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Fundamentalism Kills

Posted on Jul 26, 2011
AP / Frank Augstein

People embrace and mourn at the massive flower field laid in memory of victims of Friday’s twin attacks in Norway.

By Chris Hedges

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway. I worry more about the Anders Breiviks than the Mohammed Attas.

We offered Sam Harris a chance to respond to this column and he has done so here.

The battle under way in America is not between religion and science. It is not between those who embrace the rational and those who believe in biblical myth. It is not between Western civilization and Islam. The blustering televangelists and the New Atheists, the television pundits and our vaunted Middle East specialists and experts, are all part of our vast, simplistic culture of mindless entertainment. They are in show business. They cannot afford complexity. Religion and science, facts and lies, truth and fiction, are the least of their concerns. They trade insults and clichés like cartoon characters. They don masks. One wears the mask of religion. One wears the mask of science. One wears the mask of journalism. One wears the mask of the terrorism expert. They jab back and forth in predictable sound bites. It is a sterile and useless debate between bizarre subsets of American culture. Some use the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior and rules for complex social and political systems, and others insist that the six-day creation story in Genesis is a factual account. The danger we face is not in the quarrel between religion advocates and evolution advocates, but in the widespread mental habit of fundamentalism itself.

We live in a fundamentalist culture. Our utopian visions of inevitable human progress, obsession with endless consumption, and fetish for power and unlimited growth are fed by illusions that are as dangerous as fantasies about the Second Coming. These beliefs are the newest expression of the infatuation with the apocalypse, one first articulated to Western culture by the early church. This apocalyptic vision was as central to the murderous beliefs of the French Jacobins, the Russian Bolsheviks and the German fascists as it was to the early Christians. The historian Arnold Toynbee argues that racism in Anglo-American culture was given a special virulence after the publication of the King James Bible. The concept of “the chosen people” was quickly adopted, he wrote, by British and American imperialists. It fed the disease of white supremacy. It gave them the moral sanction to dominate and destroy other races, from the Native Americans to those on the subcontinent.

Our secular and religious fundamentalists come out of this twisted yearning for the apocalypse and belief in the “chosen people.” They advocate, in the language of religion and scientific rationalism, the divine right of our domination, the clash of civilizations. They assure us that we are headed into the broad, uplifting world of universal democracy and a global free market once we sign on for the subjugation and extermination of those who oppose us. They insist—as the fascists and the communists did—that this call for a new world is based on reason, factual evidence and science or divine will. But schemes for universal human advancement, no matter what language is used to justify them, are always mythic. They are designed to satisfy a yearning for meaning and purpose. They give the proponents of these myths the status of soothsayers and prophets. And, when acted upon, they fill the Earth with mass graves, bombed cities, widespread misery and penal colonies. The extent of this fundamentalism is evident in the strident utterances of the Christian right as well as those of the so-called New Atheists. 


Square, Site wide
“What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry?” Sam Harris, in his book “The End of Faith,” asks in a passage that I suspect Breivik would have enjoyed. “If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.”

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 23, 2012 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

I can’t share your affection for anarchism Night-Gaunt.  My political
orientation is liberal, fundamentally liberal.  But I can understand the
frustration individuals might feel at what is perceived to be an intru-
sion into their lives by the policies of government.  We can debate
which is the best bearing for the common good, but I don’t think this
forum is the best place to do that.  A new article has shown up on TD
that I think has more promise to discuss the virtues of political inclina-
tions, and I invite you and others on this forum to visit Why Independent
Thinkers Are Repugnant to Religious Zealots and Rick Santorum and
consider joining in a deeper than usual discussion.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, February 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

Biologist an political philosopher Peter Kropotkin was the one who came up with that phrase “Mutual Aid.” It is also the title of one of his books he published in 1905 an on the internet to read free of charge. He was an Anarchist. An as you may have surmised so am I. But to me the way anarchy is used as a synonym for chaos is wrong. But there re very few places extant today that can be seen as such a society. Many Amerindian nations acted much that way with very few laws an such.

Right now we are cruising for economic destruction an with it the soul sucking austerity which will logically lead to riots then martial law then a very firm hand. We see it in Greece. We will see it in other places. President Obama is much nicer about it but he has hinted more than once that he would sacrifice Social Security an the other protections (Socialist) in order to ‘balance the budget.’ Which is one way of gutting then removing the last remnants of the New Deal.

Did you know that Lawrence O’ Donnell is a Socialist? He as spoken about how the most beneficial mix is Capitalism tempered by Socialism. Even here in the USA we have it but certain of the hard line Libertarians want to remove it like the Koch brothers. They will used our already messed up economy (by them an many others) as a reason to do so.

I said I am an Anarchist, at least in relation to what a person can do for an to one’s self. Mutual Aid is the way to stay organized, help each other an still have the best of Capitalism once it is back under control. But it is a fine balance an we have had a hard time keeping what we have. We could lose it tomorrow. Nature is balance an we have unbalanced it! Both for ourselves an the world. Both purely human things like civilization an the ecosystem most of us have been ignoring. (We humans have the curiously bad capacity to ignore the outcome of our actions.)

We have reached one of those milestones in an intelligent specie’s life we must win or die. With climate change, food scarcity, water scarcity, erratic weather an continuing heating of the earth the future will be bleak. It is quite hard now. If we don’t all join together in “Mutual Aid” to uplift the 4 billion poor an cut back on what we use in the 3 billion rich countries we will fall. At the best there will be one or more empires sucking the resources every where else by force of arms. Islands of sanity an freedom might exist but the world will be much too harsh for many to survive in. Unless you have the tech an the buildings climate controlled to live in. (Expect the rich to survive with the best fruits of technology an those who are left out in the heat an storms an floods to eke an existence out of it unless they get hired to work for the owners. Their only ticket to a longer more comfortable life. (People would live under the auspices of whatever corporation they worked for. The corporation by then will have the same powers of a nation-state.) At least compared to living out side of the domes that is. To be fired means slow death, unless suicide is made legal.)

It has already started an can only get worse. Use for CO2 has gone up 4%-6% every year! We could have worse case a Hot House Earth at 9°-11°C! An will be very hard indeed to live without aid. We are also over due for one or more plagues that will wipe out millions if not billions. We can continue in the same way (as we have) or put aside our differences, “Mutual Aid”, an make a better future for us all. It is our choice.

PS I would say a mutual respect between us would be a good description.

PPS Rick “Sanctimonious” Santorum certainly has laid down what he wants to do an he has many backers. Think of GWB but sober. But we need to pressure Obama to move away from his Right Wing bend. But he may not care after re-election. We shall see.

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By ardee, February 22, 2012 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

By John Best asks, “What IS Progress”?, February 22 at 7:03 am Link to this comment

The avatar I’d really like is Ardee’s though.  Spring is coming baby!

I recall our conversation regarding the two wheel life. Spring is here in California’s central valley, forecast says 73 degrees tomorrow. The bike is running very well indeed, those new SE211 twin cams are just the thing for exploring the Sierra foothills.

Already did a trip to the coast to visit the youngest boy this past weekend. After reading some of the crap appearing here being in the wind is a refreshing relief.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

It goes without saying that ivory towerism is ego-centric.  But there
are more to keep me company in that tower than you might think! 
No one is saying academia is the only game in town.  I wonder why
you would stoop to such a fictionalized perspective?  We, I, could
counter that it is your own petty defensive egocentrism that is at
work, but I won’t. (snicker snicker). 

You do reduce yourself to silliness a times What is Progress.  But I
tolerate it because you have demonstrated many times an insightful
soul (uh, er… mind) and you do provide much food for though.  So
countersue me!  OMG! and hahahahaha!

Night-Gaunt, we have a mutual admiration (or maybe that is too
strong a word for you, but I certainly have admired many of your
thoughts expressed over the years on TD).  Your notion of Mutual
Aid is what I would call communitarianism. I think we are an impatient
species, mainly because we are the cognizant species and can forsee
possible consequences, and wonder about causes and effects.  But to
get to my point, we are on the cusp of a real communitarian society.  It
can be seen in the socialist impulse that is starting to beat here and in
the world, but so far in this world, socialism has only worked in small
self-reflective non suppressive societies such as Sweden, Denmark, and
so forth.  Too many competing factions as well as capitalism and the free
market mentality, which in reality is not all bad when it pays attention to
the welfare of all of the members of a society, has not allowed socialism
to blossom in a country as large as ours.  I think it inexorably is coming
though and I think a hybrid form of socialism and capitalism is going to
result.  It has to or the great divide between the rich and the poor (with
the fast disappearing if not already disappeared middle class) will come
to a bloody halt (meaning anarchy and revolt).  Don’t you think? 

This sort of dovetails into What is Progress’s new thesis on consmerism
as that surely has a tile in the floor of our politico/economic structure,
and with which I agree needs much discussion.  I think there are many
good minds here that can bring out what would be the best form of
government we Americans can work toward.

By the way Night-Gaunt, have you been keeping up with Santorum’s
Dominionism?  What with his covering the religious aspect and the
bankers the economic one, looks like the conservatives have it all
sewed up?  No?  Or is there some antidote?  This is where Leefeller
could give us a jeweled perspective.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 22, 2012 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Thank you Shenonymous I have thought it over an see my fundamental error in this. Now I can demarcate it between the fundamentalist who has something to follow to the letter, as they see it. An the Authoritarian who demands all others follow it. Thank you for the bit of enlightenment here. I do appreciate your education. Too many wish to got to the lowest common denominator an stay there. I do not but I know I have limitations which is the biological evolutionary idea of Mutual Aid is for us as a species as for much of the life on this planet. We need all the different kinds of humans together with all of our differences to merge into a meta organism to function best. Now if humanity can just get over that we have differences an it isn’t necessarily bad. If we have a chance to evolve that far we might make it as a species. If not we will die out. Ke sera sera

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 10:25 am Link to this comment

I like this little spot fine, consumerism is a rich and relevant topic, but, your perspective of the ivory tower is ego-centric.  I’m not at all against academia, and the worth of it, but it’s not the only game in town.  I certainly don;t like the opposite of an academically rigorous discussion, which is a useless free-for-all, and fortunately there is (was) a middle ground.  Perhaps it’s dissolving like the middle class.  Hmmmmmm…..might there be a correlation?    Well, there, the door is ajar to walk into the rise of consumerism, the rise of ‘fundamentalism’, ‘globalism’, and all these things which cannot be discussed separately, at least to my thinking. 

By the way, I am not set on a particular definition of ‘fundamentalism’.  I must concede to Oxford and Webster, et al, but out there on the battle plane for plain language, we can’t ignore the precursors of the Orwellian or worse.  If we have 50% of the voting population using various words one way, and in the ivory tower they stick to a different sureness, well, that’s dangerous.

And wimpiness?  Bullshit.  I do try to employ a bit of diplomacy on occasion, and I know from your personality type that an argument could escalate to counterproductive in an instant, so yes, I make diplomatic allowances to your ego, sue me.

Well not that that is said, on to consumerism.  I think there should be laws against ‘blatant planned obsolescence’.  Anyone?

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By damedog, February 22, 2012 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

“You are asking for pre-knowledge or the ridiculous state of knowing the unknown.  The existent
ambiguity presents a problem as well, for that is exactly the thing that
prevents any justified attribute claimed of a God. “

Sure, you can never be absolutely certain about the existence of God so if you follow science like a religion than you should choose to have no opinion on it. However, I fail to see the link between utilitarianism and the existence of god. Anyways, let’s not pretend that a belief in god is not at least partially justified by anything in the real world. One needs only to look at the incredible amount of organization that exists within the universe to come to the conclusion that it was rationally made. People like Dawkins have written books trying to claim that positing the existing of a god is superfluous, since all the parts work fine on their own. My favorite rebuttal to this was when he was debating a religious professor who made the analogy of a watch (as Dawkins did in one of his books). He said something along the lines of even though a watch can work fine on it’s own and all it’s parts can be measured an understood without needing to resort to positing that it was rationally made, that does not mean that it was not rationally made nor is it a good argument for it to not have been.

An analogy I often use is DNA/RNA in an organism. They work off their own internal information system, their own “laws”, so to speak. If the different letters were conscious and began to understand and decode their own information system, how would they know it was part of a greater, conscious whole? The system worked fine by itself, it would be superfluous to posit the existence of a consciousness with which they were a part of.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

“ I heard the Romans resorted to cannibalism when the city fell. 
That’s where we’re heading if people don’t start living up to their
potential. “

Ah yes, the “classic” utilitarian perspective.

Be careful what you love, you might have to eat them!  I remember
the film, A Man and His Dog.  There was a lesson there!  And besides
love is a hypothetical construct, at least that is what one psych teacher
in college told us.  Did I believe him?  Yeah.

Your definition of fundamentalism, What is Progress, has some kinship
to Night-Gaunt’s, whose is a bit more overtly ideologically political.

That was a bit of a whinny, WIP, about my ivory tower, which is
equivalent to those who claim I ride a high horse, and there have been
a band of brothers who have, to which my reply is that I ride six high
horses all at the same time!  A regular daredevil.  The accusation that I
reside in an ivory tower is a sure sign of wimpiness.  Self-abasement is
one thing but that is comical.  It is too obviously calculating.  So you
are a rascal too!  By the way, where is “this?”  Do I really talk over
people’s heads, have you taken a survey?  Or are you just feeling
humble?  Blind shooting might bag a scapegoat, but looking at the
quarry straight in the eye might give better odds at catching one. 
Course the prey might be gargantuan then discretion is the better
part of valor.  I mean, imagine the first time a Neanderthal met up
with a rhinoceros!  Yeah, I know you has lotsa spark!  Ahs usually has
lotsa fun.  Reductionism to the lowest common denominator is not the
way to advance the species.  It is instructive if one has to reach a bit at
what I say. 

The next topic?  Might be to vet consumerism.  Or should we abandon
this ship and move on to hit and run comments on other forums?  Test
out the couple of memes that have been conceived?  Aw, I like dwelling. 
And besides I am sort of happy that at this location some peace has been
struck betwixt ardee, elisalouisa and myself.  It’s been a long often
rancorous siege.  It is kind of heartening, which isn’t a bad state of mind
to be in.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

So Leefeller does some farming!  Shed us some light on agri-business, stewardship, and how much work it is to grow food.  I’m so sick of people fighting over resources and very few of them have any idea how much work it takes to grow what they eat. 

I’ll grow about 15% of what I eat this year, if it’s a good year, and I put some effort into it.  No machinery, all shovel, rake and hoe baby.  I had a small John Deere lawn tractor but sold it.  It didn’t catch grass clippings for mulch. 

I generally like animals better than people too, but I’ve never tasted people-steak, stew, roast, or chili.  Who know though, I heard the Romans resorted to cannibalism when the city fell.  That’s where we’re heading if people don’t start living up to their potential. 

I understand the view of some people in power though, why give it up to morons who don;t even try to understand or improve the situation.  Some people just consume, consume, consume.  And I’m not talking about the people OM might think.  Look where most government subsidies go.  A hug e share goes to privileged folks who think they’re above working for a living. 

