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Mar 01 2009

Religion Versus Reality

The Barefoot Bum has an interesting post up that touches on the relationship between religion and reality. One of his key insights is this:

The problem with religion, any religion, is that some privileged elite almost always has to speak for God.

Yep. This is because when you’re just making shit up wholecloth, you can’t rely on a bunch of different people happening to make up the same shit. So you need a powerful shit-making-up authority to ensure that everyone is on the same bullshit page.

The cool thing about actual reality in comparison to wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit is that when people seek to ascertain the nature of actual reality through good-faith inquiry–rather than pulling arrant bullshit out of their asses and imposing it on the masses through authoritarian power-mongering–they tend to converge on the same conclusions.

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  1. 1
    Dr J

    Good point, I’d not really fully considered this before. I’ve heard it said by the authors of the most recent atheist books that when they’ve debated the religious they’ve found that they would have to write a new book for every single one of them, such are the contortions the religious go through. They all seem to have their own god too, that we just can’t seem to understand!

    But sadly reason, rationality and logic will have no impact on the religious. They are just too brain washed. I’m sure like me you know lots of religious scientists. People equipped with full mental faculties, that are well used to logic and reason and the rigor of the scientific method. Yet as soon as it comes to their religion that all goes flying out the window, to be replaced by beliefs like: there’s an invisible man in the sky listening to all your prayers. Oh and ‘we don’t have any evidence for this, how about you, my fellow scientist, accept this shit on faith’. I think not!

  2. 2
    Mahakal / מהכאל

    This is so fucking ignorant. Sure, hierarchical religious organizations are common, but they aren’t the only ones. Try any meditation practice and you would learn that the goal is to discover the higher reality within yourself.

  3. 3
    drdrA

    LOL. esp. this:

    ‘So you need a powerful shit-making-up authority to ensure that everyone is on the same bullshit page.’

    He He He…

  4. 4
    leigh

    and who decides who becomes the shit-making-up authority? a selected group of other elite bastards.

  5. 5
    Spiny Norman

    Actually, Mahakal, PP is spot-on (as usual).

    See, for example:

    http://spinynorman.tumblr.com/post/78583514/a-hierarchy-of-the-connections-between-various

  6. 6
    LostMarbles

    Mahakal,

    discover the higher reality within yourself.
    WTF does that even mean?

  7. 7
    Isabel

    With all due respect, you don’t seem to realize the degree to which you yourself see the world in black and white. I know many religious people, and they are hardly simpletons who are mainly focused on things like an invisible man (or fairy) in the sky listening to all their prayers. Prayer is way more complicated and subtle than that.

    Many of the liberal atheists I know are just as fanatical believers in good and evil as they insist the people they criticize are – they just place different things into the two categories. They also feel that THEY are the enlightened ones, who have found the true way, politically and otherwise, that they insist everyone else should follow…sound familiar? As someone whose opinions tend to be all over the map, I’ve learned to generally keep my ideas to myself. Religious people aren’t the only ones “you can’t argue with.”

  8. 8
    Comrade PhysioProf

    Prayer is way more complicated and subtle than that.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. 9
    Spiny Norman

    “I know many religious people, and they are hardly simpletons who are mainly focused on things like an invisible man (or fairy) in the sky listening to all their prayers.”

    OK, OK. I’ll concede that many religious people live lives much more complicated than that. But if I do, you have to concede that the above description is a reasonable starting point!

  10. 10
    LostMarbles

    I’ve learned to generally keep my ideas to myself.

    That’s a very good way not to have your ideas challenged. Good job on figuring that out.

  11. 11
    Isabel

    First of all, thank you all for proving my point – that arguing about religion with avowed atheists is disturbingly like discussing evolution with fanatical religious fundamentalists. It’s not about not wanting my ideas challenged, it’s about being bored with the cliched caricatures of the opposition and the general fruitlessness of the discussion.

    Regarding the man/fairy in the sky, I don’t know any religion that teaches this. Do you? For example, in the mainstream monotheistic religion I was brought up in, I was taught that God is everywhere, including in ourselves and in our neighbors, and in our enemies. I no longer practice this religion, but I do believe we live in a rich and mysterious world that can encompass both science and religion.

  12. 12
    DaisyDeadhead

    The cool thing about actual reality in comparison to wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit

    Sorry, nothing is as good as wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit. Nothing. Except maybe LSD.

    Obviously, you just haven’t partaken! :)

    And, what Isabel said.

  13. 13
    DuWayne

    Isabel -

    I know many religious people, and they are hardly simpletons who are mainly focused on things like an invisible man (or fairy) in the sky listening to all their prayers. Prayer is way more complicated and subtle than that.

    I daresay that no one is going to claim that all religious people are simpletons. But most religion is very focused on some sort of archetypal god-figure. And most people who are very religious at all have pretty profound Faith that when they pray, said god-figure is listening to their prayers. Yeah, prayer is a little more complicated than that, but the underlying principle isn’t.

    Regarding the man/fairy in the sky, I don’t know any religion that teaches this.

    This is a bit of a simplification, but when it’s all boiled down, god belief isn’t really much more complicated. Trying to work out what or who “god” is is a great deal more, but revealed religious Belief and acceptance of dogma is absolutely this simplistic.

    For example, in the mainstream monotheistic religion I was brought up in, I was taught that God is everywhere, including in ourselves and in our neighbors, and in our enemies.

    So was I. And ultimately, this belief is no more complex than “invisible magic sky person.” Sorry, but it just isn’t – the basic premise is exactly the same.

  14. 14
    DaisyDeadhead

    First of all, thank you all for proving my point – that arguing about religion with avowed atheists is disturbingly like discussing evolution with fanatical religious fundamentalists.

    Disturbingly like? Exactly like.

    As I said on my blog (Ash Wednesday), I often forget which one I am arguing with, they sound so much the same. They ACT in the same haughty, elitist, arrogant, prejudiced manner… can’t tell em apart without a scorecard.

    In particular, these types of atheists (like the fundies) enjoy the sensation of feeling superior to the majority of people in the world…and especially the people of the past, which Friedrich Nietzsche (famous atheist) warned would distinguish the Last Man: “We know everything that has ever happened, and there is no end to derision.”

    Yup. Or should I say, Jawohl!

  15. 15
    DaisyDeadhead

    And most people who are very religious at all have pretty profound Faith that when they pray, said god-figure is listening to their prayers.

    So?

    Trying to work out what or who “god” is is a great deal more, but revealed religious Belief and acceptance of dogma is absolutely this simplistic.

    So?

    And ultimately, this belief is no more complex than “invisible magic sky person.” Sorry, but it just isn’t – the basic premise is exactly the same.

    So?

    Okay, let’s say I am a simple-minded, simplistic and silly person… what exactly is the problem with that? Would you round me up and put me in the gulag for that, or what? What exactly is the ISSUE?

    I don’t care if YOU are simplistic or stupid, as long as we are on the same side. (And aren’t we? Or would you expel me from the left based on my beliefs, regardless of 36 years of demonstrable political activism?)

    Does the actual content of a person’s character mean nothing at all to you? Or do you just enjoying the General Hate based on what church they belong to?

    I truthfully don’t care if people agree with me or not, religiously speaking. Why do you?

  16. 16
    Science Bear

    …wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy…

    I found this hilarious, since I too am free of imaginary friends.

  17. 17
    The Barefoot Bum

    I have to ask, Isabel and Daisy, why are you here?

    When I go to a religious-themed venue, I bend over backwards to be polite and make charitable assumptions of good-will. You do not appear to even attempt this attitude.

    If you’re just here to tell us that you disagree, I have news for you: We already know you disagree.

    Regarding the man/fairy in the sky, I don’t know any religion that teaches this. Do you?

    No. We understand that your edifice of bullshit is quite complicated. But pile bullshit a thousand meters high, and spend a thousand years molding it into complicated shapes does not change the fact that it’s all bullshit, through and through.

    Okay, let’s say I am a simple-minded, simplistic and silly person… what exactly is the problem with that?

    That’s precisely what we’re saying, no more, no less. Atheists don’t hate religious believers, at least not most of them, we have contempt and disdain for their stupidity and credulity. The problem is that without stupidity and credulity, evil would find no purchase in the world.

