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Christopher Hitchens: Religion Poisons Everything

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Posted on Jun 6, 2007
Hitchens
Edward McNamara

By Jon Wiener

Editor’s note: Christopher Hitchens died Thursday, Dec. 15. (You can find Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer’s remembrance of his friend here.) Jon Wiener spoke with Hitchens in 2007 about his views on religion and the book that would turn out to be one of the milestones of Hitchens’ career. For more on the subject, you can read Mr. Fish’s remembrance of and interview with the public intellectual here.

***

In his latest book, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens makes the case against religion and for “free inquiry and open-mindedness.”  Hitchens, of course, is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School, and author of many books.  He spoke recently with Truthdig’s Jon Wiener.

Jon Wiener:  You show in your book how many horrible things men have done because of religion. In Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade and Baghdad, men kill other men, and say God told them to do it.  But why blame God for the bad things that men do?

Christopher Hitchens: I don’t blame God.  I blame religion.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as God. Religion makes people do wicked things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It doesn’t make them behave better—it makes them behave worse.  You couldn’t get people to hack away at the genitals of their newborn children if they didn’t think there was a religious obligation to do so. The licenses for genocide, slavery, racism, are all right there in the holy text.

Wiener: Yes, the Old Testament is full of these horrors.  But it also contains the Ten Commandments, prohibiting killing, stealing, adultery, and lying—isn’t this a good thing?

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Hitchens:  No.  it’s not.  Because these are prefaced by a series of injunctions to fear a permanent, unalterable dictatorship.  The first three commandments say “just realize who’s boss.”  Let’s assume the story of Moses is true, even though archaeologists have utterly discredited it.  Do our Jewish ancestors have to put up with the insult from us at this late stage that, until they got to Sinai, they thought murder and theft and perjury were OK?  Of course not.  There would have been no such people if they thought that.  There has never been a society or civilization that did warrant those things. And you don’t need divine urging to see that they’re wrong yourself.

Wiener: There’s one other commandment, the tenth—thou shalt not covet.

Hitchens: That is a particularly horrible crime of dictatorship, namely the crime of thought.  It says you can’t even think about this.  To say you’re not allowed to steal your neighbor’s possessions—including his wife—that’s one thing.  But to say you’re not allowed to envy your neighbor is absurd.  It’s impossible.  And the spirit of envy can lead to ambition and innovation and initiative.  I would say that’s an immoral commandment.
 
Wiener: Let’s talk about Islam.  You point out that the 9/11 terrorists said Allah wanted them to fly planes into buildings.  But there are something like a billion Muslims in the world today, and only 19 of them flew planes into the World Trade Center.  Why hold all of Islam responsible for the acts of those 19?

Hitchens:  I don’t.  Islam in fact has one advantage over Christianity—it doesn’t have a papacy.  There is no center that can say “we condemn this” or “we support this,” the way the church supported Franco Spain and said prayers in Germany on Hitler’s birthday by order of the Vatican.  But the centers of legislation and authority in the Islamic world, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo, have a lot of difficulty condemning suicide bombing.  In fact they’ve never got around to doing it.  They can’t seem to condemn even the blowing up of other Muslims—in Iraq, for instance, where they are blowing up each other’s children and each other’s holy places. No words seem to come from either Sunni or Shiite religious authorities there or elsewhere in the world saying “this is wrong.”  That’s because they don’t really think it is.  If it’s done for their cause, they surreptitiously sympathize with it, and you can detect that surreptitious sympathy if you read any of the statements from the Muslim authorities.  That’s a grave crisis for Islam—and for us, too.

Wiener: Are you saying Islam is worse than other religions?  It seems to me your position has to be that all religions are equally bad.

Hitchens: The position I take in the book is, of course, that all religion is equally stupid and an expression of contempt for reason and an exaltation of the idea of faith, of believing things without evidence.  But that doesn’t mean I think a Quaker and a Bin Laden are exactly the same.  They all have individual disadvantages.  I would say that, with Catholicism, the mad insistence on celibacy is peculiarly deforming.  With Islam, the problem is that it claims to be the last and final revelation.  All that’s required now is that everybody realize the truth of this book.  That’s extremely dangerous preaching, in my opinion.

Wiener: Don’t Christian fundamentalists say pretty much the same thing?

Hitchens: Yes they do.  But I think there is a real problem with Islam of intolerance in that way—it forbids itself to have a reformation.  That’s fanatical and actually murderous right now.

Wiener: Is the problem you have been describing religion per se, or is it the monotheistic religions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, Islam?  Are Eastern religions different and better?  Especially Buddhism, with its compassion for all living things; especially Tibetan Buddhism, with its impressive leader, the Dalai Lama.

Hitchens: The Dalai Lama claims to be a hereditary god and a hereditary king.  I don’t think any decent person can assent to that proposition. You should take a look at what Tibet was like when it was run by the lamas.  Buddhism has some of the same problems as Western religion.  Zen was the official ideology of Hirohito’s fascism that was used to conquer and reduce the rest of Asia to subservience.  The current dictatorship in Burma is officially Buddhist.  The Buddhist forces in Sri Lanka are the ones who began the horrific civil war there with their pogroms against the Tamils in the 1950s and 1960s.  Lon Nol’s army in Cambodia was officially Buddhist.

Wiener: Let’s talk about the U.S.  Polls show that 94 per cent of Americans believe in God, and 89 per cent believe in heaven; of those, three-fourths think they will go to heaven, but only 2 per cent think they will go to hell.  This seems laughable, but what’s the harm in people believing they will go to heaven after they die—and see their mothers there?

Hitchens: All you have to do is promise them 72 virgins, and they’ll kill to get there. That’s what’s wrong with it, along with the fact that it’s a solipsistic delusion.  And the spreading of delusion in the end isn’t a good thing, because credulous and deluded people are easy to exploit.  People arise who are aware of that fact. 

If belief in heaven was private, like the tooth fairy, I’d say fine.  But tooth fairy supporters don’t come around to your house and try to convert you.  They don’t try to teach your children stultifying pseudo-science in school.  They don’t try to prevent access to contraception.  The religious won’t leave us alone.  These are not just private delusions, they’re ones they want to inflict on other people. 

Wiener: Of course, you are right that we have Pat Robertson and, until recently, Jerry Falwell, saying horrible things in the name of religion. Both welcomed 9/11 as payback for America’s tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.  But we have also had Martin Luther King and Daniel Berrigan and William Sloane Coffin.  Why not conclude that religion can lead people to do good things as well as bad?

Hitchens: Let me start with a question: Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist?  I don’t think so.  I’ll take your case at its strongest—that would be Dr. King. Fortunately for us, he wasn’t really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child.  Fortunately for us, he didn’t take that route. 

The people who actually organized the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, were both secularists and socialists.  The whole case for the emancipation of black America had already been made perfectly well by secularists. I don’t particularly object to the tactic of quoting the Bible against the white Christian institutions that maintained at first slavery and then segregation.  But there’s no authority in the Bible for civil rights—none whatever.  There is authority for slavery and segregation.

The widespread view among white liberals that black people in some way prefer to be led by preachers is a condescending one.  It leaves out heroes of the movement like Rustin and Randolph, and has licensed the assumption that people like Jesse Jackson and, much worse, a complete charlatan and thug like Al Sharpton, are somehow OK because they’ve got the word “Reverend” in front of their names.  That’s done enormous damage, not just to black people, but to the country in general.  It’s the Falwell equivalent.

Wiener: What about practical politics for progressives: since almost all Americans believe in God, for progressives to attack, ridicule and dismiss religion as you do is political suicide that will ensure religious Republican domination forever.  Instead, we must argue that God is not on their side, and we must respect the fact that people belong to different communities of belief.

Hitchens: If you want to argue that God is not on their side, you can’t argue “that’s because he’s on my side”—you have to argue there is no such person. Marxism begins by arguing that people have to emancipate their minds. The beginning of that emancipation is outgrowing of religion.  If religion were true, there would be no need for politics; you’d only need to have faith.

Wiener: I know you’ve often been told that everybody has faith in something—for most Americans, it’s Jesus; for you, it’s reason and science.

Hitchens: That’s not faith, by definition.  You can’t have faith in reason.  It’s not a dogma.  It’s a conviction that this is the only way that discovery and progress can be made.

Wiener: The intelligent person’s argument for religion is that religion and rationality don’t compete—they deal with different parts of life.  Religion answers questions that science doesn’t: Why do the innocent suffer? What is the meaning of life?  What happens when we die? 

Hitchens: I wish it was true.  But, in fact, religion doesn’t keep its part of the bargain here.  It incessantly seeks to limit first discoveries and innovation in science and then their application.  Galileo, of course, but more recently discoveries about the possibilities of limiting the size of your family.  Really, they don’t want us to reconsider our place in the universe, because if we face the fact that we live on a tiny speck in an immense universe, it’s going to be difficult to convince people it was all created with that tiny speck in mind.  It’s not possible to believe that nonsense if you have any interest in science.

Wiener: The final killer argument of your critics is that Hitler and Stalin were not religious.  The worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis.  They came from political ideology.

Hitchens: That’s easy. Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommends Catholicism quite highly in “Mein Kampf.”  Fascism, as distinct from National Socialism, was in effect a Catholic movement. 

Wiener: What about Stalin?  He wasn’t religious.

Hitchens: Stalin—easier still.  For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to God, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot.  If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you.  The task of atheists is to raise people above that level of servility and credulity.  No society has gone the way of gulags or concentration camps by following the path of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Thomas Paine.


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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 7, 2007 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

Michael,

You should ask Billy the Dik to be a guest speaker at your church, he could give a wake up call on the scriptures of the Pig Fuckers.  Guarantee there will be no-one sleeping in the pews.

If the Atheists ever wrote an Unbible, Billy would writehis own adult version, of course I would want a copy!

Ham Hocks

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2007 at 4:00 am Link to this comment

#84708 - morgan-lynn griggs lamberth
If there are no deities, what’s the point?

Mint juleps

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By morgan-lynn griggs lamberth, July 6, 2007 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let up put Yeshua-Yahweh on trial for the Deluge, ethnic cleansing and sending people to Hell! Who could be his defense attorney, the prosecutor, the judge and the jury? Who finds Billy Graham in contempt of reason?

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By Another Loving Earthmate, July 6, 2007 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Greetings to my dear Earthmate, Christopher Hitchens, and all the other Earthmates!

I completely agree with you, Christopher Hitchens, on the negative effects of our numerous Styles of Worship. 

All the instructions from the One Above are very much in favor of man.  As for the woman, she seems to be out of focus and out of luck…

Man is born with a lifetime guarantee… actually it guarantees his next life too… and a continuous green light, to do whatever his little heart/ego wishes and desires.  If he does something cruel or evil, he only has to ask for forgiveness; and he will be instantly cleared of all charges. 

Well, he can repeat this process, his undesirable acts over and over; and he will be declared clear of all charges again and again with the utterance of just three words… PLEASE FORGIVE ME! 

Man has permission to lie, manipulate, steal, etc., etc., as long as he asks for forgiveness…

Always, your own Brand of Worship is the best… and all the other Brands are full of flaws…  their next life will be one of unimaginable misery and hell… so it goes…

This is my condensed view and understanding of our Worship Styles in a nutshell…

While all the Worshipping goes on (with feasting as an added bonus) starvation, illiteracy, avoidable illnesses, poverty, abuse, killings, etc., etc., all around the world goes on too…  The generosity of the faithful will only extend to their own groups, thus creating jealousy and hatred among others in the vicinity…, but all this is acceptable and okay too!

Well, coming back to you, I thank you Christopher Hitchens for trying to open our closed minds!  Also for helping us see through our confusing Worshipping Styles!

As you say, our dedicated Worship Systems invariably contribute towards an unbelievable amount of harm and destruction to mankind and our planet.  It is great that people like you take time to analyze this situation and speak up…  This is something very positive and remarkable…

Christopher Hitchens, there is one point I disagree with you on though…  That is regarding the violence in Sri Lanka…

What is going on in Sri Lanka today, is not a battle between Buddhists and Hindus; what I mean is, it is not a religious confrontation.  The fight is between two ethnic groups; the Sinhalese and Tamil, fighting over land.  Majority of the Sinhalese are Buddhists, while the majority of Tamils are Hindus; so on the surface, it appears to be a religious struggle…

If you ever visit any of the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, you will find a revered area in the temple, where all the Hindu deities are being worshipped by Buddhists as well as Hindus.  In fact, most of the prayers in the Hindu shrines are conducted by Tamil priests.

As Buddhism originated in Northern India over 2,550 some years ago, and was an offshoot of Hinduism, the influence of Hinduism can be seen in all Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka up to this day.

I appreciate and value the intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical challenges you offer to us, your earthmates…  Well, I thank you and the likes of you from the bottom of my heart! 

Many years down the line, I’m sure that people of your caliber and moral fiber will make our beautiful planet a much safer paradise for the living.

Have A Great Weekend & Good Luck Everyone!