What’s any of this got to do with fundamentalism?  Simple, fundamentalism is a tool to maintain the status quo by shielding real issues of productivity and equal opportunity behind wedge issues.  OM hasn’t even begun to describe fundamentalism. 

Love you all….from squirrel brained John.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, February 22, 2012 at 8:15 am Link to this comment

Damn! Man in his decade dances, is like herpes on the self proclaimed hypocritical fundamentalist. I happen to like snakes, actually what I mean is I respect all living creatures except humans, simply because humans are the only ones who should know better. Unfortunately I have killed so many snakes by accident and feel bad every time it happens running my tractor and equipment over them on the ranch, hell I even stop and get off the tractor to move toads and praying mantises if I spot them and have herded a few snakes to safety.

As an atheist, I have respect for all life and the living existence, possibly because death appears to me as one of the few or only absolutes.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 8:03 am Link to this comment

The avatar I’d really like is Ardee’s though.  Spring is coming baby!

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

She, I am not being patronizing.  I’m sure it’s to no avail, but I wish you were able to operate down on the plain instead of from your ivory tower.  This is where the battle is, and talking over peoples heads ain’t gonna do no good.  Thanks for the refresher on utilitarianism.  I probably should have googled before i shot off my mouth, but “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”.  By the way, I haven’t been kept from success.  I have just enough spark in the noggin o be useful for certain practical things. 

Lee, thanks man.  It’s just the usual rants.  You’ve heard all my best material by now, such as it is, and it should be getting predictable enough to scroll over.  Life is short buddy.

By the way, you both have excellent avatars.  ;>)

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 7:48 am Link to this comment

Since there have been two comments on my avatar, I thought I might acknowledge the complimentary one.  Thank You Shenonymous, and I am glad to hear you are coming out of the depths of your recent illness.  Whatever you’re doing?  I’d stick with it a while longer.

And why not go ahead and acknowledge the not-so-complimentary one?  OzarkMichael comments

I am unoriginal and my avatar is a mere copy. 

First buddy, I thought God made each and every one of us ‘special’, and unique.  You claiming there’s a problem with one of God’s works?  This proves fundamentalists are godless. 

I’ll also say (tongue-in-cheek) that my avatar is built on the shoulders of giants, like most innovation.  Almost nothing is original.  Show me something that is original.  We inherit ideas like we inherit economic infrastructure and build a little on that.  Would yo be sucessful right at this moment if not for the accumulated wealth made by hard work of prior generations?  No, you’d be dead years ago of the maladies that affected our ancestors, but I digress from the topic, my avatar.

I did manage to combine a couple of concepts that sit together quite uncomfortably, and that might make somebody think.  Yes, it’s a bit chancier than most avatars, or no avatar at all.  It (1.) expresses a demonstrable characteristic of fundamentalism, i.e misogyny, and (2.) cleverly turns the lowly adopted snake of a very strange and mixed-up subset of the right-wing into the snake of the garden.  How cool is that?  Dude, top it if you can. 

Don’t blame me, you’re the one who couldn;t let it just sit there. ;>)

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, February 22, 2012 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

Damn it John Best, when you appeared as ‘WiP’ I zipped past the posts, simply because quickly reviewing, I thought OMypoo was on a fundamental tear!... Now I will go back and sort through the horny plenty yellow snake posts,...good to see you too! I have been thinking of changing my name and avatar too, but instead of the motto saying retreading water, I have my own motto which will be kept to meself until I copyright it.

I too just dealt with the flu and I know my comprehension was lower then a near short sighted Tea Bagger, How the hell does She keep in such top form when sick?  Well, apparently She has a lot more to start with then me and She flouts it like a bell ringing in an arena Youse guys brings the conversation up to lofty heights, head spinning levels, always interesting, enlightening and not so damn negative.

As for RD and his avowing of things, all I can say is RD, RD! Me thinks your avowed agnostic comment was conjured in some strange way from Romney s saying he has always been an ‘avowed conservative’ comment?

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

What is Progress, You could try not to be so patronizing.  It belies
your apparent concern for women in particular as signified by your
ID photo!  I don’t mind “gotchas” and would admit being got when
it is true.  But I am not in a gotcha game.  M’thinks your admitted
missing brainpower may have kept you from success.

Desiring to extend the real number system, imaginary numbers The
term “imaginary” is used because there is no real number having a
negative square. In fact, there are two square roots of ?1, namely i
and ?i, and every other real number except zero have two square roots
as well.  You might have used zero which has one double square root. 
And I wouldn’t use imaginary numbers as a simile for God even though
the term carries the mystery-making word imaginary because intuitively
imaginary numbers are harder to grasp than real numbers.  Ambiguity
of solutions with imaginary numbers is prohibitive, until, of course, one
of the two solutions is chosen.  So if God which, apparently because
there is no physical evidence of it and therefore has to be intuitive, is
like an imaginary number then it would have two natures, a positive and
a negative.  But those natures would have to have some criteria in order
to be recognized when it satisfies the solution.  You are asking for pre-
knowledge or the ridiculous state of knowing the unknown.  The existent
ambiguity presents a problem as well, for that is exactly the thing that
prevents any justified attribute claimed of a God. 

Rather than imaginary numbers, it might be more propitious for you
to gain more than intuition through epistemology.  Yes, it is that very
theory of knowledge you spoke of that prevents most from understand-
ing why their arguments fall into the deep abyss.  Utilitarian solutions are
only provisional as any good utilitarian would admit.  And when it comes
to God, surely you don’t want to be provisional.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 7:34 am Link to this comment

2.  Essentially utilitarian solutions are only provisional as any good
utilitarian would admit.  It is not a system that harvests truth.  And
when it comes to god, surely you don’t want to be provisional.

Essentially utilitarianism is a moral principle that holds that the
morally right course of action in any situation is the one that
produces the greatest balance of benefits over harms for everyone
affected. So long as a course of action produces maximum benefits
for everyone, utilitarianism does not care whether the benefits are
produced by lies, manipulation, or coercion.  A common kind of moral
reasoning that is popular today.  (Thank you Mr. Spock!)  But here is the
glitch:  The way utilitarianism works is that it offers a relatively simple
method for deciding the morally right course of action for any particular
situation in which one might find their self.  To discover what ought to
be done in any situation, first need to identify the various courses of
action that could be performed. Next, have to determine all of the
possible benefits and harms that would result from each course of
action for everyone affected by the action. And finally, must choose
the course of action that provides the greatest benefits after the costs
have been taken into account.  Now apply that algorithm to the alleged
supernatural being.  Don’t leave out any step, mind you.  Can’t be sloppy
with this kind of thinking.  You shall also have to say what kind of
utilitarianism you use (ahem), consequentialism or rule utilitariainism,
just so we know on what your are making a decision.  It’s only fair.

However, to rely on utilitarianism as a basis for making moral decisions
or deciding whether or not there is a god, there are some problems.  The
kind of calculation needed requires values be assigned to the benefits or
harms resulting from the decision, and sometimes that is impossible to
measure and compare values to such things as supernatural beings of
which you have no reliable knowledge.  Also you can never know (yes
again that epistemological demon comes up again, rascal that it is) or
be certain (uh huh) about all of the consequences of our decision. 
Moreover, there is a pantheon of gods belonging to each of the 4000
religions in the world, some are single gods others a cadre, so which
one is being used for the measure?  The competence to measure such
a lofty, that is, divine, thing is dubious at best. 

But the most difficulty we get with utilitariainism is its failure to be
able to forecast with careful thought whether justice would be done
were a certain course of action might give great benefit for the society,
but clearly would be unjust.  And choosing the wrong god could be fatal. 
But for an existent example, whites claimed in the apartheid regime in
South Africa that blacks were better off under white rule claiming where
other nations that had a black or mixed government, but the reality is
that conditions , social and economic, rapidly deterioriated.  Whites
predicted civil wars, economic decline, famine, and general unrest, if
the prediction were true (but since apartheid ended which showed the
prediction was false), then the white government would have been
justified by utilitarianism, in spite of it injustice.  There are things we
are forbidden to do to other people regardless of whether the loss of
that person’s utility would be made up by increases in other people’s
utility.  At best, utiitarianism is a motive for believing, it is not a proof. 
(See Pascal’s Wager) The theory presupposes too many conditions to
be reliable.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 22, 2012 at 5:52 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, I really wish I had time and brainpower to ‘clean up my thinking, but I must use a scattergun and hope something sticks.  I admit this. 

But, I will quote one phrase, perhaps not a ‘gotcha
, but here goes, you said, ” mathematics has an abstract existence”, well isn’t that existence enough to acknowledge it?  Certainly.  Why can’t an atheist acknowledge the abstraction of god in the minds of those believers who demonstrate the real power of that abstraction by committing atrocities in the name of said abstraction? I give you the crusades, the holy inquisition and the war in Iraq.

You’re going to hate this flippant thought, but here goes…..god is like an imaginary number, the square root of negative 1.  real or imagined or both? 

By the way, you know a thing or two about critical thinking, how about transplanting the seeds sticking in that mud I splattered on the wall?  yea, yea, not your job. 

But on the uncertainty of knowledge…..I’m slightly aware of the issue, recalling from basic philosophy years ago, and some bits over the years, but I never got hung up in that.  As a technical person, there are too many examples of math and physics working together to allow one to make perfectly repeatable predictions time after time, so the notion that there are certainties is quite strong, and I see no reason to intentionally try to shake my confidence.  I can design a circuit or software or industrial process, or machine part and it works without doing an experiment.  It almost always works the first time, and when it doesn’t one finds a perfectly reasonable explanation, makes a correction and poof, it works.  I think my epistemology (if I’m remembering correctly) is utilitarianism, that is, the knowledge is proven if it produces a working result.  That last statement will show how absolutely philosophically rusty or uneducated I am, but I get real-world results, and that’s what I value far more than something arcane which only has the negative potential to shake ones confidence if you let it in your head.  Aint gonna happen.  If utilitarianism is the right word, then I’m remaining a fundamentalist utilitarian.  Go with what is proven to work. 

And OM, please rise above your continued personal insults.  I slip on occasion, but one can get back up.

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By ardee, February 22, 2012 at 3:57 am Link to this comment

tr.v. a·vowed, a·vow·ing, a·vows. 1. To acknowledge openly, boldly, and unashamedly; confess: avow guilt. See Synonyms at acknowledge. 2. To state positively.

Oh ,Leefeller, you can be as silly as you wish. Never mind that what you posted was over the line into dumb. I still defend your right to be such.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 1:37 am Link to this comment

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common.
Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to
fit their views… which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to
be one of the facts that needs altering.
—Dr Who

I’m feeling better. 

What is Progress – if you don’t mind, I will use that name when
addressing you.  John might be Best, but What is Progress is better! 

The phrase “non-existential proofs” is nonsense, and to add on “within
a closed system,” is even more nonsense.  It is not me who is affirming
uncertainty, although I would agree with those who do, you would be
wiser if you checked out the google search page click here.

Of course mathematics has more reality than God.  And I have thought
about their kind of existence a great deal.  You will agree that there are
things that have abstract or concrete existence.  Mathematics uses
abstraction and logical reasoning, and developed from counting,
calculation, measurement, and the systematic study of the shapes and
motions of physical objects. Because it is an activity of the mind (the
existence of which is also hard to prove, yet you would not say that you
do not have one!  Is the mind physical or metaphysical?), mathematics is
a conceptual system that has as an internal necessity, thus is a closed
system, that can only be so and by no means otherwise, and as an action
of the mind, mathematics has an abstract existence.  And of course
mathematics is as Albert once said, “as far as the laws of mathematics
refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they
do not refer to reality.”  I will go along with Benjamin Pierce, who said,
“mathematics is the science that draws necessary conclusions.”  It is not
comparable with a supernatural entity that, in my opinion, has as much
existence as I’ve already said, a Unicorn.  Or a Minotaur if that fantastical
is a better competitor.  Or we could use Russell’s Celestial Teapot.  But I
really like what Gauss said about it, mathematics is “the Queen of the
Sciences.”  It sort of goes along with your ID picture that gives stature to
women.  It is one of the nicest of compliments on TD and not as
egotistical as say…mine. 

Do you know what the word mathematics means?  As most everything
intelligent is… it is from the ancient Greek máth?ma, which means “what
one learns, what one gets to know.”

Prior to mathematics are numbers, which are also abstractions.  Numbers
are mathematical abstract objects (which are objects that do not exist at
any particular time or place, but exists as a type of thing such as an
idea, you know, those things you have now and then) used in counting
and measurements.  Now please give a comparable description of God. 
And don’t pike on it. 

But, but, but… you switched kinds of existences when you spoke
about the kind of mathematics one would think about when crossing a
bridge and the kind that a god might have to those who would behave
differently if that god did or did not exist. It is very loose thinking.  And
besides, it presupposes existence and therefore is not a good example of
similitude.  The facts about the sub-atomic particles are superfluous. 
Fun I admit as I love particle physics but does nothing for your
argument, as is the rest of your post that goes off on a tangent
about mathematics.  Then your question about witches is bizarre if not
downright ridiculous.  It flies all over the place.

Your hypothetical question is grasping without coherency.  So please
clean up your thinking and re-present it, as I detect there are seeds of
things worthy to think about.

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By Shenonymous, February 22, 2012 at 12:11 am Link to this comment

Disagree with me if you must, Night-Gaunt.  I suggest and have
done so before that the word you are describing is better defined
as authoritarian, a practitioner of authoritarianism, not a
fundamentalist.  An authoritarian is characterized by one with
power who expects unquestioned and absolute obedience as they
determine and is particularly against individual freedom. 

Or the word fascist who is an extreme nationalist, is intensely
anti-communist and anti-democratic where fascism is a right-wing
political system in which a government is absolutely powerful and
controls the society and the economy completely, not allowing any
opposition.  Fascism is a totalitarian philosophy of government that
glorifies the state and nation and assigns to the state control over
every aspect of national life. 

Macmillian Dictionary gives a cursive definition of fundamentalist as
someone who believes that original religious and political laws should
be followed very strictly and should not be changed on which is what
you may be basing your view.  But fundamentalists are not enforcers
of others as are authoritarians.  Fundamentalists are those who follow
the fundamentalism of the referenced beliefs.

In normal usage, fundamentalism is a word used to describe conservative
religious authoritarianism.  Fundamentalism is not specific to Islam or
Christianity; it exists in all faiths.  Characteristics include literal interpre-
tation of scriptures and a strict adherence to traditional doctrines and
practices. Usually it refers to a religious movement or point of view
characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence
to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and
opposition to secularism.

If you want to apply the word fundamentalism as you have described in
your last post, that is your choice.  I prefer to call the kind of person you
describe an authoritarian.

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By OzarkMichael, February 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm Link to this comment

John Best said

I made my moniker and avatar to promote thought.  Fresh looks.

O puhleeez! there is nothing original about you. Even your avatar is a copycat. Or did you think no-one noticed?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

How’s that Michael?

