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Ear to the Ground

Atheists Know More About Religion Than the Pious

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Posted on Sep 28, 2010
James Jacques Joseph Tissot

Well, this is awkward. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life undertook a study in which nonbelievers correctly answered more religious knowledge questions than the devout. Mormons and Jews also scored well and, like atheists, know more about Christianity than Christians.

Here are some of Pew’s surprising findings:

More than four-in-ten Catholics in the United States (45%) do not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine used in Communion do not merely symbolize but actually become the body and blood of Christ. About half of Protestants (53%) cannot correctly identify Martin Luther as the person whose writings and actions inspired the Protestant Reformation, which made their religion a separate branch of Christianity. Roughly four-in-ten Jews (43%) do not recognize that Maimonides, one of the most venerated rabbis in history, was Jewish.

In addition, fewer than half of Americans (47%) know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist. Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) correctly associate Vishnu and Shiva with Hinduism. And only about a quarter of all Americans (27%) correctly answer that most people in Indonesia—the country with the world’s largest Muslim population—are Muslims.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Freedom of choice… and people choose the bad sometimes… don’t they…. or can I say, don’t we?

If you suppose an absolute leader will be righteous in ALL HE / SHE may do, say, think and such… WRONG.

Checks and balances, but when the WHOLE PARTY OF GOVERNMENT is compromised ( as has happened throughout history ) you’ll have the world progressing as it has.

When the attempt to combine and commingle the church and state… the state triumphs for its physicality and failure to expound the essence of Christ, for spirituality fails when bureaucracy entrenches and attempts to be a ‘good’ citizen on paper… or creates an ‘office’ in the place of parents, priest, pastor, etc…, but it needs truly ‘good citizens’ filling only certain positions which are a necessary to look after everyone playing in the sandbox… for the church will be stepped on when married to the state, for again… the choice of Freedom is a spiritual journey and battle… and not all men and women who’ve led anything are spiritual or morally grounded.. are they?

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By Joan, October 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

ITW,

Where in the world did you get the idea that I think ethics, the branch of philosophy that addresses moral reasoning or how man ought to behave, all flows from God?

When I say I am trained in ethics, which is my area of expertise, I am telling you that I have studied the Western philosophers who proposed various moralities as well as the methodology used to evaluate the efficacy of these moralities. I pretty much compare different moralities that Western man has proposed.  This is diametrically opposed to your rendition of my view of the origin of ethics as all flowing for God. I am truly perplexed…

I agree that we all must make moral decisions on a daily basis…Ethicists evaluate in a methodical fashion through a reasoned analysis which moral precepts are the preferred ones and which ones are not too good. Ethics is not a religious study even though ethicists may evaluate the moral worthiness of certain religious moral precepts like the Golden Rule, which is endemic to Christian thought.  Professionally, that is what I was trained to do and it has nothing to do with my personal religious views.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, October 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment

We seem to be getting into particle semantics on this forum, but
not really wanting to make a federal case of it I will venture briefly,
just for the fun of dialoguing, to make the distinction that since
agnosticism is definitively concerned with episteme, or knowledge,
and agnostics have realized that absolute knowledge is a phantom,
to the degree the Harris quote is about knowledge then I would
agree that it is also agnostic.  However, reading it, I don’t think,
ITW, it is about ‘knowing’ the things he is talking about but is about
recognition, re-cognizing what was cognized once before, that those
who say they have been saved, show “boundless narcissism and self-
deceit.” It is a comparison of repeated events that supports disbelief
that a god has anything to do with experiential phenomena, hence
atheism.  Also a ‘realization’ is not knowledge but is an intuition into
the truth of conclusive logic of sparing some believers in a flood while
simultaneously drowning innocent babies does not quite logically
compute morally, the implication being, by virtue of that, God, if there
is a God, is not a moral supernatural being!  That doesn’t quite fit the
common notion of a gentle and good god, the Christian one that is. 
Again, comparison is the tool for assessment. 

The atheist faces the ugliness of reality and sees there is no good
reason, meaning no justification for allowing innocents to die if, again
following the logic, there is indeed a benevolent and omnipotent god. 
So I find it a stretch to squeeze any basis for agnostic knowledge in this
passage.  It is all about reasoning. 

You certainly could be an agnostic atheist, and I guess an atheistic
agnostic.  Or neither.  Agnosticism is about epistemic doubt, atheism
is about unjustified belief.  They have different foci and origin.  The
untruth of the existence of a deity due to inadequate knowledge is
different than an absence of a belief in the existence of supernatural
deities because no justification is provided.  These terms, both
agnosticism and atheism are much more elaborate than I’ve given
here and as with most everything there is still debate about some
aspects of both agnosticism and atheism, but I’m a bit tired and feel a
search for their meaning is easy enough through the Wiki resource as
they seem to have something on everything, almost.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Nap:

But…how different is that than what happened?  Review the history of Britain, that has been Christian since not long after the Romans.  It is a history of grab, betray, enslave, marry off daughters, etc.  It is the history of Mafia thugs grabbing what they want and committing horrendous atrocities on enemies all to grab power and wealth. From before the Scandinavian conquest (King Canute et al), to the Norma Conquest, to the Wars of the Roses, to the 17th Cent civil wars, it’s all been thug against thug, grab against grab.

And they’ve all claimed to be devout Christians.

You’ll find the same in the Muslim nations, and even in the Marxist ones (Look at the history of power grabs and consolidations from Lenin to Stalin to Kruschev—even to Putin).

So this idea of no God leading to an “anything goes” society sounds to be exactly what Britain had under its claim to be Christian.  Just as an example.

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Napolean DoneHisPart's avatar

By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

I like the “Secret’s” explanation of why the world is as it is… despite a Loving and Caring GOD.

They explain it is due us!

The folks further occupying the earth.

It is our greed and fear and mad manifestations, which battle within us ALL, that further help ‘create’ the world around us..

For imagine yourself sailing off to a deserted island with resources aplenty.

Imagine yourself now there with all of your best friends and family.

If someone happens to get greedy and that’s their M.O. for the rest… how they go about their life and time on that island ( with everyone else, let’s say, playing share and share alike ).... well, you’ll begin to see a sharp contrast as the years go by from his and the rest of the offspring.

Well, magnify that by ions of years of man being on this planet…. and you can now see how, although God is present and not too far away…. this place is still OUR playground… and WE decide how to play.

POW!

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By Inherit The Wind, October 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for
survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is—and, indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at all.”

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

Minor point:  Harris is wrong about one thing.  The same is true of the Agnostic.

But it is problematic that the Atheism of the Marxists, which is as religious as any, also allows them to commit any atrocity in the name of “The State” as religion does in the name of “The True Faith”.

Naturally the point about the joke is missed: If God “sends” all those rescues, it’s not miraculous and the rabbi/priest/minister/imam is waiting for just that: a miracle.  This is the problem of many of “faith”—they deny reality in favor of a belief in supernatural miracles.  Thus the “holy man” dies of the sin of expecting God to rescue him by violating God’s own natural laws.

Other non-Abrahamic religions may well be more sensible, deciding that their God(s) act only through Natural Law, not necessarily miracles.  So if I say “I fell out of the tree because I was stung by a bee, not because God tossed me out” these folks ask the question “but why did the bee sting you?”

Of course, a zillion scientific reasons could be offered but rather than address them, they are asking if their God(s) is controlling chance events rather than parting waters and raising the dead and turning water into wine.

That becomes a far more difficult question to address as the randomness and the determinist aspects of the Universe are far from resolved.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, October 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

”Christians use that very same joke to illustrate that God answered
that poor schlep’s prayer. “
If the poor schlep had his prayer
answered so many times, then there must be something lacking in
God’s omniscience that would have pre-told him just how schleppy
the schlep was and would have made an adjustment in answering. A
very mean-spirited God that was, even if it was a joke. Yeah, the
JudeoChristian god is a kind of a joke and malicious to boot having to
stoop so low, maybe even brushing up against da debble, to get such a
schlep at least up to the Pearly Gates. Of course, we don’t know if the
schlemiel made it into heaven, I mean would God want that dope to
reside in his heaven? Purgatory would be a good enough vacation
spot from the horrors of this world.

”Harris highlighting the extreme views of a minority of Christians
regarding creation is no more accurate a rendition of Christianity than
saying all Muslims are terrorists is an accurate depiction of how
Muslims practice Islam.”

It is no less accurate either.  He makes a rigorous point of saying he is
not saying all Muslims are terrorists.  It is you who doesn’t know
her derriere from hole in the ground or what Harris said. I only mock
what pretends to be a serious challenge.  No one in their right mind
would believe the Pope would actually consider antagonisms to
Catholicism intellectually especially in view of the history of the
collaboration with the Nazis by the Catholic Pope of WWII days. Or
discuss the penchant of so many priests to molest boys. That troubled
prominent theologian has his own reputation to defend these days.
 
”The term “ethics and morality” are used interchangeably in
Philosophy departments.”
  Not mine, my department is so well
endowed as to be able to make subtle distinctions. But just to help
you out, morals apply to personal character and beliefs about what
is right and wrong while ethics has to do with the proper conduct or
behavior regarding a social system where morals are relevant. Are you
capable of seeing the difference? From your remarks, maybe not.

Even if you don’t like Sam Harris for whatever reason, or detest
atheists, what he says cannot be denied cavalierly. Denials require
rational reasons or be called a fraudulent.

“We live in a world where all things, good and bad, are finally destroyed
by change. Parents lose their children and children their parents.
Husbands and wives are separated in an instant, never to meet again.
Friends part company in haste, without knowing that it will be for the
last time. This life, when surveyed with a broad glance, presents little
more than a vast spectacle of loss. Most people in this world, however,
imagine that there is a cure for this. If we live rightly—not necessarily
ethically, but within the framework of certain ancient beliefs and
stereotyped behaviors, that is, morally—we will get everything we want
after we die. When our bodies finally fail us, we just shed our corporeal
ballast and travel to a land where we are reunited with everyone we
loved while alive. Of course, overly rational people and other rabble will
be kept out of this happy place, and those who suspended their
disbelief while alive will be free to enjoy themselves for all eternity.

Only the atheist recognizes the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of
the saved. Only the atheist realizes how morally objectionable it is for
survivors of a catastrophe to believe themselves spared by a loving God
while this same God drowned infants in their cribs. Because he refuses
to cloak the reality of the world’s suffering in a cloying fantasy of
eternal life, the atheist feels in his bones just how precious life is—and,
indeed, how unfortunate it is that millions of human beings suffer the
most harrowing abridgements of their happiness for no good reason at
all.” -  Sam Harris, An Atheist Manifesto

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By Inherit The Wind, October 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

Joan,

I know you think that all morality and ethics flows as some apparently arbitrary “diktat” from God that we don’t HAVE to understand, just obey, but I don’t.

No matter WHAT authorities say about ethics and morality they really come down to the individual choices each of us makes all the time.

I see morality and ethics derive directly from the fact that we exist and have, as our competitive evolutionary edge, reason and logic.  The derivation isn’t simple but it is compelling.

We all deal with the tough question: “Why are we here?”  You like the simplistic answer which is no answer at all: “God” (man-invented idea) put us here to rule over all the Earth. (Very convenient for us, no?)

Naturally, I found Tom Hanks creation of “Wilson” to be a rather bizarre, but understandable reaction to loneliness.  He creates his own “god” and companion and cannot be rational enough to see it’s just a soccer ball with grass stuck in it.  In doing so, the character avoids that hardest questions: What am I here for, and what does it mean and how do I find peace being alone?

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, October 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

Yes, I cling to my myths, and from the stories I have heard I know Santa does exist, plus I have seen his ungraven image and even met him on occasion. Unfortunately, he will not let me sit on his lap. Heck I even have pictures of me with Santa, bet the Pious cannot even top that!

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By Joan, October 17, 2010 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

ITW, what is ethics

After years in ***ethics seminars and teaching ethical theories of the Western philosophers from the pre-Socratics through Rawls and Nozick… who are two ethicists in the limelight in the upper echelons of today’s political circles… I am the one on this thread who has not gotten straight what ethics centers on as its fundamental truth, whatever fundamental truth may be given that truth is just truth. Well, I give this; you’ve got chutzpah.

Christians use that very same joke to illustrate that God answered that poor schlep’s prayer. 

Would it surprise you to learn that there are Christian doctors, nurses, police officers, car mechanics and that Christians routinely use these folks to deal with their medical needs etc instead of doing nothing while waiting for God to raise His hand?  Would it surprise you to learn that in sophomore biology Sister Rosarita taught us about evolution? Who’da thunk?  I never knew that Christians did not accept science until Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens said so. I guess the Catholic schools in my neck of the woods didn’t get the memo. Wish they had so I could have bagged all that chemistry and physics.

Harris highlighting the extreme views of a minority of Christians regarding creation is no more accurate a rendition of Christianity than saying all Muslims are terrorists is an accurate depiction of how Muslims practice Islam. 

