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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, June 21, 2007 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment

80110 by Hemi* on 6/21 at 12:40 pm,

Thanks for being on topic.  Do not forget Santa Clause, the Wizard of Oz and of course Harry Potter, fables and stories for entertainment, not to live by, though there may be a few exceptions. 
Hitchens book can be used or not,  as food for thought.

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By Hemi*, June 21, 2007 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

Michael,

Salinger, Twain, Dostoevsky, Vonnegut and J.K. Rowling were/are individual authors. Perhaps none of the above is a good comparison to a work of multiple, mostly unrelated and mostly unknown authors. We can imagine many of those authors were interpreting (plagiarizing) unknown authors from previous civilizations. Yes, Joe believer can go forth into the world armed with his Biblical lessons but if he reaches for stoning a sinner, interpreting it as God’s command, we have a problem. Joe doesn’t have a problem, the Bible tells him so. There might be conflicting messages in another part of the book but Joe is the interpreter of record and Joe has cherry picked. Not what you or I might have cherry picked but who are we to judge Joe? Like Elwood Blues, he’s “on a mission from God”.

Twain on the other hand is writing novels from a human perspective. If Joe believer were to act out based solely on reading Twain we would both agree Joe is nuts. No one considered Twain God, Clapton on the other hand… Whether I give much sway to Biblical writings, they hold influence over my life due to the Joe’s that believe and act upon those beliefs. I don’t run into many Breakfast of Champions, The Brothers Karamazov, or Huckleberry Finn “thumpers”.

Everything written was accepted by the masses as true in Biblical times. Why did Constantine destroy many copies of the Gnostic Gospels?  They were a threat to his vision and power. He didn’t care what was true only what suited his needs. Few people could read or writeand those that did retained power over those that didn’t. There is fiction now and there was fiction then. We can identify modern fiction. Why not historic fiction? Long live Harry Potter.

Lettuce pray!

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By -Michael, June 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #80044 by Lefty on 6/21 at 9:49 am

Re:  “[Crass comment omitted]”

I was in earnest when I asked my question; yours’ is the same argument that people use to defend the use of atomic weapons in Japan.

Although I can appreciate tasteless sarcasm occasionally, I suggest that it might be a little early in our relationship to test my patience.   

Peace - Michael

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, June 21, 2007 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Comment #80063 by lefty/ephraim on 6/21

Lefty/ephraim, your zionist name…

As I predicted again…lefty/ephraim is getting pretty desperate for a colorful response. But instead…its the same hysterical rants or to borrow Shenonymous’s words,...“savage response. It is completely reactionary and the way of the desensitized mind”.

Ephraim-Pesach…you keep flashing your “Mein Kampf” volume/chapters card(s) on truthdigs threads. How many copies and zionist versions do you have in your possession and storage space? Nice sidetracking tactics…lefty/ephraim…LOL!

How many times have you flashed Mein Kampf & Hitler’s name on these threads? Don’t you have anything new?

BTW, I couldn’t help but notice your sincerity & your humanity gestures at the 24 pictures that are in my posts #79585 & # 79871.

The TRUTH is there!

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By -Michael, June 21, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

Re:  #80029 by Hemi* on 6/21 at 9:15 am

Hemi,

No apology necessary.  It’s ok to discuss religion and politics, as long as it’s done respectfully.  I’m no advocate of mincing words and walking on eggshells, just good old fashion gentlemanly disposition (and I’ve certainly violated my own advice in the past).

Re:  The primacy of the Bible
I’m not an expert here, but I’ll make an attempt.
First, if we assume that the Bible is useless, how does that affect Joe believer?  What is more important, living by ‘the Word’, or having a personal relationship with God?  Can he still use the Bible as a collection of stories to guide him?  After all, (most) Christians don’t walk around with their Bible, referencing it each time a decision is to be made. 
Let’s not go overboard and compare it to Harry Potter.  Wouldn’t it be reasonable to compare it to something by Salinger, Twain, Dostoevsky, or Vonnegut?  Many a valuable lesson comes from works of fiction. 

I dig you’re mental image of Constantine; I too have similar apprehensions about the Bible. 

Re:  “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”
Not to take anything away from Gene, but this is a basic utilitarianism concept.  UT predates Gene (and Darwin) by a couple years. 

Peace (and carrots)  - Michael

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By Robert, June 21, 2007 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

Comment #80043 by Michael on 6/21

Michael…

Great point and thanx for you sincere input!

PEACE, TRUTH & MORAL JUSTICE TO ALL PEOPLE !

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By -Michael, June 21, 2007 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Robert,

I sense that you’re quite agitated.  Others who sense this prod you into seemingly uncontrolled rants.  I realize that the topic is an emotional one, but if you’re goal here is to dispel stereotypes and lies, your method of communication is hindering this goal. 
If I may, try toning it down a couple notches, avoid name-calling, and focus on effective communication.  You may be inadvertently lending credence to the very stereotypes you wish to eliminate. 

Peace.  – Michael

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By Hemi*, June 21, 2007 at 10:15 am Link to this comment

Michael,

Sorry for the contemptuous and cynical flavor of my post, this internet thing as well as this topic lends itself to that. You know, never discuss religion or politics.

My take on the church “flexing” with society is if they believed what they were preaching why change? That’s admitting what was once sinful is now not. Somewhere in hell Judas is screaming: “I’m really sorry, I was just ahead of my time!” That’s a hard one to get over. My opinion it’s a “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” moment for organized religion. It might be a very long moment as you describe but that moment is upon them.

In my opinion, if the Bible cannot be taken literally it is worthless. “I feel what Jesus really meant…” conveys much the same thinking. Basically, I don’t need to read what’s there, I’ll interpret to fit the occasion. The need to interpret and cherry pick a few brilliant kernels from a huge pile of story telling puts the Bible on par with a Harry Potter book. The same brilliant kernels attributed to a man named “Jesus” were attributed to others predating him (if he actually lived) and the Bible itself. The conservators of these kernels we’re told are the same race of people that put him to death. His biographer we’re told was a corrupt, guilt riddled, former cop/wise-guy. The more that’s added the more man-made the story gets. I no longer accept the concept of a God communicating in riddles. I have this mental image of Constantine selecting the Gospels, “keeper, keeper, that one’s crap, keeper, who’ll believe he had a wife, can’t read this one, keeper, he went to India?….”.

Frankly I bristle when someone claims to be a “Biblical scholar”. What Bible? What version? What language? From what perspective? Roman, Jew, Gentile, Greek, all the above? “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” I equate it to my friend who knows all of the Star Trek episodes by name and can tell you who guest starred. Very impressive when it helps on Jeopardy but it doesn’t pay the bills. The same guy uses the Spock quote all the time too. You know, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. That sounds rather wise, unselfish and somewhat Christ-like to me. Despite that, I don’t put all my eggs in Gene Roddenberry’s basket. I think old Gene stole that one from Darwin anyway. Is there anything new under the sun?

I think men yearning to be more than human is noble but it does not prove there is a source with our perceived perfection at the end (and the beginning) of the line.

Peas

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By Robert, June 21, 2007 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Comment #79981 by lefty/ephraim on 6/21

Lefty/ephraim, that is your savage zionist name…

Just I predicted…NO way that you are going to answer the questions that are in my comment #79871. Very clever & cute ...ephraim. Playing the weasel game!

The TRUTH will always prevail sooner or later.

So what is next…Lefty/ephraim…Are you going to call and label “Shenonymous” an Arab, Jihadist…etc…,as you have been doing just about to everybody else in most of your posts, for her comment/response “savage response. It is completely reactionary and the way of the desensitized mind”?

BTW, the Israeli children were the pictures. Didn’t you see them? Didn’t see what they were doing and who was supervising their activities & love messages chores?

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By -Michael, June 21, 2007 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Re:  #79974 by Lefty on 6/21 at 7:24 am

Re:  “There is nothing savage about putting an end to a ‘savage,’ deadly attack”

May I assume that you feel that the obliteration of Nagasaki and Hiroshima was justified?  215,000 human beings, mostly civilian.

- Michael

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By -Michael, June 21, 2007 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Re:  #79910 by Shenonymous on 6/21 at 2:08 am

She,

You are justified in challenging the efficacy of my ‘solution’; it is easier said than done.  I (of course) don’t have all the answers but I will attempt to elucidate.

Re:  Hugs
Obviously the ‘deep understanding’ has to be established before the hugs will materialize.  Step one - Leaders must educate themselves before expecting to affect American/Islam relationships.  It would be more effective if both parties achieved this, but often one person has to climb in the boat before he can pull the other to safety.  Step two – build a foundation of respect/trust through communication and interaction.  Step three – negotiate.  By this I mean establishing common goals, and viable approaches to reach them. 

Re:  “to what degree exactly is “at least to some degree [of education]?”
Perhaps ‘education’ is not the best word.  I hate to overuse ‘understanding’, but that’s what it’s all about.  I’ve interacted with Arabs from Saudi, Kuwait, and Iraq in their respective countries.  They are fundamentally just like you and I (go figure).  Through respect and consideration we reached a degree of understanding.  Was it enough to stop them from partaking in a mortar attack?  I couldn’t say, but at a minimum I can assure you they would think twice about it.   

Re:  “What do you think the Islamists’ concerns are?”
Their concerns are very similar to the KKK’s.  We stifled their influence through a combination of understanding, tolerance, bold leadership, and a grassroots condemnation of their cause.  I don’t believe that we can deal directly with most Islamists; they are effectively poisoned beyond the point of return.  It is possible, but not worth concentrating our effort.

Re:  “under what case does military action have a place?”
Destroying Al Qaeda training camps after 9/11 seems justified.  While attempting to change the nature of the beast, we can’t allow it to attack. 

Re:  Terrorist’s morals
This is somewhat of an oxymoron.  Morals, by definition, are guidelines for behaving ‘correct’.  When we look at all the codes of ethics/moral codes, which one condones the murder of innocents?  Labeling the immoral interpretations of the Quran as ‘morals’ is invalid. 
Incidentally, I think that morals are both learned and innate. 

Re:  “Do you have any specific idea on how to do root [retributive justice] out?
Are you kidding?  If this were known, little Palestinian boys and Palestinian girls would have joined hands with little Israeli boys and Israeli girls as sisters and brothers (I have a dream).
I bellieve that it’s natural (innate) to hold an ‘eye for an eye’ mentality.  If someone killed my son in front of me, and I had a gun, I think that all bets might be off.  I’m reminded of that Amish community’s reaction to that dude who killed their children.  I don’t know if it was a blind faith in the word of God, or a deep understanding of the premise of forgiveness (probably a combination).  Either way it was very thought provoking. 
    So the easy answer to your questions is that it’s impossible to completely root it out.  Only through slow and steady culture change can it be mitigated. 

Peace - Michael

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2007 at 3:08 am Link to this comment

Michael at #79678 you said, “Our leaders, both religious and political, need to hug their Moslem counterparts.  There needs to be a deep understanding between them.“  Problem is, I haven’t seen one of the Muslim politicians want a hug, would be willing to have a hug, or would give a hug back.  Hugging takes two just like a it takes two to tango.  Also what exactly do you mean by “deep understanding.”  That is a bit vague.

The Muslims could argue back that the Bible is a tool of terrorism.  It is naïve to think that “everyone” can become educated but let us say that they were, to what degree exactly is “at least to some degree?”  Again very nebulous.  What do you think the Islamists’ concerns are? You are partly right in your assessment. Complex problems do take a multi-pronged approach, it is self-evident. But under what case does military action have a place?  That seems counter to what you said earlier. You are dealing with real people who have diametrically opposed views of the world not hypothetical gentlemen and gentlewomen.

Lefty’s two-pronged solution, kill or be killed is the savage response.  It is completely reactionary and the way of the desensitized mind.  You are right it leads only to the status quo. Anthropology and history have told this to humankind loudly and clearly.  The prism looked through is not only ethnocentric, it is egocentric.

Rob at #79674 suggests that religions have no morals. Morals are the right and wrong way individuals and societies deal with other individuals and societies. His anecdote does not prove religion has no morals.  The theist thinks is it immoral to disobey his god for what ever reason that god may have to kill a child.  That is the theist’s moral imperative. Comparatively the atheist would just walk away in laughter and would prove the vacuous insanity of the command because the atheist knows there is no god and it’s just a trick question. What god in its right mind (hahaha), would kill little boys for no good reason offered to the believer? Hence the atheist reaction is arguably a more rational one but not necessarily more moral.  Whether morals are innate or learned is a question that is still heatedly debated.  But regardless of where they originate, humans do hold to ethical and moral behaviors.  Interpretation of those morals is the cause of the hostilities.  al Quaida fervently believes in their actions and believe they are just.  Their idea of morality is completely different than those they vow to kill.  The subjects for slaughter may be completely innocent, and most are.  It is extremely complex and will take something catastrophic in the terrorists society to compel them to a point of peaceful negotiations.  Lex talionis (retributive justice) is the embedded principle. Do you have any specific idea on how to do root this out?

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By Gabir, June 20, 2007 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment

There is a load of chaff , but not much wheat on this “threshing floor” . I may not make it into God’s White Robed Army , but I believe and I attempt to be what Jesus would desire every day . The majority of posts here are evidence of the great chaos Christ foretold as the end of time closes in on this sad world .
    I wonder how many of you who deny or question God ever stop to take a good look at yourselves and the lives you lead . Go ahead - take a good look at yourselves and the countless flaws in yourselves . Do you wonder why the world is such a mess ? Do you wonder why every day life is spinning more and more out of control ?
    God is angry and He should be . He gave up his Son to the Cross in exchange for our sins . The process he envisioned was not supposed to end at the point when Jesus Christ expired after being brutally tortured and Crucified . Just as in the Old Testament , God offered his people eternity if only they would Love and Obey his Commandments . What a simple and beautiful vision of life is His Way .
    But too complicated for the vipers who bite the hand that gave them life and breath .

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, June 20, 2007 at 10:11 pm Link to this comment

Comment #79859 by lefty/ephraim on 6/20


Lefty/ephraim, it is your zionist name…Here it is one more time!

THIS IS NOT TRUTH? CLICK ON THE LINKS AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE ON THE “TRUTH” SPECTACLES. NOT THE ONES THAT ARE MADE IN YOUR BRUTAL IDF HUMANITY DEPARTMENT.

NOW TELL US ALL IF THESE PICTURES ARE NOT TRUTH. ARE THESE LEBANESE CHILDREN PLAYING DEAD?

MAY BE THAT IS WHAT YOUR ZIONIST INFECTED PUS FILLED SKULL IS ONLY ABLE TO SEE!

GO AHEAD & TELL US IF THESE CHILDREN ARE FAKING THEIR VIOLENT DEATH THAT CAME FROM ISRAEL’S BRUTAL IDF…USING AMERICAN MADE MISSILES AND SHELLS!

