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Arts and Culture

Anthony Kenny on ‘Atheist Delusions’

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Posted on May 13, 2010
book cover

By Anthony Kenny

This review originally appeared in The TLS, whose website is www.the-tls.co.uk, and is reposted with permission.

In the ongoing suit of Secularism vs God, David Bentley Hart is the most able counsel for the defence in recent years. Though confident in the strength of his case, he does not hesitate to abuse the plaintiff’s attorneys, and he does so in grand style. Richard Dawkins is guilty of “rhetorical recklessness”. Christopher Hitchens’s text “careens drunkenly across the pages” of a book “that raises the wild non sequitur almost to the level of a dialectical method”. Daniel Dennett’s theses are “sustained by classifications that are entirely arbitrary and fortified by arguments that any attentive reader should notice are wholly circular”.

Hart [in his book “Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies”] has the gifts of a good advocate. He writes with clarity and force, and he drives his points home again and again. He exposes his opponents’ errors of fact or logic with ruthless precision. He is generous in making concessions on his own side, provided they leave intact his overarching claims. Above all, he has ensured that his brief is modest and manageable.

Thus, no attempt is made to plead in defence of religion as such. “Religion in the abstract”, Hart says, “does not actually exist, and almost no one (apart from politicians) would profess any allegiance to it”. This is a sound and fundamental point. The creeds of the major religions are mutually contradictory, so that the one thing we know for certain about religion is that if any religion is true then most religions are false. Hart’s client is not religion in general—it is traditional Christianity. It is this, he claims, that has been misunderstood and slandered by its cultured despisers.

Again, Hart concentrates on issues of history rather than philosophy. True, he claims that Dawkins’s philosophical arguments are ones that “a college freshman midway through his first logic course could dismantle in a trice”. However, the claim that Dawkins is philosophically illiterate is based on an ontology that would be rejected by many a seasoned professor of philosophy. Hart’s own strengths lie elsewhere, so he is wise to concentrate on narrative and invective.

 

book cover

 

Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies

 

By David Bentley Hart

  

Yale University Press, 272 pages

 

Buy the book

The aim of the first half of the book is to demolish “the mythology of a secularist age”. Secularists invite us to believe the following story. In the medieval ages of faith, culture stagnated, science languished, wars of religion were routinely waged, witches were burned by inquisitors, and Western humanity was enslaved to superstition. The literary remains of antiquity had been consigned to the flames, and the achievements of Greek science lay forgotten until Islam restored them to the West. The age of faith was succeeded by an age of reason and enlightenment, which gave us the riches of scientific achievement and political liberty, and a new and revolutionary sense of human dignity. The modern separation of Church and State has put an end to the blood-steeped intolerance of religion. Western humanity has at last left its nonage and attained to its majority in science, politics and ethics. “This is”, Hart says, “a simple and enchanting tale ... its sole defect is that it happens to be false in every identifiable detail.” Six chapters demolish detailed elements of this secularist myth. Chapter Four refutes the allegations that the ancient library of Alexandria was destroyed by Christians and that the pagan philosopher Hypatia was murdered out of hatred for women and learning. Chapter Five shows that far from burning Classical texts, Christian monastic librarians preserved them from decay. Chapter Six argues that Greek science had become sterile long before the Christianization of the Roman Empire. The only innovative physicist of late antiquity, we are told, was the Christian John Philoponus. During the four and a half centuries of its scientific pre-eminence, Islam made “no more progress than a moderately clever undergraduate today could assimilate in less than a single academic year”. Paying tribute to the Oxford calculators of the fourteenth century, Hart illustrates the continuity between medieval and Renaissance science. Pope Urban VIII’s condemnation of Galileo, he claims, was not an index of inherent ecclesiastical hostility to science, but a clash of arrogant personalities.

The seventh and eighth chapters defend Christianity from the charges of intolerance and cruelty. The persecution of witches, Hart points out, was an early modern rather than a medieval phenomenon, and the inquisitors of the time did their best to suppress witchhunts.

To see long excerpts from “Atheist Delusions,” click here.

The rise of modern science and the obsession with sorcery “were two closely allied manifestations of the development of a new post-Christian sense of human mastery over the world”. In exculpation of the use of torture and the burning of heretics, it can be said that the Church was merely following a fashion which was originated by the State. During the so-called Dark Ages, the only penalty for misbelief was excommunication, whereas in the heyday of the Holy Roman Empire heresy became a capital crime. “Violence”, Hart says, “increased in proportion to the degree of sovereignty claimed by the state, and whenever the medieval church surrendered moral authority to secular power, injustice and cruelty flourished.”

Addressing the responsibility of the Church for warfare, Hart briskly gets the Crusades out of the way. Admitting that they were “holy wars”—the only ones in Christian history, he maintains—he dismisses them as “the last gaudy flourish of Western barbarian culture, embellished by the winsome ceremonies of chivalry”. The European wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are treated at greater length. Here, we learn, “no prince of the time waged war against another simply on account of his faith”. In its bloodiest days the Thirty Years War was not a war of religion, but a struggle between two Catholic houses, the Bourbons and the Habsburgs. Hart is at his most convincing when he argues that for the sheer scale of its violence, the modern period trumps any of the ages of Christian faith. “The Thirty Years War, with its appalling toll of civilian casualties, was a scandal to the consciences of the nations of Europe; but midway through the twentieth century ... even liberal democracies did not scruple to bomb open cities from the air, or to use incendiary or nuclear devices to incinerate tens of thousands of civilians.”

In the second part of the book, Hart seeks to replace the secularist myth with a positive account of what he calls “the Christian revolution”—“perhaps the only true revolution in the history of the West”. Many of the values prized by modern secularists are inheritances from the early days of Christianity.

Pre-Christian cults involved human sacrifice, self-castration and self-mutilation. PreChristian society despised the poor and weak and tolerated infanticide; it enjoyed gladiatorial combat, and it was built on slavery.

Only Christianity fostered the concept of a dignity intrinsic to every human soul. Only the Church built hospitals and almshouses, and taught that charity was the highest virtue.


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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm Link to this comment

oops, wrong forum.  That’s what sleepy will get you.  Sorry.
I’ll have to repost it there.  Duh.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

You must mean “John” Dewey.
 
“The political system has been hijacked the world over by the
economic system.  It’s capitalism, such as we know it, that has got
to be eradicated before the world can be set “aright.”  Capitalism is
the culprit.”

It seems like wishful thinking.  The ideological polarization between
socialism/communism on one side and capitalism on the other
inarguably dominated the 20th c.  Yet as we see today the People’s
Republic of China is the only significant power still attached to a
communist ideology, and there private property and markets are
extensive.  The diminished, nearly depleted commitment to the aims of
wholesale central planning or public ownership has certainly
undermined faith in a state socialist future.  It is obvious with the
disintegration of the eastern bloc that Stalin and Mao economics have
not survived even in the facts of more liberal, or democratic state
socialism.  We see it also in post-communist Czech Republic which is
really most curious in view of the fact that its transition was began and
accomplished in the absence of a capitalist class.  This was a unique
conversion it is true, but as examined by Gil Eyal in an article in Theory
and Society, privatization proceeded more cautiously where there was
diffuse ownership rights and only de facto managerial control in place. 
He called it a capitalism without capitalists.  An interesting development
from which much could be learned.

“In short, I don’t see any future for liberal democracies with the
economic system intact.”

It seems to me that capitalism will not be going but will have to be
restructured only because public awareness is catching up to what the
principles of economic equality and justice really means to them. 
Keynes in his general theory noted at the end “how much human
economic behavior is driven by ideas.”  I think it is safe to say that the
economic picture is for the most part a result of the beliefs, ideas, and
the abstract economic orientation of economic agents.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 22, 2010 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

Capitalism is an abstract idea not a description of historical
situations.  For all its faults, there is a “spirit” in people in
capitalist societies but not the kind as theorized by Weber
as a Protestant (religious) sense of moral duty, or a “calling,”
which accompanies the profit-seeking activities of capitalist
entrepreneurs which play a major role in rationalizing their
conduct,
but the kind of spirit that comes from the excitement
to produce things and take joy and pride in ownership of property
that is not found in socialistic/communistic societies.  I have always
been struck by the wretched general look of the people who live
under communistic states.  I highly doubt the American public can
be convinced to give up their property and right to own property.  The
problems seen in Greece and Spain and Portugal will go away and
austerity will follow but then I see a new permutation of capitalism
developing. It is what the people want, and theorists don’t want. Volya
naroda, the will of the people will prevail.

...postmodernists take a different view… Reason has failed.

Hardly reason, for without it you have only chaos.

“So yes, capitalism has got to go.”

Do you really think so?  Do you really think Smith’s “commercial
society” in which individuals can privately own property and possess the
right to use these resources or that freedom of enterprise, competition,
and a limited control by government is going to go away?

Foucault’s skeptical view that all our institutions and ideals are
historically-conditioned and tarnished, which is to say, they carry
remnants of class division and class rule.
 

This appears to be true, but it is true of all our experiences.  We learn
from birth we are in a different class than our parents and who rules,
LOL.  Seriously, I don’t think this can be argued against.  But if all of
them are so affected then we choose the best we can based on our
circumstances. It doesn’t mean we are going to throw them out with the
bath water or wipe the slate clean.  Foucault’s skeptic’s theory has what
kind of application?

Since I am only an occasional reader of economic theory, not really a
student of the science, I can only express observations culled from the
literature I’ve run across.  But like everyone else, I have a vested
interest in our future.

Also, thank you Anarcissie for the info on the odd appearance of
question marks.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

There is a scene in the novel and reproduced in the movie where Aunt Lydia (?) was teaching the new Handmaids about the recent history and the before-time-of-darkness showing all the protests from old films from the past. At one point she tells them that “freedom from is very important, don’t under rate it,” which is implicit throughout the book and movie. [Explicit also in the going back to the pre-Napoleonic use of symbols over words for signs in the new Republic of Gilead. It is an earlier time for Kate in the movie unlike the book where she had been in the Handmaids for a longer period. Of no real importance to the plot just something I have noticed.

Also the idea of limiting information and education was there but even so the Aunts had to have some education to do their duties. But they were efficient in running the Handmaid surrogate agency for the Commanders of the Faith. The rapid drop in births of whites (increase in deformities) was caused by a bio-weapon consisting of the genetically engineered version of mumps that produced sterility and had escaped during the earlier riots. [It was a Cold War weapon not used on the Soviets. It tended to affect Caucasians more than any one else due to its specificity to the Russian hierarchy. Hence their dearth of population in the 22nd century after the fall of the American Empire at an earlier date during its “later period.”]

Again I am also looking at it differently from the point of view of the former Library science protagonist. In the film she is called “Kate.” I am hoping a DVD will come out soon.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, it had already happened:  I made only a note of this
on another forum on the talk about Margaret Atwood’s writings,
and I will copy/paste the excerpt here. For it gives a strategy to
overcome the oppression.  It is not an elaborate hallucination, not
a mirage, France, March-April 1945 was when the storm trooper
Nazis occupied France.  This is from Sartre’s essay the Republic
of Silence
.  He was criticized because he had not been interred
in a camp, but he wrote it “as if” he was and that I think was his
empathetic genius.  It is too long for one post so it will be in two.

“We were never more free than during the German occupation. We had
lost all our rights, beginning with the right to talk. Every day we were
insulted to our faces and had to take it in silence. Under one pretext or
another, as workers, Jews, or political prisoners, we were deported EN
MASSE. Everywhere, on billboards, in the newspapers, on the screen, we
encountered the revolting and insipid picture of ourselves that our
oppressors wanted us to accept. And, because of all this, we were free.
Because the Nazi venom seeped even into our thoughts, every accurate
thought was a conquest. Because an all-powerful police tried to force
us to hold our tongues, every word took on the value of a declaration of
principles. Because we were hunted down, every one of our gestures
had the weight of a solemn commitment. The circumstances, atrocious
as they often were, finally made it possible for us to live, without
pretense or false shame, the hectic and impossible existence that is
known as the lot of man. Exile, captivity, and especially death (which we
usually shrink from facing at all in happier times) became for us the
habitual objects of our concern. We learned that they were neither
inevitable accidents, nor even constant and exterior dangers, but that
they must be considered as our lot itself, our destiny, the profound
source of our reality as men. At every instant we lived up to the full
sense of this commonplace little phrase: “Man is mortal!” And the
choice that each of us made of his life and of his being was an
authentic choice because it was made face to face with death, because
it could always have been expressed in these terms: “Rather death
than…” And here I am not speaking of the elite among us who were
real Resistants, but of all Frenchmen who, at every hour of the night
and day throughout four years, answered NO. But the very cruelty of the
enemy drove us to the extremities of this condition by forcing us to ask
ourselves questions that one never considers in time of peace. All those
among us – and what Frenchman was not at one time or another in this
situation who knew any details concerning the Resistance asked
themselves anxiously, “If they torture me, shall I be able to keep
silent?” Thus the basic question of liberty itself was posed, and we were
brought to the verge of the deepest knowledge that man can have of
himself. For the secret of a man is not his Oedipus complex or his
inferiority complex: it is the limit of his own liberty, his capacity for
resisting torture and death.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 20, 2010 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

The Republic of Silence – J. P. Sartre Part 2
To those who were engaged in underground activities, the
conditions of their struggle afforded a new kind of experience.
They did not fight openly like soldiers. In all circumstances they
were alone. They were hunted down in solitude, arrested in solitude.
It was completely forlorn and unbefriended that they held out against
torture, alone and naked in the presence of torturers, clean-shaven,
well-fed, and well-clothed, who laughed at their cringing flesh, and
to whom an untroubled conscience and a boundless sense of social
strength gave every appearance of being in the right. Alone. Without
a friendly hand or a word of encouragement. Yet, in the depth of their
solitude, it was the others that they were protecting, all the others, all
their comrades in the Resistance. Total responsibility in total solitude –
is this not the very definition of our liberty? This being stripped of all,
this solitude, this tremendous danger, were the same for all. For the
leaders and for their men, for those who conveyed messages without
knowing what their content was, as for those who directed the entire
Resistance, the punishment was the same – imprisonment, deportation,
death. There is no army in the world where there is such equality of
risk for the private and for the commander-in-chief. And this is why
the Resistance was a true democracy: for the soldier as for the
commander, the same danger, the same forsakenness, the same
total responsibility, the same absolute liberty within discipline. Thus,
in darkness and in blood, a Republic was established, the strongest of
Republics. Each of its citizens knew that he owed himself to all and that
he could count only on himself alone. Each of them, in complete
isolation, fulfilled his responsibility and his role in history. Each of
them, standing against the oppressors, undertook to be himself, freely
and irrevocably. And by choosing for himself in liberty, he chose the
liberty of all. This Republic without institutions, without an army,
without police, was something that at each instant every Frenchman had
to win and to affirm against Nazism. No one failed in this duty, and
now we are on the threshold of another Republic. May this Republic to
be set up in broad daylight preserve the austere virtue of that other
Republic of Silence and of Night.”

