasn’t already switched. Whenever they’re prodded to substantiate their bullshit about science-religion compatibility, that sort of bullshit is often featured in their confused ramblings. It’s a Gish Gallop with the topics in the bingo card (not usually with creationist bullshit, but it could include that too).

    I would’ve add “Rationality = Civility” which does come up quite a bit, but to be fair, I suppose they’re not all so incensed by rudeness that it always gets to that level of underpants-on-the-head confusion.

  82. 82
    consciousness razor

    Because a mountain or a sunset challenges our ego in terms of scale whereas the beautifully humble Mr Shankar confronts the weak ego with an insurmountable challenge of possibility.

    He died a few weeks ago, in case you didn’t hear.

  83. 83
    Edward Gemmer

    Before we can further evaluate our need for “spirituality” those advocating our need for it have to tell us what it is. And how golf isn’t spiritual.

    I think you could argue that golf is very spiritual. So is football. I can’t define it. I can only see that people like it.

  84. 84
    Ing

    I can’t define it.

    For someone who allegedly loves debate you don’t seem to have the rules that were drilled into me in HS English

    DEFINE YOUR TERMS.

    If you can’t define it, then we can’t talk about it. And btw that definition problem doesn’t mean it’s undefinable…it means you suck at language.

  85. 85
    noelplum99

    Consciousness razro @81

    Then I apologise and retract my last comment, i had thought your response was aimed at myself, not the accommodationists. Sorry

    Jim

  86. 86
    Marcus Ranum

    @Consciousness Razor – yup. That’s why I was listening to some of my old recordings of him and Menuhin. *waaaah!*

    @Edward Gemmer – I think you could argue that, too. My attempt to define it is that we seek to give extra meaning to an otherwise ordinary human art, by fetishizing our personal involvement in it. It’s existentialism.

  87. 87
    Akira MacKenzie

    Atheism doesn’t provide people with a sense of spirituality, eh?

    Good! If any concept needs to be scoured from the human mind, it’s magical, supernaturalist, naval-gazing that deludes us and makes us put our efforts into some non-existent world rather than the one we can demonstrate is real! .

    As I said in the previous thread, we need to be forced to accept reality as it is–materialistic, purposeless, unconscious or inmincal to human existence–even if it means taking people by the scruff of the neck and shoving their noses into it. If you can’t deal with reality, then it is not my problem nor do I have the inclinaction to mollycoddle you by taking you barabaric supersticions seriously.

    Stare into the Abyss and learn to accept it (if not love it), or have the decency to throw your pathetic and useless self into it so we don’t have to put up with your whining!

  88. 88
    Ing

    Stare into the Abyss and learn to accept it (if not love it),

    Due to it’s protean nature, wouldn’t that fall under the term “spiritual experience?”

    So yes, atheism DOES provide a spiritual experience

  89. 89
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I think you could argue that golf is very spiritual. So is football. I can’t define it. I can only see that people like it.

    I think that Edward Gemmer is an unintentional dadaist.

  90. 90
    Ing

    @Janine

    No no Dada has to be intentional. Let’s call his brand Duhduhism

  91. 91
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    D’ohd’ohism.

  92. 92
    Ing

    Derpderpism

  93. 93
    Nick Gotts
    Clearly, the new, and now abundant empirical evidence that religion is not necessary to human welfare is highly relevant to such arguments – me

    Yes agreed. New evidence, not new arguments. – noelplum99

    What a fatuous quibble: if A asks B “What are your arguments for that claim?” and B cites some empirical evidence in support of it, it’s just not going to fly for A to respond “I asked for arguments, not evidence”.

    that religion is unnecessary to human welfare at both individual and social levels.” which Nick brought up have a damned thing to do with it [accommodationism] – noelplum99

    What a bizarre statement. Of course it does. Two of the main accommodationist claims are that religion helps individuals and aids social cohesion.

    In point of fact I am strongly opposed to the Lords Spiritual (actually, it is more complicated than that, i would like to see them overhauled, maybe to include a basket of faith leaders but overwhelmingly to include ex professors of ethical philosophy and others who could really provide the kinds of ethical consideration the Lords Spiritual are supposed to provide) – noelplum99

    Ah, so you’re in favour of having unelected pompous windbags in our legislature – you just want a wider variety of unelected pompous windbags.

  94. 94
    Ing

    What a fatuous quibble: if A asks B “What are your arguments for that claim?” and B cites some empirical evidence in support of it, it’s just not going to fly for A to respond “I asked for arguments, not evidence”.