    And no, we aren’t on the same side. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. We atheists are on the side of rationality, sensibility, reality and sanity. That your own delusions happen for a time to motivate you to move in a vaguely similar direction as our own does not make you any more sane, and does not offer us any promise that tomorrow your delusions will not contradict sanity.

  18. 18
    The Barefoot Bum

    Comrade, I recommend you put a link to the comments RSS feed in your template.

  19. 19
    Mahakal / מהכאל

    Glad to see some intelligence here, at least on the part of DaisyDeadhead and Isabel.

    None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

  20. 20
    Anonymous

    When I go to a religious-themed venue, I bend over backwards to be polite and make charitable assumptions of good-will. You do not appear to even attempt this attitude.

    Barefoot Bum:

    Please go back and read my original post. Then read CPP’s LostMarbles responses.

    Now lecture me again about politeness.

    Also, you are making a LOT of assumptions about my beliefs, about which I have revealed nothing! All I’ve said is that I don’t share your hatred, or whatever you choose to call it.

    It seems like you are saying people who don’t agree with your views are not welcome here. I am a biology grad student who just happened on this post. Should I have refrained from responding because I do not hold the prevailing view?

    And you seem to miss the point – no one is arguing about the “man in the sky” at least I’m not, and I don’t think Daisy is either. The question is why are you so filled with “contempt and disdain” and why do you need to simplify and stereotype – and ultimately scapegoat. You even admit it. I agree with Daisy that it’s a little scary.

    Plenty of religious people are intelligent, thoughtful, and kind, and plenty of atheists believe in all kinds of wacky new age hocus-pocus.

    Daisy thanks for the support!

  21. 21
    The Barefoot Bum

    Glad to see some intelligence here

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  22. 22
    Isabel

    obviously the above 7:21 post is from me, sorry I forgot to fill in the tab.

  23. 23
    The Barefoot Bum

    Please go back and read my original post.

    All right. I assume you’re Isabel, and this is your first post.

    With all due respect, you don’t seem to realize the degree to which you yourself see the world in black and white.

    Prefacing a disrespectful statement with “With all due respect” is merely hypocrisy. Telling someone how they see the world is inherently disrespectful and violates the assumption of good will.

    I know many religious people, and they are hardly simpletons who are mainly focused on things like an invisible man (or fairy) in the sky listening to all their prayers. Prayer is way more complicated and subtle than that.

    You are mistaking satire and contempt for analysis.

    Many of the liberal atheists I know are just as fanatical believers in good and evil as they insist the people they criticize are – they just place different things into the two categories.

    You accuse Comrade PhysioProf of oversimplification and in the same breath oversimplify and generalize atheism — without the obvious markers of satire, making your subjective opinion dishonestly look like analysis.

    They also feel that THEY are the enlightened ones, who have found the true way, politically and otherwise, that they insist everyone else should follow…sound familiar?

    This is simply false. Otherwise known as a lie.

    As someone whose opinions tend to be all over the map, I’ve learned to generally keep my ideas to myself.

    And yet here you are, a chip on your shoulder and no assumption of good will.

    Religious people aren’t the only ones “you can’t argue with.”

    Again you violate the assumption of intellectual good will. Perhaps you might try actually arguing, i.e. presenting evidence and logical analysis, then you might have a chance of discovering who you can and cannot argue with.

  24. 24
    The Barefoot Bum

    Now lecture me again about politeness.

    I’m not lecturing you about only politeness, I’m lecturing you about intellectual honesty and the canons of rational discourse.

    Also, you are making a LOT of assumptions about my beliefs

    I’m making few specific assumptions at all about your beliefs, only those justified by a decade of talking to moronic, deluded, self-righteous religious believers. You’ve given me no evidence to suppose you’re not true to type.

    It seems like you are saying people who don’t agree with your views are not welcome here.

    This is Comrade PhysioProf’s blog, not mine. It is he, not I, who decides what is welcome or not welcome here. I said only that when I go someplace where my opinions contradict the dominant paradigm, I take extra effort to assume rational good will until I am decisively contradicted by the facts.

    The question is why are you so filled with “contempt and disdain” and why do you need to simplify and stereotype – and ultimately scapegoat. You even admit it. I agree with Daisy that it’s a little scary.

    Why are we filled with contempt and disdain for stupidity and credulity? Do you honestly even need to ask?

    And scary? When atheists start an inquisition, or nail a faggot to a fence in Wyoming, or fly buildings into airplanes, or start an Inquisition, or Crusades, you can talk to me about being scared. Not before.

    Plenty of religious people are intelligent, thoughtful, and kind…

    Until they pull the YES lever on prop 8, or watch the cattle cars full of Jews pass by and think, “Well, maybe that is what God wants.

    …and plenty of atheists believe in all kinds of wacky new age hocus-pocus.

    Oversimplifying again? ;-) And trust me, we have just as much contempt for whacky new-age woo-woo atheists as we do for whacky Christians.

  25. 25
    Comrade PhysioProf

    I recommend you put a link to the comments RSS feed in your template.

    Speak fucking English, asshole.

  26. 26
    DuWayne

    DaisyDeadhead -

    So

    I was responding to someone who was arguing that the assertions I made are not in fact true.

    Okay, let’s say I am a simple-minded, simplistic and silly person… what exactly is the problem with that? Would you round me up and put me in the gulag for that, or what? What exactly is the ISSUE?

    Why the fuck are you assuming that I’m making any kind of values judgment? I’m most certainly not doing anything of the sort. Wander back to my blog, specifically, this post before you make assumptions about how I want to treat religious people. I understand better than a lot of people just how pervasive and complex religious Faith and the psychology of religion can be.

    I don’t care if YOU are simplistic or stupid, as long as we are on the same side. (And aren’t we? Or would you expel me from the left based on my beliefs, regardless of 36 years of demonstrable political activism?)

    Why would you assume that I’m a lefty? I’m most certainly not, any more than I’m a righty.

    Does the actual content of a person’s character mean nothing at all to you? Or do you just enjoying the General Hate based on what church they belong to?

    Where the fuck are you getting the idea I hate anyone? Please point out one single disparaging remark. Just one will do. I don’t even imply mild dislike, much less hatred.

    I truthfully don’t care if people agree with me or not, religiously speaking. Why do you?

    For the most part I don’t. Except when people who are religious want to try and drag my children into their deeply damaging, traumatizing bullshit. Except when they want to drag my friends and loved ones into it. As someone who suffered pretty intense psychological trauma because of the religious bullshit that I was inundated with as a child, I have issues with people who want to push it onto me and mine.

    The question is why are you so filled with “contempt and disdain” and why do you need to simplify and stereotype – and ultimately scapegoat.

    First, while it isn’t contempt or disdain, I have very strong feelings on this issue because of the nearly thirty years worth of psychological damage this bullshit of religion I went through.

    Second, it is not a need to simplify or stereotype, it is recognizing the fact that the underlying principles we’re talking about are very simplistic and no matter the religion being discussed, they are ultimately the same.

  27. 27
    isabel

    I said only that when I go someplace where my opinions contradict the dominant paradigm, I take extra effort to assume rational good will until I am decisively contradicted by the facts.
    like comrade said, speak fucking english, please!

    CPP, I am genuinely sorry I was inherently disrespectful and violated your assumption of good will. Will you ever forgive me???? I promise that from now on I will observe the canons of rational discourse.

    Peace,

    Isabel

    xox

  28. 28
    Comrade PhysioProf

    CPP, I am genuinely sorry I was inherently disrespectful and violated your assumption of good will.

    I don’t feel that way, Isabel, I appreciate your contribution to discussion here, and hope you will continue to comment.

  29. 29
    LostMarbles

    Does the actual content of a person’s character mean nothing at all to you?

    A person’s beliefs and the organizations they support are a part of a person’s character. Sometimes this is enough to have me write them off people I’d rather not associate with most of the time they have other redeeming characteristics that can make them tolerable or even awesome people. One set of ideas do not do usually define a person.