Mocking a bona fide challenge to philosophical positions, like Harris’, is not a response. I read here how the self- professed atheists /agnostics on the thread tout the prominence of reason but in the face of challenge to their line of reasoning, they cling to their myths like the average joe.

For instance, one can only marvel at Harris’ harsh criticism of Pope Benedict when the pope attempted to open up a theological dialogue on the necessity of reason in religion to do the very thing Harris wanted, make the world safe from religious aggression. The pope’s position and the position of the Catholic Church is roughly that mankind cannot blindly follow a God who gives bizarre orders, like murdering thousands of innocent people.  To do so puts us all at risk. God must be reasonably reasonable.  Uneducated on the nuances of high order theological debate among theologians, a possible meeting of like- minded minds,  here hopefully between Islam and Christianity, Harris instead attacks one of the vital generals in the initiative to end religious terrorism.  A prominent theologian, the pope, may be able through the use of reason to help another theologian, the imam, to temper a faction of the faithful that is getting out hand by appealing to theology itself. Harris attacks the pope because his familiarity with this level of theological discourse seems non- existent. He rants on with no understanding about what Benedict is doing. 

You want to understand Harris’ skill as a critical thinker? Pick up a bona fide philosopher’s treatise and endure the tedium of plowing through his work. You’ll see the difference between meticulous analysis using rigorous reason and a pop culture rant for the uninitiated whom Harris wants to dazzle and brainwash to pad his wallet.


*** The term “ethics and morality” are used interchangeably in Philosophy departments.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, October 17, 2010 at 9:38 am Link to this comment

Indeed, maani, in thrall to one’s religion precludes using the power
of one’s own mind.  That is the unassailable conclusion.  Since each
and every human will die on their own, there is a genetically driven
loneliness.  How one deals with it determines the evolved mind. 

To rely on some fictionalized supernatural benevolent being who
regularly shows what a non-benevolent behavior in dealing sickness,
war, and destitution to billions of people, and belief in some imagined
but completely amorphous hereafter for comfort is not very evolved. 
And appearance is everything in the case of the divine since that is all
one can get.  It is a vestige of thought, a throwback to life in the cave
and the fears that engendered comforting stories of help from the
dearly departed who took care of their progeny when alive.  It is the
unevolved mind of today that creeps into a psychological state where
responsibility is shifted to a supernatural fiction to assuage the utter
fear death as well as the hostilities found in life that is programmed
into every cell but can be mitigated by a discerning mind.  Not everyone
has developed thusly and ergo the reason for the conflict between
believers and non-beleivers. Between the somnambulistic and those
awake to reality.

How about a few quotes from your sites to show they might be worth
looking into?

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By Maani, October 17, 2010 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

She:

“The happy circumstance atheists find themselves in is that because they choose to exercise the power of their own mind, they do not have to open any door.”

How ironic - and typical - that you spend an entire post castigating Joan for her “arrogance” and “disdain,” and then make a wildly arrogant, dismissive comment like the above, which implies that believers do not - or even cannot - “exercise the power of their own mind.”  Unbelievable.

ITW:

Re your “castaway” comment (and setting aside the tale of the rabbi - which is actually derived from a similar Christian homily that I have used many times), I think that believers would have an advantage over atheists.  Atheists would use their logic, reason and common sense to survive and think of ways to get help or leave the island.  However, most atheists would be using the same logic, reason and common sense - but they would also have the comfort of their faith to help them deal with their loneliness.

Consider that, in Castaway, Tom Hanks (either an atheist or agnostic in the film) fashions the soccer ball into a companion to help him deal with his loneliness.  This is certainly a reasonable and common sense way of handling the situation.  But believers would not need to resort to that type of thing, since their God is always with them, and provides comfort and companionship even in the darkest, loneliest moments.

Peace.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 17, 2010 at 7:22 am Link to this comment

BRILLIANT Post, She!  I think you finally hit your stride on this thread.

Joan doesn’t understand a fundamental truth: Morality is not simply how we deal with other people but how we face Life. 

In one of her more lucid and insightful moments, Ayn Rand posed the theoretical question: If you were stranded alone on an island (Think “Castaway”), would you need Morality more or less than you need when amongst people?  Her answer was “more”, because no matter what you believe, no matter how you think you can rationalize behaviors and actions, you will either live or die, prosper or suffer, based solely on your LOGICAL and moral decisions.

There’s a funny old story about a devout rabbi (or priest or minister).  There’s a flood and it comes up to his porch.  Rescuers come by and offer to take him off.  He says “No, no, God will take care of me”.
Then the water rises even more, and now he has to go to the 2nd floor.  Rescuers come by in a police boat but he says “No, no, God will take care of me”.
Now the water rises so high he must scramble to the roof.  A rescue helicopter comes to get him but again it’s “No, no, God will take care of me”.

So the water keeps rising and he drowns.  He gets up to the Gates of Heaven, and sees the angel at the gate and says “What happened?  I’ve been a devout man all my life and STILL God let me drown!”

The angel replies “We sent you a row-boat, a police boat and a helicopter. What MORE did you expect?”

Thus we see the difference between faith that denies science and faith that embraces science as the explainer of the concrete world.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, October 17, 2010 at 5:07 am Link to this comment

She; a most enlightened post below I will keep it for posterity and as a reminder of how silly, mad and crazy the Lunatic Pious have been.

Since I believe Santa Claus exists. I have to endure constant naysayers, almost at a magnitude equal to what the Pious may feel. Especially when people say things to me like ,..... “you got to be kidding” or “how can you believe in Santa Claus”?....  But I make my point,.. a point which puts them naysayers back in their place. I use an argument of most remarkable strength, an argument which takes the “s” out of skeptic when I say to them…. “because”.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, October 17, 2010 at 1:11 am Link to this comment

I am not the only skeptic in the room.  For all my skepticism about
religion, the religionists are skeptical about atheism.  The mental
attitude of skepticism is the polar opposite of belief.  Both of these
psychological states are found in some degree or another within the
same person.

Bertrand Russell once said, “Even more purposeless, more void of
meaning, is the world which science presents for our belief.  Amid
such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home.
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end
they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his fears, his loves and
his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms;
that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can
preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the
ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of
human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar
system, and the whole temper of Man’s achievement must inevitably be
buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- all these things, if not
quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy
which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of
these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the
soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

Implicit in your supercilious remarks, Joan, is the notion that you are a
better judge of human character than I.  It is arrogant in your disdain
that you think you are a better observer of reality than I.  However, just
as you claim that morality is not explainable through science because
morality is subjective, so subjective are your views about the relative
best judge or best observer of reality and whether or not morality is
subject to the inquiry methods of science.  All you do is deny what Sam
Harris has presented.

Science embodies objectivity, and you think your morality is therefore
untouchable because of its subjectivity. So we are at a crossroads of the
objective world and the subjective one. I would hold that there is a
confluence of both as the state of reality. Reality is always loaded down
with theory.  Everyone, me included, interprets that reality. Scientific
knowledge is not derived from anything. Like all knowledge it is
speculative, assumption then postulation, tested, always tested by
observation, never derived from it.

Therefore I believe the reality that morality are rules of behavior, of
conduct. Behavior and conduct are empirical and can be assessed in
terms of degrees of good and bad. If a thing can be detected to have
degrees of anything, good and bad included, it is measurable by
definition, and if measurable then it is subject to the sanctuary of the
science of investigation.

Harris is hardly clueless about Jesus, he formally studied both Eastern
and Western religious traditions, along with a variety of contemplative
disciplines, for twenty years, the following is easy to get the drift.

“…even if religion were a force for good, this would not suggest that
any of the world’s faiths were actually true. A belief in witchcraft might
have good consequences from time to time, but this would not mean
that aspiring witches and warlocks were any less bamboozled by
erroneous beliefs. And if each of the world’s religions produced nothing
but happy and virtuous people, they cannot all be true, because their
doctrines are mutually incompatible. To pick only one annihilating
difference among hundreds: if Christianity is true, Jesus was divine; if
Islam is true, he was not. Needless to say, both faiths agree that anyone
who opens the wrong door here will spend an eternity in hell.” – Sam
Harris

The happy circumstance atheists find themselves in is that because they
choose to exercise the power of their own mind, they do not have to
open any door.

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By Maani, October 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

She:

“He answers the question the role religion in determining human morality as generally an unhelpful one. ‘Religious ideas about good and evil tend to focus on how to achieve well-being in the next life, and this makes them terrible guides to securing it in this one.’”

Harris is apparently clueless about Jesus.  Yes, there is the issue of salvation and redemption of the immortal soul, which is about “the next life.” However, Jesus’ ministry was about love, peace, forgiveness, compassion, humility, patience, charity, selflessness, service, justice and truth - which are about how we live and interact with others in THIS life.  So contrary to Harris’ statement, living as Jesus taught would, in fact, be the BEST guide for living life in THIS world.

Dennett: “I think that there are no forces on this planet more dangerous to us all than the fanaticisms of fundamentalism, of all the species: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, as well as countless smaller infections. Is there a conflict between science and religion here? There most certainly is.”

How wonderfully selfish and one-sided.  How about the fanaticisms of (secular) political ideology? Don’t they count, especially since they were responsible for the murder or preventable death of over 150,000,000 people under Stalin, Lenin, Mao et al?

Was it the “fanaticism of [religious] fundamentalism” that not only created the atomic bomb, but dropped it on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Is he suggesting that “religious fanaticism” had anything to do with either the creation of or use of the atomic bomb?  Is there not then a fanaticism of science - or does he hide behind the safety of “science is neutral?”  After all, most of the scientists behind the bomb were just as interested - even eager - to see how it “performed” as were the military they built it for.

Harris and Dennett show remarkable weakness of argument here.

Peace.  (Which means no bombs…)

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, October 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

Napoleon thanks for asking the question instead of telling me what I should wish for. My answer to the question, actually .....no!

“Oh LeeFeller, don’t you wish you lived long enough to knowit all?”

Only the Pious, self righteous and sanctimonious knowit all and they did not have to wish for it they acquired it by osmosis and and through tall tails!

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

She,

That explication of Harris’ on how science must be wed to ethics, even Einstein figured that out after he made the bomb…too late; how “is” becomes “ought” which cannot be determined by the scientific method; or that the objective of a moral life is well being and happiness is the strangest post on this thread. Not your fault probably in that you are reiterating Harris. That is why a neuroscientist doing ethics is about as profitable as an ethicist doing neuroscience. Neither one is competent in the other’s field but may seem so to the uninitiated.

She on Harris…”And, consequently, most people think that
science will never answer the most important questions in human life:
questions like, “What is worth living for?” “What is worth dying for?”
“What constitutes a good life?”

Science does not answer these questions because the answers are subjective. Science is science because it is solely based on the objective. 

She on Harris “He answers the question the role religion in determining human morality as generally an unhelpful one. “Religious ideas about good and evil tend to focus on how to achieve well-being in the next life, and this makes them terrible guides to securing it in this one.“

Religious ideas about good and evil are all about what God says is good and evil. For the faithful if they obeyed God, they have lived the good life here. Harris’ point about religion and the good life is empty, moot. Also, without God, whose conceptions of the good life are morally correct?  Without God, anything is permitted. We are a clever species, clever enough to argue that black is white. 

She on Harris “In complete agreement with Sam Harris, I believe morality is a question of a relationship between science and human values…”

Ethics is the reasoned study in philosophy of how man ought to behave in all areas of his life.
I must admit that the rest of that next paragraph is just incomprehensible to me.

She on Harris “that is science’s job:  To check out facts.  Science does not make judgments, you do…hopefully from the facts. “ 

The job of science is to draw conclusions based on objective data. Moral behavior often must be selected based on a unique circumstance in which complete knowledge is unavailable.  For instance: Ought an MD give a former addict who has painful cancer, large doses of narcotics to ease the pain?  On the one hand, it is morally correct to alleviate pain and that may even enhance healing but on the other hand, it is morally dubious to risk addiction.  What is the morally correct thing to do?

Harris is again out of his realm if She’s recount is accurate.  It bears repeating. That is why a neuroscientist doing ethics is about as profitable as an ethicist doing neuroscience.

Harris’ aims are not about doing neutral science but about exploiting science to support his own personal prejudices against religion. That’s neither good science nor good ethics. His religious prejudice corrupts both fields.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm Link to this comment

Oh LeeFeller, don’t you wish you lived long enough to know it all?

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

Defending fiction must be easy, just make shit up and say it was so and it is what was and really happed. Because the Pious say so armed with their 3000 year old book of fables. How does anyone actually believe this stuff?

If it sounds like a lunatic, it acts like a lunatic, then it must be a duck!

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By Inherit The Wind, October 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm Link to this comment

Joan:

Now you are being deliberately obtuse.  You claim that hat doffing as a mark of respect for the POA at sporting events has NOTHING to do with a Christian tradition.

You ignore the obvious questions:
Why is hat-doffing for the POA at sporting events a mark of respect? 
How did hat-doffing for ANYTHING become a mark of respect?
Where did it come from if not from Christianity?