Another Loving Earthmate

PS:  I wish you wouldn’t smoke!  It is very difficult for me to breathe when there is cigarette smoke around… :o)

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By Hemi*, July 6, 2007 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Michael,

Fine, he’s not with the band. I don’t know the guy, it’s a little hard to have real hate for him, don’t you think? Give me a little credit. You’re trying for a rise, I can’t give a rat’s ass like I just explained. It is another jail cell Jesus, nobody finds the lord when they’re on top of the world, “Look me up on your way down” story. Makes for an inspiring chapter in his book, $25 with your Barnes & Noble discount card. Available now at Amazon dot com. Number 95 with a bullet on the NYT bestsellers just below the new offering from Dr Phil and Rick Warren, “Two Heteros Can Do It Too” subtitle “But not with Michael”. You don’t care if this man lives or dies, you’re an elitist. You want to feel superior. Super! What do you want Michael?

What do you want?

It’s all clearer now. You’re wanting.

What do you want?

What walks the dog for you?

What is your correct answer?

What do you want?

What can I say that will give you hope?

Writeto Brian Welch, he needs your love.
You’re spending too much time here.
If you’re sincere do something for him.
Do something for somebody.
Do something for yourself, just shut off the web cam first.

What do you want?

Wait, I got what you want.

Peace on Earth, good will toward men.

Thank you children of the Korn, thank you Jesus!

Now we can arrange for a Korn reunion and sing Kumba freakin’ ya.

Have a nice weekend.

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By -Michael, July 6, 2007 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

Point well taken.  I’ll shoot from the hip from hence forth.

-Vaquero del paz

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By -Michael, July 6, 2007 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Hemi

You’ve taken this in a couple different directions.  First, I understand that Brian has not been with the band for a couple of years, so that kind of negates your self-promotion theory.  Perhaps he’s trying to profit from his book - seems like a more likely accusation.  So if we assume this guy is like you and me (you guys act like he’s sub-human because he’s in a band), we are interested in a couple of things here -  Money, recognition, philanthropy, feedback, growth, pleasure, etc. It all comes into play.  I don’t think that we want to sell out or whore ourselves to ‘the man’.  Do we loose our integrity by playing the entertainment business game?  Perhaps there are some starving Bob Dylan’s out there, but what good does that do if he’s not putting food on the table or being enjoyed by the masses. 

It seems you have an issue with corporations.  Capitalism is a necessary evil.  If you want to see the results of socialism, go visit Germany.  I spent 7 years there and I can tell you 3 things that they’ve come to realize.  Paying 45% income tax sucks.  If you don’t feel like getting a job, Big Daddy will take care of you.  Paying for the lazy bastard that doesn’t want to work sucks more. 

Incidentally, you guys didn’t say that you were simply anti-organized religion.  I thought you had a problem with anyone who has devoted themselves to a god.  I wish you would have said this earlier; I could have spared myself from Billy’s poison pen…

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Mike.

#84555 by Mike Mid-City on 7/06 at 11:59 am

What I had in mind were the parents who resist keeping up with the Jones’ so they can afford to help Johnny further his education - The parent that gives up a fishing trip to help Jane build her skateboard ramp.  Although altruism does not exist, there are moments when we, as parents, choose our kid’s happiness before our own (without ulterior motives). 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


And finally, Billy (you know how difficult it was to come up with a snappy comeback to your ‘annoying gnat’ comment?)

“Let him beware of being proud, lest he invite the retort that the gnat is older than he”  - God (or one of His scribes)

Peace - Michael

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By Hemi*, July 6, 2007 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

Re: #84536 by - Michael on 7/06 at 10:59 am

Hey, good use of the Who!

But “You - as in anyone that supposes a better world if we were all faithless.”
How’s about better world via organized religionless?

Yeah, Joey Pants character found reality to be a tough mistress and he choose addiction over freedom. This Korn guy is moving from addiction to addiction. I’m tired of the jail cell Jesus stories. I hear tell Paris Hilton is turning over a new leaf though. Stop the presses.

Where did you get the Korn press release?

Here are a few headlines off their site:

Don’t Miss Korn on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Tonight on NBC!

Join Korn live online for their MTV Virtual Album Release Party!

KROQ’s “Breakfast with Korn” in AT&T’s blue room Tuesday, March 7th.

Get Great Seats for the 2007 Family Values Tour via the Pre-Sale!

AOL RADIO LAUNCHES KORN STATION

NBC, MTV, AT&T and AOL. Fuck Waldo, where’s Jesus? Hmmmm. Well, no biggie.

Michael, believe the hype it’s your dime. You throw this crap out there and you already know the reaction. If you are a Korn fan and this guy is getting a second chance by any means that’s good, enjoy that. The ongoing story of rock and roll isn’t it? Let’s face it; fucking Karen Carpenter had a jones. Life sucks for the talented.

Me a misanthrope? Not quite. I’m a second chance guy. Everybody deserves a second chance. Right after everyone has had their first. The band’s management was likely his dealer and then became his guardian angel getting him to rehab. What a feel good story. That should help revive ticket sales. It’s a win/win for everyone. Now he can don his designer, acid washed WWJD t-shirt and get back to France and play for all those fans rained out at “HELLFEST”. ROCKKKKKKK!!!

Kornholes

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By Marshall, July 6, 2007 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

#84473 by -Michael on 7/06 at 7:25 am

Michael - doesn’t it seem more likely that the “reality” of a gutar player in a successful rock band is rather distinct from the reality that most of us face?  More likely that his coddled existence and ample access to life’s vices have distorted his reality to a place that only something cathartic like, say, religion could actually rescue him?

Some people don’t do well with success because it allows them to indulge all of the personality traits most of us would find hard to sustain in the real world.  It usually ends in one of a couple of ways: suicide, or redemption.  I guess he chose the latter - sounds like the better choice to me.

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By Hemi*, July 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

#84515 by Mike Mid-City on 7/06 at 9:01 am
(468 comments total)

“Marshal claims to be on the atheist side and you have to take him.  Rather like me having to take the fundamentalist nut jobs..”

Mike, you don’t have to take the nut jobs. Just come over here Mike. Now let me let you in on something……. shhhhhh…….. be vewy, vewy, qwyet…… Mike Mid-City………. you’re on our side! Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We had to take you. That other kid is too slow, too short, too fat, has braces, glasses, a limp, freckles, a moustache, a prominent Adam’s apple and hairy hands. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” but that is one scary looking gal.

Wait……my bad! That’s not a gal it’s Ron Jeremy.

Charms

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By -Michael, July 6, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Re:  #84514 by Hemi* on 7/06 at 8:54 am

Re:  who is “you?”  (I woke up in a Soho doorway, a policeman knew my name…)

You - as in anyone that supposes a better world if we were all faithless. 

Re:  The Matrix

There is a difference between living in Oz and being shown reality and living in reality and being shown Oz.  Also, Mr Pantaleone was well aware of what was real.  From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem that the jury is still out on our reality.  Brian thinks that he has found an important element of reality. 

As for selfishness, “Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin” – Darwin.  Show me a man who is wholly selfless, and I’ll point to a turning point in our evolution.  Having said this, I think that more people are unselfish when dealing with their children than in any other circumstance.

I take it by your closing statement that you are not cheering for the lad.  You, sir, are a misanthrope.  He’s better off than was, isn’t he?  It still confounds me that ‘you’ (see definition above) have such utter distain for those who believe. 

Love, Peace and Hair grease.  - Michael

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By Shenonymous, July 6, 2007 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee, I wish he was a solipsist then we would just be made up in his wee little head.  We might be driving him crazy….....

Yorkshire Pudding

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By Shenonymous, July 6, 2007 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Hemi* no slight intended.  I was just making a small point to Marshall.  I have the highest regard for what you have said in every post and your humor never fails to hit my funny bone.  Your wit and a few other’s make this forum rewarding enough to keep me involved.  Sorry you took my comment as a criticism.  It was not meant that way at all.

Pickles and ice cream

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By Leefeller, July 6, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Can we agree that factoid Marshall.  is a blinded Republican, who believes that by claiming to be an Atheist it is all right to, support commander codpiece decider guy, his lies,  compassionless killing and all the stuff most of the Christian Religions claims you are not supposed to do, but what a large number support in spades anyway.  Mike, notice I did not say all.

So it may be Marshall is only an athiest of convenience, Just like his facts.  I propose,  he may really be a Christian in drag, who says otherwise to cover his hypocirisy?  Better yet, we could agree that he is a solpsist with the facts.

Back on track, I am finally reading Hitchens Book and with my filters on, will attempt to bring up any interesting points when I can.

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By Hemi*, July 6, 2007 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

#84473 by -Michael on 7/06 at 7:25 am
(38 comments total)

“Looks like you’ve lost another one to the dark side.”

First of all, who is “you”?

Mike, familiar with “The Matrix”? Recall Joe Pantaleone’s character being enticed back for the comfort and mindless slavery? Brian Welch is being selfish he is not doing this for the benefit of his daughter or anyone else. Perhaps she will benefit from his accepting the delusion. Good for them.

“Whatever gets you through the night.” - John Lennon

“My next idea is, that the only possible good in the universe is happiness. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to try and make somebody else so.” - Robert G. Ingersoll

Suck it up Brian. Get off your sorry ass and make things right for you, your people and your world. Or, you can climb back under your bed and wait for Jesus to tell you there’s nothing out there scarier than your own self absorbed, guitar playing, corporate owned, drug riddled, pampered ass. Isn’t that a wonderful Christmas story. It should be made into a freakin’ movie.

Korn Flakes

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By Leefeller, July 6, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

She,

When I was growing up, one of my favorite pinball games had a picture of a guy in a fedora with a note pad and pencil in hand, talking to a foxy lady.  For some reason I cannot remember the name of the pinball machine, but the guy was saying to the lady.  “Nothing but the Facts Mam,”  It was a take off from the Dragnet program.  Previous threads between She and Marshall reminded me of the old pin ball game.

If Marshall was the cop wanting nothing but the facts, he would frame every person he ever met, because his facts, facts that he wants to have are the only facts.  Pick and choose the facts. He plays a game of twister that no other person may ever win. 

I suspect that he is not even a real person, but could be a groupie of college Repubs playing a game to piss off the libs?  On the other hand if Marshell is real, he has made a few statements that can be added up to make a fact. 

Marshall stated that he always votes Republican, because the Democrats will rase his taxes,  Another statement from Marshall,  stated that he is an atheist.  Both statements if true are facts, because Marshall said them.  Bush a Repub sated that he attacked Iraq, because God told him to.  Blindly following the party line, Marshall is supporting a the war instructed by “God”.  either Marshall is an atheist or like our president a liar.  “Nothing but the Facts Mam”. 

Depends on what you mean by facts? 

Peace O Peach Pie

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By Hemi*, July 6, 2007 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

Now Shemonymous,

“since professors’ salaries are not the big bucks Hemi* may think they are,”

I think what you meant is “might” think they are. You can give me a tongue-lashing after I compliment you. I brought an apple but I can’t reach your desk from here.

If you look back, I followed that’s why you get the big bucks with the aside “(so to speak)”. This was a sincere compliment of your expertise as a wordsmith for use of the term “filtering skills” that really captured my thoughts at that time. I was referring to your ability to communicate not your income. In popular jargon a person with extraordinary skills “gets the big bucks”. This comment is also used tongue-in cheek for someone that is underappreciated or under compensated for their skills. But you knew that. Either usage likely fits here.

Judging from our interplay here, you certainly don’t need my help but you have my respect and admiration Professore!

Scooter Pie

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By -Michael, July 6, 2007 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Looks like you’ve lost another one to the dark side.  Brian Welch, ex-Korn guitarist dropped drugs and found Jesus (and wrote a book about it).  No doubt this will spur thousands of youths across the nation to follow his lead.  He rather favors Jesus; perhaps he is the second coming of the Messiah. 

    Prior to his discovery, Brian was a very thoughtful (albeit angry) man.  It seems that where reason failed, God prevailed (I’m a poet, and it hadn’t occurred to me).

T.S. Eliot said, “Human kind can’t bear much with reality.”  I sense that this much is true.  But even if it is make-believe, spirituality seems to be a healthy and effective method to deal with life’s curveballs.  If you feel sorry for his alleged self-delusion, you still have to be cheering for his renewed relationship with his daughter, kicked drug habit, and new found inner-

Peace   - Michael

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By Shenonymous, July 6, 2007 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

You are probably right Marshall, so you go right ahead and help the repugs start that war with Iran. Oh, y’all probably won’t be able to do it because the country doesn’t have enough money.  They can hardly pay the bills they already have, and pay China back any of the billions borrowed from there.  Some analysts think more national debt is a good thing. Others like Robert Reich, a favorite economist of mine (I’m sure you have yours), have a different view.