    There seems to be a certain breed of utter moron psuedointellectual who seems to believe that things are not to be considered if they are not done properly. I make a move to dub this disorder Vogonism

  95. 95
    Sastra

    noleplum99 #14 wrote:

    He (Ken Miller) effectively said he ignores it – that the question of the soul is not a scientific concept so with his biologist hat on he simply ignores it! It was as if the two ‘facts’ (as he sees them) he compartmentalises, presumably as some kind of dissonance reduction mechanism.
    I found that really fucking unsatisfying tbh but it seems a very good example of what you are talking about here.

    I agree. The religious routinely seem to be miscategorizing supernatural concepts, treating them more like personal preferences or moral commitments and failing to analyze or examine either the concepts or their methods. It’s interesting when they’re so explicit about this. It ought to bother Miller more than it does.

    If nothing else, it’s so shallow. It’s like confusing the existence of the Loch Ness Monster with the belief that we ought to protect endangered species and thus declaring that the monster would be so unique that there’s no way to parse the distinction, it’s now a moral issue rather than a scientific one. Oh?

    One difference between accomodationists and gnus is that the former thinks that makes reasonable sense. Or, if it doesn’t, it’s not important as long as they’ve drawn an arbitrary line for irrational reasons in a way we like. The conflict isn’t out in the open where we have to deal with it legally.

  96. 96
    Nick Gotts

    I can’t define it. I can only see that people like it. – Edward Gemmer

    Like what? We don’t necessarily need an explicit definition; a range of examples of what you do and do not consider to fall into the category “spirituality”, and perhaps some borderline cases, would suffice. Until you provide that at least, your original claim that atheism doesn’t provide spirituality is completely empty of content.

  97. 97
    Sastra

    My definition of a religious ‘accomodationist.’

    An accomodationist would agree that:

    1.) There is no necessary conflict between science and religion.

    2.) People’s religious faith is part of their fundamental identity, and deserves to be treated with a special respect.

    3.) The underlying problem is never faith or religion per se: the real problem is only with extremists.

    All 3? Or only 1 or more? Probably the latter.

    And notice that there is nothing there about “working with the religious on common goals.” I did not put that in because it does not define an accomodationist. Accomodationists LOVE to act as if it does. But that’s not where the disagreement rests at all.

  98. 98
    Sastra

    Edward Gemmer #70 wrote:

    Spirituality, wishful thinking, whatever you’d like to call it – people seem to enjoy it. Like they say in basketball, ball don’t lie. Finding scientific answers for pressing questions is attractive to me, but not to everyone.

    Ah, but do the people who care less about truth than their comfort THINK they care less about truth than comfort? No, they usually do not. They think it’s the other way around — because they’re like us that way.

    “Spirituality” is what Dennett calls a “deepity.” It’s a word with two meanings: one reasonable, one not. People doing deepities flip-flop between the interpretations, confused and being confusing. There are “spiritual” things which are consistent with atheism; there are “spiritual” things which are not. This particular deepity is usually used to bash atheists over the head and then either slip them into nihilist robot territory or slide them into the land of the airy-fairy.

    You have to define how you’re using the term or we won’t know whether you’re doing the one, doing the other, or not really doing much of anything but arousing suspicion.

  99. 99
    noelplum99

    Nick @93

    What a fatuous quibble: if A asks B “What are your arguments for that claim?” and B cites some empirical evidence in support of it, it’s just not going to fly for A to respond “I asked for arguments, not evidence”.

    Where on Myers bingo card does it show the strength of evidence for the terms thereon?

    My point (which you will have missed in your haste to respond to the argument you wanted me to make as opposed to the argument I made) was that both sides could make such a card and that the basic arguments each side makes have been made ad infinitum – and that this in itself says nothing about whether they are good or bad arguments.
    Your response of ‘ahh but some of the cliches that would reside on on of the cards have more evidence backing them up than they used to’ ig going where?. Your point is Nick?

    Ah, so you’re in favour of having unelected pompous windbags in our legislature – you just want a wider variety of unelected pompous windbags.

    Yes i am. I think a good case can be made that apolitical pompous windbags can add something. I would like to see the upper chamber reformed so that the majority of pompous windbags were democratically elected, though i realise that would make the chamber more partisan. One presumes you would only wish to see elected pompous windbags, and i can understand that on ideological grounds.

  100. 100
    noelplum99

    Missed out a couple of blockquotes there. should have read:

    Ah, so you’re in favour of having unelected pompous windbags in our legislature – you just want a wider variety of unelected pompous windbags.