CLICK ON THE PLAY > TO SEE EACH ONE OF THEM! THE LAST 3 PICTURES ARE THE ISRAELI CHILDREN WRITING THEIR LOVE MESSAGES TO THE LEBANESE CHILDREN.


http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1379648


http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1382427

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, June 20, 2007 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

Comment #79740 by Billy TD on 6/20


BILLY…I AM JUST TELLING THE “TRUTH” & TRYING TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO ALL PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. THIS WORLD IS SO CLUTTERED WITH LIES, DECEPTIONS AND PROPAGANDA; ITS DIFFICULT TO FIND A SMALL SPACE TO CONVEY THE TRUTH…IN THIS SHARK INFESTED WATERS…!

BILLY…YOUR SHARP COMMENTS/RESPONSES ARE ALWAYS TO THE POINT. KEEP THEM COMING.

PS: SOME OF YOUR COMMENTS GAVE ME SOME GOOD BELLY LAUGHS…

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By jonathan, June 20, 2007 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

The Twelve district’s twelve “Non Government” Federal Reserve Banks, are private Banks, they may be owned by The Twelve Tribes of Israel. Our Constitution, demands Separation of Church and State. America, however is non the less, Governed, managed, financially controlled, by the “Judaic” Federal Reserve Board; In “Constitutional Subterfuge” - because Separation of Church and State is not applied, to the Judaic Religion. (The Poltergeist)
In Revelations chapter 22 verse 16 - Jesus says; I am the root and the off spring of David, and the bright, the morning star. Unquote!  “The morning star” (in the summer and fall season) is not a star’ at all, it is the planet Venus - in April, it is the “Evening star”. The morning star appears on the Eastern horizon in the summer and fall – a few minutes before sunrise - the Evening star appears on the Western horizon in the springtime. Ancients thought it was two different stars, but it is not a star at all, it is the same – plant Venus.
Observation;  This bright, “morning star” is visible to the naked eye, can be seen during summer and fall, a few minutes before sunrise. It appears as it has always appeared, on the horizon (5 or 6 AM) a few minutes before dawn, preceding the rising Sun, the Egyptian Sun-God-father, and Aton, son of the Sun God.  The supreme power on earth; was that of Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep.” The Amen! Used in religion, also derives from Pharaoh Amenhotep. Amen! means; let it be (or) so be it!  An absolute, final, Pharaoh’s Ruling. Some Bible Psalms are actually prayer chants, to the Sun- God-Aton, they were found in the Pharaohs tomb; such as Psalm 123 and 137, and another psalm titled “Man and Day” which says; ( When thou shinest as Aton by day, bright is the Earth when thou risest on the Horizon. Thou drivest away the darkness, when thou sendest forth thy Rays!  Ending with ( Their arms uplifted in adoration to the dawning ) then in all the World they do their work. ) Unquote!
Venus, Goddess of love & beauty - was called Aphrodite, by the Greeks and Ishtar by the Babylonians. It is one of the Moon’s Satellites, as is “Io” the I of the “Ion” and everything “Ionic.” the pyramid (Annuit Coeptis) on the American dollar.  Originally, Easter, had nothing, whatever to do with Jesus Christ and/or the sensationalism of the Crucifixion. Easter feasting was the   Festival of Spring Harvest. Venus is the Goddess of fertility - therefore, the Rabbits and the Easter eggs. ( sexual perversion in the corrupt Roman Holidays)
The Jewish Festival; of Shabuoth” on the 9th of June, is a celebration of “The Spring Harvest.”
To this very day the Jewish festival of the “Moon” on the 14th of June, is in memory of “The Passover” .The word “Festival”, derives from “Feast to Baal” the pagan Sun- God. The Spanish word phrase, “Baal gah me” means, amazing or astounding!  Also means; Baal, my god!

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By -Michael, June 20, 2007 at 3:42 pm Link to this comment

Hello Hemi

I’m certainly no Biblical scholar either.  Just want to put that out front. 

Re:  The jig is up
You may be right.  Perhaps these times mark the beginning of the end for religion.  Although I hardly think that it’s entered coda status.  As a wild guess, I’d say that 500 years would come and go before non-believers outnumbered believers.
At any rate, you present your interpretation rather contemptuously.  A less cynical person might see the church’s actions as flexing to a changing society while maintaining the spirit of the message of Christ (for example).

Re:  Women and Jesus
Your first mistake (for lack of a better word) when communicating to a believer is to assume that they take the Bible literally.  This was illustrated by Hitchens’ failed attempts to call out Sharpton.
The second mistake is to assume that they place it’s teachings above their own reasoning.  You’ve gone through a lot of trouble regurgitating Bible passages, but a believer will wait you out and respond, “I feel what Jesus really meant…”  or, “I sense that God …” or they will fire back some other passages that point to the Bible’s praise of women.  A winless argument, really. 

Peace - Michael

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By Rob, June 20, 2007 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment

Michael,
I know that using the bible as a reference as to what god would or wouldn’t do is a bit like arguing about what color superman’s cape is.  But—doesn’t god ask Abraham to kill his son, and we see that although a little anquished, Abraham is willing to do the deed.  That god lets him off the hook does not make Abraham a moral creature.  I shutter to think what would have happened if god had been busy with other things and not got the call in for leniency.

I only point out this type of morality to answer the assertion of what difference does it make if people believe in imaginary friend(s).  I see that Captain Bush has said he will veto stemcell legislation because it jarrs his religious friends sensitivities. Science will have to wait another day for its chance.  But that chance will come.  It is too late to spread this quackery to intelligent people.  There will be condoms available to poor African nations regardless of the pope’s insights into right and wrong. People will have the right to die when they see fit.  Children will not be savaged by stories of sin and cruesome outcomes to their soul.  If not today, then tomorrow. If we all go up in a mushroom cloud because of religious zealots, then some of us can say, “We liked it here and we didn’t scare the children and so it goes.”

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By -Michael, June 20, 2007 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #79674 by Rob on 6/20 at 11:55 am

Rob, not a well formulated challenge.  ‘Allowing’ children to die and advocating murder are two separate (non)actions.  A theist would say that God would never ask you to murder.  I can also say with some degree of confidence that a theist (at least a Christian) would never wish anyone to hell.  Judgment, particularly of this magnitude, is reserved for the Big Guy.  This is antithetical to the teachings of Christ. 

Peace - Michael

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By Leefeller, June 20, 2007 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Earlier insults aside,  enlightenment has been received and appreciated, 

Adios

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By Hemi*, June 20, 2007 at 1:29 pm Link to this comment

“There are plenty of Christians/Jews that don’t buy in to the literal translation of the Bible.  Many churches are wrestling with issues that you and I take for a no-brainer (contraception, homosexuality etc.).  They realize that their parishioners are not mindless, uneducated children of the church and that the Bible doesn’t offer end-all solutions.” - Michael

What some churches realize is that the jig is up and “How you gonna keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Paris?” So you give a little on the contraception and homosexuality or you lose your customers all together. Better a slow death than instant unemployment.

There’s a lot of impatience due to the fact that the formerly persecuted have had a taste of freedom and want the oppressive institutions dissembled. This so that the possibility of things returning to their former status is minimized. Thus the “berating” of the now naked emperor(s). Or as Ronald Reagan might have said “Tear down that wall Mr. Televangelist!”

I’m no Biblical scholar but as far as civil rights go I don’t think the Biblical accounts of Jesus ever did much to help women progress beyond servant status and “womb for rent” within the church (any denomination) and in the secular world. In general Jesus spoke to an audience of men as did everyone up until that time and for thousands of years following. Why? Because the game rules were made up by men to control other men. Women were insignificant to them and if mentioned were generally cast in a negative light. For instance there’s the deceptive Eve. There’s Lot’s wife and incestful daughters, these hussies didn’t so much as rate mention of their names. As a matter of fact the OT goes along for hundreds of years without mentioning the name of any woman.

In Catholicism Mary was exalted by the Church (held up as an example) for her quiet obedience but she was in no way equal. By the Papal Bull Munificentissimus Deus (Latin for yadda, yadda, yadda), dated November 1st, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared infallibly that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a dogma of the Catholic Faith. That was very magnanimous of him. From creation until 1950 and women get a rousing “you’re doing a nice job, now pipe down and get back to work” from the boss. What are the odds that “Mary” ever existed?

Jesus, if he existed, was only a man relating to a world of men. That there are stories he spoke to, knew or helped a woman says nothing for his championing women’s rights on earth or elsewhere. He might have done more but his biblical biographers were not concerned with telling us that. Jesus might have been nicer than most men of his time but he was only a man.

“What is the status of women in the Bible? Even a perfunctory reading makes it clear that, with rare exceptions, women were regarded and treated as inferior, subsidiary creatures, often as little more than chattels. When, as the Genesis account states, Yahweh decided to create humankind, he created a man who is described in the Eighth Psalm as “a little lower than the angels.” The creation of the first woman was little more than a utilitarian afterthought.” - excerted from Charles Templeton’s book, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith

Hey, peace on you too Michael!
Or as my kids used to say, “peas be with you!”

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By -Michael, June 20, 2007 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #79620 by Lefty on 6/20 at 9:40 am

Lefty, I’ve got a solution that might be less drastic than genocide.  I’m not sure how serious you were when you offered your two alternatives, but you suggest that there is no way that we can peacefully coexist.  I’m sure that’s what Custer thought of Americans and Native Americans.  I’m sure that’s what George Gordon thought of Blacks and Whites.  Giving up on your fellow human is abjectly tragic. 

I’ve had this discussion recently; I’ll cut and paste a couple of thoughts…

First, I’m not going to pretend that we can do anything that will be effective in the near future.  I liken this situation to racism in America.  200 years later, and we’ve still got issues. 

Good analysis always involves looking at a precedent.  Look at what affected the Ireland conflict - Negotiation and accords.  Seems to me that if we have an example of how to overcome an impasse, we should… oh, I don’t know… emulate it!!  We need a focused, deliberate, and pervasive diplomatic approach. 
As I’ve eluded, a rough road lies ahead; I’ve no illusions.  Irish factions had the benefit of the same religion (sort of), language and country. 

Opposition begets opposition – which not only gets you precisely nowhere, it can push you deeper and deeper into the hole that is hard enough to get out of in the first place.  You see this illustrated by Robert’s rants.  We are not accomplishing much by berating Islam.  It’s easier for us to label them crazy terrorists and then blow up bunch of shit than it is to be introspective and self critical.

Our leaders, both religious and political, need to hug their Moslem counterparts.  There needs to be a deep understanding between them.  Everybody beat up Pelosi for talking to Syria, but at least she is demonstrating the most important tool we have to promote harmony – communication and understanding. 
I think that Americans are generally stupid when it comes to other cultures.  Most have derived their knowledge of Arab culture from ‘The Cannonball Run’.  It is this ignorant mentality that feeds ethnocentrism.  Arabs hold similar misconceptions about Americans.

Instead of recognizing these CAUSES of terrorism (economic stress, lack of education, perceived injustices [real or unreal] and learned behavior), we superficially look at a TOOL of terrorism (the Koran).
Absolutely nothing will happen until basic needs are met.  You can’t reverse the violent cycle until everyone is educated, at least to some degree.  Finally, we can’t eliminate ill-will without addressing their concerns.  Zinn, Chomsky (et al) think that we eliminate terrorism by adjusting our foreign policy – we are at fault.  This is only partially true.  Politics (which includes engaging Islamic leaders), education, and economic growth are the solution to terrorism.  One of these elements alone is not going to be effective.  A multi-pronged approach, tempered in tolerance and understanding will win the day.  I’m not discounting the effect of military action; it has its place as well. 

I’m advocating a scholarly, thoughtful and comprehensive solution that aggressively attacks the issue from every angle - Wiser utilization of resources and money, no bullshit dialogue, emboldening prudent Moslem leaders, a goal towards ending manipulation by corporations / occupation by governments, and an effective education campaign.  Above all, leaders need to spend a lot more time in an effort to understand the mindset of the different factions.  Know (and love) thine enemy. 

Idealistic?  Perhaps, but I guess it makes me sleep better at night.

Peace.  - Michael

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By Rob, June 20, 2007 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

This might be a good place to insert what morals really are.  One concept is knowing what is “right from what is “wrong. Now I know that there will be some scribes who try to explain that we don’t have the ability to know. 

Let me venture an example of why religions have no morals.  If a god believing individual and myself (A radical atheist) were standing before A “GOD” and we both suddenly agreed that this was “GOD” how would we react to the following:  There is a 4 year old child standing with us.  “God” instructs us that we have to kill that child.  (Don’t say, “My God would never ask such a thing.  He drown every child once, and he daily allows children to be piled like cord wood on fires in Darfur).  I would assume that the theist would kill the child because after all, “God”  said do it.  I on the other hand feel confident that I would tell “God” to do his own deeds.  I feel I would do this because there are some things I would not do.  I know I am wished to Hell by theists everywhere.  I don’t wish anyone to an eternal knashing of teeth and burning by fire, or good old killing.
Who has the moral high ground in the above example?

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By Shenonymous, June 20, 2007 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

Lefty #79620 Apples and oranges become just a fruit salad in trying to distinguish which is worse.  Most Mediterranean Christians have been brainwashed generationally on the tenets of Catholicism which not to mention the Protestant sects who committed genocide of their own (check out the Burning Cross.net for a different view of Christian missionaries) and has over the millennia done as much damage to humanity through their violent missionary work (the conquistadors in the Americas) as the Islamists.  Islamists started their rampant bloodshed only in the last century.  So it is a moot point who has done the worse to children. Jews only see what Jews want to see too.  For Muslims, the Koran can be used for fanatical purposes just as maniacs can use any “holy” book.  As an atheist I cannot capitulate for your cause or anyone’s religious cause.  Morality is not the sole province of any religion.

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By Shenonymous, June 20, 2007 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

Richard Doczy #79502 Isn’t it strange that Hitchens declares the errors of religions are mostly made by the political Right, yet he supported the illegal Bush war in Iraq?  In general, politicians of any slimy streak use anything to further their cause, so the political Left is not left out, they just head in a slighty different direction.


Rereading the interview, it looks as though Hitchens is a “social” atheist and has a mission to “raise people above that level of servility and credulity” supposing he meant by “that level” the one as witnessed under Stalin. I wonder who he sees as the contemporary equivalent of Stalin?

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By Leefeller, June 20, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

Sorry for the double post computer error.

Michael, Not sure but the interview may be limited in context and even out of context the book may be much more comprehensive.  Is it not possible, like Christmas, Easter and circumcision are all residue from religion?

This may be a double post again, being told, my post was not submitted.

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By Leefeller, June 20, 2007 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Sorry for the double post computer error.

Michael, Not sure but the interview may be limited in context and even out of context the book may be much more comprehensive.  Is it not possible, like Christmas, Easter and circumcision are all residue from religion?

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By Leefeller, June 20, 2007 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Would the main Differences between brainwashing and bigotry, be a kidnapped child compared to a family member?  Freedom of choice is absent from both.  The subtle differences may be, who is performing the brainwashing.  Media, government, and of course churches all spin tunes of brainwashing.
 
Brainwashing was used in Patty Herst’s defense for robbing a bank,  Our Military is brainwashed to kill.  During WWII the English Churches supported the war against Hitler.  The German Churches supported the war against everyone?  Standing back and looking at religion as I have seen it here in the USA.  Hitchens, makes a good point on the stories or fables of religion, is this not the same as brainwashing.  Difference being in the choosing, the audience has chosen to brainwashed? 