There always seems to be two sides to a political position, otherwise “a position” would hardly be needed.  Here are two fairly recent of many references available today regarding financial matters of the USA.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-05-28-federal-budget_N.htm?csp=34
Taxpayers on the hook for $59 trillion – May 29, 2007

http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8083036
Who wants to be a trillionaire? - Oct 26th 2006 | HONG KONG

This one was posted in 2004, but the reasoning is still current:
http://www.mises.org/story/1423
Repudiating the National Debt - Murray N. Rothbard - Posted on 1/16/2004

For every report I can provide, I’m sure you can provide an equal or greater number that would counter any or all of the information found on these.  It is a classic argument.  I believe the Republicans have ruined this country economically and morally in the last six years. Apparently you think otherwise. While I am most interested in where my hard earned money goes (the economic issue), and I am quite thrifty, since professors’ salaries are not the big bucks Hemi* may think they are, I am also most interested in the kind of country I live in and to what use my tax dollars are put (the moral issue). The worth of my dollars to use as I see the need do not have the value as much as they used to in terms of groceries, housing, transportation, entertainments.  I don’t know if others on this forum have found this to be true for themselves or not, but whatever I have goes a lot less distance than it used to 10 years ago and I make more than I did then.

So it is silly to go on with any argument with you and this will be the last I will address any post here to you.  Others here see into your schema and mine as well.

Here is a Reich article that addresses the national fiscal problem.
Robert Reich: Fiscal Balance is a False Economy June 28, 2007
http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/06/robert-reich-fi.html

Chocolate dollars…

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By Marshall, July 5, 2007 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

#84169 by Shenonymous on 7/05 at 5:47 am

Wow - is it fair to post inaccurate information and then say “this is the last I’ll post on the issue”?

<<This is not your 4.5 and by the way, sweetie, where do you get your figures?>>

Well sweetheart, I get them the same place you do - only difference is I quote them correctly:

http://www.bls.gov/

(notice the current unemployment rate of 4.5% there on the main page)

<<Apology Marshall….I was looking at the February 6, 2006 Congressional Budget Office projection… Still an upward projection of unemployment>>

Accepted.  But I honestly think you don’t even know what these reports are to begin with.  If you did, you probably wouldn’t be citing them for two reasons:

1) They are extremely bullish on the economy and praise current fiscal policy.
2) They are the very source for the claims made on the white house website you discredit in the next breath.

The unemployment projections, for example, have little to do with current fiscal policy and everything to do with shifting demographics - as is made clear in the text of the report.  To wit:

“As members of the baby-boom generation begin to retire, the growth of the labor force is expected to slow, pushing down the rate of real GDP growth during the second half of that period. “

As GDP drops (due to aging), so does job growth, which provides upward pressure on unemployment.  Nonetheless, said rate is projected at a healthy 5.0 average for the next decade.  Just read the report and you’ll get the details.

And as you “laugh your way to infinity” on the idea that the Repubs have “run our country’s budget into a hellhole”, take a listen to this text from your report:

“If current laws and policies remained the same…the budget would essentially be balanced in 2011 and then would show surpluses of about 1 percent of GDP each year through 2017 (the end of the current 10-year projection period).”

Doesn’t sound quite like the “hellhole” you describe, does it?  Here’s the link to this very report (actually, it’s the one you cited):

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdoc.cfm?index=7731

As to your out-of-left-field reference to increases in govt. regulatory spending, I’m rather baffled you’d try and make an argument that regulatory budgets are too high from a report entitled “Growth in Regulation Slows : ...”.  It’s also difficult to imagine how a country that expects to protect itself (which I assume you support) would scale back on homeland security budgeting - the main source of regulatory cost increases.  Of course if you want to see REAL out of control regulatory spending then by all means put a Dem in office.

So - I expect no response from you because you’d simply be citing more inaccurate figures and inventing more unrelated arguments.  I know you’re not an economist, but a cursory reading of the data can afford added accuracy and some needed intellectual honesty.

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By Leefeller, July 5, 2007 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment

All seriousness aside, did you hear about the solipsist convention?

Solipsism cannot exist, because you cannot have more than one solipsist. Only the idea of a singe solipsist can exist not solipsism and I believe you would have to take off the “s”.  Their never could be more than one solipsist.

A word that describes one person or being seems silly to me? When you think about it, the similarity to “God” may be appropriate.

Seems a bit trite,  having fun anyway.

This can make your
Artichokes

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By Hemi*, July 5, 2007 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

Am I a solipsist?

No, you’re a dipshit. Now log out moron.

Dots….  Yeah, dots enough moron.

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By Hemi*, July 5, 2007 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

You’ll have to excuse him. He’s a believer.

Hell yeah I’m a believer, I believe you’re a moron.

Mike and Ike

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By Hemi*, July 5, 2007 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

I have a personality disorder, does that qualify?

No you don’t, you need a personality to have a disorder you moron.

Zagnut…. Screw that you’re a Zero bar!

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2007 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

Well if a solipsist had a party, only he would show up (or she).  And it would happen only in his own mind. But anything could go on that he/she wanted. That could be quite a party!

Gummy Bears

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By Leefeller, July 5, 2007 at 11:51 am Link to this comment

Hitchens has referred to solipsism,  on many occasions.  Had not heard that word used in many years, Solipsism is what you have when two solipsits meet. Solipsist is a person who believes the world is an illusion or that the people around him are not real.  (Going back 20 years to philosophy class here) I Remember the professor saying, the criminal mind is usually that of a solipsist.  My fellow students and I, were having a lot of fun with the word.  One thing that we found quite funny,  what if a sophists wrote a play and set it up and nobody came?  At the time we thought that was quite funny. 

The self is all that is known to exist,  Can that be adjusted to say that the self is all important and everything else is irrelevant?  If so, is Bush a solipsist!  How can a solipsist be known to anyone else if others do not exist? Back to the criminal?  Seems to me it may be another word for people with no compassion.

Anyway I wanted to say, watch your

Rutabaga

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2007 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

January 2007
http://209.85.165.104/search?

Thre is more to this site address but it does not want to show up correctly.  This is the title, if you are interested look it up yourself.
CBO TESTIMONY
Statement of
Peter R. Orszag
Director - The Budget and Economic Outlook:
Fiscal Years 2008 to 2017
before the Committee on the Budget
United States Senate
January 25, 2007

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2007 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Websites not able to add to last post: continued response to Marshall:

February 2006 http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=CBO+Unemployment+rate+projections+2007&btnG=Search

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2007 at 6:47 am Link to this comment

Sorry, I hope this isn’t a second posting of this response, computer is acting up again. TruthDig won’t print some website addresses properly so I am sending a second post with them. Please indulge.

Apology Marshall….I was looking at the February 6, 2006 Congressional Budget Office projection at: (see next post for address) see page 8. That report showed a fluctuation from 5.1 dipping to 5.0 then up to 5.2, duh!  Still an upward projection of unemployment, when I should have been looking at the January 25, 2007 at: (see next post for address).  However, the projection in this report on page 8 again indicates a rise in the unemployment rate from 4.6 to 5.0.  This is not your 4.5 and by the way, sweetie, where do you get your figures?

I don’t mind being corrected by those that “know.” I am not an economics major, but I am a concerned citizen who pays taxes.  But the point is (or was) that the Bush administration (supposedly the Republican fiscally frugal, I’m laughing all the way to infinity at that one) has run our country’s budget into a hellhole that my great great grandchildren will still be paying for.  Money numbers can be crunched (isn’t that the phrase?) as desired by the utterly deceitful.

At the site:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/
The Executive report paints a rosy picture and has since the day Bush took office shaping the structure of their fiscal reports as his administration and the gang’s agenda knew they would need them to keep the truth from the American people. The average US economy-interested citizen can easily find the following report at: http://www.docuticker.com/?p=14221

“June 20, 2007 at 8:17 pm · Filed under Legal and law enforcement, Government and politics

“2007 Regulators’ Budget Report (PDF; 583 KB) at Source: Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University

“Spurred on by steady increases in staffing and spending within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. government is budgeting yet another increase in the amount of tax money it spends on federal regulatory activities, according to an annual regulatory spending analysis compiled by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

“Federal regulatory agencies will spend $46.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money in 2008, an inflation-adjusted increase of $1.7 billion over the 2007 budget. In addition, the number of regulatory employees will pass the quarter- million mark, with a 3% increase over 2007’s estimated 244,210 employees, according to the study, “Growth in Regulation Slows: An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008.”

The report shows only one of the insidious ways this administration actually adds to the deficit.  Slight of hand, or pickpocket whatever one wants to call it.  We have been robbed.

I am not going to pursue this line of discussion Marshall any further.  So have at it as you will.  If you want to quote some figures, you will have to give web addresses yourself.

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By Marshall, July 5, 2007 at 2:07 am Link to this comment

#82291 by Shenonymous on 6/28 at 10:47 pm

She - You need to learn the difference between “naming” sources and “citing” sources.  For example, to throw around “CBO” in your posts, but cite no actual links substantiating numbers you present isn’t citing a source - it’s name dropping.  And it doesn’t prove your point.

The unemployment rate is 4.5%, not 5.1% (still a low rate).  That’s a fact.  You haven’t disputed it.

The “corporate book” you refer to… I have no idea what you’re talking about.  Can you please cite a source for this number?

You still haven’t refuted a single point I’ve made - only offered “projections” and opinions.  I’m still waiting.

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Re: #83996 by Rob on 7/04 at 1:03 pm

“Those are my morals, if you don’t like them, I have others.  Thank you Groucho Marx.”

Oh, a Marxist eh? We get all kinds here. (Groucho said “principles” to be precise. ‘Same difference.)

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” - Groucho

Coconuts! (Not the Marx Brothers movie Rob, just random expletives we have going on here.)

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By Leefeller, July 4, 2007 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Rob,

Smoke and mirrors, conspiracy theories, massive duplicity, just by standing back and taking a deep, deep breath, one can be removed   from the chicken little crowd.  Apparently   our government seems to need a bad guy, some fall guy, how about the axes of evil, the Russians are coming,  The dominos will fall when the Communists take over Vietnam.  The money war machine is real, is there a conspiracy or how much of a conspiracy we may never know. Keep the filter on, pay your dues and takes your chances.

With my filter tied behind my back, I can safely say, that we have been lied to with the regularity of those famous Kellogg’s high colonic’s, some people enjoy it and some don’t . They have been told that it is good for them, so it must be. 

Corn flakes

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By Rob, July 4, 2007 at 2:03 pm Link to this comment

I try not to give too much powers to my antagonists.  I never thought much of the communists taking over the US during the 60’s - 90’s because I knew they would give it back in a week once they saw what they had.  (Civil unrest, welfare lines, military gone wild!)  I am always leary of conspiracy theories because in my 60 years here I have not met people capable of massive duplicity.  I do know that we, as a people, are capable of horrendous actions.  They just seem self evident to me.  I know we dropped atomic bombs on Japan.  Nothing nefarious about that. Those 2 cities contained mostly civilians.  We have exploited other countries resources until they bled and cried uncle.  No cover-up there.  We have started wars every 20 or so years of our existance as a country.  No hiding that.  Our constitution is not founded on religious principles.  We all know it.  And yet - we all suspect conspiracy and some few folks manipulating us to their evil ends.  Ok - and we know some of that is true.  But I do not think that martians have visited this planet and taken farmers off into space recently to do sex experiments on them.  I think Oswald shot Kennedy and the facts about it are pretty much known. I think airliners loaded with people and petrol brought down the towers and went into the pentagon and made a hole in Pennslvania.  I know that bush and cheney are miserable human beings that have undone a sense of honor and respect that we once were building on.  If I find out different, I will switch that information from high probability pile to low probability. Those are my morals, if you don’t like them, I have others.  Thank you Groucho Marx.

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

#83885 by Leefeller on 7/04 at 8:22 am

Lee,

How ‘bout this sticker: Question?

But then you’d get people pulling up to you at lights with one.

Raspberries!

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 10:24 am Link to this comment

For Mike Mid-City,

“I say it’s a blessing (good thing) to have had a loving family, and a real heads up advantage.”

I still have both parents and was lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents and three of my great grandparents. You are correct sir, I’ve been “blessed”.

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Rob,

Seeming incopetence would be a great cover for governments and a select ‘group’ of people. “Have you looked at the incompetance of our government?” Yes and I think at least some of what I see is misdirection/slight of hand. “Do you think george bush and cheney could alphabetize a bag of m & m’s?” Yes. I think it’s mostly an act. My take, Bush is an atheist not a neo-con. What Christian would go through the Pagan Skull & Bones intiation rites? Yeah, Kerry and the rest too. They wont come out, it’s political suicide. So, Zionist schmionist, go on believing they’re on a mission from God. God was $2.89 a gallon yesterday. Misdirection. Bush, Cheney and most are simply pampered front men. We never see the power brokers. The Bilderberg attendees never see them.