    The fact that people can have many different opinion on different topics, even ones that are contradictory(!), means that when I say that religious belief is stupid I do not mean that people who believe them are stupid. When we have these arguments we’re not talking about religious people, I hope, but religious beliefs. There’s no reason to come off so butthurt when someone criticizes something you believe in.

  30. 30
    DuWayne

    CPP, I am genuinely sorry I was inherently disrespectful and violated your assumption of good will.

    Fuck that. Don’t be sorry. Get up in his motherfucking face about this shit!!!

    And I really feel I should clarify that I don’t really consider myself an atheist. It just doesn’t apply, except in a very broad sense of the word. I do not reject the distinct possibility that there exists a god-figure and think it very likely that there is a physical/spiritual duality. I only pretty solidly reject the notion of revealed religion, I accept that there is a very tiny likelihood that such a religion might exist, but I believe it is most unlikely.

    There are those who believe much what I do, who do identify as atheists, but a great many of the atheists I know, find my beliefs only marginally less unlikely than the beliefs of most theists.

  31. 31
    The Barefoot Bum

    OK, Isabel, I’ll take you at your word. Assume — until contradicted otherwise — that Comrade PhysioProf and his regular commenters are intelligent, sensible people who are sincerely motivated to discover the truth. Since you disagree with our conclusions, the default assumption should be that we are somehow mistaken about some facts, or that we are not thinking with perfect clarity; perhaps we are relying on some subconscious bias.

    So… If you make these assumptions, the path is obvious: present the facts we are missing (and present them as if we really do want to know these facts); explain the correct reasoning in detail so we ourselves can identify the subconscious bias and come to the correct conclusion.

    You have, for example, identified the fact that religious belief is more complex than Comrade PhysioProf’s dismissive and superficial characterization of religion as “wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit.”

    The rebuttal to this point is that we know religion is rather complicated; the atheist objection to religion is not that it’s oversimplified, but that it’s fundamentally wrong; we know the complications exist, but they are built on a foundation of falsity: specifically that even elaborate constructions about God rest on the fallacy that we can know anything at all about gods. Statements about god are statements of opinion, and opinion, however elaborate, does not by itself establish truth.

    For example, I might have a detailed map of the interior of the hollow Earth, and an elaborate justification of why we have not yet discovered this interior, but the elaboration of my opinion does not make it more likely true, and the rebuttal — it’s ridiculous to believe in a hollow Earth — need not reference the subtlety and complexity of the construction, merely the falsity of the central premise.

    So we can counter the “religion is more complex than you say” route. If you want to keep on this path, present additional facts or elaborate the correct reasoning in more detail or from a different angle.

    This sort of rational discourse isn’t all that difficult, and if you follow this simple strategy you’ll find that most skeptical atheists will at least give you the respect of addressing the substantive points you bring up.

  32. 32
    The Barefoot Bum

    Also, if you’re going to discuss philosophy and apologetics with people such as myself who have given a great deal of thought to the matter and have done a lot of background investigation into philosophy, you’re going to have to deal with a certain amount of esoteric terminology and complex sentence structure.

    I’m sure a person of your intelligence and sincerity is fully capable of rising to the task, and if there’s anything you don’t understand, you need but ask and I will be more than happy to explain in more detail.

  33. 33
    arvind

    None are so blind as those who refuse to see.

    But…but…but…the emperor really doesn’t have any clothes on! So…um…fuck the entire court sideways with a cluestick.

  34. 34
    isabel

    Really? The existence of God can be falsified? It’s all about logic? I think you’ve described a reasonable approach to science. But religion is like art, it resides in the right brain…..it is beautiful, comforting, mysterious, etc, and takes us into different realms. It’s also universal, although the details vary. I find that interesting, popular assertions of The God Delusion notwithstanding.

    I don’t practice any formal religion and some formal religions really suck. But isn’t it generally in those cases about the leaders grabbing on to power any way they can? I don’t see people as sheep particularly in reference to religion. Sometimes they’re just sheep, for lots of reasons, and I agree it’s fucking annoying. But that goes for a lot of people in academia. Also, I am uncomfortable targeting less intelligent people in general for derision. It’s unseemly, like mocking the handicapped or the poor.

    I didn’t mean to step in to a debate I don’t have time or the apparently “proper” philosophical background to finish. I reacted to CPP’s post because I’ve heard it a million times, and it’s too easy. If we blame religion, roll our eyes over their goofy “beliefs” (some might call them symbols – not literal beliefs) and make some disparaging jokes we have the illusion of solving the problems of the world….I don’t buy it, sorry.

  35. 35
    Comrade PhysioProf

    I reacted to CPP’s post because I’ve heard it a million times, and it’s too easy. If we blame religion, roll our eyes over their goofy “beliefs” (some might call them symbols – not literal beliefs) and make some disparaging jokes we have the illusion of solving the problems of the world….I don’t buy it, sorry.

    Where do you get the idea that anyone thinks that by laughing at wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit they are “solving the problems of the world”?

  36. 36
    DuWayne

    If we blame religion, roll our eyes over their goofy “beliefs” (some might call them symbols – not literal beliefs) and make some disparaging jokes we have the illusion of solving the problems of the world….I don’t buy it, sorry.

    ‘Taint a matter of solving the worlds problems. For my own part, when I get into this sort of discussion and engage in a harsh commentary that disparages religion, I do so because I’m really fucking angry about the whole mess. I do it because I spent way too many years dealing with the fucking mess this sort of thing made of my fucking head. And I do so because I have several friends who either have a bent for trying to get me to see “reason” and come back to the fold, and I have friends who accept that I have come to the conclusions I have and feel genuine sorrow, because they love me and truly believe that I have damned myself to hell.

    And I am angry because a great many people feel I shouldn’t get angry when they want to inundate my children with the same fucked up bullshit that traumatized me for nearly thirty fucking years.

    I’m not trying to change the world, I’m just expressing my rather extreme anger at the fucking vile, poisonous bullshit that fucked up my life for far too long.

  37. 37
    bustedsbro

    Pointless, Why must there always be a discussion on what we as humans don’t know and will never know. A belief is belief, nothing more or less. The fucked up thing is what people do with those beliefs to the determent of others. Which has been done all to often in our history. Even within this forum the passion for this argument is heated. Question is, why is it so hard for all people to acknowledge that we don’t know. The atheist will state that he can’t reach it with the five senses so it doesn’t exist. The religious says all you have to do is believe. My belief is spirituality is personal and should remain so. If you wish to be social with other like minded people, great. But don’t expect that that aspect of your personal life should be shared by all. On the other spectrum, people in a free society shouldn’t judge others for those beliefs no matter how much they believe they are in the right. because for all the scientific data to disprove religious doctrine one cannot for certain say there is no sky fairy, god, or whatever because that in fact would make that person all knowing and thus by definition be a god. I personally have not met this person or being so lets acknowledge to know that, and in truth we don’t know.

  38. 38
    DaisyDeadhead

    I have to ask, Isabel and Daisy, why are you here?

    Barefoot Bum, I have to ask, why did you join the Kerista commune in the 70s? Probably the same reason!

    That was a pretty pagan outfit, with regular rituals offered up to the Goddess Kerista, as I recall.

    BTW, I have some photos of one of those Kerista picnics, and some friends have helpfully identified some of the Keristans in the photos. We have a preliminary match, as they say on CSI! We have met before, Barefoot Bum!!!! :D

    So, I guess you haven’t always been so ideologically/theologically perfect, either, huh? Why can’t I shop around for ideas, as you so obviously have throughout YOUR life?

    YOU are the one who has gone to some wild-ass extremes in your life, hon. Not me. I have remained pretty consistent, Mr Rationality.

    When I go to a religious-themed venue, I bend over backwards to be polite and make charitable assumptions of good-will. You do not appear to even attempt this attitude.

    I think my comments were very polite, keeping in mind that I WAS called a wackaloon.

    Atheists don’t hate religious believers, at least not most of them, we have contempt and disdain for their stupidity and credulity.

    As I stated, I never belonged to Kerista, you did.

    Further, speaking of INTELLIGENCE, let me suggest that belonging to a world-class goofy cult, so WACKLALOON that it was widely covered on TV and in magazines, may have prejudiced your opinion regarding religion, just a teensy little bit. ;)

    Ya think?