As of late, the Hitches threads been disruped by brain washing, one only need look at the posts.

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By Leefeller, June 20, 2007 at 10:04 am Link to this comment

Would the main Differences between brainwashing and bigotry, be a kidnapped child compared to a family member?  Freedom of choice is absent from both.  The subtle differences may be, who is performing the brainwashing.  Media, government, and of course churches all spin tunes of brainwashing.
 
Brainwashing was used in Patty Herst’s defense for robbing a bank,  Our Military is brainwashed to kill.  During WWII the English Churches supported the war against Hitler.  The German Churches supported the war against everyone?  Standing back and looking at religion as I have seen it here in the USA.  Hitchens, makes a good point on the stories or fables of religion, is this not the same as brainwashing.  Difference being in the choosing, the audience has chosen to brainwashed?

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By -Michael, June 20, 2007 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

All,

For what it’s worth, I have some problems coming to terms with Hitchens’ logic.  For the most part I agree with his perspective, but the following statements from the interview (above) don’t sit right with me:

Re:  “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”
I had to double check, but it seems that my penis has been ‘hacked away’ at; my parents have never been spent a day in church since I’ve known them.  I, as an agnostic, had my son hacked too (reduces hygiene issues). 
This is a blatant example of rhetoric; aimed at shocking people.  It offers no relevance to the topic. 
    There are some cultures that remove the clitoris; a particularly heinous practice.  If he was referring to this, he should have specified in the interest of intellectual honesty.
    Perhaps Hitchens was negligently hacked, which explains the origin of his animosity. 

Re:  “The licenses for genocide, slavery, racism, are all right there in the holy text.” Another example of rhetoric.  If Christians are licensed to commit these atrocities, why are they generally eschewed?  Hitchens doesn’t give believers credit to reasonably interpret their dogma, or vary assignment of its authority. 

Re:  “…all religion is equally stupid and an expression of contempt for reason”
This statement serves no purpose except to be incendiary and divisive. 

Hitchens makes the common mistake of blaming violence/war on religion.  This is a classic example of the spurious relationship fallacy; correlation does not imply causation.  Will there be less violence without religion?  No one can answer this.

Re:  “...because credulous and deluded people are easy to exploit.”
Agreed, but how is the absence of religion going to affect this?  Are people suddenly going to be less prone to exploitation because they don’t believe in a god?

Re:  “But there’s no authority in the Bible for civil rights—none whatever.”
Hmm.  I’m no expert, but I seem to recall a rule that Jesus promoted…
Re:  “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.”
I know several believers that have no problem conflating the infinity of space with the existence of God.

The bottom line here is that Hitchens (et al) are simply not giving believers credit to live reasonably and responsibly within the context of their faith.  Back in the day, non-believers were doggedly persecuted.  Now that we live in a society where we are less prone from attack, non-believers are committing the same misdeed. To me, in stinks of hypocrisy.

There are plenty of Christians/Jews that don’t buy in to the literal translation of the Bible.  Many churches are wrestling with issues that you and I take for a no-brainer (contraception, homosexuality etc.).  They realize that their parishioners are not mindless, uneducated children of the church and that the Bible doesn’t offer end-all solutions.  They are slow to change, but let’s be patient and allow them to work it out.  Our only other choice is to ignore or attack.  Not viable paths, if you ask me.  If we are truly interested in accelerating the process, I can assure you that berating religion is not going to lead to this end.  If we are interested in eliminating religion, I can say with some confidence that it’s not going to happen anytime soon (although we can blithely imagine it as per John Lennon’s proposal). 

Peace.  – Michael (formally ‘Mike’)

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By Robert, June 20, 2007 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

Comment #79445 by “lefty/ephraim” on 6/19 at 8:31 pm

“But tell me this, how do you feel about the systematic brainwashing of Arab and Pakistani muslim children in the business of racial hatred, bigotry, terrorism and suicide bombing?”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lefty/Ephraim, your zionist name…

Your above question has already been answered to about 2-3 weeks ago. Peter RV, responded to it very effectively. Did you already forget about it? Surely you haven’t already…Ephraim?

Don’t you remember the response from {Peter RV} which came at you from no where. It was described as a 20 pounds sledge hammer left hook…knockout!

So now you are still spewing your zionist lies & propaganda…and still trying to spread hatred for Arabs, Islamics, Palestinians…etc…

Peter RV, responded to your juvenile post in clear & convincing words.

Well…I am going to ad on to [Peter RV’s] response with a little more details for truthdig’s readers.

Part One: Images of the Day.

Very cute Israeli girls/children writing and sending messages on missiles, bombs and/or shells.

So who is telling these little Israeli girls / children to writesuch messages on such destructive American made weapons. These weapons killed and murdered so many Lebanese children, women, men and caused so much destruction. Who is teaching these Israeli children racial hatred, bigotry, terrorism…etc…?

One can see Israel’s brutal IDF and other Israeli adults standing by the children as they writeand sign these bombs/shells. These children are just doing what they have been told to do by their teachers, brain washers and parents…and others.

So here the link for 3 images of Israeli little girls writing, conveying and sending their hatred on American made missiles & bombs to Lebanon’s Arab children/civilians:

http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1379648

————————————————————————-
Part Two: The Results of Israel’s American Made Signed Weapons.


**CAUTION TO READERS** THE PICTURES THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE OF LEBANESE CHILDREN AND CIVILIANS ARE VERY GRUESOME. YOU WILL BE DISTURBED, STRESSED AND YOUR HEAD WILL RECOIL WITH SHOCK AT THE IMAGES.

THIS IS ISRAEL’S ZIONIST HATRED, BIGOTRY AND STATE TERRORISM:

Here is the link. Click on play arrow for to see entire gruesome pictures:

http://www.bubbleshare.com/album/47671/overview#1382427

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By Shenonymous, June 20, 2007 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Lefty #79445 You are right in naming the militant brainwashing of Arab and Pakistani children.  These days this is a practice found in every group that wars.  It is certainly going on in Africa where kidnapping children of the oppressed to learn to kill their own people. Isn’t that just as horrifying? What madness humans are capable of!  Children’s minds are subject to manipulation easier than minds of those who have experienced the world. They become just bodies in their armies.

What shall we do?

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By Richard Doczy, June 20, 2007 at 4:35 am Link to this comment
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Hitchen’s right about religion but suggests that the errors of religions are mostly made on the political Right; but the political Left invokes religion, too. Also, one of the most coherent and viviedly argued atheists, Ayn Rand, was a political libertarian (or, as she preferred, radical capitalism), as have been s Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek and Milton Friedman. Indeed, the classical liberal political tradition tends, in the main to be more secular, from Spinoza on to Nozick, than any other.

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By jonathan, June 19, 2007 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

On the question; Have I ever read an entire book cover to cover, that opposes my personal views? Yes I have.
By the time I was twelve – I had been thoroughly indoctrinated, I was a Catholic. In the Catholic doctrine we were taught that one should never question the existence of God and we should never read The Holy Bible, especially the book of Revelations.(the intention is now clear)
When I was thirteen I was converted and my mother purchased and gave me a beautiful King James, leather bound bible with a biblical concordance.
I read searched and analyzed every conceivable topic, only to discover that the Holy Bible was jammed packed with concoctions and inconceivable fabrications – Lies. Yes – the book was my Holy Bible.
I nearly cried with amazement in realizing that, I must be an Atheist!
If any one is interested in truth, you will find it in the book of Revelations etc. All about the Jewish God “Yahweh-God-Jehovah” and that Abraham designed “God” from the letters YHWH, from the single word “YAHWEH.” (from nothing)
In reading the bible you will find that religious theories derive from Nimrod Baal the sun god and Christianity derives from Astronomy and Astrology. (fashioned after Mithra in Mithraism.
From the “Seven Stars of Orion” and the “Seven Churches of Christ” of which “Smyrna” in Turkey was the First. Such as all Churches named “The First” and all Banks named “The First.” (Churches and Banks are about accumulation of Money and Political Power) Yes – the book that I read, that opposes my views was/is my treasured “Holy Bible.”

It is not my business to indoctrinate any one into disbelief.
If you want to keep your “Faith” don’t read the Bible and avoid the book of Revelations.
Revelations chapter 1 verse 20 says; The Seven Stars of “Orion” (in the constellation of Orion) are the Angels of The Seven Churches.
Revelations chapter 1 verse 11 says; The Seven churches are; Ephesus, and Smyrna the First, and Pergamus, and Thyatira, and Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Ladocea.
Revelations chapter 22 verse 16 says; I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things, in The Churches; I am the root of David, the bright ”The Morning Star.”(it is visible on the Horizon late Summer & Fall - a few minutes before sunrise)
(catch 22)
“The Morning Star” is not Jesus and it is not a star at all – it is the Planet “Venus.”
Isaiah chapter 44 verse 10 says; Who? Hath formed a God, or molten a graven image (of a God) that is profitable for nothing?
Religion is a very personal matter, so let your Conscience be your guide.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

Today I weep for the orphans found in Baghdad. I saw them on the news and was aghast.  Thanks to the American soldiers, these children will now be taken care of as the inalienable right they have to it. Ironic isn’t it?  I know the horrid treatment of children goes on everywhere. Just everywhere, including America. Children are the innocents of this world regardless of their parent’s ethnicity or religio/politico convictions.  Discoveries of these kinds of atrocities happen everyday.  So the hypocrites war in the name of religion and damage children in the name of their real gods, money, drugs, and power.

For Vaughn #79349 Although a dharmic religion, Buddhism is a practical philosophy.  Buddhists believe earthly happiness is not attainable without exorcising all desire.  Buddhism is essentially atheistic and has no place for a supernatural deity. As a way of life, ‘pure’ Buddhism has no place for ritual, has a doctrine of rebirth, its teaching, the Dharma, consists of practices of the right way to live or what is proper conduct for a human being. It is prescriptive. I suppose if I had a need for an organized tradition and the somewhat captivating embellishments such as chanting, etc., it would provide with its rules of comportment, I would select ‘pure’ Buddhism. There has never been a Buddhist war except when the Zen teacher, Suzuki wrote, “religion should, first of all, seek to preserve the existence of the state.” Along with this he said, “Going to war is religious conduct,” and thus endorsed Japan’s involvement in WWII.  I doubt the enlightened Siddhartha Gautama would have agreed. So religions can be bastardized by political or militaristic agenda.  So what does that mean, that we cannot blame religions for the ills of the world? Interestingly enough religions were created by and are made up of people.  But what could Buddhist renunciation of earthly desires do for those orphan Iraqi kids?

I do think, if it’s a religion, it’s potentially destructive to the human psyche.  While there are some elements in Christianity that are decent and righteous, its commandments are not kept.  It leads one to wonder why Christians do not keep their religious laws?  Or Israelis, or Arabs?  We are here discussing only the Abrahamic religions. 

I welcomed and appreciated Hemi’s comments.

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By Vaughn, June 19, 2007 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

Hey, I was wondering how long it would take for an anti-tobacco jihadist to take exception to the cigarette!  grin  Smoking isn’t at all the same thing, even with the second-hand smoke bugaboo (which the zealots greatly exaggerate.)

But seriously, I disagree with Hitchens, all religions are not equally bad.  Buddhism - if you discard the layers of superstitious nonsense that has been layered upon it - has a lot of philosophical truth behind it.  Despite some appalling hellfire theology, Christianity has much good in it.  Islam, on the other hand, exalts as a moral example one of the most repugnant sociopaths in the history of the world.  Ironically, while most Christians fall short of the ethical standards of Jesus, Muslims are all almost all much better and more moral than their prophet!!  (Maybe that’s the beauty of that religion.)

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By zan, June 19, 2007 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
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The picture of Christopher Hitchens smoking beneath the headline “Religion poisons everything” strikes me as somewhat ironic. Here is a brilliant articulate man poisoning himself with a thoughtless addiction as he rails against others for indulging in similar behavior.

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By Hemi, June 19, 2007 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
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Shenonymous your mention of the intrusions of religion into your life really hit a chord with me. My family has recently stepped into the “enlightened” camp. We were practicing but moderate Catholics. I hope that makes some sense. We were “cherry picking” the faith but don’t most believers? Then again is there a “purist believer” to be found in any organized religion? Who knows all of the twisted rules to their nth degree? And what interpretation of the rules? Thus we have Catholic vs. Protestant, Jew vs. Muslim, Sunni vs. Shia vs. Kurd and those are just a few of many conflicts from the wellspring of the OT. Hell, the Jews and most of their enemies are from the same Biblical lineage, welcome to the “Family Feud”. I know this type of nonsense extends to other faiths. All of these groups at their core are fighting for inclusion. At least I think that’s what it boils down to. “We will kill you for excluding us from your club”. Everyone wants inclusion and yet everyone practices exclusion.

Anyway, back to the intrusions of religion. Now that we are on the other side of the “faith fence” the same things that bug you are getting to us. The athletes are a hoot. I like boxers in particular. “Thank God for granting me this victory” when underneath that crap lurks “boy I beat that loser into a walking coma, who’s next?” This Evan Almighty movie takes the cake. Although I must confess to being curious of how they pulled off the mated pair of tyrannosaurs on the ark. That is the ID premise now, isn’t it? I would bet we will see more of this cutesy subliminal fare as the religious potentates know their meal tickets are under attack from the forces of reason. That I would say is the one bright spot, they are under attack. Whether reason can penetrate the brainwashed masses prior to a police state or nuclear winter is yet to be seen.

The voices of reason are accessible more now than ever before. We have all of these media outlets that need information to broadcast. There is so much opportunity that even the truth gets through. We were never schooled about Ingersoll, Russell, Stanton and Darrow. That we knew of these names was that they were just mentioned in passing. There was no in-depth study of free thought. If we knew that Thomas Paine wrote the Age Of Reason that was a lot. We never read it and we were never taught the philosophy it contained. The internet has allowed people to explore what was previously taboo. And that without being labeled as subversive. With all we were taught of Samuel Clemens, both of my children were through high school before I knew anything of his disbelief in god. That’s a bit sad but at the same time I’m tickled pink now knowing just how many people down through history were as dissatisfied with the status quo as I. Once again I feel somehow “included” and being only human I guess I need that.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2007 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Fadel Abdallah, you are a real comic. I find your accusations very funny. We need some laughter in this too sober world.  Thanx. What would this forum do without you?