And Night Gaunt, yes, you addressed Shenonymous, but we do get into differences between what Webster says and what common usages are.  And eventually, Webster will catch up to this crazy changing language of ours. 

But I think you’re adding the trait of intolerance, which many so-called ‘fundamentalists’ have, but intolerance and fundamentalism can exist separately. yes?

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By Night-Gaunt, February 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous I must disagree with you posit. A fundamentalist of any sort believes one way but the difference is they demand all others do the same. By hook or crook or by any means necessary to do so. Fundamentalist can go for any philosophy, ideology or religion. It isn’t what it is believed an lived but if they want to force it on everyone else. Stalin was a fundamentalist an he closed down all other places that disagreed with it. WE see the same in many dictatorships an empires. In Iran we see fundamentalists in charge an no other philosophy or religion is allowed to exist. A better example is Saudi Arabia an China. But as I said before it doesn’t matter what is pushed it is that it is pushed on all others of a society an everything else not of that religion or philosophy is crushed. We also see it in microcosm in cults an Scientology also. (With in such places they are forbidden to read or speak of things outside of what they teach.)

Now if “fundamentalism” is the incorrect word for that then I ask you (again)and anyone else what is the proper designate for a Fundamentalist who when in power suppresses all other belief systems? Thank you all.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment

The exposure of so-called ‘Christian Fundamentalists’ is getting to you?

Why do you go by Ozark Michael?  Others find it prudent, why shouldn’t others follow suit.

You throw insults around as well.  Most of them insult peoples intelligence.  They work well on people who have no critical thinking skills.  No wonder so many ‘fundamentalists’ want to destroy public education.

I like my monaker, ‘What is Progress’, because on a thoughtful and objective person, it might, just might cause them to ask, what exactly does define ‘progress’?  Is it grow, grow, grow?  Is it’let the buyer beware’?  Is it ‘every man for himself’?  Is it big new malls with vacant storefronts and shuttered factories?  Is ‘progress’ mountaintops in West Virginia stripped and dumped into former creeks, leeching to farther poison the Mississippi?

I made my moniker and avatar to promote thought.  Fresh looks.  Objective assessments, hopefully free of the dogma of the extremist ‘fundamentalists’ of the right, or left. 

She ship is sinking OM.  Time we are honest about things and discard the rhetoric and canned answers the party bosses hand out. 

I hear you’re an obstetrician?  Or an orthodontist?  I forget.  I’ve always been surprised that your dogma always seemed so contrary to what I;d expect from someone in the medical profession.

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By OzarkMichael, February 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

John Best, I have explained Fundamentalism repeatedly since my first post here 4 years ago. I have talked about Fundamentalism quite enough. What i want to talk about now is… what the hell is going on in that squirrelly place you call your own mind.

John Best, after all the insults you dumped on me before you fled the scene, I deserve to know why you deleted your old name.

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By damedog, February 21, 2012 at 7:02 pm Link to this comment

“God at least as real an influence on armies as mathematics is to a bridge.”

Similarly, men go off to kill, rape, burn, pillage and torture only because they have the absolute certain faith that they do these things on behalf of god or at least with his blessings (by proxy of a priest of some flavor). ” 

I object to this attempt at dismissal of the concept merely because what it has been abused by corrupt human institutions and the absurd association with mythical creatures. It shows an utter lack of consistency to only show the dark sides of religious history and to completely ignore the dark sides of the history of science. The bias is further revealed when you ask “how many women have been burned as witches because of behavior that was against the teachings of unicorns and griffins?” but choose to ignore the denial of medical treatment to see what the late stages of STD’s do, the suffering of countless animals for testing of useless cosmetics and other things, the verbal abuse of children to see how it affects their learning, and all other forms of suffering created by the relentless pursuit of scientific knowledge at any cost of life or well-being. See? I can make a one-sided argument and turn a blind eye to the positives too. Just be consistent, is all i’m asking.

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By OzarkMichael, February 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment

I have an important question for “What is Progress”: I want to know why you dropped the name “John Best” and changed it to “What is Progress”.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, good to see you man. 

Shenonymous, in my ignorance, I’m not sure if you’ve set up some kind of trap, or if you’ve lobbed a softball.  Damn your torpedoes, full speed ahead.

Of course you are referring to non-existential proofs within a closed system, but I am going to ignore that because this is recreational.  And yes, I am not capable of making an adequate philosophical argument, but I am not deterred by your dismissal of any certainty.  Instead, I’ll bastardize your example and say mathematics are no more of less real than god.  Mathematics are purely the product of imagination, but the reality of mathematics is proven by all the very real things professionals do with math.  Think about that the next time you drive over a bridge.  Similarly, god exists to those people who wouldn’t do anything horrific without him.  God at least as real an influence on armies as mathematics is to a bridge. 

Or consider a sub-atomic particle, predicted by mathematics, the product of imagination, then one day, CERN announces they’ve discovered what theoretical mathematics predicts should be there. 

But some forms of mathematics have no practical application as yet.  No ‘proof’ can exist that the mathematics are ‘real’. 

One would no more go off to face death in a war without god than one would design a bridge without checking it’s strengths with mathematics.  Do engineers build a mock-up of a sophisticated new bridge design?  No.  No, they check it structurally by having faith in the math.  Similarly, men go off to kill, rape, burn, pillage and torture only because they have the absolute certain faith that they do these things on behalf of god or at least with his blessings (by proxy of a priest of some flavor). 

Throughout history, how many women have been burned as witches because of behavior which was against the teachings of Unicorns and Griffins?   

And another thing, why isn’t god as real in the mind of a believer as fear?  Can we forget the no knowledge is certain, and agree at least fear is ‘real’?  I say it is possible for you personally to have no fear,  yet believe in the fear in other peoples minds.

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By Leefeller, February 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

By the way ‘WIP’, I actually wrote a post saying the same thing about Hedges use of the word ‘Fundamentalist’, but for some reason it did not post.  I believe Hedges used the word for effect which it appears to have successfully fostered.

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By Leefeller, February 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

After 3000 years of goat herders manuals one would suspect a few folks would catch on to the snake oil sales pitch.

RD an Avowed Agnostic,.... now, for some reason I find this funny RD,... do you have a agnostic temple you attend where everyone sits on picket fences instead of pews.(getting even here).

I am voting for Santroum, because he knows with absolute stupidity his god is the real one, while anyone who is not a circumscribed aloud Catholic is a museum, I love conservatives because they make life so easy, mostly just sincethey have done all the heavy thinking for you.

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By ardee, February 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment

To say that we are at war with all of Islam is an astonishingly ridiculous and dangerous statement. The single largest religion in the world, approximately 1.4 Billion followers. Last I saw intelligence estimates placed all of AlQaeda at approx. 30,000.

While the fundamentalist views are dominating our for-profit media, and what can one expect as sensationalism sells papers, I think our electorate is far more moderate than currently assumed.

As to religion, I am an avowed Agnostic, as I respect the scientific method . No proofs equals no decisions.

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By damedog, February 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

I’m not sure if I have faith in the existence of a god or not, but what I do have faith in is the existential validity of the virtues which modern (and ancient) societies seem to step on every day. Justice, love, and all things good need no physical proof to inspire belief in those who would keep them alive. Denying or trivializing these things, whether done from the claim of a god-sanctioned hate against another faith or a religious devotion to human reason, makes any goal unworthy of pursuing in my eyes. This is why i’m such a fan of Mr. Hedges, he takes a step back from all ideological belief systems and is critical of everything, while still maintaining a belief in good. Of all the political and social critics of this day and age, he is one of the best.

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By Shenonymous, February 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

Wrong!  Anyone who has any sophistication as an educated person
knows nothing except the closed systems of mathematics has any
“existential” proof that anything is real, is true, or is absolute.  Even
the speed of light is now on the verge of being proven as not the
absolute measure of constancy it was thought to be.  But then that
is what science does, spends time trying to disprove theories.  So
on that note, try to prove you yourself are real!  That there is an inner
mental and outer physical world; that anything is true, or that even
that there is absolutely a universe. 

No one knows, epistemically, anything.  Knowledge is uncertain,
and for all practical purposes, outside of philosophy or science, it is
utterly senseless to claim or attribute to others an unequivocal belief
that a thing does or does not exist.  Richard Feynman is a hero.  Check
out the uncertainty of knowledge here.

It would be foolish to continue any conversation with one who thinks
otherwise.  If there were some progress possible that would be different,
but it is obvious there isn’t (though not absolutely).

You continue to give your idiosyncratic opinion in an attempt to build
for yourself a case for an idea but what is essentially an unsupportable
epitomization.  Please continue, then, to shadow box with your
speculation.  Just because you have articulated something does not mean
it exists or that you are right.  And because a thing exists in the mind
also does not guarantee existence, a Unicorn for instance, or a Griffon
certainly exist in the mind of many persons, but you would be hard put
to prove these fantasticals have physical existence. 

If you are talking about individuals, then it is possible there are
those who deny the existence of any god whatever, and they might
call themselves an atheist, and you might want to call them
“fundamentalistic” but that provide single and distinct human but
in no way discusses a genre of atheists.  I have already defined what
atheists believe, but for your sake and if you have memory problems,
atheists do not believe in gods of any sort because there has never
been provided justification or reason to believe there are.  That is as
“true” and as unadorned as the word can get and concise meaning. 
All other forms of the word atheist are mere embellishments due to
some other need people may have such as socialization.  Atheists
also would be willing to change their view about supernatural beings
if such justification, evidence, that is, reason to believe were provided.

Seeing the lack of respect given by a patronizing mind, I see no reason to
put any further effort into this rather one-sided discussion.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 21, 2012 at 11:35 am Link to this comment

I would say there are indeed different sorts of atheists, but along these lines. 

A non-fundamentalist atheist is one who is personally godless, but by some existential proof concedes the gods of others are real by virtue of the godless things they do in it’s name.  This is not an agnostic who doubts, this is a person who knows with certainty there is no god, but for others there is a god at least in their minds. 

A fundamentalist atheist or ‘true’ atheist denies the existence of any god whatever.  There are no super-fairy-forces at work, even if the wars and torture done in gods name would not have happened without god, or at the very least, the theists belief and faith in some god.

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By Shenonymous, February 21, 2012 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

As I promised myself, a few words about atheists.  Well more than a
few words.

1. There is something vexatious about the notion of a fundamental
atheist. It would seem tenable that an essential mistake and then
an assumption based on that mistake has given rise to the phrase
‘fundamentalist atheist’ as it is used by some, mostly religious,
people to describe those who are honest to a fault about their disbelief
in any religious claims.  When What is Progress proposed the phrase as
an actual operative psychological state, I was struck at the incongruity
of combining the words.  Mainly because it is a noun that has a
superfluous descriptor.  The word atheist needs no qualifier as it is a
quality of completed thought itself.  It is a word, that is first a spoken
sound and then its written representation, that functions as a whole and
exhaustive carrier of meaning.  Nothing more is needed to understand
it as a concept.  To add an attribution such as “fundamentalist” to it
supposes some covert reason entirely peculiar to the one who combined
them.  But just to entertain the idea, if there were such a semantic as
fundamentalist atheist, I wondered what exactly would a non-
fundamentalist atheist be then?  For one presupposes the other and that
is exactly where I have lodged myself these many years having no
religious belief. 

I shall address what I see as the error and its incumbent conjecture in
using the phrase by asking a few questions.  Taking the word atheist for
its own designation, would a non-fundamentalist “atheist” be someone
who only partially believed that there are no supernatural beings in
the universe? Possibly that only a part of a god was extant, like a foot
or… a buttock?  Or maybe gods exist only at certain times, like on the
first night of the new or full moon?  Or…could it be that a non-
fundamentalist atheist would not care that many other people asserted
profoundly false and primitive beliefs about the universe, on the basis of
which, now mind you, millennia has been spent mass-murdering others
who, called heretics or apostates, do not believe exactly the same (false
and primitive) beliefs as themselves?

In order to be a “fundamentalist’ atheist, which absurdity should an
atheist ostensibly compromise to the prevailing religious opinion? 
Should they become “moderate?”  Be one who does not mind how
many hundreds of millions of people have been deeply harmed by
religion throughout history?  Should they be one who is merely amused
afar at the reciprocated antipathy Christians have for Jews and more so
for Muslims, or Muslims have for Hindus, or interreligious hatreds of
Sunni for Shi’ites?  Not mind all those who do not think the universe is
ordered and managed by some invisible power and who are promised
eternal punishment?  Is an acceptable atheist among the atheistic crowd
one who thinks it is not only reasonable but rational for people to believe
that the gods, or God, suspends the laws of nature periodically just to
answer personal prayers, given that six billion two-hundred fifteen
million people have ever populated the earth (of course that’s approxi-
mately), or even more astonishing and knocks our socks off (well worse
than that!), to save one’s soul (whatever that is!) from further sin
(especially those sins of heresy and apostasy), it is in their best
interests to be murdered!

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By Shenonymous, February 21, 2012 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

2.  So, NO! No atheist should even call themselves atheist let alone
fundamentalist atheist, for the words have already been appropriated
by theists for their preposterously strenuous arguments.  More exact
is the term “naturalist,” and a friend once advised that “orthodox
naturalist” would be even more appropriate (retiring the word
fundamentalist once and finally with respect to the religious/non-
religious at any rate). Since the universe is wholly and completely
ordered by nature’s laws, I like that.  It more accurately signifies that
there is nothing supernatural in the universe, and referring to A. C.
Grayling, there are no fairies, hobgoblins, angels or demons, gods and
goddesses, and if so, then those who don’t believe in such would be
compelled to call themselves a-fairyists, or a-hobgoblinists, a-angels
and a-devils, ETC., as do atheists or as Hitchens offered, anti-theists
and all that would entail, i.e., anti-fairyists…  And, in the same way,
theists should be called supernaturalists, who then would be called
upon to refute the findings of physics, chemistry, all of the biological
sciences as Santorum and his brethren do to justify their alternative
claim that the universe was created, is directed and regulated by a
supernatural entity or entities relatively in a few days only about
4,000 years ago. 

Last but not least is the claim perpetrated by folks of faith:  the
attempt to construe and pronounce that atheism (naturalism) is
itself a religion. But, the going definition of religion then is vital.
From, a religion is a specific ‘fundamental,’ read
a basic set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a
number of persons or group.  In my opinion it is a human creation
based on a belief in the existence of a supernatural agent or entities
in the universe who have an interest in humans on this planet, and not
just simple interest but specifically detailed concern with what we eat,
when we eat, what we read and what we see, whether we are clean or
unclean, who we are to have sex with, how and when! what we wear,
such as forcing women to hide their bodies under ballooning robes,
or fixing small boxes to their foreheads, and what we do! like chanting
many times a day or walk up a score of concrete steps on their knees,
often until they bleed, in contrition for sins against their god!  And ETC.! 
This is sanity?!  This is what living humans get as an earthly reward and
more with the threat of horrible punishment in an imaginary next life
beyond that experienced in this one for getting any of the “fundamental”
regulations wrong!  And etc., and etc…

Atheism does not assert any of this.  As it is, any view of the world
that does not assume the existence of something supernatural, super-
phenomenal, is rightly called a philosophy, or when a belief is based on
tested propositions a theory, or if grounded on a coherent non-religious
idea, it can be called an ideology!