Your problem with Jefferson is that are unaware of the history of the writing of the DOI.  You PRESUME that he used “Creator” in lieu of “God” because that’s what people did.  But, in point of fact, his original drafts used “God” and he changed it to “Creator” to make it more universal.  You may not LIKE that this doesn’t fit your world view, but that’s historically what happened.

I don’t want to live in your “Christian Nation” any more than I want to live in Iran’s “Islamic Nation” or Avigdor Lieberman’s “Jewish Nation”, or Kim Jung Il’s “Marxist Nation”.

Thank the god I don’t believe in that I don’t have to! (at least not yet).

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By Inherit The Wind, October 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

Here’s a thought experiment.  There are 25 people in a room.  A 26th person holds up a normal apple and asks what color it is.  24 people say “red,” one says “blue.”  From the standpoint of “sanity” (for the purpose of this experiment), the person who says “blue” is “insane” (or, at least, not sane).

Now switch it around.  24 people say “blue,” and one says “red.”  Yet despite the fact that the single person is correct (and thus “sane”), since the majority say “blue,” the other person will be seen as “insane.”
*****************

Change it from an apple being blue to “The Earth is Flat”, and red to “The Earth is a Spheroid”.

No matter how you slice it, the Flat Earthers are wrong and the Spheroid advocates are right.

As for your argument that it is God that determines Right and Wrong and that Atheists struggle to debate how determine Right and Wrong, without God, this is spurious.  The religious do the same thing, only they argue about whether it’s “God’s Will” or not.  In the 1400’s, the argument was that it was God’s Will that certain people were destined to be kings and others destined to be peasants and should be content with their lot even if they were starving while the gentry feasted.

In other words, the same debate runs on both sides, only one can’t pretend theirs is “right” because it’s God’s Will.  They, instead, have to find a logical basis from the fact of our human existence.

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm Link to this comment

Napolean,

You make an interesting point about slavery and life… After Eden was closed (Eden here referring to an intimate relationship with God as opposed to a physical location) Yahweh effectively said, “Get to work”. 

Here’s the paradox about slaves and freedom in Christianity. Christ said the truth will set you free. So both the slave in the common sense of the word or the free man in the common sense of the word understand the spiritual freedom to which Christ refers.

John 8:31-32
31 ‘To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Love you She, thanks for the update.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

The relationship between science and human values is a question of
morality.  Questions of good and evil and right and wrong are
questions about which science officially has no opinion. It’s thought
that science can help us get what we value, but it can never tell us
what we ought to value.  And, consequently, most people think that
science will never answer the most important questions in human life:
questions like, “What is worth living for?” “What is worth dying for?”
“What constitutes a good life?”

Sam Harris, in his book The Moral Landscape, thinks it is an illusion to
separate science and human values, and to do so is actually quite
dangerous, because science deals with facts, and although facts and
values seem to belong to different spheres often because it is thought
there is no description of the way the world is that can tell us how the
world ‘ought’ to be.  Clearly that belief is untrue.  I.e., if there are ideas
worth killing for, and those ideas can be shown through scientific
thinking that they in fact are in error and that there is no empirical
evidence that killing is a moral act, then science will have done its job
on behalf of morality.  Given a specific case of horror that is justified by
religious practice we can see that values belong to a certain class of
facts.  They belong to the kinds of facts that describe the wellbeing of
conscious beings.

He answers the question the role religion in determining human
morality as generally an unhelpful one. “Religious ideas about good and
evil tend to focus on how to achieve well-being in the next life, and this
makes them terrible guides to securing it in this one.“

He quotes Donald Symons (from Stephen Pinker’s The Blank Slate):  “If
only one person in the world held down a terrified, struggling,
screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed
her back up, leaving only a tiny hole for urine and menstrual flow, the
only question would be… whether the death penalty would be a
sufficiently severe sanction?  But when millions of people do this,
instead of the enormity being magnified millions-fold, suddenly
religious practice becomes “culture,” and thereby magically becomes
less, rather than more, horrible…”

In complete agreement with Sam Harris, I believe morality is a question
of a relationship between science and human values.  If we ask what is
good or what is evil, what is right or wrong, then science does not
“officially” ask those questions, until now.  When the intuition that the
idea of morality contains fact-based ideas, that the separate concepts
of morality, that is, what kind of behavior is how humans ought to
have, and that these are considered as facts, then the consequence will
be that morality is excluded from any absolute judgment and all
behavior is equally acceptable.  It doesn’t matter if humans kill one
another or take care of one another. Furthermore, if we ask if there is
some worth to living, whatever answer is given is supposed to be a
fact.  Whoever gives the answer believes wholehearted that their answer
is factual and that they have some real basis for their belief.

This is true for any morality question. I.e., to ask the question what
kinds of things are worth dying for, there has to be some “whatness”
that fulfills the request to die for.  And to say it is worth dying for this
or that, then it specifies what that whatness is, and that whatness is a
fact.  Again, if you were to ask what is it that constitutes a good life,
you would give some answer and you would also believe that the
content of that answer was factual, that there is some real basis for it
to be considered as descriptive of a good life.  Now if there are facts,
then they are evaluative by science and scientific questioning because
that is science’s job:  To check out facts.  Science does not make
judgments, you do…hopefully from the facts.

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm Link to this comment

Napolean,

There are any number of cable network shows that investigate the kind of paranormal experience that you had and others. I think they are fun to watch and they raise some interesting questions about what lies beyond.

Who knows what me might learn about the paranormal as technology advances.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

You are stating what we are arguing for She…

It is the FACT that there is doubt and the obstinate stance towards God and His existence… thus why slavery is still in effect today.  It is a spiritual and heartfelt journey… not something you snap-to and can logically tackle… it is stepping out over that water and believing you can walk out to Him.

Men who oppose this Essence do so by choice as well, for selfish gain, greed, to elevate themselves, and to subdue your fellow man for lack of security or a twisted self-worth view… some perverted and demented block of conscience.

You ARE a slave, yet you don’t believe yourself to be…. regardless of your lifestyle, your zip code, accolades or otherwise.

Slaves both physically and spiritually, yet the Christ pointedly pointed the way out of spiritual bondage ( John 8:36 ), not so much physical bondage.. but the physical is what we must contend with until the Spirit Leads One into all Righteousness…. which is dependent on the seed that was planted and if and how you water and grow it ( Mark 4 ).

Wonder why it says man cannot serve both God and money?

Well, that funny fiat money you and HAVE TO do something in order to barter with it for the system of things…. well, guess what?

THAT IS THE TOOL OF SLAVERY…. today’s invisible shackles on our minds.

The sharp deception and futile running after what is condemned by God ALL OVER IN THE SCRIPTURES is astounding and heart breaking to say the least. ( Prov 20:10, Prov 19:10, and for the Banksters, supposed ‘royalty’ and owners of our Weapons of Mass Distraction, Politicians and those in collusion with all of them: Prov 19:9 ).

You are a slave if you must wake up Monday morning and do something to get whatever in order to feed yourself and meet your monthly ‘commitments’ or that number you clear with your production, or, if like many running for political office today, were born with a silver spoon… thus of course you have slaves, and believe there is no God… for you have attempted to usurp his place, for we are slaves to HIM, whether in His House dining at His table…. or out in the fields having to struggle.

Those in this lifetime who dine indoors while others must outdoors due to your selfishness and greed…. will NOT eat at the table with the Master.

The ‘tables’ will be turned…. as it says…. and as it continues to be brought to Light.

Glory Be to GOD in the Highest.

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

ITW, cont’d

“Joan: You may not realize you are hurting someone when you step on his foot in a spiked heel.  But if you INSIST on your right to KEEP stepping on his foot, rather than simply moving it, your intent is NOW to hurt him.”

Re: hurting people… It’s not that simple. If I do
Act X to simply hurt someone, once or repeatedly, that is morally wrong. Your being hurt by something I am entitled to do is not sufficient to judge it as morally wrong. 

EX: I gather you hurt people when you don’t remove your hat during the POA at Giants Stadium but you are still entitled to do it.

A utilitarian, a good secular moralist Like Bentham, would make straw out of your position that the overwhelming majority of Christians should not put C trees on public squares and undercut the maximum happiness for the greatest number in society to appease a handful of folks who think like you do.

Think of how poorly minorities are treated worldwide. That the minorities get this much consideration in America is because of Judeo/ Christian ideology that extend dignity to all. 

What I lived as a female was far more difficult than sitting through some Christmas parties I did not like or seeing a few C. trees in the town square. Life is a series of competing interests and we have to function in those tensions. Life is not entirely on our terms. It does not follow from that that others must cater to us and change to suit our needs and preferences. It’s more complex. 

Many non- Christians share the joy of the Christmas season. It’s pretty and fun and all embracing. These non- Christians opt not to nurture a sense of alienation but to join in in their own way. I see this as living tolerance and the success of the great American experiment. You are cogent enough to make the choice. Should you opt to be narrow in your acceptance, that’s your choice but I do not have to cater to that narrow view.

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

ITW…

The origin of hat doffing is superfluous to this discussion.  It always has been. Hat doffing at sports events during the POA, your initial complaint, IS NOT and NEVER WAS a Christian ritual any more than breaking bread in an Italian restaurant is a communion service. It is simply a sign of respect elucidated in the Flag Code.

ITW October 11…
“Your understanding of the Founding Fathers is based on…well, I know what it’s based on and it’s false.  The use of “Creator” was a conscious, deliberate selection to AVOID using the word “God”, which is specific to Abrahamic religions and substitute a word that is far more universal.  It may be very comfortable to you to believe that it was merely a late 18th century convention for the Christian “God” but that is simply false. “

Joan: Never said that. The use of Creator by Christians well pre-dates the 18th century and is certainly quite specific to at least one major Abrahamic religion. 

ITW October 13…
“Jefferson certainly realized Christians would take “Creator” to mean their God.  I’ve never said otherwise.  He also realized Jews would do the same thing.  And if there were Asians who were citizens, they would see THEIR gods, as Native Americans would see The Great Spirit, and as non-believers would see the forces of nature the put us here.  You’ve made a false inference.”

Your Oct 11 post assertion implies that Jeff was attempting to avoid using the direct Christian reference to God. I am responding that I believe that position is incorrect. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth….”This is the opening line of the Nicene Creed composed at the Council of Nicea 325 AD as the official profession of the Christian faith in Catholicism the largest Christian sect, adopted later by other Christian denominations. 

In Christianity the Father is God as the Creator as the Creed indicates.  I do not see any distinction with respect to universality between the two words, God and Creator in 1776 America or that Creator is less specific to the Abrahamic religions than the word, “God”.  Would I hazard a guess, I think the generic word ”God” has more broad based appeal than “Creator” which is a specific divine task in Christianity. Given that Jeff was discussing gifts to man at his creation like …Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it seems like simple Spock-ian logic to identify God as Creator exactly as Jeff did in that passage.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

Speaking of Therapy and Psychiatrists and that whole racket ( no offense, only offending the lack of love found in some ‘professionals’ )...

At 16, an English teacher introduced me to Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Traveled” and his chapter entitle “Love” says it all.

That is a person who understands both sides of the duality created by doubt, as I think Maani you may as well understand.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

“I think that there are no forces on this planet more dangerous to us
all than the fanaticisms of fundamentalism, of all the species:
Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism,
as well as countless smaller infections. Is there a conflict between
science and religion here? There most certainly is.” [Daniel C. Dennett,
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea]

Perhaps, Maani, but it is those translations that you and your comrades
read.  A slave is a slave is a slave by any other name is still a slave.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Wow, thanks Maani… lol, that makes so much sense!

That’s a keeper for science experiment and measurement if I ever saw one.. makes me want to get into the field to better describe in words what I try to with, as we all may know by now and can attest to all having, a limited vocabulary and knowledge of things created by God through man…. both good and not so good, for we are the choosers, the spout at the end of the Spirit Well.. as He said in John 4:14.  POW! 

Thank You Holy Spirit! 

All Glory and Honor is Yours.

Have Mercy on us sinners.

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By Maani, October 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

Napoleon:

“Sanity” is a construct of the tyranny of the majority.  That is, it is simply what the majority believes that makes something “sane” or “insane.”

Here’s a thought experiment.  There are 25 people in a room.  A 26th person holds up a normal apple and asks what color it is.  24 people say “red,” one says “blue.”  From the standpoint of “sanity” (for the purpose of this experiment), the person who says “blue” is “insane” (or, at least, not sane).

Now switch it around.  24 people say “blue,” and one says “red.”  Yet despite the fact that the single person is correct (and thus “sane”), since the majority say “blue,” the other person will be seen as “insane.”

Thus, sanity is a measure of conformity and majority opinion.  Nothing more, despite what science, medicine and psychiatry might suggest.

LOL.

Peace.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Hey, how about this? >

Your agrument is that your greater knowledge by-way of study, reference and authorship of others in the same vein… and drawing from these sources as your empirical evidence and your foundation of the ‘God idea’

VS.