    Atheists don’t hate religious believers, at least not most of them, we have contempt and disdain for their stupidity and credulity. The problem is that without stupidity and credulity, evil would find no purchase in the world.

    Okay, I realize this question mirrors my obvious stupidity… but there have been a few famous atheists who have, well, been a bit evil. You’ve heard of them, right? Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Robespierre, Josef Mengele? Just off the top of my head.

    What happened there? Why was evil allowed to find purchase with these obviously enlightened atheist historical personages? ***Confused***

    But then, I am stupid and you are so far superior to the vast majority of the people in the world, it simply stands to reason I wouldn’t get it, so please explain.

    (PS: Is it true the Keristans took their names from Ouija Boards, BB?)

  39. 39
    DaisyDeadhead

    bustedsbro, I tend to agree that spirituality should be personal, but I also believe there is a human need for group worship, fellowship and communion… even football games and rock concerts exhibit this need. Worship will always take some public form. The greater task is keeping religion and government/politics separate.

    As an existentialist, I take full responsibility for MY CHOICE to believe (as I wrote at length here). I deliberately CHOOSE religion, for the reasons I gave in that post.

    Since that is personal choice, telling me I am WRONG is as immature and childish as telling me I am WRONG for preferring certain art, music, food, sports or sexual partners, simply because they work for you, and you enjoy them. Well, that’s all very nice, but I don’t like Coldplay, and you can’t make me. I won’t, I won’t!

    And similarly, I enjoy religion, and all of your name-calling and patronizing, doesn’t (and can’t) change that. It is a temperamental, philosophical and aesthetic choice.

    And BTW, all this talk about rationality… as I said in the linked post, love and sex are irrational too. They have brought about death, wars, hatred, evil, destruction, empires crashing down, yada yada… are you in favor of abolishing those, too? Why is the irrationality called RELIGION, the only form of irrationality you are so zealously in favor of getting rid of?

    Music, art, love… all equally irrational. Are you against those too? Are they evidence of stupidity? Why aren’t they?

  40. 40
    Comrade PhysioProf

    Music, art, love… all equally irrational. Are you against those too? Are they evidence of stupidity? Why aren’t they?

    Music, art, and love are not based on truth claims about the nature of reality. Religion is based on truth claims about the nature of reality. Every single aspect of our perceptual experience of reality indicates that the truth claims of religion are false. If you are conceiving of “religion” in a way that does not make truth claims about the nature of reality, then we are not talking about you.

  41. 41
    DaisyDeadhead

    trackback-

    Odds and Sods – Snowed in edition

  42. 42
    DaisyDeadhead

    Music, art, and love are not based on truth claims about the nature of reality.

    Of course they are. Criticism of the arts is based on the idea that some music/art (etc) is objectively good and some is objectively bad. Since people DO tend to agree on these things, there must be some basis in reality to these claims, yes? If not, what are they basing them on?

    I know if I go to XYZ website and read critic ABC, he usually sees movies the way I do. If he likes a movie, I will usually enjoy it too. (How do you account for that similarity in sensibility, unless we are reacting to some objective thing in the art form itself?)

    Religion is based on truth claims about the nature of reality.

    No, this is what YOU say it is. For people who actually practice religion, religion can act as an emotional outlet, or an aesthetic outlet, or an exercise in altering the mind or mood. Or it can be a general philosophy of life.

    Every single aspect of our perceptual experience of reality indicates that the truth claims of religion are false.

    Except that I feel better when I do it than when I don’t. And I think this is the reason 80% of people practice religion. (No, can’t prove that, gut feeling.) It is enjoyable.

    Thus, when you announce what religion IS, definitively, you are not speaking to the majority of people’s lived experiences. And there is the arrogance–you are telling me that what I do has no actual effect on my consciousness. As Wittgenstein (and his little bug-in-the-box) would have said, how do you know that? Can you prove it? I practice religion because I like it, and yes, that particular claim of religion is true; it is true for ME. (The claim: you’ll feel better. For me, the claim has always been delivered.)

    So, pardon me if I feel the need to correct you. You are simply wrong.

    If you are conceiving of “religion” in a way that does not make truth claims about the nature of reality, then we are not talking about you.

    But you are talking about YOUR VIEW of religion, not the view of those who practice it. That is like trying to understand some foreign country, without learning the language or the habits of the people.

    Good luck, but don’t be surprised if you get it all wrong.

    (As a scientist, don’t you CARE about getting it wrong?)

  43. 43
    Comrade PhysioProf

    To the extent that it is a means for people to alter their own consciousness or give themselves pleasure, I have absolutely no interest in religion. I take no position whatsoever, nor do I give a flying fuck, about whether people effectively use religion to make themselves feel certain ways.

    My only interest in religion is to the extent that various religions assert truth claims about the nature of reality. As I already said, if you conceive or practice religion in a way that is limited to altering or making sense of your own subjective consciousness states, then I am not talking about you, and I neither doubt nor affirm that religion so conceived has those effects on you. I really don’t give a shit one way or another.

    I am talking about religion as involving truth claims about the nature of objective reality, not as a subjective experience of human beings. Of course it would be arrogant–and probably false–of me to claim that religion does not affect people’s consciousness. That is not my interest. My interest is in religion as a set of affirmative falsifiable assertions–with different religions obviously making different assertions–about the nature of objective reality.

    I am really not getting why this distinction is so difficult to grasp. Maybe someone else can try to explain it more clearly?

  44. 44
    Arlenna

    Ummm, Daisy, the whole premise of pretty much every religion is that they have things the right way around, that they describe the true reality and that everybody else has it wrong: i.e. they make truth claims about reality. You’re losing the forest for your own assertion of your own tree.

  45. 45
    isabel

    CPP
    you’re right, I was making hyperbolic claims, at least as far as your specific, literal words. sorry.
    And yes, we are all arguing at cross purposes…so I’m bowing out. I don’t take the “truth claims” literally, and I suspect many other religious people don’t either, but it doesn’t mean, to me at least, that they are meaningless…
    see ya!

  46. 46
    DaisyDeadhead

    I am talking about religion as involving truth claims about the nature of objective reality.

    Okay, CPP… above, your friend Barefoot Bum, the ex-Keristan, talked about “evil”–now, could you define that for me, please?

    Is there an objective list of “evil” behaviors and how does this NOT involve truth claims about the nature of objective reality?

    You accept “objective truth claims” from him, but not from the religious. Why?

  47. 47
    Comrade PhysioProf

    Who says I accept what TBB said about “evil”, or even have any clue what he was referring to, or even give a shit? And who says that I generally “accept ‘objective truth claims’ from him, but not from the religious”, other than the specific assertion I quoted from his post:

    The problem with religion, any religion, is that some privileged elite almost always has to speak for God.

    You are really putting a lot of words in my mouth, Daisy. And in relation to his particular assertion, do you deny that for the overwhelmingly vast majority of religious believers on the planet there is a privileged elite of religious authority who speak for God?

  48. 48
    DaisyDeadhead

    Of course it would be arrogant–and probably false–of me to claim that religion does not affect people’s consciousness. That is not my interest. My interest is in religion as a set of affirmative falsifiable assertions–with different religions obviously making different assertions–about the nature of objective reality.

    How are claims about consciousness not verifiable? For instance, certain yogis can reduce their heartbeats during meditation. Is human consciousness not part of objective reality? Why not?

    Where does thought come from, in that case? Are thoughts and feelings not part of the objective reality of human experience?

    The overall concept I am discussing has sometimes been called Fideism and skeptic Martin Gardner talks about it in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, which you might enjoy reading.

    I’m on the Kierkegaard team.

  49. 49
    DaisyDeadhead

    You are really putting a lot of words in my mouth, Daisy. And in relation to his particular assertion, do you deny that for the overwhelmingly vast majority of religious believers on the planet there is a privileged elite of religious authority who speak for God?

    Of course not. That’s called patriarchy. Religion and all other disciplines developed in the context of patriarchy. There is governmental authority, scientific authority, legal/law enforcement authority, educational authority, and all kinds of other authority… in fact, what DOESN’T have a centralized, hierarchical authority?

