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Back from the Reason Rally

Atheism clashes with ChristianityI’ve recently returned from the Reason Rally, held on the National Mall in Washington D.C. (photos here). There were an estimated 20,000 people there, in the rain, which is a lot more than I would have predicted. The organizers figured that it was the biggest secular gathering in world history by a factor of ten.

The atheist glitterati were all there—Michael Shermer, James Randi (founder of The Amazing Meeting), Richard Dawkins, Greta Christina (my favorite atheist blogger), PZ Myers, Tim Minchin (whose beat poem “Storm” is awesome), Eddie Izzard, Jessica Ahlquist (American Atheist’s “Atheist of the year” for her lawsuit against the religious banner in her public high school), Rep. Pete Stark (the only open atheist in Congress), Sen. Tom Harkin (not an atheist [!] but a senator who welcomed us anyway), Penn Jillette, Todd Stiefel (whose foundation helped sponsor the event), Nate Phelps (an eloquent and estranged member of the infamous Phelps family), and many more. The Rally proceeded without a break for over seven hours.

The 2012 American Atheist conference was the following two days and had 1300 attendees. The theme this year was “Come Out,” and many speakers talked about both the need for that and for dealing with the challenges that coming out as an atheist can impose on someone living in America today.

After being away from the office, I’ve got a lot to catch up on, and I’ll be busy with the Northwest Freethought Alliance conference here in Seattle this weekend. I’ll get back to a regular posting schedule soon. Thanks for all your comments to the posts of the past couple of weeks; I’ll be responding ASAP.

Any brief summary will be inadequate to cover the Rally and conference. I’ll just summarize some of the highlights.

  • Roughly ten Christian protesters held signs at the Rally. Discussing apologetics with Christian sign carriers is one of my hobbies, but each was surrounded by lots of atheists—sometimes conversing thoughtfully and sometimes haranguing. The only one that I talked to at length admitted that he had no arguments in favor of Christianity but was just mindlessly on the Mall, witnessing for Jesus. I wondered what the point was, since he’s not informing anyone of anything. He had no new arguments, and simply stating the tenets of Christianity (all he seemed capable of doing) to atheists better informed than the average Christian was pointless.
  • Taslima Nasrin from Bangladesh spoke of the Muslim response to her writings—riots, burned cars, and house arrest. After hearing this, it was hard to compare any struggle atheists might have in coming out with hers.
  • Physicist Lawrence Krauss said that philosophers asking “Why is there something rather than nothing?” is like Johannes Kepler asking “Why are there five planets?” It’s an irrelevant and outdated question!
  • Too often, the Christian says, “Morality is built on a foundation of God’s existence!” and the atheist response is a tepid, “But we are moral, too.” We need to take morality back. Our morality is superior—it’s built on something besides myth and wishful thinking.
  • Richard Dawkins spoke of a poll his foundation did in the UK. Of self-identified “Christians,” many accepted non-Christian beliefs (ghosts, fate, reincarnation), many don’t believe in the power of prayer, many don’t read the Bible and know very little about it, and some don’t even believe that Jesus was a historical figure. Conclusions: most “Christians” aren’t, and we shouldn’t accept Christians’ self-identification but rather ask what they mean.

Asked why they had been recorded as Christian in the 2011 Census, only three in ten (31%) said it was because they genuinely try to follow the Christian religion, with four in ten (41%) saying it was because they try to be a good person and associate that with Christianity.

But when asked where they seek most guidance in questions of right and wrong, only one in ten (10%) said it was from religious teachings or beliefs, with over half (54%) preferring to draw on their own inner moral sense.

  • Jerry DeWitt is a cheerful ex-pastor who left religion half a year ago through the Clergy Project, a group trying to find a soft landing for doubting pastors. I’ve written before about Rich Lyons, a local ex-pastor who had to get through the process solo and suffered from PTSD after leaving his pulpit.
  • PZ Myers gave an interesting quote from Sean Carroll: “The reason why science and religion are actually incompatible is that, in the real world, they reach incompatible conclusions.”
  • PZ Myers on trying to juggle science and religion: “Squatting in between those on the side of reason and evidence and those worshipping superstition and myth is not a better place. It just means you’re halfway to crazy town.”
  • Religion is a natural part of the human mind. Okay, and smallpox is natural, too. That doesn’t mean you resign yourself to it.
  • This chart from a 2009 Gallup poll documents the long-term change in religious preference in the U.S. and shows that the increase in atheism and erosion in Christianity has been fairly steady and not just a recent phenomenon.