My choice of also reading what you read PLUS choosing to believe ONLY those things which make sense ALONGSIDE the realities described and prescribed in scripture, which as everyday passes, new things are made clearer and more a reality… ever see the “secret” some years ago?  They are describing the essence of God and some of his invisible attributes and how to manifest them physically… well, as they say, it is WHAT ONE BELIEVES.

And the Son of Man / Son of God / Immanuel ( God With Us ) perfectly described and LIVED what I fail to…

Yet we are like that Police video, simple minded children, thinking we are “all grown up” and can “handle anything life throws us” and all those things people say to cope… instead of kneeling before the Almighty and acknowledging His VERY CLOSE PRESENCE.. here is one for you to read SheWhoCanBeGood: John 3:21… emphasizing the latter part.  Riddle me this please.

For perhaps, on the screen and in binary code, my attempt of communicating without being present, where you can truly ‘read’ someone and ‘hear’ what they are communicating to you… well, you understand I hope.

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By Maani, October 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Napoleon:

“If there was no God…. why would people behave?”

That is exactly the point I was making,and that Joan has made many times.  Despite many attempts to “force” it, there is no Darwinian explanation for it.  In fact, the article makes it clear that even among atheists, there is disagreement about it.

She:

Re the NT and “slavery,” I am surprised that, given how many times you have brought it up yourself, you do not bring up the issue of translation.  It is well-known in scholarly circles that the word translated as “slave” should more properly be translated as “servant” (thus Joan’s correct use of the word).  As to the specifics of what a “servant” was entitled to (as opposed to a slave), there is, sadly, precious little historic knowledge.  Still, there is clearly a moral difference between servitude (particularly if it is temporary) and slavery.

Re Gandhi and his faith (both in action and in general):

“But for my faith in God, I should have been a raving maniac.”

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”

“Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.”

“God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.”

“I know, to banish anger altogether from one’s breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God’s grace.”

“Only he can take great resolves who has indomitable faith in God and has fear of God.”

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

There are many more.

Re MLK, your reading of him is surprisingly narrow.  It was not just about slavery/civil rights, it was about social and economic justice as well - for all.  And again, to suggest that everything he was, and everything he sought after, was not motivated first and foremost by his faith is willfully naive.

Peace.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm Link to this comment

Who? Me? Peculiar?  Naw.  LOL

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

Excuse sweetie, I just recently got my TruthDigger press pass package in the mail… so yeah, I’m further down the lunch line in terms of pecking order or prestige by-way of time spend ‘debating the masses’ on TD… give me a break.

I’m pointing out how ridiculous it is for someone to call another insane while they don’t realize that we are all a bit peculiar.. yet, your pride doesn’t allow you the advantage of humility.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment

typo-

omit “be” between ‘can’ and ‘have’ first sentence.

ad “of” between ‘view’ and ‘their’ same sentence.

Joan a chimera, me a shadowdancer ( is almost like a flashdancer, or something like that?

The shadowdancer is interesting, but you should really be careful what you spend your time on…. all that online video gaming is the next WMD being proliferated darling… distracting you and furthering blurring the lines between what is and what isn’t.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 12:07 pm Link to this comment

Napolean, are you saying you are sane? 

FYI:  I’ve been posting on TD for over three years.  How long have
you been trying to make sense?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

What’s funny is someone calling themselves ‘sane’ as if one can be have a perfectly unbiased, objective and subjective view their own lives in context to the world around them… and negate something beyond our understanding… not sure which one is more fallacious.

I wonder if these aren’t two shills hired to further eviscerate dialogue to this website’s goal- self governance by-way of trusted representative and not rule by tyrants.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment

I am now convinced, Joan, that you are something of a chimera. 
Your last post was hilarious.  You are right about one thing, you
cannot assume….anything.  One cannot assume that Jesus never
commented on any particular thing…nor can one assume he did
comment on any particular thing.  Did you say you had a Ph.D.? 
Your comment, “He healed his ailing servent.” assuming you meant
servant, was a contradictory inanity.  Do you suppose he paid his
servant, or what exactly was the free status of that servant?  Book
and verse please.  We don’t want to assume anything, now do
we?  And then if Jesus said one thing at one time then said something
to the opposite at another, would that be a divine mistake?  And don’t
forget that a lapse of saying something is a default to the sin of
omission.  I now can laugh for the rest of the day. 

Oh yeah!  “...but I also can’t prove that mushrooms could not be
intergalactic spaceships spying on us.” – Daniel Dennett

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2010 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Part of being most Pious, must be an ability to read minds probably comes from the bottom of the delusion pile?

I still maintain though a pipe dream, it would be most worthy if religion kept its delusions to itself, but as She stated in threads past, requests of the self righteous keeping their delusions to themselves is not in the cards for the deluded need support of other deluded ones, for lunatics need something to support their illusions besides hot air.

Atheists do not believe in the existence of god! Pious may have trouble wrapping their brains around this, as they are so into their myths and their fantastic stories, with nothing solid or real to support their deluded conscription.
Seems loony, insane or mad to someone as myself? There is not hope for the insane, they seem blinded by the pie in the sky!

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Sting and The Police explain my point best…

Listen to their every lyric, very telling of my expression.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v2GDbEmjGE

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

LOL… uh, ok.  Cool.  Yeah.

A do do do, a da da da… is all I want to say to you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v2GDbEmjGE

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By Joan, October 16, 2010 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

Let’s correct one misimpression right off the bat.  Jesus disapproved of slavery when he said to treat others as you wish to be treated.  And that’s what Jesus did for the humble centurion. He healed his ailing servent.

We cannot assume that all Jesus said was recorded and that he never commented on things that were not recorded. But his basis for human behavior was clear. Unless one aspires to be a slave when he grows up, Jesus’ words do not support the practice

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

Napolean - you are a shadow dancer and you show no ability to reply
intelligently.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

I did decent into spite and tort, you are correct.  And I am sorry for the effect it had on you… to instigate you to curse, yet another regrettable failure of my intentions.

Yet you fail to see your own words, their expression and their affect.  You do not see your own self, for you deny Him who made you.  Thus confusion and discord is the stem from which you sprout.

The mirror is there.

The scriptures are there, you have several copies… it isn’t the words per say, but the message. 

Your heart.  Not your intellect, sweet heart.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

Why Napolean DoneHisPart – you are just full of bull shit.  You claim
to love with the implication that it stems from your belief in your
religion but you cannot resist the adolescent unkindness of calling
people names.  You show a perverted sense of love.  So Jesus taught
you to have name-calling tantrums?  A walking hypocrite, unless you
are a chair bound bigot.  I was right, you are not grown up in spite of
your advanced years.  Then you have the nerve to show no biblical
evidence for any of your bull-shit claims.

So what god is it you believe in?  You can believe anything you want
but when you call names and just verbally defecate you show your
incompetence of a developed mind.  That is no doubt a result of your
god since it is in his glory that you would even have the ability to write. 
Or did you make him up like everything else you write?

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

Not to forget today’s infallible Harris quote:  But today I introduce
Daniel Dennett.  But don’t despair.  There’s more Sam to come.

“If you want to reason about faith, and offer a reasoned and reason/
responsive defense of faith as an extra category of belief worthy of
special consideration, I’m eager to play. I certainly grant the existence
of the phenomenon of faith; what I want to see is a reasoned ground
for taking faith seriously as a way of getting to the truth, and not,
say, just as a way people comfort themselves and each other (a worthy
function that I do take seriously). But you must not expect me to go
along with your defense of faith as a path to truth if at any point you
appeal to the very dispensation you are supposedly trying to justify.
Before you appeal to faith when reason has you backed into a corner,
think about whether you really want to abandon reason when reason is
on your side.” - Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

My question is though, if you do resort to reason, however, does that
mean faith will not suffice?

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

What is interestingly pigheaded… is the furthering of words which still say nothing to the contrary…. blabber it is called, without saying anything new… same tired and sticky arguments.

How narrow your view, and it reveals your upbringing and where you stem from.

Did you notice how interested in his slave’s health the official was… he was a decent man. 

Why?  He BELIEVED. 

Thus his conscience reflected it… as do the believers, and is thus why your conscience continues to attack…. to your folly and further detriment, sad I must add that.

Christ came to change the hearts by BEING the example of LOVE and all decent attributes stemming from that… where do your attributes stem from?  Oh, could it be following the evidence of this love as it is trans-mutated into physical form by those emitting that spiritual state, yet sadly even THIS has been plagiarized.

In that example of being a Loving Person, he BROKE that mental chasm between haves and have nots… showed them how to treat one another ( read that bible people, so you can BETTER DISCUSS what you don’t know! ).

Its a heart issue.  How do we treat a valued employee which cares about YOUR business and welfare?  Well, if you don’t treat them with decency as that official did, then you missed the boat.. and if you do, your employees love you and would stick their neck out for how you… IF you treat them kindly IN LIEU of the how the wicked and unbelieving world treat their employees, subjects, those less prepared to tackle a ‘modern’ Babylon like strangers, as nobodies, as immigrants or a different breed and race, with indifference and contempt .... WHEN, AS HISTORY SHOWS, WE STEM FROM THE SAME TREE.

How finicky and fickle one’s funny and ferocious feelings can easily get fettered and frazzled.

SheThinksShe’sSomebody and LeeFeller and all the rest… I LOVE YOU, because you ARE my sisters and brothers, although separated by time and circumstance so long ago…

And if I wasn’t in His Graces, I’d be tempted to slap you for your faulty and lame lip service!  Or worse, yet because I believe, know and understand His Existence and Sovereignty… and respect more HIS laws than man’s attempt at law…. I try so hard to behave for His History and Words and for the sake of others, lastly myself… as He so Perfectly did so…. so THERE is your behavior definition, darling wink

You call my intimate sharing a grand stand… question is, why did I expect better from you?  I’m such a silly willy, at 34 years… baptized into Christ at 22… and STILL here on this plain…. despite my shortcomings.

God did return to me my innocence at 22, made me a child and like a child so new… and once again I grew….

Glory be to GOD!

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 10:11 am Link to this comment

Well, Napolean DoneHisPart- the chips did fall and you just don’t
happen to like where they fell.  Occasional comments about oneself
are usually tolerated by most posters because the often are relevant
to the current topic of discussion.  However long dissertations of
one’s biography are at least by me passed by as a display of one’s
sense of self-importance, you know, hubris.  I don’t know how
others take them, but I would guess that the few if any comments
made are a good indication of the uninteresting nature of the
revelation.

Sometimes you strike me as so naïve, Napolean, in spite of your
achieved age.  ”If there was no God…. why would people behave?” 
First of all what do you mean by behave?  There is all kinds of behavior,
can we attribute bad behavior to your God as well as what you might
consider good?  But then as an evolutionist, a Darwinian, behavior is
determined by the molecules of human development learning to avoid
bad behavior that would annihilate them ending their survival in the
pool of humanity to come. 

1. to Maani
Maani Oct. 16, 12:39pm -  Yes, notation ad nauseum is the correct
description.  Go get the bucket!  It appears to me, an atheist, that ITW
is accurate in his reasoning about those legendary and esteemed
champions of humanity.  It took their physical being to do what they
did.  If they were ‘spiritual’ that does not necessarily mean they were
excessively religious or even that their religion motivated them.  Mother
Theresa’s own confession that she had given up a belief in God testifies
to her own self-discovery of the basic altruism she actually had for
human beings who were suffering and had little to no help from others. 
She was a true humanitarian regardless of Hitchen’s criticism of her. 
And just because I admire Hitchens that does not mean I accept all of
his words carte blanche either.  He is not beyond being a human with
their obvious frailties of thought.  I do not recall that Ghandi attributed
his humanitarian efforts to his Hinduism, can you provide a quote
where he did?  Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher and did find
solace in his religion for his actions.  However, his actions had to do
with slavery and the slave mentality of those who saw the blackman
and woman as less human than themselves. 

Neither Jesus nor his apostles made the setting free of slaves problem
of contention in their evangeliam. If you remember, Jesus healed the
slave of a Roman centurion and spoke approvingly of the officer’s faith,
but Jesus did not censure him for being a slaveowner (Lk. 7:1-10).

And Jesus referred to the relationship between slaves and their masters
in His parables, but he said nothing that indicated he disapproved of
slavery (Mt. 18:21-35; Lk. 12:42-48).  MLK, Jr. didn’t get his ‘faith’ that
slavery was wrong from the bible?  It was his from own rational thinking
that he concluded it was morally wrong for one man to own another
and all that implies with respect to doing a self-appointed owner’s
bidding.

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By Shenonymous, October 16, 2010 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

2.
Then don’t look to the Old Testament for any absolution of slave
ownership!  Beginning with Genesis 12:16, 13:5-7, 14:14, and
various other spots throughout that book, talks about ownership in
one form or another, including Isaac’s master status   Then don’t
forget Hagar, Sarah’s slave who Abraham thought he had the right
to sleep with and father the child who would become the icon of
Islam! Ishmael.  So all of Islam is the result of the progeny of a slave. 
No wonder they have been angry these thousands of years!