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

I of course don’t want it to happen because I would be one of those they would remove, kill or simply have unprotected clean up duty at one of the numerous superfund toxic sites to live a short painful life.

It is unfortunately a trend I see. One of several ones with the least likely one being positive. It figures prominently in my future history fictions. Influenced by Margaret Atwood and my own researches. Some of it conjecture of course. But some kind of theocratic-corporate militarist American Empire I find among the most probable to occur. As to how long it would last is unknown. But even 20 years would be too much for us and the world. I see that in the past where there was rapid climate change produced mass deaths, disease, wars and promotion of rigid concepts of governing and theology.

I don’t want it to be but in the future people like myself and you Shenonymous just may have to meet in secret and hold our tongues and hope they don’t have files on us. The internet is forever, as long as there is electricity that is. I just hope it doesn’t happen an our economy isn’t collapsed to do it. (We are still poised to fail not changing anything and doing the same things again that caused the panic if 2008.)

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, June 20, 2010 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Just as technology can be used for nefarious purposes,
Night-Gaunt, it can also be used beneficially and just as
importantly, as a neutralizer; to offset the insanity of religionism,
technology and reason must be used to say what is the truth.
However, it must be laced and held together with the kinds of words
ordinary people can understand.  Religion as it has evolved since the
17th century has turned violent, has engendered violence, and
violence is commanded in the “holy” books.  This has to be shown
over and over until it clicks in the minds of the common human being
that this is the insidious reality.  Those who intuit the truth have to
take action and begin to see evidence that the general population is
understanding that militant religion is a detestable abomination
and is essentially an anti-human mindset. 

Such cultures as you envision can only grow and flourish as long as
there is the putrid emotional food on which such horrors find a mental
home.  I will not welcome such a “new” world.  I would determine it to
be an abortion of the ugly beast it is.

The fact is that religionists must face is that there is no compromise
and that only their religion is sanctified.  That is the reality and thus
they are all in competition with one another.  There can only be one
truth.  And the higher truth is… none are the truth.

A new Dark Age, or Medievalism, is also promised if fascism in its many
guises comes to dominate the world.  The intellectual climate of
science, no doubt would terribly suffer because no longer does it rely
on geniuses who work alone such as Newton did when he retired to the
countryside to escape the raging plague (where in his solitude he was
able to invent calculus, and few other earthshaking ideas such as his
development of his law of universal gravitation (the laws of gravity for
those who don’t know what gravitation is).  If the quality of truthfulness
were to disappear completely as a virtue, which almost has happened
already, then seems we cannot avoid a Nue-Dark Age.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, June 20, 2010 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

With the growing fundamentalism in the Hebrew, Christian, Islamic and Hindu religions coupled with ardent nationalism and the glorification of war and all it entails is leading us to a new kind of Dark Age. One powered by the latest technology to support ancient ideas and totalitarian dogma. Welcome to the new world being born.

Also harshening of the climate is the hot bed by which such cultures will grow & florish but on a global scale this time.

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By Randeroid, June 19, 2010 at 6:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Dark Ages was the very flower of superstition and theocratic fascism.  Just ask Galileo and all those burned at the stake.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, May 27, 2010 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

And if you look at the detail of the other siren with the lyre she is wearing a shirt or coat over her upper half as she attempts to tempt Odyssius and his crew to their doom. The ancient Greeks had little problem with nudity in their art unlike today. That same feeling in India about art work & certainly is here with the increase in authoritarianism influenced by certain fundamentalist Christian sects.

Morality has a certain innateness in some of the larger areas like those not wanting to rape or be raped the same with murder and to a lesser extent stealing. More will agree than not. Part of it is the environment which is very important and must be remembered.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 27, 2010 at 5:47 pm Link to this comment

Actually, if you blow the picture up you can see that she has a bird’s lower body and what looks like hips on a chair is really bird’s legs under a bird’s body—like a giant pigeon with the upper half being a woman.  The pigeon’s tail is to the left and the wing is over it, and the pigeon’s breast (well below the woman’s is to the right over the bird legs that look like a chair’s legs.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 27, 2010 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

DavidZ- Joey - please visit
http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/O21.2C.html scroll down about
half way down the page, and you will see the little siren 021.2C, 
click on the image and a large image will appear and you will see
that the leg warmers are feathers.  Nothing really very sexy at all.
Do you need glasses? better ones?  Course whatever the mind wants
to see the eyes see.  The caption says castanet which are clackers and
that is not what this Siren has in her left hand. The historian’s clerk
who typed up the info was mistaken.  It is a lute, Apollo was the Greek
god of the Music. He invented the lute(a plucked string instrument with
a body shaped like a pear)  The sirens were in Apollo’s train of
subdeities.  So do you take exceeding pleasure in the idea of what you
referred to?  On the prurient side are ya?  Gad, get a life!  Even if you
are a bit on the senior side.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, May 27, 2010 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Let’s make this clear, this is my source for the original comment from Antichrist, this time with the full paragraph and again, I thank Antichrist!

Thank you Antichrist and Sir. B. Russel!

“Voltaire once stated, If we are to debate, you must first define your words.  An Atheist does not believe in the ‘possibility of a god.  Technically, he/she does not say I do not believe in god, for that assumes that there could be a god but he/she does not believe in him/her.”

It seems to me if a person refuses to believe someone cannot believe in something, that is the refuser’s problem, not the non believer?

If possible, think of Plato’s Cave in reverse if it helps!

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By DaveZx3, May 27, 2010 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Good thing I don’t much time to do anything but read all those totally untrue things you are saying about me. 

By the way, since when did sirens start wearing leg warmers? 

Sincerely,  Joe

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, May 27, 2010 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Oh my gosh, Davetimes times. I will miss you!  Havana nice
trip.  This is the one that got lost on this forum (others are
recovered on other forums!) But I really liked this one and I did say
Davey, Davey!, in response to your,“I thought it was one of
those oil on felt paintings of a topless gypsy looking in a mirror.  My
mistake. ”
  That is the same mistake made by all those unbelievers!
It is called wishful thinking.  So Dave is a pseudonym acronym?  Neato.

You continued - “So if we want to determine whether Night-Gaunt’s
Flying Spaghetti Monster exists or Inherit the Wind’s Unicorn exists, we
evaluate whatever evidence is available for its existence.  If none is
available, we cannot automatically assume none exists, but we can
establish a probability of existence nearing zero for unicorns and
spaghetti monsters.”
  Or your identical twin brother.

Ah yes, Cookie Monster, uh, that would be me!  I really am a benign
atheist.  You can ask friends.

More from you DaveZtimes3 - “I have no need to argue that
point, because the discussion is not about the existence of religion, it
is about the existence of God.  Man invents religion, and while it is
knowledge that religion exists, it is not necessarily knowledge that its
premises are true.”
  My god, your skill at analysis is quite limited.
 
The remark about religion being a closed system is not the point! 

I have not said God Does Not Exist.  I said there is nothing to justify
believing such a one exists.

I do not know what Leefeller thinks and by his cryptic remarks I
would refrain from conjecture unless I were handed a Corona.  Make
that a light please.

Now Night-Gaunt is a different matter.  N-G’s insights are most
often extraordinary and you only babble in response to him, so it
appears to me.  Your skepticism is of an exotic quality.  For you have
shown none of it on this forum.  Are you dosey doeing again?  You
have not given any information, or opinion for that matter, to equate
into a ‘probability’ of anything.  Talking with you is like talking to a
skillet.  I especially giggled at that last line.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 27, 2010 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

JUST TRUST ME, May 26 at 1:36 am #

It sometimes gets embarassing to be the center of attention, the criterion by which all else is measured. It is no wonder that ITW lashes out in femenine hysteria, it seems to follow a monthly pattern in intensity. But that is the cross the likes of me must learn to bear. early on.

Tonight I fall asleep with a smile, just remembering how many hearts that I have litted to today and how my humility set such a fine example for them all.

******************************************

So….you think women are irrational and hysterical by nature?  I guess that puts you in the Pat Robertson camp or the Muslim fundamentalist camp. 

Yeah, once a month I get grumpy—always at the end of the month.  I thought it was all the speed traps that appear so the cops can fill their monthly ticket quotas that they don’t have.  That and having to fork over $$$ for the credit card bills.

But no, thanks to “Just Trust Me” (Toot-Toot, is that you?) I’ve learned I’m a male with menstrual cycles.  Maybe I can sell my story for 20 million bucks—then I won’t be so grumpy!

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By Antichrist, May 27, 2010 at 7:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Put Faith aside for one moment.  Let’s talk about how
we come to think about reality.  I find that the
universe looks exactly the way any reasoned person
would expect it to look if there was no god.  Would a god say he was jealous of our thoughts and condemn us for being the creatures he made?  Would children be born with their spinal cords on the outside of their bodies?  Would children be still born?  Would those we cannot live without be taken at random moments that defy understanding?  If
there was a god, wouldn’t there be some revelation
available to all of its creation and not just the
jehova witnesses, mormons, jews, christians, and
muslims? God has hidden his being very well indeed. Would the universe be so chaotic and
pointless in its destruction?  Would not most matter
in the universe be overkill for any of god’s living
creations?  Would all of us end up in the mouths of some other creature.  Would love and compassion be in such
limited quantities?  How could justice and mercy be
totally lacking among us?  What little morals we have
seem eeked out by the humanity in us and not in the
pages of gibberish found in the creator’s babbling.
Logically, we are creatures of great curiosity and
love of knowledge and yet we are told by our
religions that this is bad and punishable not just in
this life but forever.  How we know these things
proves we are willing to accept things we can and do
know nothing of.  We are willing to belittle and
pretend to know these things on the crumbs of
revelations that occur in the pits of our stomachs.
How can we, with a straight face, pretend to know an
unknowable god and defend this position in his/her
name?  Us members of that elite group of persons who
did not become infected with the virus that causes
religious fervor have a special calling.  Do not
believe anything, but feel free to think many things.
Our current gods will not last through time, no more
than Zeus endured. Gods after all are on very shaky ground.  When we stop believing in them, they are done for.  I have no doubt that when these
gods are slain through knowledge and reason there
will be those who will erect another one to be our
guide through a world that has very little use for
us. Let’s hope this new god writes a better book than
the last ones did.  Let’s hope that the ten
commandments will include at least,  Love one another…its
tough going if you don’t.

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By DaveZx3, May 26, 2010 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Well, it looks like we lost a solid days worth of good posts on this thread.  I know I had three good ones that are not there anymore. 

I was hoping that Shenonymous had at least read the one that said,

“I love it when you start calling me Davey, because then I know I’m starting to touch a nerve”

By the way “DAVE” is an acronym for “DRUG AND VIOLENCE EDUCATION.”  You can call me Dave if you wish, “but my real name is Mr. Earl”

Oh, well.  Maybe we can pick it up on another thread down the road if you are still willing to put up with my admittedly off the wall opinions. 

I will be heading out for a couple of weeks, but will have the laptop, so may get to log in, time permitting.  Talk to you all later.

Sincerely,  Joe

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By Shenonymous, May 25, 2010 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

Only the ignorant, DaveZx3, would see my Truthdig personal
image as a topless avatar on a liberal website.  The image is an
ancient Greek painting of a Siren, one of the most famous
mythological creatures.  She is holding a lute that she played to
accompany her siren song.  I have Greek genes in my cellular
structure and have always enjoyed Greek mythology from the age
of 8 onward.  Only those who are excited by the sight of female
breasts would even comment out of their ignorance.  It is as if one
went to the museum and strolled through the antiquities section and
many statues of naked females and males would be seen. 

Or Bertrand Russell’s flying teapots also Night-Gaunt.  But I don’t
see anything strange about The FSM and even visit the FSM website
from time to time.  But then no one has proven that the Great Unyun,
who it is said to be the most powerful god of all time, does not exist
or that DaveZx3’s identical twin brother does not exist either. 
For more information about the GU, consult with Leefeller.

The question about faith was already discussed before
DaveZtimes3, but it is worth repeating.  Ultimately what ever is
claimed to be knowledge is unprovable and at some point belief of the
evidence must be accepted on faith that the experiments were
conducted with precision.  The only thing that is self-evident are
mathematical logical conclusions. But mathematics is a closed system,
using the logic of numbers.  When evidence is the discussion regarding
science, the concept of probability enters into the equation.  Science is
not a closed system, it is always open to revision and is always based
on an accumulation of proofs so that the probability increases with the
accumulation of the facts.  Religion is a closed system and does not
allow revision.  In religion, a revision means a schism and a departure
from one religion to another and that difference is that the perception
of god is compromised and both perceptions cannot be the truth.

No evidence ever exists for non-belief.  It is not ever by faith there is
non-belief since faith does not exist for non-belief.  There is no
accumulation of evidence since no evidence has been produced.  There
is no declaration of non-existence, there is only the declaration that no
justifiable evidence has been produced.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

DaveZx3, May 25 at 4:55 pm #

By Leefeller, May 25 at 4:13 pm #

“An Atheist does not believe
in the ‘possibility’ of a god.”

And wouldl that belief be based on any evidence or just faith?
***********************************

That’s why I’m Agnostic.  I deny FAITH is a valid form of knowledge, even negative faith.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm Link to this comment

I thought you were a man of faith DaveZx3? So the act of searching for proof negates your faith does it not?

I am aware of adduction of something based upon an absence detected. However dark matter/energy & nuetrinos fit that bill, not a god. Science does not work with absolutes, you do. It is only relevant that billions believe because they have a biological imperative to. Evolution has selected that trait as one of many most of us share that supports survival. When it ceases to be it will be relegated a minor one and not before. I am one of those that do not. Religion and morality are not synonymous.

Yes be careful of logic for if you start with a false syllogism you could end up dying at a zebra crossing.