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Contrast ‘One who believes in Christian Fundamentals’ as opposed to ‘Christian Fundamentalist’, or ‘Fundamentalist Christian’.  All hit your ear a bit differently, at least mine, and each carries a slightly different implication about the subject. 

I hope we can all agree that a ‘book definition’ for ‘fundamentalist’ is something like ‘one who adheres to basic principles’. 

But when we talk about fundamentalists, they may, or may not adhere to basic principles.  Certainly a Fundamentalist atheist is likely to adhere to their principles because I would argue they understand them.  These people formulate their atheistic beliefs for themselves without interpretation of a third party or a book as complex as the bible.  By contrast, the so-called ‘Christian fundamentalists’ supposedly, supposedly interpret the fundamentals from a literal interpretation of the bible.  Not an easy task with some parts.  But, in my experience, those people who in practice call themselves ‘Christian Fundamentalists’ choose more of an old testament interpretation, and almost completely ignore the actual teachings of Jesus.  So, ‘Christian Fundamentalist’, by the popularly accepted meaning, is an oxymoron.

A Christian fundamentalist would be a pacifist with liberal social leanings if we were to consult the bible.  I’ve made this statement several times, and it goes unchallenged, so I assume that even if it is disagreeable to ‘so-called Fundamentalist Christians’, they know very well there is no biblical basis from which to argue. 

I know I’ve been rancorous in this discussion previously, and could easily slip, but this particular post is without animosity.  I do agree that Hedges choice of ‘fundamentalism’, when he probably meant something akin to ‘fanaticism’ was a very poor choice to say the least.  As can be evidenced by this thread, his choice may have fueled the fire.

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By Shenonymous, February 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

It was so very nice of your good wish elisalouisa. Thank you. 
Kindness is a virtuous quality wherever it shows up.  I think what
I call “the caring quotient” helps those who have been under the
weather to smile inside and speeds up a return of energy.  Of course
I have no factual basis of that except reflecting on my own experience. 
And my doctor would say that his Rx for antibiotics was just as helpful. 
And I would say to him, “Well yeah, but knowing others cared enough
to say something made the antibiotic work better!”  We can softly laugh
at that. I remain lighthearted and I will use your yardstick of feistiness
to gauge my full return to health. 

”…now where was I?”  A classic exclamation of confusion, or more
precisely having gotten lost, which is often the result of going off topic,
digressions, or, alternatively, when dealing with the topic, winds up in a
passive-aggressive, knotty-tangle harangue..

It is true of any word that has been popularized into a debased form,
if it is important to glissade the meaning of the word fundamentalism
from a pejorative or negativity to having a more respectful connotation,
then it cannot be thought to be a fait accompli but is still alive and
open to verbal finesse. I agree with What is Progress, it is an inanity
to reassign it to describe criminal behavior!  But I want to separate
the word fundamentalist from what it, allegedly, now is said to mean
(superior, enlightened, inflecting heathens and infidels which would
work for both Christians and Islamists!) and to those words it is now
connected.  Disconnect is the protocol!  How to do this?  It would take
a discerning focus on when it is used and the opportunity to make it
right, that is, to correct the usage when directly able and without rancor
as that could cause resentment and then resistance.  We should start
with ourselves! 

This is a linguistic philosophy I had wanted to use on the word ‘liberal’
as it has been used pejoratively to the nth degree on this forum as well
as others.  And since humor is one way of neutralizing a flaming
situation, and to defuse the sting of using the pejoratized word
fundamental, which I added, I would call myself a fundamentalist liberal. 
I still think that is a hoot, yet hope I am onto something.  Comical
because it seems so anomalous killing two wordbirds with one
stoneprinciple of word usage, an irony.  But I see at the same time, I
must make the use of the word liberal to reflect what I want it to, as an
ideology that puts the society before the individual without losing
connection to the individual.  And the intention to deactivate the
negative intensity of the word fundamentalism.

Of course it is all experimental.  And has a tincture of memeticism, and if
so, success is possible.  And of course Hedges, opportunist that he is,
uses the word in its ultimately pejorative form and has only perpetuated
the pejorative.  It would mean that Islamists could not be described as
fundamentalist either, as the negative overtone of the word is being

I do believe What is Progress is attempting, laudably, a similar venture
with the word christian.  It is on the edge of excitement that something
positive could come out of a blog!  I am reminded of a question that
lingers, though.  If Fundamentalist Christian is felt to be invective, would
the just the name Christian be adequate?  Or would a particular sect be
more appropriate, like Baptist, or Methodist?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 20, 2012 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

“What is the next step? To make ‘fundamentalism’ a crime…”  No, the opposite.  In general, fundamentalists (in my experience only) usually see their world view as superior, enlightened, and see outsiders as non-believers, heathen, infidels, etc. 

In fact, fundamentalists, more specifically, so called ‘Christian Fundamentalists’ instead of being made criminals’, have been pushing the other way… inject their beliefs into the public sphere.  For instance, they typically do not let a pregnant woman make her own decisions, the value and legal definitions of what constitutes ‘life’ is being imposed from several fronts, certainly including the legal front.  Legislation is, in fact, criminalizing women who do not share the ‘Christian Fundamentalist’ view (value) of what constitutes ‘life’.

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By OzarkMichael, February 20, 2012 at 6:22 am Link to this comment

It borders on sophistry to use cavalierly the notion of fundamentalism in application to certain peoples. It has almost become a kind of discreditable censure.

The same should be said of the notion of atheism. It is not right to use the word ‘atheism’ as a discreditable censure. Atheism localizes people with a certain understanding of life, and to use the term cavalierly is a bit prejudiced. Turning ‘atheist’ into a pejorative term for “shallow” is not good. I do not want to take that step. Hopefully my ironic post did not influence anyone to actually take that step.

Here, in our culture, where ‘Fundamentalism’ has long ago been made into pejorative, that step has already been taken. It is a fait de accompli. Not too much can be be done to change that now, it is like tilting at windmills, yes, but I resist it anyway.

What is the next step? To make ‘fundamentalism’ a crime,  and what crime is worse than killing? Is there anything worse than blood guilt? That is the step being taken before our eyes. “Fundamentalism Kills” was met with much enthusiasm here(for the most part). We have just entered a new phase which has been a long time coming.

After that, the next step in the process is to relocalize the blood guilt of fundamentalism(which as it is used now is too broad and applies to anyone out there who is “narrow-minded”, but i say that is a only pretense) and focus it back to people who actually are Fundamentalists, who self identify and are localized by a certain understanding of life. That group of people are a certain type of Christians, and absolutely no-one else.

The last step(which is a long way off, I dont expect to see it in my lifetime) is to actually do something against those Fundamentalist Christians, the concrete locus of the evil. Such is the way of prejudice. It is nothing new. It is a predictable cycle that human beings have pressed upon other human beings from the beginning.

Let this be the end of the conversation for now, but we all know it will eventually be picked up again and driven another step forward, mostly to resounding applause.

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By elisalouisa, February 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm Link to this comment

Wish you good health Shenonymous. I’ll know you are better when you start getting feisty again. Take long walks, eat healthy food, try to be lighthearted. It all helps, although I am certain you know these pointers.

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By Shenonymous, February 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

Given our history, ardee, your best wishes are very much appreciated. 
Thank you.  While not completely free from the severity, there are
promises of a brighter day.

This forum would appear to be perennial, and the conversation is
far from over.  Perhaps the topic is inexhaustible?  What is Progress,
I don’t think determining who is deluded was the problem between
theway and I, but what defines fundamentalism, then the definition of
delusion given and putting it as the essence on what fundamentalism
is based.  I don’t think this is right.  Certainly delusion is as theway
defined it (I am assuming theway’s gender and I certainly could be
wrong!).  But to say fundamentalism contains delusions might possibly
be true, but this was not shown.  It just as likely is not consistently
delusional within the range of its beliefs.  Also not established is that
the alleged ‘delusion’ of fundamentalism is synonymous with overvalued
ideas.  Valuation is a function of opinion and psychological orientation. 

Contrary to some expressed thoughts, fundamentalism does exist as a
description for certain belief systems as well as its origin as applied
to religious or political orders.  These have been presented a few times
now and citations of where further description may be found.  Laziness
must not be a ‘reason’ to let rational discussion fly the coop or to put in
a fair share of resourced thought.  Lots of personal opinions aviate these
forums, and that is all right as long as they are not portrayed as truth,
otherwise they are just guano.  Also there was some variance in each
of our use of the word reasoning.  I was making a comment about what
reasoning is.  He was using it as a measure of judgment which assumed
a definition, but left it ambiguous.

I may have been guilty myself in the past, but over time as I gave it
more proper thought, I’ve come to think it borders on sophistry to use
cavalierly the notion of fundamentalism in application to certain peoples. 
It has almost become a kind of discreditable censure. There are authentic
ways to use the word, when the criteria qualifies it, and then there are
imaginary ways.  When it is appropriate, reasons why need to be given.

There are views about atheists with which I take issue, but will save
it for a later post.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 19, 2012 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

The chaplain shouldn’t even be called a Christian.  Most so-ca;;ed ‘Christina Fundamentalists’ aren’t Christian at all.  If you grill them, they’ll show themselves to have Old Testament values, not New Testament.

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By Leefeller, February 19, 2012 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Hell,.... I have not even started!

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By elisalouisa, February 19, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

That was the end of the conversation.

Hopefully. grin

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By ardee, February 19, 2012 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

By Shenonymous, February 18 at 6:06 am

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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By OzarkMichael, February 18, 2012 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment

theway said:

Fundamentalism… You cannot have a debate or a discussion with a fundamentalist, be it a politician, religious person, etc

Lets look at the three groups of people that you list as “fundamentalist”:  First your “politician”. What do you mean? Who are you referring to as a fundamentalist politician? I guess you mean someone like Rick Santorum. Maybe Michelle Bachmann. Not someone like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. So what you are referring to is a certain type of Christian who is also involved in politics.

Your second group of fundamentalists is “religious people”, and you gave an example with your Christian chaplain story.  So what you are refering to here is a certain type of Christian who is also a chaplain.

Your third group of people is the very broad group known as… “etc”. Now “etc”  is shorthand for for a Latin phrase “et cetera”. 

Et means “and”.
cetera means “the same”

So your three distinct groups got clarified to be the following:
1)a certain type of Christian who is also involved in politics
2)the same certain type of Christian, only this one might be a chaplain.
3)“and the same” type of Christian found in an endless number of other occupations.

theway, your highly skilled atheist method of ‘debate’ during which you blame fundamentalists folks of so many different groups(let me digress a moment, your ‘debate’ shows so much promise, especially when you added the “etc” as the third group. A little Latin adds gravitas to anything)... now where was I?

Ah, you blame many different groups of fundamentalists for not being able to engage you in a debate(another great job you did was pointing out that the chaplain only had one example in mind, the Bible and nothing else,(oh paucity of thought!) which contrasts with you, who today had three objects in mind, one of which was that broad philosophical concept of et cetera!)

Your post ended with the futility of debating with the likes of me by the clever riposte(probably the most original line i ever read): That was the end of the conversation. which signifies the sudden and horrific stop so characteristic of my kind. (It contrasted so nicely with the fecundity of your own thoughts that you graced us with today, especially when you finished with the open-ended, expansive and dashing et cetera

My only only chance to fend off your powerful ‘debate’ is to comprehend the brilliance of your powerful atheistic argument, and try to corrupt it for my own lackluster and limited repertoire. It is obvious if i dont come up with something pretty quick you are going to plaster me with three more groups of fundamentalists(maybe one group will be ‘a certain type of Christian who is also right handed’ and another would be ‘a certain type of Christian who also likes vegetable soup’) and these arguments of yours are so momentous that i swear to God its like being run over by a truck. And furthermore it is like being crushed like a grape. And most of all it is like et cetera

So what i am about to do is something inspired by you. Nevetheless, anyway, and finally et cetera, I will use the atheist method on you. OK, Ready? here we go:

There are only 3 or 4 people here. Yet I have gathered 5 different people, a clear majority, who have agreed to the following. We want to vote you off the island immediately. You truly are the weak link.

Those five people are:
2)Me in a lawnchair,
4)Myself laughing at you for so long my sides are beginning to hurt,
and now for the crushing finale, (I saved the Latin for last)...
5)et cetera... which is to say “I”.

Let this all be true to form, let his departure be just as the atheist expects. We bring down the curtain on theway with the eternal words, and also they are immortal words, and more than that, they are et cetera words:

That was the end of the conversation.

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By theway, February 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm Link to this comment

Fundamentalism… You cannot have a debate or a discussion with a fundamentalist, be it a politician, religious person, etc. Please let me give you one simple example: Not long ago I spoke to a very kindly chaplain. After he said that one can get to heaven only through Jesus I asked him: “What about a person who lives a very good life, being compassionate and generous, helping where help is needed?” “Or no” he said “never”. “How do you know”? I asked. “Because I know”. “Yes but what makes you believe so?” “Because it is in the Bible”. That was the end of the conversation.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm Link to this comment

She, If I read theway correctly with regard to who is deluded, I think you tow agree.

OM, She and theway, I think of the Muslims who push Sharia as fundamentalists, but certainly, not all Muslims are so orthodox.  And certainly the degree of fundamentalism of a self-proclaimed christian is related to their evangelism, and their self-righteousness.

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By OzarkMichael, February 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

It is sad that Shenonynmous have been so sick for so long. In spite of her illness She writes cogently.

Maybe I can help Night-Gaunt a little. First, the word ‘fundamentalist’ was not coined to describe religion and politics in Iran. Yes the word ‘fundamentalist’ got used for that purpose,but that was an American contrivance of a word that already had its own specific meaning.

Second I dont think the Iranian people of any stripe, religious or secular, call themselves or will answer to the name ‘fundamentalist’. You are imposing our coinage on them, and I suspect they wont buy it.

Third, the concept of fundamentalism was not part of Islam at all at the time of the Iranian Revolution, and barely can be applied today. One either submits or does not submit to Islam. Maybe it is changing, but that change is perhaps our influence on them, which many Muslims reject.

In conclusion, you will do better to avoid cultural judgement of people who think very differently than you do. You will do better to understand that your ‘fundamentalist’ word to describe someone else is at best your own contrivance so you can neatly catagorize, but at worst your word is a pejorative. Even at its best, the neat catagorization should now and then be shaken from its lazy complacency and robbed of its conceit that it actually encompass the Other. And at its worst, the pejorative needs to be rejected for the hateful little thing that it is.

Either way, wake up.

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By Shenonymous, February 18, 2012 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

Yes I am ill.  Making incremental stages toward health, not fast
enough for me, it’s been two weeks, and not quite there yet.  Lack
energy to do too much.  Kind of a wipeout.  Occasional computer
work is about all I can manage beyond resting.  It probably will last
a few more days.  It is surreal. Thanks for your sentiments.

