Bad Atheist Arguments: “Science Can Explain Everything”

Andy Bannister The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist bookThis is part 7 of a critique of The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (2015) by Andy Bannister (part 1). The book promises to critique a number of atheist arguments.

Chapter 7. The Lunatic in the Louvre

In today’s opening episode, Fred takes our hero to the Louvre but then drugs him in the cafeteria. When he awakes that night, he first thinks that Fred plans to steal the Mona Lisa, but no, he just wants a paint sample to test. Why can’t Fred just find what he wants on Wikipedia? Because he’s a scientist and insists on doing his own research.

To attempt to tie this to reality, Bannister quotes Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto, “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” But just two sentences later, Bannister bungles that into, “Science can answer any and all questions.” Yes, that is quoted accurately. And no, that’s not even close to what the scientist said.

In previous chapter critiques, I’ve defended the atheist argument against Bannister’s attacks. But I don’t defend this argument because no one makes it. No one makes it, that is, except theists who seem to be drawn to strawman arguments like flies to garbage.

Can science answer ethical questions?

Back to Bannister. “If the scientist in question is opining . . . that Science Can Explain Everything, well we need to point a few things out.”

Oh, good. We’re about to get schooled by a guy who can’t correctly paraphrase a simple idea.

Bannister challenges us: “What is the value of a human life?” How would atheists answer this with science alone? A chemist might tally the value of the salvageable chemicals inside a human body. An economist could look at the net contribution to the economy of each person. But surely humans have an intrinsic value that science can’t tell you.

How do we compute the value a human life?

We all know how a human life can be given a financial value when you look at how life insurance works. Or we can weigh the cost of an improvement in food or road safety, for example, against the number of lives it will save. This computation isn’t horrifying; it’s something we’re familiar with.

But Bannister probably wants a more intangible or intuitive approach. He’d probably say that we all feel that one human life is worth more than one animal life. Or do we? When Harambe, a lowland gorilla (which, as a species, is critically endangered), was killed in 2016 to protect a four-year-old boy who had fallen into his zoo enclosure, many criticized the zoo for its actions, and the boy’s mother received torrents of online outrage for her supposed negligence.

Your life is more valuable than the life of a slug or a rat, but would it be more valuable than the last breeding pair of bald eagles? What’s more valuable—the life of a random stranger you will never meet or your beloved pet? Is a human life so precious that capital punishment is immoral?

Another example is Peter Singer’s drowning child experiment: you pass a pond with a child drowning. There are no difficulties stopping you from wading out and rescuing the child except that you would ruin your $500 shoes. Would that stop you? Of course not—anyone would sacrifice an expensive pair of shoes to save a child’s life. But that means that saving a life is worth $500 to you. Now suppose a nonprofit organization that provides bed nets to protect children from malaria-carrying mosquitoes (or some similar project) shows you how a $500 donation would save one life or more. Most people would discard this appeal after a few seconds’ consideration, including those who would have sacrificed their shoes.

Using science to uncover and explain moral conclusions

That was a detour, but I think it was relevant to Bannister’s challenge that we find the value of human life without appealing to something outside science. My point is first that we can indeed put a crass monetary value on human life. We do it all the time. And second, Bannister’s unstated supernatural valuation of human life is probably a cheery declaration that God made Man the pinnacle of his creation, QED, and yet it’s more complicated than that.

Let me now directly respond to his challenge. Our moral programming tells us (in general) to value human life over other kinds of life. Why is this? It’s a product of our evolutionary path, which is explained by science. When legislators evaluate a proposed improvement to a dangerous intersection, they uncover and follow evidence and test hypotheses to make their decisions—and that’s the scientific method. What’s unexplained?

Bannister reminds me of the child who mindlessly asks “Why?” in response to every statement. He asks, “Why is the pursuit of knowledge a good thing?” and “Why is it wrong [for a scientist] to lie about [experimental] results?”

Well, little Andy, lying slows down knowledge finding, and knowledge is good because sometimes we can use it to improve life—eliminate a disease or improve food production, for example. Why is that good, you ask? Because we seek happier, healthier lives—that’s just how we’re programmed. “Good” in this case is defined by our programming, put there by evolution. There’s no need to appeal to the supernatural to explain this.

Continue to part 7b.

If science can’t detect your God,
your priests can’t either.
— commenter Pofarmer

Image credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Otto

    Science can’t answer everything

    Religion can’t answer anything.

    -A. Ra

    • Michael Neville

      Science knows it doesn’t know everything, otherwise it would stop. –Dara O’Briain

      • guerillasurgeon

        Dammit, I really must read all the comments before I comment.

        • al kimeea

          Ya, you forgot the O in his last name. Into the feckin sack with the homeoquacks. 😉

          I like his accent when he says “it’s just water”

        • Michael Neville

          I like his comparison of dentistry and toothology.

        • al kimeea

          Ya, it’s a pretty good monologue. We knew someone that practiced self-dentistry with string and a door.

  • Castilliano

    Re: “Science can answer any and all questions.”
    Poor paraphrasing? Nope. No paraphrasing. I’ve seen this apologetic before.

    I’d venture that Bannister grabbed Kroto’s quote after the fact. Bannister likely had this trendy apologetic strawman re: “science-ism” set up & targeted beforehand. Then he added the closest quote he could find from an esteemed scientist.
    And if that’s the closest match, that just illustrates how far off Bannister’s aim is.

    It’s illogical and deceptive apologetics like these (Strobel) that accelerated my exodus. For which I’m ironically thankful.
    Cheers.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Yes, that’s possible. It’s frustrating how the masses want the pleasing story and don’t have much use for evidence, reality, and all that nonsense.

    • TheNuszAbides

      It’s illogical and deceptive apologetics like these (Strobel) that accelerated my exodus. For which I’m ironically thankful.

      my first thought was that it might be justice if these hacks could only profit financially from sales to those of us who share a similar trajectory/spark-of-deconversion. but then of course, they would lose the obvious incentive …

  • Tony D’Arcy

    Religion tells us the answers to the big questions in life, like “why I am going to spend eternity in a fiery lake when I die ?”

    Head meets table.

  • eric

    If Bannister is going to imply that “what is the value of a (human) life” is the sort of question his religion can answer while science can’t, then he could at least walk us through his religious life-value calculation. Alright, you have this claim. So how much value does your religion calculate? In what units? Using what data? Show me the math! Or at least, show me the reasoning!

    Claiming you can calculate the value of a human life and then not doing the calculation even once is basically like advertising a weight loss program without even an anecdotal skinny person to show for it.

    • DanD

      There’s also the tiny little issue that for (many) religious individuals, the value of a life changes. It’s apparently much more important before birth than the life of the pregnant woman. Then, immediately after birth, it’s value drops to almost zero based on the lack of support from the evangelical right for social support programs such as sCHIP or WIC. Of course it’s also modulated by wealth, and skin color, so one rich white man being killed in a terrorist attack is more important than the hundreds of thousands of poor brown refugees fleeing those same terrorists.

      • Otto

        Not to mention quality of life is never really a concern. The Catholic church didn’t really care about the lives of the victims of child rape within their care.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          So the Catholic Church setting up hospitals in medieval Europe was mostly due to matters other than a concern for quality of life? There’s also this:

          The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world.[1] (WP: Catholic Church and health care)

          But perhaps if they aren’t perfect, they’re utter failures?

        • Joe

          So the Catholic Church setting up hospitals in medieval Europe was mostly due to matters other than a concern for quality of life?

          I’d say so, yes.

          But perhaps if they aren’t perfect, they’re utter failures?

          You are fond of your straw man arguments, aren’t you? Nobody is asking them to be perfect. We just wished they weren’t complicit in the molestation of so many young children. Or were responsible for so many deaths worldwide. Or opposed contraception…….etc.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’d say so, yes.

          Fascinating; why do you think Catholics set up hospitals, then?

          You are fond of your straw man arguments, aren’t you?

          Which ones? You claim this is one, ok. Which other arguments that I have made were constructed of straw?

          Nobody is asking them to be perfect. We just wished they weren’t complicit in the molestation of so many young children. Or were responsible for so many deaths worldwide. Or opposed contraception…….etc.

          Ok, so there is some standard, which the Roman Catholic Church fails, such that it “didn’t really care about the lives of the victims of child rape within their care”. Where is the empirical evidence that some sufficiently large and diverse group of other humans, on average, is better when it comes to child victims of rape and other terribleness? I mean, surely the claim is that there is such a sufficiently large and diverse group of humans which does “care about the lives of the victims of child rape within their care”? And I hope this “care” is measured in terms of actual welfare and not rhetoric.

        • Otto

          “Where is the empirical evidence that some sufficiently large and diverse group of other humans, on average, is better when it comes to child victims of rape and other terribleness?”

          The point isn’t that other groups morality is better….the point is that the Church claims their morality is superior when this is demonstrably not that case.

        • Joe

          Fascinating; why do you think Catholics set up hospitals, then?

          Since we’ll never know the real reason, we can speculate that proselyting, societal control, increasing the spread of their religion and as an outward display of their ‘godliness’?

          Which ones? You claim this is one, ok. Which other arguments that I have made were constructed of straw?

          See your response below in this very same post.

          Where is the empirical evidence that some sufficiently large and diverse group of other humans, on average, is better when it comes to child victims of rape and other terribleness?

          So it’s a numbers game?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Since we’ll never know the real reason, we can speculate that proselyting, societal control, increasing the spread of their religion and as an outward display of their ‘godliness’?

          Curious; you ruled out a possible explanation without having the evidence to do so. It sounds like you harbor irrational prejudice.

          See your response below in this very same post.

          I don’t see it. It’s not clear that @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus took anything I said to him to be a straw man, given his subsequent response.

          So it’s a numbers game?

          Nope, it’s merely an expectation that if one is going to morally fault some group X, that only really has teeth if one can point to some group Y which is (i) properly comparable to group X; (ii) morally superior to group X. Do I really need to explain the need for either of these conditions?

        • Joe

          Curious; you ruled out a possible explanation without having the evidence to do so. It sounds like you harbor irrational prejudice.

          Just as you ruled out a host of more probable explanations.

          Nope, it’s merely an expectation that if one is going to morally fault some group X, that only really has teeth if one can point to some group Y which is (i) properly comparable to group X; (ii) morally superior to group X.

          So you’re saying morality is subjective?

          I guess I can try and look for institutions with a worse record on handling child abuse than the Catholic Church. Would it excuse their behavior if I did? I could say the Nazi’s, but they had the full support of the church in Germany, so that rules them out.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Just as you ruled out a host of more probable explanations.

          Tu quoque?

          So you’re saying morality is subjective?

          Nope.

          I guess I can try and look for institutions with a worse record on handling child abuse than the Catholic Church.

          Irrelevant.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You can’t figure out if child fucking is a problem unless you can do a comparison? I’m pretty sure most of us can see the problem clearly within the Catholic church without need of a comparison.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Would you stop it with the straw men?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m trying to focus the conversation. No, that’s not a strawman.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I never said, nor implied, that child rape is not a problem. All human fallibility and immorality can be labeled “a problem”. But this is very different from saying something like, “The RCC exceeds other comparable groups in its fallenness.”

        • adam
        • adam

          ” It sounds like you harbor irrational prejudice.”

          you mean like the Church?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7b26fa63bd62710b5b0bda13321c325b5f32009b7ac947dd6169bdc88c7b54d.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          The Catholic Church is and always has been more concerned with ideology and its own prerogatives than with support of people.

          The child rape fiasco showed that the Catholic hierarchy was more concerned with the prestige and dignity of the Church than the welfare of children. Most organizations who work with children will inform the civil authorities when they discover a child rapist. The Catholic Church had an official policy of not informing the police but rather moving Father Pedophile to another parish, another diocese or even another country where he could find fresh victims. Supposedly Pope Frankie is changing that but considering the Church’s prior history a wait-and-see attitude seems warranted.

