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#20407 - 04/13/07 09:25 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Blacknad wrote:
"I'll ignore Dan accusing us of being slightly more civilized witch burners."

I didn't say slightly more did I? <g>

How can one be an extremist atheist? If one simply states that the tooth fairy does not exist ... that is just a statement of fact. You can't become more extreme than the simple declarative sentence.

I suspect what you are actually responding to is that I don't much care for hypocrisy or acts of hate rationalized by appealing to a higher good. And to the cause of intellectual integrity I am fully committed.
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#20414 - 04/13/07 10:47 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
terrytnewzealand Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Blacknad wrote:

"He is a Fundamentalist Extremist Atheist in every possible sense of the word."

Exactly Blacky. In some ways he is an example of what I was thinking. I even get the impression he would be prepared to burn religious people at the stake if he had the go-ahead.

Dan wrote:

"You can't become more extreme than the simple declarative sentence."

Yes you can.

I think most of us at SAGG, Chritian, Budhhist, Jew, atheist or Muslim, would agree we:

"don't much care for hypocrisy or acts of hate rationalized by appealing to a higher good."

Some of the above not on SAGG might not agree.

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#20426 - 04/14/07 01:08 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: terrytnewzealand]
DA Morgan Offline
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Loc: Seattle, WA
TNZ wrote:
"I even get the impression he would be prepared to burn religious people at the stake if he had the go-ahead."

When I had dinner with Blacknad and Whitenad in B'ham not even the dinner was burned.

I am perfectly happen to let people believe any fool nonsense they wish. I am willing to let people drink themselves into a stupor to inject themselves with the toxin d'jour.

I do think, however, it should be as illegal to brainwash a child as it is to give one a cigarette.

At age 18, if they wish, they are adults and again may make up their mind to do any fool thing they wish. The difference being that it would be their choice and not imposed by their parents.

Has no one noticed that the children of Jewish parents are almost always Jewish? If Shiite parents almost always Shia? etc. Do you think it an accident or genetic? I think it is brainwashing.
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#20427 - 04/14/07 01:58 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
DA: "Has no one noticed that the children of Jewish parents are almost always Jewish? If Shiite parents almost always Shia? etc. Do you think it an accident or genetic? I think it is brainwashing."

Of course it is, and that's the divisive problem of religions which leads to so much conflict. Each has its own rule book, its own version of history, and its own interpretations of the significance of the real and imaginary events in that history - and the aggression and violence thus generated in the name of righteousness is unspeakable.
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#20429 - 04/14/07 03:43 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
DA Morgan Offline
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I find it amazing that so many, even here at SAGG, have never stopped to question that their belief system was essentially programmed into them in childhood when they had not rational ability to analyze what they were being told/sold.

Your loyalty to your country is no accident.
Your religious belief system is no accident.
Except accidents of birth.

Honest question deserving an honest answer from those of you who are parents. Why aren't you willing to let your child grow up with moral and ethical training, but not religious training, and let your child choose its own path? What are you afraid of? And why?
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#20430 - 04/14/07 05:12 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Having become totally intrigued by the prospect of atheist fundamentalism I did the High School Debating thing and looked up the definition of fundamentalism. It is a belief in the literal truth of the bible (not applicable to atheists) and also 'a movement stressing strict adherence to a set of basic beliefs or principles, esp religion' and since the whole thing about athesism is a lack of belief (and possibly principles) that does not seem to fit either. It seems that it would be impossible to argue the case for atheist fundamentalism. So I am left with 'fundamental'. It simply states that fundamental means 'of central importance' and the fact that an atheist thinks there is no god is clearly of central importance, so maybe at entry level it is possible to be a fundamental atheist. However for greater flights of fancy I find that I agree with DA on this:

"You can't become more extreme than the simple declarative sentence."