    I don’t see religion as different than any other patriarchal institution, like for instance, the one you work for.

    Why is religious authority within the context of a racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, capitalist culture, any more pernicious, than say, scientific authority within this same oppressive context?

    So, you disagree with Barefoot Bum, but you quote him? Interesting. I figured you quoted him because his philosophy is closest to yours, and you have not contradicted him here, as you have me or Isabel.

    Double standards, my dear comrade.

  50. 50
    DaisyDeadhead

    Ummm, Daisy, the whole premise of pretty much every religion is that they have things the right way around, that they describe the true reality and that everybody else has it wrong: i.e. they make truth claims about reality. You’re losing the forest for your own assertion of your own tree.

    Ummm, how do you know this, did you experience it that way yourself, or are you on the outside looking in?

    All governmental systems believe this too… capitalism is right, democracy is right, blah blah blah is right. That doesn’t mean everyone within those countries believes the same way, or even believes it at all. For some of us, democracy means welcoming others, for others, closing the borders, etc. Religion is no different; the same doctrines and ideas can be interpreted in a million different ways.

    My question is why you are all making it a SPECIAL CASE, and the answer is RELIGO-PHOBIA, not just atheism. You are irrational in your specific anti-religion hatreds, calling people stupid (I refer to the ex-Keristan) and wackaloons (CPP) and so on. How is an emotion like “contempt” in any way rational, directed at people you don’t even know? Directed at any other group, that would be rightly recognize by intelligent people as mindless prejudice and xenophobia.

  51. 51
    Comrade PhysioProf

    So, you disagree with Barefoot Bum, but you quote him? Interesting. I figured you quoted him because his philosophy is closest to yours, and you have not contradicted him here, as you have me or Isabel.

    Why is it so difficult for you to simply read what is written? Who says I “disagree with Barefoot Bum” or “agree with Barefoot Bum” as some sort of a general matter? Who says I give a single flying fuck about anyfuckingthing Barefoot Bum has to say about anyfuckingthing, other than the single particular thing I chose to focus on in this post?

  52. 52
    DaisyDeadhead

    Well, I’ve asked about 10,000 other questions in this thread. Any stab at ANY of the rest of them?

    Anybody? Bueller?

    Goodness mercy, I thought atheists were supposed to have all the answers? :P

  53. 53
    LostMarbles

    You are irrational in your specific anti-religion hatreds, calling people stupid (I refer to the ex-Keristan) and wackaloons (CPP) and so on.

    If you read carefully you will note that no one has called religious people stupid. All the insults you reference are not directed at people; they are directed at ideas. As I wrote before, you can criticize a belief and call it stupid without saying that the person is stupid because people, for the most part, are more than a belief on one subject. I know religious people who are extremely intelligent and I know atheists who are dumber than a sack of rocks. I don’t think of these people as exceptions to some “atheists=smart; religious people=dumb” rule. I can guarantee that on plenty of subjects I can be the biggest idiot in the world, but I still think of myself as at least passably intelligent.

  54. 54
    SnowdropExplodes

    CPP:

    My interest is in religion as a set of affirmative falsifiable assertions–with different religions obviously making different assertions–about the nature of objective reality.

    Okay, let’s take a closer look at this. What falsifiable claims do you believe religions make? (Score minus-10 each time you reference a creation story in your answer, unless you believe people thousands of years ago could be expected to understand quickly the mathematics of quantum physics or Einstein’s General Relativity.)

  55. 55
    SnowdropExplodes

    The Barefoot Bum:

    Plenty of religious people are intelligent, thoughtful, and kind…

    Until they pull the YES lever on prop 8, or watch the cattle cars full of Jews pass by and think, “Well, maybe that is what God wants.”

    As a kind, thoughtful and intelligent religious person, I can safely say I have never done anything remotely similar to any of those things, and have indeed strongly fought against plenty of atheistic people who HAVE done those types of things

    “Since you disagree with our conclusions, the default assumption should be that we are somehow mistaken about some facts, or that we are not thinking with perfect clarity; perhaps we are relying on some subconscious bias.”

    Indeed I do believe some of these things. I do not follow your reasoning from the observable facts about the universe to the statement “there is no God”. The data does not support the conclusion. Now, as it happens I have subjective data that to me conclusively proves God does exist, but I don’t expect you to accept that as data for your own conclusions. I do expect you to accept that the data is clear and unequivocal, and that as a sceptic, I have subjected it to every examination I can. In other words, I expect you to accept that my faith is based not on stupidity or credulity.

    the atheist objection to religion is not that it’s oversimplified, but that it’s fundamentally wrong; we know the complications exist, but they are built on a foundation of falsity: specifically that even elaborate constructions about God rest on the fallacy that we can know anything at all about gods. Statements about god are statements of opinion, and opinion, however elaborate, does not by itself establish truth.

    And yet, science is based on the fallacy that we can know anything about future events based on looking at the past. I am sure you know the problem of induction (that is, “how can we know things will act in the future the way they did in the past? Well, they always have done!” – which of course begs the question…) And yet science is built entirely upon induction.

    Not to mention the fact that you call it a fallacy, but your reasoning appears to be that we cannot detect God by physical means. But God is not physically a part of the universe, but merely acts upon Creation from outside (so, arguably, even people who believe in God believe God does not exist in any normal definition of that term).

    Finally, if, as you say, “Statements about god are statements of opinion,” then by your own logic (to whit, “opinion, however elaborate, does not by itself establish truth.”) atheism must also be a matter of opinion.

    However, atheism’s central claim (there is no God) is a clearly falsifiable claim, at least in theory, since all that has to happen is that God appears and proves His(Her/Its/Their) existence to you.

    So here’s my challenge to atheists: what would have to happen for you to believe that your theory had been falsified?

  56. 56
    terry

    So here’s my challenge to atheists: what would have to happen for you to believe that your theory had been falsified?

    How about: God appears and proves His(Her/Its/Their) existence to you.

  57. 57
    Science Bear

    Looks like I’ve missed the majority of a heated conversation.

    Music, art, love… all equally irrational. Are you against those too? Are they evidence of stupidity?

    How often has any of the things mentioned caused people to kill thousands who disagreed. How can one segment of the world population be right and the rest be condemned, mainly based on their location? This simply doesn’t make sense to me.

    I thought atheists were supposed to have all the answers

    No, most atheists don’t pretend to have all the answers. I believe in most cases we realize how much we don’t know. Personally I don’t care if people are religious or not, as long as they don’t force their beliefs on me or into legislation.

    So here’s my challenge to atheists: what would have to happen for you to believe that your theory had been falsified?

    Proof to the contrary.

  58. 58
    DaisyDeadhead

    How often has any of the things mentioned caused people to kill thousands who disagreed.

    HELLO?

    ROMANTIC LOVE has been an extremely damaging force… thousands and thousands of murders and jealousies and homicides…wars started, vengeance taken, etc etc etc… that is why Buddhism teaches that all such strong attachments should be minimized or avoided, whether they are love OR hate.

    Are you serious?

  59. 59
    DaisyDeadhead

    How often has any of the things mentioned caused people to kill thousands who disagreed.

    And yes, artists WERE killed and/or starved en masse during the Cultural Revolution, if their art wasn’t suitable–that is to say, someone (the government) disagreed with it.

    What religion were those folks conducting the Cultural Revolution again? Oh yeah, right. Good thing evil can’t “find purchase” with atheism. I guess that means none of that ever really happened, according to Barefoot Bum.

  60. 60
    The Barefoot Bum

    Isabel: The existence of God can be falsified?

    Depends on which concept labeled “god” you’re talking about. If the existence of some particular cannot be falsified, you are not using “existence” in the ordinary sense, and the statement is dishonest.

    But religion is like art, it resides in the right brain…..it is beautiful, comforting, mysterious, etc, and takes us into different realms.

    I’m all for art, comfort, beauty, emotion and that sort of thing. They’re all wonderful. They’re all human phenomena, part of human psychology. There’s nothing at all divine about them, and fundamentally nothing mysterious — unless you make a fetish of ignorance about psychology.

    But isn’t it generally in those cases about the leaders grabbing on to power any way they can?