So far I see a god concept as a 5th wheel, unnecessary to the equation of existence. You do not. That is the rub. Intelligence is irrelevant because once the choice is made, all elements of the personality comes to bear to protect it as it is questioned.

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By DaveZx3, May 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

By Leefeller, May 25 at 4:13 pm #

“An Atheist does not believe
in the ‘possibility’ of a god.”

And wouldl that belief be based on any evidence or just faith?

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By Leefeller, May 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Antichrist;

“An Atheist does not believe
in the ‘possibility’ of a god.  Technically, he/she
does not say I do not believe in god, for that
assumes that there could be a god but he/she does not
believe in him/her.”

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By DaveZx3, May 25, 2010 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

By Night-Gaunt, May 25 at 2:24 pm #

“DaveZx3 you don’t have to prove a negative. Logic 101. It is an absurdity or are you willing to prove that the Flying Spagetti Monster isn’t real? I know I don’t have to.”

You have to be careful using logic, or you will paint yourself into an illogical corner. 

I did not ask anyone to prove a negative.  (Not that it is illogical to do.)  My original statement actually was:  “You do not believe in God or unicorns.  Is your non-belief based on evidence of their non-existence?  Or is it based on the testimony of you uncle Louie?  If there is no evidence for something within the scope of your knowledge, then belief or non-belief related to it can only be based on faith”

Is it logicall that just because someone declares something non-existent, that it is actually non-existent?  I don’t think so.  There needs to be reason or evidence applied, otherwise it’s supposed non-existence must be accepted by faith alone.

So you may ask how can one provide evidence for non-existence?  It is simple, you add up all the available evidence for existence.  If it is absolutely, totally lacking any evidence, then the probability is that it does not exist.  But is that an absolute?  NO.

If there is some evidence, but not compelling, the it is more probable to exist than if no evidence existed. 

Evidence for a creator is not totally lacking.  Very intelligent men have concluded that there is great evidence for a creator. 

Principles of proof state that the burden of proof rests upon the one making the contentious statement against the general accepted norm.  Since it has been established that a great majority of mankind have had and still have a belief in a creator, by faith or not, the one making the categorical statement that there is no creator is the owner of the burden of proof.

I only ask, what is your evidence for your non-belief?  Is it by faith, or have you actually accumulated all the evidence and found it absolutely, totally lacking, enough to make a declalration that non-existence is very close to absolute? 

That is my question.  Not illogical, to my mind.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 25, 2010 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3 you don’t have to prove a negative. Logic 101. It is an absurdity or are you willing to prove that the Flying Spagetti Monster isn’t real? I know I don’t have to. http://www.goominet.com/unspeakable-vault/ for a chuckle.

There are still anomalies out there that have yet to have an explanation. As long as it is in the occult or unknown, god(s) will easily reside there. Though one wonders why so very few get this “special treatment.” The usual self serving explanation is that “it was time” but since one can’t actually know what is and isn’t “the time” it is a nonsense statement. No way to prove it.

Even if you could monitor a certain number of alternate realities to see your counter parts as their lives parallel and differ including not being born to dying at different times under different circumstances still wouldn’t exactly prove it. Though each A-line could only have a single set of quantum occurrences per eigenstate to exist.

Anthropomorphism is when you put your characteristics upon non-humans like dogs and cats.

Science is generally in the realm of epistomological and religion/spiritual/occultism is metaphysics in nature of what they seek. Though some mixing may occur with ontology.

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By DaveZx3, May 25, 2010 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, May 25 at 9:22 am #

“I understand just how threatened you must feel at my questions.”

No threat is felt at all.  I have answered every reasonable question you have posted.

You said, “I do not “need” justification per se of your god, only when you wish to press it onto me or others who have resisted the mythologies as evidence, it is then that justification is required, or you must desist.”

I have never pressed anything on to you.  I post my opinion, and it is distasteful to the atheist, so they ask a lot of idiotic questions asking for proof and make attempts to discredit my opinion.  My answers are not meant as anything but to try to clarify my posted opinion, not to proselytize.  You are free to completely disregard my opinions if they are offensive to you.  Freedom runs both ways.  I can post, you can ignore.  Where is the pressure?  Perhaps it is you who are threatened by this invisible pressure. 

You said, “There are countless of “miraculous” cures and repairs.  Taken as a whole it would seem to
be indeed miraculous, but examined closely each one would have an explanation.”

Can that statement be backed up with evidence, or do you make it by faith?  The little girl I spoke of has been examined in great detail and no explanation could be found.  This is one of dozens of similar “no explanation” cases I have dug up, where I actually had the opportunity to contact the people and discuss it.  So what is the basis for your statement that all have an explanation?  Is it unreasonable to ask for your evidence for such a generalized statement? 

It has been written, “seek and you shall find”.  I have found that to be true.  But you cannot do your seeking in the books of intellectuals, as they have their agendas.  You must look into the common peoples eyes and listen to their stories.  Yes, I have looked into the eyes of the goat herders of South America. 

The “Damascus road” can happen to anyone at anytime.  They do not write books as a rule.  Most great spiritual movement is at the lowest levels, as it is weritten it would be.  You have to go out and find them. 

As I have said, I have my proof.  It is ironclad, and not susceptible to the words of skeptics.  It has been that way for over 25 years now, without budging.  So how can an intellectual schoolmarm with a topless avatar on a liberal website be of any possible threat to me?  You are dreaming, certainly. 

But just in case I have erred somewhere, I hereby promise never to proselytize, but to post my opinion only, and answer only sincere pertinent questions to the best of my ability.  I trust you will not see this as pressuring you, as you do have the right to ignore. 

I do this as a means to keep my mind active, among other things which involve a lot of traveling to strange places, which are, honestly, a hell of a lot more interesting and fun.  I am very fortunate to be able to fly with absolutely no expense due to my son’s position as a captain at Continental. 

This TD type of stuff is more something to do when you are between real stuff but don’t want to fall asleep on the couch.  I suppose you would rather that I played with crossword puzzles.

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By Shenonymous, May 25, 2010 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

Not much time this a.m. but DaveZx3, I understand just how
threatened you must feel at my questions.  There is no reading
assignment just a few suggestions.  I do not “need” justification
per se of your god, only when you wish to press it onto me or others
who have resisted the mythologies as evidence, it is then that
justification is required, or you must desist.  For whatever your god
means to you, thus is what it means.  I do not deny you your beliefs,
I would champion that you have that right to believe as you will. 
I would even defend it to the death!  No doubt belief in a supernatural
being has provided the mental strength for many to withstand the
vicissitudes of life.  Many Jews went to their death singing hymns.  What
does that have to do with belief in a god or gods?  There are countless
of “miraculous” cures and repairs.  Taken as a whole it would seem to
be indeed miraculous, but examined closely each one would have an
explanation.  Mankind has not yet matured and still cause much pain
and suffering. That will diminish over time.  How much time?  An
unknown, just as is your identical twin brother.

I have to go right now but I would be back should you wish to continue
conversation.

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By DaveZx3, May 25, 2010 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, May 24 at 11:11 pm #

“Then DaveZx3, those millions who have felt the power of “it,” will have to give some justifiable evidence that they did.  Again you are mistaken.  There is no compunction for non belief in what is claimed to exist.  You have not answered my question if you had an identical twin?  The only covenant with truth is for the claimant to show there is justifiable reason to believe.  Justifiable reason to believe all that is required and you will make believers of all atheists”

Justifiable evidence for one is not justifiable evidence for another.  If one requires repeatable scientific proof, one is out of luck, because God is apparently not a slot machine, where you puts your penny in and your bubblegum comes out every time.  This is what drives men crazy about God.  Man wants control, but God will not comply, so man invents his own gods, according to his own desires, and calls it religion.  But the gods of religion have no real power, so men must take action on their own. 

But some run into the Creator, the God with power, and it changes their lives.  If you were to talk to a young family from northern Maine, whose 5 year old daughter was sent home to die of leukemia with less than a month to live, but somehow received spontaneous remission after a weeks long prayer vigill was held outside her house by a small group from the local church, you would see a family with justifiable evidence.  Them and thousands like them are true documented stories.  They are the evidence you really do not desire to see.  You must seek them out and talk to them.  Look into their eyes and their lives and see that they have no reason to lie about their story.  The MSM does not cover their stories, and they rarely seek publicity, soyou have to go out and find them.  They are in every part of the world.  God knows no boundaries, and he is not constrained by false religions.  He does what he does for the reasons he has, and no one can fathom it. 

In fairness to these people, I must say that some, if not most, who meet in small churches to pray and worship the Creator are not members of the powerless, man-motivated and man-directed religions of the world.  They are common folks who have had justificable evidence laid in their lap, and it changed their lives.  But there is no distinction made by the outsider, because it is convenient for the atheist to judge God based on the acts of the worlds man-made religions. 

I received all the justifiable evidence that I need, if not a thousand times more.  But if you really want evidence, quit bothering me about it, because the second hand evidence of one is obviously questionable.  Go out and get your own evidence.  You will not find scientific evidence, because God transcends science.  But there are other types of evidence which are compelling for those who still have a heart and an open mind. 

But for the man, woman or other, whose agenda is to have control, and to elevate man above god, no amount of evidence is sufficient.  You decide which you are. 

I don’t accept reading assignments or frivolous questions regarding my relatives.  But if there is a reason you want to know about my relatives, I would be happy to entertain it.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 24, 2010 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Night Watch:

I cannot be responsible for your dearth of familiarity with the precise versus idiomatic nature of our language.  I suggest “Webste’s Dictioary”.

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By Shenonymous, May 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

Sorry Night Watch, no hotmail account and I don’t want one. 
Your message is unclickable.  You might have to tell us in your own
words what the right equipment might be, sweet or not.

Then DaveZx3, those millions who have felt the power of “it,”
will have to give some justifiable evidence that they did.  Again you
are mistaken.  There is no compunction for non belief in what is
claimed to exist.  You have not answered my question if you had
an identical twin?  The only covenant with truth is for the claimant
to show there is justifiable reason to believe.  Justifiable reason to
believe all that is required and you will make believers of all atheists.

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By DaveZx3, May 24, 2010 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

By Night-Gaunt, May 24 at 2:25 pm #

“Ah Shenonymous, now you are getting the “treatment” from DaveZx3. I have done so in the past. However there is a threshold you will not pass. At a certain point his rather nebulous belief system will not coalesce into anything I could perceive so you will be left without sufficient data to continue. It could change or you would be able to discern it where I could not. We shall see.”

I do recall that debate we had a few months ago Night-Gaunt.  Your frustration with me was that I would never provide the evidence for my “knowledge” of the existence of God.  At least you were secure enough to be ready to hear the evidence, and I think I detected a sincere desire on your part to hear some reasonable evidence.  You do seem to be an open-minded individual.

That said, evidence and proof are what everyone wants.  I don’t blame them.  If proof of God’s existence or non-existence could be made, it would change the whole world overnight. 

You and I, and everyone else for that matter, easily understand that anything I could say regarding my personal experience would not suffice as evidence to suit anyone.  I would just set myself up for ten times more ridicule than I get for saying the things that I do say, which are not usually on the same wavelength as the as those who tout the wisdom dujour.  So I defer, for my own sake.  Not out of insecurity, or fear, but out of a belief that I owe no one a target.  Especially those who insist, out of ignorance, that of the five legitimate types of evidence, the only acceptable evidence is “scientific evidence”. 

When I think my “evidence” would make a difference in someone’s life, then I share my experience without hesitation.  But really, what do I owe the person who is just looking for another reason to call me a fool?

Epistemologically speaking, (google it) knowledge can only exist where truth and belief overlap.  If I said I had belief, I would be safe, but I say I have knowledge, which irritates the hell out of most, understandably because I am tying in truth, which you describe as my “nebulous belief system”

By Shenonymous, May 24 at 1:05 pm #

“It does not make any sense to say there is evidence for non-belief.”  “Funny you cannot see how ridiculous that is.”  “Conjecture is not knowledge.”

But I will maintain that it is not about evidence for non-belief, but evidence to support a belief that something does not exist, when literally millions state that they have felt the power of it.

According to reason, there needs to be some level of evidence to support a belief that something exists, and some level of evidence to support a belief that something does not exist, except in the case where it is virtually impossible to exist, or it is universally accepted that it does not exist. 

So I could ask again, what is your evidence to support your belief that God does not exist, or do you contend that it is impossible for God to exist?  It is reasonable to ask that, and I see nothing at all funny or ridiculous about it.

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By Shenonymous, May 24, 2010 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

I think what you are referring to Night-Gaunt is the tendency
to move toward and to reside in order.  The two forces in the
universe that seem to be opposites, and seems to exist even at the
very local level of one’s own thinking, are entropy and order. And all
movement in the universe at whatever level of existence is the
interaction between those two poles. 

What I always found most interesting is that an entropic condition
when found in a closed system expands to a maximum degree then
stops at the limit transmuting into a new order.  So that, at the end of
the day, there is only order, but unless put under laboratory
conditions, humans do not perceive this dance of the universe and all
things. The tendency to disorder is my biggest struggle and why I force
myself to, at the least, proceed with orderly thinking and why I hold
high esteem for logic and the scientific view of reality. 

You have keen insight into our brethren DaveZtimes3.  He and I
have had our ‘tango’ several times too.  I know the drill.  But I could not
resist taking an apache throw-out this time. 

Your premise about not being born equally seems to be upheld by our
historical experience, regardless of the altruistic notion that we are all
created equal.  Some philosophers would say there are not even such
things as the inalienable right the right to live let along to be a human
being!  For where is it written or codified in any way except on the very
edge in Darwin, that living things have a right to life.  That there is the
struggle to live, but an unimaginable number of things die before
taking even so much a “breath.”  Your criticism of the subjective is
unassailable.  Whatever the Scientific Creationists say otherwise is
essentially without substance.  One cannot “bend” science.  Scientific
facts are what they are.  More information may come along that would
nullify a previous conclusion but it doesn’t nullify the previous fact.  It
merely says there was more to be learned. It is human limitation that
makes the mistakes.  The Christian point of view is not totally unlike
any religious point of view.  Only in the details do they have differences
and those minor differences are what they would go to war about
killing hundreds of millions of people the name of their god.  It is
madness. 

I have also intuited the insight you have had about the human mind
seeking patterns and I believe it is one of the major ways Darwin’s
conclusions about natural selection works.  Making comparisons is one
of the crucial ways an organism has to decide to take a next step or to
refrain in order to promote its survival. 