The problem I keep running into with your posts is that you refer to
ideas that you use imprecisely.  First you say the word fundamentalist
was coined to signify the kind seen in Iran, which you do not actually
say what that is in any lucid form.  You are using Iran as the scope of the
word, but it is much more complicated than that.  Whatever, let’s work
on that one for the moment.

There are essentially three kinds of Islamism in Iran: traditional, modern
and a revivalism called neo-fundamentalists.

The neo-fundamentalists have created a confusion by fusing together
an eclectic religio/politico-organized government adopting an odd
assortment of political ideologies and philosophies that include a
populism that urges social and political changes and on the surface
supports the people against an identified elite; fascism or the classic
totalitarian political structure; anarchism, that believes in individual
freedom and denies any authority, particularly that of the state, that
hinders human development (which is a very ambiguous or undefined
idea); also a kind of Jacobinism that concentrates power in the national
government, at the expense of local or regional governments; and finally
a marxism that presumes the highest rank of economy, and that a
specific class would rule as long as it represents the economic forces of
the society.  Put together with their religious creeds, these doctrines
more of less define some of what is going on in Iran today.

Furthermore religious fundamentalism in Iran has several traits that
make it different from Islamic fundamentalism in other parts of the
world. You might read the WikiP entry Fundamentalism in Iran as
there are different views of fundamentalism in that country too. But
fundamentalism in Iran is not confined to religious fundamentalism. 
As a matter of fact, Iranian secular fundamentalists can be just as
dogmatic and follows an ideology as much as religious fundamentalists. 
Secularists deny that any religious law or social practice can be just or
equal.  So you have to be clear just what kind of fundamentalism you
are talking about.

It wasn’t clear reading your post, so I researched the etymology of the
term “fundamentalism.”  It was coined originally to describe a specific
package of theological beliefs that developed into a movement within
the Protestant community of the United States in the early part of the
20th century, and that had its roots in the Fundamentalist–Modernist
Controversy of that time. Again, since your focus is on Iran, I suggest
you read the WikiP Fundamentalism in Iran. It’s handy and remarkably
informational.  Especially the section “Viewpoints” which is most
revealing.  Then if you want more, link to the references, notes,
and external links. 

Since apparently I can’t make out what it is you want, you will have to
express yourself in even more simple terms.  Or, better yet, simply say
what you think yourself and see if I agree with it.

theway, your definition of fundamentalism is personal opinion.  Those
who hold a fundamentalist position do not think they are deluded, they
think the rest of the world is.  Reasoning does not evaluate the content
of the premises, reasoning only provides a scaffold for consistency.  So
what is the measure of sanity?  of Truth?  Whose?

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By theway, February 18, 2012 at 2:33 am Link to this comment

I am sorry to intrude but I would like to define fundamentalism. In fundamentalism we find delusions which are called overvalued ideas. Definition of a delusion : A false belief which cannot be reasoned away. Overvalued idea is the same but ascribed to a group, or hundreds/thousands of people who share the same belief. Reasoning does not help.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

I didn’t know that by asking a question on a point of clarification you would find them to be “baiting.” We had a difference on what Fundamentalism (of anything) meant. Especially in the realm of gov’t an plenary powers of one group over all others. In all that you gave me you still didn’t answer my question. Why do I ask? Because we two are in discussion an a need to nail down a certain point. Why I asked you what would you identify those secular or religious who are not only adamant that they are right but that all others must be subjected to their definitions of life etc. I say Fundamentalist because that carries not just how they live an perceive the world but to force all others to do so as well. What do you call such people if not fundamentalist in their own world? How is that ‘baiting’ to you? How should I have asked the question then? It isn’t a question of what I know but how we differ on a salient point. If a fundamentalist person or group doesn’t mean those who wish to dominate all others by force if necessary than how do you identify such groups or persons? Their belief system itself is less important then how they handle it with all others around them.

How can we discuss anything in this area if we disagree on what it means in the first place? Thank you for your time. I understand you are ill an don’t wish to aggrevate it.

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

When directing questions to me, Night-Gaunt, you can almost always
bet on getting a bit more than you bargained for.  It is the years of
historian training that would need just as many years of hypnotherapy
to winnow out of my psyche (said with much humor).

I have already noted you take a narrow and selected view of the
definition of the word.  The origin and etymology of the world can
be found if a google of the word fundamentalism is made. Link to
the site: A TinyURL was used because
the webaddress is 240 characters long! More staggering is that there
are, according to the site, 1,490,000 results.  I admit I have only
checked a few.  It takes a month to count to a million, one number
at a time. Maybe that is hyperbole, but that says it all.  A million 490
thousand is a lot of results. And we certainly can laugh at that!  But
to be unfunny…there are definitions and viewpoints galore and I
suggest, Night-Gaunt, that you browse and connect to a few of
them.  For my part, I’ll go with Britannica since they have an
investment in keeping current with definitions.

But if we were to take religion out of it (though your reference to Islam
doesn’t really lend itself to that), a definition would be generalized by
Collins English Dictionary as a strict adherence to the fundamental
principles of any set of beliefs as the third entry.  It will depend on
what the word strict is defined to mean.  First and second entries give
reference to Christianity then Islam in that order: See my February 15
at 3:44 pm post.

It strikes me that you have been in a baiting mood as you could frame
your questions to a general reader to answer, but you have directed
them to me.  And I should simply ignore you.  For surely you can easily
find answers clearly defined on the Internet if you are interested in
unfettered definitions, and do not really need ‘my’ idiosyncratic view. 
It seems a game, but you seem to want to play and we have worked on
TD long enough that I will accommodate to some degree, until it gets
boring.  So again to translate your post, 1st paragraph seems to define
a tyrant, or morbid megalomaniac monarchy.  Christian (Catholic)
Inquisitions were militant and terribly guilty of what you are describing,
and militant Islamic groups to apostates (unbelievers or heretics). The
aggressive Christian Protestants burned witches, and those who wore
white hoods, hung people. You will be able to find with a search what
Islamists do to religious dissenters.  But to be truthful, both Christianity
and Islam are for the most part, though, unhostile. The ones I’ve known,
and of course I’ve known infinitely more Christians than Muslims, have
been very peaceful people.  Surely you know all of this. So I wonder why
you ask, what exactly is your motive?  Do you even know? 

The 2nd paragraph is redundant to the first. See the synonyms at and take your pick, you will see
the all, or nearly all, there.  For more in depth of any particular cruel
and vile autocrat, again, do some simple google research.  Just write
in the google search line, cruel and vile autocrats, or cruel and vile
religious autocrats through history.

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

Two sites that deal with your questions: and
Islam outstripped Christianity in contributing to large-scale killings
in wars waged for religion or persecution of heretics. Each human
being has an idea or image of God in his mind. Consequently, there
can be as many Gods as there are human beings. Even according to
one outstanding Sufi, the paths by which its followers seek God are
in number as the souls of men. In view of this it is presumptuous to
claim that there is only one God or there are many Gods or there is
no God at all. And yet in the name of One God, and at that Merciful
and Compassionate, what cruelties have not been committed in the
history of Islam? Arabia was converted during the life-time of
Muhammad. Immediately after the death of Muhammad, to borrow
the rhetoric of Edward Gibbon, in the ten years of the administration
of (Caliph) Omar (634-644) the Saracens reduced to his obedience
thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches
or temples of the unbelievers, and edified fourteen hundred mosques
for the exercise of the religion of Muhammad.

Christianity did not escape this kind of iniquitous treatment of people.  Middle Ages also known as the
Dark Ages because there were restrictions placed on the freedom of
thought and any aberrations were punished as heresy. Any idea away
from the traditional was looked upon with suspicion. And suspicion as
all that was needed to charge heresy and put to an Inquisitional hearing. 
New conceptions or knowledge gathered on the basis of new experi-
ments was taboo if it came into conflict with the Church or contravened
the Christian scriptures.

One of the most fascinating sites is here which is a bit more
information on religious systems.  It’s the amazing history from earliest
human time up to the 20th century of East and West religion. See the
website for this nearly 300 page very readable downloadable textbook.

From the book are three types or systems of religious beliefs:
(1) the theology of the omnipotent as manifested by the simple,
majestic transcendentalism of Islam: a ruthlessly logical belief in
the one, undivided god who is utterly omnipotent, who created
and rules over all things, so that everything which happens is his
will, who is in no way affected by anything men may or may not do,
and who, when the moment comes that it pleases him to do so, will
dispose of this world and its inhabitants according to his own
predetermining of their fates;

(2) the anthropology of the ‘awakened’; in contrast with the first system
is the Buddhist doctrine that man’s destiny is to become ‘awakened’
(Buddha) to the nature of his cosmic situation; that he is to achieve this
by the suppression of evil tendencies and the encouragement of good
tendencies, both through moral conduct and meditational practices; in
this way man will eventually come to partake of a life that is no longer
individualistic but of a universal kind and;

(3) the Christology of Jesus, that is, the new man, exemplified in the
messiah doctrine which focuses in Jesus of Nazareth; here is the
template of existence seen in the life and death of Jesus which affirms
the pattern of a new humanity which has yet to emerge, and towards the
emergence of which there is a power at work who ‘fathers’ the new man.
Jesus is he-who-is-to-come(the Christ), and men are called upon to
place their lives within the realm of this developing new humanity in
confident expectation of the day that is to come.

I welcome any corrections or embellishments but know that the data
here is not mine per se, but comes from the ‘Net.  I have no emotional
attachments to any of it and would not mind if other referenced
information were provided.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Pardon me for my poor writing. What do you call someone who thinks they are right an any who do not are to be either converted or “punished” like slavery or be murdered? There are those out there with the preternatural certainty their beliefs give them. I used their word “sin” but it isn’t mine.

If you don’t call them Fundamentalists, which was why it was coined in the first place then what as an identifier of them? They are so strict that others can’t be allowed to live their own lives. We see that in Iran. But no religion that I now if that doesn’t have some who will oppress others who won’t follow their way of living. Saw it an any dictatorship whether secular or religious.  What do you call such people? That is my question.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

I agree we’re going astray and the fundamentalists of the group are staying the hell away from this discussion.

I do think though that devising a quiz would be delightful, and get us squarely back on point. May I suggest a format that goes nicely on the web?

Sombody said the world-wide-web needs a universal ‘sarcasm font’.  Indeed, I’m fairly sure that although Jesus according to legend ‘went along’ with crucifixion, that he didn’t condone it.  I could be wrong.  ;>)

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

sorry about those interloping question marks in my last post.  That
happens when copying and pasting from a post where hard returns
in order to fit around a personal image were put in, something I often
forget happens.  Sigh.

More reply to your What Is Progress, Feb. 17 9:44 am post.  True,
the fact that Jesus was crucified, if in fact he was, would not mean
that he condoned it.  Clearly I was making an ironic observation.  If
that observation were true, hypothetically, what would be, or could
be, the presumed-to-exist God’s connection or culpability in the
“capital punishment” of His Son?  I think it is an important question
but perhaps not relevant to this particular discussion about using
christian as an adjective.  I wonder if Jesuits ever get into question
like this? 

Would “I suppose you could argue crucifying Jesus was Gods plan,
therefore sanctioning capital punishment, but, believers say the intent
of allowing Jesus to be sacrificed has more to do with some symbolic
forgiveness of sin?”  I’ll make that a question.  No, I wouldn’t argue
thusly.  I’m glad you saw that was an interrogative.

It seems to me I read in my Christian education that the intent of
allowing Jesus to be sacrificed was a needed mechanism to make the
transition from being human to being part of the Divine Trinity.  And
that Jesus was made to suffer for all of humanity’s sins, from expulsion
from the Garden to whatever sins humans committed since then, that
were violations of the 10 Commandments.  Since the 10 Commandment
were the rules to keep or break.  How else could everyone make it to
Heaven?  Apparently being contrite, as a human, was not enough, nor
was the almost-God Jesus’ being contrite was enough either!  He needed
to die and ascend!  After that, all a human had to do was say to the God
that they were sorry and Heaven’s doors were not closed.  Isn’t that the
way it went?  Well I think this is taking us far afield from the original
intention of this discussion. Perhaps it is time to retire it?

The idea of a little quiz is interesting.  It could be posted on the Internet
including a self-rating chart with a progressive (uh…maybe that is not
the best word…uh, stepped-scale), say a range of 0-10, showing just
how christian one is.  Do you think we could use it to rate others?  Would
it be a fair thing to do?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

To the first paragraph, yes, I get it that you are speaking from a theological position other than you own. 

To the second, yes, it is this checklist in the modern mind as to what constitutes ‘christian qualities’ that counts.  I’d certainly like to see the adjective ‘christian’ not be associated with the very barbaric values of the Old Testament which the extreme right wing, the so-called ‘fundamentalists’ profess.  Yes, I suppose one might put together a little quiz that scores how good a Christian one is.  That might be interesting.  Hmmmm…  in German accent…..Very Interesting, and not stupid.

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

I expect, What is Progress, that you read better than maybe you
pretend to.  Please reread the first sentence of my post: “Since Jesus
is reported to have been crucified, and that is what all? Christians
believe, so be it, then he himself would have been a victim ?of capital
punishment, no?  If capital punishment was against the ?mind of God,
then why would God have allowed his reported Son* to? have suffered
it?”  Everything I’ve said is predicated on “reports of the Christians,”
meaning the New Testament, not what I believe.  It is plainly obvious
I am iterating what Christian beliefs are.  Taking it from that premise,
what follows, follows logically within the scope of Christian logic: Not
from my basket of beliefs.  As an atheist I do not include any deity within
my set of beliefs, and surely I don’t have to repeat and repeat and repeat
what those are!?  That being the case, that no deity holds any upper,
middle, or lower berth in my belief system, I tend to the belief that Jesus
may or may not have been a historical person, who was claimed to be an
extraordinary speaker, a rabbi with persuasive verbal abilities.  Even at
that I squint my eyes since there was great need to give the persecuted
and murdered Jews an icon on which to pin hope of a better life under
Roman tyranny.  A God is a priori if Jesus is premised. 

As I also suggested, it is irrelevant to this discussion whether or not
Jesus was a historical reality, and all it serves is to provide some
ambience for the qualities of what it is to be Christlike.  It is my
understanding that you want to have a list of qualities by which to
measure what could be considered christian as an adjective.  Is there
ever a case where it is acceptable to harm others, to betray friendships,
to be unkind, to be prideful or arrogant, to exhibit self-importance, to
be disgraceful, or faithless, or to be cruel, mean, indifferent, merciless,
and hateful?  Aren’t these the kinds of negative descriptions in contrast
to all the antonymical positive qualities (as already given in an earlier
post) you wish to use to calculate the degree of christianness in which
anyone claims to participate?  Can there even be a “degree” of being a

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 10:54 am Link to this comment

Hmmmmmm   good stuff, but Pliny describes ritual, not character traits (that I saw).  Sing-along before sunup, then eat.  Sounds good.