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2007 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Oops, something wrong with the server.  My apologies for the double post.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2007 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

PaulMagillSmith #79057
I think Paul, you and Hemi may be right. But there is one small problem with your notion of a “purist’ atheist.  It resembles very much the Ideal Forms Theory. For me, the ideals do not actually exist but are the archetypes in which the world, reality if you will, participates. I’m sure you are learned enough to recognize this age-old philosophical problem. It is still a question for which the jury is still out.  In my view, nothing being perfect, it is the striving, the desideratum to be perfect, that propels life.  Now I do struggle to be the perfect atheist because there are manifold obstructions. Everywhere there is the religious intruding in my life.  A zealot family member who insists I will burn in hell, books (even Hitchens’), movies and television shows are constantly being made with a religious complexion, the latest of which is “Evan Almighty,” a fantasy movie, “Amazing Grace,” new TV show, and even American Idol contestants giving “God,” the credit for their talents.  I wonder if they also give God the credit when they are told they have no talent?  Or maybe they cry that the devil made them do it??? Politicians’ blathering appeals to God are unending.  The gushing is disgusting to me. The wars being fought in the Middle East are prima facie about religion, though I, and a lot of people, suspect they are really about economic advantage (uh, money and power). The point is there is no getting away from the public ubiquitous use of a deity in some form or another. So what’s an atheist to do? I suppose your answer could be to retire from the world, like hermits do. But why should atheists give up loving life and being in the world? Speaking out when faced with supplication, abdication of one’s humanity, especially the rampant hypocrisy, and utter ignorance, is the option I choose, but it can get irritating. But I love people. I love being with people. I too am an optimist otherwise I would depart this world.  As much as those who abandon their own minds tend to depress me, whenever I encounter a thinking person, that gives me hope.  In this forum, and some others, encouragingly I have stumbled on some very enlightened minds. The closed minds will always exist.

This forum is like a living organism and has taken on a life of its own in spite of Hitchens. I think most forums do that an

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2007 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

PaulMagillSmith #79057
I think Paul, you and Hemi may be right. But there is one small problem with your notion of a “purist’ atheist.  It resembles very much the Ideal Form Theory. For me, the ideals do not actually exist but are the archetypes in which the world, reality if you will, participates. I’m sure you are learned enough to recognize this age-old philosophical problem. It is still a question for which the jury is still out.  In my view, nothing being perfect, it is the striving, the desideratum to be perfect, that propels life.  Now I do struggle to be the perfect atheist because there are manifold obstructions. Everywhere there is the religious intruding in my life.  A zealot family member who insists I will burn in hell, books (even Hitchens’), movies and television shows are constantly being made with a religious complexion, the latest of which is “Evan Almighty,” a fantasy movie, “Amazing Grace,” new TV show, and even American Idol contestants giving “God,” the credit for their talents.  I wonder if they also give God the credit when they are told they have no talent?  Or maybe they cry that the devil made them do it??? Politicians’ blathering appeals to God are unending.  The gushing is disgusting to me. The wars being fought in the Middle East are prima facie about religion, though I, and a lot of people, suspect they are really about economic advantage (uh, money and power). The point is there is no getting away from the public ubiquitous use of a deity in some form or another. So what’s an atheist to do? I suppose your answer could be to retire from the world, like hermits do. But why should atheists give up loving life and being in the world? Speaking out when faced with supplication, abdication of one’s humanity, especially the rampant hypocrisy, and utter ignorance, it can get irritating. But I love people. I love being with people. I too am an optimist otherwise I would depart this world.  As much as those who abandon their own minds tend to depress me, whenever I encounter a thinking person, that gives me hope.  In this forum, and some others, I have encouragingly stumbled on some very enlightened minds. The closed minds will always exist.

This forum is like a living organism and has taken on a life of its own in spite of Hitchens. I think most forums do that and I find that most fascinating.  I also think as you do that religions are pushing the human lemmings over the edge.

Even though I completely disagree with his opinion of the Bush war, I do agree that with an objective reading, Hitchens makes some very good points about the human condition. The ‘no’ Indian of your film reference is rejecting the real world and wants to recover the earth.  He is also the character whose role is to keep the tribe’s dynamics balanced, if they laugh too much, he would cry, and the contrary if they were crying too much, he would do things to lighten things up. Now I think you are proposing that is what we should perceive as Hitchens’ function.

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By Michael, June 19, 2007 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
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All,

For what it’s worth, I have some problems coming to terms with Hitchens’ logic.  For the most part I agree with his perspective, but the following statements from the interview (above) don’t sit right with me:

Re:  “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”
I had to double check, but it seems that my penis has been ‘hacked away at’; my parents have never been spent a day in church since I’ve known them.  I, as an agnostic, had my son hacked too (reduces hygiene issues). 
This is a blatant example of rhetoric; aimed at shocking people.  It offers no relevance to the topic. 
    There are some cultures that remove the clitoris; a particularly heinous practice.  If he was referring to this, he should have specified in the interest of intellectual honesty.

Re:  “The licenses for genocide, slavery, racism, are all right there in the holy text.”
Another example of rhetoric.  If Christians are licensed to commit these atrocities, why are they eschewed in America?  Hitchens doesn’t give believers credit to reasonably interpret their dogma, or vary assignment of its authority. 

Re:  “…all religion is equally stupid and an expression of contempt for reason”
This statement serves no purpose except to be incendiary and divisive. 

Hitchens makes the common mistake of blaming violence/war on religion.  This is a classic example of the spurious relationship fallacy; correlation does not imply causation.  Will there be less violence without religion?  No one can answer this.

Re:  “...because credulous and deluded people are easy to exploit.”
Agreed, but how is the absence of religion going to affect this?  Are people suddenly going to be less prone to exploitation because they don’t believe in a god?

Re:  “But there’s no authority in the Bible for civil rights—none whatever.”
Hmm.  I’m no expert, but I seem to recall a rule that Jesus promoted…

Re:  “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.”
I know several believers that have no problem conflating the infinity of space with the existence of God.

The bottom line here is that Hitchens et al are simply not giving believers credit to live reasonably and responsibly within the context of their faith.  I remember a day when non-believers were persecuted.  Now that we live in a society where we are less prone from attack, believers are committing the same misdeed. To me, in smells of hypocrisy.

Peace.  – Michael (formally ‘Mike’)

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By Leefeller, June 19, 2007 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Anytime the argument changes to attacks on the messenger and and not the message, the argument is over and nothing is resolved.  Sorry for the absolutism.

A touch of pomposity and a feeble attempt to get us back on track, it has been stated that religion does remove reason and places the intended audience in a comfort zone,  a zone of blind compliance.  In our county I am beginning to feel religion and politics goes together like ham and eggs, the similarities are more glaring than not.  I do not know about China we are talking good old USA here?

Our mass media fosters blind compliance like a well tended garden.  Our government does this in many ways, but the one that comes of mind, is the dumbing of our schools. The american public supports this by watching “American Idol.”  All three are a symbiotic.

Need to expand on this, but do not have time right now. My point or premies is simple,  both religion and politics (which may even use reason as one of their tools)  create blind compliance as a key to lock reason in a dark closet,  Hitchens has brought reason back out of that closet,  I thank him for that.

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By Michael, June 19, 2007 at 7:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re: #77432 by Mark Colby on 6/12 at 3:19 pm

Hello Mark.

I’ll respond to the challenges you’ve leveled.

Re:  Transcendent experience v. reality
If we limit ourselves to the empirical, we are no doubt missing quite a bit.  Even string theorists can relate to this.  Being open to the plausible allows us to exercise abstract reason and creativity.  I think it’s a shame that some folks don’t cultivate this exclusively human capability.  When we close these doors, we retard our growth.

Re:  innate idea of God
70 – 80 percent of the world’s population believes in a god.  It’s hard for me to imagine that this long-lived belief has not died over the centuries, if people didn’t have a gut feeling about it.  Contra-reality beliefs have came and went.  This one seems reasonably pervasive. 
You state matter-of-factly that beliefs are not innate, but I contend this is impossible to prove.  We would have to observe a human who has been raised sans the mention of a god-like being. 
To be fair, I also can not prove my conjecture.  Realizing this, I presented it as speculation. 

Re:  Agendas
Yes, every one has agendas.  The problem is that many people’s agendas are mired in ignorance and far from altruistic. 
You are also correct that I’ve speculated about atheists ‘not liking the possibility of God …doesn’t fit nicely within their world’.  I wasn’t aware that generalities are forbidden from this discussion.  I see no reason why believers and nonbelievers can’t harmoniously coexist.  Many atheists present religion as a blockade – a threat to society.  This seems counterproductive.  Prudence dictates that through communication and understanding, we can adjust our perspectives.  Tear down the wall, man.

Peace   - Michael (formally ‘Mike’.  It seems we already have one of those.)

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 18, 2007 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment

“Lefty”: The Ultimate Zionist in His Own Words and Those of His Lover “Shenanymous.”

My I introduce to you “lefty” whom shenonymous, after sensing in him a violent bent, turns around and falls in love with him. What prisons did you serve in Mr, “Lefty”? And for how long? You have not been rehabilitated for sure and you’re a great danger to humanity to be left loose! Your violent and savage trademark is all over these threads! I understand now why you have to keep hiding cowardly behind a fake name! But you will not hide forever! Someday, somehow a Just God will catch up with you!
==============================
#77284 by Lefty on 6/12 at 6:39 am
(294 comments total)

I don’t understand why Israel doesn’t nuke Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Lybia et al., right now!  There is no doubt that, if Israel does not destroy this enemy now, any one of these Arab nations will nuke Israel just as soon as it obtains nuclear weapons capability.  The Arabs have been trying to ethnically cleans the middle east of all of its Jews for over 2000 years.  Each and every Arab state would destroy the nation of Israel and murder each and every Jew in it, if it could.  And, not one Arab would object, not one.
Why should Israel suffer this double standard? 
There are only 2 scenarios: 1) Israel can nuke the Arabs sitting on their camels, or 2) Israel can wait for the incoming Arab nuclear bombs.
Why wait? Just do it now!
===========================
#78163 by Lefty on 6/14 at 7:24 pm
(291 comments total)
Re: #78122 by Shenonymous on 6/14 at 5:47 pm
(28 comments total) .
================================================
OK, well, I think I confessed to a violent bent in my previous response, although, at my age, it’s . . . mellowed, just a little!  But, I confess that I don’t know what a violent bend is.

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By CJ, June 18, 2007 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks to those who wrote kind words. As one too often guilty himself of close-mindedness, Hitchens at least caused me to think more about that most especially. (One gets older, more rigid in thinking, more impatient.) Did I mention Hitchens is provocative? Obviously, given volume of comments. He seems to enjoy nothing quite so much as mixing it up, which is fine if/when one is being intellectually honest. Not so much otherwise.

I happened yesterday morning, before commenting last night, to hear Chris Hedges interviewed on Pacifica’s KPFK. I was struck once again by his thoughtfulness/consideration, as I have been upon hearing him before. Hedges is genuinely one of conviction, never of fanaticism. His conviction shines through in his manner, in his soft-spokeness (not suave, but not noisy), in his deliberation—before speaking. I’ve noticed this as well in his written work, i.e. his opening statement to Sam Harris. Not that he shies away from firing well-deserved shots when there’s good reason to do so.

While I remain a nonbeliever, like Hitchens, I appreciate Hedges’ intellect far more than I do Hitchens’ by now. Hedges is a subtle, WILLING and righteous thinker, and I’m grateful to him and for him. Can anyone imagine Hedges as self-appointed? I can’t. Clearly, he’s seen, lived (through) and learned too much to ever be that. Hedges is one to be listened to, even if listener is non-believer.

In short, he’s serious, folks, meaning among other things never too sure of himself. Which is what I call virtuous.

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 18, 2007 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

Hi She,
Well, it looks like this blog pulled itself back on track after a bit of a slump into viciousness. That’s good to see because we’ve tapped a number of themes relevant to current societies. CJ, I think your post was outstanding, not that some others don’t fit in the same exemplary category.

To answer your question about ‘purist’ athiests & fear, She, I’ll start by pasting in some of what I wrote. Maybe I didn’t explain it very well, but Hemi seemed to understand what I was driving at. Here goes:

“A ‘purist’ athiest doesn’t discuss, they just are. In fact they will intentionally not discuss their athiesm because to do so they must couch the discussion in terms originating in religions, which gives more power & credence to the very thing they reject.”

***If you will notice Hitchens never comes right out and claims to be an anthiest. He DOES however say he doesn’t believe there is a God. In his denial there is a recognition of dogmatic terms in which his argument is framed. I just read the article again and see the same defensiveness from him as the first time I read it. This is the fear I spoke about. Maybe it’s a sub-conscious doubt I read into what he is stating, but this is ok because if he had no doubt about his position he would be just as guilty as the religious authoritarians he eschews.

The thing about the ‘contrary’ Indian is appropriate also. Hitchens has to defend his position, to be contrary to the accepted norm of world society which generally accepts belief in one form of God or another. He can do this as an athiest, and intelligently does it very well, but if he was what I came up with for the sake of my point, a purist’ athiest (for lack of a better term), he would not be defending his position at all, wouldn’t have felt the need to writea book about it at all, wouldn’t care a wit about God, or what other people thought about the subject of religion, or how they felt about how he felt about God and/or religion. Instead he would have kept his societal & negative contrariness to himself, believing the whole subject not worth the time & effort of discussion, and gone on his merry way toward more constructive persuits. This is what I was trying to relate in the previous post when I wrote:

***If I was a ‘purist’ athiest I wouldn’t even be discussing or thinking about the idea at all because my resolve I was absolutely correct would be fixed & immutable.***

I know it’s a pretty abstract concept and difficult to literarily relate, but I’m sure you have the mind to grasp it.

FYI And just clear up a few things:
Yes, I DO use my own name,
No,  I am not wealthy…I live (exist) on SSI & SSDI,
Yes, I am a grad of a couple major universities
No,  I do not claim to be an athiest because I have a spiritual non-religious side that believes there are forces working in this universe that are bigger than I. If I had to call an entity God it would be the inventor of the hydrogen atom, since that is the origin of all physical existence.
Yes, I believe the business of organized religion has caused more strife, death, turmoil, and suffering than any other factor in human existence.
No,  I don’t believe this world is headed off a cliff, but I also think we are standing on a very slippery slope, and religions are pushing us from behind.
Yes, Despite all the rotten crap going on in the world I am still an optimist.

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By Leefeller, June 18, 2007 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Your enlightening post like so many before you helps connect yet more of the dots. Thanks for the insight. 

Black and White absolutisms by Hitchens have also botherd me, my attempts at gathering and accumulation of simple rebuts,  has been erased by you great post. One could say you have turned several lights on, a clear focusing I appreciate.  A few comments:

Emancipating of the down trodden would take acceptance of truth plus, honest humility from the decadent. My definition of decadent is anyone more decadent than I.

Hitchens is quite pompous, however a good read, as a self-appointed public intellectual, he places himself in the same room with the likes of , Limbaugh and Coulter.  When readers become followers and place these people on a higher plain, even promoting them as spinners of the gospel,  instead of accepting them for what they are, bad comics. The world turns and more people die. 

Thanks again CJ,  only to have more time, as usual I am dashing out the door as I write.

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By Shenonymous, June 18, 2007 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Good morning, another day, and a really beautiful day it is indeed.  Let’s see, how many will kill each other today?  CJ and Rob have turned lights on. It is worthwhile to continue on this forum.  It is summerbreak and my travels won’t start for a few more weeks.  Spring provided a very fulfilling semester. Students are getting sharper, there’s hope.
To take advantage of Aristotles’s efficient cause, I am combining three replies here in one post.