          Some years ago a nine year old Brazilian girl was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins. A gynecologist who examined the girl determined that she was unlikely to survive the pregnancy, let alone give birth to two living babies. So with her mother’s permission she was given an abortion. The Cardinal Archbishop of São Paulo excommunicated everyone involved in the abortion with two exceptions: The girl wasn’t excommunicated because she was too young to make an informed decision; nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The Catholic Church is and always has been more concerned with ideology and its own prerogatives than with support of people.

          That’s a pretty strong claim; do you have the requisite evidence to back it up? BTW I’m a Protestant; I’m well-aware that the RCC has gone through times of corruption. But they’re not unique in this aspect; the most enlightened nation in the world managed to execute six million innocent Jews in cold blood. And so surely you want to say that extant alternatives to the RCC are holier/​more just/​more righteous.

          The child rape fiasco showed that the Catholic hierarchy was more concerned with the prestige and dignity of the Church than the welfare of children.

          That’s definitely a plausible explanation, although I would want to ensure there aren’t alternative plausible explanations—having been a Senior Chief in the Navy, surely you know that not all badness an institution permits is because people willed it or their prestige. I would also want to see if the RCC is particularly bad when it comes to huge institutions; Christians aren’t perfect, but one would expect the power of God to give them some sort of edge, if there is any power of God to be had.

          Most organizations who work with children will inform the civil authorities when they discover a child rapist.

          Most organizations are 100% perfect at reporting instances of suspected rape? (The justice system determines whether the crime probably occurred, so I took the liberty of making a correction—let me know if it has become a straw man.) From where did you get such data?

          If you want a prominent example of cover-up outside the RCC, see the following from the 2016-06-16 Bloomberg The UN Peacekeepers Rape Scandal Gets Worse:

               • “Whistleblower says UN troops act with ‘complete impunity’”
               • “Report on sexual abuse of children went from ‘inbox to inbox’”

          Some years ago a nine year old Brazilian girl was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins. A gynecologist who examined the girl determined that she was unlikely to survive the pregnancy, let alone give birth to two living babies. So with her mother’s permission she was given an abortion. The Cardinal Archbishop of São Paulo excommunicated everyone involved in the abortion with two exceptions: The girl wasn’t excommunicated because she was too young to make an informed decision; nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape.

          Here’s what I found at WP: 2009 Brazilian girl abortion case:

          In 2009, a nine-year-old Brazilian girl became pregnant with twins. The girl’s mother obtained an abortion for the girl and, afterward, Archbishop José Sobrinho said that automatic excommunication applied to the girl’s mother and to the doctors who performed the abortion, prompting national and international criticism. In response, the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil declared that no one was excommunicated in the case, and in an article published on L’Osservatore Romano a Vatican bioethicist rebuked the archbishop for his public statement.

          The reasoning that if the RCC doesn’t excommunicate you for X, it is because it approves of X, is patently fallacious.

        • adam

          “The reasoning that if the RCC doesn’t excommunicate you for X, it is because it approves of X, is patently fallacious.”

          That’s a pretty strong claim; do you have the requisite evidence to back it up?

        • Michael Neville

          I did give evidence to support my claim. Read the post that you quoted, this time for comprehension, and you’ll find evidence.

          The reasoning that if the RCC doesn’t excommunicate you for X, it is because it approves of X, is patently fallacious.

          Fortunately for me I didn’t make that claim, you stupid fuckwad. Read the paragraph before the one where I talked about the Brazilian girl and you’ll might, if you put your puny mind to it and think really, really, really hard, you might get a glimmering as to why I think the Catholic Church approves of child rape. Here’s a hint: They have (or had) an official policy of not reporting the crime of child rape to the police but instead supported and protected the rapist.

        • adam

          ” Here’s a hint: They have (or had) an official policy of not reporting
          the crime of child rape to the police but instead supported and
          protected the rapist.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7b26fa63bd62710b5b0bda13321c325b5f32009b7ac947dd6169bdc88c7b54d.jpg

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I did give evidence to support my claim.

          I said “requisite evidence”, not “a few tidbits”.

          MN: Some years ago a nine year old Brazilian girl was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins. A gynecologist who examined the girl determined that she was unlikely to survive the pregnancy, let alone give birth to two living babies. So with her mother’s permission she was given an abortion. The Cardinal Archbishop of São Paulo excommunicated everyone involved in the abortion with two exceptions: The girl wasn’t excommunicated because she was too young to make an informed decision; nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape.

          LB: The reasoning that if the RCC doesn’t excommunicate you for X, it is because it approves of X, is patently fallacious.

          MN: Fortunately for me I didn’t make that claim, you stupid fuckwad.

          My apologies; would you please explain the logic behind the underlined clause? It seemed to me that you believed that if the RCC disapproved of child rape, then it would have excommunicated the perpetrator. (We’d also need to deal with whether it’s automatic excommunication or manual, whether the RCC waits for the justice system to determine guilt, whether there was repentance, etc.)

        • Michael Neville

          I did give requisite evidence. That you don’t like it just means that you don’t like it.

          My apologies

          Not accepted. I know what your apologies are worth.

          would you please explain the logic behind the underlined clause?

          You really are a stupid fuckwad. Ever hear about Catholic priests raping children and their bishops protecting the rapists by not reporting them to the appropriate authorities? So if the bishops are protecting child rapists that means the Catholic hierarchy approves of child rape.

          I’ve already talked about that in the paragraph right above the one where I wrote about the Brazilian girl. If you can’t keep up, take notes.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I did give requisite evidence. That you don’t like it just means that you don’t like it.

          Were any scholar to attempt to publish a work supporting your claim—

          MN: The Catholic Church is and always has been more concerned with ideology and its own prerogatives than with support of people.

          —with only the state of the Roman Catholic Church as regards its treatment of the sexual abuse of children in the past 50 years, that scholar would get laughed at.

          You really are a stupid fuckwad. Ever hear about Catholic priests raping children and their bishops protecting the rapists by not reporting them to the appropriate authorities? So if the bishops are protecting child rapists that means the Catholic hierarchy approves of child rape.

          This isn’t an explanation of the underlined. I do understand what you’re saying, I just think you threw in extraneous nonsense to bolster your argument, except that it doesn’t bolster your argument unless it is true that “if the RCC doesn’t excommunicate you for X, it is because it approves of X has no problem with X”. And you’ve made it clear that you weren’t operating on any such basis.

          I’ve already talked about that in the paragraph right above the one where I wrote about the Brazilian girl. If you can’t keep up, take notes.

          You said some things, but you made absolutely no case for the implied argument that if the RCC disapproves of child rape, necessarily it would have [auto-]excommunicated the alleged perpetrator and necessarily you would know about it. For example, you have ruled out the possibility that the stepfather will ultimately get excommunicated for his act, as well as the possibility that the stepfather has repented to the RCC’s satisfaction. Unless you think repentance should not be a way to avoid/​undo excommunication?

        • Michael Neville

          Were any scholar to attempt to publish a work supporting your claim—

          I’m a guy posting on a blog, not a scholar writing a paper.

          You said some things, but you made absolutely no case for the implied argument that if the RCC disapproves of child rape, necessarily it would have [auto-]excommunicated the alleged perpetrator and necessarily you would know about it.

          It’s really funny how you keep showing that I don’t provide evidence for claims I never made.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m a guy posting on a blog, not a scholar writing a paper.

          Then don’t claim shit you can’t support with the burden of proof. Or at least admit that you don’t have the burden of proof, or don’t care to provide it. That’s easy. You’re welcome to advance any and all unsubstantiated opinions you’d like! (Apparently I’m not, but I can work under those double standards.)

          It’s really funny how you keep showing that I don’t provide evidence for claims I never made.

          Sorry, I keep operating under the impression that you meant to say something rational with “nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape”. Apparently you didn’t. My apologies for thinking you meant to employ rationality here.

        • Michael Neville

          I have provided evidence that the Catholic Church approves of child rape. That you don’t like that evidence isn’t my fault, so stop pretending that I haven’t given evidence when I have.

          I did say something rational when I wrote “nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape”. That you disagree with that statement doesn’t mean it isn’t rational, it means that you disagree with it.

          IA was right, you’re sealioning. And stop giving me your apologies. I know the value of a Luke Breuer apology. It’s lower than whale shit, the nastiest, most slimy thing in the depths of the ocean.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I have provided evidence that the Catholic Church approves of child rape.

          No, you really haven’t. You’ve provided evidence that the RCC does not come down harder on child rape than you would like them to. You’ve provided zero evidence that among comparable institutions, the RCC is worse than average or even as bad as average.

          No rational person would look at the 2016-06-16 Bloomberg article The UN Peacekeepers Rape Scandal Gets Worse and conclude that “the UN approves of rape, including child rape”. This, despite the fact that the two key points in the article are as follows:

               • Whistleblower says UN troops act with ‘complete impunity’
               • Report on sexual abuse of children went from ‘inbox to inbox’

          Or shall we dig up reports of rape in the Navy, in which you served twenty years, “approving of rape” because not always did it get dealt with properly? C’mon, you have legitimate complaints against the RCC, but you’re inflating them like crazy.

          I did say something rational when I wrote “nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated because the Catholic Church approves of child rape”.

          Who knows what it is.

          That you disagree with that statement doesn’t mean it isn’t rational, it means that you disagree with it.

          In order for me to disagree with it, I’d have to find some way to render it intelligible.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve provided evidence that the RCC does not come down harder on child rape than you would like them to. You’ve provided zero evidence that among comparable institutions, the RCC is worse than average or even as bad as average.

          MN is getting a little too close for comfort, so you invent the idea that only through a comparison can the RCC’s crimes be properly understood, and that we can’t understand them standalone. Clever. I’d do the same thing.

          The RCC claims to be the source of morality, and yet the professionals in its ranks can’t correctly answer the moral question: “When one of our staffers is accused of a terrible crime against an innocent person, should we cooperate with the police and make sure that person never does that crime again, or should we focus instead on the image of our organization?”

          Oops—did I overstep? I’ve mentioned this before and gotten my wrist slapped because it introduced new material into the conversation. Well, I’m sure you’ll tell me if I have.

          Or shall we dig up reports of rape in the Navy

          Which informs the question how, exactly? Perhaps just as a smokescreen or a caltrop, I’m guessing.

        • epeeist

          Which informs the question how, exactly?

          It’s a tu quoque. In other words a whine that “everyone else does it” and hence that it can’t be all that bad.

          If the RCC had admitted at the time that, like other organisations, it had some bad apples in its ranks then the worst that it could have been criticised for would have been poor safeguarding procedures. But as you note, this isn’t what it did, it committed the far more heinous crime of trying to cover the whole thing up and allowing the abuse to continue.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But as you note, this isn’t what it did, it committed the far more heinous crime of trying to cover the whole thing up and allowing the abuse to continue.

          Facilitating it even, in many instances.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It’s a tu quoque. In other words a whine that “everyone else does it” and hence that it can’t be all that bad.

          It is tu quoque in the sense that attempting to hold some group to a higher standard† than any other comparable group has attained is unreasonable. In no way does this mean “it can’t be all that bad”. It can be absolutely terrible, without us knowing how to make it better, yet.

          All y’all have to do is find some other comparable group which has a better record of dealing with its bad apples and you’d have an excellent case against the RCC. But for some reason, this is too hard. You’d rather judge by ideals, even if you don’t actually know how to implement them.

          † For its entire existence, with zero lapses.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It is tu quoque in the sense that attempting to hold some group to a higher standard† than any other comparable group has attained is unreasonable.

          There is your major malfunction right there. The U.S. Navy and the RCC are not comparable groups in any shape, form, or fashion.

        • adam
        • adam
        • Greg G.

          Both the Mafia and the Church exploit the fear of death to encourage people to give them money.

        • adam

          “Encourage” is such a nice word for it.

        • Paul B. Lot

          attempting to hold some group to a higher standard† than any other comparable group has attained is unreasonable

          This is idiocy (par for your course, @LukeBreuer:disqus).