    Pretty much, which is what CPP and I (in the post CPP cites) were talking about in the first place. If you persuade yourself that someone talks for God (or if you can persuade yourself that God has some special message for you) you have the perfect excuse for ignoring the well being of mere mortals in favor of God.

    Sometimes they’re just sheep, for lots of reasons, and I agree it’s fucking annoying. But that goes for a lot of people in academia.

    A tu quoque fallacy. Sheeplike behavior is objectionable in all circumstances… and we see a lot of sheeplike behavior in religious circumstances. Thus we focus on it.

    Also, I am uncomfortable targeting less intelligent people in general for derision. It’s unseemly, like mocking the handicapped or the poor.

    We’re using “stupid” in the idiomatic sense, of a person who is capable of thinking rationally but, for one reason or another, fails to do so, in the sense of, “I stupidly locked my keys in the car.” We’re not referring to developmentally or cognitively disabled people.

    If we blame religion…

    Why shouldn’t we blame religion? It’s the most popular and most entrenched form of stupidity known to human beings.

    bustedsbro: Why must there always be a discussion on what we as humans don’t know and will never know.

    Because a) we do know there’s no god, and b) the people who are deluded into thinking they know that a god exists and they know what god wants cause endless amounts of trouble for the world.

    I have to ask, Isabel and Daisy, why are you here?

    Barefoot Bum, I have to ask, why did you join the Kerista commune in the 70s? Probably the same reason!

    I most definitely join the Kerista commune (in the 80′s FTR; I’m not as old as I look) to tell them they were full of shit.

    We have met before, Barefoot Bum!!!! :D

    Hardly surprising. You have the advantage of me, as I have no way of identifying you. Of course, I really don’t care; I usually suppress memories of people I find personally banal and moronic.

    Why can’t I shop around for ideas, as you so obviously have throughout YOUR life?

    You can do anything you please. I really don’t give a rats ass until you get up in my face with your retarded bullshit. (Or my friend’s face and he invites me to join the fray, as he did regarding this thread.)

    I think my comments were very polite, keeping in mind that I WAS called a wackaloon.

    CPP was not calling you personally a wackaloon. But of course it’s objectively true you are a wackaloon. If the truth hurts your feelings, too bad.

    but there have been a few famous atheists who have, well, been a bit evil. You’ve heard of them, right? Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Robespierre, Josef Mengele? Just off the top of my head.

    And there have been evil people who wore moustaches. Care to connect anyone’s evil with their atheism? Probably a task beyond your tiny mind.

    But then, I am stupid and you are so far superior to the vast majority of the people in the world…

    No, I’m just smarter than you. But that’s not a particularly high bar.

    Note: I’m being extra insulting here not because you’re religious, but because I dislike you personally and I think you’re a creepy asshole.

    I also believe there is a human need for group worship, fellowship and communion… even football games and rock concerts exhibit this need.

    We’re not arguing against communal activities and group fellowship. We’re arguing against associating these activities with supernatural bullshit.

    as I said in the linked post, love and sex are irrational too.

    Bah. Total bullshit. Love and sex are emotions, they are existing characteristics of human minds and totally susceptible to psychology.

    Criticism of the arts is based on the idea that some music/art (etc) is objectively good and some is objectively bad.

    To the extent that art (and literary, etc.) criticism makes claims about the objective goodness and badness of art, it’s just as much bullshit as religion. To the extent that art criticism talks about subtle objective features of a work of art, and communicates the critic’s subjective appreciation of the work, it can be interesting and valuable.

    Religion is based on truth claims about the nature of reality.

    No, this is what YOU say it is.

    No, that’s what a billion self-described religious people say religion is. Read a newspaper once in a while, kay?

    Thus, when you announce what religion IS, definitively, you are not speaking to the majority of people’s lived experiences.

    You really have no fucking clue what you’re talking about, do you?

    Sorry, Comrade, Daisy’s concentrated ignorance and stupidity are raising my blood pressure. You’re on your own from here on out.

  61. 61
    Dr. No

    What the fuck? Some (by which I really mean one) of you needs to re-read the last sentence of Comrade PP’s post. Recognize anything?
    (And no, atheists do not have all the answers. But we have many answers, and our answers are both congruent and verifiable, which is more than I can say for those other types of “answers”)

  62. 62
    Dr. No

    Oh wait, I see the point in these comments (based on some of you, OK, I mean one of you again) is to keep making the same point over and over again but to do so in a stranger and less relevant fashion each time. So in that vein, that was fucking funny Comrade PP, love the last sentence. My faith in bullshit has been utterly restored!

  63. 63
    SnowdropExplodes

    So the answers to my challenge were:

    “Proof to the contrary.”

    “How about: God appears and proves His(Her/Its/Their) existence to you.”

    What would that proof look like? What tests would this appearance have to pass before you accepted it was genuine? Would you ever be satisfied that something that appeared to be a manifestation of God was indeed that, or would you go on seeking other explanations, determined to prove that it didn’t have to be God?

    The Barefoot Bum:

    “Care to connect anyone’s evil with their atheism?”

    Not so hard to do, really – or at least, as easy to do as connecting a person’s evil to the fact that they have religious beliefs.

    In other words, it is not a person’s belief in God or belief there is no God that is connected with their goodness or evilness, but rather, that the particular form that belief takes that influences their actions.

    You’re fond of calling those who believe in God “deluded”, but equally to me you appear deluded in your flat assertion there is no God.

    Incidentally, when you say, “you are not using “existence” in the ordinary sense”, you are exactly right: that conclusion was reached by theologians in the first millennium CE (who nevertheless continued to believe in God). The reality of God is outside of the Universe; God’s omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence are a result of God being not a part of the universe, but acting upon it, just as an artist is not a part of the picture s/he is painting, but acts upon the painting from outside of it. Since God is not a part of the Universe, God cannot be said to exist in the normal sense of that word. God is real, but not amenable to science.

    Finally, you make some rather absurd claims about psychology:

    “Love and sex are emotions, they are existing characteristics of human minds and totally susceptible to psychology.”

    So you claim that psychology has the ability to predict who will fall in love with whom, and for how long, and how their relationship will break up (if it does)? That psychology can reveal the details of why someone enjoys the type of sex that they do, and why they choose the partners they do? Here’s a clue: no one knows why people are gay, straight or bi; if psychology can’t even answer that big of a question, how can it hope to solve the smaller ones of why we choose that particular man or woman to sleep with or fall in love with? Maybe psychology can reveal why some people like kinky sex and others like vanilla sex – but no – every psychologist who pontificates on that topic is met by scores of kinky folks saying “that’s got no relation to my life at all!”

    I have seen psychologists and neurologists make all kinds of claims that they’ve discovered XYZ about the way humans behave with relation to sex and love, but so far none of them seem to stand up to scrutiny.

    Hell, we don’t even know why game theory fails to explain human behaviour (and game theory is about the logical, rational, thing to do). So psychology is not a magic bullet to explain the stuff you like and let you hate on religion alone.

  64. 64
    Comrade PhysioProf

    This is really not very complicated. The point isn’t that the non-existence of Gods is some theory that needs to be proved, any more than the non-existence of leprechauns is some theory that needs to be proved.

    The point is that when you assert the existence of an entity for which there is absolutely no perceptual evidence whatsoever, asserting that no one can prove its non-existence–so neener, neener–doesn’t get you anywhere except with the credulous. You are not dealing with the credulous, so you need to provide evidence in support of your assertion, and the mere absence of support for its negative doesn’t cut it.

    There are an infinity of possible assertions about the nature of reality for which there is absolutely no evidence of their truth, but also no “proof” of their negative. You don’t give a moments thought to any of them, except for God. That requires explanation. The explanation may very well be some feature of human psychology, consciousness, etc. But asserting that the explanation is that God exists is just begging the question.

    Explain to me why I should buy that God exists but not buy that leprechauns exist.

  65. 65
    Isis the Scientist

    I find debate of the question “is there a God?” to be a fruitless endeavour considering the standards of evidence each party would accept are different.

    That said, I will agree that the major problem with organized religion is the existence of a privileged elite within the hierarchy. But this is the same problem I have with American government. It’s not unique to religion, it’s unique to hierarchy.