“Do you think a secret of any consequence could be kept?” Yes, it could be kept because we’re conditioned to think (as Lewis Black might say) “it’s really hard” and so not possible. I don’t understand nuclear reactions because that’s “really hard” for me but it’s going on anyway. “Clinton couldn’t have oral sex without every detail discovered.” Major ego flaw, everybody sqwaucked at the blow job, nobody cared why she had access to sensitive people, places and conversations. Those important details were seen by all and largely ignored. Who needs a conspiracy?

“From a critical stance, I think like this - If no pieces of the plane were found in the pentagon, suggesting the plane never hit it, what happened to that plane load of people?  Their loved ones think that plane was real because the people they loved have not turned up anywhere else.” - Rob

Rob, I don’t recall seeing the equivalent of a “plane load” of loved ones interviewed or photos of memorial gatherings. I only recall seeing a few select people related to the flights. I’m likely wrong there so correct me.

“According to radar data, American Airlines (AA) 77 was flying at 400 mph at 9:35 a.m. and passed over the Pentagon at 7,000 feet. The plane then made a very difficult high-speed descending turn in a downward spiral, dropping 7,000 feet in two-and-a-half minutes. How could the terrorists have done this difficult turn when their flight instructors have stated they were incompetent as pilots of even a small plane?” - Marion Kminek – Mother of Mari-Rae Sopper, Women’s gymnastics coach at the University of California at Santa Barbara, former Navy JAG and corporate attorney.  Passenger American Flight 77 (Taken from patriotsquestion911.com)

This woman, if SHE exists (I can’t prove it), has an axe to grind and reason to grind it. We’re talking 75% accuracy on the targets hit. The miss we’re told was due to passenger resistance. This level of efficiency would have been REALLY, REALLY HARD (but possible) for the best pilots in the world. Were these guys amateurs, trained on small town airstrips, just weeks prior as the CIA would have us believe? If they were, professional pilots are overpaid.

Potato salad!

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By morgan-lynngriggs lamberth, July 4, 2007 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Without God, I do quite fine! Others help me get along.My purposes,human love and this life suffice for me while I find that divine purpose and love and a future state have no appeal and are just"mustabatory.“We don’t must have them as Albert Ellis would state.Hitchings knows that quite well and hopes to inspire others to give up Sky Pappy, the divine voyeur.It does no good to say that Pappy is the ground of being as that is just gibberish .We ignostics find that God has no meaning and ” hides our ignorance behind a theological fif leaf.” as the atheologian Keith Parsons puts it.God is just the unimformative tautology that God wills what He wills; God did it is the magic of let there be: no real explanation.It is the presumption of naturalism[ Antony Garrard Newton Flew] that we have to use natural causes as the primary,efficient causes.The Ockham argument shows that it would take ad hoc explanations to bring in God, which explanations are not forthcoming. We no more need God as a personal explanation, contrary to the false assumption of Richard Swinburne, than we need Thor, demons or gremlins as such.This is the essence of atheology.Fr.Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!

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By Leefeller, July 4, 2007 at 9:22 am Link to this comment

Question everything, is a royal pain all inclusive, nothing left out get your head out of your arse comment.  I love it!  Drooling masses need to question something, why not everyting, masses as defined by Hemi. 

My bumper sticker says question “authority”.  Since Authority is only a small part of everything,  So now, I have to cross off “Authority” and change it to the comprehensive “everything”. My other bumper sticker says “Who gives a Damn about Apathy?”  Shit, I have to cross off “Damn” too! ; lets see, “darn”, “dang” “crap” “hoot”, anyway I will find another word.

Sucker Strawberries

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

Re: #83829 by Shenonymous on 7/04 at 4:17 am

Thank you. I understood your cautionary message from the start but “filtering skills” was exactly what I was getting at. I can see why you get the big bucks (so to speak). Have I given the impression that I’m mesmerized by the latest shiny thing I’ve encountered? I hope not, I’ve got the filter up and running. I’ve not yet jumped in the deep end without my swimmies.

Perhaps that is what I would like to see the “masses” navigate. That “shit, I don’t know how to swim moment”. I don’t think the movie would make for life threatening moments just preconception challenging ones. The Da Vinci Code got a mild rise out of people. What I imagine would be more like, as Samuel L. Jackson might say, “snakes on a mother f***** plane.” Pardon the pop culture references.

Pop!

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By Rob, July 4, 2007 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

When watching a docu-drama such as “ZeitgeistMovie”, two bits of rationale come to mind.  Is there a point being made?  One point is there is a conspiracy at work by governments and a select ‘group’ of people.  Have you looked at the incompetance of our government?  Do you think george bush and cheney could alphabetize a bag of m & m’s?  Do you think a secret of any consequence could be kept?  Clinton couldn’t have oral sex without every detail discovered. 
From a critical stance, I think like this - If no pieces of the plane were found in the pentagon, suggesting the plane never hit it, what happened to that plane load of people?  Their loved ones think that plane was real because the people they loved have not turned up anywhere else.  To insinuate that it was not ‘that’ plane, or ‘any’ plane is not logical. 

Secondly, we don’t ask any follow-through questions when presented with information. We quit wondering about an event when a certain threshold is reached. An example is this:  When Joe Wilson went to Niger (being a liberal, I like Joe), he said he did not find anyone who tried to sell uranium to Saddam. Who did he ask? Is there an office full of Niger folks who know this?  Did he ask 1 person, 3 persons, 1000 persons?  Did he ask the ‘right’ person.  Of course I don’t think Saddam tried to buy uranium from Niger, but not because Joe found out the country of Niger didn’t try it.
If we had the very writing in front of us from the cave walls what would it tell us?  How could we feel confortable that is wasn’t just graffeti, or mistaken ideas.  Because we see for ourselves something written 3000 years ago why would we assume it true.  If we had pictures of jesus on the cross, why would we think he was the son of god? If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life, you doubt, as far as possible, all things. Thank you Rene Descartes

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By Shenonymous, July 4, 2007 at 5:17 am Link to this comment

It is fairly obvious we edit what is important and what is not. Otherwise we would be catatonic upon waking or at best falling over our own feet trying to get up in the morning (maybe a lot do that???).  Perhaps you are one of the more critical humans that have better filtering skills. And that is truly great. But it seems the import of this forum for atheists is that not enough evaluation is going on that gives believers justification for the claims they make.  The force of my estimation of the film is that one ought not to swallow hook, line, and sinker any and all propaganda (which means propagating the faith) when it involves self-defining issues.  Even if it seems to support where you (‘you’ in the nonspecific sense) are at in your head. My warning is that is when one is most vulnerable to exploitation. If you are saying the film does not have loaded messages, then I think we are on radically different readings of it.  Whether I agree with this kind of message or not is irrelevant if the message has misleading information.  Whether it is “essentially” truthful or not, it is without a doubt intended to elicit an emotional response rather than one reasoned and this is regardless of what appears to be “fact-based” imagery and notable contributors. It would be inconsistent for me (also “me” in the nonspecific sense) not to seek the validity of the allegations it makes especially if it attacks every belief in what I have worshipped my whole life and if I strongly held particular counter political views as well.  You were hoping the masses could see it, or so you said.  I am not here suggesting I personally have any of those kinds of religious beliefs (as an atheist, I patently do not) although I do have strong political beliefs, which I have made known in this forum and others. I don’t know about you, but I always listen to those “lofty” news media and other bodies of information you listed (except my kindergarten teacher, duh) with a critical ear and watch pre-edited inflammatory film with a critical eye.  But admittedly I am edjumacated a bit more than the ordinary Joe or Jane.

Jujubes

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

“I’m more inclined to take the question everything tact.” - Me

I wrote question everything not research everything. Not that anyone was going there but me. Just thought I’d nip that in the bud!

Budweiser!

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By Hemi*, July 4, 2007 at 12:29 am Link to this comment

Re: #83766 by Shenonymous on 7/03 at 8:26 pm

“As it contains strong suggestions about what is going on in the world, in your life, how you are being controlled, and a political slant was overlayed, it is supremely important that you rigorously think about not only what it says, but how it was said to you. It may all be true or it may not. How will you know?  How do you remain conscious?” - Shenonymous

We can say exactly that about any information we receive. Fox news, CNN, New York Times, Washington Times, Reader’s Digest, Yahoo, Supreme Court, our kindergarten teacher, the parrish church and our partners all have “strong suggestions” and we sort through that pile mostly without the scholarly bibliography whether it is available or not. What gives credence to the listings in a bibliography? Do I research the validity of the individual bibliography listings? When I get to the paintings on the cave walls in France can I stop? When’s lunch break anyhow? Have I ever done enough research to watch this movie? No? Maybe that’s why they didn’t bother with a scholarly bibliography. “If you think I’m full of crap, what can you think of my scholarly bibliography?”

“Logic doesn’t always work because the premises may not be true, or not even partly true. If you care, you need to check out such life-determining information.  If you care, you won’t let others do your thinking for you. How do you know you are not doing just that?” - Shenonymous

I was doing that before watching this movie. I’ll be doing some of that after watching this movie. Isn’t everyone doing that to some degree She? I care but if I researched every piece of life-determining information I’d never leave my cave.

Popcorn!

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By Hemi*, July 3, 2007 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment

For #83773 by Shenonymous on 7/03 at 8:47 pm

“Hemi*
What is a bad truth?  What effect do you think the film would have if everyone (the masses) saw it?  Who exactly do you think the masses are?”

Let’s say a bad truth for me is an unwanted truth. Bad news. Bad from my perspective. Big, uncomfortable changes ahead. It upsets my applecart.

I’m not sure. I would like to see if it would stimulate people or would they shirk and say nah, couldn’t be. If I knew the outcome maybe I wouldn’t be so curious but I don’t know. These are the parts left out of text books. Like I mentioned the 9/11 conspiracists have been met with both “wow that was an inside job” as well as “how could all of those people be complicit?” Why not drop the Mentho in the soda? Sense of wonder? What if? This is the “throw the spaghetti against the fridge” deal someone described earlier.

I was thinking specifically of people who have never considered that their lifelong beliefs might be wrong or were ever confronted with that possibility. You know, question authority. I think there’s a high percentage of people like that in the world. Things are not so bad, don’t wake me from my slumber, keep on keepin’ on, masses.

I think the powers that be (our government, religious institutions, corporations) would have me question this movie. I get the impression the movie makers would have me question everything, they included. I’m more inclined to take the question everything tact.

I don’t think all of these people and institutions mentioned in the movie, dating back to pre-Biblical times are parts of a long lived, evolving conspiracy. (Shorter lived yes!) But if you’re trying to ford a stream without getting wet, do you plunge knee deep into the stream? Do you construct a bridge simply to cross a stream? Or do you (Federal Reserve, NWO, neo-cons, Standard Oil, Haliburton) cross on stones already in place?

Chimps use tools. Tools good.

Bananas Foster!

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2007 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller
I‘ve heard it is best to have a life that contains more questions than answers as it keeps that wonderment alive.  What do you think?  Yeah, Libby is free and what can we do about it?  Zeitgeist haunts us.  Is it bigger than all of us?

Hemi*
What is a bad truth?  What effect do you think the film would have if everyone (the masses) saw it?  Who exactly do you think the masses are?

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2007 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Happy birffday Billy, now October can come and go and my wish will have been with you all that time.  You shyster you. We can call you Triky Dik.

It was good of Billy to give us the film to discuss.  I really appreciated it.  Most comparative religions courses will also show that the creation and savior stories have remarkable similarities over all the religions.  I don’t think, however, they extol the virtues of any one over another.  The film makes graphic and more indelible on the mind the homogeny of world religious beliefs.  It goes further than that though as some of you have pointed out.  It dipped into the horrors of war and politics and the impotence of ordinary people to do anything about it.  And I think that was the crux of the whole effort.  It does give a source list but not a scholarly bibliography. Clarifications were also offered that also sort of ornaments the film.

Interestingly the cinematic or video form gives one the sense of three dimensions and seduces the imagination through what is called trompe l’oeil (fool the eye) and synergy. The impact of the motion picture that looks like real life, and sound, dialogue, lighting, use of camera angles all combine to bypass ordinary defensive censors, and draws the attention into the viewing experience. The psychology of the effects of film is taught today in professional degree programs.  Via the graphic media, through the device of montage, as we see in the video Zeitgeist the Movie, time travels and in less than two hours four or five millennia are presented giving the comparative bases of almost all religions (I don’t recall if any were left out).  As it contains strong suggestions about what is going on in the world, in your life, how you are being controlled, and a political slant was overlayed, it is supremely important that you rigorously think about not only what it says, but how it was said to you. It may all be true or it may not. How will you know?  How do you remain conscious?

Logic doesn’t always work because the premises may not be true, or not even partly true. If you care, you need to check out such life-determining information.  If you care, you won’t let others do your thinking for you. How do you know you are not doing just that?  Something to think about while you are eating your Cheezits.