Apparently, although slavery can be quite humane, early Jewish slavery
never received God’s endorsement.  But we can see in the Scripture God
often permits fallen mankind to do things he does not necessarily
endorse.  This is especially important to those who take the Bible
literally.  The inevitable abolishment of slavery was slow to come, from
Job 31:13-15’s intuition that there was an essential equality for all
humans, at least those in the Middle East!  We do see the practice of
slavery in Exodus 12:43-45 when their God gives what essentially are
slaveless people instructions for the eligibility of slaves to eat at the
Passover once the Jews had left.  Maybe that is where the word
“leftovers” came from?  Naw, for then it would have to be capitalized as
Leftovers!  LOL.  And didn’t the Hebrew God forsee the voluntary
surrender of non-Canaanite peoples who preferred slavery in Israel to
military combat (Dt. 20:10-15).  Oh come on,  how many examples
need be given reference to show that MLK, Jr. not from his religion, but
rationally found slavery to be an abomination? Ex. 21:2-4; Lev. 25:39-
43; Dt. 15:12?  And especially Leviticus 25:44-46 Give us atheists a
living break, you religionists!  As you can readily see, atheists
understand at least the Christian religious history as well as anybody,
particularly if the Bible is the reference.

Those humanitarians of whom ITW and you speak, if they relied on
logic, it was the logic that comes from weighing doing nothing or doing
something and what was the probable outcome of their doing
something.  Their motivations came from the basic emotions regarding
morality.  If that morality was honed by their religious training, then
that is a good that religion can perform.  However that is not the only
source of a rational for morality.  It takes elementary human reasoning,
that is, logic, to see the value in taking action.  If they thought for a
moment that their action would not yield something good they would
have been wretched to try to act the way they did. 

Your falling on religious faith is faulty.  Inasmuch as faith is a belief on
what is ultimately without empirical justification, it is not only in the
province of religion that faith operates.  You know the problem of
epistemology.  The faith of science relies on accumulated “empirical”
testing but with reservation that it surrenders to probability and
provisional truth, always willing to rethink its conclusions.  Quite unlike
the dogma of religious belief.

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2010 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Bandying the faith word around like it is holy and means something special maybe like the word has its own aura? Seems to be only because in the minds of the deluded it is necessary to make it so. “one must have faith”...... special music please! 

If one does not believe in the existence of god as Atheists do, why would conjuring up a believing in god even be an option? It is no more an option then having faith in Santa Claus. Talk about ad nasturtium, the faithers must sling and cling to fables and fictions or they believe they have nothing and may end up as the devils dish rag…... Not sure, but I believe or have faith Atheists do not believe in dish rags.

One more thing about illusions sponsored by the deluded, twisting and turning illustrations of illusions seems to be consistently used with deluded self riotousness,...... hence let it be known,..... I do believe in the existence of lunatics.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 8:49 am Link to this comment

Nice article…

What is interesting is this:

If there was no God…. why would people behave?

Civilization, as we understand it today, would have ceased long ago.. the population of man would be nil.. if existing at all!

Without fear of consequence ( and believe me, jail nor torture nor punishment deters the most ruthless of men from committing crimes against his fellow man ), the basis of what has become known as society would never have gotten off the ground.

Even in ancient times, where no God was acknowledged, the people were made to believe in mystical gods, or the leaders themselves to be gods or supernatural beings…. still, the belief in someone stronger and able to bring justice to your door if you don’t walk with justice coming out it.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 16, 2010 at 8:43 am Link to this comment

I was sober… and not that sleepy.

Why would I risk looking like an idiot, sharing a silly story trying to get a rise out of anyone on here?

Makes no sense to share such things.

Thought I’d just be honest about my experience and let the ‘chips fall…..’

Remember, as that saying / stat goes: average people only develop or use 10% of their brain… I’d like to think I’ve finally cracked into 11% usage 8^)

So, inferring the mind can understand and comprehend better the world exterior… perhaps better development would allow better understanding, perception and sensitivity to this mysterious world we have?

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By Maani, October 16, 2010 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

ITW:

“All those ‘spiritual’ people changed the world by taking concrete, logical actions, step by step.  That does not negate my point, it strengthens it.  MLK didn’t wave his staff—he worked his BUTT off and risked getting it shot off—but always it was concrete and logical actions.  So did Gandhi.  And CERTAINLY Mother Theresa worked like a galley slave.  Certainly they were inspired.  But was that inspiration a heavenly thought implanted in otherwise loutish heads? Or did all 3 see that there is ‘right’ and there is ‘wrong,’ and most people (other than psychos) agree on much of that regardless of beliefs, and work towards it?”

You miss the point entirely.  If in fact these (and other) believers ultimately used “logic” and “concrete actions” to achieve what they did, it came out of their faith, not the other way around.  It did not need to be a specific “heavenly thought” (indeed, in this context, this concept is so ridiculous as to defy response).  Rather, their very CONCEPT of “right and wrong” came from their faith.  To suggest otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

As Joan has noted ad nauseam, whether one accepts them or not, the morals and sense of right and wrong of believers is undergirded by a very specific thing: their faith (and their belief in a God who “watches”) and, yes, many of the tenets of the dogma and doctrine of that faith.  Secularists, on the other hand, can appeal to no “specific” underpinning - no absolute “guiding reason” - for their morals or sense of right and wrong.  It does not mean that secularists cannot be moral, or have a sense of right and wrong.  Of course they can, and do.  Only that they are more “vaguely” underpinned.

In this regard, I thought I would throw some red meat to the “dogs” here (no slur on either atheists or dogs…LOL):

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/16beliefs.html?sq=atheists&st=cse&scp=2&pagewanted=print

Peace.

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By Leefeller, October 16, 2010 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

Even I had one of those extra special moments when I was half awake and half asleep!.....this usually happens during the Holidays, and after I had throw a big Xmas holiday bash for my neighbors and friends and and partake in copious amounts of glug. One time I remember laying on the bed, it seemed like the sun was up so I suppose it was daytime.

Something was in my room, I felt its presence and heard it make some strange sounds as it seemed to float just next to my bed and made its way into the master bathroom, I remember it had an aura about it, causing the hair on my belly to stand up,... startled ..... I remember quickly sitting upright and yelling out…..close the fricking door!

It is almost that time of year again for it is the season to be jolly and have the holiday visit by The Great Unyun she likes Glug with her Tequila!

Making Glug!

Place in cloth bag paper does not work.

6 cardamon seeds - whole
7 cloves - peppered removed
4-5 cinnamon sticks
1 ginger root
pinch grated nutmeg

Cook slowly for 1 hour in 1 1/2 quarts not old water.

Cook slowly preferably in pot:

a. 1 gallon port wine
or
b. 1 gallon burgundy
c. My grandmother used port but never got past this point!

1 lb. granulated (or brown) sugar. Less with a. more with b occasionally it does not matter by now!
peels from 2 oranges or just use the whole oranges un-peeled, by this time using a knife may not be a good idea anyway!
1 lb. raisins
1 pkg. blanched almonds (I do not know what blanched is)

If you have made it this far; DO NOT boil the wine and do not drink to much or the rest of the directions may not work properly and one may end up like grandmaw! Heat slowly for one hour while the spices are cooking, one can feel the presence of the spirits
Remove the spice bag and pour water into the rest of the wine.

Add 1/5th whiskey or what is left of the whiskey and stir the spirits for they always need stirring. Remove from heat and “burn” off bitters.
Remove fruit and store in wine bottles oh! what the hell you can eat the fruit, by now it does not matter.

Drink in moderation get the lampshade out and and wait for your friends and neighbors to show up!

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By elisalouisa, October 16, 2010 at 1:48 am Link to this comment

Maani, “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It
should be thrown with great force.” My chemistry teacher must have been familiar with Dorothy Parker’s comment. If you did not meet her standards she would hurl a book at you, her aim perfected through the years so she rarely missed. Now days that would be child abuse. We spoke of it quite fondly, a badge of honor so to speak.

Unless present, one cannot say what did or did not occur on any occasion. One day auras will be accepted and science will know be able to verify such occurrences. The fact that the priest was in prayer in no way influenced some responses I am certain.

My last comment on this thread.

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By garth, October 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm Link to this comment

Napolean DoneHisPart, October 14 at 5:15 pm

Thank you for sharing.  These are experiences that I think should go under the heading of Religious Experiences.  Instead of listening to Bible thumpers and then going out and creating a fiasco, people should relate these types of occurrences, and juast ponder for a while.

Experientially, they are quite different.

On the the other hand, things like that can always be chalked up to something you ate or too much to drink.

I like to let them sit, though, and without any scientific explanation or rebuttal readily available, they seem to me to perfectly in line with experinces I have had.

Religion without the dogma.

Let’s see an experientialist stand up in a Quaker Hall, or a Christian Science meeting, or at a Synagogue or a Catholic church, or a baptist Revival and say, ‘I don’t belive at all what you are selling, but here’s my experience of the Godhead.’  For atheists, it could be the lack thereof.  Divinity supplanted by humanity.

While your yakking, we could slip out back and loot your homes. Clean you out.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 14, 2010 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

LeeFeller, just sharing with others my experience.

I had laid down ( came back from a friend’s house and arrived home around 6:50 am ), and was in bed for about a minute or two… when I ‘sense’ someone had come into my room….

I naturally open my eyes to look… and to my surprise this thing is next to me / my bed.

I IMMEDIATELY react and am up against the wall whilst sitting on my bed ( knee-jerk reaction ).

As soon as my eyes were fixed in / through this thing.. It turns and heads toward the doorway… vanishing prior to actually exiting the doorway…

I’m sitting in bed now, eyes wide open, looking around, looking at the clock and realizing I had just laid down ( I always glance at the clock prior to closing my eyes )... and realized I had been laying down for less than two minutes…

Right then, after about 5 to 6 seconds trying to comprehend, remember and realize what I had just witnessed… the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

So then I get up, angry and with hands clenched, looking for this thing… as if I could do something…

I was going through a tough time…. and didn’t pray until two days later… and asked that I NEVER see something like this again… and I haven’t.

Not trying to freak anyone out, or spur some type of ‘faith’ in others from this.. just honestly sharing what I experienced… and actually not too happy or proud about this experience, for I’m still not sure about it ( what it meant or why it was happening ) myself.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 14, 2010 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

Maani,
You are usually more thoughtful.

All those “spiritual” people changed the world by taking concrete, logical actions, step by step.  That does not negate my point, it strengthens it.  MLK didn’t wave his staff—he worked his BUTT off and risked getting it shot off—but always it was concrete and logical actions.  So did Gandhi.  And CERTAINLY Mother Theresa worked like a galley slave. 

Certainly they were inspired.  But was that inspiration a heavenly thought implanted in otherwise loutish heads? Or did all 3 see that there is “right” and there is “wrong”, and most people (other than psychos) agree on much of that regardless of beliefs, and work towards it?

As for the photon thing? Yeah, I am even more certain about it than you are in your faith, despite the ad hominem attack.  Eyesight works by photons exciting a very, very lengthy series of chemical reactions in a cascade of proteins.  Sci Am had it documented about 25 years ago.  That’s just how sight works. You can say it comes from tiny lolly-pops melting in your retinas if you want but that don’t make it so.

So if you “see” something that isn’t photon driven it is, by definition an hallucination.  Close your eyes and press on them.  You’ll see random patterns of light and shape.  But you’re not actually seeing ANYTHING.  It is a simple hallucination.

Unlike you, I will not automatically attribute that to a supernatural event (I’ve given my reasons).

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By Maani, October 14, 2010 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

Lee:

“If…any person I…know flattered themselves as much as Manny constantly [does]…on this thread…”

Actually, expressing self-confidence is not the same as lacking humility.

“I can see a Harris debate with Parsing Manny, it would be a Maany grammar parsing fest. destroying the context of anything Harris stated…parsing…into tiny little…pieces down to the…level of nonsense, unfortunately Manny…is incoherent to just about anyone with the capability of deductive reason…”

No one considered me “incoherent” when I debated Victor Stenger in a room full of skeptics (at a meeting of a chapter of CFI).  Re my debate with Harris, it would be on the existence of God, and the value and the benefits/dangers of faith/religion.  It would not require “parsing,” and would (hopefully) be interesting, thought-provoking, and even fun.

“So according to the Pious on Harris’s book; It is a book that in itself should not detain anyone for very long. It is little more than a concentration of shrill, petulant assertions, a few of which are true, but none of which betrays any great degree of philosophical or historical sophistication.”

Actually, pace Dorothy Parker: “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”  LOL.

She:

“He is a Ph.D.”  He did not earn his Ph.D. until 2009.  Both “End of Faith” and “Letter” were written prior thereto.  And as I have said before, the simple obtaining of a degree does not prove anything except the tenacity to obtain it.  It says nothing about “mental capacity” (or even IQ…), much less an ability to reason or debate.