  • In a cartoon, two guys are talking. One says, “New Atheism indeed—it’s just the same old indisputable scientific evidence again.”
  • Religion makes you happy? Okay, but so does a puppy. There’s no need to abandon reason for happiness.
  • On the subject of atheist accomodationists (“Do you have to be so shrill?”) versus confrontationists (“Don’t mince words—tell it like it is!”), Greta Christina likened the atheist movement to a toolbox. If you’re a hammer, be the best hammer you can be and let the other tools be the best they can be.
  • Christina drew parallels with the gay movement and noted that for many straight people, simply knowing a gay person was key to dismantling their prejudices. Similarly, we need to come out (where practical) to help Christian America dismantle its anti-atheist prejudices. One important difference: when you come out as gay, you’re not telling straight people that they’re wrong. That’s not really true with atheism.
  • The Secular Student Alliance has grown from 50 chapters in 2007 to 250 a year ago and even more today. The Campus Crusade for Christ (now “Cru”) has three times as many chapters, but it has an annual budget of half a billion dollars and is losing chapters.

Curiously, no one talked about what I like to talk about: critique of Christian apologetics. I’m not sure what to make of this. Does no one care about this topic? Has everyone already moved on, comfortable in their conclusion that the emperor has no clothes?

Ah well, I guess I’ll just be the best hammer I can be.

How can you have judgment if you don’t have faith
and how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?
Newt Gingrich (October, 2011)

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob S,

    When the chart shows that protestantism is losing ground, are we talking of fundamentalism or of liberal protestantism? The two are very, very different. While I would welcome a decline in fundamentalism, I would be saddened by a decline in liberal Christianity, which would mean that Christianity is becoming more fanatical and anti-modern.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      My reading is that “Protestantism” is the whole lot. I agree that oil and vinegar are being mixed in this category, and it’d be nice to see those separated.

      I agree that liberal Christianity is a moderating force (though it’d be nice if liberal Christians would speak out more to keep their own extremist members in check). Perhaps unlike you, I’d be happy to see both liberal and extremist Christianity fade in this country.

  • Bob Calvan

    RF2
    Not so.. God is calling His elect. John 6,37:44..All the the Father give the Son; the Son will save and loose none. Salvation is of the LORD not man.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      God is calling his elect for what? And why do you suppose that a verse from the Bible will be convincing to someone who thinks the Bible was written by ordinary men, no more enlightened by the supernatural than I am?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Darn it. Never thought I’d find myself posting here. Well, I guess a starving man will go anywhere.

    [quote]
    One important difference: when you come out as gay, you’re not telling straight people that they’re wrong. That’s not really true with atheism.
    [/quote]

    Not just that they are wrong, but that they are ignorant, foolish and in need of “emotional crutches”. Then of course, as an atheist, you act all surprised when people get ticked off at you.

    The idea of “atheist accomodationists” is sadly a contradiction in terms. You have those atheists who are consistent, and those who aren’t. That’s pretty much it. You can’t work with someone who thinks that you’re an idiot, and all atheists, to some extent, think that of Christians, or theists in general. At least, when they are actually being atheists. Thankfully, that’s not 100% of their time.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      RRF:

      I guess a starving man will go anywhere.

      You’re welcome to the Bread of Knowledge here, brother.

      Not just that [Christians] are wrong, but that they are ignorant, foolish and in need of “emotional crutches”.

      Sure, some say this. Not all of us.

      Then of course, as an atheist, you act all surprised when people get ticked off at you.

      Thank God Christians never do anything to antagonize.

      You can’t work with someone who thinks that you’re an idiot, and all atheists, to some extent, think that of Christians, or theists in general.

      I suspect that this is a minority opinion among the relevant people, Christians who work with/rub elbows with/chat with atheists.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      BTW, here is a post about how to embed quotes, do italics, and so on.

    • Retro

      Darn it.

      Golly Gee Whillikers!!!

      Not just that they are wrong, but that they are ignorant, foolish and in need of “emotional crutches”.