I find it very interesting two women were deaconesses and tortured by Pliny.

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

OK, because he was crucified, doesn’t mean he condoned it, and your next sentence implies that there is a God who would interfere.  I suppose you could argue crucifying Jesus was Gods plan, therefore sanctioning capital punishment, but, believers say the intent of allowing Jesus to be sacrificed has more to do with some symbolic forgiveness of sin.  The wheel is off here.  Jesus said pretty clearly, and there is general agreement among Christians that ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘vengeance is mine’ passages make it pretty clear Christians are to forgive and leave revenge killing to God. 

I’m not enough of a theologian to make these arguments, but this is what they taught me in Sunday School.  Punishing murder with murder is not a christian trait. 

Apologies for side-stepping, but I would say torture is not considered to be a christian trait either, but I am unable to cite a biblical basis.  I do recall something about ‘Love your enemies’, which I would say does not leave a lot of room for torturing them.

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

Since Jesus is reported to have been crucified, and that is what all
Christians believe, so be it, then he himself would have been a victim
of capital punishment, no?  If capital punishment was against the
mind of God, then why would God have allowed his reported Son* to
have suffered it?  Even if it was Romans who were the executioners,
we have to assume Romans were part of the human race, therefore
human, therefore under the auspice of God as all humans had such
a covenant.  What is going on here?

*Son is capitalized because it also has to be assumed that by the time
of the crucifixion, Jesus had been elevated to the status of the second
incarnation of God?  Are my premises and conclusions wrong?  If so,
how so?

A google search probably would yield a “summary” of Pliny the Younger,
but WIkiP has a decent bio on Pliny the Younger at and if you scroll down to
the Epistle Epistle concerning the Christian Religion you will certainly find
a summary of what you are looking for.  Or for more, link to
which has several further references,
1. Julian Bennett, “Trajan”: optimus princeps : a life and times, Routledge,
1997. pp 113-125.
2. Robert Louis Wilken, “The Christians as the Romans Saw Them,” (Yale
University Press, 1984, 2003), p. 8.
3. Text of letter to the Emperor Trajan -
4. Secular References to Jesus: Pliny, Tektonics, 2010. pp 1-2 -
( The TD censor worm
will not let this link forward so I had to put in the underscore between
jesus and exist.  Take it out if you are interested in navigating to it. 
Otherwise you will be linked to a very hysterical unrelated page.  laugh
laugh.  Or if you are at the WikiP page, you can link to it at the #4
reference directly.
5. Robert E. Van Voorst, “Jesus outside the New Testament,” Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. pp 23-29
6. Paul Barnett, “Title Finding the Historical Christ,” Volume 3, Wm. B.
Eerdmans Publishing, 2009. pp 59-62
7. Gary R. Habermas, “The historical Jesus: ancient evidence for the life
of Christ,” College Press, 1996. 197-200

Happy Hunting says the Fundamentalist Liberal, uh, er… aka
Fundamentalist Atheist - Aw, just take it as a joke!

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Thank you for the references, can you point me toward a summary of Pliny the Younger’s assessment?  I’m not sure the actual characteristics of the man, real or not, or of his followers are the end-all in the meaning of the adjective christian, but Pliny’s does interest me.

But I come back to my opinion, which is, that if I were to say Sally there is a good christian person, it would imply she was against capital punishment, which is inline with what the New Testament says Jesus taught.  Naturally, in my opinion, anyone who is in favor of capital punishment cannot claim to be a Christinan because they do not “live the word” so to speak.

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By Shenonymous, February 17, 2012 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

Since non-Christian in the Common Era (CE) corroborative literature
is surprisingly sparse, what does exist does not prove beyond any
shadow of a doubt the historical authenticity of Jesus of Nazareth,
but I offer what I was able to find through the strenuous work of
others. I earler mentioned Josephus, the Jewish historian, 1st century,
CE, whose two major works are “History of the Jewish War,” and he
mentioned Jesus once in “Antiquities of the Jews.”  There is debate
about the verity of passage actually being a Josephus writing as it
was questioned by Origen Adamantius, 2nd-3rd centuries, A.D., an
early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, regarded as one
of the Church Fathers. who claimed that Josephus, a Pharisaic Jew, did
not recognize Jesus as the Messiah and that the citation was altered in
a later version. 

But let us presume for the moment, Jesus was a real historical figure
since we are looking for Christian attributions as adjectival qualities,
it isn’t really important for our purpose whether he was or not.  The
Josephus Testimonium doesn’t say anything about Jesus’s character.

The next ancient to have mentioned Christ was Cornelius Tacitus who
lived between 55-120 CE, in his Annals (15:44), wrote that Christians
“derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tiberius,
had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate”

Suetonius, wrote in The Lives of the Caesars around 120 CE, “Since the
Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus [the
Latin form of the Greek Christus] Emperor Claudius in 49 CE expelled
them from Rome.”

Two others are thought, with specious confirmation, to have said
something about Jesus.  Thallus, is supposedly claimed that Jesus’s
death was accompanied by an earthquake and darkness. The original
text, however, is in fact lost, and neither the contents of the text or
its date can be verified. It is entirely possible that Thallus was simply
repeating what was told to him by Christians, or that the passage which
Africanus cites is a later interpretation. Outside of the New Testament,
no other references to earthquakes or unusual darkness occur in the
literature of the time.

And lastly, Pliny the Younger, 100 CE, specifically mentions and
describes the beliefs and practices of Christians in Asia Minor, and asks
Trajan’s advice about what action to take against them, if any, which only
shows there were Christians living in Asia Minor.

None of these entries talk about the character of Jesus. Looking in the NT
is all there is left in which to look.  The following are what I’ve found (but
isn’t it funny that no current admittedly Christian has come forward in
this forum to give this information and that an atheist is taking the pains
to provide it?  What was it said in another forum that often atheists know
more about Christianity than Christians?).

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5) 
This means when a choice is made to yield one’s life and will to God, that
is the first step on the path towards becoming Christlike.

Humility is one of the primary characteristics that is to reveal a Christlike
nature (Matthew 20:27).

Love for others, t would be a Christian quality (John 15:12).  And loving
those who have hurt another, forgiveness is required (Colossians 2:13).

Spread the gospel (Matthew 4:19) that is where qualities of Christ will be
found.  Perhaps it would be more relevant to call him The Gospel Jesus

Grace, gentleness, faithfulness, compassion, fairness,….. and many more
are attributed to Jesus of Nazareth.

A website that lists 60 character traits of Christ with Biblical references  provides much with which those who
profess to be Christian would have to live up to, no?

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 17, 2012 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

theway, In a Shenonymous post she writes, “
I think, in your use of the word christian as an adjective, you are really asking the question what does it mean to be Christlike”. 

Yes, this is what I am interested in.  What specific traits does ‘christian’ imply?  Yes, it may be that in some cultures one might say, “Sally is a good Buddhist’, and their meaning was as an adjective, and not necessarily implying Nancy is a formal worshiper or formally practices the religion (faith?), but rather, that she exhibits the qualities popularly associated with ‘a good Buddhist’.

And I would like to get specific with ‘christian’, that is, would someone who is described as christian t end to be forgiving, or would they seek revenge?  And what other characteristics make up this agglomeration which would be described as ‘christian’. 

I think it’s important because there are so, so many right wing evangelicals who are being fairly god-damn brutal and unchristian whilst calling themselves Christians.  I’m not a ‘formally religious’ person, but I have great respect for people who live in a christian manner, whether they be Christians or not, so I don’t like to see their values perverted by these self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ who tend toward a more Old Testament (pre-Christian) value system.  It really has practical applications, remember ‘God told me to bomb Iraq’? C’mon.

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By theway, February 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

To What Is Progress

Here is one voice:
What about Christian ethics? (such as also Buddhist ethics, etc.)
As hopefully noted I am all for clarity and simplicity. Long sermons do not solve problems; we are just basking in our self-importance…

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

Apologies, I’ve somehow not received notices of updates to this thread.  I will start by digesting the Shenonymous post of February 15 at 1:25 and going from there.

I would like to say that the current ‘generally accepted’ characteristics of Jesus form a legitimate basis for the meaning of the adjective ‘christian’.  Those characteristics would be at the very least to be forgiving of those who have wronged you, and to be charitable to those in need.  I’m sure others can populate this list of what are generally accepted as the qualities of Jesus.

Be forewarned, when we have that list, I am going to claim there is no way anyone believing in capital punishment can call themselves ‘christian’ (the adjective), and unless you behave in a christian fashion, you have absolutely no right to declare yourself a Christian. 

So, any help out there in populating that list?  Anyone?

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By Shenonymous, February 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for the delay in my answer, Night-Gaunt, but I am struggling
to get over being ill with a horrible coughing flu and loss of energy. 
I’ve read your post several times and swear it loses sense each time. 
So I’ve reframed it and if it is not what you meant you can say so.  But
I think you are asking “How I would characterize those who think they
are right [about something unspecified] and letting those who deviate
from being right [according to your view] and not correcting them,
would that allow them to commit a sin?  Sin?  I see sin as a religious
moral judgment, and various cultures have distinctively different
religious laws of sin, so it would depend on which society to which you
are referring.  I don’t usually think of people as committing sins.  While
others may use the word sin for any great regrettable action, crime is the
word I would use instead and justice is perhaps what you mean?  Where
each person has a responsibility to abide by certain rules of the society
in which they choose to live. It is my belief, each person is responsible
for their own conduct and condoning crime can be tantamount to being
as culpable for breaking the law as the actor actually breaking it.  This is
not necessarily true but it is dependent on the circumstances and degree
of complicity.  A fine book you might acquire is “Justice,” by Michael J.
Sandel.  This author’s style is probably one of the most plainly articulate
I’ve run across.  Since I have questions myself on “What is the Right
Thing to Do,” which is the subtitle of his book, I have it as a ready
reference and read selections periodically. It is worth rereading time and
again, actually.  Also a brief article you could download from the Internet
gives some sunlight on the idea of ethics and complicity in wrongdoing,
or condon-ing wrongdoing that uses Aquinas’s nine ways a person can
be complicit in wrongdoing.  The article is a pdf entitled, “Professional
Ethics and Complicity in Wrongdoing,” by Gregory Mellema, Prof. of
Philosophy at Calvin College.  If you have any further questions, don’t
hesitate to ask.  By the way, I do not see fundamentalism has anything to
do with judging others by one’s own measure of what is right or not.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm Link to this comment

Then what would you characterize those whose point-of-view is that they aren’t only right but that letting others to digress from their ‘rightness’ without ‘correcting’ it would make them in sin as well? What would you call them if not Fundamentalist? Just curious. I appreciate your time.

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By Shenonymous, February 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, yes Jesus is Joshu or Jeshua or Yeshua, several spellings
in Hebrew, but the name has debatable meanings. Much depends on
who is taken to have translated it. Briefly, Christians commonly argue
that Jesus’ (P) name is “Yeshua”, which they claim means “salvation” in
Hebrew, except in Hebrew, other scholars say Yeshua does not exist as
a word other than as this name from the the entry “Yeshua” in
Gesenius’s Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures.
Still other translators think differently:  Some think it comes from the
name of a high priest in earlier Hebrew history (Ezra 3:2), or from the
name of an earlier poet. Also as translated as verbal adjective meaning
“that which is delivered, safe (Isaiah 26:1), 18. Or as deliverance, help,
and assistance vouchsafed by God, in Ex. 14:13, welfare, in Job 30:15, or
victory in 1 Sa. 14:45 and 2 Ch 20:17; or Hab. 3:8.

But, in historical investigation, the Hebrew name for Jesus is Yeshua, a
name found 27 times in the Hebrew Bible, so we well know what his
name was. (The name is accented on the second syllable: ye-SHU-a).
Yeshua is short for Yehoshua (= Joshua), which means “Yahweh is
salvation.” The first trace of the name is found in connection with Joshua,
the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. Originally his name was Hoshea (Num.
13:8). The name Hoshea is derived from the hiphil stem of the Hebrew
verb “yasha” [yod, shin, ayin], which means “he saves, delivers.” So the
name Hoshea means “salvation” or “he saves, delivers.” Moses changed
his son’s name to Hebrew “Yehoshua” [that is, in English: Joshua]:

Yeshua is also the short form of a name meaning “Yahweh is salvation,”
it is most appropriate that this is the name of the Savior of the world,
as Matt. 1:21 asserts. In that text the angel of the Lord explained its
meaning. Therefore, according to JudeoChristian history, God himself
explained through his angel that Jesus’ name means “Savior,” just as the
NT emphatically indicates in many places: Luke 2:11, John 4:42, Acts
5:31, Acts 13:23, Eph. 5:23, Phil. 3:20, and ten others I can provide if
you require.

An esoteric rendering is that the name is a contraction of two words. To
the Greeks, Zeus was the supreme god, and the literal translation of Je
Zeus or Jesus is “Son of the supreme god.”

I think if ITW were around he could put a seal of approval on what has
been said.

So take your pick, or do your own research, nevertheless, the debate
rages on, as it would given the gravity of the question.

As far as my calling myself a Fundamentalist Atheist, it was said in a jest
based on earlier discussion.  And I made a faux pas but not mortal error. 
I had promised to call myself a Fundamentalist Liberal!  You have taken a
narrow personal view of what fundamentalism means, and I would still
be inclined to use it, mistakenly as I did (serendipity!).  The
fundamentalist principles I hold as an atheist is that there has been no
reliable evidence provided a god exists, therefore there is no justification
to believe one does.  And (like you) all may believe what they choose, 
don’t step on mine. I’ve also said, similar to yours, that others are free to
believe as they choose, see earlier posts. I’ve no wish nor have any
druthers to “stamp” out any point of view unlike mine, again, I do think
I’ve made that quite clear on these forums.  I may hold criticizing
opinions but I’ve never suggested other points of view including
religions, be obliterated.  If you think so, please cite where I have.

From Collins English Dictionary, are definitions of fundamentalism:
1.  Christianity (esp among certain Protestant sects) the belief that
      every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true
2.  Islam a movement favoring strict observance of the teachings of the
      Koran and Islamic law
3.  strict adherence to the fundamental principles of any set of beliefs

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By Night-Gaunt, February 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm Link to this comment

So you claim yourself a “Fundamentalist Atheist” Shenonymous? So if you had your druthers if not the power you would stamp out all other points of view including religions? If not then you aren’t Fundamentalist in the way it is used. I’m an Atheist but unless someone is violating the rights of others they can believe what they want. But when they cross the line from them to me then we have a problem here.

Isn’t Jesus the Greek version of his name an that it is Joshua in Hebrew?

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By Shenonymous, February 15, 2012 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Even though I am not A Believer, and am a Fundamentalist Atheist,
I do not claim to have all the answers to the big questions in life. 
That means I tend to be the skeptic until convinced otherwise.  I
welcome discussion about the religious since so many of my fellow
humans are believers.  But as I’ve iterated often, I require evidence
for all claims.  For what other reason should one give up one’s mind?

I don’t see your posts as mere rants or a sermons, but as an effort to
bring honesty to the discussion.