“Harris argues that in order to be useful, beliefs must be both logically coherent, and truly
representative of the real world.”

The suggestion that the beliefs that derive from my faith are any less “useful” than the beliefs that derive from his “reason” is not simply presumptuous, but patently ridiculous.

EL

“You do have a way with words Joan which brings me to a question: How would you define that experience which is part of believing?”

Joan’s experience resonates with me as well, though my personal story is different in many respects.  I would add here is that I believe that Bill Maher is (ironically) correct: I think believers DO “pick up a radio station that non-believers do not.”
“Harris wants religious fanaticism stamped out. All religion goes out the window…What Harris and his friends…propose [is to]…replace God with science, compassion with statistics and common sense with theory, but they don’t change anything…They simply don’t present an option that’s more appealing than what most people currently choose to live with.”

Superbly put!  I would add that their option is not only less “appealing,” but would (if taken to its extreme) leave us with a singularly “dead-spirited” world.

ITW

“We see reason and logic change the world all the time…”

We also see faith change the world all the time.  From Gandhi to MLK to Mother Teresa, from the abolition movement to the women’s suffrage movement to the civil rights movement.  And that’s just a VERY short list.

“There are only two ways to see something: 1) It emits photons.  Thus it is controlled by the natural laws of existence. 2) It does not emit photons.  Thus your brain must be creating the image as it is not assembling it from collected photons….That’s it. There is no other way.”

Really?!  “That’s it?!”  “No other way?!”  And you know this because…you are an expert in electromagnetism, quantum physics and optics?  Actually, “there is no other way”…that we know of at this time in scientific knowledge.  But science and its theories often change over time as new discoveries are made.  And you accuse the believers of “certitude!

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By Leefeller, October 14, 2010 at 10:05 am Link to this comment

Napoleon whats his paints; I do not understand why people ignore your posts, on the other hand I do not understand many other things that happen to me, like the time I got my head stuck in a garage door while doing a bowling ball experiment.
I do not understand why people post fables as facts, nor do I understand why people want everyone else to accept fables as facts? 

As for auras not sure if what you really mean is odors?.....Someone who has a spiritual distinctive lingering quality or impressionable odor about them would be Billy the Goat, his odor surrounds him even though Billy has never seen a pulpit. One could say Billy would give the pope a run for his money in the odor department. The Pope must be a close runner up to Billy, because they gave him a Pope mobile and billy don’t have one of those either, I am thinking a Billy mobile might be a good idea!

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By Leefeller, October 14, 2010 at 9:14 am Link to this comment

Coincidences or coinkydinks have happened to me on occasion even when not being under a spiritual sense, when I was younger I remember looking across the valley which we call hollows or hollors, I saw a light move slowly across the misty holler this mysterious light moved ever so slowly,  then stopped in one place and I heard some loud creaking noises when all of a sudden it made a sound which sounded like a sneeze then the words…..“HearCow”!

I have seen a fire fly a bird fly and a dragon fly, though I have never seen a house fly, though once during a wind storm I have seen a barn fly!

My delusions, illusions and any madness I can conjure up do not become a staple in my life, I do not live or subject my life by myths, fables and stories, so what does this mean?.... I must be the mad one!

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 14, 2010 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

ITW, I saw something for about 8 seconds one early morning before the sun came up ( about 5:04am to be exact )... and that affirmed the spirit world for me..

It was close up ( about two feet away ), I heard it make a few noises…. and it then dematerialized before my eyes…

It was transparent ( I could see the wall behind it ) yet I could see the form in detail, not only an outline but also depth.. if that makes any sense.

I’ve mentioned it before on this thread, but folks love to look over and ignore responding to my posts and continue their banter with others.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 14, 2010 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

“Can science explain auras?”

Sure.  I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of auras.  I know it has its root in a biological effect.

There are only two ways to see something:

1) It emits photons.  Thus it is controlled by the natural laws of existence.

2) It does not emit photons.  Thus your brain must be creating the image as it is not assembling it from collected photons.  That is, by definition, an hallucination. 

That’s it. There is no other way.

Hallucinations do not imply drugs and/or insanity.  It merely means something other than photons is stimulating your brain to think it’s getting information from the optic nerve, and that that information is photon imaging.

Interpreting that hallucination and its cause is key.

You want to believe you saw a priest with a heavenly halo? Well, you are entitled to that little fantasy.  Just don’t expect me to buy that you saw a halo, just that you THINK you saw a halo.

Special effects were a common practice in the Medieval Church, as were the great passion plays.  They were designed to incentivise the masses to greater attention and reverence and therefore weren’t viewed by the Church as “fake”, but rather as encouragement.  At my kindest, I think of it as a stage magician, wowing us even though we KNOW he’s not doing anything supernatural—but how does he do it?????  So we pay closer attention.

I can honestly say I’ve never experienced a supernatural event.  I would be highly disappointed if I did, not because it might prove God exists—I’d be OK with that—but because it would mean that He/She/It wasn’t perfect and had to undo the very basic and fundamental laws of God’s universe to interfere and reverse something.

The idea of constantly messing around with the unbearably beautiful physical laws that we already know is inconceivable.  But if He/She/It is not messing with them, but merely acting within them, how do we know that’s God?

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By elisalouisa, October 14, 2010 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

Your post speaks for itself Leefeller and reflects on the writer.

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By Leefeller, October 14, 2010 at 4:13 am Link to this comment

Ravings of lunatics, justifying delusions as fact,  these delusions are spread around like the Plague by a bug which is called faith, a germ of the mindless. This germ or bug seems to thrive in vast empty spaces between the ears of the Pious. Once the lunatic is infected the faith bug takes over what may have once been a normal mind, scientific research can only shake its head.  Ignoring science is a major component of the faith bug. This bug causes the lunatic to spew what is called nonsense, but only in polite society. 

Sometimes the faith bug can cause the mind to become so sick and deluded it can even fly an airplane into a building or strap a bomb on to themselves, sometimes to kill other lunatics or sadly non-lunatics. 

Unfortunately lunatics seem to have offspring, usually at much higher rates than non-lunatics, thus repeating the lunatic cycle. .....So it seems non-lunatics are doomed to suffer higher rates of constant lunatic rantings and abuse.

Guess eloweezea is correct, Harris would like to see the world luniticless!

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By Shenonymous, October 14, 2010 at 4:03 am Link to this comment

Your statement is no better the second time around and my
critique stands as said as well.

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By elisalouisa, October 14, 2010 at 3:25 am Link to this comment

The statement in its entirety:

Harris says that, “the world needs. . .people like ourselves to admit that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human flourishing, and morality relates to that domain of facts. People like ourselves.” I suppose he was referring to white, mostly affluent people in the room he was addressing. Perhaps Harris believes that affluent whites are superior human intellectually and should therefore be given the duty of morality police for the entire human global society. More likely he is speaking to the scientific community as a whole. What gives him or any group of self-appointed scientists the right or wisdom to choose how others should be judged?

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By Shenonymous, October 13, 2010 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

Unbelievable drivel and dross, elisalouisa, October 13 7:04 pm:
“I suppose he was referring to the mostly white, mostly affluent
people in the room he was addressing.  Perhaps Harris believes that
affluent whites are the superior humans intellectually and should
therefore be given the duty of morality police for our entire global
society.  More likely, he’s speaking to the scientific community as a
whole, but that still doesn’t sit well with me.  ?What gives him or any
group of self-appointed scientists the right or the wisdom to choose
how others should be judged?  Surely he would object to being held
accountable for his actions in a hostile foreign court, and I can see how
people of faith would be equally infuriated by him telling them that
they ?don’t have a valid opinion on the subject of human values…”

Your kind of supposing is what has given birth to the worst kind of
racist thinking in the world.  And you accuse him of being racist! 
Incredible.  It is sheer chicanery on your part.  Your attempt to
understand him is obviously beyond your ken so you resort to a
magisterial mannerism.  “What gives him or any group of scientists
(not self-appointed but credentialed and recognized as such, another
stupid statement on your part), the right or wisdom to choose how
others should be judged?”
  Why the very same right you have to
make outrageous doctrinaire statements about how he ‘should’ be
understood.  Having watched his video a few times, it is amazing
and descriptive of the menial mentality of religionists who mouth
simply vacuous convictions that have no justified reality.  You have the
right to believe as you wish, but do not be so onerous as to try to decal
them onto others. 

“Pretending to know things that you do not know is a profound liability
in science, you get punished for this rather quickly. But pretending to
know things you do not know is the life blood of faith based religion.
This is really one of the profound ironies of religious discourse: the
frequency with which you can hear religious people praise themselves
for their humility, while tacitly claiming to know things about
cosmology and physics and chemistry and paleontology that no
scientist knows. . . Religion allows people by the millions to believe
things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own.”
Sam Harris – The End of Faith

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

ITW: As to your comment, you don’t care what I saw, I certainly accept that comment.

We all can believe what we wish, free to educate our families in the same manner.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 13, 2010 at 7:51 pm Link to this comment

EL:

If you have a private communication that you don’t want commented on then I suggest you use the private messaging tools that TruthDig provides.  Anything you post on a thread is public on an open forum and anyone who wants can and will comment on it.

You run that risk whenever you post and if you don’t like it, don’t post it.

I really don’t care what you think you saw.  You believe because you want to believe.

Not my problem as long as you don’t force it on me and my family.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Check these sites out as to aura.

http://www.reiki-for-holistic-health.com/auracolormeanings.html


http://www.crystalinks.com/aura.html

Google “aura” also if you are interested in this subject.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

Joan,
You are correct about the breathing. One exercise I follow, is, when laying in bed on my back, half awake, I place my right hand over my heart and take notice of my breathing, It can also be done sitting down in a peaceful surrounding.
Perhaps there is no way to help others understand such an experience. Thus you have the New Atheists insisting that such occurrences do not happen.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

ITW you cannot tell me what me or my mother did see. This was not a gimmick and it was not consistent. Infact it was rare and only at 7 a.m. To my knowledgte the Priest may not have been aware of his aura. This happened at early Mass, later Masses were not the same. No one spoke of it. How many times have I mentioned this incident? Could be counted on the fingers of one hand. I put it out there for Joan only. I would appreciate it if no one would comment on my post. It was just meant for Joan. Thank you.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Blah blah blah…

I know some textually sensitive folks on here don’t like to simply read this… so I’ll paste and then pontificate, if you don’t mind, for your reading pleasure.

In regards to other religions and beliefs other than Christ Crucified:

James 1:26-27

“26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

In a nut shell, God does mention religions he has Compassion upon if they show to indeed be good-deed religions.

And he says this in Romans 9:14

14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

15For he says to Moses,
  “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

God still had compassion on Ishmael and has blessed his descendants greatly as well… 

I saw “A River Runs Through It” last night.. again… one of my favorites and most telling of the human experience through faithful eyes.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Every living thing has its strategy for success and continuance, whether it is a bacterium, a sponge, a wheat stalk, a tree, a fruit fly, an elephant, or a person.  Its competitive advantage.  We do not survive by prayer, by faith, by spirituality.  We survive by hard work.  That work was once as simple as picking fruits and vegetables and eating them raw.

From finding fruit, to creating hunting implements, to protecting ourselves with homes, spears, bows and arrows and, yes, training.  Our very existence depends solely on our intellect and our logic, including our ability to organize ourselves into collective units.  We’re the only creature that knowingly and deliberately grows our food.

None of this happens via spirituality, but by using our intellect.  But not by auras.  I have no idea what you saw, but light has always been a major weapon in the construction of churches, and the engineers going back to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, knew this.  The dome of the building seems to floating, as if it’s suspended on a chain from heaven.  And the light? OH! the light!

Rule: What you see can only have two causes:
1) Photons from the object, excited by light, reach your retinas.
2) You are hallucinating. I’m a migraineur—I know about “The Aura” and the hallucinations you see during an episode.  It’s not like “tripping”, but it’s damned unpleasant.  Even a burning bush that’s not consumed could be a migraineur’s vision.  As a migraineur I’m aware that what I’m seeing is a circulation generated vision, so I put no stock in it.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

Joan,

I know what hat-doffing.  I know it’s a sign of respect and it FAR predates the POA, the flag, and our nation. Lower classes in Europe were expected to doff their hats for their “betters” (if you want think of the thugs who made themselves lords, barons, earls, dukes and kings as “better”).  If not wearing a hat, they would pull a forelock.  They would do it for the religious equivalent of the thugs—the bishops, which, in Medieval Europe were also gentry and as power-hungry and wealth-hungry as the aristocracy.

Of course, the aristocracy and the Church enforced religion and were able to claim that they had their positions by God’s Will—The Divine Right of Kings.  The sign of respect was to God’s Will. This takes us ALL the way back, back to where I said we began—removing headwear as a sign of respect begins with the New Testament.