Billy the Dik at #78832
Agreed. Hitchens is just a celebrity. I’ve heard him talk before and while I do not believe there is some deity that “rules” the universe, or that a son of god will save humankind, if it’s to be saved, I do believe man will save his own ass.  The world will take care of itself even if man destroys much of it for a while. The earth is much bigger than man.  I agree with Al Gore, another celebrity, that those who are conscious have the responsibility to preserve as much of the good earth as it can. It is our home. As a species we are doomed to oblivion if we don’t take care of our home. But for the moment there’s always retsina.

Mike M-C at #&8835;
England, well a strange psychology going on there, but then the British have always had some form of megalomania. They are preposterous a lot of the time. Somewhat schizoid about their place in the world.  And they just knighted Salman Rushdie. Well hurray for that!  Anyone who gets a fatwah from an Ayatollah ought to get a knighthood. But I am an anti-royalist through and through and don’t really appreciate anything to do with any king or queen and every implication those words evoke.  Not to worry about being a scholar.  You are a sharp guy.  Yes, the young American warriors are dying, and English, and Italian, and German, and Arabian, and Lebanese, and Palestinian, and Israeli, and and and and, ad infinitum, ad fastidium.  It is pathetic.  Getting along I think will take another millennium. The dogma is too deep, or should I say dawg crap? 

You know, Aristotle had some good ideas.  He said everyman has a little bit of the truth (he didn’t have a very good attitude toward women though, the pig). Although he deserves criticism for some of his notions, I have to give him credit for some very cool insights.  So Hitchens may have a little bit of the truth, but he doesn’t have all of the truth.  We just have to be smart enough to figure out what that little bit is. And do the same with everyman (and woman).

PaulMagillSmith at #78836
What is this bs about purist atheists and fear? You didn’t finish saying what you mean by that “certain kind of fear,”  I have seen that extraordinary film Little Big Man. It was very philosophical and saw it in a film criticism class in my undergraduate work.  Your mother’s advice can be described by Occam’s Razor, which essentially counsels that the fastest and simplest way to do well at anything is to cut through the crap.  And your humor is really kickin’.

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By Hemi, June 18, 2007 at 9:33 am Link to this comment
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Paul M S,

“A ‘purist’ atheist doesn’t discuss, they just are. In fact they will intentionally not discuss their atheism because to do so they must couch the discussion in terms originating in religions, which gives more power & credence to the very thing they reject. It is an unprovable fact whether there is God (good) & Devil (evil) or not. Any claims of proof either way are just hot air based in supposition, dogma, or wishful thinking. Sure, bad & even joyful things happen to people all the time, but is there any reason to believe they are the result of some metaphysical personage or entity? If I was an atheist I would probably have a bit of fear in the back of my mind due to the possibility I might be wrong. If I was a ‘purist’ atheist I wouldn’t even be discussing or thinking about the idea at all because my resolve I was absolutely correct would be fixed & immutable. Does any of this make sense to some of the very intelligent people I have seen posting on this blog?” - PaulMagillSmith

Makes perfect sense Paul. I relate on a personal level to many of your points. I think that ‘purist’ atheists are few and far between. My opinion is that most atheists (myself included) are not far removed from religious traditions (brainwashing) despite claims to the contrary. “Oh yes, my parents suckled me on the teat of reason!” In the US, how many people claim descendancy from generations of atheism? It would have been hard to get by in this country without at least a superficial connection to a religious institution.

New converts to anything including “atheism” tend to be enthusiastic. I think that describes some of the people (myself included) posting here against organized religion. Others that are not newly “converted” are now enjoying the discreet forum the internet provides. Having this new freedom they are experiencing the same enthusiasm for voicing their formerly unpopular beliefs.

I’m certain that despite some minor breakthroughs, the mantra of the brainwashed: “Bad people don’t believe in God”, is alive and well.

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By Rob, June 18, 2007 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

Why haven’t any of the “atheists” posted their names? Could it be that we remember what atrocities people of faith are capable of.  I don’t particularly care if christians and islamists like me.  I don’t particulary like them.  What scares me is that they don’t like themselves.  This self loathing is a sympton of defending the indefensible.  The Abrahamic based religions have their creator of the universe start off with a negative edict backed up by a horrific threat.  “Do Not eat from the tree of knowledge or I will introduce you to death and children and make child birth very hard on you.”  When this didn’t seem to work out, god destroyed everyone on earth except 7 or 8 marginally good folks.  So in this do-over, god decides to approach redemption with a positive edict.  “Do believe in jesus - (and just to give it the needed emphasis) or Go to Hell. 

So you see the reason I am scared to give my name, or even my dog’s name, is that I know there is nothing that wouldn’t be permitted in god’s name.

I am not scared intellectually by the way.  This
discussion has pointed out time and again who is standing on logical ground.  It is not insanity that turns the world upside down, it is conscience.  When people become intellectually tired of the way things are, they change it.  (As in northern Ireland)  So have good cheer, while we are here on earth, we will find the way forward - and it will not be because of imaginary friends.

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 18, 2007 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

#78828 by Shenonymous on 6/17 at 6:27 pm
(37 comments total)

================
Sorry, I promised that my last comment would be the last. The case is still so, but this is an important footnote I forgot to place in my last, and it’s about one of your Zionist lovers on this thread. Go to another thread, “Looking back at 40 years of occupation” and see how this coward fascist “Lefty” is inciting and promoting that Israel should nuke the whole Arab and Muslim world.

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By Leefeller, June 18, 2007 at 1:41 am Link to this comment

Truth Dig folks,

Please accept my apologies for any comments I may have made that pissed anyone off.

My sad attempt at levity may have been a part of the problem, I will try to give them up.  If any of you have posted on “The Nation”,  90 percent of the posts are off topic, this is why I prefer Truth Dig.  As I said before, here,  I found the off topics amusing. 

Shenonymous, you may have been correct when you stated this post may have run it’s full course, but the topic itself will always be of interest to me. 

Now I see PaulMagillSmith has just posted some more food for thought and I thought I was out of here.

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By CJ, June 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm Link to this comment
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So…Russians are, for practical purposes, servile, if not innately servile? Because of a monarchical tradition they shared with the rest of humanity? Thus, Stalin? I see.

But he doesn’t blame God, no doubt given the fact he doesn’t believe in God. Nor do I.

Hitchens hasn’t even gotten Marx right. “Marxism begins by arguing that people have to emancipate their minds,” says Hitchens. As though individuals need only (somehow) emancipate their minds in order for emancipation to transpire. Marxism begins with no such thing. Marx argued that emancipation is a function of spontaneous consciousness, specifically of class. Marx DID argue that religion is an opiate, but Hedges says as much too, the difference being that Hedges offers up reasoned argument for just how it is religion becomes opium.

Hitchens (and Harris, based on what I’ve read and heard), rather incredibly, mistake symptoms for disease. Religion is largely pure ideology, which is to say EXPRESSION and not CAUSE. At worst a WISH! Can no one get this right? Besides Chomsky? Is it really possible that Hitchens has forgotten history? Which is where Marx really begins. As though colonialism never happened. As though Hamas, Hizbollah and Ahmadinejad are not products of history, of a specific history. Most especially in the case of that special center of colonialism: the Middle East, the majority of the residents of which have long practiced Islam and SOME of whom only recently became fanatical enough to indulge in “terror.” As opposed to terror waged against them over centuries.

Is it really possible that both Hitchens and Harris have become such elitists, they do not understand that for millions, or really billions, trapped in hopeless deprivation, militant religion is mighty attractive—PSYCHOLOGICALLY—as belief becomes the only means by which life can be endured? When means to physical survival isn’t so readily available.

Assuming human beings are even capable of emancipating themselves (and I assume Hitchens assumes as much, though the question is worth asking), that emancipation can only transpire in a scenario whereby humanity has not already been reduced to so much machinery (Marcuse’s “One-Dimensional Man”), denied as most are an iota of a prospect from the outset—as a result of subjugation/domination such that life is endlessly at stake. When this is the case, as it has been in fact, it is hardly a wonder that militant religion is taken up as it appears the only possible means of deliverance from bondage—if not right now, then later, ironically enough to be sure. Or does Hitchens and his ilk believe victims should simply pull themselves by the ole bootstraps, a la every phony, BS capitalist apologist?

Not that religion is not and has not been employed both to wield and to justify power (duh!), but religion is not the SOURCE of domination, which has purely to do with secular down-to-earth class interest—vice made virtue, justified by means of ideologies, religious and secular. Organized religion, leaving aside questions of spirituality, faith, and so on, issues that cannot be argued over but which, by definition, needn’t be fanatic either, in the context of actual history has been at once both means of domination, as well as promise of deliverance from material destitution.

How is it possible that co-editor (with giant, Edward Said) of “Blaming the Victims,” has forgotten history—apparently—when he confuses symptoms with disease? When he misreads Marx, when he wastes time excoriating most anyone and everyone, when he goes elitist on us—as mischievous, self-appointed public intellectual—without providing any explanation?

I get disdain for infantile left, but not with such extreme hubris, to the extent Hitchens’ “ethical” philosophy has become simple-mindedly black and white, indeed so intolerantly all-knowing Stalin might have admired it, speaking of Stalin.

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 17, 2007 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

Hey She,
Your last post (6:27 PM) was excellent and showed the true colors in your mind, not red or blue, but a beautiful progressive purple.

Regarding your last sentence (What do you do to stop the insanity?) that’s a difficult one, but must be addressed if we are to accomplish the primary directive…survival. One thing I’ve learned in my 59 years in this cosmic go-around is to walk past fools & idiots, but watch your back.

Since you indicated you teach I sure hope it is history. Perhaps your credentials will prove sufficient enough to give you credibility to writethe actual history of what has been going on the past 6-27 years, rather than the blather & spin that is continually foisted on us through a neo-con AIPAC controlled media. It’s time for mis & dis information to be replaced by truthful information. This is not enough, however, but it is a start.

The most influential teacher I ever had (Henry David Gregory IV) drove the point home that you can’t TEACH anyone anything, anymore than you can force someone to do something they are adamently opposed to. Instead you can provide opportunities to LEARN, but that decision is theirs to make. Religion is a foil to learning because it provides a comfort zone. People don’t have to think, because the dogma has been pounded into their brain for so long when they are provided with a choice of the rational or irrational they often choose the latter. Goebbels might have even gotten his, “Tell an untruth long enough and people accept it as fact” from looking at how people accepted the irrational ‘myth’ of the Virgin birth by Mary. Brainwashing is difficult to undo when it has had almost 2000 years to sink in.

To go back to your original question of stopping the insanity I would say you’re on the right path. Speaking out against injustice, writing wherever you find a forum, and conversing with your neighbors is a good start. Evidence & facts don’t seem to be enough to sway some people, but they can come around when personal tragedy parks on their front door, and the Bush administration is providing us plenty of replenishing ammo in this fight. Polls show the country is catching on now; it’s now a matter of increasing the effort of dispersing truthful information and having the fortitude to have patience. Keep on pushing. I see the immovable object moving from the weight of the irresistable force of “We the people”.

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 17, 2007 at 8:24 pm Link to this comment

RE: #78746 by Paolo on 6/17 at 12:06 pm
(25 comments total)

Returning to Christopher Hitchens for a change!


Yes paolo I think you are correct. When a progressive blog degenerates into name calling and slurs against someone else it is almost as if Karl Rove showed up with a bunch of Neo-Con infiltrators. LOL.

Since no one commented on my previous post I guess it was either too main stream thinking or too controversial, or perhaps abstract, but none of those were my intent. Here’s a bit of a different angle on the subject at hand:

Although I don’t believe Hitchens makes the claim of being an athiest I don’t believe he really is, not a ‘purist’ athiest anyway. As matter of personal opinion I feel athiests are inspired by a certain kind of fear. They are what is known in the movie Little Big Man as a ‘contrary’. For those who have not seen that admirable flick it is a type of Indian who does everything backwards. They ride their horse facing the wrong end, say yes when meaning no, wash with dirt and dry off with water, etc. Having a good American Indian friend in San Francisco during the sixties (Michael Trueblood AKA ‘Indian Mike’—one of those who reclaimed Alcatraz through occupation) I understand this point of view even if I disagree with it.

Mike tried to do everything in the most difficult or hardest way possible, thinking it would make him a stronger man. I disagree. Once in my boyhood, when questioning my highly intelligent & wise mother (my father died when I was 11) about what manliness was she gave me this response, “A smart man figures out what he wants, then figures out the easiest way to accomplish the task”. I figured out, after trial & many errors of course, this is a valid philosophy.

A ‘purist’ athiest doesn’t discuss, they just are. In fact they will intentionally not discuss their athiesm because to do so they must couch the discussion in terms originating in religions, which gives more power & credence to the very thing they reject. It is an unprovable fact whether there is God (good) & Devil (evil) or not. Any claims of proof either way are just hot air based in supposition, dogma, or wishful thinking. Sure, bad & even joyful things happen to people all the time, but is there any reason to believe they are the result of some mataphysical personage or entity? If I was an athiest I would probably have a bit of fear in the back of my mind due to the possibiity I might be wrong. If I was a ‘purist’ athiest I wouldn’t even be discussing or thinking about the idea at all because my resolve I was absolutely correct would be fixed & immutable. Does any of this make sense to some of the very intelligent people I have seen posting on this blog?

PS—-Mike Mid-City, you said a mouthful when you wrote, “Can’t we all just get along?”, Roddney King. (even if you did mispell his name) There are so many posts I’ve read on this blog I can’t remember if it was you or someone else who said they were dyslexic. I empathized with whomever it was because after four brain surgeries I’m only able to type using my right hand, a slow process for sure.

Happy Father’s Day all you motherf**kers (sorry, I just couldn’t resist a little base, but truthful, humor)

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By Shenonymous, June 17, 2007 at 7:27 pm Link to this comment

Oh yeah, was there another beatitude, the vulgar will inherit the Internet?  There is more to life than this forum. Although it has its moments of brilliance. Are there some who are connected with an umbilical cord? Good grief. One can continue to enjoy life even when not on the Internet. 

I see we are back to Hitchens, thank goodness.  For the record, and I’ve said it before on this discussion, I think the war, the Bush War is the worst blunder in the history of the United States, and Bush is the worst president ever to have the office.  I actually agree with your paragraph, Fadel Abdallah, about Hitchens’ support of the evil bloody war.  I don’t know if it is thirst for Muslim blood, but it sure look liked there was a thirst for Middle Eastern oil. The millions killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is a blight on the history of humankind (notice I said humankind). I have done my puny best as a small individual to express my repugnance for Bush, et al.  But there were(are) forces at work, human forces, and those who were against all of the evil wrought by the insanity of war had no chance.  And your kind of mindless venom does not do the earth any good whatsoever.