      And by your own standards, you as a theist are telling those that don’t believe that they are wrong. The Bible calls atheists fools, and many Christians voice their opinion that atheists don’t believe simply because they don’t want there to be a god and/or want to behave immorally. (And of course, all atheists, no matter how moral they actually are, on their death will deserve to be tortured by fire and pitchforks for ever and ever.)

      You can’t work with someone who thinks that you’re an idiot, and all atheists, to some extent, think that of Christians, or theists in general. At least, when they are actually being atheists. Thankfully, that’s not 100% of their time.

      So in your statements complaining about atheists, you have actually defined atheism in such a way that no one can be an atheist without offending you. Amazing work!

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Sure, some say this. Not all of us.

    True. Not everyone says it. And those who do, don’t say it all the time. That doesn’t impact what everyone believes.

    Thank God Christians never do anything to antagonize.

    I know.

    And by your own standards, you as a theist are telling those that don’t believe that they are wrong. The Bible calls atheists fools, and many Christians voice their opinion that atheists don’t believe simply because they don’t want there to be a god and/or want to behave immorally.

    You’ve missed the whole “There but for the grace of God go I” part. There’s a difference between the elitisim of atheism (I’m an atheist because I’m just smarter and better than you) and Christianity (I’m not a Christian because of anything I’ve done, but rather what God has done.)

    So in your statements complaining about atheists, you have actually defined atheism in such a way that no one can be an atheist without offending you

    Show me how atheism, particularly the strong sort of atheism held by new atheists, can be defined and spoken about in such a way that its not offensive to theists, Christians, and the religious in general, and maybe I’ll change my mind.

    • Retro

      There’s a difference between the elitisim of atheism (I’m an atheist because I’m just smarter and better than you) and Christianity (I’m not a Christian because of anything I’ve done, but rather what God has done.)

      You and I have had discussions in the past where we talked about whether someone can willfully choose to believe or disbelieve. Much of the time, I think it’s more of a result from experience rather than an actual conscious choice, therfore I don’t credit or blame people for the beliefs they happen to hold.

      What people actually do is more important to me than what they believe. Why someone believes what they do is also more important to me than what they believe.

      If simply discussing why one does and believes things is offensive, then I guess I’m offensive.

      Show me how atheism, particularly the strong sort of atheism held by new atheists, can be defined and spoken about in such a way that its not offensive to theists, Christians, and the religious in general, and maybe I’ll change my mind.

      Some people will be offended no matter what. If one has good reasons to believe what they believe, then challenging those beliefs shouldn’t be a problem.

      In your opinion RRF, how would you have atheists behave so as not to offend you?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      That doesn’t impact what everyone believes.

      Every atheist says that every Christian is ignorant and foolish? Huh–I’ll have to inform myself of that. Thanks.

      (I’m an atheist because I’m just smarter and better than you)

      Heck–why be an atheist if you can’t be vastly superior to 2 billion Christians? That’s the only reason that draws me to that worldview.

      Show me how atheism, particularly the strong sort of atheism held by new atheists, can be defined and spoken about in such a way that its not offensive to theists, Christians, and the religious in general, and maybe I’ll change my mind.

      I, for one, am certain that I can’t convince you of anything, so I throw in the towel.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    In your opinion RRF, how would you have atheists behave so as not to offend you?

    Let’s for a second, take the quote by Adam Savage. According to him, through “much thought” and “careful empirical analysis” he’s concluded that God doesn’t exist. The implications of that, of course, are that if you think that God might, or even does exist, you either haven’t, or aren’t capable of, putting forth the same level of thought and “careful empirical analysis” that Adam Savage has done. Or to put it another way, you are either ignorant, or “less intelligent” than Savage.

    I don’t see how that quote, or any quote like that where an atheist says that he’s “chosen” to be an atheist due to the immense amount of thought, rationality and evidence he’s applied to the subject, can be anything but offensive. At least, offensive to those who take offense at being called ignorant or less intelligent than someone else, for no particularly good reason.

    Now, one could hold to a different sort of atheism, and simply state that there is “not enough evidence (for them)” concerning the existence of God. Atheism as a subjective opinion, and not atheism as a reasoned stance on the existence / non-existence of God. Note, here the atheist is not “chosing” to be an atheist, he / she is choosing not (or mentally unable )to let go of his / her biases, and as such is just “forced” into atheism.