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#20434 - 04/14/07 08:00 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Ellis]
redewenur Offline
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The appellation 'fundamentalist atheist' is a term of blatant abuse applied by a 'believer' to an atheist who stridently attacks certain aspects of theistic belief. Such atheists as Richard Dawkins have a very lucid and highly reasoned approach to their attack on those aspects of religious belief that are very well known for their destructive effects.
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#20435 - 04/14/07 08:33 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
Blacknad Offline
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Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Originally Posted By: DA Morgan
Honest question deserving an honest answer from those of you who are parents. Why aren't you willing to let your child grow up with moral and ethical training, but not religious training, and let your child choose its own path? What are you afraid of? And why?


I grew up with no religious training.

At 16 I became a Christian after thinking they were mere objects of ridicule, because I had a powerful experience of God.

I spent my childhood often talking to an old Professor who lived in my street - he had slightly lost his marbles, but was an atheist par excellence. I was always fascinated by him and was always in awe of his knowledge on almost any subject you could mention. If I received any brain washing as a kid it was from him.

I also got in with hippy new age types at about the age of 15 - I used to get stoned with them and listen to their philosophy of life - reincarnation etc.

I was exposed to a few different things, but had a clear point where God revealed something of himself experientially.

No brain washing made me ready for this. I had rejected Christians as something to laugh at along with all of my mates who saw them as a way to get free camping holidays in Wales. We used to give them Hell and sit at the back of their meetings and just deride them and disrupt their stupid preaching. Not one of my friends became religious.


As for people growing up in the religion of their parents. Christianity has more ex Christians and atheists/agnostics brought up in Christian families than probably any other religion.

For instance, my daughter (nearly four) has been to church about eight times and I am very careful not to indoctrinate her. I want her to make a choice that is real - one way or another - and I will respect whatever that will be. I have to - I have to respect the autonomy and free will to choose that I believe God has given her. I will feel extremely uncomfortable if I have not given her room to think for herself, but luckily her completely secular education kindly provided by the state will do that for me.

Moderate Christianity does not brainwash. Fundamentalists of every type brainwash - they do it to help convince themselves of the truth of their position - they can brook no doubt.

Moderates know that doubt is a big part of their thinking.


What you need to know - because some of you live in America and experience a deep religious fundamentalism - is that moderate Christianity is a massive part of the religious landscape. Even in America it is huge - they are just not vocal so you don't see them. They are not a political force and do not cater to extremist views and are simply not interested in ramming their point of view down others throats. They simply try to 'love their neighbour' and show that there is an alternative way to live, other than being driven by the standard societal narratives which almost are always about being a good little consumer and striving to acquire material goods.

People here at SAGG talk often about the evil that religion has done. What about the massive good it does? What about all the Christians I know who?s lives are defined by wanting to serve the needs of those within their community, city or country? What about the millions who have modelled themselves upon Mother Teresa?

It is not scientific to have half a picture of anything - to only be prepared to see the aspects of religion that support a dislike and unease with it is hardly scientific and does not serve the truth.

Feel free to call us fools - Christ said you would. Feel free to call us deluded simpletons - it doesn?t matter. But please don?t always try and associate us with evil and ignore the good that is done in Christ?s name. Even the president of the American Humanist Association is prepared to admit that alongside the evils that have been done in its name, religion has been a force for good.

Now fundamentalists always see the negatives in those who are on the opposite sides of the spectrum of belief. Now let?s see who is going to respond purely in terms of negatives. I think I know who it will be wink

I have a very genuine respect and affection for you Dan and I am so glad I have had the privilege to get to know you and see you in person, but I do think that on this issue you also can brook no doubt and will not be prepared to accept that Christianity has done more good (often quietly, in the background) than it has done wrong. With two billion current adherents it does much good - how many of those two billion are involved in conflict today? How many are involved in burning or otherwise victimising others? The scientific way would be to try and get at the facts and work out the percentages.

But its easier to rely on quotes that are devoid of factual content or evidence to make a point.