The Middle Eastern peoples started out in ancient times to be the most intelligent and most advanced culture in the world, but it degraded into savagery and even to this day cannot get into the mindset of peace with its fellow man.  Aside from the American and its allies horrible involvement in the killing, there are Palestinians killing Palestinians, Shiites killing Shias, Shias killing Sunnis, and so on.  It is all madness there too.  Over what, some differences in religion? No, it is much more than that. It is about territory and whatever money schemes can be devised and it is about malevolent hubris . It was the people of Iraq who were looting the national treasures when the bombing started. It is the people of Afghanistan whose national product are the plants for opium and heroin. Wake up. There are evildoers everywhere. There and here.  Here the savages show up in race gangs and terrorize the people.  And the Middle Easterners blaspheme their own religions to commit bloodshed.  There cannot be any god or any heaven that would welcome any of these bloodthirsty morons from either the West or the Middle East. 

I am happy with my credentials and put them to the best use I can by getting my students to think about their world and think about their values and to put away any prejudices they have learned.  What do you do to stop the insanity?

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 17, 2007 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

#78794 by Shenonymous on 6/17 at 3:50 pm
(36 comments total)

You called for it, the first time, when you brought my name up and used derogatory and mocking language.

And you’re calling for it again for the language you’re using this time; so I will dish it out for you, for the last time, I promise!

As I expected, it took you several hours to come back to the Internet. I know what you did before coming back. You went and drank your Kool-Aid or the drug of your choice or / and you went and watched your favorite Next Top Model or who got voted off the Island show, so perchance this would charge your artificial energies, to make you feel that you have bigger balls or bigger juicier pussy than you actually have. And you came back as an expert in derogatory language and platonic love; yet without telling us, even falsely, about any valid credentials you might have, and you simply dismiss your cowardness with the word of “mystery.”

In conclusion, you are typical of the bigoted “white trash”, like your hero bloody Hitchens, supporter and advocate of the evil bloody war of other “white trash” Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair, whose thirst for revenge and for Muslim blood will never be quenched, even after close to one million innocent killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you have an iota of consciousness in you flesh, you should be devoting your time and energies to do something to prove your humanity by changing the current police state you live in and you’re aware of because you hide your trash behind a fake name! This is better and more edifying for you than following your idol-god Mr. Hitchens.

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By Shenonymous, June 17, 2007 at 4:50 pm Link to this comment

Let’s see Fadel,at #78610 didn’t you say you are a Ph.D. of some sort going to work at John Hopkins? As a Muslim (or Islamist as you may prefer), isn’t it the case that you have no respect for liberated women? So as a misogynist by your faith, bright females really have no use for you or your type and this forum has seen nothing but screeching and no degree of critical thinking on your part.  That leads me to wonder what university granted you a Ph.D. with your limited and narrow views?  It is that kind of parochial, contracted view that leads to the name calling you just resorted to at #78758 and which shows a maturity of just a little above a 4-year old? It is that kind of view that often leads to violence and I can only imagine what happens when any gifted woman gets in your way!

At any rate, there is such a venerable kind of friendship often miscalled Platonic* where men and men can have deep and abiding friendships without being in a homosexual relationship.  These kinds of same gender friendships are actually alive and well everywhere in the world.  Mythologically, the friendship of Gilgamesh and Enkidu is a paradigm of male/male friendship. Comradeship in belief is another type of male/male relationships. There are also asexual relationships between women and women and men and women where romantic and sexual intimacy is nonexistent.  Enlightened nonbigotted people do appreciate these kinds of relationships and this is how I view this forum’s triumvirate “soul” mates of Mike M-C, Billy the Dik, and you. It is to all of your credit that you can dialogue however you can within the limitations of your beliefs and to whatever degree you wish.  You have my respect and applause. 

And Billy, Why?  Do you need a bath? The term true genius is redundant.

*The so-called Platonic friendship is really a misnomer and is special case of affection called Platonic love, where the sexual attraction is that of a chaste, but nevertheless passionate, love based not on lack of interest but on spiritual (whatever that might mean) transmutation of the sex force, opening up great capacity for more elegant enjoyments than sex.  Now what those subtler enjoyments might be are determined by the parties involved.

I hide my real name because mystery is so much more interesting. I have no idea why others feel the need.  Que sera sera.  I guess She can be called scrappy too.

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

#78711 by Shenonymous on 6/17 at 7:39 am
(34 comments total)

Looks like Mike MC, Billy the Dik, and Fadel Abdullah have commandeered this discussion to satisfy their own idiosyncratic compulsions.  It looks like this forum may have run its course and has the soaring potential to degrade into idiocy.  Ta ta.  I’ll check in later to see if it picks back up on the original topic.  There are some very interesting commenters whose opinions I find intriguing and who provide both serious and humorous at times food for thought:  Rob, Mark Colby, Shields, Jon0077, Leefeller, Marian Russell, Jason, Lefty, TheMofo, Alan Attlee, Niloroth, globalizati, David. Your remarks have been appreciated.
=====================
Shenonymous:

You and your cherry-picked group are a bunch of cowards to start with, especially this pervert, scum of the earth, who calls himself “Lefty.” You live in a democracy, but you act as living in a police state; that’s why you don’t have the least courage to writeunder your real names.
 
Moreover you’re a bunch of sexually, intellectually and morally perverts. I dare any one of you to post something truthful about your level of education, your accomplishments or how you’ve been serving humanity. I am sure you’re a bunch of losers, good-for-nothing, and most likely frustrated unemployed. Of course, no truth is expected from cowards who don’t even say the truth about their real names because they are sickly and hopelessly insecure!

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By Shenonymous, June 17, 2007 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

Her mother, her mother’s only daugher, and both of her daughters were all identifed as geniuses. All Ph.D.s as well.  And yes, Lefty and Leefeller, I’m taking popcorn to the wedding!  I hope there is Greek dancing! This forum is the best!

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By Paolo, June 17, 2007 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Returning to Christopher Hitchens for a change!

I can understand his perspective on religion. I have a lot of problems, however, with his support for the insane war on Iraq. In it, I see hints of the Soviet mental disease: since other nations believe in myths, while we of course are perfectly scientific, therefore we have every right to invade them and kill them off! Glory to the Motherland!

Of course religion, improperly practiced and understood, has led to a lot of historic atrocities. At the same time, atheism is, in and of itself, no guarantee that those atrocities won’t continue.

A more essential human problem is not what religion (or non-religion) is believed, but the type of social interaction people practice. If people want to try saving my immortal soul by persuading me of the rightness of their particular belief, I will listen respectfully. The problem comes when those believers, frustrated that others are just not seeing the obvious righteousness of their system, think they must resort to force.

Jews have done it. Christians have done it. Muslims have done. Hindus have done it. Atheists have done it.

Hitchens, like the Soviet atheists, is frustrated at those illogical, unscientific, unwashed folks in the Middle East. So, he figures it’s perfectly correct to go in and show them the right way to live by bashing in their skulls.

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By Orpheus, June 17, 2007 at 9:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As always, Hitchens is lucid, honest, and a 1st-rate historian. With regards Stalin, I would add:
> Stalin was brought up in the Russian Orthodox church, and began his ‘career’ in the seminary. His despotic bureaucracy was modeled on the hierarchical structure and sadistic tactics of the church
> Stalin was a paranoid, sociopathic sadist, who ‘saw’ enemies everywhere; this was the justification for the purges, which targeted other Bolsheviks and intellectuals whom Stalin ‘believed’ were a threat
> Between Lenin’s 1st and 2nd strokes, he wrote a letter to the Soviet Congress, warning of giving Stalin too much power - he was the danger of Stalin, and what was to come, as did Trotsky, which is why Stalin had Trotsky expelled from the party, then exiled, then assassinated.

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By Leefeller, June 17, 2007 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Thanks Shenonymous,

I feel the same way about this post, as for Mike MC, Billy the Dik, and now Fadel Abdullah, I appriciate and respect their posts and deviations even though I may not always agree, but isn’t that what we do here? 

Maybe they will invited us to the wedding.

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By Shenonymous, June 17, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment

Looks like Mike MC, Billy the Dik, and Fadel Abdullah have commandeered this discussion to satisfy their own idiosyncratic compulsions.  It looks like this forum may have run its course and has the soaring potential to degrade into idiocy.  Ta ta.  I’ll check in later to see if it picks back up on the original topic.  There are some very interesting commenters whose opinions I find intriguing and who provide both serious and humorous at times food for thought:  Rob, Mark Colby, Shields, Jon0077, Leefeller, Marian Russell, Jason, Lefty, TheMofo, Alan Attlee, Niloroth, globalizati, David. Your remarks have been appreciated.

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 16, 2007 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

#78527 by Mike Mid-City on 6/16 at 8:47 am
(357 comments total)

My Dear Brother and Friend Mike Mid-City:

I read with great pleasure and interest every word you wrote in the above- referenced post, and I did internalize every word of it, and I concur with what you said.
========
“Both Jesus and Mohammed preached against materialism.  If I’m wrong about Mohammed, Fadel please correct me.”
========
Yes, like Jesus before him, Muhammad preached spirituality and lived it as an example and way of life. As one Western scholar (I am not sure, but I think she is Karen Armstrong who wrote a biography on Muhammad) “Muhammad was deeply in love with God” and everything else did not matter. I, like you brother Mike, feel very sad when I see how people commercialize God and religion.
=========
“Well I could wish for a lot of things.  But nothing could give the satisfaction I got from a man who isn’t of my faith, yet understood me as if we were going over old ground together for the thousandth time.  #78194 from Fadel was a glimmer for me.  The hope that we are one people is renewed.”
“I was judged only by the messages we have been passing to each other and given the highest, and most unexpected, praise I’ve ever gotten.  Thank you Fadel.  Your words are an inspiration to me.”
==========
What I said about you, brother Mike, all came from the bottom of my heart. After reading so many of your comments, I was able to recognize the sincere, lovely and noble human being that you are; otherwise what would be the value of my 61 years of life I spent learning (including a Ph.D.) and teaching in half dozen universities?! I reached a point in my life where I can recognize a gem when I see one. For me, the unity of human beings is a reflection of the unity and oneness of the One God Who created them. The differences in colors, tongues, relative values and customs are for me a Sign of God’s Power of Creation; they are pluses not negatives, but alas, recalcitrant human beings give more value to the apparent superficial differences rather than the more deep commonalities. For me that we are one people, essentially, is not a hope or a wishful thinking, but a deep seated creed based on the teaching of the Qur’an and the example of Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham and all the prophets and messengers of God before him. 
=========
“Now Fadel, I fell a kinship with you, not just as another man, but as another man who is inspired to search for a just God.  I feel as if we are of the same congregation and you are a beloved believer of the Almighty.” 
“Some will say our search is meaningless.  But I disagree, our finding of each other is one more link in my chain of faith and hope.”
==========
I concur; I am honored and humbled by your beautiful and sincere words. I hope we can meet personally one day. I live in the Chicago area right now, but on August first I will be moving to Baltimore to join the faculty of Johns Hopkins University. Let me know which of these two areas is closest to where you live. You can contact me directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By Shenonymous, June 16, 2007 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

AustnRy at #78218
Fascinating logogriph – I empathize with a gardener, as I love the earth too and consort with plants and dirt every day as well. For me deciphering what you are saying in your comments is thorny, although it sounds great, actually poetic, and you show a humor I totally appreciate.  So thank you.  Looking forward to more of your thoughts.

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By Mark Colby, June 16, 2007 at 10:57 am Link to this comment

Lefty,

You appear to be fairly intelligent and intellectually sophisticated, so why do you persist in ad hominem attacks on me instead of addressing the substance of my arguments?  Even Shenonymous seems to be criticizing how you conduct yourself in these posts, so if I threaten you so much that you can’t listen to me, try listening to her.

There’s nothing “snobbish” or “immature” about my discussing my credentials.  They establish that what I claim is not merely arbitrary, subjective, personal opinion (unlike many others who post on the Internet), but the fruits of professional, specialized study about the precise issue under discussion.  What is so diffcult or threatening about that?  I would contend that anyone who isn’t willing to give the reasoning of a specialist particular weight in his own considerations (notice that I said “particular weight,” not “absolute validity”) is himself exhibiting the traits you appear to find in me.  Would you grant equal weight to the posts of lawyers and laymen on a legal-issues website, or scientists and laymen on a scientific website?  I hope not.

Try opening your mind to the possibility that someone else may, just may, understand a particular issue better than you do.  Instead of dismissing my argument as “outrageous and preposterous,” why don’t you try to learn what reasons one might have for distinguishing between science and morality as I have done?  Do you actually know any of the arguments in favor of the kind of categorical distinction that many philosophers, and scientists as well, make between science and morality?  Don’t you need to know both sides of an argument before you decide which side you’re on, or would that be too intellectually honest and demanding for you?

Perhaps out of sheer intellectual hostility to new ideas, you don’t seem to attend to my specific words.  I never stated that “science cannot solve a particular problem, but rather, the solution lies strictly within the realm of his personal discipline.”  What I discussed was the concept of “science” and the nature and limits of science as an empirical discipline.  You should try to be more precise about the matter.  Science can solve a vast number of problems, but it can solve only empirical problems, not normative ones.  Do you know what the words “empirical” and “normative” mean, and how they are used in cognitive practice?  And I never stated that the solution lies “strictly” within philosophy.  It may be that there is no solution to moral problems or, if there is, it’s a strictly philosophical one.  (To be as precise as possible for you, I argued specifically, and exclusively, that it’s not a scientific one.)  Philosophers have argued about the nature of morality and right conduct at least since Socrates, and there has never been a consensus about these matters.  Instead, meta-ethically, there is a broad spectrum of forms of distinct and rival positions, ranging from nihilism to skepticism to monism to pluralism to absolutism.  And religionists and theologians would certainly contend that moral problems do have solutions, so they would take the absence of consensus among philosophers as a reason to reject philosophy.

I hope that you’re not a teacher or scholar, because you seem to allow your personal feelings to intrude into the life of the mind and to impede what should be productive debate and dialogue.  And no, this isn’t an instance of the ad hominem fallacy on my part, since that fallacy doesn’t forbid legitimate criticism of an individual when his personality traits demonstrably interfere with his conduct.

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By Rob, June 16, 2007 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

I don’t really think that philosopy really tells us how to live.  I think it tells us the many paths available to live by. 

I wonder if anyone shares the path that I have chosen to follow in life.  It is one of probabilities.  If something appears highly probable to me, I put it in one pile.  If something appears highly improbable to me, I put it in a second pile.  The difference in this approach, is that, things can move from one pile to the other by way of evidence as in scientific validation. 

Since I outright reject christianity and religion, it goes in the highly improbable pile.  As the years have passed in my life, I will admit that I have gone from the skeptic to the cynic.  So, knowingly, I am not just an atheist anymore, but a radical atheist.  In my last years of my life, I’m entitled.  I give myself permission to not look for god(s) anymore.  I don’t have a glimmer of proof for one.  Actually, I don’t need one.  I know how to act without one.

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By Shenonymous, June 15, 2007 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

78362 Dilly the Bik

Pomo (postmodernista?) surrender, nevah!

And MikeMC – levity is the only salvation.  And the only absolute I believe in.