    I wouldn’t find that offensive, but then again, I don’t know of any atheists who wants to state that his / her atheism is nothing but a subjective opinion, having more to do with their biases, than their reason. Even if an atheist acknowledges his /her bias, he / she usually implies that this bias is entirely reasonable and rational, and that one is being foolish and irrational by not agreeing with that bias.

    Now yet another sort of atheism is simply “atheism as a choice”. If you are an atheist, because you have consciously chosen to be an atheist, and you could have just as easily chosen otherwise. This is not offensive, but then again, if you’ve chosen to be an atheist, and you’ve chosen to rebel against God in that way, you can’t really go up to God at the end and say “Well God, you didn’t give me enough evidence.” The consequences of your atheism falls on you, and not on God. Most atheists imply that if God exists, its somehow God’s fault that they are atheists, so they shouldn’t be sent to hell for their rebellion. As such I don’t think many atheists, especially any of the more militant outspoken “new atheists” would hold to the “atheism as a choice” idea.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      he’s concluded that God doesn’t exist.

      Not really. Seems to me that he’s saying that he does exist.

      you are either ignorant, or “less intelligent” than Savage.

      If you’re determined to be offended, I’m sure you’ll succeed. I doubt that many Christians would follow you down that path.

      Are you answering Retro’s question by saying that you won’t be offended provided atheists just keep their complaints to themselves?

      Most atheists imply that if God exists, its somehow God’s fault that they are atheists, so they shouldn’t be sent to hell for their rebellion.

      It makes no sense for God to send someone to hell for using his God-given brain and following its conclusions.

      But then I would never argue that Christianity makes sense.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        If you’re determined to be offended, I’m sure you’ll succeed. I doubt that many Christians would follow you down that path.

        It’s simply logic.

        If you believe (A) because you’ve used some amount of reason, and examined “carefully” some amount of evidence, and that (to you) anyone else who examines the same amount of evidence and is also just as reasonable would come to the same conclusion, then if I don’t come to the same conclusion, I haven’t used the same degree of reason, or I haven’t looked at the same amount of evidence.

        It’s just logic Bob.

        Are you answering Retro’s question by saying that you won’t be offended provided atheists just keep their complaints to themselves?

        No. The shorter answer to Retro is: I don’t know of a way to frame atheism in such a way such that its both A: Non-Offensive and B: maintaining it as a belief formed from nothing but rational consideration of some “evidence”, without a shred of subjective bias.

        It makes no sense for God to send someone to hell for using his God-given brain and following its conclusions.

        Thank you for proving my point. You very much want to hold onto the idea that, if you’re an atheist and you’re wrong, that its God’s fault that you’re wrong.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          It’s just logic Bob.

          That’s not the thought process that I follow. Heck–does anyone?

          Sounds pretty much like: “Anyone who doesn’t think like me is an idiot.” Yeah, that’s offensive. But it’s not what I do.

          You very much want to hold onto the idea that, if you’re an atheist and you’re wrong, that its God’s fault that you’re wrong.

          It’s just logic.

  • Bob Calvan

    RRF
    Well Bob S. Is a relativist Bob holds there are no Absolute truths. So all you will get from Bob S. is his subjective opinion.

    And we know from Romans 1..That there are no atheists..All men know God in their heart but reject Him in unrighteousness, and they are without excuse.
    Bob like all unbelievers hates the Triune God and is without excuse.
    Bob is a biblical “fool” ..”As the fool in his heart says their is no God..” Which is not name calling . It has to do with Bob’s dullness of mind. Bob is spiritually dead and does not have the ability to have ears to hear and eyes to see.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Bob S. Is a relativist

      Not according to your definition of “relativist.” But we’ve been over that before.

      Bob like all unbelievers hates the Triune God and is without excuse.

      When you’re standing before the Judgment Seat™, aren’t you afraid that God will condemn you for not using the brain that he gave you to its fullest? That you accepted dogma without critique? That you beat the Word to take on the shape of your faith, instead of the other way around?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Sounds pretty much like: “Anyone who doesn’t think like me is an idiot.”

    Except that isn’t atheism.
    Let’s go over that quote from Adam Savage again, as its good example.

    He didn’t say “I just happen to think that God doesn’t exist.” That would fall back under “atheism as an opinion” really.