Dan posts stuff like this all the time:

?Jefferson also wrote:
"I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."?

?James Monroe 5th President of the United States
"That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such a business."
~ letter to William Bradford, January 24, 1774?

And this (not devoid of fact, but hardly a fair point):

?Interestingly enough the two most prominent Christians in the pantheon of the US's founding fathers were George Washington and Alexander Hamilton: Both military men. Perhaps there is something about the type of mind that enjoys war that also requires a justification for the horror they so relish.?
~ DA Morgan SAGG 29th December 2006

Dan, can you brook any doubt?

Blacknad.

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#20436 - 04/14/07 08:52 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Blacknad]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Blacknad, do you consider humanists less 'good', and capable of doing less good, than Christians?

I'm not going to get into a war over this question. I'd just like your opinion. Thanks.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#20438 - 04/14/07 10:16 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Redwener,

I try to go where the evidence leads me. It seems clear that humanists are capable of doing as much good and as much evil.

I would add though, that an overwhelming amount of the slaughter that went on in the 20th Century was at the hands of people driven by humanist ideologies - in the number of 200 million or so. I can provide facts and figures.

Some have called the 20th century 'The Great Secular Experiment' as religion has ceased to be the leading framework for most Nation States. In terms of an experiment it has not been an overwhelming success.

Science (often seen as the replacement to religion), has done an enourmous amount of good but it has not solved some of the basic problems we face. We may lead longer lives, but looking at suicide, depression and mental health stats, we are living longer but unhappier lives. The hordes of mental health experts and psuedo-science quacks making an amazing amount of money are testament to this.

I will also say that almost every Christians I personally know is driven to do some kind of service for those around them. For instance, they are a major contributor to voluntary work in the UK. I have so many church aquaintances that are abroad in crappy circumstances, serving communities in places like Bangladesh.

This is a matter of my personal opinion, but my non religious friends and work colleagues are not so often driven to the same extent. Most people I know 'work, go at weekends to get drunk and fill in the time in between watching TV and shopping for the next latest consumer item'. Sorry to use a broad paint brush - it is just what I see.

Obviously for those on this site who lead more meaningful, examined, intellectually satisfied lives...well you probably move in different circles where people are more interested in improving our lot - so it won't be your experience. But the circles I move in are more interested in Fashion, Big Brother Reality TV, doting on Self Help Feel Good about Yourselves Books and Celebrity Worship than making the planet a better place.

As Plato said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Many people I know lead an unexamined life.

Sorry, I know it sounds terrible to say it, but this is what I see.

I may have contradicted my first statement, but I do see the enormous amount of good and self sacrifice that is made by some non-religious people.

Blacknad.

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#20439 - 04/14/07 10:27 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Blacknad]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
Thanks for the reply, Blacknad. Your views are appreciated.
_________________________
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#20441 - 04/14/07 11:15 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Blacknad]
Blacknad Offline
Superstar

Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Red,

I also counter the above with the incredible harm that organised religion does.

The Catholic Church's ridiculous ban on using birth control, whilst not exactly an evil, is incredibly harmful and entirely irresponsible. I am glad to see that this may be shortly about to change with the new Pope, but the harm has already been done. Massively increased HIV being one of them.

The Church's unacceptable opposition to evolution (and at the core, an opposition to rational thought on this subject and denial of the evidence) is again not an evil in terms of proactively causing harm, but is a complete embarrassment.

Opposition to stem cell research is again harmful to society and certainly stands in the way of progress and the common good.

Of course, Christianity?s ability to generate people like George Bush is also responsible for a worsening of World security and much more.

I agree with Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Dawkins in their criticism of the extremist form of Christianity - I just think they go in too hard on the moderates.

I am almost entirely critical of most organised religion. Quakers and others like them seem to be able to buck the trend here.