Breaking Bread far predates Christianity…didn’t you realize THAT is a Jewish tradition that goes much further back.  But it’s not just Abrahamic. Read Homer—the sanctity of the hearth and the requirement to take in travelers AND treat them with honor was fundamental to the religion of the Greeks long before Homer was composing.

Jefferson certainly realized Christians would take “Creator” to mean their God.  I’ve never said otherwise.  He also realized Jews would do the same thing.  And if there were Asians who were citizens, they would see THEIR gods, as Native Americans would see The Great Spirit, and as non-believers would see the forces of nature the put us here.  You’ve made a false inference.

Joan: You may not realize you are hurting someone when you step on his foot in a spiked heel.  But if you INSIST on your right to KEEP stepping on his foot, rather than simply moving it, your intent is NOW to hurt him.

Look, I’ve said it before: I’m not going to condemn or criticize you decorating your house.  I may think the giant winking Santa on the roof is a bit tasteless, but so will many Christians.  But not the brass candlestick in the window on green and red, which is quite lovely. Or the Christmas tree on your lawn in the snow.  I’m not unfeeling.

But think about the school you went to, where EVERYTHING was geared toward men, from the height of lab tables to the plumbing, how even the professional clothing was all geared toward men, and how nonchalant everyone was about it—and how you felt you HAD to fight for your rights.  The casual remarks about cooking and cleaning, how if there was a committee meeting YOU were assumed to be the secretary, taking notes and fetching coffee.  Then there were all the sexual innuendos, from subtle to crass, comments on your appearance, both positive and negative.  Being referred to as a “girl” when the males were referred to as “men”.  It was all there, wasn’t it?  How close am I?

And how, if anyone pointed it out, she was seen as crazy, over-sensitive, or just a bitch.

Separation of church and state is like anything else.  Little compromises lead to bigger compromises, and then your children, or your grandchildren are living under the local equivalent of the Taliban.  Or being taught that ancient man road dinosaurs, like the Flintstones.  Or worse, taught religiously acceptable science that makes real scientific advances impossible (See Galileo about that).  The line of acceptable vs non-acceptable behavior needs to be drawn firmly and solidly.

What do you think of when you see the Church of Scientology? Yet THEY believe they are a religion…do you buy it?  I don’t, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to their religious practices…just so long as they aren’t using public property for it.

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

EL,

I was not entirely sure about what you were asking me to describe so I was not sure I was answering you.  But it got the discussion going. I’m glad. Thanks.

I think human kind is spiritual and that spirituality is experienced across all spiritualities, Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Judaism etc… We recognize the transcendent through our own cultural experiences.  The spiritual messages, if you will for lack of a really good vocabulary to speak with, are very similar, peace, understanding, kindness, patience etc.

The actual experience of God to me is a mystical one. I feel that during a mystical experience there is different breathing and God breathes His breath into you …me in the quiet of His presence. That is one way He literally links up.  Catholicism says in communion we imbibe the God substance itself. Again I think this is true. After a while the beauty of the mystical experience dissipates and we have to get back with God to have it again. That’s one of His ways of getting us to stay with Him. 

Advanced mystics write that when in union with God, they experience His guidance of the daily activities.  Ever felt you something tell you to call someone and wonder where that urge came from? 

Buddhists say to become nothing. Christ said to surrender to God’s will. Same thing…you stop directing and He will fill the void for you. I do believe that God is working with us all, discreetly and diligently.

Thoughts? 

I see no reason to deny auras. I think we are pretty much energy, His energy. 

You words about me are too kind…much too kind …I treasure them

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By Leefeller, October 13, 2010 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

Science I believe, cannot explain hallucinations or delusions, because they do not exist except in the mind of the deluded and the hallucinations they see are because all that blood rushing to fill the void between their ears, presses on the eyeballs and changes colors. On occasion I have even seen my own hallucinations after partaking of the spirits,..... usually a couple of bottles of Tequila….... I am jealous, the money the already deluded have to be saving has to be enormous, .... better quality Tequila is not cheap!

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller,

I was catching up and found the post you noted as interesting to you. Thanks…

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

ITW,

Male hat doffing is a sign of respect. Agreed. In The US of A it is sign of respect during the POA prescribed in the Flag Code not a Christian ritual.

Breaking bread was a part of Christian communion services in early Rome. So every time in 2010 a waiter brings a bread basket to the table in an Italian restaurant, do you think he is forcing you to participate in a Christian communion service? 

No matter how Jeff chose the word Creator for Dec. of Ind., he knew that Christians would recognize that to mean their God. “Veni, Creator Spiritus” …come, Creator Spirit.  All Christians know who that is, precisely.

That it’s hard to be in a minority, I’m a pre’60’s female, tell me about it. I was only one of two females in grad school in my field when Princeton Univ. boasted proudly in its catalogue that it did not accept females. (I did not go to Princeton just perused its catalogue for laughs.) Life’s tough.

Christians who have Christmas parties in school or C. trees in the town square are not doing that to hurt you. Jews putting up menorahs are not doing that to hurt me either. Many other non- Christians enjoy the fun of the celebration. I wish you would too. Forget Guinness…think eggnog…eggnog with lots of whiskey and brandy…and whipped cream.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for sharing. You tell your story so well. .  . The harmony of nature and its exquisite beauty. How indeed could this complex world just happen?  I also went to Catholic school K-12, two years of college and then continuing to take courses throughout my life in subjects that interest me, such as religion. I recall as a child attending 7 a.m. Mass with my mother. The priest in his homily once told us that this was his favorite Mass as those that attended were the most faithful. Prayer sometimes quiets one and while gazing at the priest saying Mass I would notice a gold color surrounding him. I never spoke of this and just accepted that fact. One Sunday my mother leaned down to me and quietly asked if I saw the color gold around the priest. I replied that I did. We never spoke of this again and just accepted that fact. It was not until later than
I learned of auras.  Can science explain auras? There was a period where my faith was tested but it was always with me. Your experience as to feeling physical peace and a sense of completion at times is true. Perhaps in the very act of seeking, continually seeking, there is response and unity with God. It is my belief that this can be experienced not only in Christianity but also in other religions. This Spirit which breathes life into all cannot be quelled. 
Frankly, I was not so presumptuous as to ask you to relate your personal experiences. What I really am searching for is a word or a way to relate to those who are not of such faith; perhaps there is none. The word Grace can be used but many do not except or relate to what is said or experienced.  Never, in a million years did I even suspect that such a beautiful testimony would be on Truthdig. I shall print out your post Joan and place it where all important reading goes, on the refrigerator. Perhaps you should start your own blog where those in need counsel may turn to, or just wish to share. I know it is time consuming but the effort might prove satisfying and be of service to those in need.

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm Link to this comment

ITW,

Since Plato Western philosophy has typically assumed the prominence of reason over emotions and intuition.

It is inarguable that we have accomplished wonderful things through reason but marginalizing our other human capacities and needs, our emotions and intuitions has resulted in a myriad of psychological difficulties for Western man who seems evermore incapable of addressing our emotional needs to the extent we are relying on drugs and therapists more and more. 

Man is more than reason and logic, which also has severe limits if you try to apply it to life. Reducing man to one prime faculty is a loss.

“How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer is a terrific book that addresses this very issue. Right off the bat, the author describes how a quarterback who has only a split second to make his play must size up the field… it’s not reason that wins the day. He explains how those who rely on reason alone can become indecisive. I think you would like his methodical and scientific approach to this issue.

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By Shenonymous, October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Consistent with your usual truncated understanding demonstrated
in your conceitedly assertive comments and personal critique, Joan,
and again sans any exact citations in his books, Sam Harris is not
so naïve to think he could eliminate belief in a God, whether the
Christian, Jew, Muslim, or any other religionist god, such as the
pantheon of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, and the Bahá’í
or the many other religions that have a god or gods. But I am
delighted to continue to expose his ideas and yours for what they
really are as per his own words and not as you and your comrades
aim to damage in defense of your own insufficiently justified religious
dogma.

In The End of Faith, Harris is concerned about organized religion, the
clash between religious faith and rational thought, and the problems of
tolerance towards religious fundamentalism. He calls for an end to
respect and tolerance for the competing belief systems of religion,
which he describes as being “all equally uncontaminated by evidence.”

Examining the nature of belief itself, he challenges the notion that
humanity can in any sense enjoy freedom of belief. Harris argues that
in order to be useful, beliefs must be both logically coherent, and truly
representative of the real world.  Please do argue against that!  Religion,
he compares to a form of mental illness which, he says, “allows
otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and
consider them holy.  And in this book, contrary to your criticism that he
does not deal with religion as much as assumptions made about what is
true about the world, he takes a great deal of time to consider in depth
what he calls religious inventions.  He does as much about Christian
fundamentalism in Letter to a Christian Nation as well.  It would appear
that you really did not read his books but merely scanned them for
sentences that out of context would support your criticism.  Not very
nice and truly deceptive for a “Christian” Joan.  For shame.

It saddens me that a bright mind like ITW takes Joan at her word and
does not read Harris to come to his own conclusions. This entire
sentence of hers is laughably ridiculous, ”It may be because he has
finally realized that attempting to eliminate God through reason is an
exercise in futility.”
  Attributing a realization to someone (Harris) she
barely has come to know through a flimsy reading of a couple of his
books, and I doubt she actually read the books but rather some
Internet criticisms of them by those she would normally agree with
anyway. I can’t imagine Joan would have spent the money on his books,
$17 for one and $19.50 for the other.

Joan’s critique is, ‘roughly,’ an intentional misreading. ”His thesis is
roughly that it is silly and dangerous to believe in religion because its
content is not provable, empirically verifiable, or highly probable.“
 
He does not use the word silly at all in either book. If you think you
have a quote, Joan, I’d sure like to see it.

And again, ”He works on the tacit assumption that in the grand
scheme of things that every thing we can know about man and his
world is empirically verifiable or minimally stated in the context of a
probable outcome.”
  Please provide a quote that backs up this claim
of yours. As a neuroscientist he knows that anything science discovers
is only provisional.  What you didn’t notice in your quasi quote, is the
second phrase qualifies the first at any rate. I am amazed at your
hubris to think you can expound your own theories and try to attribute
them to someone who can think circles around you. Good grief, get a
grip, Joan.

Also elisalouisa, “what Harris proposes is simply a new religious order”
is about a ludicrous a statement ever said on this forum. Stupid is the
nicest word I can think of.  You might check to see if you are conscious
when you watch Sam’s video.  What’s with you girls?

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

I.Excerpts from TED blog re TED conference in February 2010 regarding Sam Harris view that science can answer moral questions.  The most disturbing and dangerous statement Harris makes in his TED speech is as follows:
“Whenever we are talking about facts, certain opinions must be excluded.  That is what it IS to have a domain of expertise.  That is what it IS for knowledge to count.” . .
He goes on to say that we have convinced ourselves that in the moral sphere at least, we must count every opinion.  While I agree that it’s illogical to give serious weight to the opinions of those who would harm others or cause pain, what Harris proposes is simply a new religious order – one based in science but no less dangerous than those based in faith and dogma.  Here he indicates that certain people should be given “moral authority” while others should not, but who is to determine which people should be given this right and privilege?  Surely any scientist would agree that the most reliable data comes from the largest number of subjects.  For example, if you asked 10 people what color the sky was and eight said blue and two said white, you could say with some confidence that the sky was blue.  However, if you asked a few million and got the same percentage of blue versus white then you could be much more
certain of your answer.  Harris says that the world needs “people like ourselves to admit that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human flourishing, and morality relates to that domain of facts.”  People like ourselves.  I suppose he was referring to the mostly white, mostly affluent people in the room he was addressing.  Perhaps Harris believes that affluent whites are the superior humans intellectually and should therefore be given the duty of morality police for our entire global society.  More likely, he’s speaking to the scientific community as a whole, but that still doesn’t sit well with me. 
What gives him or any group of self-appointed scientists the right or the wisdom to choose how others should be judged?  Surely he would object to being held accountable for his actions in a hostile foreign court, and I can see how people of faith would be equally infuriated by him telling them that they
don’t have a valid opinion on the subject of human values.  .  .  .  .

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Elisalouisa,

I’m glad you enjoy my writing style. 

I am responding to your inquiry about how I would describe the experience of believing ...unity with God.  Here I am describing my own experience. It may be may be different for you, Maani or Napolean.

I was educated in Catholic schools, kindergarten-12 grade. So I decided after that that I wanted to figure out what I thought about God for myself, without all the indoctrination. So what I had was an education in Catholicism but not necessarily adult belief. The formal education certainly helped.

After college in the spirit of Descartes I let go of what I was taught about God etc. and wanted to see what I could figure out about God by myself. I was not all that diligent in my quest, just chugging away trying to make a go of my life. 

Over the years, like Napolean said some time ago, I began to see myself in some of the Bible stories and see truth in some of the book’s wisdom. I concluded that the Bible was a book cataloguing people’s experiences with God, all kinds of people, the pious as well as the risqué. 