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By Frank Cajon, July 3, 2007 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

A newby on this board, I haven’t read this dude’s book and won’t until it is in the 25 cent paperback sale at my local library after listening to his pompous ass in an interview. I’m not interested in arguing over the existence of a deity that can’t be proven or disproven, though I’ll toss my read in later. I did read the recent biography of Einstein, a tough but interesting read relevant to me and this thread only because of this great thinker’s belief in a sort of macrocosmic ‘God’ to account for the order and origin of the physical universe and its’ laws, as well as a distrust of conventional personal religions. It’s an approach I in part share.
I have been a serious amateur astronomer for nearly 30 years and enjoy cosmology and even will read articles on particle physics and theories of quantum mechanics if written at an accessible level (Hawkings’ book is an example). I have become comfortable with a personal belief system that the physical universe is a relatively new phenomena and that what we refer to as time is a measurement that only has meaning as a point of reference since the creation of this universe 15 billion years ago. The source of the big bang, that existed before time began I call the originating source. Many of the phenomena of what we call nature are manifestations of this source, including the DNA molecule and human life. I do not and have never for one split second bought into either the argument that there is no originating source for the physical universe or that there is one, attributed male sexual characteristics and whose folklore religions are the purpose humans are meant to serve while alive. I see this Hitchens doing his speil and it just reminds me of the true believer who told me that the Earth was created in one day 6,000 years ago. They both need to go outside in the desert on a dark night and look at the magnificence of the universe. Something very powerful and very old is out there beyond the deepest reaches. I will die in the next 25 years and my energy cannot be destroyed according to the laws of physics. I hope that I will move into another plane of existence where I will understand more.

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By DSA, July 3, 2007 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment
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Greetings Everyone!

Shame on the doctors and the medical professionals of London who disgraced their noble professions!

How sick can their minds be???

Do they end up teaching these destructive tactics to their young ones too?

Hope the world will never see or hear this kind of news ever again.

Christopher Hitchens, they have proven your point!

Thank you for addressing this subject!

With love & best wishes,

DSA

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By -Michael, July 3, 2007 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

Fascinating flick.  They should air that first part on the Discovery Channel.  I think, at a minimum, it would put the atheist concerns in the face of believers.  Of course they won’t decide not to believe in God, but it may prompt some to protest the destructive aspects of dogma, divorce themselves from counterintuitive mind-sets, and concentrate on a renewed relationship with their God.

I’m sure we could find a factual film on the benevolent achievements of religion through the course of history as well. 

As for the rest…  I was captivated (and a bit paranoid) up until the RF chip implants.  What a shitty ending.  That’s the problem with conspiracy theories; they are based in an element of truth, which draws in the viewer, and then they go overboard with wild speculation.  I felt a bit like Neo towards the end.

The 9/11 stuff sent my head reeling.  I would be more convinced if these guys choose a different spokesperson, though.  Rosie doesn’t really come across as a plausible representative. 

I am in the aviation field, and have studied crash rescue/investigation.  I can tell you that a full impact crash doesn’t leave much in the way of evidence – to include blood.  Any other aspect of this film, I can neither credit nor discredit. 

Ok, here’s the plan guys:  We’ll convince everyone that there is a god so they are malleable, create wars to expand the empire, create a central bank to hold everyone under the yolk of oppression, kill that bastard Kennedy so he doesn’t interfere with our plans, kill thousands of our own citizens so we can make the rest of them afraid (Paranoia runs deep.  Into your heart it will creep…), control the media, rape our constitution, unify the world, and implant computer chips in the world population. 

Swallow THAT jagged pill.

Love the Hendrix quote at the end… The power of love will beget (you guessed it, folks)

Peace   - Michael

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2007 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

After watching “zeitgeistmove”, I have more questions than answers.  Does anyone know, how accurate the plagiarism comments about Christianity are?  Fables and stories presented by Christianity always seemed far fetched to me.  As She. stated we all do not have the time to do extensive research. 

One other part that caught me eye, was the Kennedy speech, is it presented out of context?  Must admit my history must be amost as weak as Bush’s.

Libby is Free!  Question Authority “zeitgeist”  the name is interesting, means defining the spirit some of us were just talking about spirt.

Pez (the candy)

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By Hemi*, July 3, 2007 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Re: #83468 by Shenonymous on 7/03 at 8:02 am

“How can we verify everything said? Do we want to verify it?  I watched it but also with a critical eye.”

We can’t verify most of it. Sure we want to, no? Is a bad truth better than no truth? Is there anyone in this thread that wouldn’t realize the information is cherry picked?

I have to admit to a childish fantasy of a production of this nature being broadcast to the masses. I will not live to see that but I can dream. I suppose we’ve seen a little of what that would be like with the 9/11 Truth Movement. The shit-hammer backlash and all.

Re: #83489 by Mike Mid-City on 7/03 at 9:02 am

Mike, thanks for the happy 4th of July wish. My grandfather was born on the 4th of July in 1907. So, it’s always been a more sacred than secular day for me. He would have been 100 tomorrow. A blue-collar man. A bull of a man. He worked for a number of chemical companies and I believe even handled asbestos at one them. This was long before the long term effects of exposure to many chemicals were known. Before most safeguards were in place. If dangers were known they weren’t discussed with the people on the bottom.

He died from cancer of a number of organs. Nothing too specific, the extensive testing and treatment would have been too costly and likely too late anyhow. Shit happened. I saw him cry at weddings and in his hospital bed, that’s all. I’m crying now.

I was in my twenties and working the lobster shift in a blue-collar job when I got the call that my grandfather had passed. The foreman of the crew I was working with was the spitting image of my grandfather in his prime. Looked and sounded just like him. By coincidence that foreman was working his last shift before retirement. Never saw him again.

My grandfather is never far from my thoughts. His name is my confirmation name. His last job was working for our town’s department of parks and recreation. One of his specific jobs was to hang the Christmas lights on town hall. It’s a nice reminder just passing town hall in winter.

Mike, if I seem detached and uncaring in my posts, I’m not. I’m flesh and bone and it takes all of my concentration not to respond entirely from the heart. I’m such a sap, I’d be sitting in a puddle all the time. Now I’ve let on that the 4th is just a little more sacred than secular for me.


Sto lat Pop! Na zdrowie!

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By Hemi*, July 3, 2007 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

All,

We are aware that every production has an axe to grind. No observation is without bias. Some observatories are simply less accessible. A windowseat can be nice if you’ve had enough sleep.

Picasso!

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2007 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

She,
Your synopsis is right on, yes we must always focus with the critical eye.  After watching, my focus was off, blurred and not sure of what is truth. Over all the big picture seems much clearer.  Connecting the dots the movie makes perfect sense, critical thinking can make sure they are the right dots.  Truth verified may be more than I can ever do.  Hence; me the cynic.

Billy
Peas O cake.

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By -Michael, July 3, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Re:  Leefeller & Billy

“your attempt to pigeonhole everything according to your belief is not as fascinating to others as you believe.”

“you act as if you’ve got a new angle on it”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

First, happy B-day Billy.  I was going to give you a reprieve from my bullshit, but ultimately decided that I would give you no quarter. 

I have no delusions that my point is particularly profound or original. 
Sometimes, old axioms are supremely relevant when the conversation becomes mired in a vat of groupthink mentality.  Although not the best person for the job (by far), I am a voice of dissent – critical to counteracting this phenomenon. 

So loose your blows; I am your punching bag.  I willingly bleed for you.

If I have mistaken the vibe of this forum, and it is actually a playground for cronyism and mockery, I apologize for wasting your time.  But I get the distinct feeling that we all have some constructive axes to grind.  I am humbled by the vast amount of knowledge here, and try to pick up on some of the insight you cats are laying down.

My why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along speak may strike you as sophomoric and idealistic, but to surrender this ideal is to release humanity into the throes of discord.  And this is not a pathway to…

Peace   - Michael   (sorry for the dramatic finale)

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2007 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

Oh yeah, we are now part of the 700 club!

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2007 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

And definitely have a happy birthday, Billy.

Birthday cake!

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2007 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Think about how many humans populate this planet. It wobbles the mind. Funny thing about nature and the planet.  They (if we can call them a they, duh) don’t give a rat’s ass about humans, or any other animal for that matter.

(Aside to Billy) I actually have a counterfeit Pollock.  We had a Pollock Party once and about 40 people helped paint an 8 x 5 canvas. It is so great that Jackson (the drunk) would be livid. Ha! Oh well… it’s just for me and I love it and doesn’t that say it all?

Gerald Massey said a mouthful about truth…and the1:56:23 video. How can we verify everything said? Do we want to verify it?  I watched it but also with a critical eye.

Wars go on killing even after they are over.  My dad came home from Korea not the man my mom married.  He was violent and caroused and it killed our family.  How many is it over 3500 American soldiers alone? But how many Iraqis? Tens of thousands. How many Brits, Italians, Germans, Swiss, Africans, humans?  What about Dalfur?  It is a vortex of insanity.

Any group however loosely organized will contain a spectrum of those who are mentally healthy and those who are under a spell.

Hundreds of millions never want to know truth. Just as western man ignores how most of the goods and foods consumed are really made and get in their closets and on their tables, in their garages, they remain ignorant of how they have been shepherded their entire lives. But truth is as it is perceived and that has nothing to do with Truth with a capital T.  Facts are always used in design, through art, facts can be woven by the worst, self-serving, human vultures that feed on human prey.  But we must be vigilant that we don’t become victims of our own drama.  Truth can be prostituted by both sides. We need the wake up callers but we also must learn to evaluate everything anyone says.  We don’t do research ourselves, we don’t grind our own meat. We just don’t have the time and that is how the vultures eat us. But beware, the beast has more than one head The appeal to love is sentimentality at its height.  Mainly because the definition of love is different for each.  When that is defined so that everyone understands it the same, then it can be a word of value.  The key is critical thinking. Learning to measure what is put to us. 

There are brakes, both we and the earth have them.  The dear earth frequently exercises its wrath with ice ages, forest fires, global warming, and human wars. It levels the playing field itself. And humans have their own brakes, consciences, that internal brake that gives the human the ability to think beyond their own bodies. The earth will survive, we may not. It is a struggle. As Sartre said, “there is no exit.”

Antipasto

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By Hemi*, July 3, 2007 at 8:57 am Link to this comment

Billy,

Let me ammend my earlier post. “Fun” was not the best choice of words. You hit on it exactly with “liberating”. We weren’t gleeful just “liberated”.

Birthday cake!

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By Hemi*, July 3, 2007 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

Billy the Dik,

Thanks for the link. I had heard this movie mentioned a number of times and had no idea what it contained. My wife and I watched the first half hour late last night. It was hard to pull ourselves away but we both have early days. The two of us have investigated so many of these topics in diverse places. You start putting these pieces together for yourself but then you wonder whether you’re simply paranoid. We sat there watching and nodding. I hate to say it but it was enlightening, reassuring and even…. pardon me… fun.

The topic and images are so frightening at times. That opening sequence is heart rending. If you’re not moved by those images you’re not alive. Yet we went to sleep content with having a little more of the puzzle. We’re looking forward to the rest of the film and showing it to our son.

Happy birthday and many returns of the day.

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By Leefeller, July 3, 2007 at 12:52 am Link to this comment

Billy the Dik
Watched the whole thing,  I should owe you a hundred bucks.  All the bull shit and things I suspected but could not put together now make perfect sense to me and was verified by this movie.  Of course I was especially pissed about Vietnam.  Now I cannot even move to Canada.
Enlightening and very very sad.  Religion is a no brainer, the rest is frightening.

Happy birthday Billy!

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By Shenonymous, July 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller - Conscience awe is awkward, sublime might fit better, And yes, spirits are good to clean paint brushes with except the vapors might give you emphysema or kill your brain cells. I would think spirits are better if made from corn, rye, potatoes, or molasses and served over ice, or not. Those spirits could kill your brain cells too but it might be a more pleasant way to do it.  Maybe we ought to save the word spirit to mean joie de vivre? The kind needed to throw spaghetti at the refrigerator to see if it sticks and if it does, it’s cooked al dente, and perfect! 

Hume was an insightful man.

Kalamari

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By -Michael, July 2, 2007 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #83173 by Hemi* on 7/02 at 11:47 am

    This is the intolerance that I detest.  Your efforts geared toward mocking of the spaghetti monster illustrate an outlook which perpetuates small-mindedness.  Were I a vengeful sort, I would wish upon you the hallowed noodle-lashing. 

Re:  “…non-believers strive for agreement before unity”
    You point out an excellent roadblock to unity.  There are a few divisive issues that, without effort, may prevent us from realizing our common goal (unity).
I don’t think anyone wants to rehash the pros and cons of abortion here, so I’ll simplify.  Before I start, it’s worth mentioning that there are nonbelievers who find abortion immoral (and vice-versa).  I am pro-choice, if anyone gives a shit. 
If I was getting an abortion, and an acquaintance approached me and said, “hey dude, I think that it abortion is murder” my first reaction would be, “Well, it’s really none of your f*$^*g business, is it?”  But ever the anti-confrontational peace lover, I would think twice about severing ties with the lad.  I realize that it’s quite reasonable to construe removal of a healthy embryo from my notional womb as murder.  So instead, I might say, “I see where you’re coming from, George.  It’s obviously not the way I feel, but still, it wasn’t an easy decision to make.” 
    Conversely, it is incumbent on the believer to understand that abortion can be construed as non-murder. 
So why would I allow George’s protest to damage our relationship? 
I don’t condone mincing words.  I fully subscribe to Thoreau’s line, “Say what you have to say, not what you ought. Any truth is better than make-believe.” 
By the same token, if what you have to say is unnecessary and offensive, why say it (besides the entertainment value)? 
   