          No progress would ever occur if we were prohibited from criticizing [existing institutions] because they were [no worse than their peers].


          All y’all have to do is find some other comparable group which has a better record of dealing with its bad apples and you’d have an excellent case against the RCC. But for some reason, this is too hard.

          Oh, look here everyone! Luke is shifting the burden of proof. Who could’ve guessed?

        • epeeist

          Oh, look here everyone! Luke is shifting the burden of proof. Who could’ve guessed?

          Par for the course. And of course SOP when it comes to criticising the RCC. Empathy and concern for the abused disappears in favour of protecting the image of the organisation.

        • adam
        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Empathy and concern for the abused is not license to play loose with the facts. Indeed, playing loose with the facts is antithetical to helping the abused and to helping prevent more from being abused. The one who plays loose with the facts insults the abused and prepares the ground for more abuse.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Empathy and concern for the abused disappears in favour of protecting the image of the organisation.

          what a curious coincidence that their Master left them with lost really specific instructions for how to shepherd the benighted masses they take turns hiding from and posturing in front of.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          No progress would ever occur if we were prohibited from criticizing [existing institutions] because they were [no worse than their peers].

          Straw man.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Straw man.

          Show us.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The burden of proof is on you to show how I claimed or necessarily implied that “we [are] prohibited from criticizing [existing institutions]”.

        • Paul B. Lot

          necessarily implied

          An oxymoron, no?


          show how I claimed or necessarily implied that “we [are] prohibited from criticizing [existing institutions]

          Ask and ye shall receive:

          attempting to hold some group to a higher standard† than any other comparable group has attained is unreasonable

          Everyone here wants to be reasonable.

          You claimed that it would be “unreasonable” to attack the RCC if we cannot find “comparable” groups.

          Thus, if we want to be reasonable, we should refrain from criticizing the RCC if we are not inclined to do [insert laborious Luke non-sequitur here].

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          LB: necessarily implied

          PBL: An oxymoron, no?

          Let’s consult a dictionary:

          dictionary.com: oxymoron
          1. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.

          dictionary.com: necessarily
          2. as a necessary, logical, or inevitable result

          dictionary.com: implied
          1. involved, indicated, or suggested without being directly or explicitly stated; tacitly understood

          There is no contradiction between ‘necessarily’ and ‘implied’. Instead, ‘implied’ doesn’t require the sense of logical necessity, although sometimes that sense is meant. By saying ‘necessarily implied’, I make the logical aspect unambiguously part of ‘implied’.

        • Paul B. Lot

          There is no contradiction between ‘necessarily’ and ‘implied’.

          To “imply” can mean “to hint at” – if you had been “hinting” at ________, asking me to prove that you were “necessarily hinting at _______” would be to ask me to prove that it were impossible that you meant ought else; a task which would itself be futile given the nature of “hinting”.

          With that said, there is certainly a rigorous sense of “implication” where modification by “necessarily” doesn’t alter or invalidate the meaning of “implied” – you were using that sense of the word?

          Fair enough.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          LB: The burden of proof is on you to show how I claimed or necessarily implied that “we [are] prohibited from criticizing [existing institutions]”.

          PBL: Ask and ye shall receive:

          LB: It is tu quoque in the sense that attempting to hold some group to a higher standard† than any other comparable group has attained is unreasonable.

          You haven’t shown what you claim. There are two very different kinds of criticism. One is a strong moral condemnation, of the sort where we humans now how not to do some terrible thing. It is utterly shameful that the condemned party is engaged in that behavior. The other is a much weaker criticism, where we wish we could avoid this terrible thing that we don’t [hopefully: yet] know how to avoid.

          What I have argued is that we shouldn’t take the stronger stance without warrant. Nowhere have I barred any and all criticism.

          You claimed that it would be “unreasonable” to attack the RCC if we cannot find “comparable” groups.

          Do you regularly hold other people to higher standards than what you’ve obtained, condemning them when they fall short, even when you have zero demonstrated competence in obtaining said standards under comparable conditions? Because that is the behavior I’m calling “unreasonable”.

        • Paul B. Lot

          even when you have zero demonstrated competence in obtaining said standards under comparable conditions?

          I have demonstrated elsewhere my competence. Either attack that competence, or admit that the loaded question you’ve asked here was built on false premises.

        • Kodie

          I really don’t understand this at all. The RCC stages itself as the center of all morality, that’s it, that’s all, that’s why you need the Catholics. When you compare it to, say, Penn State’s coverup, why you should hold Joe Paterno responsible for the actions of another person within the organization even if he is not the molester – hey, Penn State wants your kiddos; or any Boy Scout scandal or daycare scandal or Jewish synagogue scandal, or the coaches having direct access and mentoring your kids, I mean, grooming them for sexual availability.

          A lot of social institutions hold themselves up as wholesome for the kids, but they don’t hold themselves up as the moral authority for everyone across the land, so you can’t really compare. If raping kids for fun is their favorite example of an objectively wrong act, you would think the sole institution that clings to these assertions would not also be some global conspiracy to rape kids for fun and keep doing it without doing anything about it.

          1. I take some things about religion like I do, i.e., it was built in to exploit children. Hey I have a great idea how to make our religious displays more appealing – young boys. None of the other religions are using young boys in their pageantry. Now, I don’t think gay grown men make young boys gay, but I have heard the idea that being molested makes one more likely to molest. It isn’t necessarily that priesthood requires celibacy that opens up the opportunity as those drawn to priesthood are probably victims who feel really dirty trying to feel clean. I don’t really know for sure, but the prestige of being an altar boy, as I understand it, draws some young boys to aspire to priesthood… and I kind of feel like it’s built that way.

          2 & 3. Honestly, I forgot what my other two points were. Maybe later.

        • epeeist

          All y’all have to do is find some other comparable group which has a better record of dealing with its bad apples and you’d have an excellent case against the RCC.

          Bollocks, just because one person gets away with murder doesn’t mean to say we can’t prosecute other people for the same crime.

          As it is I am a fencing coach. Every couple of years I have to be re-certified, this includes a check against the national criminal database, if I have been prosecuted and found guilty of abuse (of a minor or other vulnerable person) then I can no longer coach. If someone at a fencing club or tournament thinks that I am abusing someone then there is a system in place for them to report it to the club administrator, the safeguarding officer in the region or at national level. This automatically instigates an investigation.

          Is it a perfect system? Of course not, no system is going to catch everything. But it does provide a robust system of safeguarding with little availability for cover up.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Bollocks, just because one person gets away with murder doesn’t mean to say we can’t prosecute other people for the same crime.

          Straw man.

          Is it a perfect system? Of course not, no system is going to catch everything. But it does provide a robust system of safeguarding with little availability for cover up.

          Do you think fencing clubs make a good institutional comparison to the RCC? For example, do they wield the kind of pervasive social influence which the RCC does in places, an influence which can be used for good and for evil? Do they routinely involve the kind of intimacy which occurs between priest and parishioner? (Compare to the intimacy between psychologist and patient.)

          BTW, I’m not saying the RCC couldn’t possibly do better. Instead, I’m suggesting that doing better might be quite hard, given that humans are not pristine beings. I’m sure there are plenty of people in the UN who absolutely deplore the facts record in the 2016-06-16 Bloomberg article The UN Peacekeepers Rape Scandal Gets Worse. But if you were to suggest to them that they simply “be better”, that they look at how fencing clubs do it and “simply” follow suit, they would properly laugh at you. Now, the RCC as an institution is more similar to fencing clubs than UN Peacekeepers deployed around the world; the point is that institutional change can be remarkably hard, and getting the kind of excellence you think the RCC should already have is not necessarily as easy as you seem to think it is.

          Incidentally, I do know a way in which the RCC is failing terribly, or at least was about thirty years ago. Because a connecting flight from Detroit to South Bend was canceled and I didn’t want to miss my cousin’s memorial service, I convinced a few Midwesterners to rent a car with me and make the three hour drive. One of them was a licensed, clinical psychologist who started out on the route to priesthood, only to change course at the last minute. He revealed a very interesting fact: psychology training involves copious warnings against the sexual temptations which invariably accompany the kind of closeness which can happen during counseling. His priesthood training involved no such warnings, despite the fact that celibacy would have greatly increased the danger. This fact helps explain the current terrible situation, without resorting to accusations such as the RCC approving of child rape. Furthermore, this fact could help combat the terribleness much more effectively than merely suggesting that the RCC clamp down more on child rape.

        • Paul B. Lot

          This fact helps explain the current terrible situation, without resorting to accusations such as the RCC approving of child rape.

          This an admirable example of a potential* oversight on their part. (*very heavily caveated)

          It is also an admirable example of you intentionally missing the point.

          No one is excoriating the RCC for accidentally missing a potential problem.

          Swing and a miss.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          No one is excoriating the RCC for accidentally missing a potential problem.

          That’s because apparently I’m the only one interested in actually solving the problem. See, if you want to actually solve the problem in a huge institution made up of imperfect human beings, you have to rigorously adhere to the facts (and enough of the facts) and weigh them appropriately. If instead all you are interested in is condemning some Other in order to bolster your own self-righteousness, the truth can be a casualty.

        • adam

          “you have to rigorously adhere to the facts ”

          Child sex abuse and coverup?

          “A canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the US bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.”
          http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0715/Catholic-church-lawyer-details-cover-up-claims-on-sex-abuse

          “The United Nations agency for children’s rights issued a deeply critical report Wednesday slamming the Vatican for policies that it says enabled priests to rape children, and urging them to remove suspected child abusers from the clergy. The Vatican hit back at the U.N., calling parts of the report an attempt to “interfere” with Catholic Church teaching.”
          http://time.com/4481/u-n-slams-vatican-over-child-abuse-cover-up/

        • Paul B. Lot

          That’s because apparently I’m the only one interested in actually solving the problem.

          Wow. What a disgusting thing to say. You really are a human piece of trash.


          See, if you want to actually solve the problem in a huge institution made up of imperfect human beings, you have to rigorously adhere to the facts (and enough of the facts) and weigh them appropriately.

          You have failed to show that anyone here is doing anything other than this.


          If instead all you are interested in is condemning some Other in order to bolster your own self-righteousness, the truth can be a casualty.

          The irony, it overwhelms me.

          The fact is that the RCC did not simply miss an understandably small detail.

          The structure, the administration of the RCC – from the bottom to the top – was involved in:
          a) ignoring the “potential” problem
          b) hushing up/repressing victim reports
          c) fighting law suits and obstructing justice
          d) moving priests around to avoid initial litigation/un-repressable-rumors
          e) continuing to move these priests around despite clear knowledge of their predatory behavior – thereby directly colluding in further sexual abuses
          f) actively shielding the guilty parties from criminal investigation by sheltering them at the Vatican.

          This is not an understandable oversight, or even a regretable lapse of judgement, nor even the actions of a few bad apples which took a deplorably-long time to come to light.

          This was active, knowing, collusion.

        • adam
        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The structure, the administration of the RCC – from the bottom to the top – was involved in:
          a) ignoring the “potential” problem
          b) hushing up/repressing victim reports
          c) fighting law suits and obstructing justice
          d) moving priests around to avoid initial litigation/un-repressable-rumors
          e) continuing to move these priests around despite clear knowledge of their predatory behavior – thereby directly colluding in further sexual abuses
          f) actively shielding the guilty parties from criminal investigation by sheltering them at the Vatican.

          What institution the size and complexity of the RCC does not employ this pattern with regard to some sort of heinous immorality/​injustice?

        • Paul B. Lot

          What institution the size and complexity of the RCC does not employ this pattern with regard to some sort of heinous immorality/​injustice?

          Irrelevant. Stick to the topic.

          The topic is: [the failings of the RCC were either minor, accidental, oversights] or [they were major, fundamental, and intentional acts].

        • adam
        • epeeist

          Straw man

          Unlike you I actually know what the requirements are for a straw man fallacy.