    No, he said after “much thought”, and “after careful empirical analysis” he’s become an atheist. There’s a large difference between “I just happen to think that God doesn’t exist” and “After much thought and careful deliberation, being entirely rational and considering all the evidence, I’ve concluded that God doesn’t exist.”

    Even Richard Dawkins would agree with me I think. Consider what he said about evolution:

    “It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is either ignorant, stupid, or insane.”

    If there’s someone that rejects evolution, which to Dawkins (and I believe to you) is something supported by an immense amount of reason, evidence, rationality and proof, that person is either ignorant, stupid, or insane.

    So, with regards to Christianity, you must either believe that there is less evidence towards the non-existence of God, than there is towards the truth of evolution, or you think that if someone disbelieves in evolution, that person can be neither ignorant, stupid, or insane.

    Which is it?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      RRF:

      “After much thought and careful deliberation, being entirely rational and considering all the evidence, I’ve concluded that God doesn’t exist.”

      Wait–is that what Adam Savage said? I’m pretty sure it’s not.

      “…if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is either ignorant, stupid, or insane.”

      And that doesn’t support what you said. (“You can’t work with someone who thinks that you’re an idiot, and all atheists, to some extent, think that of Christians, or theists in general.”)

      Personally, I would throw in some variation of closed-minded.

      you must either believe that there is less evidence towards the non-existence of God, than there is towards the truth of evolution, or you think that if someone disbelieves in evolution, that person can be neither ignorant, stupid, or insane.

      I have concluded that the evidence points both to the nonexistence of God and to evolution. I think evolution deniers are typically ignorant and closed-minded.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        And that doesn’t support what you said. (“You can’t work with someone who thinks that you’re an idiot, and all atheists, to some extent, think that of Christians, or theists in general.”)

        Of course it does.

        I mean, maybe you’re such a saint that you can get a long and work with someone who thinks you’re either ignorant or stupid or insane for not believing what there is apparently an immense amount of evidence( that was no doubt “carefully examined”) in support for. I’m just not that saintly.

        I have concluded that the evidence points both to the nonexistence of God and to evolution. I think evolution deniers are typically ignorant and closed-minded.

        What of someone who doesn’t think that the “evidence” , “points” to the non-existence of God? What of someone who thinks that you don’t actually have a shred of evidence, just the opinion that there isn’t enough evidence to meet your standard.

        What would you think of that person?

        Is that person ignorant and close-minded? They are, to you, if they doubt this evidence for evolution, what about it they doubt your “evidence” for the non-existence of God?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          RRF:

          maybe you’re such a saint that you can get a long and work with someone who thinks you’re either ignorant or stupid or insane for not believing what there is apparently an immense amount of evidence( that was no doubt “carefully examined”) in support for. I’m just not that saintly.

          I’m with you. But that’s not what we’ve been talking about.

          Is that person ignorant and close-minded?

          Ignorant or closed minded.

          Yes, IMO.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Ignorant or closed minded.

          Yes, IMO.

          So after all your denials, you basically just admitted you agree with everything that I’ve said so far.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Nope. You need to go back and reread what you’d initially said.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Note, if its really necessary I can really bombard this thread with quotes from prominent atheists who think that all religionists / theists are idiots, or stupid or insane.

    We even have one that you quoted yourself!

    ■PZ Myers on trying to juggle science and religion: “Squatting in between those on the side of reason and evidence and those worshipping superstition and myth is not a better place. It just means you’re halfway to crazy town.”

    I’m certain that a 5 minute internet search could uncover 50 more quotes from prominent atheistic philosophers, all with the same message. Namely that if you’re a theist, you are somehow crazy / ignorant / stupid which of course implies that if you are an atheist, you are now somehow wise / enlightened / smart.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      if its really necessary I can really bombard this thread with quotes from prominent atheists who think that all religionists / theists are idiots, or stupid or insane.

      As can I, but that’s not what you wanted to talk about. You weren’t saying that some atheists are offensive (which I’ll grant you) but that all are.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        If you disagree with prominent atheist philosophers, I’d be curious as to why.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Are you asking why I disagree with an atheist who says that, to a man, Christians are idiots? Simply because I don’t feel that way.

          But maybe I’ve misunderstood your question.