I am also embarrassed at my own hypocrisy. I spend far too much time in self serving activities while there is a planet falling apart right outside my door. In my late teens and early twenties I was sexually promiscuous despite being a Christian and believing it was the wrong thing to do. I have no room to pronounce judgement upon other?s personal behaviour, and I do come from a religious tradition that takes seriously the verse, ?Don?t judge or you to will be judged?. So even if I was not at times an abject failure in terms of being a morally upstanding person, I still would not judge others.

One of my members of staff is gay, and overtly so. I certainly have the closest relationship with him than anyone in my team. We have so much in common and he is exceptionally hard working, considerate and just ?plain nice?. He does so much to keep up morale in the team with his sensitivity towards others. I am uninterested in his sexual orientation - it is between him and his maker. He is simply another human being trying to get by as best as he can in this difficult life - and a fine example of what it means to be truly human.

The Church is at its worst when it has a problem with such people. I will not defend that disgraceful behaviour.

Sorry for spilling my guts a bit, but I?m not a catholic so I don?t have ?Confession? - so I?ll do it at SAGG smile

Blacknad.

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#20443 - 04/14/07 11:31 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
Blacknad Offline
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Posts: 901
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Originally Posted By: redewenur
The appellation 'fundamentalist atheist' is a term of blatant abuse applied by a 'believer' to an atheist who stridently attacks certain aspects of theistic belief. Such atheists as Richard Dawkins have a very lucid and highly reasoned approach to their attack on those aspects of religious belief that are very well known for their destructive effects.


Actually Dawkins has been criticized by his non-religious peers for his very limited understanding of what he is attacking and for his knowledge of theology. I will look out some example.

I cringe sometimes at some of the things he ignorantly says about religion. Sam Harris is exactly the same.

Dawkins also throws out any scientific methodology when he wants to back up his assertions.

Such as religious input in children?s lives being tantamount to child abuse. Real scientific studies have been done that clearly counter this, and children of religious families are actually more likely to be happy, stable and show less negative psychological traits than children from non religious families. I have posted a study on this before at SAGG.

Suicide terrorists (which he ignorantly places fully at the door of the religious) have been subject to real study. Robert Pape?s ?Dying to Win? was the result of an in depth study on the subject. From Wikipedia:

?Pape claims to have compiled the world?s first ?database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 through 2003 ? 315 attacks in all? (3). ?The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world?s religions. . . . Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland? (4). It is important that Americans understand this growing phenomenon (4-7).?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_to_Win:_The_Strategic_Logic_of_Suicide_Terrorism

Dawkins should be sacked from his post of Simonyi Professorship of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, because he shows little regard for science and facts when he wants to rail against religion. What are the public to make of science when he makes all sorts of unverified assertions. He is bringing science into disrepute, and again, many of his peers have said this.

Blacknad.

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#20444 - 04/14/07 11:44 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Blacknad]
redewenur Offline
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Registered: 02/14/07
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Again, thanks for your views, Blacknad. Maybe you could write a book! smile
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"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

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#20445 - 04/14/07 02:49 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
Blacknad Offline
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Registered: 10/05/05
Posts: 901
Loc: Coventry, England
Hehe. Funnily enough I am writing a novel. It's based upon my time as a counsellor working with schizophrenic teenagers. It's called 'Shitbeard'. One of the central characters is someone who used to actually fashion a beard from his own excrement on a regular basis.

I would rather do this in an attempt to raise awareness of the plight of a growing number of our young people, than get involved in Christian Apologetics.

But maybe having a few more years of Dan picking holes in my thinking and making me continually rethink my position may put me in the position to write something on religion. I think maybe something entitled, 'A Letter from a Moderate to a Fundamentalist'. Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue though. Would need to call it something more catchy.

But the point here is that if Dawkins and Harris want to demonise moderates then they lose a key ally that they could work with to combat extremism. The moderate is closer to the Fundies and has slightly more credibility with them than the atheists which allows them to enter into debate more easily.