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By Shenonymous, June 15, 2007 at 10:36 pm Link to this comment

Lefty #78399 Lefty
Loved your story.  In Hyperspace Theory, multiple dimensions (at least 10) are suggested to explain the phenomena of elementary particles and physical forces.
Also mathematicians investigating the beginning of the universe think they have some of the answers to questions about dimensions (space, time, etc.). The universe, they contend, has far more than three, four, or five dimensions. They argue it has eleven!  Well that goes to show you… the answers to the question about the nature of dimensions of the universe is in flux.  The problem of second order logic for mathematics that could yield different answers for 1+1 is that while it is compelling for theoretic mathematics and useful for the study of different orders of logic, it isn’t really useful for everyday discussion even though any conclusions derived might in fact affect daily ordinary life. It takes an initiate in the discipline to fully appreciate what could appear logically untrue.

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By Secular, June 15, 2007 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

Readers can help fight theocracy here:

http://disc.server.com/Indices/224893.html

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By Gabir, June 15, 2007 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Ahhhh , America , the land of Stiff Necked People .

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By Shenonymous, June 15, 2007 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

RE: #78305 Billy the Dik
Now that you have pigeonholed me, so what? But before you categorize you ought to become very familiar with the basis of the label.  Contrary to a post-modernist such as Michel Foucault, I am not a nihilist although I believe that philosophy desires truth and often what parades as truth is in reality empty and that the ignorant are the loudest screamers of what they think is the truth.  The only thing I presuppose is that there is no final answer whether it is the question of what was before the BigBang or what is smaller than a squark, or even more mundane, what is the ultimate nature of existence???  Some may find the idea of infinite regress abhorrent and desperately always want a final answer but that is a personal revulsion and they cannot provide final answers no matter how hard they try.  At any rate, I do align myself more with a postmodern perspective and find that human values are not locatable in any one single set.  And that this is one of the bases for my atheism and my disagreement with a Parmenidean view.  As far as my command of the language, you don’t make any sense and compare your accusation of ignorance with pontification.  I am not interested in a battle of wits, as it were, and am definitely not desperate . At #76296 I was showing the divergence between science and philosophy. I notice that you offer no extended explanation of anything.  I understand that whatever I say is always up for debate and welcome cogent interaction.  I daresay my involvement in this forum does not demonstrate any strangulation.  I do understand the motive to baselessly call names as an infantile tactic.

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 15, 2007 at 11:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

#78173 by Billy the Dik on 6/14 at 7:58 pm
(284 comments total)

Fadel, the term ‘faithless’ assumes a prima facie faith.  Would you prefer to be called ‘faithful’, or just ‘full’?
=====================
In fact, my name in its Spanish origin and its Arabic form means ‘Faithful’, and I am proud of it.

I am sorry we had clashed earlier. I think you’re more intellectually mature and a better human being than I initially thought. Thanks to your exchanges with this lovely brother Mike Mid-City, I now consider you a reasonable and decent human being. But one last brotherly advice: please don’t use the ‘F’ word in your discussion with others; in my way of thinking it takes away from your dignity and the value of your positive thoughts, and that’s why I have reacted strongly when you used it earlier in one of your responses to one of my comments.

Thanks again to brother Mike MC! He was a peace-maker and he eventually succeeded in bringing peace between you and me!

Peace and prosperity for you and your loved ones!

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 15, 2007 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, it’s always good to see your postings also.

You make a couple good points, especially about the corrupting influence of money. What you said reminded me of something I heard my mother say numerous times, “You don’t love things, you love people”. I will revise that a bit to, “...you love sentient beings”, because it just wouldn’t seem right to exclude my 20 year old Maine Coon cat.

As far as using the religious terms of good (God) and evil (Devil), I try to stay away from using them whenever possible. The framing reminds me of some of the Republican ‘newspeak’ framings on various issues. A good example is the way the abortion issue is labeled. Why not have it as ‘anti-choice’ & ‘pro-choice’, which is what it actually is? To have people frame it as ‘pro-life’ and ‘anti-life’ would be absurd, because the right wing radicals, who frame their position as ‘pro-life’, have likely caused more lives lost than all abortions combined.

Instead of religious overtones in our lives the simplist way to live as a decent human being seems to just adhere to the Golden Rule.

It can be simpler than that even. A few years back I used to play poker every weekend with three good friends. As normal people are able to do, through use of tools such as logic, reason, morals, ethics, and plain old common sense, we were able to come up with solutions to many problems of this world. One night we put our collective thoughts together to formulate the best life philosophy in the fewest possible words. It eventually boiled down to just two—-do right!

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By Shenonymous, June 15, 2007 at 9:53 am Link to this comment

Re: #78113 Jon0077
As far back as the 19th century science was a subspecialty of the greater discipline of philosophy (which isn’t really that far back), and was known as natural philosophy. The bifurcation of these two disciplines widened when natural philosophy permutated to be called science because of the difference in focus. “Science” came to be identified as the knowledge (or specific study) of the natural world and the empirical experiments associated with that study. Plato (dusty as his ideas are) made the distinction between philosophy and science proposing that science intends to produce a physical result, where philosophy does not. Science assumes existent things and presupposes change in the natural world and seeks the intrinsic nature of causes.  Philosophy on the other hand seeks the answer to questions of how we should live, what does it mean to exist and what is illusion, what is authentic and what is unmistaken logic.  Science depends on what kinds of answers philosophy proposes. All this being said, and if acceptable as an accurate account of these two channels of study, then the conflict noted by Jon0077 is on very thin ice.  Regardless of those who wish to merge science with philosophy, their intention appears to be that science desires immutability.  Philosophy says, and always has, that absolutes are impossible.  Never the twain shall meet and there are no final answers as much and as furiously as hum-ans want, although philosophy can provide a framework for science to feel comfortable in with whatever answers they come up with.  And the “answers” that science offers, provide more challenge for philosophy to entertain.  It is not true that morals come built-in biologically. Babies are born without morals, just as they are born without any particular language even though they have the potential for any language or any set of morals whatever and I defy anyone, Jon, to show that they are.  Morals and language and calculation are learned.  There are no “ideal” morals, language, and no exclusive way find numeral answers.  There are principles or ideals that can be held as models for these and all common beliefs that go towards common benefit.  Non-human animals don’t really care that there is a principle 2+2 = 4.  They just “care”  that they have enough of whatever they need to survive.  Sufficiency is determined by the kind of organism they are. And human babies are in the same condition. Plato brilliantly constructed the notion of the ideals, and I believe they do exist on a theoretical level. The nature of models is that there are many members that are justified in some way, however small (in spite of Wittgenstein), to participate in the model. The models never really exist in the natural world. But we humans are seekers of perfection, and mainly because, I believe, it is that search which gives the motivation for life.

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By Leefeller, June 15, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

PaulMagillSmith,

I was surprised and glad to see another accurate and comprehensive post on Hitchens.  A few comments.

Money seems to be a glaring prospect for religion, the greed comparison between politics and religion would be an interesting discussion.

“God is not Great” Hitchens opinion, could be respected by those that disagree, but we know that will never happen.  Hitchens has thrown the gauntlet at the foot of Religion’s house of cards.  Those who use reason will question blind acceptance. 

Yes it is easy to support the premise that religion is evil, but I have a tendency to dislike absolutism, objective discussion is over, so Hitchens using “all religion is evil ” may be intended incitement.

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By Hemi, June 15, 2007 at 8:23 am Link to this comment
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“Hum-ans garden.  Garden or die I say.  Won’t garden?
Then stop being hum-an.” - AustnRy

Me thinks your rant a bit too literal.

A rotten apple is still an apple. A rotten human is still human.
Personally, I was thinking you could have cut to the chase
and posted ““stupid, evil asshole””.
But I understand the need to vent.

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By karma340, June 15, 2007 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
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Religion is just like communism or democracy.  In theory it works but then you throw in the human element capable of both positive and negative human emotion (such as corruption) it creates a bad image.  Mr. Hitchen’s seems to have some or a lot of aggression towards religion in some aspect.  In Eastern medicine, grief is linked to the lungs.  Smoking is a symptom of being unable to let things go.  In a psychology point of view, he has a biased view of religion and this may not be valid.

In theory, religion works.  But, with any contribution of humanity, you will always have reaction to anger, hatred, despair, aggression, difference, etc.  This is also a part of humanity.  You cannot have a world with just positive aspects.  If we did, we would not have compassion or even as much as medicine.

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By PaulMagillSmith, June 15, 2007 at 3:02 am Link to this comment

#75832 by bill on 6/06 at 1:53 pm
(Unregistered commenter)


I agree that religion is bad, but not spirituality, not belief in god.


Plus the thing that I have wrapped my brain around since hearing of the Big Bang is “what was here before that?” and I haven’t heard a good scientific explanation.

***Great comments & observations, Bill. To view the universe through the limited scientific lens of only a fifteen billion year old time frame, instead of questioning what was here a trillion years ago, makes about as much sense as swallowing the dogmatic religious beliefs propounded by organized religions. Surely there was something here before the big bang; way before even. It is as yet unproven, as is the existance of an afterlife. No one has been there and returned to tell the tale so I guess both would fall under the category of ‘faith’.

With a mind that tends toward believing science will eventually unravel the ‘secrets’ of the physical universe I also believe inward aimed journeys, undertaken by the likes of Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, and a Brazilian named Arigo, will eventually reveal the ‘secrets’ regarding our spiritual nature. I don’t, however, put any ‘faith’ in religious dogmatic blarney based on man-written tracts originating many hundreds, or thousands, of years ago. I see them as societal control measures implimented to dominate ancient populations, then eventually evolving into lucrative businesses.

It is a sad commentary on mankind’s age-old quest for personal freedom we would allow ourselves to be so controlled by the opinions of some ancient businessmen, who propagated & proliferated savage acts under the guise of morality.

Humans are social animals, with a desire for a feeling of belonging to something larger than life, bigger & more meaningful than their puny existance. The Rolling Stones probably really hit the nail squarely when they wrote, “We all need someone we can lean on”. Through the mechanism of fear, sadly, most people never learn to put down the crutch of religion, and stand up for themselves. Maybe someday we will be able to reject all this superstitous mumbo-jumbo and evolve into higher beings, but it looks like it will be quite far into the future. With the suicidal tendencies of Islamic people seeking martyrdom, and many Christians buying into the fiction of ‘The Rapture’ it’s questionable if the sane among us won’t be dragged into oblivion along with such insanity.***

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By AustnRy, June 15, 2007 at 12:18 am Link to this comment
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Clarification on the history of the word “Human”—can’t tell you where I got this from—but maybe just easier to understand… barrring the details of a dozen other etymologies:

“Hum” as in humus… and

“An”—intelligence.

Hence, “earthly intelligence”.  I am not a historian or a linguist.  Actually I am a professional gardener and a comprehensivist… yeah, I dig being an earthly intelligence.  I like humus too.  I put my hands into it every day.  Its one of the most intelligent acts people can (and should) do—gardening that is.  We were designed to understand and cultivate mutually-beneficial (eco/bio/socio/econo/etc.) relationships between multiple living and non-living entities/components, human/animal/plant/mineral.  This is real gardening—not merely throwing a few seeds in the ground—actually designing, implementing, facilitating and maintaining these M-O-R’s.  (*Mutual-Operation-Relationships*).  Hum-ans garden.  Garden or die I say.  Won’t garden?  Then stop being hum-an.

Anyone who is not gardening, doesn’t fully qualify for the title of “Hum-an”... in my observation.  Dubbya, for example, isn’t anywhere near hum-an.  Born of an earthly mother, but mutated into something else… he seems to want to make hell of the earth.  And he’s not the brightest bulb in the box either, so “-an” for intelligence probably wouldn’t apply.  So what’s Greek for “stupid, evil asshole”?  Oh wait, I know:  “Hadeus Ignor-anus”.

So this makes me wonder, if we call ourselves what we are made of/born from/live with—earth “hum”, and if “an” is intelligent, and if the Universe/Big IS is intelligent, then shouldn’t we be using similar kinds of root words referring to these concepts:  Intelligence, HUGE-as-the-whole-Universe, Really-freaking-powerful, kind-enough-to-create-this-mess-of-existence, etc.  Let’s come up with about 3 or 4 Greek (or Latin, or whatever language) syllables that will mean the above—and not some acronym like G.O.D… 

And there we have it:  The new name of God, something we can all agree on because it aptly describes (in effect) what we mean to refer to.

That’s my bit for this evening.  Good night.

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 14, 2007 at 10:29 pm Link to this comment

#78187 by Mike Mid-City on 6/14 at 8:45 pm
(331 comments total)

Not so Fadel, but it’s a lonely place for a believer.

Oh well they crucified Jesus but I was hoping to escape the same fate.  I’ve been here for a week and the best I can do is not get condemned as a literal Sky God Worshiper, well at least not by some.

But hang in there.  Life was made for a little humility and God is good to the faithful by dishing it up in spades.

God is love my brother.

Peace
===================================
Love you brother Mike Mid-City! I am sorry I failed to point out how your posts, in particular, were like an oasis in the middle of barren deserts.

Your sharp deep remarks, with that particular flare of sweet humor, were the best examples of how deep sincere faith embraces others rather than rejecting them. You proved to be one of those true Christians described in the Qur’an as being the “followers of Christ in whose hearts God has placed great mercy and compassion.”

If all the abuses heaped at people of faith on this thread were to be measured against your edifying comments, brother Mike, I would finally say: “Thanks Mr. Hitchens for being a vihicle to expose us to the abounding love of this beautiful brother-Mike Mid-City.”

Amen Brother! God is Love and you’re an example of His Great Love and Grace in the twenty-first century! And thanks a million for reminding me about the issue of humility. Certainly it goes with the territory.

Love you in God and Peace, Mike!

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By Fadel Abdallah, June 14, 2007 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

I have become convinced that the title of this thread should be renamed to read:

“Faithless people discussing the philosophy of religions and faiths poisons everything!”

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2007 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

RE: #78037 Lefty
Although I did indeed mean bend, it looks like I mistook your quote of Ga’s for your own comments and I now see my misreading, so if you will allow it, I take back my comment about your having a violent bend. I apologize abundantly.

However, the rest of what I said in that post is not cancelled. I have to plead to confusion in your reply to me at #78037, in particular the part about Colby did not have logical cohesion and I ask if you would clarify.  I appreciate your criticisms but want to be clear on what they are exactly.  Also in your “critical analysis of [my] argument” of using an analogous example where assigning absolutism to the word ‘never’ has nonsensical implication. I fail to see that it demonstrates an “absolutist conclusion.” I am making no claim of anything either absolutely true or absolutely false. Nor do I understand your use of the term “circumscribed” with respect to any ability to think critically and analytically. It seems thinking critically and analytically is exactly what I have been doing for the previous 27 comments,  but perhaps you did not read them. All that notwithstanding and immaterial to this immediate exchange, since I myself was not using the word “never” in any sense except referentially to the Colby statement, there wasn’t any reason to use it again. I don’t think you understood the intentions of my statements.  It may have been a weakness on my part to make it more simply clear, but it did not warrant the criticism of “omission” since it wasn’t part of my explication.

Perhaps we are getting too far afield with these personal contentions and might better get on track with the poisonous nature of religions and I would welcome your ideas on that topic.