          Separate criminal cases stand on their own account.

          Do you think fencing clubs make a good institutional comparison to the RCC?

          Fencing is merely one sport amongst many, all coaches have to undergo the same periodic screening, as do teachers, youth club leaders, outdoor pursuit personnel etc. etc.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Unlike you I actually know what the requirements are for a straw man fallacy.

          You may know but you certainly don’t seem to practice.

          Separate criminal cases stand on their own account.

          This couldn’t have less to do with what I’ve actually said.

          LB: Do you think fencing clubs make a good institutional comparison to the RCC?

          e: Fencing is merely one sport amongst many, all coaches have to undergo the same periodic screening, as do teachers, youth club leaders, outdoor pursuit personnel etc. etc.

          “No.” would have been a more succinct answer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s like the frequent shouts of “straw man!” are a Tourette’s kind of thing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This fact helps explain the current terrible situation, without resorting to accusations such as the RCC approving of child rape.

          When you say “current”, just what sort of time frame are you considering here Luke?

          Although the recent revelations of clergy sexual abuse suggests an unusual and recent epidemic among the Catholic church, the historical record suggests this difficulty has plagued the church over the centuries. The recent effort of investigative reporters and adult survivors alleging sexual abuse by clergy, has led to an increased public awareness of the extent of illegal sexual activity occurring in the church. Opinion polls of Catholics in the United States have evidenced a critical view of the Church’s administrative response to the crisis. Recently, criminal and civil cases have successfully challenged the negligence of the church hierarchy and the sexual misconduct by some of its members. Judicial decisions, however, tend to not hold churches liable for the sexual acts of their clergy. Despite continuing press coverage and civil/criminal litigation, research on priest offenders is virtually nonexistent The claims of unprecedented treatment success with clergy offenders has not been supported by published data. Given the high recidivism rates of sex offenders, the Catholic church should reconsider its policy of placing known sex offenders back into active ministry.

          A Canon, A Choirboy, and Homosexuality in Late Sixteenth-Century Italy:

          Documents in the Archivio di Stato of Florence allow for the reconstruction of a case of clerical sodomy involving a canon and a choirboy of the Church of Our Lady of Loreto in the year 1570. The story can be followed in detail from its beginning to its tragic conclusion through letters sent to the Cardinal Protector of Loreto and transcripts of interrogations carried out in the town itself.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Let me remind you that I’m a Protestant. In case that’s not clear enough: one of the biggest reasons the Protestants protested was due to gross immorality in the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant Reformation started in 1517.

        • adam

          “It is tu quoque in the sense that attempting to hold some group to a higher standard”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2c7a8a473c353d1e876be18254d34fce45d5a4283381fe1e018b7b04e3b8d76c.gif

        • adam

          ” it committed the far more heinous crime of trying to cover the whole thing up and allowing the abuse to continue.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4d13619b3ac0d17b32770ee151935462cade37c1c9734749144fd4cbbf530d40.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          I can see where Luke’s hang-up here lies. It is in the use of the word “approve” in Michael’s comment.

          Now, Luke has a passion for the word definitions and particularly inferring the most charitable definition to a word, given a bit of context.

          But here we have a double standard. Something Luke disapproves of in the character of others, but for some inexplicable reason, just can’t see the trait in himself.

          let’s have a wee look at some charitable definitions….

          approve:- to find to be acceptable; to consider fair, good, or right; to authorize or sanction.

          Synonymous with…

          agree to, second, allow, pass, accept, confirm, recommend, permit, sanction, advocate, bless, endorse, uphold, mandate, authorize, ratify, go along with, subscribe to, consent to, buy into (informal), validate, countenance, rubber stamp, accede to, give the go-ahead to…..

          I think an argument can be made that the institution that is the RCC is guilty of some or all of these definitions.

          Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction and who by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin. Listen, I say, and be shrewd enough to understand that all of you alike are deserving of death, that is, not only those who do such things, but also they who approve those who practice them ~Rom 1:32

          The RCC’s insidious cover-up was definitely “approved” at the highest level. Something that “allowed” further crimes to be committed and “permitted” abusers to avoid detection by the secular authorities. The RCC at all levels did “go along with” the system being acceptable to sexual abuse right back to the 11th century and likely a lot earlier.

          Problems in the 11th century were much more widespread than in our own. Priests and bishops were unaccountable to secular law, and abusive behavior extended beyond children to include adults. Many had concubines, or live-in prostitutes, who were completely at the mercy of their clerical patrons. Some bishops used their authority over the clergy to compel priests into acts of sodomy, as well.

          Peter Damian certainly recognised the problem.

          Complaints from Damian about the church’s unwillingness to confront the sexual behavior of the clergy, however, met with inaction. In 1049 Damian wrote to Pope Leo IX (1048-54) about the cancer of sexual abuse that was spreading through the church: boys and adolescents were being forced and seduced into performing acts of sodomy by priests and bishops; there were problems with sexual harassment among higher clergy; and many members of the clergy were keeping concubines.

          Peter Damian warned the pope that bishops were contributing to the growth of the problem by their failure to enforce church discipline. Members of the clergy who sexually abused others demonstrated by their actions that they had no fear of God, Damian argued. Such men were afraid only of being despised by the people and of losing their positions; they would do anything to avoid being stripped of their clerical status and identity. Knowing that their bishop would not remove them from their office and ministry gave such men license to continue in their wickedness. Thus in failing to discipline abusive members of the clergy, the bishops stood as guilty as the men who committed the crimes.

          Drawing on the model that the bishop or priest is married to the church, Damian accused both those who sexually abused the people under their care and those who allowed such abuse to take place with the crime of spiritual incest. But whereas biological parents who committed incest were subject in the Middle Ages to excommunication and exile, Damian felt that bishops who betrayed their spiritual children deserved a harsher penalty. Their betrayal ran deeper.

          Unfortunately, Pope Leo IX disagreed with Peter Damian’s analysis of the problem of clerical sexual abuse. He was willing to punish clerics who committed acts of anal intercourse with boys and adolescents, but he minimized the punishment of clerics who performed other sexual acts with children and adults of both sexes.

          Seems not much has changed.

          http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/534/article/11th-century-scandal

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          approve:- to find to be acceptable; to consider fair, good, or right; to authorize or sanction.

          Synonymous with…

          agree to, second, allow,

          Let’s take a look:

          dictionary.com: allow
          1. to give permission to or for; permit
          2. to let have; give as one’s share; grant as one’s right
          3. to permit by neglect, oversight, or the like

          Do you think that the third definition of ‘allow’ is compatible with your definition of ‘approve’? See, I would be quite happy to say that the RCC allowed child rape to go on and allowed cover-ups to happen. But to say that it approves of child rape takes it to a whole new level. Where it to approve of child rape, you’d think there might be some training on how to do it without being caught, along with training on how to go about cover-ups. Can you point to evidence of such training?

        • adam
        • adam
        • adam
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The RCC’s insidious cover-up was definitely “approved” at the highest level.

          And that’s where Luke’s attempted comparison fails IMO. This isn’t just any organization; this is the organization that (according to Luke, anyway) truly understands morality.

          That’s interesting about the church’s long history of rape. Not surprising, but you only hear about the modern instances.

        • Paul B. Lot

          this is the organization that (according to Luke, anyway) truly understands morality

          FWIW, and AFAIK (IANAL), he’s not a Catholic.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          True, though before 1500-ish, there was only the RCC (in Western Europe).

        • adam

          “Not surprising, but you only hear about the modern instances.”
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/870086376a3039ed8ff43904fc455354e88f434aa1a491d68683492f7a9e351e.jpg

          From the very beginning…

        • Joe

          I find it more probable to assume things were always worse in the past, due to everything from a lack of oversight and regulation to the fundamental structure of society in placing outright trust and power in the hands of authority.

          After all, we know the Church was involved in warmongering, genocide and profiteering. Is it a stretch to say that child abuse wasn’t rampant too?

          Unlike certain right wing politicians, I view even the recent past as an often horrible place I have no wish to return to.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          MN is getting a little too close for comfort,

          Incorrect. You forget I’m a Protestant, and you also fail to understand that I take seriously the testimony of the OT, whereby the Israelites go through periods where they are worse than the surrounding nations.

          so you invent the idea that only through a comparison can the RCC’s crimes be properly understood

          Properly understanding the terribleness of what the RCC has perpetuated and protected does not require a comparison. I’ve never said nor implied such a thing. If you mean something else by your claim here, please specify. Otherwise, it’s (another) straw man.

          The RCC claims to be the source of morality, and yet the professionals in its ranks can’t correctly answer the moral question: “When one of our staffers is accused of a terrible crime against an innocent person, should we cooperate with the police and make sure that person never does that crime again, or should we focus instead on the image of our organization?”

          Yes, they are not perfect. The question is, how imperfect can they be and still qualify as guides? My answer is: they would probably need to be better when compared to comparable institutions. From what I can tell, bigger, more complex institutions tolerate more immorality. Oh and let’s not kid ourselves: were this particular matter not an issue, you’d almost certainly switch to some other complaint, e.g. their stance on contraception. So why don’t you lay out how close to perfection the RCC would really have to be, for this whole class of argument to no longer apply.

          Oops—did I overstep? I’ve mentioned this before and gotten my wrist slapped because it introduced new material into the conversation.

          You seriously don’t understand that in the other place, you deviated from the spirit of the conversation, whereas here you [mostly] continued it? …

          Which informs the question how, exactly? Perhaps just as a smokescreen or a caltrop, I’m guessing.

          If I can find the appropriate data, then we could, using @michaelneville:disqus ‘s logic, say that “nor was the rapist stepfather excommunicated soldier dishonerably discharged because the Catholic Church Navy approves of child rape”. In case you weren’t aware, Michael served in the Navy for 20 years, ending as a Senior Chief. I’m playing on what I’m guessing is loyalty to the Navy to probe his reasoning.

        • adam

          ” The question is, how imperfect can they be and still qualify as guides?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d450afc215bc8072fb8f6e52f592d6f7e75b209f815f55ef048d449996a9e1f4.gif

        • Ignorant Amos

          Were the Commander-in-Chief, or top generals on the Department of Defence staff, or brigade commanders, complicit in the cover-up of any rape? Did they knowingly remove perpetrators and post them to different units while keeping their sordid details a secret?

          Your attempt at “whataboutery” is appallingly shocking. Comparing the two examples is a false equivalence for all sorts of reasons.

          I can’t speak for Michael, but for myself and am sure Michael would concur, I could and would not defend any fellow service person who was found guilty of rape.

          It is SOP’s that a service man/woman accused of any sexual impropriety, including adultery, was taken out of the line impending investigation, for they’re own safety as much as anything else.

          Anyone involved in covering up any impropriety also deserves to have the book thrown at them.

          You have to show that a service person, accused, charged, and convicted of rape, has not been discharged, but posted out to another unit to endanger others. For your nonsense to even come close to the systemic child abuse scandal of the level we see with the RCC.

        • adam

          “and you also fail to understand that I take seriously the testimony of the OT, ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/86effa5e2bc761ae95f687bf44f1632c13ebd40a54b07502d779f242a887cc3e.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Properly understanding the terribleness of what the RCC has perpetuated and protected does not require a comparison. I’ve never said nor implied such a thing.

          Sure seemed like you implied it to me. I’ve then completely misunderstood your continual bringing up of other organizations’ sexual scandals.

          Otherwise, it’s (another) straw man.

          Straw man? How is that possible when I have no idea of what you’re saying? You make a comparison repeatedly and then say that you never said or implied that a comparison is unnecessary. I have no idea what the hell you’re saying.

          The question is, how imperfect can they be and still qualify as guides? My answer is: they would probably need to be better when compared to comparable institutions.

          And my question is: what does it tell us that the RCC gets handed the easiest question possible (stated above—damage to innocent people vs. damage to the church’s reputation) and gets it wrong? (It already got the previous easiest question wrong: “Is slavery a moral institution?”) My answer: it tells us that this is just another human institution concerned about power and preserving the status quo.