The gay and woman issues are distinct and time consuming.  I’ve got to get back to my day job.

I found your lunatic fringe hypothesis intriguing, although I’ve got some questions for you. 

Peace (pass the parmesan)  - Michael

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By airbreather, July 2, 2007 at 2:54 pm Link to this comment
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This conversation seems to be spinning wildly off in different directions. Although some of the comments about unity are fascinating and worth exploring more, I would appreciate if we could re-focus on the interview itself. I personally found the arguments against religion to be both convincing and highly relevant.
The comments against zen buddhism were awakening for me as I had recently been intrigued by that view.
I would like to read Professor Hitchen’s book and I will tell my friends to read it too.

Back to Spinoza, Einstein, Jefferson and Paine- Deus sive Natura

I think it was Hume that said something like: we are all capable of good and bad, but to do evil, one requires religion.

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By Leefeller, July 2, 2007 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

•  #83036 by Shenonymous

Glad you brought up comments on spirit, last time I met with some of my believer friends,  we tried to define “spirit.” 

This Sunday, I’ve Been invited by the same friends to a “spiritual gathering” in the redwoods, I will behave myself and not bring Billy the Dik’s comments to Fiddle Adios, (though it would be fun).  You comments about spirt came at a great time, yes regular defined baggage is there, but I will be listening on the edges, maybe even paint something,  it is a beautiful location in the redwoods.  Yes the word conscience is just right and lets see where it goes.

Being among the Redwoods provides for me an enhanced feeling of conscience awe. (In the past I would have said spirit) 

Now “Spirts” for me, are what I clean my paint brushes with!

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By Hemi*, July 2, 2007 at 2:36 pm Link to this comment

Billy the Dik wrote:

“Michael, give it a fucking rest!!  This shit is thousands of years old and you act as if you’ve got a new angle on it. Go soak your pretentious head, Scooter.”

Fuck!!! I knew there was a better answer. I always hated these fucking essay questions. Why’d I get put in this freakin’ advanced class anyhow?

And Leefeller wrote:

“You are presumptuous in your statements, your attempt to pigeonhole everything according to your belief is not as fascinating to others as you believe.”

Double fuck!!! I thought you had to fill both sides single spaced. I’m not taking any morning classes next semester.

You guys suck!

Pesto

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By Leefeller, July 2, 2007 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

Michael,

You are presumptuous in your statements, your attempt to pigeonhole everything according to your belief is not as fascinating to others as you believe.

My love of art and certain kinds of music are no different than your feelings toward God.  Sometimes I slip, and am excited about my loves and inject it into the conversation of non lovers.  I really find baseball boring. So I do not run out and spend time going to baseball games or baseball groupies. Some baseball fans can name anything you want to know about baseball, you on the other hand may love to quote the bible, I prefer to talk about Art.  These are interests, we do not have the same interests, alienation is different. 

You stated:   

“Shall we alienate ourselves from 85% of the believers that are kind, unselfish, and loving because of the 15% that are hateful?” 

Alienating begins when one party does not have the same interests as the other and the more powerful party, burns the disagreeing party at the stake. 

peso

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By Hemi*, July 2, 2007 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

“There are far more intelligent voices than mine which advocate unity.  Although it can’t be measured, I think that the believers who wish for unity out weigh the nonbelievers who wish the same.” - Michael

Everyone would like unity, a sense of community or whatever you call it. I think non-believers strive for agreement before unity Michael. Acceptance is not enough there has to be agreement. A majority vote can make abortion legal but not accepted. Belief and non-belief are not nuances of faith.

A believer might subconsciously accept that God is impotent (“cast their fate to the wind”, this thing is bigger than me, etc.) but then rally against abortion, gays, women or whatever the brainwashed mind is unable to “let go, let God” of. My take is you have this huge body of moderate believers, who will march, sign petitions, pray, attend candlelight vigils (that should be adequate for saving a soul) and in many subtle ways bolster a few fundamental lunatics who, seeing this huge approving body, go forth and carry out the scriptural dictates. Then you get the moderate reaction of “I could never kill anyone myself but the abortion doctor was violating God’s law”. The actions of the lunatics promote the illusion of God’s wrath on Earth and so the moderates are once more baptized by fire and brimstone into the faith.

My guess is that without a lunatic fringe, a faith will die. I think the Church of England is suffering that fate, am I wrong? There are probably dozens of examples that back my assertion. Help me out here. Why is Pastafarianism not a true faith? No one is willing to kill or die for it. At least let’s hope not.

Atheists want unity through agreement as acceptance has proven to be impossible for believers. We will never totally agree on what is the absolute truth, although we should be able to agree what is absolutely not the truth. Spaghetti and meatballs did not create the universe. Oops! I might languish in fra diavolo sauce for all eternity!

Ramen!

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By -Michael, July 2, 2007 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

All,

Mike has reiterated one of my main concerns with these self-congratulatory forums.  “Even big dog intellects can overcome their own cock sure attitudes… if we only talk.” 

For every (self)destructive believer out there, there are 172 ‘Mikes’.  Religion doesn’t kill people, people kill people.  Of course dogma has proved as fallible and dangerous as the men who spawned it.  No reasonable person disputes this. 

When nonbelievers conduct themselves with the assumption that their truth trumps that of believers (or vice versa), disharmony ensues. 

A common fallacy on this thread is that believers (in general) put their destiny in the hands of God – they don’t have free will.  Depending on the nonbeliever’s temperament, this assumption leads to a range of reactions from indifference to contempt (and in Billy’s case, a brutal tongue lashing). 

I may very well be talking out of my ass, but here’s the truth as I understand it…
Although ‘God helps those who helps themselves’ is not in the Bible, it is a widely accepted premise.  Most religion has grown from the ‘daddy knows best’ mentality of yesteryear.  These believers exercise their religion for guidance and example, not subjugation.  Yes, they have put their fate in the hands of God and they know Him to be supreme; this knowledge does not preclude them from free thought and governing their own fate. 

There are far more intelligent voices than mine which advocate unity.  Although it can’t be measured, I think that the believers who wish for unity out weigh the nonbelievers who wish the same.  I’ve asked this before and no one has responded: 

Shall we alienate ourselves from 85% of the believers that are kind, unselfish, and loving because of the 15% that are hateful?  What exactly are we, as nonbelievers, trying to achieve?  I, for one strive to achieve…

Peace - Michael

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By Hemi*, July 2, 2007 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

#83051 by Leefeller on 7/01 at 9:10 pm
(180 comments total)

Leefeller,

“Do they dress like Beef Eaters? If I recall, didn’t they once have a president who said, “If you have seen one meat ball, you have seen them all”?

No definitely not like “Beefeaters” although many are indeed beefeaters. They don pirate regalia. (We don’t get many chances to use the words don and regalia, do we? Maybe that’s a good thing!)  That quote: “If you have seen one meat ball, you have seen them all”, was taken from a leader in the “Pasta Reformation” movement of the late 1950’s. His name was Dean Martin Luthor and he opened a monastery in Nevada. The movement was doomed as you could guess in that in order to have a “Reformation” there would first need to be a “Formation” and as you’ve likely “witnessed”, pasta can be very nebulous in its “form”. That you might guess is one of the Sacrum Magicus Mysteria of the faith. I was first introduced to the “Pastal Mysteria” in late 1967. I was working toward ordination in the Pastal prelature and was making my pilgrimage on the Magicus Mysteria Tour. I left the “Ministry of the Manicotti” as my noodle was limp but that’s a story better left untold. 

But returning to our discussion of DML, despite the ineffectiveness of the “Pasta Reformation”, “Dean” as we remember him, left a lasting legacy to the faithful. You see “Dean” helped to develop and institutionalize a number of our Pastafarian hymns from his Nevada monastery. Perhaps the greatest of these is “That’s Amore’”, you might be familiar with this. One of my favorite verses contains the following scriptural passage: “When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fagiole, that’s amore!” My heart is swelling and my stomach growling contemplating those sacred words.

Ramen!

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By Rob, July 2, 2007 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

When “everyone” has a religion, it is time to define what we mean by “religion.”  One of the oldest tricks in the book is to define your opponent so that he becomes you.  Religion is a belief system in supernatural, spiritual affairs.  Atheism is a lack of a belief system in supernatural, spiritual affairs. Atheism is not a philosophy.  The only thing one can gather about an atheist is simply that he doesn’t have a belief that there can be such a thing as a god almighty.  While he doesn’t believe, doesn’t mean he doesn’t think certain things.  He doesn’t walk around all day thinking he doesn’t believe in absurd possibilities.  Upon occassion, he might tend to put his thinking cap on and expand his views.  Bertrand Russel said, “I am as sure that religion does harm as I am that it is untrue.”  So am I. Voltaire said, “I outright reject christianity.”  So do I.  Marie Atoinette supposedly said, “Let them eat cake.”  I find that a litte harsh.  For all the seekers of truth that have bothered to speak through this post, congradulations. There has been thousands of years when this kind of endeavor was the kiss of death.  We truly do ride on the backs of the enlightened who proceeded us and took the slings and arrows of a more brutish time.  I would have been burned at the stake or stood with a noose around my kneck expecting all hell to break loose.  It may still be my fate.  Things have change. (Thank you, Bob Dylan)

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By ctbrandon, July 2, 2007 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

the problem isnt religion. everyone has a religion, whether its Christians, Jews, Islams, Agnostics, Athiests, or pot smokers. The problem is that when a group of individuals who share a common religion begin to organize, they begin to gaing power. The more they grow, the more powerful they become. And power always corrupts.

brandon
http://www.actforyourself.org

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By Leefeller, July 1, 2007 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment

Hemi,
Thanks for introducing us to the Pastafarian’s, I found it quite amusing, well done.  Do they dress like Beef Eaters? If I recall, didn’t they once have a president who said, “If you have seen one meat ball, you have seen them all”?

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Oops, I forgot…

Peas

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

You needn’t worry about Fadel’s students Mark.  They will eat him alive.  You know how cannibalistic students are.  They will rip him up in their student evaluations and then John Hopkins or any other reputable asylum of learning will send him packing because you know how job related student evals are.  In his naiveté he just doesn’t understand the review system in academia.  Poor chap.  The future does not bode well for him.  If you live close to JHU do visit his class incognito and check out what he is doing.

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

I am more concerned with brain-squeezing for here and now and am not very concerned with any eternity since I have no evidence whatsoever religious or otherwise of human eternity either in body or in spirit (for whatever that might mean).  I think most people regard spirit as soul, unless they are talking about that special exuberance or verve, but I think when considering life and death, it is more associated with immortality.  I think spirit/soul is just another “comfort” concept to banish mortality, viz., fear of death.  If it is regarded as an individual’s essence, that makes moral decisions, then I would protest that designation under the criticism that it carries too much other defining baggage that confuses the thoughts of common folks (folx as per Billy) and would argue for another more descriptive word, i.e., conscience.  It follows the KISS theory (keep it simple stupid!).

How about 1000 posts? Would that be a record? Is it possible this forum will still be here 5 years from now? Isn’t it such a classic set of questions that there would be an never ending number of participants and commentaries.?

And Hemi* you are without a doubt, definitely the brightest apparition I’ve run across and I don’t believe in ghosts!  I hope you keep haunting this forum. I am speechless, for a change…

Peas

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By morgan-lynn griggs lamberth, July 1, 2007 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Sylvia, true! My concern is with the total nonsense of religion,the faulty arguments. I also find faith-healing horrible.

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

Fadel,

I had my doubts about your professional status because I found your posts intellectually deficient, as I explained.  So there’s no symmetry between our positions about each other.

I notice that you made no attempt in your latest post to respond to my arguments.  I assume that you realized that you had none.  Perhaps you felt it necessary to descend to empty psychological speculations instead, to strike back at me for pointing out that your posts were intellectually deficient.  Besides, your attempt to psychologize me is just one more ad hominem fallacy on your part.  I might be jealous of your having better students than I do (a reasonable jealousy in our profession), but I would never be jealous of someone whose mastery of logical reasoning is so impaired—especially for a professor.  (And from what I gather from others here, like Shenonymous, I’m not the only person who has posted to criticize your intellectual abilities.)  I fear for your students—and I don’t say that lightly or with any personal animosity toward you, only with great sadness because your students deserve better.  I do wish to warn you that you will need to rethink your attitudes if you wish to succeed at an institution like Hopkins.  (I say this from personal experience, having taught at Princeton and currently teaching at Columbia.  Try to ignore your wounded ego and listen to my words of wisdom.)