          Obviously, I have no dogmatic or religious obligation to support what anyone (atheist or otherwise) says. If I disagree with an atheist, I’ll be happy to say so.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Are you asking why I disagree with an atheist who says that, to a man, Christians are idiots? Simply because I don’t feel that way.

          No. I’m asking why you disagree with prominent atheistic philosophers that maintain that religion and theism in general are delusions, products of ignorance, “mind viruses”, and that religions and religious believers should be relegated to museums.

          If you answer is that you “simply don’t feel that way”.. I wonder what happened to all that intelligence and effort you put into rejecting religion? You reject religious belief (apparently), based off of supposed mountains of evidence and logic, but when it comes to atheistic philosophers, you reject what they have to say because you “simply don’t feel that way”.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I’m asking why you disagree with prominent atheistic philosophers that maintain that religion and theism in general are delusions, products of ignorance, “mind viruses”, and that religions and religious believers should be relegated to museums.

          I don’t.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Thank you for agreeing with all the points I’ve made then.

          Let’s break this down real simple so you can understand ok?

          You don’t disagree with prominent atheistic philosophers.

          Therefore you agree with them.

          Prominent atheistic philosophers have called religion and theism a “delusion”, a “mind virus”, a “product of ignorance”, and have said that religious believers should be relegated to museums. (I.E imprisoned).

          Or to put it another way, religious believers are delusional (for believing in a delusion), mentally ill (because they have a “mind virus”), ignorant, and should be locked up.

          Since you agree with prominent atheistic philosophers, you agree with all these above points.

          Perhaps, one day, I will find an atheist that does not agree with these above points, however I’m not holding my breath.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          RRF:

          Let’s break this down real simple so you can understand ok?

          Good call. I need it real simple so I can understand.

          Therefore you agree with them.

          Uh … on some things, yes. On other things, no. As with pretty much everyone.

          religious believers should be relegated to museums. (I.E imprisoned).

          Seeing religious believers only in photographs and dioramas in museums doesn’t sound like “imprisoned” to me, but I suppose you have your own version of reality.

          Since you agree with prominent atheistic philosophers, you agree with all these above points.

          Since there’s little hope that you’ll understand my position, I won’t waste your time explaining it.

          Perhaps, one day, I will find an atheist that does not agree with these above points, however I’m not holding my breath.

          Your pessimism is well placed. All atheists want all Christians to be imprisoned.

          (But I fear I’ve divulged too much of the Grand Plan™… curses!)

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Random,

    I think I have already explained to you that, though there is only one truth, different people may be rationally justified in believing in opposite views, because they have been shown different pieces of evidence and have different personalities and different biases. This applies to atheism and God belief.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Good call. I need it real simple so I can understand.

    Apparently.

    Uh … on some things, yes. On other things, no. As with pretty much everyone.

    So what you said before was incorrect.

    Seeing religious believers only in photographs and dioramas in museums doesn’t sound like “imprisoned” to me, but I suppose you have your own version of reality.

    I’d be curious as to what you would do with all those persnickety religious believers who exist not in museums.

    Also, if you want to cite some evidence showing that that’s what Dennett meant, feel free. Its not in what he’s actually said.

    Your pessimism is well placed. All atheists want all Christians to be imprisoned.

    Most would probably be quite happy if all theists could be “enlightened” and brought into the obvious truth of atheism.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I’d be curious as to what you would do with all those persnickety religious believers who exist not in museums.

      Let them practice their First Amendment rights, obviously. When they can’t speak their mind, I probably can’t either.

      Also, if you want to cite some evidence showing that that’s what Dennett meant, feel free.

      If you’re annoyed about what someone else has said, take it up with them.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Let them practice their First Amendment rights, obviously. When they can’t speak their mind, I probably can’t either.

        Well.. unless its “in public”. Then you can speak your mind (because of course you’re speaking “facts”) but of course the theist can’t (because that’s entangling church and state! Oh noes, the horrors!)

        I hear time and time again, stories of how theists are being sued for daring to exercise their free speech rights.

        I have yet to hear a suit against an atheist for doing the same thing.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Well.. unless its “in public”.

          Why? What happens then?

          If you’re asking about the literal public square, I’m delighted to have Christians (and me) state our opinions on religion (or lack thereof). That’s the First Amendment in action.