          Oh and let’s not kid ourselves: were this particular matter not an issue, you’d almost certainly switch to some other complaint, e.g. their stance on contraception.

          So you’re imagining a situation where the RCC did get the easiest moral question correct? That would be a different world, wouldn’t it?

          You seriously don’t understand that in the other place, you deviated from the spirit of the conversation, whereas here you [mostly] continued it? …

          Correct.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Sure seemed like you implied it to me.

          Why don’t you go back and see if what “seemed” might be an error in your perception and/or judgment? Or would that be too much work for you?

          I’ve then completely misunderstood your continual bringing up of other organizations’ sexual scandals.

          I have questioned the use of the RCC’s sex scandals to support various claims made; if you care about the details, you can go look. I’ve never excused the sex scandals. At best, I’ve said that one shouldn’t act superior when one doesn’t have the requisite knowledge and wisdom to improve the situation oneself. Such self-righteous arrogance does not help humanity.

          Straw man? How is that possible when I have no idea of what you’re saying?

          Oh give me a break, a wonderful rhetorical strategy for smearing the other guy is to throw up straw men which paint him in a terrible light. I do not believe you are ignorant of this.

          You make a comparison repeatedly and then say that you never said or implied that a comparison is unnecessary. I have no idea what the hell you’re saying.

          A comparison is necessary for saying or implying that “we know how to do better”; a comparison is not necessary for saying “that is terrible behavior”. Capiche?

          And my question is: what does it tell us that the RCC gets handed the easiest question possible (stated above—damage to innocent people vs. damage to the church’s reputation) and gets it wrong?

          Why don’t you just say what you think it tells us? I’m sensing that you might want to say that on average you’re more righteous than the institution of Roman Catholicism, and if you had all the powers (but no more knowledge or wisdom), you could refashion the RCC into something appreciably better. Is that the case?

          (It already got the previous easiest question wrong: “Is slavery a moral institution?”)

          Then tell me: have you done your due diligence to see whether you are supporting slavery via globalism? slaveryfootprint.org is one place to start. Why don’t you show you righteousness, not just by stated ideals, but actual behavior? I’m sure you know the difference between these two things.

        • Paul B. Lot

          At best, I’ve said that one shouldn’t act superior when one doesn’t have the requisite knowledge and wisdom to improve the situation oneself. Such self-righteous arrogance does not help humanity.

          Lol, “requisite knowledge and wisdom to improve the situation”?

          1) Investigate every sexual-abuse accusation. Invite the authorities to do so alongside you.

          2) If there is serious/credible evidence to support an accusation, place the suspect on leave. Remove him from access to children, especially vulnerable children in solitary situations.

          3) If the priest is found guilty, do not: move him to another parish, merely force him to undergo the most cursory of in-house psychological evaluation/counselling, protect him in the Vatican. Give him to the authorites. Strip him, in perpetuity, of his priestly duties, ensure that he gets long-term counselling/help. (You, the RCC, helped create this monster after all).

          Wow, that took a huge amount of wisdom and knowledge, Luke, I can’t tell you how exhausted I am.

          It’s almost like running a marathon, trying to come up with better ways to deal with the situation than [decades of obstruction, intimidation, settling, moving priests around to re-offend, and sheltering guilty parties in hard-to-reach-places].

          I can see your point now, about “self-righteous arrogance”.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Since you have all the answers, why aren’t you reforming the Roman Catholic Church, right now? I mean, think of all the children who were abused who could finally get justice, if only you, @disqus_4rvHZwPMCR:disqus, would act? Surely whatever it is you are doing in life now would be greatly outweighed by the stopping of even a few cases of sexual assault on minors?

        • Greg G.

          Do you think it is Paul B. Lot’s responsibility to reform the RCC and not the hierarchy or the members who support the RCC?

          Romans 1:32 (NIV)32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I thought it was obvious that I was questioning whether he has the requisite knowledge and wisdom to actually solve the problem. When God judges the RCC, I don’t think it’ll get any sort of ‘pass’ for what it has done re: child rape.

        • adam

          “I thought it was obvious that I was questioning whether he has the requisite knowledge and wisdom to actually solve the problem.”

          How can you solve a problem in The Church which has existed virtually since its inception, without keep a constant light on it, until it is solved?

          “When God judges the RCC, ”

          Nice to know you are willing to wait for your imaginary sky daddy to actually condemn the RCC for what it has done.

          THAT is apparently what The Church believed as well.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b5bd9e1b970416b43f0dcdebb0f07063c20e5d84ef8599c0c9c2974e19ae8954.png

        • Joe

          “When God judges the RCC, “

          I don’t reply to Luke anymore, but you and Greg said the same thing I was going to to: At what level of abuse is God going to step in? When the billionth child is abused?

        • adam

          “I don’t reply to Luke anymore”

          I will up you one – Luke doesnt reply to me anymore.

          ” At what level of abuse is God going to step in?”

          After they are dead or most likely after we all dead, seems to be Luke’s answer.

          Injustice is just his “God’s” will.

          CRUELTY is what Luke depends on.
          Because that is what his MAGICAL Sky Daddy backs everything up with
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9bfb7cbb09a39ae8911c3879d7def113ab5277eb302961e16b02b2a649a0e7d6.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          God didn’t much care about 11 million people killed in the Holocaust. He’s pretty unflappable when it comes to agony members of his greatest creation.

        • Greg G.

          The practice of committing sodomy on boys goes back at least a thousand years. If God hasn’t judged the RCC already, there is no reason to think there is such a god. God punishing the individuals after death does nothing for the lives ruined by the abuse.

          While you do not approve of the child rape, or any other type of forced sexual acts, you are defending their inaction of taking steps to prevent more child rape while their methods to protect the reputation of the RCC promoted more child rapes, such as moving a known child rapist to another parish with unsuspecting potential victims.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The practice of committing sodomy on boys goes back at least a thousand years. If God hasn’t judged the RCC already, there is no reason to think there is such a god. God punishing the individuals after death does nothing for the lives ruined by the abuse.

          You realize that the Protestant Reformation was, in huge part, a repudiation of Roman Catholic immorality? I guess you want some sort of divine hammer form of judgment from God; all I can say is that I doubt this would contribute to theosis. It would be good for permanent infantilization of humanity, such that “sky daddy” would be apropos.

          While you do not approve of the child rape, or any other type of forced sexual acts, you are defending their inaction of taking steps to prevent more child rape while their methods to protect the reputation of the RCC promoted more child rapes, such as moving a known child rapist to another parish with unsuspecting potential victims.

          Utterly false.

        • adam

          “You realize that the Protestant Reformation was, in huge part, a repudiation of Roman Catholic immorality?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/78d2605305eadcda78155977377e79721c970efc02c864dedd893cd1d7e34a5d.jpg

          Martin Luther had his own immorality.

        • Greg G.

          You realize that the Protestant Reformation was, in huge part, a repudiation of Roman Catholic immorality?

          I have seen various reasons for the Reformation. I’ve never seen child rape listed among the reasons.

          I just checked Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. It is mostly about indulgences being sold. I see nothing about child rape. The closest might be “72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.” But it is about indulgences, too.

          I guess you want some sort of divine hammer form of judgment from God; all I can say is that I doubt this would contribute to theosis.

          You suggested it as a possibility. I reject the possibility.

          Utterly false.

          You have put too much energy into equivocation, making excuses, and arguing against others who condemn the RCC for their non-action toward child rape to claim it is utterly false.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I just checked Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. It is mostly about indulgences being sold. I see nothing about child rape. The closest might be “72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.” But it is about indulgences, too.

          Yep, and so if we do away with the slander that the Roman Catholic Church approves of child rape, then that thesis would very plausibly target the various ways that the lust of priests (all of whom would be “indulgence preachers” at that point in time) are not dealt with justly. But even if there had been no thesis 72, that would be immaterial; Martin Luther didn’t exhaustively enumerate every way he thought the Roman Catholic Church was immoral. You’re grasping at straws, here.

          You have put too much energy into equivocation, making excuses, and arguing against others who condemn the RCC for their non-action toward child rape to claim it is utterly false.

          Actually, you and others are demonstrating that your ability of discernment on this matter is quite clouded. Apparently you can’t even make the most basic of distinctions, such as:

          LB: There are two very different kinds of criticism. One is a strong moral condemnation, of the sort where we humans know how not to do some terrible thing. It is utterly shameful that the condemned party is engaged in that behavior. The other is a much weaker criticism, where we wish we could avoid this terrible thing that we don’t [hopefully: yet] know how to avoid.

          What I have argued is that we shouldn’t take the stronger stance without warrant. Nowhere have I barred any and all criticism.

          If you want to learn how to achieve better morality among a group of people, you had better learn the difference. But if you have no such interest, and would prefer to elevate your own self-righteousness as seen by those in your tribe, then don’t bother.

        • adam

          “Yep, and so if we do away with the slander that the Roman Catholic Church approves of child rape, ”

          Yes, lets use the ‘polite’ christian term ‘tolerates’ child rape.

        • Greg G.

          Yep, and so if we do away with the slander that the Roman Catholic Church approves of child rape, then that thesis would very plausibly target the various ways that the lust of priests (all of whom would be “indulgence preachers” at that point in time) are not dealt with justly. But even if there had been no thesis 72, that would be immaterial; Martin Luther didn’t exhaustively enumerate every way he thought the Roman Catholic Church was immoral. You’re grasping at straws, here.

          It’s not my fault that you haven’t provided any justification for your vague claim that the Reformation was about RCC immorality that included child rape.

          When a bishop who raped children moves a priest who is accused of child rape to another diocese, that is approval of of the act but even if it is disapproval getting complaints. When a cardinal who investigates sexual abuse but covers up evidence of pedophilia, instead of prosecuting the guilty, that is condoning the crime, which is a form of approval. When the cardinal is made pope, that is approval of the whole situation. When that pope steps down amid public pressure when these allegations came to light, yet no action taken toward the guilty, the condoning is approval of their acts. Just saying they don’t approve of the actions does not mean they actually disapprove, and their actions speak louder than words.

          But it isn’t like we don’t see Protestant youth pastors sexually abusing their flocks, too. It happens in Islam and Buddhism, too. It’s no wonder that theists have to believe in a less and less interactive god being.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It’s not my fault that you haven’t provided any justification for your vague claim that the Reformation was about RCC immorality that included child rape.

          I don’t think I need to. I think it’s preposterous to think that any remotely orthodox Christianity has ever approved of child rape. I think it is also preposterous to suggest that in order for the Reformation to plausibly be against the specific sin of child rape, it had to explicitly pick out that particular immorality. The actually rational thing for Reformation folks to do was to pick out the worst of the immorality that was going on. I highly doubt that exhaustively laundry lists are beneficial to spiritual or social reform. One can only focus on so much at a time.

          When a bishop who raped children moves a priest who is accused of child rape to another diocese, that is approval of of the act […]

          Incorrect. I doubt you can find any documentation or testimony to the effect that the bishop really wanted the priest to engage in child rape, but knew that the priest had “used up” his current parish, and thus needs to move on to greener pastures. That is an incredibly pessimistic view of human beings. What is much more plausible is that the bishop does not want to lose face, and has committed the terrible sin of thinking that losing face is worse than obtaining justice for the victims and sending a clear signal to all other current or would-be abusers of children.

          When a cardinal who investigates sexual abuse but covers up evidence of pedophilia, instead of prosecuting the guilty, that is condoning the crime, which is a form of approval.

          Do you really want to say that every time someone obstructed justice over some crime or immorality, that was approval? Or does this logic only apply to Catholics because you despise them? I do agree with your use of ‘condone’:

          dictionary.com: condone
          1. to disregard or overlook (something illegal, objectionable, or the like)

          The reason I’m pushing back on this matter is that there is some very important human psychology at play. When you make a false accusation against someone, you give him/her legitimate, righteous-feeling ammunition for fighting back. Even if your accusation is 80% correct and 20% false, the person will be able to lay hold of the 20% and reject the other 80% as well. By constructing narrow accusations which are 100% true, you deprive people of this strategy.