    I was going to say that the second problem I have with organized religion is the imposition of morality on others outside of the religion. But if I say that, I’m a huge hypocrite. I opposed Proposition 8 in California knowing that the most vocal arguments against gay marriage are religious in nature. On the other hand, I believe “though shalt not murder” and that shapes my opinions on laws regarding homicide.

  66. 66
    Isis the Scientist

    “Thou shalt not murder,” that is.

  67. 67
    Arlenna

    Because lephrechauns don’t love you, CPP. Leprechauns try to cut your throat while you’re asleep and steal your gold. Who would want to believe in that?

    But then, “god” rewards dudes for letching on their own daughters when they’re drunk and other peoples’ wives just because he decides he likes ‘em, and loves to mud-wrestle-to-the-death-pit sisters against each other for arbitrary, capricious reasons… who would want to believe in THAT?

  68. 68
    bustedsbro

    BB, thanks for noticing, first, I wish I could explain why I believe in god, but in all honesty I can’t. I can say that things have happened in my life that I can’t explain except to say it felt miraculous versus lucky. That said it proves nothing. I also didn’t say I knew gods will. Anyone who says they do is full of shit. They can only reply that it feels right and they are at peace but that could very well be environmental. Basically it’s my belief as you have yours. Both are right behind our own eyes. I have not missed the point of the whole discussion though. You are
    right that My own beliefs have been subverted by misguided motherfuckers who only wish to have more power and control to further there own selfish Ideas and I believe that they have no idea what gods will is any better than I do. If what I believe is correct though, the people that warp others beliefs for there own gain will get there’s. Whether it be Karma or luck or whatever. It has been my experience that fuckers eventually are put on the receiving end of things. The easiest way around being the catcher is being nice. Which I have found to be hard at times but try try again. The nice thing about beliefs is you don’t have to have any particular one, ain’t life grand.

  69. 69
    DuWayne

    Explain to me why I should buy that God exists but not buy that leprechauns exist.

    Now just wait a fucking minute!!! You don’t believe in leprechauns?!?!?

    Isis -

    I was going to say that the second problem I have with organized religion is the imposition of morality on others outside of the religion. But if I say that, I’m a huge hypocrite. I opposed Proposition 8 in California knowing that the most vocal arguments against gay marriage are religious in nature.

    Saying that wouldn’t make you a hypocrite in the least. Just because it’s not something you engage in personally, doesn’t mean that recognizing a very common trait amongst those who practice organized religion makes you hypocritical.

    The fact is that there are a lot of religious people who want to impose their dogmatic moral framework on people outside their faith. My mother, love her as I do, is one of those people – though she has mellowed some with the years.

  70. 70
    rehctaw

    Heinlein observed:
    “The human race divides into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. And the latter make better neighbors.”

    Further:
    “Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there. Theologians can persuade themselves of anything.”

    To which I would add that they can dissuade themselves of anything as well.

    Religion is a human invention to codify its rules.

    Heinlein also mused:
    “Never insult anyone by accident.”

    In the end, the question to be asked of each side is, “What if you’re wrong”? In the case of the atheist, he will have eternity to ponder his mistake.

    In the case of the religious, consciously giving your proxy to the errors and omissions of bigotry and hatred will land you in the same boat.

  71. 71
    SnowdropExplodes

    The point is that when you assert the existence of an entity for which there is absolutely no perceptual evidence whatsoever, asserting that no one can prove its non-existence–so neener, neener–doesn’t get you anywhere except with the credulous. You are not dealing with the credulous, so you need to provide evidence in support of your assertion, and the mere absence of support for its negative doesn’t cut it.

    Well, since I feel I have had personal experience of God, for me there is a lot more than an “absence of support for its negative”. I don’t expect you to accept that as proof of God’s existence, but equally, I don’t ask you to believe that God exists. Just to accept that maybe my belief in God has more basis than a general credulity or stupidity (i.e. I am not a “wackaloon”).

    Some of the more tangible reasons I have for believing in God are effectively a part of the teleological argument, and so fall short of being a valid proof (for the same reasons that the teleological argument in general does). However, I think there is gratuitous beauty in Creation. I cannot think of a good reason for a scattered spectrum to be beautiful. I cannot think of a good reason for the aurorae to be beautiful. I cannot think of a good reason for the universe at large to be beautiful. Yes, it could have happened by chance, but I think a Designer did it. And then, I referenced the problem of induction earlier. There’s no logical reason for induction to work, and yet it does. It is at least possible that this is the work of a Creator, and to me that explanation makes more sense than any others I’ve heard.

    None of that is proof. Even though it is not proof, I still submit that it is more substantial evidence than simple “absence of proof of the negative”. My conclusion is that it is ore rational to believe in God than to deny the possibility of God’s existence. You are welcome to disagree with that, but you are not welcome to look down upon me for my conclusions.

    Oh yes – and the thing about leprechauns is that a leprechaun would be a part of the universe if it existed – the chance of leprechauns existing is extremely small simply because we’d have detected one by now; and once we’ve looked everywhere and not found one, then we can say they don’t exist. But the unique nature of the “God hypothesis” means that a similar methodology doesn’t work. I am not a fan of the “God of the Gaps” mindset anyway that some scientists use to justify their continued faith in God.

    The explanation may very well be some feature of human psychology, consciousness, etc. But asserting that the explanation is that God exists is just begging the question.

    But then, asserting that induction works begs the question also. And yet you are quite happy to accept the findings of science. By saying that the God Hypothesis “begs the question”, you don’t actually prove that it’s false; you only demonstrate that it is unproven. By discounting the God Hypothesis in favour of “some feature of human psychology, consciousness, etc” as an explanation for people’s belief in God, you are being unscientific. (Besides which, no such explanation would disprove the existence of God, since God has obviously designed us to be able to have a relationship with God!)

  72. 72
    DaisyDeadhead

    Note: I’m being extra insulting here not because you’re religious, but because I dislike you personally and I think you’re a creepy asshole.

    Right backatcha, ex-cult member. ;)

    PS: You didn’t answer the question about the Keristan’s getting your names from Ouija Boards. Yes or no?

    And hey, Jud didn’t ALLOW you, or anyone else, to talk back to him… cut the lying bullshit.

  73. 73
    LostMarbles

    SnowdropExplodes,

    I don’t see how the argument from design manages to impress anyone. Crystals are marvellous and complex, but we know they form chance collision of atoms that form ordered pattern in accordance to their physical properties. We have a pretty good explanation as to how random mutations can lead to the variations in nature. As to why we find them beautiful, I can’t say for sure, but I’d wager it’s at least partially because we’re taught to associate certain properties with beauty.

    Furthermore, a lot of the complex patterns and purposes you think you see may not actually be there. Humans are built to be pattern recognition machines. We see patterns and purpose everywhere and most of the time it’s a good thing, but sometimes we fuck up (see optical illusions). Science provides tools for us distinguish between actual cause-effect relationships/patterns/”purpose” and random chance. One of these is induction and we accept it because, as CPP stated, it tends to result in people coming to similar conclusions. This is, in my opinion, a vast improvement of a bunch of people sitting around and declaring that X is true because they think so. If you disagree, then I honestly have no way of relating to you and this entire argument is pointless.

  74. 74
    Isabel

    Okay I KNOW I said I was going to stay away – I guess I missed you guys;-)

    It’s just that I’ve been musing a bit, in my spare time as I am preparing for my quals, trying to digest massive volumes of all this boring logical factual science shit…

    Anyway, I was thinking how it’s amazing how close to reality the Genesis creation story is – I haven’t thought about this in years but it kinda blows my mind…if you just stretch out the time frame you get a pretty realistic scenario….the earth being without form at first (before the the coalescence of planetary material), then “let there be light” = the Big Bang (okay those two are reversed but this was written thousands of years ago, and could be just the sun, but still weirdly reversed) then separation of day and night (the earth takes form and rotates and revolves around the sun creating the experience of day and night on earth), the creation of a separate “lesser” light for night (the moon colliding with earth and beginning it’s revolution around the earth), the land separating from the sea, the beasts originating in the sea before they appear on land, which is hardly intuitive (with another weird reversal though – the plants should squeeze in between the two, at least the seed plants, and the story lists them first,but it works if you consider algae as plants, because they WERE the first multicells, as far as we know)then man coming in late in the game and having dominion over the other organisms -which is exactly what happened!It’s like whoever who wrote this was actually there!