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By Jon0077, June 14, 2007 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

For these reasons I have made a value judgement: I have no desire to continue your dead end style of argument.  After the following words from Leonard Susskind, this conversation has ended. Lets hope you have learned something.

“Good scientific methodology is not an abstract set of rules dictated by philosophers. It is conditioned by, and determined by, the science itself and the scientists who create the science. What may have constituted scientific proof for a particle physicist of the 1960’s-namely the detection of an isolated particle-is inappropriate for a modern quark physicist who can never hope to remove and isolate a quark. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Science is the horse that pulls the cart of philosophy.”

—Leonard Susskind

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By Jon0077, June 14, 2007 at 6:17 pm Link to this comment

Mark Colby,

In an attempt to sound “scholarly” it seems like you’ve copied information from a dusty text book written a century ago. Stop telling science what it cannot do.


First you talk about morals and how science can’t tell us how to live rightly (without one word about philosophy), and now you switch to the subject of philosophy. Apparently you never discovered “natural philosophy” a branch of science taught in universities long ago but now called natural science. Resolved philosophy becomes science.


You should also realize that “science” comes from the Latin term *scientia,* which means knowledge.


Your statement, “A fact cannot evaluate a value; only another value can evaluate a value” reveals a great ignorance about science and values. Science not only discovers facts, but scientific theories *explain* the facts. A fact without a theory has little use. Morals and values describe a few facts about primate behavior and scientific theories about these facts can, indeed, reveal knowledge about morals and values. Furthermore, a value cannot evaluate a value. Values come as a result from an emotional-thinking process.


People rarely get their morals from philosophy and those who derive their moral principles from religion hardly practice workable morality.


For your information, morals come built-in as biological phenomena.  Natural selection “designs” basic morals without requiring religion, philosophy, or science. Even other primates live in societies driven by moral codes (see Carl Sagan’s “Shadows of Forgottn Ancestors”).


It gets worse for your position. Every thought, every idea, and every value you make occurs at some level in brain activity. Neurons, chemistry and electrical properties of the brain all fall within patterns of matter and energy and well within the range of scientific study.


Morals and values come from an emergent property of the brain (from natural selection). Hormones and neurotransmitters determine emotions and feelings. And from these dynamic brain properties, we produce values and morals.  Simply changing the serotonin levels in the brain, alone, will dramatically change a person’s value system. To suggest that morals fall out of the range of science shows that you haven’t clue as to what scientists have done in the last 40 years!


Scientists not only can (and have) evaluated moral systems, but they can determine workable moral systems. Have you ever heard of Social Science? The social sciences not only studies people but about how people should live.


Scientists like Robert Axelrod have studied moral rule based systems. Peter Danielson has modeled morality. AI scientists study and program morals for their robots and computers. Researchers like Pal Churchland, David Gauthier, and Daniel Dennett (a scientist and philosopher), and many other scientists would not recognize your narrow view of science. We have entered the 21st century. Wake up!


Lastly, I recognize your style of argument. Your bait-and-switch tactic (morals to philosophy) and trying to cover your embarrassing positions does not induce a productive dialog. After all YOU brought up idealism (“Moral codes, on the other hand, attempt to prescribe ideals…”). Remember?

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By Mark Colby, June 14, 2007 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Lefty,

I didn’t miss any of your points; I understood them and rejected them as resting on various conceptual, logical, and methodological confusions.  (If I can understand and teach the complex philosophical doctrines of thinkers like Kant, Wittgenstein, Aquinas, Habermas, etc., I can certainly understand the reasoning behind your points, which are familiar ones raised and rebutted in my discipline.)  I stand by my professional expertise (which is not “defensiveness,” as you dismissively mischaracterize my attitude).  And since you never indicate what your own “qualifications” are or what makes them more germane than mine to a discussion about the respective natures of and differences between science and morality, I have no reason to think that common intellectual ground can be found with you.  This is rather unfortunate, but it’s a common problem with public debate today.  Too many people think that, because everyone has an equal right to have an opinion, everyone has an equal understanding of the issues and that all opinions are equally valid.

My offer to provide scholarly references still stands.

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By Leefeller, June 14, 2007 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

78010 by cyboman
Checked out your forward debate and it was very informative.  Was not able to hear the end of Hitchens closing argument though.  May have been done on purpose?  Suspicious me.

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By Mark Colby, June 14, 2007 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

Lefty,

My use of the word “never” is entirely logical and jutified, as Shenonymous says, but it may be hard for you to understand why unless you study enough philosophy of language and philosophy of science to understand the kind of conceptual analysis underlying my claim.  There’s no more absolutism in it than there is in saying, “Yellow can never be 17” or “2 + 2 can never go on a diet.”  Also, you should be aware that the word “absolute” has many meanings.

You admit that you’re “not qualified to argue the current limitations of neurology and evolution,” but you need to go further and admit that you’re not qualified to argue about the nature and limits of their concepts, methods, and modes of reasoning either.  This is why it’s not, as you put it, a “conclusion circumscribed by the limitations of your ability to think critically, or your discipline, or however you would like to characterize it.”  Critical thinking is not philosophical thinking, although it is part of it.  You may indeed have some understanding of critical thinking, but that alone doesn’t give you philosophical training or expertise.  Dictionaries and encyclopedias are necessary but not sufficient; a deep understanding of highly complex arguments is also necessary, and this a layman (assuming you are a layman) cannot acquire on his own, any more than a layman can become a physicist, lawyer or doctor on his own.

Your post seems confused on one point.  You said that I was “correctly unapologetic” for my “learned” training in philosophy, but you also suspected that my philosophically informed conclusions were “a touch of learned snobbery.”  First, whether or not the conclusions are valid, it’s the ad hominem fallacy to accuse me of snobbery.  If you do have any knowledge of critical thinking, you’ll know what this fallacy is and why you committed it.  Second,
how can I be “correctly unapologetic” for something which makes me a snob?  One apologizes only for what one shouldn’t do or be.  Are you challenging moral convention and praising snobbery?

Your comment, “Philosophy, after all, is a far more valid and useful discipline that science, and is further, beyond the comprehension of mere scientists, as Colby clearly implied” shows that your critical reasoning skills could be better developed.  The words “valid” and “useful” are being used equivocally here.  I made it quite clear in my posts that science and philosophy are both valid and useful, but in categorically different domains, one of fact, the other of value.  Also, I think you’re either confused or disingenuous in claiming that this comment is only “sarcastic,” since your attempted criticism of my view about the nature and limits of science presupposes the literal validity of this claim.

If you want references to clarify the issue about the nature and limits of science, and why morality is conceptually and logically autonomous of science, I’d be happy to provide them.  Do a search for me at Columbia or Rutgers and my e-mail address will turn up.

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By Jon0077, June 14, 2007 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

Although a believer might find comfort in some of Jesus’ words, it should serve as a reminder that just because a man appears righteous does not necessarily mean he always practices it. Imagine observing a man who tells the truth most of the time but occasionally tells a hurtful lie. Should we not feel wary of such a person? Or if someone breaks his promise, should we not feel cheated? Especially if that person calls himself the Son of Man, we should expect him to act perfectly all the time, not just some of the time. His saying should reflect consistency, giving no hint of hypocrisy. However, the main character of the gospels, Jesus “Christ,” gave no hint of consistency. The performances of Jesus describe the actions of a con-artist, gives obvious half-truths and then promises them salvation for their sacrifice. Moreover, the Biblical Jesus gives wrongful information, breaks promises, lies, calls people unsavory names, orders killings, and threatens to kill children. He gave questionable advice about income, marriage, and future plans and he ended his short life in tragic suicidal death.

Many Christians object to any criticism of their religion where they see only the bad without the good. But imagine that I saw a friend about to drink a poisoned glass of milk, even if the poison represented only a small percentage of the whole. Should I include the nutritious aspects of the milk in my warning? Of course not. And although I might replace my friend’s poisoned milk with a glass of pure milk, this cannot be done with the Bible without acting dishonestly or ignorantly to the alleged infallibility of its words. And mind you, the problems do not come from a small percentage of the whole, but the majority. One obvious solution exists, as difficult as it may seem, but that means a rejection of the Bible as an honest attempt to get at the truth. It must come with an honest and brave look at the flaws of its central protagonists: Yahweh and Jesus.

My central point—and possibly Hitche…err, I mean “He Who Must Not Be Named”—is that the problems of belief do not come from Bibles, Jesus, or Satan but rather from human gullibility. We have a tendency to believe that ideas and words equal great truths. But words cannot convey ultimate truths anymore than a map can serve as the territory. Our beliefs play out a dangerous aspect of humanity and the responsibility for them must lie with ourselves. Megalomaniacs like Hitler could not have gotten into power without the faith of millions of people. So also, the beliefs in the Biblical Jesus can influence the trigger of the greatest destruction of all: the self-fulfilling prophesy of the end of the world. Let us hope that we gain the ability to use our reasoning ability instead of naive unexamined belief for such a flawed character in a book.

As for your heart condition, well, I’m sorry about your health. Let me say, however, that optimism need not be found only in religion. I submit that a religion which promotes eternal life tends to create a valueless life. Value relates to limits of time and amount. Just as if diamonds became abundant, their value would decrease, eternal lives would also lose their value. A valued life must have limits. Observe people who come close to death or experience a tragedy. Their lives become more precious as a result of learning of their own fragility and mortality. A life believed to go on forever loses its meaning in a sea of infinity. Sometimes, it seems, religion may act as a crutch, but only to the broken leg it caused in the first place. If you cherish whatever time you have with your wife and with whomever else is important to you, living your life to the fullest, you have nothing to regret. I won’t tell you how to live your life and you—as well as anyone else—can believe whatever ye wishes, so long as those beliefs stay private. If they don’t, then don’t be surprised if you hear from more “angry” atheists.

All the Best,

Jon

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By cyboman, June 14, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since we are on the subject - I just saw a good debate with Hitches and Marvin Olasky http://www.lbjfutureforum.org/events/events_details.cfm?ID=110

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By NietzscheSmith, June 14, 2007 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Response to Mike Mid-City:

You kind of made a mistake by conceding that you ‘cherry-pick’ the parts of the Bible you like.

If this is the case for most, if not all, Christians then they can’t claim that the Bible is the work of God or an absolute basis for morality or contains ‘the Truth’ or whatever. If someone has a preconceived notion of what they believe they can find evidence to back up that belief, any belief, by selective reading of any book, especially the Bible.

The question you should then ask yourself is “How/why am I able to read the Bible (or any text) and make trught and value judgements on the statements that text makes?” If the Bible is not all good and only some part (or if even most) are good and the Bible doesn’t give you the criteria to distiguish the good from the bad that means the criteria for those judgements are inside your head.

Also, it is great that you get hope from the Bible but that doesn’t lend one ounce of support for the truth of it. I hold a strong belief that I will win the lotto next year, and that could give me tons of hope, or read Deepak Chopra’s books and believe that I can live forever, and that could give me lots of hope and make me always happy and pleasant to be around, again, this does not imply truth. (BTW it is possible to be atheist and still have hope for your future and the future of human-kind.

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

RE #77983 Billy the dik
It is not my intention to upset you or anyone else, but an objective reply seems called for.  Because you find a word repugnant does not mean the rest of mankind must cease to use it. I believe this is a public forum. And what didactic or arbitrary rules (which by the way are unrelated) might you be talking about that you detest? You may have multiple MAs but it isn’t apparent by your comments. You apparently have a beef against academics. Ho hum.  Perhaps you could point out the circles to which you are referring. And perhaps you have forgotten that you entered the term elderly into the discussion as some kind of reproach? Not sure the word patriphile is a real word. But I agree, I think, with the essence of what you may be saying about the masculinization of what ought to be gender neutral. But that really does not imply that every instance of a word that has a masculine form implies a depreciation of women. It is at bottom how one thinks about things. What are the real inferences being made.

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By Leefeller, June 14, 2007 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

#77962 by Mike Mid-City

Mike I must have been in before you, because we left off “and they all stink part.”
Do not know what that has to do with Hitecheens book, but over the years I had forgotten that line.

“In the Marines we used to say (and I’ve heard it else where), “Opinions are like *&^holes, everybody has has one and they all stink.”.

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2007 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

#77964 Lefty     You seem to have a violent bend yourself.  And you wiggle what you think is a generality into an absolute yourself. Very clever. Apparently you know not what you do either. You might start reading with a dictionary and encyclopedia at your side and learn what critical thinking is. Colby’s use of the word “never” is perfectly legitimate and is not used in the sense of the absolute you are forcing it into.  He actually is explaining the limitations of science. It is like saying, “one should never try to fly to the moon (uh, or anywhere) on a rocketship made of paper mache.” It is saying, I believe, that it is complete nonsense to think the sciences of neurology or for that matter evolutionary theory could be a useful tool to measure moral behavior. Nor can they be used to rationally determine moral or immoral behavior because the grounds on which they rest would be indefensible.  The normative analysis gives a typical model, an average over a group that makes things acceptable to most if not all of its members.  Therefore, it cannot be used as a measure for particular members.

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By Leefeller, June 14, 2007 at 8:54 am Link to this comment

AustnRy,

Spirit defined is something a small group of us have been working on, not here on this post. Thanks for the insight and new points of view.  You have provided information and opinions well received.

We should have an ongoing site of this nature, I find it much more enlightening than politics,  it may have some thing to do with the word reason.

Finally, I have started to read Hitchens book and his views are well taken and provide food for thought.  The comments in his interview above may be out of context sort of like the so called debates

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By Shenonymous, June 14, 2007 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

RE#77870 Billy the dik

Well what would you call all of human race without sounding like a broken record, although that is what some in this posting are starting to sound like? The word mankind is a collective noun, and conventionally includes women. Even the word ‘human’ is derivative and is an amalgamation with the word ‘man.’ The word is inherently gender distorted.  However, I am a professor and I cannot help being didactic. I tend to use a varied vocabulary. I am not gender driven and have no mental impediment using the word mankind as a neutral term. And no, I am not elderly. But I am mentally mature. Perhaps you should enrich your knowledge, for instance, even the neotechs use the word “mankind” as in “harnessing the power of science and technology to improve the lives of all mankind…”  Check out TechRepublic for a modern use of the word. I can give a dozen examples of the current use of the word, without accusing everyone of being elderly. But being elderly is not pejorative. It is more often associated with being wise.  Perhaps you should retain an enhanced vocabulary.

Etymology of the word ‘human’
c.1250, from M.Fr. humain “of or belonging to man,” from L. humanus, probably related to homo (gen. hominis) “man,” and to humus “earth,” on notion of “earthly beings,” as opposed to the gods (cf. Heb. adam “man,” from adamah “ground”). Cognate with O.Lith. zmuo (acc. zmuni) “man, male person.” Displaced its O.E. cognate guma (from P.Gmc. *guman-) which survives only in disguise in bridegroom. First record of humankind is from 1645. Humanoid (1918) is a hybrid of L. humanus and Gk. -oeides “like,” from eidos “form, shape” (see -oid)

Because women make up more than half of the world’s population, its gender is always unequivocally included in the mass nouns ‘human, mankind, humankind, people, etc.”

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