          But it isn’t like we don’t see Protestant youth pastors sexually abusing their flocks, too.

          Of course we see this. The intimacy of a priest–youth, pastor–youth, or psychologist–youth relationship can all too easily exploit the sinful nature of humans and result in sexual abuse. I’ll continue the story about the Christian I randomly met who is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist. In addition to noting that his training to be a priest (which he broke off close to being ordained) lacked any warning of such sexual temptation, he said something very interesting. When a psychologist or psychiatrist was accused of misconduct and he was leading the investigation, he would start off the questioning with a single question: “Did you have sex with your client?” He permitted nothing other than a “Yes” or a “No”. If the answer were “Yes”, the psychologist would be fired, end of story, zero appeal possible.

          One option is that we try and raise humans with less intimacy. But I think that’s a terrible course of action. Instead, I think we should face the facts of how this stuff happens, discarding all the little pretty stories we tell ourselves of how wonderful human beings are. Are you up for that, or would you rather think of yourself as rather righteous, all things considered?

        • Greg G.

          I doubt you can find any documentation or testimony to the effect that the bishop really wanted the priest to engage in child rape

          We’re done with this subject now that you are equivocating “approval” to mean “prior wishing” from “after-the-fact condonement”. You have lost the argument and are trying to salvage some ridiculous re-interpretation rather than admit you are wrong.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          approve ≠ condone

        • adam
        • Greg G.

          condone == tacit approval

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          If you don’t understand that ‘approval’ goes above and beyond ‘condone’, there’s nothing more I can say. I am very aware of the rhetorical game, where you start with the 100% technically correct term (here: ‘condone’) and then move on to a more intense, not technically correct term (here: ‘approve’). Yes, I’m aware that sometimes the words are used interchangeably, but that’s precisely part of the game. You switch to the more intense version, and your audience just doesn’t track that you only mean the very narrow sense which is technically correct. You thereby get to take advantage of a boost in intensity.

        • Greg G.

          Nobody was arguing that the RCC gave achievement awards to child raping priests. But they did condone it which is tacit approval and that seems to be the way the word “approval” was used. Your over-reaction was priceless.

          OTOH, the practice goes back a thousand years or more and survived the Inquisition. They’ve abandoned purgatory, creationism, and the earth-centric universe since then. If those beloved concepts were let go, why are they dragging their feet on abolishing child sodomy in the priesthood? They could have excommunicated the guilty long ago and ended the tradition instead of trying to guilt the complaining parents into silence. The cover-ups extend the guilt beyond merely condoning the crime.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This reminds me of the Peachgate Affair that finally got Luke banhammered off Estrange Notions.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s been heading that way for a couple of days. Luke can’t be wrong.

        • Susan

          I think it’s preposterous to think that any remotely orthodox Christianity has ever approved of child rape.

          I don’t care what you think just because you think it. .

          What is “remotely Orthodox Christianity”? Is that just a Breuerism for “No True Christian”?

          Define your terms and explain what is preposterous.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Clerical child rapists don’t see what they are doing as a crime. It wasn’t their fault.

          Ironically, counter to what Luke thinks about what is a “comparable” institution, Pope Benedict XVI said that a male celibate priesthood is morally superior to other sections of society. So they have an obligation to be more superior than other sections of society, both the perpetrators, but more importantly, the other people in the establishment that thought it was reasonable to cover the shite up and in doing so, facilitated further wee’ns to become victims. Those that knew and did nothing are just as guilty by association.

        • adam

          “It’s not my fault that you haven’t provided any justification for your vague claim that the Reformation was about RCC immorality that included child rape.”

          But I wouldnt be surprised if he will try and blame you.

        • Kodie

          You don’t read your own posts, do you.

        • Pofarmer

          This is Alice in Wonderland type crap now. With LB it is always thus.

        • Greg G.

          Luke Dumpty, Humpty’s brother.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or sources quite often too.

        • Susan

          When God judges the RCC, I don’t think it’ll get any sort of ‘pass’ for what it has done re: child rape.

          How many comments now, Luke?

          You have never done anything to make a case that whatever you mean by “God” exists. Nor can you make a case that what you believe about what you mean by “God” is any more convincing than what anyone else believe about “God”.

          I don’t believe that Dracula could take Spiderman in a fight. Unless Dracula sneaks up on Spiderman.

          We could talk about that all day but it has no bearing on reality.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t believe that Dracula could take Spiderman in a fight. Unless Dracula sneaks up on Spiderman.

          Of course he could. Dracula is a shapeshifter of sorts remember…Spiderman would be a gift.

          Luke fucked up and the hole digging commenced.

          This is the bit that craics me up.

          You’ve provided zero evidence that among comparable institutions, the RCC is worse than average or even as bad as average.

          There is no comparable institution out there. These dirty fuckers claim to be the direct link to the Big I Am. They are supposed to be above all this worldly nonsense and if they sincerely believed in the bullshit they are peddling to the gullible, they’d be at none of the debauchery for fear f what is ahead. Proving they don’t imbibe the snake oil they peddle. That goes for Prod’s too. But Luke, smart’n’all that he thinks he is, is buying into the cockwomblery.

          Putting Luke’s fuckwit whataboutery aside, what ta fuck is the average child abusing institution, never mind worse than average? Luke hasn’t given a datum from which to judge. He never gives an example of an institution that is average for child abuse for the RCC to be worse than. The examples he points to, the U.S. Navy and the U.N. peace keepers are really not in the same league as the RCC…no institution is…the RCCis the worst of the worst…but smart Alec Luke is oblivious to it all in his endeavour at apologetics. He is a sickening cunt. He has been since he first pitched up at EN on his crusade to get those of us banned from SN reinstated, even though most, if not all, had no interest in being so, something Luke failed to address.

        • TheNuszAbides

          You have never done anything to make a case …

          it’s just too much to ask such a deep thought processor to insult the vast numbers of weighty documents that work from practically the same presupposition as his. i had the pleasure of imagining that a few of his piles were worth upvoting when he was closer to gedankenexperiment-ing with the notion that ain’t no there there …

        • Joe

          It’s just one of Luke’s tactics he likes to employ. Apparently hypothetical solutions don’t exist. Something is only a solution if it’s been put into practice and is 100% successful.

          I proposed an answer to his ‘problem of evolution causing tribalism’ (don’t ask) was simply to ‘extend the definitions of who’s in your tribe.’ Apparently that seemingly logical answer wan’t acceptable because I hadn’t telephones all the world leaders and informed them!

          You can’t make this up.

        • adam

          “You can’t make this up.”

          He does so, dishonestly and without remorse.

        • Joe

          It’s funny, he got really bent out of shape when I accused him of outright lying, and of using dishonest tactics. Since then, multiple posters have repeated this accusation regarding different comments of his.

          If the glove fits…..

        • adam

          “It’s funny, he got really bent out of shape when I accused him of outright lying,”

          Same for me.
          but I demonstrated where he deliberately lied to me, of course he tried to weasel out of it, lying again.

          After that I figured out he is just a troll, so I troll him every chance I get.

          What’s odd for me, is that he still seems to think he is making a positive impact from his christianity, when it has just made him transparently dishonest. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/96f7282d507681a8f2d9b1e0df55dadf5d1ee80173cca0745ada61eda096d945.jpg

        • Greg G.

          I saw that exchange.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Do you think it is Paul B. Lot’s responsibility to reform the RCC and not the hierarchy or the members who support the RCC?

          no, but he probably won’t admit he imagines (or at least would prefer pretending) that said hierarchy is amenable* to reason, either.

          *without the requisite divinely-revealed clawing, hissing, kicking, screaming, retcon, spin-tificating, etc.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Since you have all the answers, why aren’t you reforming the Roman Catholic Church, right now?

          Red herring – my acting or not acting has no bearing on the content of my argument.

          Swing and a miss.

          (I must say, though, it is pleasant to see you debase yourself with these tactics. Well….I say “debase”, which implies that had previously been in a “higher” position, but I trust my meaning gets through despite that imprecision.)


          I mean, think of all the children who were abused who could finally get justice, if only you, Paul B. Lot, would act? Surely whatever it is you are doing in life now would be greatly outweighed by the stopping of even a few cases of sexual assault on minors?

          If you were something approaching a good-faith interlocutor, I would probably give you a long, deeply-felt and self-aware answer. Having grown-up Catholic, having served extensively as an altar-boy, having joined a seminary for a strongly militant order of priests at the age of 12 – an order which was lead, itself, by a pedophile priest who both abused his own children (from the secret families he had) AND his own underling priests/seminarians – I have some very strongly felt positions on this topic.

          However.

          You’re not a good-faith interlocutor.

          You’re a slimy piece of shit, and you (and people like you) are a pox on humanity. You neither deserve, nor does the logic of this exchange require, such an answer.

          And so, you shall not get it.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Red herring – my acting or not acting has no bearing on the content of my argument.

          No, you’re actually a horrible person if you have the knowledge and wisdom to solve such a terrible problem, and yet refuse to do so.

        • Paul B. Lot

          No, you’re actually a horrible person if you have the knowledge and wisdom to solve such a terrible problem, and yet refuse to do so.

          We’re not discussing me and my actions – we’re discussing [what kinds of knowledge/wisdom] would’ve been necessary to [avert the problem ahead of time] or [correct the problem afterwards].

          Whether or not [I act] on [the knowledge required to correct the problem] has no bearing on whether or not [the things I posited to be corrective] are, in fact, [corrective].

          Look at you, though, trying to shift the conversation to gain the righteous upper-hand.

          Swing and a miss.

        • adam

          “No, you’re actually a horrible person if you have the knowledge and wisdom to solve such a terrible problem, and yet refuse to do so.”

          But he IS doing something about it, while you make EXCUSES.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f9fb5d7013fd44a0636910274866113829d2d4f79ef642e3c0e10dc30e4c4f94.jpg

        • adam

          “why aren’t you reforming the Roman Catholic Church, right now?”

          He is.
          By talking about it publicly.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/44afa8f4d69381c4e61153d398e8e3f3c6b9ed1b415d26a048342cb428c7bc0f.jpg

        • Susan

          Since you have all the answers, why aren’t you reforming the Roman Catholic Church, right now?

          How on earth would he do that? Having answers is not the same as being able to implement them.

          Should he storm the Vatican?

          PBL provided some obvious solutions that people with that power and influence could have and still can apply. .

          1) Investigate every sexual-abuse accusation. Invite the authorities to do so alongside you.
          2) If there is serious/credible evidence to support an accusation, place the suspect on leave. Remove him from access to children, especially vulnerable children in solitary situations.
          3) If the priest is found guilty, do not: move him to another parish, merely force him to undergo the most cursory of in-house psychological evaluation/counselling, protect him in the Vatican. Give him to the authorites. Strip him, in perpetuity, of his priestly duties, ensure that he gets long-term counselling/help. (You, the RCC, helped create this monster after all).

          He did not claim to have all the answers. Just answers that seem to be concerned with addressing predatious child raping. Especially answers for those people who have power in these situations.

          Surely whatever it is you are doing in life now would be greatly outweighed by the stopping of even a few cases of sexual assault on minors?

          You are a piece of work, Luke Breuer. Much as you’d like to blame ingroup/outgroup behaviour for sullying your image, you are doing most of it on your own.

          You are asking an individual with no influence on the political and financial structure of the catholic church for…

          What?

          It seems to me like asking someone who isn’t part of the Underground Railroad to not speak out against owning Americans of African descent unless they can demonstrate that they have sprung a few slaves.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve an obvious answer. No extra wisdom or knowledge required.

          If those arseholes in the Vatican could just did the right thing, as per their moral remit, things might be better.