Perhaps you’re just very young and simply don’t know any better, but whatever the cause, I hope that someday you’ll recognize that there are certain objective, impartial standards and ideals of intellectual achievement which are essential to the life of the mind.  Smugness, certainty, complacency, and dogmatism are inimical to that life.  I would never ask or expect you to change your views about God or anything else, but I would emphasize that you need to address your intellectual deficiencies or risk being out-argued and out-reasoned by your own students.

Good luck.

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By Hemi*, July 1, 2007 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

What am I? A mirage?

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 1, 2007 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

82945 by Mark Colby on 7/01 at 12:02 pm
(49 comments total)
 
Fadel,
 
Look more carefully under the faculty listings on the philosophy dept. webpage at Rutgers, and you’ll find me.  You can also find me on the political science dept. webpage at Columbia.
 
Why do you doubt that I’m what I claim to be?
  ===========================
Mark,

Thank you! I did finally find the list, and you’re there. When I tried before, that webpage did not open.

As for your saying, “Why do you doubt that I’m what I claim to be?” If you go and examine your comments you will find that you raised the same doubts about me being affiliated with a university. In fact, it seems you’re putting Johns Hopkins University on trial for hiring someone who is not to your liking. In my value system this is called the law of reciprocity and equity; you’re suspicious of me I am suspicious of you. This is almost a logical equation, and I am sure a man so appreciative of logic should have no problem with that.
 
Correct me if I am mistaken! But I read behind the lines (that’s why I am in language and literature) that there is a lurking feeling of jealousy and lament that I was hired by Johns Hopkins University. If this is the case, don’t worry; we are totally in two different fields with no chance for competition, and it is not a big thing anyway; just an adjunct and lecturer position like yours. It seems that we have some things in common; you’re teaching at two different institutions; I will be teaching at another college in the area through the religious department.

Now for a final wish! I hope to be able one day to attend some of your classes to learn from you how you treat your students; and conversely, I wish you would have the opportunity to attend some of mine, so you can find out that I am not that bad as you think I am.
 
I hope there are no bad feelings! You lectured me and advised me, and I did my share of that! However, I hope that participants on this thread would appreciate that my comments have given the thread a new lease on life; it was running its course. This is my last comment directly to you. My final comment on this thread will come in a few days in response to a dear brother, Mike-Mid-City, with whom I established a friendship bond earlier when you were not around. Allow me to say he is better human being than me and you. Though he has modest education, he possess more wisdom than mine and yours cobmind. Of course, this is a subjective statement that you might not find to your liking.

All the best to you and your dear ones!

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By Leefeller, July 1, 2007 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

She,
This is an attempt to answer yours question, on my shedding the shackles of religion, I will try to make it short and to the point.  It seems that I may have always been an atheist, but did not know it, until I read “Why I Am Not A Christian” by Bertrand Russell.  He made so much more sense than all the religious quotes I have ever had to endure. My leaning toward Atheism started then, however I still felt alone and uncomfortable with my feelings.

My friends and all people I know are believers to some degree or another.  Hitchens Book and all of you free thinkers on this thread have opened the “River Dance’ of life for me, I really appreciate it.  Especially since I now know I am not alone, reason and free thought are an added treat. 

The “need” to celebrate was tongue in cheek, not a need at all, but more in fun.  I was thinking it could be a feeling similar to a Gay person coming out of the closet who never knew they were Gay. (hence the use of dark closet)  Free from the albatross around their neck and wanting to do something to celebrate, like leading the next “Gay pride Day parade” 

When I stated Atheism should get some respect, I may have been more serious than I realized, because other persons may be leaning out of the dark closet of religion, but they like me may feel their is no place to go. Hitchens has opened the door a little wider, but this post has shown me the light, you all have been a great help with the free thinking,  I thank all of you even Fadel. (not for free thinking)

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By morgan-lynn griggs lamberth[ skeptic griggsy], July 1, 2007 at 4:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hitching’s is so right! We all can safely live without the meaningless word God.It is not “mustabatory” to need Him!The good about religion one can find elsewhere as one already does in many cases.See RobertE.Prices “The Reason Driven Life” for confirmation of my comments.

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By Carl Baydala, July 1, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Polls show that 94 per cent of Americans believe in God.

That statistic indicates to me that the culture is doing a very good job of indoctrinating the population. Given what we know about the negative effects of religion, as outlined in this article, what then can we hope for in the areas of peace and harmony in the world, if the greatest superpower in the history of the world is led and is leading those who believe in a religion; a relgion that divides humanity?

Religion can truly be a divisive force and a conrolling one as well by political elites as the author outlines for us.  That is the sickness of a religion such as Christianity in that in makes the population subservient and non-thinking.  Religion seems to be that thing that makes people controllable and docile.  If religion can do these these things to a population how can it be a good thing?

I have often stated and continue to believe that this business of religion in America should be approached with caution.  And, this caution should be in the form of a warning to people as they enter the gates of these religion institutions that what they are about to hear from the representative of some divine source may be dangerous to their mental and physical health.

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City,

You wrote, “Fadel, is in a land that is foreign to him.  He has left the familiar and now lives among a people who are blaming his religion as the reason for all the worlds problems with terror.  He may even get such subliminal messages from his couleages at “work”, you know the other professors.  Not to mention how students can be.”

I understand your desire to understand him and his possible motivations in expressing himself as he does, but you’re being overly charitable and unfair to higher education.  He’s a professor.  He survived a rigorous and demanding educational process that most people don’t have the intellectual ability, let alone the opportunity, even to begin, let alone complete.  And he boasted of being hired by Johns Hopkins, which as you must surely know is one of the country’s foremost educational institutions.  How many professors are good enough to be hired by such an institution?  If you don’t expect someone like Fadel to be able to measure up to the highest intellectual and pedagogical standards, then who could?  As I suggested in my first reply to him, his students deserve to be taught by someone with intellectual rigor, not bias or illogic.  “Subliminal messages,” even if they exist in a university (which I doubt), have no place in any, and no one who is susceptible to them ought to be hired as a professor, least of all when the students are among the best in the country.

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Fadel,

Look more carefully under the faculty listings on the philosophy dept. webpage at Rutgers, and you’ll find me.  You can also find me on the political science dept. webpage at Columbia.

Why do you doubt that I’m what I claim to be?  Surely the terminology and rigor of my replies to you should convince you that I’m not a layman but someone with at least some familiarity with logical and philosophical reasoning.  Would you dismiss my claims and reasoning if, counterfactually, I were not a professor?  I hope not since that would be the ad hominem fallacy.

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By Rob, July 1, 2007 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

To our Fadel Abdallah:

WoW! You have drawn me into a conversation that I usually try to keep personal.  Even though I know better, you are such an unusually easy punching-bag.  Let me say, for anyone I know, who enjoys the enlightenment of the last 300 years, you are the poster-boy for atheists.  There is a chinese proverb that says, “If a man is clever enough, sooner or later he will come to see your side.”  You are not a clever man.

Your logic would not pass even in a bible school. 
When asked to prove there is no god(s) or anything else, it is not up to the person who has no belief in god(s) to prove he doesn’t exist.  He has made no claim of existance, and therefore suffers no reason to prove a negative!  It is the person who asserts such a proposition to give logical proofs for such an assertion. Example:  If I said there were unicorns on the backside of the moon,  I must offer some reason for such a thought, and you are under no obligation to prove there isn’t. 

Also, you seem to say the god of the Abrahamic religions is real, quoting what a good guy jesus chris is.  Good luck getting into heaven.  Forget the 70 virgins (actually a misquote: not virgins but white raisons - raisons can be quite desirable).  If you do not believe that jesus chris is the son of god then you are going straight to hell. (assumption from the bible)  You’re kind of in a pickle I think.

Finally, you are quite mean-spirited.  I really have lost faith in John Hopkins and wonder if someone from that university were to read one of your rants, what would they say?  Atheists have one thing you will never have.  We are not a conversion group of folks.  We don’t particularly care if we get other folks to be atheist.  We don’t condemn you to hell if you don’t come on board with us.  And in your case, please ‘believe’ till your time on this planet is up.  Please.

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

Today is special, some of my beloved family are coming all the way from the west.  So I am squeezing in others (all of you) who have become significant in a very strange way.  There are so many of you!  I am truly intrigued by this entire blogosphere business.  I am sure some precocious psychologist will analyze the phenomenon some time soon. There must be a best-seller in it.

I shall remain anonymous, hence the pseudonym, because I enjoy the complete freedom to say what I want in these somewhat incorporeal dwellings. I used the word dwelling on purpose because I tend to dwell longer and think deeper than since my post-graduate days.  There is no other place, as Mike Mid-City mentioned, where I can do that.  On campus, I have freedom of speech that’s true, but the nature of that kind of collective is such that there are conventions as well as decorum. Unless one wants emotional confrontation. I really do not need that. I try to get students to speak their own minds but with sophistication and reasoned argument. I am often not successful because of the visceral high that seems to drive responses. That is not really a criticism, just an observation of a way of dealing with the world that I choose not to. On the forum, I find the participants quite a challenge. I can well express my frustrations there with existence.  I think existence is so interesting.

No, Fadel is a wiggle-worm and has completely evaded not only my questions but all the others as well.  Perhaps he is a figment?

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By Leefeller, July 1, 2007 at 11:07 am Link to this comment

She,

Religion was never an important part of my life growing up, so when when I decided to attend church in Vietnam, it was not what I did normally. 

Da Nang was hot and humid, not sure what time of the year it was but it was 1968, it may have been close to Christmas.  I remember the heat the dampness and the constant smell of sulfur always heavy in the air, sulfur was a smell of comfort. In those days we did not have night vision goggles, instead we depended on flares to see at night.  Every evening an old D.C. 3 would circle our base and drop big flares on parachutes, a constant circle of orange light, around and around. 

Rumor had it that we were going to be hit hard by the vietcong. I had been in Vietnam long enough to know that my mortality could be compromised at any moment.  Having the distinct feeling someone wants to kill you, can do that. 
It was an exceptionally humid and hot evening, must have been on Sunday, because I decided to attend church services, figuring that I should prepare to meet my maker, sort of speak. 

Evening services were held in a large metal roofed building with screened walls with a few fans attempting to move the air.  A standing room crowd was in attendance,  seems others had the same idea about meeting our maker.  It was so hot and humid, the doors were open, screens did little to challenge the flying critters attracted to the lights.  Standing in complete physical discomfort in the back of the standing room crowd, (I preferred to be by the door)  droning sound of the fans moving the muggy air ever so slightly, over powered the droning of the chaplin. 

All of a sudden I asked myself, why am I here?  apparently “ I am a hypocrite for being here.”  define “Hypocrisy”  - “You hypocrite” 

Walking out of those services, and the hypocrisy for attending in the first place, are clearly intrenched in my mind.

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 1, 2007 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

#82870 by Mark Colby on 7/01 at 5:57 am
(47 comments total)

I teach philosophy of religion at Rutgers.
=======================
Mark Colby:

I checked the faculty list of Rutgers University. I could not find your name, so it occurred to me that you might have been posting under a “fake name.” As a proud professor who is concerned about the dignity of the profession, I would appreciate if you can kindly give your real name.

Thanks!

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 10:16 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

I didn’t realize until I read your latest post that Fadel had posted often, or that you and he disputed each other here.  I confess to feeling dismay that a professor of religion would adopt such a demeaning tone and lapse into illogic in his post calling atheists fanatics.  Did he ever answer your question about how he could have received a doctorate with the kind of illogic he demonstrated?  It’s appalling.  I understand that graduate education has declined in recent years, but I honestly thought he was lying about being a professor, to say nothing of being hired to teach at Johns Hopkins!  (He has helped me to understand why so many of my students make pejorative comments about so many of their other professors at Rutgers.)  Legitimate intellectual disagreement is to be expected and is even necessary to the life of the mind, but how can the mind remain alive and function without logic, its essential nutrient?  My mind boggles—and that’s something it hasn’t done in many years.

Thanks for your compliment about my posts.  I feel the same way about yours.  I think that a grounding in philosophy is absolutely necessary for anyone, regardless of world-view, and I’m glad that you appreciate and make such excellent use of yours.  Where do you teach?

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By -Michael, July 1, 2007 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

Re:  #82643 by Billy the Dik on 6/30 at 4:40 am

“Finally and Foremost, Michael, I hope some day you will stop flattering yourself.  The churches have the finest real estate (tax-free) on Earth.  They have the most savage army of lawyers in the book.  They don’t need your pathetic pandering.  In fact you’re doing their doodoo duty.  So, if you really want to know the wealth of self, stop sucking and slobbering on the golden phallus.  Look to those who will not mock you behind your back for being such a power-whore with no rewards but your own dreamy jizm.  Look to the less than impressive in your daily struggle to be impressive.”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

First, I pander / whore myself to no one; exploitation and self-degradation is antithetical to my humanist ideals. 
You are confusing tolerance and acceptance (when justified) with capitulation.  I am still capable of the former because of my willingness to listen, and be self-critical.  I prefer to attempt and get burned than to ignore and potentially miss out on a greater understanding.  This is evidenced by my perpetuating this conversation.  As many times that I have been stung, I still give the scorpion a ride.