I also agree with you that once a concept has been adopted, whether
one is a scientist or not, it is a very difficult move to change a view of
the world if it is based on that concept.  And only a smashing blow
from a new idea might cause a change.  It really is called, rightly, a
conservative tendency of the survival impulse.  It is hard to overcome
and only earth shaking insight and enlightenment can do the trick, and
sometimes tricks are required in order to fool the mind into a more
critical way of thinking about what is presented to experience.  Such is
the Buddhist endeavor, to shock the budding buddhist into thinking
beyond the ego.  Freud’s psychoanalysis did the same thing in a much
different way, confrontation though is the way of both disciplines. 

Yes it is Yin/Yang and without seeing that, one is up the wazoo!  It is
my belief that is where DaveZtimes3 is wading.  But he is not
alone, the River Wazoo is crowded.

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By Leefeller, May 24, 2010 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Boy, Dave really doesn’t like to get sucked into these kinds of things, but sucks away with abandon.  TD emulates ground hog day, especially for those as long of tooth as myself.

Glad to see you back Night Guant.

Dave reminds me of a bird attacking the mirror on my pick up truck, when it is all over there is bird shit on the side of my truck! Nothing personal Dave, I just happen to agree with Night Guaint and have already heard you platitudinous of Dave belief more than enough. Of course not religious evangelizing nor proselytizing, which I find as evangelizing and proselytizing and unorganized religious also. One can hardly wait for the great quotes from the book of babel!

Check out the Clash link folks, even Dave may enjoy it! (Of course I am trying to save myself from watching paint dry)!

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By Inherit The Wind, May 24, 2010 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Dave,
Your idea that the invisible must be accepted on faith is, well, easily disproven.

I don’t accept unicorns because I’ve never seen one nor have I seen evidence of their existence.

But I’ve never seen UV rays either (and neither have you) but I have NO problem accepting their existence.  There is lots of evidence, starting with sunburn and suntans, and the fact that vultures’ heads are virtually free of feathers to the UV rays of the sun can disinfect their little heads.

It is the need to anthropomorphise the natural processes of the universe into a godhead that I cannot accept.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 24, 2010 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

Ah Shenonymous, now you are getting the “treatment” from DaveZx3. I have done so in the past. However there is a threshold you will not pass. At a certain point his rather nebulous belief system will not coalesce into anything I could perceive so you will be left without sufficient data to continue. It could change or you would be able to discern it where I could not. We shall see.

We are not “born equally” in anything but our in situ rights as human beings to under the law. Now if it would just be practiced as such we would be much closer to the ideals of the Bill of Rights. Even if most of our founders did not and would not do so themselves.

Now in the Bible we are told that “God’s works are all around us” and that is the proof so-to-speak. But being entirely subjective in that it isn’t really proof. Especially as our knowledge expands and the unknown retreats and so does god(s) too. But the “Scientific” Creationists are there to say otherwise. By taking science and bending it to their will they filter it through their Christian point-of-view and say that “god is in everything and this shows why.” It helps them that they are pre-conceptualists. That is they have what they want in mind before the move to find data that supports it!

The strength and weakness of the human mind is exampled right there. We are born to see patterns and this is one way it works. You could have a PhD in physics and still be a believe because that belief threshold was pass and all you mental energies would be directed to support that point-of-view. A natural way our mind work.

It is only when you at a point of imprint vunerability is when you can change your mind. Otherwise the harder you are pressed the more forceful you will defend your position. Again natural fits in with the neuro science I am aware of.

Just as there is entropy at work so it is an anti-entropy in action. A Yin/Yang kind of operation.

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By Leefeller, May 24, 2010 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

Clash I found your link interesting and feel it would be a fun topic to discuss. Stimulation of this thread could be found in Craig Venter creates synthetic life form.

My experience dealing with GMO’s from a small organic farmer end of the stick, was an experience. We won the battle, but the war is not over.  It is my opinion GMO s though interesting should not be dumped into the environment in the name of profits.  I suppose this will be what is going to happening with the synthetic life form, unknowns to me and to those who would promote them, but capitalism must feed its lust for profits. God, nope, just greed!

Why do I find myself recalling the move named the “Blob

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By Shenonymous, May 24, 2010 at 9:05 am Link to this comment

Good morning Dave Xtimes3,
It does not make any sense to say there is evidence for non-belief. 
For wouldn’t one then have to say what is believable about what is
nonexistent?  Funny you cannot see how ridiculous that is.  What
kind of evidence could there be for a thing that is beyond the scope
of knowledge?  Conjecture is not knowledge. 

I do believe, though, DaveZx3, from reading many of your
comments on TD forums, that you sincerely believe in what you say. 
As I read your comments,  it seems you think that everyone should
believe exactly as you do and that you cannot integrate different points
of view very well or take them up as food for discussion.  It is remindful
of the patronistic habit many people have.  That is why my comments
usually contain elements of humor in the hope that some of my
different points of view could be considered. 

Havana nice day.

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By DaveZx3, May 24, 2010 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

By Leefeller, May 23 at 10:32 am #

“Dave, are you the same Dave who got bitten by a duck and said it was really a goose?  And I said ducks cannot bite because they do not have teeth?”

No, Leefeller, I am one of the other Daves.  This user ID is “DaveZX3”.  The X3 should be self-explanatory.

You may have been referring to Dave #2, as he was the one bitten by the goose, or maybe it was a duck, we can’t remember.

I personally know that geese and ducks can inflict real damage, but geese are the worst by far.

Here is a little excerpt from the website:  http://therealowner.com/exotic-unusual/geese-make-good-watch-dogs/#ixzz0orMG4DHb

“Geese are quite capable of taking care of a flock of fowl, both water and land fowl, due to the fact that their serrated bills are nasty when used to full extent. I have personally witnessed what damage a goose can do with that bill, they can bite clear through a galvanized metal bucket. But these same geese are gentle as lambs when you feed them from your hand. They know exactly how hard they can bite before you will feel pain. Generally speaking, when an angry goose bites you, you will have an instant bruise or blood blister, but they seldom break the skin.”

Anyway, glad I could answer your question,  Have a nice day.

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By DaveZx3, May 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, May 23 at 3:35 pm #

“Now you do know DaveZx3 that I do not have to prove a nothingness”.

I did not ask you to prove a nothingness.  My statement actually was:  “You do not believe in God or unicorns?  Is your non-belief based on evidence of their non-existence?  Or is it based on the testimony of you uncle Louie?  If there is no evidence for something within the scope of your knowledge, then belief or non-belief related to it can only be based on faith” 

Scientific proof is not what is being discussed here.  A person has an experience, and you ask for proof. Under what context do I owe you any proof of any of my life experiences?  Secure people have no need to provide proof. 

You said, “You know that testimony merely of one eye-witness would not be sufficient to convict anyone.  It has been proven even with several eye-witnesses that each witness hold a different view of “what happened.”

Please work on your reading comprehension.  My actual statement was,  “Though the jury did not have personal evidence of the crime, they can take the testimony of eye-witnesses (by faith) to be evidence sufficient to convict, even of capital crimes” 

I did not state any specific number of eye witness, let alone one, nor did I state the jury was oblligated to accept the testimony.

You said, “you make a categorical mistake to assume that what happens at the particle level of existence, is what happens once the particles get together to create a mind,”

You make a categorical mistake to state that it is particles that get together to create a mind.  A brain maybe, but a mind, no. 

I am what I am, and consciousness is my evidence.  Electromagnetic brain activity is scientifically measurable, but the mind is still a mystery.

You said, “I defy you to show how you perceive even the third dimension.  Your wife does not experience you as three-dimension, at any one moment all she perceives is a two dimensional visual picture” 

I asked my wife again, and she assured me that I was 3 dimensional. 

My actual original statement was, “My wife experiences my existence as three-dimensional, but only once a week as of late.  I would think it would be an entirely different experience if I could only offer two dimensions” 

The cubists had a lot of problems, not the least of which was that they were three dimensional squares.  I don’t lose any sleep worrying about the problems of the cubists. 

(continued)

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By DaveZx3, May 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Page -2-

You said, “Furthermore, you are unable to prove that time exists as a moving existent” 

Did I say anything about time existing as a moving existent?  I only qouted “slick” who said that time was an illusion and that the present, future, and past all existed simultaneously.  I personally stated that a three dimensional creature is incapable of perceiving time correctly, and perceives it incrementally, one frame at a time, rather than as a continuum, as it actually exists.
This may be especially hard for a schoolmarm to conceptualize.  Sorry, I have no extensive dissertations in me tonight. 

You are right about one thing, if time goes, so goes space.  The creation of matter simultaneously created space and time, so they are all interdependent.  Matter, being merely modulation of a constant energy field, when the big switch goes to the off position, everything stops dead in its tracks, and matter simply ceases to exist, taking with it space and time, which are without
definition in the absence of matter.  Lucky for us the so-called unified field is an indefinitely renewable energy source, totally unrelated to quantum interactions. 

Are you ready to accept the “mind” as a multi-dimensional, collective, non-corporeal entity?  If the brain is the CPU and hard drive, then the mind is the operating system, programmed in, but not inherent, and not requiring physical energy as a basis for communications.  Is anyone saying this stuff in a book yet?  Some of the most interesting research goes on in secrecy, because governments think it can used in the execution of their devious agendas.  You can’t get the really good stuff from books. 

I don’t mind having a discussion, but this is a god-awful way to carry on a serious debate.  The time lag makes you forget where you were.  Of course, being long of tooth is no help either.  And please try to remember that I am not your student, and I do not accept reading assignments.

Sorry, I can’t seem to complete my posts within one page.

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By Shenonymous, May 23, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3, you write a very long soliloquy and complain when
I take your speech to be your version of the truth?  If you think I
oneupped you, then possibly I have.  You certainly don’t think you
provided any words of enlightenment do you?  If so, then you
wouldn’t mind showing where, right?

Enlightening?  Me?  No, I was not intending to enlighten as you
seemed to be.  Correct me if I misunderstood what you said, then
show me where I did. 

Now you do know DaveZx3 that I do not have to prove a nothingness. 
You are the one making the allegation that certain things exist.  But
you are unable to show it.  I have no Uncle Louie, but I know someone
who does.  May I use his?  Non-belief has no relation to faith.  Where
did you get that it does?  It is obvious you have no inkling about
scientific proof and it is useless to try once again to explain it.  It is
also possible that you have an identical twin.  Do you?

Let’s take your analogy of the jury and testimony.  How many juries
have you sat on, now be truthful.  You know that testimony merely of
one eye-witness would not be sufficient to convict anyone.  It has been
proven even with several eye-witnesses that each witness hold a
different view of “what happened.”  Eye-witnesses are discredited
regularly. 

With respect to Albert, you make a categorical mistake to assume that
what happens at the particle level of existence, is what happens once
the particles get together to create a mind, for instance.  Or since we
cannot see the mind, it is theorized by some philosophers that it too
does not exist in the way a physical body does.  We can start with
Thomas Hobbes and move on to George Berkeley, Bishop Berkeley as
he is also known as also denied the existence of a material world. 
William James is another denier of the existence of “a mind” as well as
David Hume.  B. F. Skinner, behaviorist denied the existence of mental
events altogether.  But that is enough for you to get started on.  And I
defy you to prove you have one, a mind that is.  What is your
justification.  It ought to be the same kind of justification you have for
the existence of a god. 

I already gave the space/time continuum as a dimension so you have
not added anything.  I defy you to show how you perceive even the
third dimension.  Your wife does not experience you as three-
dimension, at any one moment all she perceives is a two dimensional
visual picture. If she thinks you are three-dimensional she would have
to check it out.  That is precisely the problem the Cubists were
expressing. 

Furthermore, you are unable to prove that time exists as a moving
existent.  You only imagine a past and anticipate a future.  The only
thing you ever experience is a present and that is also very fleeting
since it passes into the invisible past quite rapidly.  Since space is a
quality that would need measured somehow, if time goes so goes
space.  You really have to bone up on perception.  I suggest that you
get yourself a few books on the Philosophy of Mind and learn about
reality, both objective and subjective.  I don’t mind having a discussion
DaveZx3, as you and I have had several and I don’t recall that
much ill-will.  Much of my polemic response to your dogmatic
comments carried some humor to it.  Surely you saw that?  Wasn’t that
the force behind Leefeller’s comments as well?  I don’t know for sure,
we shall have to ask him.  I will stipulate that I have.

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By Clash, May 23, 2010 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

Not an opinion nor a statement just something to stimulate this thread.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may/20/craig-venter-synthetic-life-form Seems somewhat relevant to what is being discussed.

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By DaveZx3, May 23, 2010 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

Page -1-

Shenonymous, 

Do you have to reply to every tongue-in-cheek comment with a whole paragraph consisting of nothing but your unique brand of oneupsmanship?  I hope
your comment was not intended to be enlightening. Your quote: “Moses may have looked like a Jew because all the semitic people, Jews and Arabs alike,...blah, blah, blah” is a little patronizing.  I don’t think we need the uber-intellectual schoolmarm to lecture us on the obvious and easily obtainable genealogy of Moses. 

You do not believe in God or unicorns?  Is your non-belief based on evidence of their non-existence?  Or is it based on the testimony of you uncle Louie?  If there is no evidence for something within the scope of your knowledge, then belief or non-belief
related to it can only be based on faith.  It can be based on faith in uncle Louie, if you really trust him, but faith, nontheless. 

There is no other basis.  Belief or faith does not constitute anything except an assumption based on limited or zero evidence.  It is theoretically possible that a unicorn may have existed at one time, you cannot know, based even on some prehistoric drawing on a cave wall somewhere.  Anything you may surmise, pro or con, about unicorns or God is by faith alone due to a complete lack of
evidence on your part. 

Though the jury did not have personal evidence of the crime, they can take the testimony of eye-witnesses (by faith) to be evidence sufficient to convict, even of capital crimes.  Faith is not completely empty.  And truth is not distrbuted uniformly throughout society.  What I may know, you can accept or reject based on faith.  Atheism is based on faith, and it is organized to some extent. 

Please brush up on the concept of “linear” and the three dimensions of the material world.  When discussing linear time, I am referring to the “time line,” that theoretical single line (not omnidirectional) that usually proceeds from left to right, from zero to infinity.   

Quoting now, “Albert Einstein concluded in his later years that the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously. In 1952, in his book Relativity, in discussing Minkowski’s Space World interpretation of his theory of relativity, Einstein writes:  “Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence.”