Pregnant with my first child I marveled over it. I knew nothing about making life, a batch of brownies with ingredients and a recipe maybe but not human life. I knew something other than myself knew how to make life. God. So I believed by choice now.

I saw the harmony of nature and its exquisite beauty. If one cannot whip up brownies by chance, with no plan, how could this complex world come to be by chance? 

As a professional philosopher I studied many different theories in ethics, all the big ones like Aristotle, utilitarianism, Kant. They were too complex and too incomplete to apply to daily life. Christ offered a very simple ethical command…treat others as you want to be treated. From an ethicist’s point of view that command is elegant in its simplicity and applicability to daily life.  Would we follow it, there would be peace among brothers and among nations.  Christ impressed me immensely as another philosopher. 

I began to talk to God, not thinking He heard. After all, that’s silly. But I noticed specific responses to things I tossed His way. He engaged me now. He was the biblical God Christ knew, Abraham knew and Noah knew etc. So I believed. He patiently over the years proved His existence to me, a little uppity but open-minded 20th century professional skeptic.  He plays to win but works at your pace too.  This is roughly how I came to believe but after years…it is not belief any longer but knowledge. I now know Him and recognize Him as well as I recognize anyone else I know.

The experience of unity with God is physiological as well as psychological. You feel physical peace and a sense of completion, rest. There is a sense of harmony and settled- ness in life, despite its challenges. As God interacts with you, you see His wise love and see His loyalty. There have been times when I have told Him to hit the road in that unseemly fashion similar to Jacob’s altercation with that angel. Once God latches onto you, He is always faithful and there is no way to shake Him off. He really grew on me. I never thought to know Him so intimately while I was still alive. As you know God more, His ways seem less mysterious. He has one single, solitary agenda. To bring His children, all of them to Himself in His own way, using His own ethical system. 

All I can tell you Elisalouisa, is that the more I interact with God, the more truth I see in others’ experiences with the God re-counted the Bible. For me the spiritual journey was orchestrated by God as a result of my slight interest in knowing Him on my own terms. He took matters into His own hands and guided me to His doorstep over a period of decades to meet my request. Without my being all that aware of it, He reeled me in like a little fish. No wonder Jesus is called the fisher of men.

I hope this was something of what you were wanting to hear about.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment

.
II.While it’s true that science at it’s highest levels doesn’t ask you to believe in anything of significant importance, at the level in which most people understand it we are asked to take almost all of its principles for granted.  I don’t understand the complexities of photosynthesis, but I know that giving a plant light and water will help it grow.  In the same way, scientists like Harris ask lay people to have faith in that which they do not fully understand in order to see things the way they do.  The difference, they would tell you, is that what they are asking you to believe is based in proven fact rather than fictional dogma. Science and spirituality can and should co-exist peacefully.  There is no logical reason to exclude one for the other.  When something cannot be explained by science, one can simply seek a spiritual answer.  This doesn’t mean that ancient rituals and dogma should be followed, quite the contrary.  The kind of spirituality I’m speaking of is internal.  Today the only way to find true inner peace is through spiritual methods.  There is no compassion pill or love injection.  You have to nurture these things yourself, and arguably these are the most important facets of being human.  Most of us will never be remembered for inventing or discovering anything, but we can all be remembered for being kind and loving.
In recent decades atheists and scientists have been arguing with great intensity against religion, and they have made some interesting and obvious points.  The world could do with a lot less dogma and a lot more kindness and compassion, and a great deal more common sense.  However, what Harris and his friends at Project Reality propose has nothing to do with these things.  They replace God with science, compassion with statistics and common sense with theory, but they don’t change anything by doing so.  They simply don’t present an option that’s more appealing than what most people currently choose to live
with.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 13, 2010 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

it may be because he has finally realized that attempting to eliminate God through reason is an exercise in futility. I hope he has more success in this venue because he has not and will not eliminate God in the world via reason and thereby end religious fanaticism.
**************

Unfortunately, Joan, I have to agree with you and that saddens me (don’t take this wrong).  It’s terrible if you can’t change the world through reason and logical positions.  If we are not rational creatures, what are we?

We see reason and logic change the world all the time, but through the creation of material things: the printing press, electricity to do work, automobiles, the airplane, computer, personal computer, pocket calculator, telephone, cell phone, etc.  Each of these is a production of concrete facts, logic and ideas. 

We even use it ways no other animal can.  A Bushman tracker could read incredibly obscure and subtle signs in the environment that brought him a wealth of information.  He wasn’t a magician: He was a highly and deeply trained observer, using experience and logic to do his job..

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By Joan, October 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

I have read “Letter to a Christian Nation” and “End of Faith”.

Harris’ main theme in these two treatises was to prevent religious terrorism by eliminating belief in God through the use of reason. His approach was an appeal to epistemology, the study of how we know things are true or false. He claims that religious statements cannot be verified or proven to be true so he concludes they must all be false. So believing in God is just silly and/or dangerous. 

I have not read the book to which you refer. If in this tome he re-groups and argues from a moral position, it may be because he has finally realized that attempting to eliminate God through reason is an exercise in futility. I hope he has more success in this venue because he has not and will not eliminate God in the world via reason and thereby end religious fanaticism.

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By Shenonymous, October 13, 2010 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

elisalouisa, October 12 at 8:27 pm
How silly, elisalouisa. David Bently Hart is an Eastern Orthodox
professor and deeply steeped in early Christian theology.  “Sam
Harris shrieking and holding his breath and flinging his toys about
in the expectation that the adults in the room will be cowed.”

If Hart can point to a moment when Sam Harris shrieked, ever, it
would be momentous.  Hart’s hyperbole arises from his nearly drowning
submersion in religion and taking a defensive attitude towards one of
the most articulate atheists on the scene today. 

“Having a way with words” does dazzle some, especially those who do
not have the “gift.”  It might be worthwhile if the words said had any
verity to them.  When nothing but opinion is the offering, well, one’s
opinion is not worth more than any other.  So then they have value
only to those who want to believe them.

Joan, October 12 at 9:11 pm – ”I think Harris’ time would have been
better spent had he approached the problem of religious fanaticism
from a moral point of view rather than an epistemological one. All he
has to do is argue that killing innocent people in God’s name is a moral
offense of the highest order.”

Sam Harris consistently has argued that killing innocent people in God’s
name (any god as a matter of fact) is a moral offense of the highest
order.” It is clear your criticism comes from a complete ignorance of his
books, articles, and lectures.  It is a common error made by those who
are in the habit of arguing out of vacant presumptions. 

His new book The Moral Landscape, does exactly what you are
moaning about Joan, but he wrote and had it published it long before
you levied your mistaken criticism.

“In the Old Testament, we witnessed the most immoral behavior
imaginable. Genocide, ethnic cleansing, sexual slavery, the murder of
children, kidnapping, all of it not only permitted by God but mandated
by God. If you doubt this, take another look at books like Exodus and
Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Second Samuel and Numbers and First
and Second Kings, and Zachariah. I mean, in these books the most
unethical behavior is celebrated. If these events occurred in our own
time, half the prophets and kings of Israel would be shackled and
brought to the Hague for crimes against humanity, including Moses for
slaughtering the Midianites, including Joshua for slaughtering the
Amalachites, including Elijah for slaughtering the prophets of Baal. I
mean these men, by our standards today, they were utter psychopaths.”
- Sam Harris, End of Faith.

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By Leefeller, October 13, 2010 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

As one who prefers asking questions to the certainty of light bulbs, one could find question marks fit most appropriately from my point of view on Shes post.

Harris calls attention to the gross delusions of religion and how religion milk it for every bit of support they can. Not sure if Harris is saying this, but I find Religion a super efficient con.  Napoleon whats his pants, suggests it is not the religion which is the problem it is the people who take over the helm. This may be true for more than religion, I find this to be true in politics as well in other places which may happen to have helms.

For it is the nature of a cause any cause, political, religious and any causes in general for people to join up leaving the persons individuality behind to join and fight for a most worthy noble cause, well in ones mind that is. Those who jump in to support a cause feel the need to address perceived grievances, things believed to be unfair or unjust in their lives, others join a cause out of boredom or to seek opportunity. There are other reasons individuals shuck individualism to become staunch supporters of causes.

Since we are discussing Religion we must ask, why do people believe in their cause of Religion? For this to work, one must accept Religion to be a cause. Religion seems to have all the earmarks of a cause, especially when they were instituted. Is religion a cause? I believe it is so I will continue.

Ingredients of a cause requires blind faith or unyielding support in a belief the persons cause is right or just in merit, this means no matter what, meaning truth is not an option or needed. People who believe with certitude in a cause, a cause in the mind of these people is believed to be right beyond all doubt, these people are usually refereed to as fanatics.

Truth is not an option to the fanatic, reason has no place in a fanatics life in the quest of a cause, for they are driven with blind belief; for religion it is called faith; supported by companion fanatics the cause is complete and just. Company of others seeking the same cause, bolsters fanatic blindness. Causes of history have shown us this to be true; individuals join a cause, become fanatics and promote their noble cause in company of others, usually addressing perceived reasons of grievance. (Not sure what religions grievance is?)

I suggest this sequence of events is what happened in the US embassy in Iran, in the minds of the students their cause was just and noble against the great devil from the west the USA. Sadly history repeats itself, the students noble cause was taken over by supposedly more fanatical senior religious sorts who ended up at the Helm.  So the cause started out in one direction by students, only to find the Helm ripped away by others who grabbed the helm to drive in another direction. (these are the highlights as I saw them).

It is my premise thanks to Eric Hoffer, causes end up with different directors and directions as power struggles always occur at the top. Making a cause change course, ending with different drivers at the Helm than the original noble intent which started the cause. Cause from the beginning change in the end. Tainting of causes seems a given for power makes it so, as for religion as a cause, the only difference I see, it seems Religion was tainted or flawed from the beginning, after 3000 years of hindsight!

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By Shenonymous, October 13, 2010 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Here too, I have to apologize for those extra question marks.
They seem to come out of nowhere, little interrogative ghosts!

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By Shenonymous, October 13, 2010 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

Putting aside Sam Harris for a moment (and just a moment it will be),
I posted this on another forum since it seemed relevant to the angst
that was evident in the comments.  I had been reminded earlier by a
very dear friend, an atheist from birth so he says (aren’t all humans,
then, are taught their beliefs thereafter?), of another ?master at think-
ing, Rudyard Kipling, and his poem that was read ?to me in my
childhood by my mom, and that I’ve revisited from time to time.  But
it has been a while so to thank my friend for his charitable prompting,
I offer it here for you, too, for self-reflection in this ?trying time:

If?
If you can keep your head when all about you ?
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; ?
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, ?
But make allowance for their doubting too; ?
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, ?
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies, ?
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating, ?
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; ?
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim; ?
If you can meet with triumph and disaster ?
And treat those two imposters just the same; ?
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken ?
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, ?
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken, ?
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings ?
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, ?
And lose, and start again at your beginnings ?
And never breath a word about your loss; ?
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew ?
To serve your turn long after they are gone, ?
And so hold on when there is nothing in you?
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, ?
Or walk with kings or queens- nor lose the common touch; ?
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; ?
If all men count with you, but none too much; ?
If you can fill the unforgiving minute ?
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run - ?
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, ?
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man my son! ?
(and also more - you’ll be a Woman, my daughter!) My postscript.

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By elisalouisa, October 13, 2010 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

You do have a way with words Joan which brings me to a question: How would you define that experience which is part of believing? Why do some feel unity with God and others do not? My only motive for asking is to find a better way to discuss such matters with those who do not believe. Just putting that out, no need for response.

Another possibility concerning Sam, he could have used 9/11 as a basis to advance atheism and denigrate religious belief and as a sidebar pursue his vilification of Muslims. Sam wants “religious fanaticism” stamped out. All religion goes out the window so to speak. Using a moral point of view concerning the killing of the innocent at 9/11 might not have suited him as the New Atheists are redefining the word “moral”  also.

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By Napolean DoneHisPart, October 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Religions is not the poison.. it is those who take the helm and poison IT!

It happened to the Church of Christ… and we see it in all shades of faith and religions…

Yet those bonding aspects and truly peaceful admonitions and precepts do forward the progress of the human race.

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By Leefeller, October 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Joan, even though we disagree on the subject at hand, I appreciate you last post, if only for the support of discussion instead of name calling. I did not see your last post as mine may have taken a different direction if I had!

Harris may find religion as others like Dawkins, Hitchens, and others who are being labeled the New Atheists. Points such as Religion serves no purpose or it poisons everything or handicaps society as a whole, it sounds as if Harris follows this direction.

It seems possible, Harris would be more palatable to those of religion, if he had taken the moral viewpoint to argue, instead of the adversarial direction he has, which seems to clearly rock the pew?

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By Inherit The Wind, October 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm Link to this comment

EL:

Not trying to be insulting but I must have missed the meat in the post where you claimed I especially detested Catholics.  I covered in detail your hyperlink (thanks for not posting the whole dang thing as others do)  I thought it had nothing important to impart and I said why.

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