          If you’re asking about the state-supported public square (that is, schools, courthouses, government buildings), then Christianity is tightly muzzled. It has some opportunities for expression, but they’re strictly curtailed. Again, that’s the First Amendment in action.

          I’m missing the part where I can speak about religion but the theist can’t.

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    If you’re annoyed about what someone else has said, take it up with them.

    I don’t expect much more from Dennett really. You however, implied that when he’s spoken about believers and the religious being in museums, he really just means dioramas and photographs and not imprisonment or eradication.

    Now, I’d like it if one day you could support any claim that you’ve ever made with actual evidence. I don’t expect it, so I’ll simply chalk this up to one more claim you haven’t supported.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Claim? What claim have I made?

      If this “claim” is that my interpretation of believers being in museums does not mean that they’re imprisoned, then you’ll just have to suck it up and accept it. I’m pretty much the universal expert on what my interpretations are.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        If this “claim” is that my interpretation of believers being in museums does not mean that they’re imprisoned,

        No.

        You really have a great deal of difficulty understanding what I’m saying don’t you?

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You really have a great deal of difficulty understanding what I’m saying don’t you?

          No, but it was thoughtful of you to ask.

          You said:

          Prominent atheistic philosophers have called religion and theism a “delusion”, a “mind virus”, a “product of ignorance”, and have said that religious believers should be relegated to museums. (I.E imprisoned).

          I understand. Do you?

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          Yes. When I asked you if you agreed with those atheistic philosophers which said:

          Prominent atheistic philosophers have called religion and theism a “delusion”, a “mind virus”, a “product of ignorance”, and have said that religious believers should be relegated to museums. (I.E imprisoned).

          You said you did.

          Now, if you agreed with some of those points, and not others, the reasonable, and charitable thing to do would be to say that. But of course, you didn’t say that.

          In addition, you followed up by saying that when these prominent atheistic philosophers state that religious believers and religions should be relegated to museums, what they really meant was just dioramas and photographs. Quaint photos of us ignorant yokels I guess.

          Now did you support the idea that when these prominent atheistic philosophers talk about relelgating believers to museums, they are just talking about dioramas and the like? Of course not. You never do.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          You said you did.

          Careful. “Do not lie” is one of the Ten Commandments (which didn’t make it into the final version, but never mind).

          My response to your “religious believers should be relegated to museums. (I.E imprisoned)” was:

          Seeing religious believers only in photographs and dioramas in museums doesn’t sound like “imprisoned” to me, but I suppose you have your own version of reality.

          I’m not sure what was unclear about my position. Or why you’re going on and on about. Just bored, I’m guessing?

  • TheRealRandomFunction

    Let’s go back.

    I said:

    I’m asking why you disagree with prominent atheistic philosophers that maintain that religion and theism in general are delusions, products of ignorance, “mind viruses”, and that religions and religious believers should be relegated to museums.

    You replied.

    I don’t.

    Now, in my limited theistic mind, “I don’t disagree” is the same thing as “I agree.”

    Now again, if you disagreed with part of what I had said, you could have easily mentioned that. But you didn’t, until I called you on it. At the beginning you said, and said only,

    “I don’t”.

    That’s it.

    But as per usual, you evade, you flip flop back and forth, and then you blame it all on me and my “lieing”.

    Nothing is ever your fault is it?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Nothing is ever your fault is it?

      Not so far.

      Now, did you actually want to talk about something, or was your goal simply to weave together an argument where you could say, “Aha! I win!”?

      If you actually have an interesting question to discuss, let me know.

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        I did. Unfortunately, your penchant for evasion, clueless-ness and rhetoric makes any reasoned conversation with you next to impossible.

        While posting here does serve to reinforce my belief in the utter intellectual vacuity of atheism, that’s about all conversing with you is capable of doing.

        Thankfully for me, that’s enough.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          And RRF wins again!

          (Can nothing stop this energetic, bright-eyed, and winsome Christian lad?!)

          SFX: cheering crowd

        • Retro

          And RRF wins again!

          We need to get RandomFunction2 to use his usual name, like Celestial Teapot, and get TheRealRandomFunction to start simply using RandomFunction… now that RF is back, it’s really starting to confuse the stuffing out of me.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll leave it up to those guys in case they want to follow up with your suggestion.

          I don’t get too confused. There’s a je ne sait pas in RRF’s tone–just a little something–that makes his raging anger apparent.