    Yes i am. I think a good case can be made that apolitical pompous windbags can add something. I would like to see the upper chamber reformed so that the majority of pompous windbags were democratically elected, though i realise that would make the chamber more partisan. One presumes you would only wish to see elected pompous windbags, and i can understand that on ideological grounds.

  101. 101
    noelplum99

    sastra @95

    It’s interesting when they’re so explicit about this. It ought to bother Miller more than it does.

    Yes, that my my thoughts also. Miller portrays it as if he wears two hats but for me it runs deeper than that, almost as if there are two Millers and he wheels out one persona to deal with biological issues and then Mr Hyde appears to deal with matters of faith.

    That said, I have *used* Ken Miller quite a lot. In discussions with creationists and religious evolutionary sceptics there is very little better in terms of providing something to refer them to that won’t scare them off or alienate them (alongside Roger Wiens excellent document on radiomentric dating http://www.asa3.org/ASA/resources/Wiens.html )

  102. 102
    Nick Gotts
    Ah, so you’re in favour of having unelected pompous windbags in our legislature – you just want a wider variety of unelected pompous windbags. – me

    Yes i am. – noelplum99

    Well I do see why – after all, what other chance would you have of joining the legislature?

    Your point is Nick?

    What it was @33: that your claim that the last century has provided no new arguments about how we should handle religion is false: the existence of societies where large proortions of the population are non-religious, and religion has a radically reduced role in public policy provides such an argument, all your pompous windbaggery to the contrary notwithstanding.

    the basic arguments each side makes have been made ad infinitum

    The argument that such societies are among the most successful ever in terms of human welfare has not been made until recently, because no such societies existed.

  103. 103
    noelplum99

    Nick @102

    Well I do see why – after all, what other chance would you have of joining the legislature?

    I am not a professor of ethics but don’t let that stop you from taking the opportunity to drag the discussion down to cheap personal slights.

  104. 104
    Sastra

    noelplum #99 wrote:

    Miller portrays it as if he wears two hats but for me it runs deeper than that, almost as if there are two Millers and he wheels out one persona to deal with biological issues and then Mr Hyde appears to deal with matters of faith.

    That’s interesting. I think of it as being more like Miller having two hats — one labeled “Empirical Matters” and one labelled “Moral Issues” — and he places any fact claim he considers necessary to his “faith” into the Moral Issue Hat instead of the other one.

    I wonder which of our two analogies Miller would think a more accurate description.

  105. 105
    noelplum99

    Going by what he wrote he would go with the ‘two hats’. I would also add that going by the less than flattering reference i made to M Hyde I dare say he would go with the ‘two hats’ regardless :)

  106. 106
    Sastra

    @noelplum99 #105

    Heh, probably. He did say that when he wears his “biologist hat” that “the question of the soul is not a scientific concept.” So presumably whether the soul exists or not is like deciding whether human beings have value or not, instead of being like figuring out whether ESP exists or not.

    Unless you DO believe in ESP and your ‘scientific evidence’ has failed. In that case, then whether ESP exists or not would be like whether the soul exists or not … and answering this is like deciding to hold a value.

    Answering it in the affirmative is like deciding to hold a GOOD value and answering this in the negative is like failing to hold a good value. No offense intended against the non-believers, or course. It’s just an analogy — an analogy perpetually skewed in favor of faith as a moral virtue, instead of faith as the vice of confusion and dogmatism.

  107. 107
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    noelplum @103,

    That’s the ticket, ignore the content of Nick’s reply, and only respond to the “personal slight”. That is persuasive argumentation right there.

    It is this kind of bullshit that actually drags discussions down.

  108. 108
    Inaji

    ” “Spiritual but not religious” doesn’t have the power of traditional religion to brutalize or oppress, it still leads people to derail their critical thinking, and trivialize reality, and prioritize personal bias over evidence, and base important decisions on a foundation of sand.”

    “When I’m in a less generous mood, though, I see this trope as smug and superior, without anything to back it up. I see it as a way of saying, “I’m so special and independent, of course I don’t have anything to do with hidebound organized religion, I’m far too free a spirit…but I’m also special and sensitive, and in touch with powerful sacred things beyond this mundane world.”

    “Rather more importantly: I think the “spiritual but not religious” trope plays into the idea that religious belief – excuse me, spiritual belief – makes you a finer, better person. There’s a defensiveness to it: like the person is saying, “I don’t attend religious services or engage in any religious practice…but I’m not a bad person. Of course I still feel a connection to God and the soul. I haven’t completely descended to the gutter. What do you take me for?” It gives aid and comfort to the idea that value and joy, transcendence and meaning, must come from the world of the supernatural.