(continued)

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By DaveZx3, May 23, 2010 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

Page -2-

In a two dimensional (flatlanders) construct, you cannot perceive the third dimension, and in a three dimensional construct you cannot perceive the fourth dimensiion.  This does not mean that it does not exist in the here-and-now.  Proof or faith.  Are you going to believe Einstein and Hawking or your lying eyes? 

Quoting you, “We only experience existence as two-dimensional, the x,y dimension” 

Did you just dream that up?  My wife experiences my existence as three-dimensional, but only once a week as of late.  I would think it would be an entirely different experience if I could only offer two dimensions. 

Regarding the wheel, I was referring to taking the time line and connecting the zero to the infinity, forming a circle. In this way, the concept of seeing the whole line all at once can be visualized, rather than looking at each event separately.  It is symbolic of taking the linear time line and converting it to a form more representative of all of nature, the idea that all is cylic in nature, and
not linear.  I did not invent the concept, but have seen it in various texts.  Maybe I confused you by adding the spokes, symbolizing events. 

The perception that time consists of discreete events occuring in a linear fashion is all that the three dimensional brain can conceive of.  Lacking evidence otherwise, we accept linear time by faith.  Lacking any idea of the source of gravity, we still have faith that when we wake up in the morning, we will not float off like some helium baloon. 

As I have said on many occasions, I am not a religionist, belonging to or practicing no religion.  You can experience God without belonging to a religion.  What religion did Noah belong to?  God does not belong to any religon. 

When man can do all the things God was “reputed” to have done, the Atheist will have nothing to say.  If it is even hypotetical that man’s technology, advancing at the exponential rate that it is, could duplicate the acts of God, then the Atheist already has nothing to say, but is just to ignorant to know it. 

50 years before Apollo, most men were still shitting in outhouses and riding in horse buggies, even in America.  What will a few scant milleniums of evolution bring if we can keep the lid on it?  The concept of a creator is not as abstract anymore, and is certainly more rational than the absurd faith in the idea that nothing turned nothing into something.  Now that is FAITH!  Scientific faith, I suppose, since it is based on experiential probability, not absolute knowledge.  But faith is faith.  When the day comes that you know it, it ceases to be faith, doesn’t it? 

Does everyone get to know everything at the same time?  Not really.  Is it possible that someone might know something that you don’t know?  Absolutely. 

When I download all my experiences to Wiki, then you can Google it and accept it by faith, as you do everything else that you Google.

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By Shenonymous, May 23, 2010 at 7:20 am Link to this comment

DaveZx3 - M’thinks you are a bit confuze-ed.  Atheists do
not have faith, they are without faith, they are without belief, they
are without god, a-theism means, without theism, without belief in
god(s), any gods, singular or plural.  As an atheist, I have no desire
to “lure” anyone into anything, I am an alurist, without luringness.
What is to see of a god anyway, if the god is invisible?  To “see” god
is to see the invisible which would be either careening drunk or a
flying figgy superman who has x-ray vision.  I don’t ‘believe’ in
unicorns either and I have not ever seen one.  I am a-unicornalistic.  I
do not have to wait for some religionist to make a stupid comment,
they make them regularly and make huge targets for nasty atheists.
They do not need any help.  But all atheists are not alike, they are
without likeness or a-likenessists.  Why would anyone believe in
atheists?  That sounds stupid.  I do not know any atheist who wishes
to be believed in. 

In a thousand years, if men can do everything God was reputed to have
done, then something is amiss (without miss) with that alleged God,
that he didn’t stop mere human attainment of godhood!  Ahs mean,
why would an all powerful god want that kind of competition, which
would be mighty mojo stuff that mere men were able to figure out the
secret of life (could mankind have eaten of the tree of life instead of
the tree of morality?  I would think so given your future scenario.  And
Davey, do you think ants argue at all such that they can be used as a
comparison? 

If anyone thinks they have experienced the ‘power’ of God it would be
like those who think they experienced extraterrestrials, uh…aliens. 
Quackery?  5 Yups. 

What can be “known?”  No, not very little… Nothing! Nothing can be
known.  Religious faith is one thing that is belief without any
justification.  But scientific faith is based on an accumulation of
experiences, not just one.  Scientific faith is based on experiential
probability, not absolute knowledge.  Science is open to revision,
religion and religious faith are not.

Not only is time linear, it is unidirectional.  We only experience
existence as two-dimensional, the x,y dimension.  We infer the z
dimension, the third dimension and the space/time continuum.  Now
do you think snails intuit the 3rd dimension, or only follow a line of
least resistance in two dimensions? I am not aware that snails have a
sense of time, but I do think they sense space, linear space, which is
somewhat of a contradiction.  But then so what?  Maybe they
experience linear spaces of time?

Some lunatics are more sane than those walking around outside of
asylums.  Is that what you are saying?  You also seem to be saying that
all that happens past, present, and future, happens all at one time.  If
so, how do you know the difference between the three? Does one ever
know then that they are in the present, the past or the future?  Sitting
at hubs of wheels can be very dangerous should the wheel start rolling. 
When looking at a wheel that has spokes that is not moving, each
spoke is seen individually, and you can turn your attention to the entire
wheel but the spokes are still perceived as being there.  It is when it
starts moving that the spokes seem to blur out of existence, is that not
right?  What happens to the spokes when the wheel is turning?  Ask
Bishop Berkeley.

Moses may have looked like a Jew because all the semitic people, Jews
and Arabs alike, including the Egyptians all have the same coloring and
relative size.  Ain’t no blondies there, ‘lessen they be albino.

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By Leefeller, May 23, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Dave, are you the same Dave who got bitten by a duck and
said it was really a goose? 

What Duck?

And I said ducks cannot bite because they do not have
teeth?

The same Dave who proselytized his beliefs ad nausea,
holding his propertied personal delusions in front of
everyone, posting many biased or unbiased quotes from the
bible on these very TD threads and said he was not
religious? Now the same Dave is saying he dost not like
to be sucked into these kinds of threads but sucks
anyway?

How Dave hates leading in saying one hates to do what
they are about to do, but closing his eyes and doing it
anyway,........ oh yes, it must be the same Dave!

Hi Dave, sorry for the “not necessarily literate
comments.” Zingers never cease!

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By DaveZx3, May 23, 2010 at 4:37 am Link to this comment

I try not to get sucked into these god/religion threads, because listening to atheists opine about religion is about one tenth as interesting as listening to Tiger Woods talk about his family life.

This one caught my eye though, because it had the word “delusion” in the title, and I thought they were talking about the “strong delusion” of 2TH2.

No such luck, so I should probably take a nap.  Too rainy to do anything constructive. 

Before I go, I should probably stick a few zingers in, just to rile up the TD natives, who apparently clamor for these god/religion types of threads, why, I will never know.  But if you notice, these are the types of threads that usually garner the most comments, though not necessarily literate comments.

I think atheists need constant reinforcement of their faith in the idea that God does not exist because they have never seen him.  Or, they just want to lure a few wary religionists to make a stupid comment so they can have some target practice.

Why do people identify themselves as A-theists?  There are websites and organizations devoted to the A-theist religion. It must be a religion or why would it concern itself with theism?  Maybe it is anti-theism, the religion of the anti-christ, disguising itself.  I am an A-atheist.  I do not believe in atheists.

Now they have come up with an artificial cell, so-called.  In 1000 years when men can do everything that God was reputed to have done, what will atheists do then?  Maybe man will create a universe and then go away and leave the natives to create a TruthDig and argue for years whether the universe was created by MAN or not.

The constant argument over whether God exists is absurd.  It has about as much legitimacy as a couple of ants in the backyard arguing about who created the big house on the hill. 

Those who have experienced the power of God believe in God.  Those who have not, do not, but for some reason keep asking for the others to prove what they believe. 

Many, many who have not experienced the power of God, pretend to believe in God for the sake of the cultural or social need to belong.  Many who say they believe in God do all the things that God says not to do.  Religions are full of every type of quack and some legitimates, but I think many who have experienced God, shy away from organized religions, and from commenting on their experience. 

What can really be known for sure?  Very little.  We take most of what we hear on faith.  Most of history is just someones agenda about how things should have happened to make his agenda legitimate.  All questionable, and so what. 

Time is not linear, but a dimensional illusion, which cannot be correctly perceived by the three dimensional creature anymore than Sagan’s flatlanders could perceive the 3 dimensional.  So what does that make history?  Stories dreamt up by lunatics?

That which has happened is happening, and that which is to happen is happening.  When sitting at the hub of a wheel, you do not have to perceive each spoke individually, you can see the whole thing as one.  Prophesy is not telling the future, prophesy is seeing everything. 

By the way, I like the comment that Moses was not a Jew.  So what, he looked like a Jew, so they asked him for his papers anyway.

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By Shenonymous, May 21, 2010 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Oh, Great Unyun, Leefeller, you retain the crown.  As your
student, I meant no disrespect for the height of your humor.  I
shall repent… by having a beer in your honor! “Gutless is
I feel sure happy to be second banannnnnna in the TD comedy
department.  God only knows we need both of you!  Is there a god
that knows? Oh my gawd!  I’m off to relate with nature!  No rain
today means outdoors stuff can be done.  School is over for a few
days.  Yayyyyy!  The bulls are out!  AWA I’ll be back.

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By Leefeller, May 21, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

I thought this was supposed to be a serious thread, so I
was sitting back humbly crowshaping a doily!

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By Night-Gaunt, May 21, 2010 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

“G"utless “W"itless Hitler I am not known for being a jolly person, melancholic fits better, but that was funny! Thank you for the levity along with LeeFella‘s contributions over time for that. Much appreciated.

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By Shenonymous, May 21, 2010 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

“G"utless “W"itless Hitler that is hilarious.  Mercy mercy me. 
You are a very funny man. I, for one, appreciate your humor.
Did I once say there was little to no humor on Truthdig?  You prove
me wrong.  Thank you.

Here’s is one that really is a metaphor for what you said.
http://uk.video.yahoo.com/watch/5667214
Flip Flop
This could easily be the only rap song I could really get put into
my iPod.  A laugh riot.

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, May 21, 2010 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

This reminds me of the case of fugitive auteur Ski Pole Romanski.  Christians claim that he’s an atheist, reasoning that none but a stranger to God could do such vile things to Shirley Temple.  Atheists, on the other hand, claim that his criminal perversions are a clear sign that he’s a man of faith. They cite as evidence the well-documented and longstanding tradition of child molestation in Catholic Church, as well as the fact that a significantly greater percentage of people in prison self identify as religious than do non-criminals.

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By Inherit The Wind, May 20, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

I learned so much here.

I learned Moses was not a Jew.

I learned that “amen” is the name of Ra, the Sun God.

And I always thought it was the Hebrew phrase for: “So Be It” and is pronounced “ah-MAIN”, rather than “AH-men” as is done in English.

I’ve seen a lot of debate about what is and is not a religion.  To me, if you accept something on faith, if you are SUPPOSED to accept it on faith,b it’s a religion.

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By Shenonymous, May 19, 2010 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Atheism is not a religion; it is the antithesis of religion.  It is a
complete intentional misunderstanding that the atheist position
has anything to do with religion. 

There is a spectrum, a range as it were, from the position of non-
believers to believers in a god.  Using the lower case form of god is
on purpose out of respect as there are various religions that call their
god by different names and have different conceptions, some even
more than one god. 

Using a scale of strong to weak, the strongest atheists plain and simple
say there is no evidence of an interacting supernatural being and they
“know” this with the same degree of conviction as those who strongly
believe there is a god.  Then there are atheists who say they cannot
“know” for certain, but that there is a god is very improbable and they
live their life on the assumption that there is none. 

The next group could be called agnostic with a tendency towards
atheism, that say they do not know whether a god exists but they tend
to think not.  Their belief is based on based on knowledge. Since
knowledge is always provisional, it is argued that there is neither proof
nor disproof of the existence of god(s).  Next are what are called, for
lack of a better term, the 50 per centers, or totally impartial agnostics,
who say existence and non-existence of a god are exactly equally
probable.  Also there are agnostics who have a higher quotient of
uncertainty, and tend to believe in a god. 

Among the theists are those that are considered theists who hedges
just a tad and holds the weak caveat that they cannot know for certain
but strongly believes in a god and lives their lives as if there were. 
Finally, you have the strongest theists who says they ‘know’ there is a
god, somehow. 

Regardless of what is believed, the burden of proof is always on those
who claim the existence of something.  Those who are complete
skeptics have nothing to prove by virtue of the concept of nothing,
there is nothing there to prove. 

Everything else is mumbo jumbo.  This and that fantastical explanation
divulges a mental aberration in an attempt to explain what is really
unexplainable in any cogent way.

Whether or not Moses was a Jew is really unimportant.  That he is
believed to be is what is important to Judaism and that he led the Jews
out of Egypt back to their former home country Canaan of the Sinai
desert.  This is also disputed not only by non-Jews but by Jews
themselves who have a huge faction within Judaism that searches for
truth of their origins. 

Since I am not a Jew, nor anything except a rationalist freethinker, with
absolutely no interest in organization of any kind to be sure, it doesn’t
matter to me what anyone believes.  Just so no one tries to force me to
believe anything that does not sit well with my thinking.

Reference:copy/paste entire webaddress into a browser:
http://plato.stanford.edu/search/searcher.py?
query=Belief+or+nonbelief+in+the+existence+of+god

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By berniem, May 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

If some flesh and blood person(Saul/Paul) hadn’t concocted the jesus myth I’m afraid Mr. Hart would be just another savant without a GEE-WHIZ trick. I am a non-believer who is not deluded. I’ve been fortunate in my life not to have been force fed superstition from infancy and have routinely confronted the unknown with the honest admission that “I don’t know”; but confident that a provable solution can and eventually will be found unless mankind in his/her exalted arrogance and stupidity destroys itself in the name of some diety or another. Listen Mr. Hart; your jesus of christian fame didn’t invent compassion, humanity, or any of those other positive traits attributed to him. Yes, barbarism existed long before his alleged arrival and continued apace throughout his earthly existence into the world we have today. Perhaps, like yourself, he was a master of lip service; but,hey, talk’s cheap! Show me the money,or in this case, the diety!

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By Eugenio Costa, May 19, 2010 at 3:48 am Link to this comment

Was Moses a Jew?

Probably not. The name is Egyptian and the story of the bulrushes is exactly the same as that told about Sargon of Akkad many centuries earlier.