The terms, What is Progress, and definitions are rarely dealt with on
TD forums.  Mostly defensive flaming rancor shows up, but what is
justification for essential beliefs does not.  It is one thing to feign
oppression and another to show what it is that is believed and what
kind of rational argument is there to another who just does not agree?
It descends into a matter of war when coercion to hold something not
believed is made.  Coercion is sometimes camouflaged and is really
retaliation tactic for some fictionalized act of persecution.

Although commonly known associated with the Christian religion,
WordNet gives the adjectival usage of christian as following: the
teachings or manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus Christ.  But in
order to know just what that means we have to say what “to manifest the
qualities or spirit of Jesus accepted as the Christ” means first, the Christ
for which the historic and etymological descriptions were given earlier. 
We have to know what those qualities are thought to be since the only
record of the historical man is given in the New Testament.  The text that
supposes a claim cannot be used as the reference for such claim.  One
questionable reference can be found in Josephus.  Extant outside sources
for historic existence is necessary. 

As already alluded to in a prior post, the name Christ is the Greek
translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” which means “Anointed.”
Further, the name Jesus means in Hebrew “God saves”.  So there is a
built-in self-reference in the name given Jesus the idea of God saves. 
This sets up a kind of specious logic that the entire character has been
fictionalized intentionally.  Much mystery shrouds the religion which is
inherited from the Catholics.  The infallibility of the pope being one such
perpetrated mystery.  That tendency makes it difficult to intuit
soundness to the religion intellectually.  Exegeses of the religion are
often clever arguments pulling from all kinds of preconceptions that
make it seem as though proofs are offered.  When examined there is no
substance to rest on.  Since people believe what they have come to terms
with, it is necessary to show why certain beliefs rely on shaky ground. 

I think, in your use of the word christian as an adjective, you are really
asking the question what does it mean to be Christlike and if that can
actually be determined sans any sentimentality, then ought that not to be
the right measure of all that pretends to be Christian?  An crucial
question I think.  We have yet to see on most TD forums any of these
“divine” characteristics made explicit.  I have a vague memory that
elisalouisa has on occasion made reference to such “christian” features. 
And I believe Maani has too.  But I can’t give any citations of this.  If they
read this forum, perhaps they could help us out?  Or if I’ve left out
anyone, it was not on purpose.

I will do some research as my health permits, energy level is at a low ebb
due to this confounded rhinoviral infection that has decided to become
wickedly bronchial!

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 15, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

OK, you might or might not give a damn, but I am going to state that ‘christian’ is a homonym, a noun and an adjective.

And I will offer my opinion that the fundamentalists, whether ‘born again’, Sharia Muslim, Orthodox Jew or Russian Orthodox, or Conservative Catholic, are un-christian in the adjective use of the word, and I suppose I’ll argue that if you don’t measure up to the christian values as taught in the New Testament, you can call yourself a ‘Christian’ (the noun) all you want…..  talking the talk is not walking the walk. 

Speaking of ‘talking the talk’, if you are a real believer, the so called ‘Fundamentalist Christians’ are likely going to suffer A God-awful judgement from trying to steal reverence and respect directly from the use of the word ‘Christ’, and ‘Jesus’, which is the highest form of violating commandment number 3 (of the 10).  Again, ‘real’ Christians should be pissed at the un-christian horrors these ‘fundamentalists’ commit in the name of Christianity. 

For any Christian reader, here’s a good write up of what commandment 3 means:

Well, She, I’m sure I’m going too religions for your taste, but in the real world, people need to decide what side they’re on.  Are they on the side of the phoney Christians who promote capital punishment and bombing abortion providers, or promote some environment trashing perversion of ‘dominion over the earth’),  or do they vote for those who support usury?  Or, will people go to the side of real Christians who minister to the poor, do their utmost to forgive people, take stewardship over the earth,  etc.

Perhaps in some metaphorical way, a judgment day will come,  and everybody will know what side everyone else was on.  If one believes in God, surely God is going to make those who have ravaged the land and people pay a hell of a price.  I urge decent people everywhere to reject the intolerant and very un-christian ‘fundamentalists’ of every variety.  Enslavement has always been their objective. 

rant/sermon over.

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By Shenonymous, February 13, 2012 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Oakie Doakie.

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 13, 2012 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Awwww…...  you’re rushing to judgement.
Give it a couple of days and mull it over?

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By Shenonymous, February 13, 2012 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

You can, What is Progress, use the word as you choose.  If you want
to vitiate the word it is entirely up to you.  I’ve given the history of its
etymology and usage.  Words are often appropriated for personal
reasons, I’ve even made up words. About the words Christ or Christian,
I cannot be more clear in what I think.  For my part, the less it is used
the better as the word Christ as a noun or adjectivally has no residence
in my set of beliefs nor does the personage of Jesus.  It does not appear
to be a word used by large numbers of people.  It isn’t worth any further
debate for me.

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By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 13, 2012 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

I’m not sure ‘Christian’ as an adjective is bastardized, or idiosyncratic.  Isn’t ‘christian’ a philosophy?  A way of being?  A belief in the ideals (as opposed to the man)? 

And, if a word is used idiosyncratly by large numbers of people, does it not become at least become an idiom?  ;>)  Actually, isn’t that how ‘fundamentalist evangelicals’ stole the word ‘christian’, by working up their born-again spiel.  But I digress…...

I ask, was it ever, even in the early years of Christianity, a cult of personality, i.e. believing in Jesus as a resurrected Son of God, or was it a dedication to a ‘we are our brothers keeper’ philosophy? 

In contrast to yourself, I will argue, without any substantiating facts whatsoever, that there is a tradition of using both modes of the word more-or-less equally in popular and theocratic speaking.  I claim the word ‘Christian’ is a homonym.  We might find the usage toward one or the other meaning has shifted over time.  We might fine that particular current groups use it differently.

So, I don’t think it’s a matter of belief.  I have heard the word ‘christian’ used many times to describe a persons personality and character without regard to their theology. 

Finally I ask that you re-consider the ‘adjective’,  because it may have more legitimacy than you initially considered, and as it certainly makes it more difficult for radical evangelicals to commit non-christian acts in Jesus name.

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By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

Of course you are welcome to believe as you wish.  If we are going
to use words idiosyncratically that is one thing and they would would
be cryptic, but if they are to have common meaning, I would not agree
that the word Christian is meant to be used as an adjectival qualifier,
but rather names a member of a religion.  Yes, it can legitimately be
used adjectively as in Christian Soldiers but there is inherent in that
kind of usage the specific linguistic association with human members
who practice the religion, such as when calling a person an Italian or
Croat or Romanian or a Hindu or Muslim.  These are nouns, proper. 
Used adjectively it is specific to those who are members of the root,
as a member in the religion Christianity and so forth.  I am not disposed
to bastardize the word for an idiosyncratic use.  It is just not my style.  I
find it disrespectful.  While I am atheist, I respect other’s beliefs and do
not either proselytize nor missionarize others.  People have to come to
their own understanding of their existence.  However, I do reserve the
position to resist any forceful act to coerce me to believe as others do,
even if that resistance takes a more than peaceful form.  And I would
help others upon request who are also oppressed to unsolicited beliefs.

Originally the word Christ was a title (the Messiah) not a name.  Ignoring
other spellings as irrelevant for this discussion, it appears in English and
most other European languages due to the Greek word Christos (and
transcribed into Latin as Christus since the Bible was translated from
Greek into Latin, and from Hebrew into Greek).  It was used in the New
Testament as a combined description for Jesus and Christ (or Messiah) to
become a name, one part of the binomial name “Jesus Christ.”  But about
a hundred years before Jesus, the word Christ was used to translate the
Hebrew word for messiah, mashiach, meaning “anointed” into the Greek
for covered in oil, or as annointed, and the Greek was Khristos.  From
centuries of usage, it has become to be associated with Jesus of
Nazareth as the promised Jewish messiah.

It is not known what Jesus Christ exactly was like since, while he may
have been a historical figure his personage has been fictionalized by
those intending to create a belief system that would neutralize the then
exiting Jewish religious beliefs.  Much of the momentum for the origins
of the religion is founded in biblical issues originating in the Jewish
religion, which included an enduring belief in the coming of a Messiah
and inflexibilities that had developed in the Jewish priesthood.  Whether
or not Christianity was created by God, as Christians believe, the early
stages of the religion focused on cleansing the Jewish religion of stiff
rituals and arrogant leaders. It had little at first to do with Roman
culture. Christianity arose in a remote province and appealed in
particular to the poorer classes feeling a need for salvation. It is not
easy, as a result, to fit Christianity neatly into the patterns of Roman
history: It was deliberately separate, and only gradually had wider
impact. However, the persecutions the Jews suffered at the hands of
the Romans did provide a framework for the religion to intensify.  Only
referenced in the Bible’s New Testament it is claimed Jesus urged a moral
code based on love, charity, and humility, and he asked the faithful to
follow his lessons, abandoning worldly concern.  There are just as many
scholars who do not believe Jesus was a historical person as those who
do. The works of three major non-Christian writers of the first centuries,
Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger give general references to early
Christians but do not corroborate a historical Jesus. Authentication
still rages on. 

Whatever is the case I would not use the word Christian to describe
anyone other than it’s intended application.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm Link to this comment

A question for Shenonymous…..  If one is forgiving,  charitable, kind, etc, all that nice stuff they say Jesus taught, are they a Christian, even if they don’t believe in God?  Even if they don’t believe in Jesus? 

I say yes, Christian is an adjective.  It describes a personality and charachter of someone who is like Jesus (mythical or not), and can be applied to atheists, if they are nice atheists, as they are 99% of the time.

Test that.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm Link to this comment

It is only among those Atheist who not only profess a disgust for any religion but if it was in their power destroy it. That is the only place where someone who is Atheist could be a fundamentalist in that one narrow range. Other than that I agree with your Shenonymous an there are no Atheists in any position to even try it unlike the Christian Fundamentalists who are well funded an have many patrons an agents who do want such a place. Call it a Christian version of Saudi Arabia they wish to have here.

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By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm Link to this comment

I can see that liberals could morally and decently be considered
fundamentalists!  I happily would consider myself among those in
that category if it meant to care about the essential and fundamental
social and protective programs a country is bound to and should
provide for its people, and to protect them, all of them, not just the
privileged few, from being crushed by those intent on ravaging them
through pernicious legislation.  Yes, from now on I will call myself a
fundamentalist liberal!

I am always appreciative of disagreement Night-Gaunt if you can
show it is a fact that there are fundamentalist atheists and that they
“force others to stop worshiping as they will.”  You can surely also
provide, I’m sure, when they have as well as who they are.  And that it
is an institutionalized practice.  And of course if it is, it would be “only
humans [that] can act that way,” as I don’t see any other of the simians
who could, or any other organism for that matter.  However, I admit I
have not surveyed all in the animal kingdom.  I would consider any who
call themselves an atheist who proselytizes atheism that they do not
fully grasp what it means to be atheist.  But then I’ve already made
comment about the distinction between atheists and despots earlier
and see no need to go over that ground again.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

No one was telling the Catholic church not to preach their way Ozark Michael. Just that they can’t employ people an deny them their personal legal rights. So a compromise was made. The people will get their needs met while working for the Catholic church’s many businesses (not churches directly) by their health insurance. Seems fair to me. But not to you. Once you misrepresent it then attack it. But I digress.

The former leadership of the Komen Foundation were against Planned Parenthood even though abortions take up only 3% of what PP does. And from the blow back both within an without of that organization had a very negative impact. While money poured into PP to help it help women in all manner of medical areas.Others declaimed the Komen Foundation over their arbitrary an biased based move of sudden exclusion. Ill conceived to say the least. But again you simplify it then denigrate your distortion. Maybe you need to work more toward facts an less to ideology.

A church can employ people an cover their full medical coverage an not go against their point-of-view unless their fundamentalism goes so far as to be against even outside coverage (insurance) of their employees as the Catholic Church bishops have. The attack dogs of the Pope.

I must disagree with you here Shenonymous in that a fundamentalist Atheist would force others to stop worshiping as they will. Since only humans can act that way.

Fundamentalism kills

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By Leefeller, February 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm Link to this comment

Geebibiz on a cracker, I have been receiving tons of notices on this Fundmenatly insane article and just figured or assumed on unsound OMypoo grounds it was just more OMypoo taking to hiself as his ears continue to revolve around the great empty space between them!  Well, is appears I is wrong, which is to say OMypoos is here, but not alone. So tis with tribilations I intend to read some of the posts soon as I open this bottle of Tequila!

I supposes things but very occasionally they are wrong supposes?

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By OzarkMichael, February 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm Link to this comment

One of the items that all fundamentalists of any stripe have in common is not letting others go as they will. I am a live an let live person. Until you step on my toes or others, an demand I follow a single way of someone else that hurts or restricts decent people. Do you agree with that? If so or not please explain as dryly as you can.


Night-Gaunt and the always-moderate John Best(oops I mean the always-fiercely-Leftist “What is Progress”) insist that there is the modern usage of the word ‘fundamentalist’. Let me tell you where that modern usage came from. The modern Left enjoys expressing such disdain for the basics of Christian faith that they wish to use it as a pejorative. To give cover to this prejudice, they say that ‘fundamentalism’ merely means “anyone who wont let others go their own way”.

Night-Gaunt, you ask point blank if i agree with your definition of ‘fundamentalism’. I answer point blank and dryly: No, I dont agree with it. More importantly though, when push comes to shove you wont agree with that definition either. Lets find out. Lets open the newspapers for the past week and see if we can find some examples of what you define as “fundamentalism”.

When the Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer decided to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood, certain people were not willing to let Komen go as they will. Even though Planned Parenthood has almost nothing to do with diagnosing breast cancer, and absolutely nothing to do with treating or finding a cure for breast cancer, the Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer will be giving Planned Parenthood 600 million every year from now on, in perpetuity.

Night-Gaunt, by your definition all the Senators and internet followers who supported Planned Parenthood are exhibiting ‘fundamentalism’, since they didnt allow Komen to go as they will. Planned Parenthood itself is a ‘fundamentalist’ organization since they wouldnt let Komen go as they will.

What about Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius? She would not let the Catholic Church go its own way, she would not let them follow their own conscience on the matter of birth control pills and abortion pills. She is by your definition a ‘fundamentalist’.

Surely you realize that neither Kathleen Sebelius nor her supporters consider themselves to be ‘fundamentalists’. Neither does Planned Parenthood consider itself ‘fundamentalist’, neither do all the Senators and internet folks who rallied to attack Komen for going its own way. Neither do all the Truthdig commenters who scorned Komen and cheered when it was forced to reverse course.

Thats a lot of people, and we found them easily and quickly, after looking at the newspapers this past week. We found prominant Senators and many common folk who qualify by your definition to be called ‘fundamentalist’. Thats millions of people who didnt want others to ‘go their own way’.

Ask those millions of people, “Are you a ‘fundamentalist’?”