So here is my counter-accusation:
You have constructed a formidable perimeter around your truth.  Your defense includes an impressive education, and an unsurpassed penchant for verbal abuse.  Your sharp tongue and quick wit deflect blows from penetrating your bastions (they never have a chance of coming near your truth). 
So tinker away at your fortress, as you have since you’ve discovered the truth.  But realize that your truth may just be in need of refinement. 
Everyone protects their reality, but the folks who lower their draw bridge on occasion find that all that effort spent on shoring up their defenses can be better used modifying their truth or exploring new ones. 

Peace (of unsolicited advice)  - Michael

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

Mark Colby I quite agree with you and understand the associative principle.  I also try to provoke in my own inimitable way.  And having a slightly evil nature myself (some call it mischief—ala Mike Mid-City), I love to irritate Fadel.  I think he is just as valuable a human being as anyone and would hope he will have insights into the perimeter of his own mind.  I am not attempting to have him change his religion, just to question its justifications for truth without mindless surrender.  He always resorts to the typical screaming, but it rather rolls off my mental back. Early on in this forum I asked the question about how he could have received a doctorate with the kind of illogic he demonstrated.  He has also heard similarly put questions from others, not necessarily from all atheists. Having been on search committees, I have learned people get teaching jobs in many curious ways. Your posts are always of the highest interest to me. My doctorate is not in Philosophy, rather in Art History, but my undergraduate work was philosophy.  I got “turned on” to art by some quirk of circumstances and took that path with no regrets and actually have a swelled heart being in the midst of the arts, both materially and intellectually.  I believe the arts along with aesthetics and ethics can teach a keen sense of human values in general where no values learning existed previously. The associative principle comes forth again. I have seen students transformed from their involvement in critical thinking about the arts. Philosophy gave me a grounding in my own humanity from which to experience as fulfilling a life as I think can be had.  Some would call it realizing a buddhanature.  At least it keeps the question of what is reality in the forefront of my brain. 

Peas

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous,

You wrote, “It seems fruitless to give Fadel any logical and reasoned explanation about the ultimate nature of anything, but mostly about reality.  It’s hard to discern if that is due to his lack of understanding of the nuances of the English language, or because of his overactive adrenal glands.”

I agree with you that it does seem fruitless, but I for one think the attempt is worthwhile, not for Fadel’s sake alone but also to elevate the level of discussion here for others.  There are many fallacies, sophistries, and conceptual and linguistic confusions which could easily be remedied by even minimal exposure to critical thinking and philosophy.  Since I’m a professor of philosophy, I humbly offer my expertise both to Fadel and to anyone else who might be interested in improving his or her thinking.

Fadel claimed to be a professor, and it disturbs me that a colleague—and one who will be teaching at an institution of the caliber of Johns Hopkins—could be so deficient in his grasp of logic.  (I do not think it is merely a matter of a lack of understanding of the nuances of English.)  I want to defend my profession; not all professors are fanatics or dogmatists intent on brainwashing young minds, and I fear that Fadel may give some uncritical readers of his posts such an impression.

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By Hemi*, July 1, 2007 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

Re: #82864 by Shenonymous

She,

I can’t take credit, there is a “Pastafarian Religion” so to speak. It is tongue-in-cheek but seriously tongue-in-cheek. These folks, mostly college kids, demand equality with the “intelligent design” crowd to highlight the folly. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both have mentioned the Flying Spaghetti Monster in various interviews.

Their website is http://www.venganza.org (Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster). Check out their “Open Letter To Kansas School Board.

I am a moderate Pastafarian not a fundamentalist. I suppose Sam Harris would say I am enabling future Pasta atrocities.

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By Mark Colby, July 1, 2007 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Provoc,

I disagree with your semantic lesson but agree with the need to clarify the concept of “God.”  You wrote:

“The western world, and particularly America, have been so thoroghly inundated with Christians that the word ‘God’ has become a generic for diety.  We quite freely misuse the word in the same way we misuse the word ‘Kleenex’ to mean facial tissue.  Kleenex is a proprietary word owned by the Kimberly-Clark Paper Company.  In much the same way, God is a proprietary word “owned” by Christianity.  Considering the wildly differing characteristics ascribed to the various dieties worshipped in this peculiar world, perhaps we should strive to be more specific in our designations.

The following are my points:

1. Your claim that “God” is a proprietary word “owned” by Christianity is false.  The so-called Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share the same word.  (Allah is just the Arabic word for “God.”)  All three religions hold the view that they worship the same being.

2. Your claim that the word “God” is “generic for ‘diety’” is false.  The word “God” refers to a particular deity or god, the being alleged by the Abrahamic religions to be the exclusive creator and ruler of the universe and to have the specific attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, perfection, simplicity, completeness, and to be male in some sense, etc.  The reason why God is not just any deity or god is that only God is alleged to have all these specific attributes; they are not found in any other gods, such as Zeus, Apollo, Vishnu, Brahman, Shiva, Baal, etc.  (Nor are they found in God as depicted in the Old Testament, by the way.  The Abrahamic idea of God is developed over millennia so that now this being is alleged to have these specific attributes.)

3. You’re right about rampant confusion, but your well-intentioned attempt to clarify matters doesn’t help.  The only way people can be clear about the matter is by learning that “God” refers only to the specific being in the Abrahamic religions with the specific attributes I listed.  Any other being is just a god or deity, not God, and no one who values clarity should use the word “God” when speaking about any other being.  So, for example, if someone believes that God is female or that God is in nature, he is misusing the word “God” because he is describing a being with different attributes than those which God is alleged to have.

In case you or anyone else wants to know on what basis I make these claims, I teach philosophy of religion at Rutgers.

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By Shenonymous, July 1, 2007 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

If I ever go to prison, Mike Mid-City, and I might, I will ask you to come out of retirement. And ask your woman to make a doll with Lamed on it.  Who is Tom Petty?  I’ll try to find out and listen as I love new and different music. And here’s a compliment (ya hear that Rob? What we have here is a mutual admiration society) Mike M-C, you are still cool.  It will never go away.

This is for Hemi* - beans beans the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot!  the more you toot, the better you feel, so why don’t we have beans for every meal?  I love Spaghettiland. It’s the best I’ve heard in a million years.  What more could an atheist want? Bob Marley and Beans! Oh, yeah, pasta!

Peas

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By Hemi*, June 30, 2007 at 10:31 pm Link to this comment

“Yes, there are Muslim fanatics, Christian Fanatics, Jewish or Zionist fanatics, Hindu fanatics, Republican fanatic, Democrat fanatic, liberal fanatic, conservative fanatic and atheist fanatics.” - Fadel Abdallah

I’ve opened my heart and soul and then to be left off the rolls of the fanatical? I am highly insulted. I am inconsolable.

“Hath not a Pastafarian eyes? Hath not a Pastafarian hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same pasta, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the
same diseases, heal’d by the same means,  warm’d and cool’d
by the same winter and summer as a Muslim is?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Pastafarian wrong a Muslim, what is his humility?
Revenge.
If a Muslim wrong a Pastafarian,
what should his sufferance be by Muslim example?
Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.”
- Shylock from William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice
as interpreted by His Noodly Goodness the Flying Spaghetti Monster

I am hurt to my core by the exclusion
but I remain open to a heartfelt apology.

Pasta e fagioli!

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By provoc, June 30, 2007 at 9:48 pm Link to this comment

Semantics lesson:  God.
The western world, and particularly America, have been so thoroghly inundated with Christians that the word ‘God’ has become a generic for diety.  We quite freely misuse the word in the same way we misuse the word ‘Kleenex’ to mean facial tissue.

Kleenex is a proprietary word owned by the Kimberly-Clark Paper Company.  In much the same way, God is a proprietary word “owned” by Christianity.  Considering the wildly differing characteristics ascribed to the various dieties worshipped in this peculiar world, perhaps we should strive to be more specific in our designations.

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By Shenonymous, June 30, 2007 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

It seems fruitless to give Fadel any logical and reasoned explanation about the ultimate nature of anything, but mostly about reality.  It’s hard to discern if that is due to his lack of understanding of the nuances of the English language, or because of his overactive adrenal glands.  For every action there is a reaction. For every logical premise given, Fadel reacts illogically.  I guess there is a benefit to be gained by the apparent fury the poor man experiences, even by those attempting to be kindly didactic about it (or unkindly such as Billy is.  Aside to Billy:  I highly doubt Fadel knows who Yosemite Sam is and will not be able to get your humor). But it looks again like pissing the wind. It might be a profitable time to sell umbrellas.

I shall brace myself for another tirade from the Middle East.

Peas

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By Shenonymous, June 30, 2007 at 9:02 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City – I think we share similar political views, so atheists and believers can agree on many things.  But your post is somewhat peculiar with respect to my education in that I have a BA (Philosophy) and BFA, (Studio Art) an MFA in Studio Art and Ph.D. in Art History.  How is that under educated?  Why is that shocking to you?  But where I come from that is about as far as one can go. I have published papers and am in the process of writing a book.  Alas I am in the publish or perish business. But I enjoy research and writing.  I make art as well as teach it.  I also play piano and sang a cappella and madrigals in my undergraduate years.  I think I am well edjumacated. Have I misinterpreted your comments?  Of course I think learning never ends. 

It sounds like you have a fulfilling life too.  It is a bit vague when you say your wife “paints in a minimalist style.”  What exactly do the paintings look like? In the fine arts, I take minimalism to mean imagery that is reduced to very basic features. In the field it is most often said to be spare or stripped down to basic shapes, colors, almost mechanistic and devoid of expressionistic techniques, and have a non-metaphoric character.  What do you think about your wife’s paintings? In what way do you perceive that she informs meaning in her works?

Peas

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By Mark Colby, June 30, 2007 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Fadel Abdallah,

Thank you for your reply to my comments.  Here are my further thoughts:

1. The two words of criticism I used, “hysterical” and “hypocritical,” were not chosen to “get at you,” nor are they “bad words.”  Least of all are they “more hostile and abusive” than the word “fanatic.” They are legitimate terms of criticism.  I believe that “hysterical” applies to the tone of your first post; it was lacking in moderation, self-restraint or objectivity, and instead descended to a personal attack on atheists, all expressed in a language of smugness and self-satisfaction.  The word “hypocritical” I believe is appropriate because your first post accused atheists of a lack of integrity for engaging in “ridicule” and “name-calling” yet you yourself engaged in name-calling.  I disagree with how you interpret the word “fanatic.”  Particularly in religious contexts, it certainly does not imply just an “excess of enthusiasm” or just “a strong feeling.”  (Nor does the word “zealot.”)  No one who values moderation, reasonableness, caution, self-restraint or objectivity—least of all a professor like yourself—would welcome being called a “fanatic” or “zealot.”  That’s just not how these terms are used in colloquial English.  The dictionary just does not convey the seriousness of fanaticism or zealotry.  Calling atheists fanatics is, therefore, name-calling or using a term of abuse.

So I see nothing shameful in my words and no need to scold myself.

2. Of course I’m familiar with metaphysics.  The flaw in your reasoning is that the various cosmological and ontological arguments are problematic, to say the least.  (Do you know what these arguments are?)  You can’t just assert that “‘transcendence” excels and surpasses the materialist thought that atheists use to reject God and religion.”  How do you know that anything “transcendent” exists?  Saying so doesn’t make it so, and saying “the ball is in my court” isn’t an argument or rational strategy to deal with my objections.  At least the argument from design tries to stick to observable facts about nature which are open to anyone, not just those who are already committed to a particular belief.  Speaking about the “transcendent” doesn’t establish that this word refers to anything outside language and the mind.  The burden of proof falls on you to provide a good argument that it does indeed refer to or designate something outside language and the mind, just as the word “sun” refers to that hot, yellow ball of hydrogen gas.

3. I find it strange that someone who says that he’s a professor would pejoratively refer to me as “Mr. Professor / Philosopher.”  Perhaps that’s not your intent, but you should be aware that it sounds dismissive and condescending.  How can a professor not be aware of this?

4. If you do have a proof that God exists, I’d like to learn of it.  I do have to wonder whether it’s a genuine proof (i.e., a valid deduction from self-evident first principles).  After all, many people have tried for centuries to prove that God exists, and the consensus of philosophers is that all such proofs have failed.  The most notorious failure is Descartes’ attempted proof in the Meditations.

5. Your question to me, “What is your prove that GOD does not exist?!” contains another logical fallacy, the fallacy of appeal to ignorance.  I don’t wish to sound insulting, but I have to wonder whether you’re really a professor, since I’ve spotted about 4 separate logical fallacies in your 2 posts, and I would expect that a real professor would have a better grasp of logical thinking, no matter what his field or discipline.

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