This story seems to have been a literary device to cover a leader whose origins were either lowly or unknown, because sprung from another tribe.

Was Moses a monotheist.

Probably not—the references fit henotheism, not monotheism.

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By Leefeller, May 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Very enlightening posts and I will observe with humility thank you all!

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By omygodnotagain, May 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous/ Citizen Why
thank you for your thoughtful comments. First to address atrocities, I think it would be fair to say the industrialized killings of the 20th Century, from the concentration camps, gulags, killing fields, to the Battle of Stalingrad, Verdun, the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of a scale of murder and killing never seen the like of before in human history. They had nothing to do with religion.  Religion practiced in the abstract is meant to be a remedial to the worst excesses of human nature. Religion ultimately is about the people we could be. Unfortunately, the power of religion to capture people’s imagination leaves it open to abuse. Dealing with Judaism, the concept that God is some super hero that will smote all Israel’s enemies is the work of priests trying to justify why they are being so oppressed by the Empires around them. Why wasn’t their God as strong as the next tribes over. It is worth noting that many of the prophets were killed for criticizing the authorities. Their message was you are to be a light to the nations. Jews have been a light to the nations when to give modern examples they are more like say Hannah Arendt trying to enlighten, rather than like Rabbi Kahane narrow, nationalistic and violent. The same can be said for Christianity, it grew in popularity in the Roman Empire because Christians stayed in towns during epidemics to care for the sick, they fail when they become like Crusaders. Religion was supposed to replace tribalism. Prior to Napoleon, and this can be seen in works like Othello (the Moor), people were identified by their religion. Unfortunately tribalism enters religion. The question for atheists is; given the propensity for evil with or without religion what is the restraining forces that
can keep our destructive natures at bay with a Divine imperative. Reason will not do it. If it did the mass slaughter of World War 1, or the Killing Fields of Cambodia would not have happened. Also this is an observation not a reasoned conclusion people have to have a framework of some sort of belief even if its in science in order to make sense of life.
Citizen Why I would argue that true religion is not static it does change, less so with Islam and Orthodox Judaism because they are both based on the notion that one can change human behavior by legal fiat. In contrast true Christianity trys to change human behavior by seeking to change people’s hearts. The famous hymn “Amazing Grace” was written by a former slave trader called John Newman who changed his ways.  “Amazing Grace how sweet it is to save a wretch like me, I was lost but now am found, was blind but now can see”
And there are other examples why was Capital Punishment acceptable to the Catholic Church until the 20th Century, it now opposes, as the movie Dead man Walking tells. Why? because before it was believed to be a detterent to prevent others killing, but when studies showed Capital Punishment did not affect the murder rate, it was no longer acceptable.
Sorry to be so long winded

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By samosamo, May 18, 2010 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

****************


By Shenonymous, May 18 at 2:35 am
““I have to say, that I am surprised at your indignant expectation
that deism should have previously captured a place on this
forum.  It doesn’t seem to have much of a place in American
society.  It also seems, with no insolence intended here on my
part, that you might explain the deist position more cogently
and coherently if your intent is to proselytize it to others to take
up as a personal acceptance instead of complaining that it is
ignored as a valid third position.  Unless of course deism can be
expressed in one or two sentences.  Then if you would give
those to the forum, the participants could then give them
due consideration to further explore if found intriguing.”“
**************************

Gee, I thought the definition I provided said it as succinctly as
could be said, sorry if you can’t comprehend that definition.
What you perceive as indignation is just a realization I had after
reading so many comments and meaning nothing more that
being deist, and actually atheist either, that all the complicated
BS of gnosis is not an encumberment for the former two. So if
you ‘demand’ an explanation more entailed and detailed, you
will have to worry with that, or just go out and marvel at nature
in what spare time this world allows you.

Oh, I see. I just checked my comment and see the world ‘hell’
interjected as emphasis and I do regret and apologize for doing
so.

And I will direct you or any others who would be interested
about a deist and that is to read Thomas Paines’ works, ‘Biblical
Blasphemy’, ‘Age of Reason’, ’ An Essay on Dreams’, Examination
of the Prophecies’ ‘Common Sense’, ‘Rights of Man’ and other
works by him. He was close friends of Thomas Jefferson, George
Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and other
of the founders of this country and I am sure he influenced
these people in their cobbling together the beginning of the
U.S.A.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 18, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

I see religion, or any philosophy as a frame work from which human thoughts and actions hang. Buddhism isn’t a religion because there is no worship, it is a philosophy of life but shorn of any other aspects of religion. So one could be a Buddhist and Christian if you wanted to. For Deists I could be one an it wouldn’t change my Atheism at all. At least concerning science and living day to day anyway. Just from what I have seen the most aggressive version of Christianity in our country is one that has more in common with the active violent types such as in the past. A Crusader/Inquisition kind of atavistic version. Not too different from the same type that sprung up in Italy, Germany, Spain and a few other countries including this one in the 1920’s-1930’s. Or the Islamic variant today and the Dominionism in this country now among the very rich and those who think they can be too. [Note the attempted coup in 1934.]

Again it all boils down to the human factor. It is from what all else we create flows and religion is definitely created by us for us as a biological need.

The majority of the people need to believe in some kind of world beyond this one, that fits into the context of neatly ordered right/wrong where the bad guys are always punished and the good are always rewarded. Just like in the cartoons they saw as children. Wish fulfillment.

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By CitizenWhy, May 18, 2010 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

To omygodnotagain

Your point confuses me. How is the fact that science is open to self-correction
exonerate or mitigate religion’s absoluteness, its refusal to correct itself and
intelligently discard erroneous and often noxious ideas and actions?

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By Antichrist, May 18, 2010 at 7:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Voltaire once stated, If we are to debate, you must
first define your words.  An Atheist does not believe
in the ‘possibility’ of a god.  Technically, he/she
does not say I do not believe in god, for that
assumes that there could be a god but he/she does not
believe in him/her.  All other positions including
deism asserts a supernatural being as a creator of
the universe. A deist has the most troubling of all supernatural beings.  One who created this mess of a life and now stands back and refuses any assistance to relieve the pain and death he created.  Is there a heaven to reward this suffering and injustice in the deism view?  Deism is not a neutral stance of
agnosticism.  Even the agnostic, as She has so
eloquently stated can be an atheist or theist, but in
the end must take a stance to say he/she believes in
a god or does not believe in a god.  I contend that
the deists such as Voltaire and Paine and Jefferson
were the Atheists of their day.  The virus that
infects the mind at an early age, was supercharged
during the Enlightenment and to all who inherited its
stagnant vile incarnation, this was as close as one
would dare to say ‘there is not a possibility of a god’.  Instead they were left to say, “There could not have been a
desert god but there must have been a god that did
not have a religion that somehow started the whole
show in motion.”  Dear deist, your work is all ahead
of you.  Because you imply to have a revelation that was given
to you by this deist, I am left to believe it
entirely true that you believe this.  If you discovered this deist by other means, please illuminate my understanding.  I actually have no doubt that this
dictator of creation revealed him/herself to you.  I
am curious why you and not me?  Did you earn this
priviledged correspondence or did it show up
unexpectedly?  Why didn’t I get the memo?  Why didn’t
the Chinese—1.6 billion and counting—not get the
revelation?  Why didn’t the 20 million Atheists in
the United States, give or take a few, not get the
memo? The buddist missed out once again. Deism is not
the resting place you desire… somewhere between
Atheists and theists.  Deists have a god and have no
evidence except internal feelings and they fall into
the theists soup.  Atheists, simply do not see the
way to accept the possibility that you might be on to
something.  Bertrand Russel…l said that he was as
sure that religion did harm as he was that it was
untrue.  I can live with that dear Bertand, and thank
you.

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By Shenonymous, May 18, 2010 at 6:43 am Link to this comment

omygodnotagain - Yes, definitely up to a point, and science if
we could say that it speaks, would say that itself.  There is no way to
prove anything absolutely, we are not expansive enough, not
omnipotent, not omniscient, but science accumulates files of data that
says the probability is very high that what we know so far is as true as
we can gather at the moment.  Religion on the other hand insists on
dogmatic belief, there is no debate.

And I believe you are right again, religions are “an explanation of
reality, and often the “evils” done are not by the religions but by
human,” but they are mythologically-based extending back to primitive
cultures.  It is humans that commit the atrocities because religion is
not an active entity but is a conceptual existent.  It is what is called a
mass noun, a word that covers an amorphous plethora of human
involvement in worship of deities. 

But what we are talking about here are the atrocities committed in the
name of particular religions, by humans of course, and that goes
without saying.  Religion is a tool of humankind and while it is inert as
a generalization, in the particular there are interpretations of the holy
scripts of religions that men use as authority to commit their atrocities.

Is there, then, something inherent in religion that lends itself
psychologically to incite violence?  Don’t we have to look at each
religion closely to see what is there?  Not being selective for only the
“good” parts?

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By "G"utless "W"itless Hitler, May 18, 2010 at 5:43 am Link to this comment

artietexas said:

“Nice review. I am glad to see Mr. Scheer and TruthDig finally giving equal time to believing opposition. Personally, I have always found atheism to be the most childish of superstitions: “I cannot see God. Therefore, He does not exist.” Seriously?”

You tell ‘em, Artie.  We Texicans got to stick together.  It makes much more sense to say “I cannot see God; therefore, He DOES exist.”  And besides, who the hell can’t see God anyway?  He’s everywhere I look.  He’s there in the blowed-up baby meat stuck to a wall in Baghdad.  He’s there in an innocent child’s terminal brain tumor.  He’s there in the pimples I pop on my ass.  In all these wonderful things I see God’s loving face.  Yessiree, you are RIGHT!!!  Atheists ARE fools, for they lack the wisdom to say this:  “My mind will never be able to apprehend God’s inscrutable design but I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that His inscrutable design exists.  For who but God could so completely erase the evidence of Himself?”

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By omygodnotagain, May 18, 2010 at 3:41 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous
“It would seem that all theological claims are suspicious because unlike
science, claims about the nature of God cannot be tested, cannot in any way be dealt with rationally.”

This is true up to a point, but science is contingent too. Newton’s Laws of Motion worked very well until they were inadequte to explain certain macro and micro physical phenonmena elucidated by Einstein and others. There is more to life than rationality. How does one rationalize intuition?
In this discussion about religion and atheism there are misunderstood and misstated positions. The first is one is religion has caused all this misery, intolerance, held back man from developing into something greater. Not true, religions are an explaination of reality, and often the “evils” done are not by the religions but by humans. Human nature, greed, fear, violence, selfishness. There is no religion that promotes this.  On the other side there is this need to formalize religion with ‘rules” that does not accept that “belief” has a contingency too. Atheists should be respected because they wish to live life according to what they can verify. Belief in a Divine Being, a God is a poetic expression of something that cannot be defined easily and rigidly by rules and provenby theorems, but is based on a “sense or intuition” there is more to life than what my experience and observations show.  This is why fundamentalist, whatever their religion are the most harmful, most bankrupt of all believers, because they seek to put in a box something that is inexpressible in its true nature, an approximation made into hard and fast rules. Where religion has made a very positive impact is in restraining the excesses of human nature with the thought that a person’s behavior does carry price, if not in this life then in the next. Without this restraint how does one control the powerful from all kinds of horrendous behavior. Who was able to stop Stalin and the murder of 30 million people, as an atheist he died with a clear conscience, there was no payment for misery and death he wrought.

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By Leefeller, May 18, 2010 at 2:24 am Link to this comment

Deism compared to theism seems to be an interesting topic, so it would be individuals of deism comparing to individuals of theism, instead of individuals of Atheism comparing to the tax free decadent temples of religion?

Possibly Religion compared to deism would be in the following of the money, unless a Deist happens to write a book.

One needs to make a case for others to respond. An interesting concept if the world only had deists and theists, possibly the Inquisition may never have been? Thomas Jefferson was a Deist so he is being stricken from the Texas history books or is there another reason?

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By Shenonymous, May 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

Nothing happened to it.  It seems samosamo, the deist view
of existential belief was merely waiting for you to show up.  And
you certainly are freely entitled to whatever belief you choose.  I
have to say, that I am surprised at your indignant expectation that
deism should have previously captured a place on this forum.  It
doesn’t seem to have much of a place in American society.  It also
seems, with no insolence intended here on my part, that you might
explain the deist position more cogently and coherently if your intent
is to proselytize it to others to take up as a personal acceptance instead
of complaining that it is ignored as a valid third position.  Unless of
course deism can be expressed in one or two sentences.  Then if you
would give those to the forum, the participants could then give them
due consideration to further explore if found intriguing.

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By samosamo, May 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment

****************


It seems to me, and it does appear to be all too obvious, is that
this has turned into some kind of football match with only 2
sides on the playing field which seems to leave any other
options or ideas out of the arena. Only the gnostics or atheists.
What ever in the hell happened to deist? That is my ‘belief’
because just use the senses to see, hear, feel, smell, touch and
experience sex. All of these are built into all life in some form or
another. I have NO problem admitting that I believe there is/was
a creator of this universe, but as definitions say:

****
deism |?d?iz?m|
noun
belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a
creator who does not intervene in the universe. The term is used
chiefly of an intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th
centuries that accepted the existence of a creator on the basis of
reason but rejected belief in a supernatural deity who interacts
with humankind. Compare with theism .
****
This is as beautiful as it gets to me. If what we sense dictates
reality then why would some old man be flitting around still
tweaking things trying to make sure everything is functioning as
HE/SHE wants it? Or why worry with trying to claim a
nonexistence when it is only possible that what the whole
cosmos is, had to have come from somewhere, indicating a
creator.

And why is it that everything functions as it should when the
‘organized religions, governments and corporate country clubs’
are not a part of the mix? I believe the earliest of man and
indigenous peoples prove that in non-over-proliferating
societies or tribes, the system functions as it was created to
function very well, thank you very much.

I know it works great because I am not burdened by having to
live by someone else’s standards or approval and I can use my
abilities, such that are left to me at this age, to do what I must
and what I like which IS my belief in living, no matter how much
a certain group of misfits and miscreants who choose to break
from the tribes to rule the tribes and try to fuck it up.

But that IS a problem because where living in a world where it is
everyone’s responsibility to survive, provide and defend one’s
self, those misfits and miscreants create the situations where it
is harder to survive, provide and defend one’s self but they
uniquely retain the ability to rob, steal, harm, disrupt and kill for
their ends which will always happen when the species is allowed
to grow to unsustainable sizes.