          But such ideas, that’s just my self-righteous arrogance playing out. I’m away to get a sandwich board and go picket the Chapel around the corner.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Can’t you think of anything that might improve the situation within the RCC with regards to improving the situation on the way things got/is getting handled regards the child abuse scandal? Or how the way the Church operates in general?

          Does the brain of Luke Breuer’s knowledge and wisdom not extend to such thoughts?

          Either you are an unthinking dumb fucker? Which I dismiss. Or you are not helping the situation with your knowledge and wisdom, therefore your self-righteousness and arrogance isn’t helping humanity.

          I find it hilarious though, that an institution that just has to abide by the secular laws in order to improve the situation no end, is being defended by a “Big Tent” Christian with no charge of self-righteousness and arrogance on their part, but the rest of us, including governments and their agencies are slated for sitting on our hands doing nothing with our ideas for improvement.

        • adam

          ” I’ve said that one shouldn’t act superior when one doesn’t have the
          requisite knowledge and wisdom to improve the situation oneself.”

          Information improves the situation.

          Which is why the RCC HIDE information and CHILD RAPISTS…

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d450afc215bc8072fb8f6e52f592d6f7e75b209f815f55ef048d449996a9e1f4.gif

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why don’t you go back and see if what “seemed” might be an error in your perception and/or judgment? Or would that be too much work for you?

          Far too much work, and I have zero interest in “I told you so” topics, regardless of who’s telling whom so.

          I’ve never excused the sex scandals.

          No, you’ve just insisted that comparisons are the way to go. I call that a deliberate smoke screen.

          a wonderful rhetorical strategy for smearing the other guy is to throw up straw men which paint him in a terrible light. I do not believe you are ignorant of this.

          I’m not. What amazes me, however, is that you seem to have been ignorant of what we were talking about.

          I thought I was the only one who did that.

          A comparison is necessary for saying or implying that “we know how to do better”; a comparison is not necessary for saying “that is terrible behavior”. Capiche?

          Sure, I understand. You apparently don’t.

          I’m sensing that you might want to say that on average you’re more righteous than the institution of Roman Catholicism

          One issue at a time. I’m talking about just the sex scandals, and I’m saying that I know the correct moral path better than those bureaucrats in the RCC. You’d think that as, not just Catholics, but professional Catholics, they’d be the more moral ones. Not in this case.

          . . . if you had all the powers (but no more knowledge or wisdom), you could refashion the RCC into something appreciably better. Is that the case?

          Kind of, but that’s a complete tangent.

          Y’know, given that you scold people for taking the conversation in a new direction, you might want to take a dose of that medicine yourself. You suck at understanding what we’re talking about.

          Then tell me: have you done your due diligence to see whether you are supporting slavery via globalism? slaveryfootprint.org is one place to start. Why don’t you show you righteousness, not just by stated ideals, but actual behavior? I’m sure you know the difference between these two things.

          This repeated reference to modern slavery is curious. On the one hand, it’s laudable that you raise an important current global problem that gets far too little attention. I did some research into the working conditions on West African cocoa plantations for my last book. The problem bothers me, and I’ll pick slave-free products over the alternative, though this issue isn’t high on my priority list, I’ll admit.

          On the other, the way you clumsily work modern slavery into the conversation makes it appear like an inept attempt at misdirection.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          No, you’ve just insisted that comparisons are the way to go. I call that a deliberate smoke screen.

          “The way to go”… for precisely what purpose? If all we’re doing is indicating what we think is morally wrong, no comparison is required. If we’re engaged in that specific kind of moralizing where the implicit claim is that “If I were in charge, things would be better.”, then I require evidence. If the implicit claim is “Humans know how to act better than that.”, I also require evidence. Why? Well, if the atheist is asking me why evidence would be important in such matters, the reader has all the information I think [s]he needs to make informed decisions.

          What amazes me, however, is that you seem to have been ignorant of what we were talking about.

          Exactly what do you think I’m ignorant of?

          I’m talking about just the sex scandals, and I’m saying that I know the correct moral path better than those bureaucrats in the RCC.

          If you are so righteous, then surely you could go into the RCC and improve the situation, preventing dozens of children from being abused by priests. Surely that is a more noble task than whatever it is you’re doing now? Or… maybe you don’t actually know better in a way that would actually improve the situation, and can only sketch out something better without really any idea how to implement it. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it’s a very different claim to be able to sketch something than to actually implement it. You, being an expert in software and hardware, surely know this.

          Y’know, given that you scold people for taking the conversation in a new direction, you might want to take a dose of that medicine yourself. You suck at understanding what we’re talking about.

          Wait, are you really telling me that folks here aren’t asserting their superior righteousness to the Roman Catholic Church? Perhaps I really was wrong about that—some confirmation here would be helpful. BTW, righteousness involves not just being able to sketch, but being able to implement. Those who can only sketch but not implement are often called “hypocrites”.

          On the other, the way you clumsily work modern slavery into the conversation makes it appear like an inept attempt at misdirection.

          I make no claim to eloquence (that would require far more effort), but I do find it interesting that (i) you railed so heavily against slavery in previous discussions with me and yet; (ii) your self-reported actions betray that you don’t care enough to ensure you are in no way perpetuating the institution of slavery. Don’t you think this world has enough people who claim to know what is moral, but can’t actually put it into practice? One wonders if it’s actually a charade—condemn others to make yourself appear righteous, instead of making the sacrifices to be righteous.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Susan

          If all we’re doing is indicating what we think is morally wrong, no comparison is required.

          Then,”morally wrong” has no meaning in our tiny interhuman discussion. . I could use the (going nuclear) example of “torturing babies to death for fun” is not morally wrong to me.

          But then, I wouldn’t be addressing “morally wrong” as most people use it.

          Which is to address the awareness that earthlings have the capacity to suffer tremendously.

          That they have for hundreds of millions of years.

          That every step I can take in my limited awareness and in my finite capacityo to make that happen less is what I mean by “morally right”.

          Torturing kittens for fun is morally repugnant. Torturing anything for any reason requires ethical considerations by finite beings that require justification.

          Yet, one of my first interactions with you many thousands of comments ago was about the idea of an agent choosing torturing unspeakable numbers of nervous systems to death out of metaphysical nothingness and your response was (and I’m admittedly loosely paraphrasing here) so humans could discover that agent.

          What do you mean by “morally wrong”?

          Wait, are you really telling me that folks here aren’t asserting their superior righteousness to the Roman Catholic Church?

          If you mean by “asserting my superior righteousness” that I wouldn’t use my authority, financial power to hire legal teams to silence the victims of child rape, that I wouldn’t protect the perpetrators from criminal charges and that I wouldn’t give them refuge and/or access to more victims, then if you want to call that “superior righteousness”, I will again point out that no one sullies your reputation like you do.

          One wonders if it’s actually a charade—condemn others to make yourself appear righteous, instead of making the sacrifices to be righteous.

          No. We can condemn others who make obvious errors based on shorthand assumptions about intersubjective morality.
          when anyone claims to our finite extent to understand our impact on our fellow earthlings The more resources we have, the more responsibility we have and the more vital it is that we understand the implications of our behaviour.

          Calling out an institution that perpetuates policies that deliberately circumvent secular policies aimed at improving the problem of adults with power raping children is not “self-righteousness”.

          You are a peach, Luke Breuer.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I wonder what sacrifices Luke makes to be morally righteous for the likes of those under regimes such as that of North Korea? Perhaps we should all shut ta fuck upabout it, seeing we are all impotent to do anything worthwhile about the issue.

          A peach indeed…but be careful as to what definition of that word is to be inferred.

        • Joe

          How is that possible when I have no idea of what you’re saying?

          Welcome to the club.

        • adam

          “Oh and let’s not kid ourselves: were this particular matter not an issue, you’d almost certainly switch to some other complaint, e.g. their stance on contraception.”

          Which is related:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e837665e20b0f559722113ef2ddaa0c4b5cb92de117ddba6e3d9af6d7f6c282a.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          When has the Navy approved of child rape? Be specific or admit that you’re just trying a tu quoque mixed with a red herring.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Given that you can’t even read what I wrote (child rape”, not “child rape”), I think I’ll let you try harder or ax this tangent.

        • adam

          ” I think I’ll let you try harder or ax this tangent.”

          Harder than a Catholic Priest with an alter boy?

        • Michael Neville

          Do you think that I’ll click on one of your links? You’re even more stupid than I thought originally. And I originally thought you were pretty fucking stupid.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Do you think that I’ll click on one of your links?

          You? No. But when I quote someone, or make claims about what they said or did, I either preemptively cite my source, or do so upon request. Yes, I know that providing the burden of proof is a foreign concept to you:

          MN: Just so you know, you motherfucking asshole, I haven’t forgotten how you called me a liar and then tried to make it my fault that you’d done so.

          LB: You’ve made [the underlined] claim a number of times; every single time I have challenged you to produce evidence for it, you have failed to do so. Indeed, I think you’ve never even tried. Perhaps this time will be different?

          ← no response by @michaelneville:disqus which substantiates the underlined claim

        • Joe

          FYI, the links go back to this article, so you aren’t missing anything.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You forget I’m a Protestant,…

          Nope…but you are a Christian first and foremost…you are arguing from that position, and it shows.

        • TheNuszAbides

          The RCC claims to be the source of morality

          or middle management. or the transceiver. or the transceiver’s minions. or something.

          EDIT: bonus for use of “caltrop”!

        • Michael Neville

          I have provided evidence that not only does the Catholic Church come down in any way, shape or form against the child rapists in its ranks, they actively and knowing support and protect those rapists. I really wish you would stop LYING about what I say. Yes, fuckwad, you’re lying about what I write and pretending that I say things that I don’t. Please stop doing this. And don’t bother to give one of your worthless faux apologies for having your lies being caught.

          In order for me to disagree with it, I’d have to find some way to render it intelligible.

          That’s your problem, not mine, lying fuckwad.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I have provided evidence that not only does the Catholic Church come down in any way, shape or form against the child rapists in its ranks, they actively and knowing support and protect those rapists.

          Can the same be said for the UN, given the 2016-06-16 Bloomberg article The UN Peacekeepers Rape Scandal Gets Worse? I want to see how your logic operates in situations similar to the RCC, but not the RCC, so your intense hatred of the RCC is not in play.

          I really wish you would stop LYING about what I say. Yes, fuckwad, you’re lying about what I write and pretending that I say things that I don’t.

          Did you get your knickers in a twist like this in the Navy? I am trying to understand what you mean and failing; that’s not lying about what you write. When you say, “That’s not what I meant”, I immediately acknowledge it and try a different understanding. I don’t ever acknowledge you treating my claims about what I meant to say with my words with that kind of respect. Whenever you interpreted my words in a way different from what I intended, it was my fault. At least, as far as I can recall. I sure hope the Navy didn’t teach you to deploy double standards.

        • Michael Neville

          I’m talking about the Catholic Church, not about the UN. So why are you raising this red herring?

          You’ve lied repeatedly about what I’ve claimed. You lied when you said that I felt the Catholic Church’s response to child rapists in its ranks was “inadequate.” I didn’t saying anything like that but you’ve accused me of holding that opinion. That, lying fuckwad, is a lie.

          I am trying to understand what you mean

          This is another lie. You’re not trying to understand anything. You’re trying to force the conversation to a subject that you want to discuss rather than the subject I have already discussed.

          And stop talking about the Navy. All you’re doing is raising more red herrings and trying to make me into the bad guy. We both know that’s your favorite tactic when your mendacious duplicity is exposed.

          Question for you, lying fuckwad. Do you ever hold normal, rational conversations with people or do you always retreat into fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’ words, and flat-out lying? Never, mind, I just realized that your answer will be fallacious when it’s not a mass of lies. So don’t bother to answer.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m talking about the Catholic Church, not about the UN. So why are you raising this red herring?

          Because I suspect you’re using special logic, where if the RCC does bad thing X, it’s really terribly bad and they’re absolutely horrible, while if some other institution does bad thing X, such a judgment doesn’t follow.