    But my biggest problem with this trope? If being “spiritual but not religious” means rejecting organized religion while supposedly being in touch with sacred things beyond the mundane physical world…it shows a piss-poor attitude towards the mundane physical world.

    The physical world is anything but mundane. The physical world is black holes at the center of every spiral galaxy. It is billions of galaxies rushing away from each other at breakneck speed. It is solid matter that’s anything but solid: particles that can’t be seen by the strongest microscope, separated by gaping vastnesses of nothing. It is living things that are all related, all with the same great-great-great-to the power of a million grandmother. It is space that curves, continents that drift. It is cells of organic tissue that somehow generate consciousness. When you take the time to learn about the physical mundane world, you find that it is anything but mundane.

    And this crap about “I don’t follow any organized religion, but there has to be more to life than what we see” does a grave disservice to the wild and astonishing complexity of what we see.

    As someone whose name I can’t remember once wrote: The “spiritual but not religious” trope tries to have the best of both worlds…but it actually gets the worst. It keeps the part of religion that’s the indefensible, unsupported-by-a-scrap-of-evidence belief in invisible beings; indeed, the part of religion that sees those invisible beings as more real, and more important, than the physical world we live in. It keeps the part of religion that devalues reason and evidence and critical thinking, in favor of hanging onto any cockamamie idea that appeals to your wishful thinking. It keeps the part of religion that equates morality and value with believing in invisible friends. It keeps the part of religion that confers a smug sense of superiority, solely on the basis of your supposed connection with an invisible world.

    It keeps all that…and abandons the part of religion that’s community, and shared ritual, and charitable works, and a sense of belonging. It throws out the baby, and keeps the bathwater. And then it pats itself on the back and says, “Look at all this wonderful bathwater I have!”

    -Greta Christina, Why Are You Atheists So Angry?

  109. 109
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Noelplum99,
    An argument that is based on misinterpretation of the terms one is arguing can hardly be called an argument.

    In contrast, science has provided an excellent counterexample of the ex nihilo argument in the form of quantum fluctuations/virtual particles. Nothing must always yield something, because “nothing” is not stable.

  110. 110
    Nick Gotts

    I am not a professor of ethics – noelplum99

    I didn’t think you were.

    but don’t let that stop you from taking the opportunity to drag the discussion down to cheap personal slights.

    My personal slights are not cheap – they come absolutely free, gratis, and without obligation!

  111. 111
    John Morales

    ARIDS, but there is no such “nothing” — all those fluctuations occur within spacetime (which is something).

  112. 112
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    John, Exactly what spacetime is is unclear, so to call it some”thing” might be misleading. What is more, it is not clear that one requires spacetime for a fluctuation to occur. Spacetime could be a fluctuation itself.

  113. 113
    Akira MacKenzie

    Ing @ 88

    Due to it’s protean nature, wouldn’t that fall under the term “spiritual experience?”

    Not the way I use the term “spiritual.” To have a “spiritual experience” you have to have to actually believe in “spirits” or any other supernatural being and think they were somehow involved in whatever you are experiencing, whether they are the magical ghosts that supposedly animate our transient meat puppet bodies (i.e. “souls”) all the way up to the cosmic tyrants who created and control the universe (i.e. “deities”).

    I believe in none of them. So no, accepting our the ultimately meaningless and purposeless existence full of pain and suffering (i.e. the figurative “Abyss”) has nothing to do with spirituality no more than accepting that the Newton’s laws of motion or that 2+2=4.

  114. 114
    John Morales

    ARIDS,

    Spacetime could be a fluctuation itself.

    Perhaps, but quite literally that’s wherewhen science operates — what does it mean for a fluctuation to happen if there’s no there there for it to happen?

    (So, does gravity cause curvature, or does curvature cause gravity?)

  115. 115
    sonorus

    I’m gay as well as an atheist. I am old enough to remember when the same phrases were hurled at anyone who was out of the closet or *gasp* expected to be treated the same way as everyone else. “Militant” just means you aren’t willing to keep your mouth shut. Those in the majority want special treatment. It’s the most blatant form of the much-maligned “entitlement” in our culture. “Yes, it’s fine for people to be minorities but why do they have to “flaunt it”?” You refuse to cater to the absurd hypocrisy of the minority and in doing so they feel you are persecuting them. Keep up the good work! And ignore the people who don’t want anyone rocking the bolt. Rent a copy of Milk. The same attitudes were thrown at Harvey Milk. In spite of the fact that being gay and being a nonbeliever aren’t very similar, the way society has treated both are very much the same. (Perhaps it’s that both were the target of anti-communist fanatics in the 1950s?) Anyway, it would be a good idea for those in the atheist movement to learn from the gay rights movement, both what worked and what didn’t.