Thus, I feel no matter what, belief is a part, it just comes down
to how responsibly one uses that belief.

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By Leefeller, May 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm Link to this comment

One should credit AC past and present if the same Ac, for the Bertrand Russell thank you!

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By Shenonymous, May 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

As noted by Antichrist, there appears to be an inordinate even a
spooked need among the religious faithful to counterbalance the
extraordinary popularity atheism has taken these days and to, with
intense passion, criticize the new atheists who are taking its offensive
to the reading and media watching public both electronically and in
traditional paper.  Haught’s book God and the New Atheism…
falls right in goose step with the latest response by believers, Christian
believers (but would apply to any religion really) with the flood of
retaliatory books that have come on the scene, among which are The
Delusion of Disbelief, The Dawkins Delusion,
and The Irrational
Atheist.
  As a theologian, it is not surprising that Haught, who also
is a scientist, attempts to show why this latest incarnation of atheism in
the words of the new atheists does not hit its target of criticizing both
the belief in a god, but also the religions that go along with such
beliefs.

For Haught to bemoan several times in his 130-page book that these
new atheists are “unchallenging theologically,” that their theories are
rife with “breezy overgeneralization,” and who also “leave out nearly all
that theologians emphasize in their discussion of God” is made on little
or no rational grounds in his defense of faith.
 
The new atheists’ literature is meant to fill a gap.  It is to provide to
those average believers who do not have much in the way of details or
sophistication of the philosophical and historical literature about the
subject of god and religion. The criticism by Haught of the new atheists
ambitiously aims at views held primarily by ordinary believers, not at
the few theologians who might be liberal in their views.

From the website Religious Tolerance.org, one study about evolution
and creationism reveals that about half of Americans (45-55%) currently
think that humans were created in their present form (and therefore
deny evolution).  Other polls conducted by the same group that looked
at trends in American beliefs showed more remarkable results: 41%
think that the Bible is completely accurate, 56% believe that Satan really
seduced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, 58% think that a person cannot
be moral unless he believes in God, and 75% believe that Jesus was
born of a virgin.  In the “liberal” country of the Netherlands, 42% of all
church members (or 14% of the total population) believe that Adam and
Eve existed in fact.

It would seem that all theological claims are suspicious because unlike
science, claims about the nature of God cannot be tested, cannot in any
way be dealt with rationally.  There is no clear criteria among the
theologians who hold diverse views that can arbitrate theological
disputes.  It is difficult to imagine any firm ground on which Haught
can reject particular statements and yet accept others as virtually true. 
Even theologians do not agree on this crucial point.  One must wonder
why Haught does not even mention it? 

Indeed, I curtsy to Bertrand Russell as well.

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By Leefeller, May 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

One must never forget “thank you”, Bertrand Arthur William Russel!

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By Antichrist, May 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am teased into the debate by the very concept of
someone defending the indefensible.  Atheists have
only recently gained their footing in public debate
and it is directly because of the writings of Dennett
and Dawkins and Hitchens and Onfray and Smith and
Harris and Russell.  Christians have held the floor
for two thousand years and for most of that time they
have spread fear and loathing to all of mankind that
cared to listen.
These Atheists have drawn out the ire of apologists
such as Hart and other persons who in a former time
would have had no problem sending such apostates to
the racks.  The rewriting of history must contain
some elements of truth and should not exclude the
possibility that it is wishful thinking.  The
emphasis should be on first demonstrating that there
ever was a jesus.  If there was, it would not in the
least demonstrate that he was a son of a god.  But
before I get to the son is a mythological entity, it
is only fair that there should be some mention of the
possibility of there being a god(s).  To assume that
the “new atheists” are out of line for attacking
imaginary characters, borders on lunacy.  Who cares
what christianity stands for and what jesus said and
meant if there was no such person (son of god(s))to
base a religion on?  What need is there to suggest
how good christians were and are if it is based on
illusory sensations invented by ignorant,
superstitious goat herders?  If christians are good
and their works are good, it is because they are
human and not because there is an imaginary spirit in
the sky directing them.  Now, to narrow down our
pursuit of jesus as real or imagined, it is only
necessary to make a decision as to whether there is
the possibility of a god or not.  It is hard to
imagine the contradictions of stated reasons to think
there might be a god.  If there was a god, how would
any human being be in a position to verify such?  The
creator of all of our creation stories seem to be
fond of publishing the most savage, contradictory,
stories of how he/she did it.  Talk about a first
year student being able to undo such gibberish?  The
christians have their god(s) making the universe and
telling someone, we don’t know who, all about it.  It
never dawns on the followers of this abuse of
literature to ask why it took 6 days and he/she had
to rest.  Also, I think we owe the devil a heap of
praise for us all being here.  If he/she hadn’t
tempted eve to eat of the tree of knowledge, adam and
eve would have never been forced to have children and
would have sentenced the world to two people.  Let’s
have a moment for the devil…thank you. 
Christianity rests upon the concept that the weak and
sick of mind and dumbest among us are prime targets. 
We are cursed by our maker for wanting to have
knowledge.  We are cursed for not knowing the rules
of the road because adam and eve did not have the ten
commandments and did not have the bible and were as
ignorant as the god(s) who made them.  Can any case
be made for a god(s) or jesus or mahammed or any
cargo god(s) to bring us salvation?  We find us here
on this small speck of the universe and we are all
each other has.  Do something with the time we have
besides scourring on the floor begging for safe
passage to the next world.  Kurt Vonnegut said we
just didn’t like it here and I would like to think he
was wrong.  I outright reject christianity and have
some serious questions concerning scientology. 
People who are offended by questioning the sanity of
religious persons are permitted not to participate in
life here on the planet earth.  You are dismissed.

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By omygodnotagain, May 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm Link to this comment

nemonemini
“The rise of the modern world began with the Protestant Reformation, a religious revolution, so the reference to ‘Christianity’ is misleading”

I would agree with that except
The modern world began with monotheism, when the Jewish religion was globalized. Islam is seen as a heresy of Christianity in that it sought a non-Jewish based monotheistic solution.

The Protestant Reformation made modern Capitalism possible, its Old Testament ethos that God rewarded “good” people (remember Job was questioned what had he done wrong to have his wealth and family taken away), call it the prosperity gospel. It emphasised individual responsibility, was basically Anglo in character which was good because it brought in Pre Reformation facets like English Common Law being innocent until proved guilty. Whether it can continue in an increasingly interwined world of relationships and communities is another matter.

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By artietexas, May 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nice review. I am glad to see Mr. Scheer and TruthDig finally giving equal time to believing opposition. Personally, I have always found atheism to be the most childish of superstitions: “I cannot see God. Therefore, He does not exist.” Seriously?

artietexas

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By nemesis2010, May 17, 2010 at 10:48 am Link to this comment

By Toot_toot, May 15 at 8:29 pm


”Two blatant flaws in your reasoning jump out at me:
  1.Religion is not a living breathing entity.
  2.Islam is worse than Christiantiy.

But the worse failure in your argument is the rigid, strictly literal interpretation of the written word. In fact, your words show no room for interpretation, it is utter authoratarian thinking, “The law is the law.” A most simplistic and downright childish understanding”.

A massive fail on toot_toot’s part and probably due to having his/her head too far up his/her horse’s patoot.

Religion is a concept devised by human beings. A concept cannot—by definition—be a living, breathing entity. Even a religious “institution”—like government or any other institution—is not a living, breathing entity. Human beings function as agents of and within the framework of those institutions carrying out whatever objectives the set of beliefs system, values, principles, etc. require.

Far from having presented a “rigid, strictly literal interpretation of the written word” or otherwise, I have clearly stated that interpretation is completely open to any individual, group, sect, etc. There’s a reason there are, reportedly, 22,000 to 38,000 Christian sects, denominations, groups, etc. Try looking up the word schismatic.

I did not say that “Islam is worse than Christianity.” Most 5th graders, even in dumbed-down AmeriCorp, have sufficient reading comprehension skills to understand that what was stated. Reiteration:”The more enlightenment-influenced a society, the less rigid the mythological (religious) belief system.” The comparison was between two very different worlds, each dominated by one of the so-called big 3 monotheistic religions. The heavily enlightenment-influenced West is much less rigid in its religious practices, values, etc. than the much less enlightened Muslim world.

That said, there is no comparison between Islam and Christianity by what we see today. Christianity has been bitch-slapped into a far less prominent state than it once enjoyed due to enlightenment. Islam has yet to have passed that… what shall we label it?...  “purification process”

If you don’t believe this we can easily test the theory. You can go to any public place in one of AmeriCorp’s metropolitan centers, accompanied by an attractive and scantily clad young female dumb enough to participate. Once there begin kissing her passionately for about 5 minutes. Once this is done come back and tell us of your experience. You and the young lady will then proceed to Saudi Arabia… no better yet… Pakistan, where she will don the same scant clothing that she wore here in the U.S., if the two of you manage to make it out of the hotel lobby you will then walk to the town square, should you actually arrive at the town square alive, begin kissing passionately for about 5 minutes or until the rocks start to pelt you or you realize your limbs are being ripped from the rest of your body. Should you and the young lady survive this experience you can bribe a guard to allow you a few minutes of Internet access on the head jailer’s computer to inform us of your experience and tell us all about your new BFF in whatever Pakistani dungeon you happen to be thrown into.

Might I recommend that you spend a little less on drugs and more on books?

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By Leefeller, May 17, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

It has never made sense to me why the religions must proselytize and evangelize, why could they not keep their religions to themselves?

Still do not know why Atheists have to say anything at all?

Hemie, good point money does seem the explanation of choice!

One thing as part answer to my question about Atheists above; it may be helpful for those who do not believe, to know they are not the odd man out and alone. Knowing in the very least there are others, for what temple do Atheists have to support the substance of unbelief?

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By dcrimso, May 17, 2010 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

An earthling, Mary is impregnated by the supernatural with the only Son of God, thereby making Christianity the only validated religion.  Who is deluding who?

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By Hemi*, May 17, 2010 at 7:56 am Link to this comment

Following is a not so little conspiracy thread that throws a bit of water and light upon the continuing religious discussion. Those defending either side are making a mint, just thought I’d mention that. Those looking to those authors for guidance and/or validation are deluded. Just my opinion. Here’s the link:

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread564758/pg1

Enjoy!

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By nemonemini, May 17, 2010 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

The depiction of the so-called ‘secular myth’ is still another myth. The era between the Axial Age and modernity was indeed a ‘middle period’. Certainly the achievements of this ‘middle age’ are underplayed but the conventional ‘secular’ account is in essence correct.  The rise of the modern world began with the Protestant Reformation, a religious revolution, so the reference to ‘Christianity’ is misleading.
Part of the problem is the distorted viewpoint of the new atheists, and the now decayed semantics of the term ‘secular’. The new atheists make a mess of everything they touch, and the first casualty has been the changed semantics of the term ‘secular’.
We could no longer accept the Christianity of the ‘middle age’ so therefor a new beginning of religion is called for in a secular age.

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By omygodnotagain, May 16, 2010 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment

samosamo the increase in the worlds population is not due to religions telling people to multiply. The increases are due to people living longer, women and children surviving birth. If there is a villan in overpopulation it is modern medicine. As for Europe the natives are heading for extinction due to low birth rates.

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By samosamo, May 16, 2010 at 7:55 pm Link to this comment

****************


Organized religions of the judeo, catholic, christian(in all its
stripes) islam, buddha, hindu are all alike and irresponsible.
Take your morals and I still say responsibility is what is really
lacking because I doubt that any one of these ‘great’ religions
have ever considered just how irresponsible it is to allow the
human species to grow just like the cancer it is to this planet.

Look at how religion and schools try the best they can to churn
out ‘units’ of similarity as a way of progress. No friking room any
more for individual thought and living, always under an
umbrella of authority to be ‘conformed’ as the only way to live.
And as the almost 7,000,000,000 people on this planet are
obviously controlled by just a few who find it in their ‘heart’ to
deprive the majority of their ability to survive, defend and do for
themselves, makes this world a sorry state of affairs, except for
those who convince the rest that their wealth makes them the
authority(god).

Now that we have decided, despite the ongoing disaster to a
huge part of the environment, that the need to still extract
substances for the ‘good’ of the people by irresponsible and
greedy corporations, then that will assure another accident will
happen. And just how is it justified that, ““well, this ‘accident’
happened but now there won’t be another anytime soon if ever.

We left the realm of responsibility way back when we decided to
‘build a wheel’ to make life easier and that part in the bible that
said go forth and multiply without a single thought of what the
affect of so many people will have and how the systems that
have been created to deal with the different societies and
nations don’t work as they should.  The chinese knew the
problem and have tried to humanely correct it, but western
european invaders have not and will not.

But now when a disaster occurs, it only tends to create a larger
swath of habitat uninhabitable. Guess that is part of god’s work,
yep, its work, he sure enough had it in his plan for the people to
just totally stop being in touch with nature, I guess because he
became so goddamn sick and tired of nature. Helps too, to drop
in a bunch of greedy wicked types.

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By omygodnotagain, May 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment

there are a couple of points that can be agreed on; whether God exists or not is a matter of belief, and ultimately cannot be reduced to reasoned argument. That both want the same thing, a more peaceful, just world.  Neither side can claim the high ground, the Enlightenment did not stop World War 1 or 2, or the Iraq War no more than did Christian teachings of love thy neigbor stop the Crusades. Science cannot dictate moral imperatives, neither can religious belief dictate scientific proofs.  Death what happens when we cease to exist that is where the road divides, and there is no certain answer just belief

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By gerard, May 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

One of the main goals of religion is to teach people how to behave morally in the world.  The teachings of Christianity, the main tenets taken from the reported words of Jesus of Nazareth, are morally very severe.  In addition to the Ten Commandments (adopted from earlier Judaism) are added directives like “love thy neighbor” and the citing of three main virtues, faith, hope and charity, the “greatest of which is charity.”

Moral standards require perseverence, forgiveness of self and others, belief in the value of the individual human soul and conscious provision for nurturing love and understanding, and overcoming violence.

Whether a God exists or not does not change the viability of such teachings.  Nor do they allow for discriminations in favor of some at the expense of others. 