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          I don’t get too confused. There’s a je ne sait pas in RRF’s tone–just a little something–that makes his raging anger apparent.

          Its incredibly subtle I know. Kudos to you to picking up on it.

          I mean, I know I should just let you walk all over me (as your warped idea of Christianity probably informs you), but there’s something about talking to someone who thinks I’m a delusional idiot, someone who can’t seem to understand a word that I say, someone who attacks a gross strawman of Christianity while calling it a real thing, and someone who’s never, ever supported his own arguments or claims, or even deigned to answer any one of my questions that just makes me slightly.. well.. frustrated.

          But keep on being a “Hammer” Bob. You’re very good at stating the same things over and over and over and over again.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” I forgot where I heard that … somewhere.

          Karl is a thoughtful Christian who contributes a fair amount here. Somehow he doesn’t see the vicious anti-Christian bias that you imagine. He makes good points and often challenges me. Sometimes I learn new stuff. He makes a valuable contribution to the discussion, and I’m glad he’s here. It’s easy to respond with respect to his points, even when I disagree.

          I give him as an example simply to show that Christians can find a welcome reception here. You are from a different mold, determined to see negative traits in the atheists you come across. With your hateful approach, it’s easy to get what you came for.

          Weird–after years of negative feedback on your approach, you’ve not changed. And from a Machiavellian standpoint, that works just fine. You’re making a case for the vileness of Christianity that I never could (or would want to).

      • TheRealRandomFunction

        Karl is a thoughtful Christian who contributes a fair amount here.

        Who is this “Karl”?

        There’s Bob Calvan, there’s Retro, there’s the other random function (now apparently and orbiting teapot) and there’s me.

        Is Karl a figment of your imagination?

        Weird–after years of negative feedback on your approach, you’ve not changed.

        If it works, it doesn’t need to be changed.

        The fact that you consistently fail to deal with anything that I bring up, instead focusing on small insignificant little details, the bemoaning the fact that I’m forced to deal with your evasions, is really telling. What does it tell me? It tells me you don’t have an answer to my critiques.

        You’re making a case for the vileness of Christianity that I never could (or would want to).

        That’s fine that you think me vile. You are in agreement with those prominent atheistic philosophers who think that all believers are delusional anyway, so the fact that you’ve added vile on top of that for me, really doesn’t phase me.

        When it comes down to it though, even if I think that someone is “vile”, I have enough respect from them as human beings to attempt to logically deal with what they are saying. I at least attempt to understand their words.

        I don’t get that from you. I wish I did.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          If it works, it doesn’t need to be changed.

          That’s the spirit! There’s that puckish Random Function that we all love!

        • TheRealRandomFunction

          And as per usual, instead of actually dealing with anything I say, you deal with me, not with any ounce of actual respect but with a trite comment meant to get a laugh.

          Out of all I wrote, and all the questions I asked, you responded to.. well.. absolutely nothing.

          And you wonder why you annoy me.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          And you wonder why you annoy me.

          I’ve corresponded with lots of Christians that I didn’t annoy. I suspect that a teensy bit of the blame must fall on your broad shoulders.

          I answer your questions but it’s never enough. I’ve struck “satisfy RRF” from my New Year’s resolutions.

  • RandomFunction2

    To all,

    I do want creationists to leave creationism, and I do want fundamentalists to leave fundamentalism, but I don’t share the rage against god belief of the New Atheists (who, I guess, have read very little or nothing of liberal theology and little of liberation theologies). Some versions of Christianity are definitely good for museums, but not all.

    • TheRealRandomFunction

      I do want creationists to leave creationism, and I do want fundamentalists to leave fundamentalism, but I don’t share the rage against god belief of the New Atheists (who, I guess, have read very little or nothing of liberal theology and little of liberation theologies).

      I would question if the New Atheists have read, or will read, any theology period, beyond that which is on skeptics.com or similar sites.

  • Orbital Teapot

    Hi Retro,

    Ok, I let go of “RandomFunction2″ though I found this name quite amusing for a while.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    I was glad I had the chance to attend the Reason Rally and the conference after. It was fun to meet so many folks I who had been involved in discussions I have had on-line, but this time, F2F. Especially good, was to be able to discuss “nothing” with Lawrence Krauss one late night in the hotel bar.

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