  116. 116
    a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    John@114,
    As near as we can tell, spacetime comes into existence with the Big Bang–so it makes no sense to ask what “came before the Big Bang”. It may make sense, though, to wonder as to the origin of the Big Bang. Was there some analogue of spacetime? Were we part of another “spacetime”, and our particular dimensions merely decided to “inflate”? Can a field exist independently of spacetime? Is it pointless to speculate about the origins of the Big Bang, or do the fingerprints of those origins persist in the Universe we can observe? So, I think my job as a physicist is secure in the coming year, at least.

  117. 117
    John Morales

    [OT]

    ARIDS:

    Can a field exist independently of spacetime?

    I can’t see how; a field has to extend over at least one dimension to make any sense as a concept.

  118. 118
    consciousness razor

    I can’t see how; a field has to extend over at least one dimension to make any sense as a concept.

    Extension isn’t the only property of a field, so for each, there’s some leftover property of something which has some potential to constitute the different values/interactions of a phenomenon like electric charge. That’s pretty obvious, I think — you’re just saying that there needs to be dimension in order to conceptualize it as a “field.” Fine with me, but I suppose there could be something left to conceptualize even without it being organized relative to some actual, physical dimension.

    Of course, we organize things as “spaces” conceptually, even when that doesn’t refer (apparently) to any physical entity; but you’re talking about whether an actual dimension must exist, not a conceptual one that we may or may need to use (to think about what effects it can have when it is in a space, but not necessarily when it isn’t in a space). To me, it seems like that’s conceivable* without the presence of a dimension, but I just don’t know how to tell whether or not one logically depends on the other, or what the physical mechanism could be that would make one give rise to the other.

    *I just want to mention how much I hate having to use the phrase, “it seems like that’s conceivable.”

    (I’m waiting for a quip along the lines of “if it doesn’t exist sometime or somewhere, then by definition it doesn’t exist,” but honestly, I don’t really care a whole lot about definitions, if that’s all this is.)

  119. 119
    John Morales

    CR,

    Extension isn’t the only property of a field

    But it’s a necessary one, since it’s meaningless to speak of a field without extent.

    (There is nowhere for a quantum vacuum fluctuation to occur — look at the dimensions of energy and you’ll find displacement and time in them)

  120. 120
    consciousness razor

    But it’s a necessary one, since it’s meaningless to speak of a field without extent.

    I said that’s fine, but that doesn’t imply it’s meaningless to talk about properties other than extent which make a field a field. There’d be no way to differentiate one field from another if there was nothing else to it. I guess you could quibble with ARIDS’ reference to a “field” in that context, but that doesn’t imply there’s nothing else to which he could have referred.

    (There is nowhere for a quantum vacuum fluctuation to occur — look at the dimensions of energy and you’ll find displacement and time in them)

    That’s not a field. There’s no “energy field” in quantum field theory. What are the dimensions of electric charge?

  121. 121
    John Morales

    CR:

    That’s not a field. There’s no “energy field” in quantum field theory. What are the dimensions of electric charge?

    No field, no field fluctuation.

    A quantum vacuum fluctuation produces mass-energy, and the very concept of fluctuation requires an extent of time.

    In dimensional analysis, itself — but an electric charge is a potential force, and good luck figuring out what a force looks like without time or space.

  122. 122
    consciousness razor

    A quantum vacuum fluctuation produces mass-energy, and the very concept of fluctuation requires an extent of time.

    Why couldn’t it accordingly “produce” spacetime? Why do you think the fluctuation depends on the existence of spacetime rather than the other way around?

    In dimensional analysis, itself — but an electric charge is a potential force, and good luck figuring out what a force looks like without time or space.

    That’s not answering the question. There are things other than spacetime, which is not to say that they must exist somehow without it or independent of it — I obviously don’t know — just that they are evidently not the same thing.

  123. 123
    vaiyt

    @noelplum99:

    My point (which you will have missed in your haste to respond to the argument you wanted me to make as opposed to the argument I made) was that both sides could make such a card and that the basic arguments each side makes have been made ad infinitum – and that this in itself says nothing about whether they are good or bad arguments.

    See, this is the kind of thing that makes me feel invisible. I’ll quote myself to you again:

    Sure, this could be a bad thing, if you think all bingo cards are equal.

    It’s not the repetition itself that is the problem, it’s the repetition of PRATTs, meaningless clichés and strawmen.

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