Not a single one will say “Why yes i am!” Which means they dont agree with your definition of the word ‘fundamentalism’.

Go on and ask each Truthdigger here if they are a ‘fundamentalist’. The answer will be “no” every time. Ask yourself if you are a ‘Fundamentalist’. The answer will be “no”. That means you dont believe in your own definition either.

Now ask an old Amish man if he is a ‘fundamentalist’ and he will answer “yes”. Ask me if i am a ‘fundamentalist’ and i must also answer “yes”. Which means we dont believe in your definition either.

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By Shenonymous, February 12, 2012 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

No atheist who authentically is an atheist participates in the idea of
fundamentalism as it is currently understood.  It is absurd to attribute
anything more to atheism except the lack of belief in a supernatural
being who interacts with humans because they believe there is no
justification to believe there is.  Everything else follows from this
principle.  Nothing more, nothing less.  It is basic.  Those who push
the idea further are doing so for reasons other than their atheism. 
They too squander the meaning of the word and fall into egotism as
much as do the religionists who insult their religion.

Also absurd is the idea that atheism kills. This is a pathetically and
common argument put forth by those who have no argument.  Nor
does religion kill.  Fundamental or Excessive.  What kills is human lack
of value in other humans and an overvalue in self and other material
things.  This has nothing to do with religion or non-religion although
those with a delusion of self-grandeur, where power becomes a virtual
religion have used, or rather abused, and prostituted religion as
justification for killing.  It is a deliberate misunderstanding of religion
and atheism.  Moreover, while it has been heard armies say “in the name
of God, attack,” one has never heard it said “there is no god therefore we
kill in the name of the non-god!”  It is nonsense.  And it is really time
for more to rid themselves of such ignorance.  That is the only way the
human world can deliver themselves from savagery.

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By damedog, February 12, 2012 at 7:13 am Link to this comment

“The line of argument against atheists, or for that matter against
religionists goes nowhere.  Nasty and loathsome people come to
power because that is what they desire and kill countless people on
their way.  Some in history have murdered millions in the name of their
god(s), though only by human proclamation are gods made responsible,
and some profess atheism who have had millions slaughtered and
atheism too cannot have been a responsible factor. The common
motive is neither religion nor atheism nor anti-theism.  The only motive
is tyranny.”

I completely agree Shenonymous.

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By OzarkMichael, February 12, 2012 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

The number of atheists who would consider themselves to be ‘fundamentalists’ is practically zero. Any atheist accused of being a “fundamentalist”(like Sam Harris) is promptly exhonerated of the accusation by himself and his fellows. If you cannot make the acusation stick to a single one, then you should admit that there isnt such a thing, and that the term “fundamentalist” used to define the locus of evil in the world is as loaded and prejudicial as it can be.

“Fundamentalism” whether it is defined as a locus of truth or as a locus of evil, applies to religious people and no one else. In our country it applies only to a subset of American Christians. This doesnt seem to bother anyone here, that the supposedly balanced term is so loaded, because they continue to point out the theoretical possibililty of fundamentalist atheists.

Simultaneously on this thread, some repeatedly state that “Fundamentalism” is not Christianity, but the negation of Christianity. Others point out that much suffering in history is attributable the action of lapsed Christians. That is a very bold accusation.

You should consider where your statements will lead us if taken seriously. I take you seriously, even if you dont, and i will hold you to what you have said, including the unintended implications.

If you are right about these two things: 1) if it is acceptable to define the locus of evil with a term(in this case “Fundamentalism”) that is immediately prejudicial in that it applies only to one side; and 2) If “Fundamentalism” is by definition an inversion of religion, a negation of religion(which has been insisted repeatedly by several here)...

...then there is a much more precise word that takes your statements into account.

Now to make a lasting peace and agreement between us, all we need is to find a more precise word to replace “Fundamentalism” as the locus of evil. If the immediate and practical application of “Fundamentalism” was one sided and that didnt bother you in the least, then we can use a different, better word to describe the locus of evil, and any ‘accidental’ one-sidedness shouldnt trouble you at all.

The inversion of religion is not best described as “Fundamentalism”. The negation of faith is not best described as “Fundamentalism” either. So I propose that we use a more exact term, a better and more precise word.

The locus of evil in the world can best be described with one word… “atheism”. Christians who live as if there is no God are precisely that: “atheists”. When we wish to point out that many Christians live as a negation of Christianity, we must call them “atheists”.

Atheism kills.

The fact that there is a large group of people who self-identify as ‘atheists’ is nothing for us to worry about. Because we take solace in the fact that Christians can be atheists too. That means we are being very fair. “Atheism” is bad no matter who does it, including Christians, so we are being balanced about it, we are treating everyone alike.

Anders Breivik is a non-believing Christian… an atheistic Christian… that describes him precisely…so we see how perfect the word is… “Atheism” kills. It applies to small-time evil-doers and the great evil-doers such as to Joseph Dzhugashvili, Adolph Hitler etc.

We can load all the blood guilt on “atheism” and we know we are being very open minded and fair about it because it applies to Christians too. If an atheist objects that he is innocent, we will give him a chance to clear himself of the accusation, all he has to do is answer a few questions and he can separate himself from the blood guilt. He may have to undergo these questionings over and over again, like a series of checkpoints, but since “atheism kills” it is going to do him a world of good.

Your own statements and definitions brought us to this precise conclusion: Atheism Kills.

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By theway, February 12, 2012 at 2:06 am Link to this comment

Thank you What is Progress. It is good to know that someone sees things as they are.
I would be interested in Mr Obama’s definition of what being a Christian means.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 12, 2012 at 1:48 am Link to this comment

One cannot be a tyrant an a humanist. One cannot be a despot an have empathy. One cannot be a bully with compassion for those they seek to abuse. Such aspects of humanism are incompatible with such ferocious authoritarianism. Whether religious or secular one can’t be a mass murderer an have love for his or her fellows. So looking upon past tyrants an modern ones we see a common factor in that case. Those are factors one must use to evaluate any leader. Our leaders commit heinous acts all the time but we rarely see the bloody outcome of their directives. We see it in other countries as well. Such a separation, such a dislocation between authority for the deed an those who carry it out across the world should be made to account for their acts.

The present an increasing Drone Wars are a case-in-point. We have some idea of the death tolls being wrought with a problematical majority of them being if not all of them innocent until proven guilty. An none of the targets or the “collaterals” killed have had their day in court. All such long range murders in other countries have been carried out extra judicially with full sanction from our president on downward. Will we be able to stop this mechanized LRKs from happening any more or not?

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By Shenonymous, February 11, 2012 at 11:57 pm Link to this comment

You are quite right damedog.  The point about Hitler was that he
was not as free from religion as is generally claimed by religionists. 

What good would adding up the numbers of the millions of people
who breathed Earth’s air who were murdered in the name of religion
or murdered by those who did not believe?  In total the three mass
murderers mentioned who may have been unbelievers are responsible
for about 75 million, while those lives lost in the name of one religion
or another can be added up with a staggering figure that is in excess
of 800 million.  All of these can be indexed but why take up the space? 

The line of argument against atheists, or for that matter against
religionists goes nowhere.  Nasty and loathsome people come to
power because that is what they desire and kill countless people on
their way.  Some in history have murdered millions in the name of their
god(s), though only by human proclamation are gods made responsible,
and some profess atheism who have had millions slaughtered and
atheism too cannot have been a responsible factor. The common
motive is neither religion nor atheism nor anti-theism.  The only motive
is tyranny.  The role religion plays in large-scale violence is to supply
ordinary, obedient therefore compliantly enraptured followers to carry
out commands of an authority without question. To impress the power
of a god is to instill irrational fear. It is a political tactic.  Throughout
world history, particularly in the West, it is well recorded that for those
people with hunger for power organized religions have been the
dependable source of political power with prepackaged followers.

The proposition that religions or atheists produce wars because of
religious or non-religious beliefs leads to a quagmire of conflicting
historical evaluation.  For instance, it can be asked what of the
proposition that Stalin was atheist?  What of the theist bloody Borgia
Popes of the Renaissance?

Besides it is essentially useless for atheists or anti-theists to argue with
religionists. The nature of religious thinking all but guarantees a resolute
and committed denial of facts and reasoning that conflict with illusions
of a divine origin. 

The cause of any warring encompasses the principles on which the
conflict is begun.  Causes both just and unjust are the bases for war. 
Just causes would include the protection of innocent life, defending
human rights, and protecting the ability of future generations to survive.
Unjust causes involve personal vendettas, conquest, domination, or
genocide.  But it is a matter of perspective.  Isn’t it?  All massacres are
regarded and believed to be just by those who are consumed with a need
for power.  The leaders of the Nazis, Soviets, and the Khmer Rouge all
believed they were just in their policies of mass murder, as were the
Inquisition Tribunals and Islamic Jihads that also believe their ferocious
bloodshed against heretics was justified.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 11, 2012 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment

To theway,

Please repeat what you just said (below) a hundred different ways, and a thousand different times.  Perhaps it’ll finally sink in to the decent Christians out there that the fanatic evangelicals have basically just hijacked Jesus to lend legitimacy for their own unchristian purposes.

But really, you should only have to say it once, it’s the truth.  Ever notice how fundamentalists will repeat untruths over and over and over hoping to make them seem true?  Sorry….pet peeve.

Decent Christians are being used by the born-again evangelical fundamentalist crowd!  It’s not good enough to be a Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever, no…..the fundamentalists have to be super duper ‘born agains’ so they can take the upper hand in declaring which thievery, rape, torture and killing is sanctioned.  The fundamentalists are merely claiming the sanction of God.  Christians should be PISSED!  (But that’s un-Christian)  Lovely situation is it not?

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By damedog, February 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm Link to this comment

Sorry for the double-post, but I just remembered something. Ozark, when did you judge yourself at all? You’re condemning me for judging me once and you twice, but you haven’t done it at all. How can you call my judgments hypocritical when you’ve done the same exact thing?

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By damedog, February 11, 2012 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

Ozark- what are you talking about? How did I examine you twice? All I said was that a true Christian fundamentalist wouldn’t do any of the things that the mainstream Christian right sanction every day. That is a compliment to Christianity, not an insult.

Shenonymous- So Hitler forced the Church to sanction him, so what? The Confessing church was absolutely against him and paid the price for it, the others knew damn well what was going to happen to them if they stood up to him as well. Sanctioning evil under threat of death has nothing to do with the actual morality of the faith, and it is ridiculous to assume that it does. Atheism hasn’t been an official state ideology like Christianity has until very recently, and we have seen the effects of that as well. Nothing about atheism so far has made it seem any better than Christianity at being hijacked for the purposes of corrupt power structures. I don’t need to remind you how churches were destroyed and priests killed in Communist Russia.

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By Shenonymous, February 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

In our lifetime, millions and millions of human beings died because
of that utter lack of reflection in the atheistic Left.
  Really? What
lifetime is that? The last 78.37 years? Really?

A brief history lesson: Hitler was Catholic. Christians have been trying
to discredit Hitler’s faith for over a half century, refusing to read
documented history. From the genesis of the Nazi party he expressed
his Christian support to the German population and soldiers. Baptized
a Roman Catholic in Austria, he attended a monastery school, was a
communicant and an altar boy. He was a confirmed “soldier of Christ”
and his goal was raised to become a priest and was never excommuni-
cated or condemned and the church had stated that he was “Avenging
for God” in attacking the Jews for they deemed the Semites the killers of

Given absolute veto power over whom the Pope could appoint as a
bishop in Germany he crafted a treaty by which the National Socialists
was officially recognized by the Catholic Church. In a letter to the Nazi
party, Hitler wrote, “…this treaty shows the whole world clearly and
unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism is hostile to
religion is a lie.”

He formed an alliance with the Pope to convert German society and
made a slick deal with the Church in which the Church adopted Nazi
ideals and preached them as part of their sermons, in turn, Hitler fused
Catholic teachings in public education. He then enacted the doctrines of
the Church as law, outlawed all abortion, raged a death war on all
homosexuals, and demanded corporal punishment in schools and home.
Doesn’t that sound awfully familiar?  Oh yeah.

Atheist Stalin, raised to be a Catholic priest, he hedged his religious
bets. Historian Montefiore studied Stalin’s hobbies and personal library,
what he liked to read, and what kind of marginalia he left in his books.
Often quoting long Biblical verses he left such a remark about God in
Anatole France’s, “Last pages. Dialogues under a Rose. About God:”
“Don‘t know traces, don‘t see. There is no Him for them.” It seems Stalin
thought he knew God’s “traces” and saw God, but not like others.” Even
so, there’s no argument that Stalin’s indoctrination against religion was
written into the education system.  But at the time of Stalin’s youth, the
head of the church in Russia was the absolute authority and the head of
state was supposed to be close to God. The Russians were already
disposed to servility and serfdom. All he had to do was to exploit these
details, and replace God with himself. Once firmly installed, Stalin revived
the Russian Orthodox Church in order to intensify patriotic support for
the war effort.  After the council convened and elected a new church
Patriarch, he opened the Russian theological schools, and thousands
of churches began once again to function. Even the Moscow Theological
Academy Seminary was re-opened, after being closed since 1918.

While Stalin certainly was no angel, he was not exactly what could be
called a confirmed or utter atheist. Without a doubt, he was a secular-
minded religious opportunist who did not use atheism to gain control,
but exploited religious principles that he modified to fit his own, rotten
and morbid method of revolution. Stalin’s abuse and use of religion is
remindful of the Inquisitions, which were panels of religious exploitation
as well.

That leaves Pol Pot. His Khmer Rouge were Buddhists and he was a
Theravada Buddhist. He studied at a Buddhist monastery and also at
a Catholic school for 8 years. He was a bloodthirsty madman, clearly he
was not a Christian, but neither was an atheist. Buddhists do not worship
a God and for that reason can be called atheistic, but they definitely
believe in spirituality.

None of the above could be called Leftists by any stretch of the
imagination, but are more like American Right-Wingers.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

Correction; “A fundamentalist Atheist would be bad as well. One of the items that all fundamentalists of any stripe have in common is not letting others go as they will.”

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By Night-Gaunt, February 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Well if only you dealt with yourself the way you deal with the rest of us Ozark Michael we would have a better conversation. Me a “Leftist” in your eyes? I apologize if I let you think that. I’m not one.

A fundamentalist Atheist would be bad as well. One of the items that all fundamentalists of any stripe is letting others go as they will. I am a live an let live person. Until you step on my toes or others, an demand I follow a single way of someone else that hurts or restricts decent people. Do you agree with that? If so or not please explain as dryly as you can.

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By theway, February 11, 2012 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Well said! Why not to make it simple: Christians are supposed to follow Christ and his teaching and behave as he would. Christ would oppose wars, greed, lies, hypocrisy and intolerance. So,“the right” and “Christian” does not match at all.

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By ardee, February 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm Link to this comment

By damedog, February 11 at 9:28 am

Might I suggest that debating with fanatics is useless…

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, February 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

From where I sit, even the self-proclaimed atheists on the left are much better Christians than the evangelicals on the right.

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