These teachings are not unique to Christianity, but have appeared in one form or another everywhere throughout the development of human societies.  We in the U.S. are at present falling far short of practicing them. Millions of people are hoping for a rebirth of such principles, whether under the banner of Christianity or otherwise.

Nobody knows how to breathe new life into these principles, but signs of a dawn in this country would encourage a very sad world.

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By Shenonymous, May 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

It only seems that religion has been a blight on mankind because we
see the effects of its being prostituted for the power that men have
lusted after.  Religion has served its purpose and can still to promote
morality, but it has to get its head on straight.  If some people need a
titular head like a god to keep them in the moral zone, then for the
masses it is the opiate as Marx said.  It isn’t the way of an enlightened
population but then great masses of people would never be
enlightened enough anyway.  At least it has not evolved enough yet to
be so.  I believe as the use of technology expands in the population it
will promote a more enlightened society and with an abundance of
information will be able to think more abstractly thus rendering the
general population more able to make good and rational decisions from
a sound basis rather than reactively to conditions that arise
unexpectedly.  I am optimistic but for a distant future.  I retain a rather
cynical skepticism as long as a powerful elite is able to spoon feed the
public menus of what will keep them powerful.  When that is put in
check, then and only then will a public be able to evolve in ways that
enhance their best interests.

I think FRTothus has a good description about how religion
developed at least from the Egyptians onward from polytheism to
monotheism, but they did regress back again into polytheism until the
Greek enlightenment and the monotheism of Parmenides and
Anaximander’s monism which he described as “apeiron”, meaning
boundless, unlimited, or indefinite.  Monotheism returned with the
Abrahamic religions and that is the state the West and the Middle East
is in today.  Although competition is rearing its ugly head among those
three, and I’m afraid it will be a bloody outcome no matter how it goes. 
I have to say though FRTothus, I personally am not interested in
what you privately do.  I don’t see much truth in it as that kind of truth
is idiosyncratic.  All you have done with your public confession is to say
what intolerances you have. 

Clash your comments are much more perspicacious and
penetrating to my mind.  We shall see but I think your assessment are
prophetic.

Just for the record Toot_toot, I think your farting horse’s ass
personal image is gross and boorishly crude.  I do think it is telling of
what you think of yourself.  For just as you fart at the world, the world
thumbs its nose at you and it is all said in that picture.

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By Tom, May 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am 55 years old and still waiting for a believer to provide one good reason to believe in his imaginary friend.

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By omygodnotagain, May 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

Toot-toot
you completely misunderstood what I wrote, as Kenny noted in the end of his article there was good in all Ages of Western Civilization, in the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment. To demonize a period and a group is wrong. His critique of the book is that Dawkins and Hitchens are at one extreme, and Hart has gone a bit to much to other extreme.

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By FRTothus, May 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Organized religion has been a blight on mankind, pure
and simple.  Whatever good comes from human kindness
and mercy, it has never been anything but accidental
for their purposes, as happens when any group obtains
too much power.  The Western religions are all based
on the ancient Egyptian polytheism anyway, and
Akhnaten’s (Moses’s) break from that practice in
favor of Monotheism with Ra (Amen) as the central
god. When we say “Amen” we are naming the sun-god Ra,
just as the ancient Egyptians did.  This form of rule
(on earth as it is in “heaven”) had its (rather
obvious) benefits to hierarchy and top-down rule, but
this was not fully understood until later, when we
see how well the Romans cynically supported the
hierarchy to its own, Statist ends.  Still, the Sun
god Ra (Amen) as the primary god made sense, which is
why it was an acceptable way to go along to get along
(control mechanism), an easy idea to get across. 
After all, it was the sun that was (and still is) the
giver of all life on earth.

Personally, I worship the sun as well, and for pretty
much the same reasons as the Egyptians, in that it’s
the giver of life.  But I don’t pray to it.  I’m no
fool.

And to be honest, I don’t have much patience for
those who pray, or insist that one version of some
man-made fairy-tale is better than another.  They are
all fantasists, and show quite clearly in their
inordinate insistence on dismissing any but their own
man-made “proof” that there’s no chance for rational
discussion with the experts of myth.  Nor do I admire
those whose only action is the passive act of prayer,
and do nothing further, being “forgiven”.  Cowardice!
(Prayer, if it has any benefit, devolves to the pray-
er.)

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By Clash, May 16, 2010 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment

It seems some can see the future and others are bound and determined to explain the past, but to what goal? Is it to examine the illumination of an aristocracy and their arrogant presupposition that their ideas should become the axioms of social order?

Neither religious or the non-religious have fared to well to this point, and while I agree with shenonymous on the aspect that reason and science are the the path of illumination, it is those in the philosophical arena that have failed their society.  Science on it own is not expected to be ethical, but when economics, politics, and politics by other means are involved, neither religious or the non-religious philosophers have provided the moral strength needed to over come the barbarism of this society in its use of science or law, neither has the population as whole been able and or willing to become educated enough to even understand the predicament it now finds itself in.

Some already understand this familiar argument is one of of control and who will do the controlling.  Those that believe they have the right to control, and those being controlled,  is the true argument, trust is the issue not faith. Trust in the aristocracy is futile,  so as long as they control science then reason would allow some mistrust in the science of today. So as to be clear, the aristocracy that controls military, industrial, university, media complex who in turn use religion as one form of control can not be trusted.  Then who can be trusted with the future of the grand experiment?  Men/women who still believe they will be burned as heretics,  philosopher kings, I think not.  I think it will depend on how well the species ability to evolve in a poisoned, destroyed habitat turns out.  The existence of god, and the impact of religion on society becomes trivial in comparison in the now.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment

Why thank you for contributing to the problem you claim to see RAE! How is your vacuous observation helpful if you do nothing to rectify it? When your statement and criticism contribute nothing you have wasted all our times including yourself. So what are you going to actually do about it?

Perhaps you should have asked yourself a few more deeper probing questions before saying the useless verbiage you gave us here. If it bores you move on or contribute. Don’t you have an opinion or question or observation? So far this last bit of tripe displays none of that. How old are you? Is this an example of the most recent outcome of present education? If so it is a waste and I would demand my money back.

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By RAE, May 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

The main difference between all this vacuous verbiage and a circle jerk is that the latter actually accomplishes something.

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By Night-Gaunt, May 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

What good is an education if it is just about the Bible & not much else? Not any better than in some dictatorships where they have universal education but it is along narrow predetermined lines.

The only reason why a god exists is because people say it does and live their lives as if it does exist. [To varying degrees.] That is what is important here. The effects on civilization via its citizens and the organizations they create to sustain it.

The “Age of Invention” in the “Dark Ages” came only after the Black Plague cleared out over 1/3 of the population and so they had to develop labor saving devices because if it. So disease was the catalyst which at that time was blamed on the Jews an any one else they thought were foreigners in their midst bringing down the wrath of God and such. Witch, warlocks, vampires and werewolves were all in it together to harm the God fearing people so like in the Biblical tales, the cleansing act of burning, the auto de fe, came into vigorous use. What the Inquisition was there to do and for 400 years it did. In the Catholic church it is under “Congregation of the Defender of the Faith” to this day.

There are some today that would like to re-implement Augustine‘s obscurantism for science & general learning in our schools. I hope they never get the chance.

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By CitizenWhy, May 16, 2010 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

“God has no religion.” That is, if there is a God. God only knows - if he/she
exists and cares.

What difference does it make, really, if there is or is not a God, since neither
God’s existence or non-existence is provable?

What matters is how humans being govern themselves and what ideas, values
and technology they use to build their institutions and determine their laws.

Any real problem with religion comes from bad ideas and the effort to make
others believ them an build society upon the.

Take Catholicism, for instance. What harm is there in prayerfully contemplating
Scripture, examining Scripture in a scholarly way, gathering to worship and
praise god, gathering to build communion and community, and performing
practices to develop virtues? None, really.

But there is harm in many of the ideas that Catholicism insists are necessary
for all humans to believe and act on and restrict behavior. At the bottom of the
bad ideas of catholicism is its belief that it alone can properly interpret ?natural
law,” a philosophical stance, not a religious stance. its version of “natural law”
according to this church, gives it the intellectual and moral (not religious) right
to dictate to ALL human beings, not just Catholics. and the reasoning it uses to
sp[inn out tis natural law is truly bizarre at time, as in its reasoning on birth
control, which basically says that the sex organs have a natural purpose apart
from the person to which they are attached and that these sovereign organs
must not be interfered with by mere human beings. Yet I was taught (in a
Catholic school) a moral philosophy that was more religious and would allow
people to reach very different conclusions than the Vatican, welcoming birth
control as a benefit to mankind. The older religious teachings on marriage and
procreation open a door to birth control and gay marriage. The fantastical
philosophical teachings, supposedly applicable to all human beings, slams the
door on such possibilities.

When religion insists that it has a monopoly on secular and civic truth, it
becomes a menace to a humane and free society.  Religion reaches its
conclusions based on infallible texts or rationalistic means that are unprovable
and often contrary to science. Such a monopoly does not allow for correction
when correction is clearly called for. thus you cannot even reason with
religion’s leaders because they are already in possession of all truth and no
open inquiry or argument can be allowed.

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By omygodnotagain, May 16, 2010 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous
“I’ll begin my perspective by saying that of course it would be oversimplifying to say that Christianity was the major cause of the decay of classical science, that is, Greek science.  While true, the
Christian Church made it nearly impossible for a scientific frame of mind to reappear by creating a mental atmosphere that obstructed with
the threat of harm and even murder to scientific inquiry”

Shenon: This is exactly the point Hart is making and the same one made by Harvard Prof David Landes. In his book “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” he called the Middle Ages the “Age of Invention”.
One has only to ask “How did Vasco DeGama sail to the Indies, or Magellan around the globe, how come the printing press was invented in the 15 century, and what about these Cathedrals some like Aachen stretching back to the 8th Century. The Church the monasteries saved Western Civilization, go look at pictures of Oxford University and say to yourself this was built by the Catholic Church. There are many books on this “How The Irish Saved Civilization” by Moore for one… all this Dark Ages stuff is 17th Century Protestant propaganda..

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By godistwaddle, May 16, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Clarence Darrow:  “I don’t believe in god because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.

When there’s any more evidence for “god”™ than for leprechauns, I’ll rethink.

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By Tesla, May 15, 2010 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Everyone on the theist side seems to miss the point of
Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens complaints.

It is the FOLLOWERS that are the problem not so much
the religion.

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By Shenonymous, May 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

“Religion in the abstract”, Hart says, “does not actually exist, and
almost no one (apart from politicians) would profess any allegiance
to it.”

Actually, nothing in the abstract exists, so as a lead in statement, Hart
is not saying anything.  There is no ‘realm’ of the abstract except in
conception, it is the opposite of concrete, meaning it cannot be reified
to be concrete. 

“the one thing we know for certain about religion,” Hart also says, “is
that if any religion is true then most religions are false.” (my
italics) 

Again his reasoning is faulty.  If any religion is true, then all
others are false.  Name one god who would share his rank with the
god or gods of any other religion.  Schisms that appear in religions
where the same religion might divide up into a variety of permutations
are really internecine wars within, and it becomes a matter of
interpretation what the Head Honcho is ‘really’ saying to them.  But it is
the same White Beard in the Sky to all of them.  It is like sibling
squabbling.  But to speak about numbers of religions in the world
today, there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a
total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones. 34,000
separate Christian groups have been identified in the world.  Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religions

It was just a matter of time that someone (Hart) would come along
needing a new book to tuck under his belt that would try to counteract
the effective arguments against the current state of religion as a
domain of human action that the militant atheists of current ‘fashion’
are laying siege and becoming well known in the society while they are
doing it.  Sam Harris seems to be doing a cracking good job these
days.  So Hart will have to deal with Harris sooner or later. I’m sure TV
debates are already being planned. Big bucks in it for both theist
apologists and atheists.

And, yes it is fashionable to rewrite history.  Compressing into about
250 pages, David Bently Hart seems to believe he has adroitly
dismissed the re-dawning light of atheism.  It isn’t a new force as
atheism has been around since theism.  And I am hoping some good
argument arises in this forum as so far no one on either side has made
much of a case for their perspective.  A little ranting as usual.  I will
cross my fingers.

Nothing travels in a straight line regardless of how straight it might
seem even to someone looking very intently.  To think he can wave off
humans’ discovery of their own mind especially in the era of DNA might
seem to border on the preposterous, it won’t be too difficult to show
just how over the border Hart is. 

I’ll begin my perspective by saying that of course it would be
oversimplifying to say that Christianity was the major cause of the
decay of classical science, that is, Greek science.  While true, the
Christian Church made it nearly impossible for a scientific frame of
mind to reappear by creating a mental atmosphere that obstructed with
the threat of harm and even murder to scientific inquiry.  Augustine’s
well-chronicled obscurantism rather fixed the complexion of European
thought for a thousand years.  He wrote, “Whatever knowledge man has
acquired outside Holy Writ, if it be harmful it is there condemned; if it
be wholesome, it is there (within the Church) contained.”  Thank
goodness for human rationalism that the Renaissance came along that
ripped a hole in that religiously iron curtain.  And we almost lost
Galileo to it but he did persist.  And that is a good place to begin the
countercounterargument on behalf of atheism.

I am sure this forum is to be a very long one, especially if the
communists attempt to commandeer it for their own silliness.

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By OzarkMichael, May 15, 2010 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous said of truedigger3: who cannot get enough battering, and has learned to love it and can’t live very well without it.

Truedigger sounds stale and shabby lately. Looks to me like he needs another beating to freshen him up.

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By Nuclear Burn, May 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pretty simple really.

Hart is attempting to give Christianity the credit for everything good and sweep all
the bad under the rug.

And darn-it, those who dare disagree are the delusional ones.

Personally I find it interesting how easily forgotten it is that virtually every
concept in the Bible were flourishing well before Jesus walked the earth.

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By Digg-the-truth-6feetunder?, May 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Glaring error in the review mentioned…

The crusades were a response to the suppression & abuse of the overwhelmingly Christian communities in the middle east at the time, by the newly invading armies of Mohammed out of Arabia. Simply put they were INTENDED as an act to defend fellow Christians under duress and turn back the invaders, nothing more.

I haven’t read this book yet - but I bet it might be a good complimentary read to the one reviewed here…

God Is No Delusion -A Refutation of Richard Dawkins (Ignatius Press)Thomas Crean, O.P.

or a nice fictional tale called:
The Loser Letters -Mary Eberstadt

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