    If that’s not proof of SOMETHING you guys are just too hard to please.

    Okay I really AM trolling this time, sorry CPP, please don’t ban me! I’m just STRESSED.

    Peace & Love,

    Isabel

    ps. I was just kidding I LOVE SCIENCE.

  75. 75
    LostMarbles

    Isabel,

    I know CPP may at times seem to encourage taking a few bong hits before posting, but I think you might have overdone it a bit. :P

  76. 76
    Arlenna

    snowdropexplodes:

    You might want to look up temporal lobe seizures–they make people feel like they’ve had “a personal experience of god.”

  77. 77
    octogalore

    TBB: “The problem is that without stupidity and credulity, evil would find no purchase in the world.”

    That’s fascinating. Somehow, in my experience, the most deadly evil comes from those with serious brain power. Are you really arguing that evil and high IQ are incompatible?

    TBB: “No, I’m just smarter than you. But that’s not a particularly high bar. Note: I’m being extra insulting here not because you’re religious, but because I dislike you personally and I think you’re a creepy asshole. … Sorry, Comrade, Daisy’s concentrated ignorance and stupidity are raising my blood pressure.”

    It’s quite odd that someone of such stupidity could create such a pressured debate. Personally, when I am faced with someone who isn’t my match in a debate, which happens occasionally in an economic discussion for example, I don’t yield to childish impulses towards name calling, and certainly don’t take it seriously enough to have any blood pressure increases. Very odd indeed. Different strokes, I guess.

  78. 78
    octogalore

    Actually, regarding evil, the suggestion is likely that if nobody was credulous, they couldn’t be taken advantage of by presumably more intelligent evil people.

    Hmm. So many counterarguments, where to start?
    1) Often intelligent people take advantage of each other;
    2) Even more often, whoever has the more dangerous weapon comes out on top, and sadly, that often isn’t brainpower.
    3) Feigning credulity can fool some really intelligent people (and of course, many who are less so as well)

  79. 79
    isabel

    Lost Marbles,

    I’m glad you were amused but please don’t mention bong hits again until after my exam. I’ve never abstained so long before. Obviously it’s making me a little crazy.

    For example as soon as I woke up this morning I remembered my amazing theory and checked some sources on the web,(which incidentally contained some really lame “modern interpretations”) as I couldn’t find my bible last night. The “let there be light” line seems to definitely refer to he sun coalescence, but I’m still worried about the beasts of the sky coming before the beasts of the land, since we all know that birds evolved from dinosaurs in the Mesozoic. Of course, the prophets or whoever God was dictating all this to were probably totally confused, and rolling their eyes over these wackaloon stories and may have introduced some sort of bias,* followed by the poetic license of all the centuries of scribes, as they didn’t understand evolution back then and could not have known how important the order of events were when it came to the living creatures. One additional nice correlation between the two accounts – God cursing the serpent and forcing it to move on the ground on it’s belly – in other words it used to have legs. As we all know has been confirmed by scientific evidence!

    * I once read that the Grimm brothers changed all the evil men to evil women in the traditional stories they collected. Bastards!

  80. 80
    anonymous atheist

    Daisy – one cult looks pretty much the same as the next to me. Just cos your chosen religion might have more members, doesnt make it any less creepy, messed up, or cult-like. It’s hypocritical for you to look down on one cult but then moan when us cultless types look down on yours.

  81. 81
    neurolover

    “The problem is that without stupidity and credulity, evil would find no purchase in the world.”

    Hey, I’m an athiest, but I certainly don’t believe this — that all evil is caused by stupidity and credulity. It is a common liberal fallacy to attribute all evil to ignorance. Sometimes, people do bad things to other people, even though they are not ignorant. Sometimes.

  82. 82
    neurolover

    “It is a common liberal fallacy to attribute all evil to ignorance.”

    We do it because we, like Anne Frank, “in spite of everything [we] still believe that people are really good at heart.””

  83. 83
    LostMarbles

    Isabel,

    Have you ever considered that since God is the perfect old man in the sky, he might also be perfectly senile. The whole order of beasts could have been a mistake on his part.

  84. 84
    isabel

    Good point LM, but I don’t think God ages, so why would he go senile? But I guess anybody could mix something up that happened half a billion years ago. But I tend to think it was the people writing all this down, or commiting it to memorywhich is obviously riskier….probably God went on and on about the cambrian explosion and the age of trilobites and the dinosaurs and the saber tooth tigers and they were like WTF? and just scribbled down a garbled, shortened version about the sea monsters (obviously pleisiosaurs)and the birds…who knows?

    Though it would be awesome if God did get old and die and get reborn as a baby God regularly because maybe then we would find a fossil God which would satisfy you scientific types;-)

    Or would it????

  85. 85
    DaisyDeadhead

    Daisy – one cult looks pretty much the same as the next to me. Just cos your chosen religion might have more members, doesnt make it any less creepy, messed up, or cult-like. It’s hypocritical for you to look down on one cult but then moan when us cultless types look down on yours.

    Anonymous, I don’t fundamentally disagree with you. I nearly joined the Kerista cult myself. I found it too bizarre and tyrannical. Far more than conventional religion. (It was actually like joining a RELIGIOUS ORDER rather than simply a religion–they knew and judged everything you were doing, day and night, even dictating that everybody sleep with everybody else.)

    My point is, this means one of the following must be true:

    1) Barefoot Bum was always an atheist (as he seems to suggest) and was lying THEN about his beliefs. Jud Presmont, Keristan-religion prophet, ruled the cult with an iron fist and demanded agreement, banishing/shunning those who didn’t. Therefore, we may conclude that BB simply joined to get the group-marriage benefit… which means his high-minded moral philosophical self can be purchased for nookie (not that there’s anything wrong with that)… so he has his price, too, doesn’t he?

    As I said, and this proves: People join religions for all kinds of reasons. Yes, even sex.

    2) Barefoot Bum really DID believe in the Kerista goddess, since he DID participate in the required rituals. And now, he is ashamed to admit it, since he presents himself as this big, high-and-mighty “rationalist”. Instead, he might use his experience during this period in his life to develop empathy for those who also believe, and cut the derision and superiority-routine. (After all, he was a believer once also, yes?) He might want to explore some of the psychological reasons he found belief useful back then. He might gain some insight.

    On the other hand…nah.

    As it is, we see only arrogance, lack of self-awareness, and rank hypocrisy.

    THAT is my point here, in bringing up his background… that he is NOW subjecting to severe historical revisionism and cover-up due to embarrassment.

    He ain’t learned a damn thing from his own life, and that is tragic in anyone, regardless of what they (do or don’t) believe.

  86. 86
    Isabel

    scratch that last comment – we’ll never find a fossil god because the cloudy environment would not be conducive to fossilization. Like the rain forest here on earth – 8 million years and not a single Chimpanzee fossil…and with Satan living in the fiery depths, where presumably the earth is molten, or partially so (since there seem to be constant flames) we aren’t likely to find any devil fossils either.

  87. 87
    Reality is Religion

    Just putting up with my Saturday night hangover…..boy that was good, hanging around with multitude of people talking about “happiness in 2011″…some french buddies couldn’t handle the “last order” very well and just muttered on ” my bonheur in 2011″?….

    I don’t remember what I thought or said last night but today – late afternoon- I’ll be going to a religious service. I think we will be chanting, feeling forgiveness, thinking, wishing, advancing potential ways to make a difference and, most likely, experiencing the beauty of the universe with many others… known and unknown…

    That Reality is part of my Religion and I will celebrate it today.

  1. 88
    Uncommon Priors » The first brave act of Obama’s administration.

    [...] (by which we mean “superstition,” or, in Comrade Physioprof’s wonderful words, wackaloon religious sky-fairy fantasy shit) to providing medical treatment that their jobs obligate them to provide to their fellow human [...]

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