All Dawkins is doing is making the moderates feel threatened and a little scared of a coming backlash in wider society. This may have the effect of making us retreat into a siege mentality and actually move closer to the Fundies as we become more and more defensive.

Blacknad.

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#20448 - 04/14/07 03:23 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: redewenur]
Revlgking Offline
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Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
Blacknad writes about his Christian belief: "Feel free to call us fools - Christ said you would. Feel free to call us deluded simpletons - it doesn?t matter.

But please don?t always try and associate us with evil and ignore the good that is done in Christ?s name. Even the president of the American Humanist Association is prepared to admit that alongside the evils that have been done in its name, religion has been a force for good."

Replying in the positive: I heartily agree.

JESUS NEVER WROTE A BOOK, HE LIVED A LIFE
I always try to keep in mind: Jesus did not give us a set of dogmas to be believed, rituals to be performed and not even a set of fixed rules and regulations to be followed; he gave us the example of his life based on the principle of agape/love.

It is my opinion that if Jesus had any intention of forming an organized earth-bound religion he would have written a book giving details about how he wanted such a religion to operate.

BTW, all organized religions can be used for good, or ill. Corrupt people can corrupt anything, including philosophy and science.




Edited by Revlgking (04/14/07 03:27 PM)

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#20453 - 04/14/07 04:24 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
DA Morgan Offline
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Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Blacknad wrote:
"But the point here is that if Dawkins and Harris want to demonise moderates then they lose a key ally that they could work with to combat extremism."

Well put. The mistake the real extremists make is that they try to attack the problem like it is drug addiction by asking, no demanding, people go cold turkey. It is a losing strategy guaranteed to alienate, as you point out, more rational thinkers.

To me the place to start is by decreasing the severity of indoctrination of children. If they wish to make up their own, adult, minds to believe in the tooth fairy that is their right and privilege. But they should not be sold hell and damnation from birth.

It is pretty hard to tell someone that they have self-worth while simultaneously convincing them they were a sinner who must repent from the day they were born.

Can you ask a child repeat these words every night before falling asleep:
"If I should die before I wake,...."
and not know, too, the intent. It is no different from having children repeat a pledge of allegiance every day in class.

We don't talk about this in the US ... but the original salute to the US flag when children said the Pledge of Allegiance was the straight armed salute associated with the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazi).
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DA Morgan

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#20458 - 04/14/07 08:37 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: DA Morgan]
Wolfman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Pago Pago, American Samoa
Rev, just speculation here, but I'm sure you've given this some thought - How would you react to a World-Wide TV/Radio Transmission heard simultaneously on all band widths, all frequencies, in all the major languages of our world, from intelligent beings from a far away planet? Audio only.

By the way,,,do you happen to live in a van down by the river?


Edited by Wolfman (04/14/07 08:42 PM)

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#20461 - 04/14/07 09:35 PM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Wolfman]
Revlgking Offline
Megastar

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 2311
Loc: markham (Thornhill), Ontario, ...
What River? smile
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G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org

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#20468 - 04/15/07 04:29 AM Re: Evidence for God [Re: Revlgking]
Ellis Offline
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Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
Blacknad I liked reading your defence of religion, because of course you are quite right. The majority of christians are not posting in places like this, defending their faith or having annoying atheists nit-picking their every utterance!

I want to tell you something that I found out which supports your idea that most christians are living quiet lives trying to follow the teachings of their Leader. A few years ago I wanted to help somehow in the awful mess growing daily in Africa, I looked for a non-christian sponsored way to do this. I thought that some humanist organisation would be established. Well maybe they are now, but then I could not find any. So I sponsored a child through World Vision. This was 16 years ago. The village she lived in was improved to such an extent that they withdrew because the living conditions were so much better. I now sponsor another girl in another part of Africa.

My point is that this a christian organisation, often first on the scene of disasters, inspired by their faith to do something we atheists don't usually do. That is - go and offer help when it is needed. Such inspiration has to be one of the good things about religion.

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