          You’ve lied repeatedly about what I’ve claimed.

          No, I’ve misinterpreted what you’ve claimed and quickly backed down once you made that clear. Seriously, you need to understand what “lying” actually is. Go read The Lost Art of Listening and find out that an “active listening technique” is to attempt to restate the other person’s thought in your own words, to see if it’s accurate or not.

          You’re trying to force the conversation to a subject that you want to discuss rather than the subject I have already discussed.

          Exploring whether you’re employing ridiculous double standards is not forcing the conversation.

          Question for you, lying fuckwad. Do you ever hold normal, rational conversations with people or do you always retreat into fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’ words, and flat-out lying?

          Shall I direct you to an atheist whom I first met online and then met in person, who can answer this question? Ron Garret explicitly mentions me in this blog post. Or were you not actually interested in the truth when you asked that question?
           

          P.S. It’s pretty rich that you accuse me of “fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’ words, and flat-out lying” when you repeatedly asserted the underlined bit:

          MN: Just so you know, you motherfucking asshole, I haven’t forgotten how you called me a liar and then tried to make it my fault that you’d done so.

          I repeatedly challenged you to support the underlined, including in my response to that comment:

          LB: You’ve made this claim a number of times; every single time I have challenged you to produce evidence for it, you have failed to do so. Indeed, I think you’ve never even tried. Perhaps this time will be different?

          I’m quite certain that I never tried to say it was your fault that I improperly used the word “deceptive” (“when I did not mean to imply you are a liar”). That you kept up claiming that I did try and say it was your fault indicates that the real expert at “fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’ words, and flat-out lying” is you.

        • Michael Neville

          I knew you’d go back to making it my fault that you called me a liar way back when. As Sam Vimes noted: “The leopard can’t change his shorts.”

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I knew you’d go back to making it my fault that you called me a liar way back when.

          Oh yeah, that thing I never did. You keep saying I did something I didn’t. (What I did do was mistakenly use the word “deceptive” when I did not mean to impute intent.) So you are correct to cite Sam Vimes; it describes your repeated false accusation perfectly.

        • Michael Neville

          I realize now that it’s impossible to have a rational discussion with you on any subject. You twist words and situations to meet your specific requirements, you refuse to admit to errors obvious to everyone else, and you take over threads to make them the Luke Breuer Show™.

          Goodbye, Luke. Have a mediocre rest of your life.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          MN′: I realize now that it’s impossible for me, @michaelneville:disqus, to have a rational discussion with you on any subject.

          After my modification, your statement is more strictly true.

          You twist words and situations to meet your specific requirements

          You say I do this, and yet you cannot produce evidence of it. At best, you can show that occasionally I misinterpret and need correction (just like any human being) and occasionally I misspeak (just like any human being). On the other hand, what I have done is show that you have engaged in an egregious example of “retreat into fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’ words, and flat-out lying”. Unlike you, I produced textual evidence instead of baseless accusations.

          you refuse to admit to errors obvious to everyone else

          You say I do this, and yet ten minutes after @disqus_4rvHZwPMCR:disqus showed me that I had used ‘deceptive’ improperly, I acknowledged it. It was an error and I admitted to it. In contrast, you’ve repeatedly stated a false claim. It strikes me that again, the language you use is a better description of you, than it is of me. Unless you have actual evidence to present instead of unsubstantiated claims? But substantiating claims just doesn’t seem to be how you roll. Maybe @disqus_Pk89sYgCu1:disqus is your buddy:

          MN: I warned you that Luke’s […]

          J: He’s a flat out liar […]

          LB: Where did I lie? Or are you the kind of person who makes such claims without backing them up with specific evidence?

          ← no further responses by anyone

        • Joe

          I already stated you don’t deserve a response. Is this another fabrication on your part?

          I have never encountered Michael outside this forum, but apparently you think it’s more probable we’re ‘buddies’, rather than the fact that multiple independent people have accused you of fuckwittery on this same post.

          We must all be wrong: There’s obviously smoke being produced without fire.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I don’t care what nonsense came out of your mouth; what I pointed out is that you made a serious accusation—“He’s a flat out liar”—while failing to produce the requisite evidence (neither in advance nor upon request). Such people are despicable. They make the world suck more than it already does.

          And yes, despicable people tend to cluster and act in like ways.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am Spartacus.

          I am calling you a liar too. Want me to back it up?

          Is it your claim that you never lie, or that you have never lied on an internet forum?

          Just so I know how despicable you and I really are.

        • Greg G.

          As Sam Vimes noted: “The leopard can’t change his shorts.”

          Wow! What a flashback! I hadn’t thought about that line in nearly 20 years but I remember laughing out loud (long before “LOL”) when I read it in my lawn chair in my backyard under the maple tree where I read many of Pterry’s books one summer.

        • adam

          “Do you ever hold normal, rational conversations with people or do you
          always retreat into fallacies, misinterpretations, twisting others’
          words, and flat-out lying?”

          He has no respect for anyone outside his tribe.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62da10177de8c12d9feedf1a0ff3d448ed929feef887a1192640edb3a8a15953.jpg

        • adam
        • adam
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          In my mind, the real test behind the child-sex problem was not the individual horny priests but the church establishment and how they reacted. You have people hurt by the church; what do you do? It’s a moral question, and everyone knows the answer: alert the authorities and cooperate with them, make sure the priests in question have no more chance to contact children, and admit the problem openly, trusting that if the church as an institution deserves to get a black eye, then so be it.

        • Joe

          Careful Bob. Luke is going to ask for empirical evidence as to why it’s best to notify the authorities about child abuse!

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I get that, but if you measure people only by ideals, they will always fall short. You’ve got to make more realistic comparisons. For example, from the 2016-06-16 Bloomberg article The UN Peacekeepers Rape Scandal Gets Worse:

               • “Whistleblower says UN troops act with ‘complete impunity’”
               • “Report on sexual abuse of children went from ‘inbox to inbox’”

          Here, we see the same kind of problem with alerting the authorities. It’s a complex problem, because by the time the situation has gotten bad enough, probably the hierarchy has already heard some complaints, and done nothing to act on them. Acting right away would be an admission of fault, and humans never like admitting fault. Of course, if God is providing any power whatsoever to Roman Catholics, you’d think they’d be better on this matter than comparable institutions. I’ve never seen the kind of data on comparable institutions to make a judicious comparison; have you? Or have you only ever compared the RCC to an ideal?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Which does nothing to address my point. Or was all that a longwinded way of saying, “I agree”?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I took you to be entering into the conversation which included this as a central claim:

          O: Not to mention quality of life is never really a concern [of the RCC].

          Did you mean to agree with the above, in the sense that “There are other comparable groups of humans for which ‘quality of life’ is really a concern.”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Are we simply having different conversations?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Possibly. When someone jumps into a conversation I was having with someone else, I generally take that person to not be completely hijacking it, but instead continuing with the spirit of that discussion.

        • adam
        • adam

          “Acting right away would be an admission of fault, and humans never like admitting fault.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4d13619b3ac0d17b32770ee151935462cade37c1c9734749144fd4cbbf530d40.jpg

        • adam

          “Fascinating; why do you think Catholics set up hospitals, then?”

          To expand their opportunities:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38105552a1ee7bdfd6f9024d3e27ed0f405887ee3fd5341d468f517d8fdaf963.jpg

        • Kodie

          I generally observe religion to be a business exploiting humans to rely on it, and then voluntarily serve the business as marketing pawns.

        • adam
        • Pofarmer

          Where is the empirical evidence that some sufficiently large and
          diverse group of other humans, on average, is better when it comes to
          child victims of rape and other terribleness?

          What other groups claim to be messengers from God descended directly from the Apostles of Jesus? FUCK. THEM.

        • Otto

          The point is I have no reason to regard their religious position on the value of life as the superior or correct one.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world.

          In my country, Catholic hospitals are compensated by insurance and the government. There’s no Catholic largess going on here.

        • MNb

          Same in my country – and what’s more, it means that catholic hospitals have to obey governmental regulations, even if they conflict with Vatican doctrine.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Same in my country – and what’s more, it means that catholic hospitals have to obey governmental regulations, even if they conflict with Vatican doctrine.

          Same in my country … oh, wait a minute. No, I’m wrong. It doesn’t quite work that way in my country.

          Catholic churches are gobbling up independent hospitals so that they can not perform medically necessary abortions and disallow euthanasia. It’s pretty clearly illegal, but someone needs to bring a good case against them to shut this down.

          The wheels of progress move slowly.

        • MNb

          Yes, that’s a terrible thing I as an outsider can’t really understand. Pofarmer told me a few things about it.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’ve worked on hospital billing analysis for Catholic nonprofit hospitals and I’ve seen evidence that they do more to care for the poor and needy with their resources than at least some other hospitals. Is that not good enough for my original point? Should they shun sources of funding so that they might have more “largess” and thus be rated higher on the “quality of life is never really a concern” metric? Although, it seems that if they could have more money to do more good and declined it, that would count against their care for quality of life…

        • adam

          “So the Catholic Church setting up hospitals in medieval Europe was mostly due to matters other than a concern for quality of life?”

          Yes, for CONTROL and POWER

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4ee57cb233d671c38fb55fe6e7f6f030457fc4070e7ae4a15a1e148e58eba246.jpg

        • Kodie

          What’s really important to note is how the followers of any particular religion consistently believe they are engaged in an organization to do good things in their community, whether that is hospitals or food pantries or protesting abortion or keeping gay couples from having a decent wedding or just making sure people hear the “good news”. They have bought into a marketing scheme and go out like the marketing pawns they are, thinking they are doing nothing but good deeds and the church is nothing but a decent and charitable institution, without which, the community would just fall apart. It is …. making me think of Pokemon Go. The church has set up a meaningfulness in humans passing the time gathering new recruits, and they think racking up the numbers is pleasing to god, ultimately.

          All I see is the church exploiting humans, exploiting needs in the community, even stuff people like, like hospitals and charities, in order to monopolize these types of efforts. When people think of “goodness”, they take “Christian” as shorthand for “good,” as though Christians were just people seeking an outlet for their generosity and stumbled upon the great big house of Church.

          Another stupid and related thing is, I don’t know why they think atheists haven’t heard the good news yet, and also have heard of it and rejected it because we want to be bad people. They’ve monopolized the idea of goodness=Christian in our society, and a lot of people believe that. Sure, they exploit people, including the needy by being there, but also the social reputation of what Christians do as well-meaning, generous, selfless, etc. Most people who were raised Catholic might not attend church regularly, and they disagree with a lot of their doctrine, but feel at worst, fond and nostalgic and supportive of its charitable and harmless efforts, and deny the icky stuff and react defensively if you say they are in it for money and control of society.

        • adam

          ” They’ve monopolized the idea of goodness=Christian in our society, and a lot of people believe that.”

          They use propaganda because it works so well.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3cb1bc0e5e52766a86c400647e656c73bd0feffc595cc6d0e0a06a88d4de4299.jpg

        • Paul B. Lot

          But perhaps if they aren’t perfect, they’re utter failures?

          Perhaps systematically allowing their clergy to abuse children for decades, while hoodwinking authorities, destroying evidence, and hiding offenders in the Vatican, and ordering their members to obstruct justice makes them utter failures.


          The Roman Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services in the world

          Health care services like…..telling people in Africa that condoms are worse than HIV?

          Health care services like…..refusing treatment to women in the United States?

          What better way to gain access to defenseless/malleable children than to both pose as secret arbiters of the health of your soul AND pretend to care about the body? Why NOT expand into the “heath care” arena: people trust their health care providers.

          And without people’s trust, the RCC doesn’t get what it wants.

        • adam

          “Perhaps systematically allowing their clergy to abuse children for decades, ”

          Decades?

          “4. After massacring the entire population in the Italian town of Palestrina, Boniface VIII (1294-1303) indulged in ménages with a married woman and her daughter and became renowned through Rome as a shameless pedophile. He famously declared that having sex with young boys was no more a sin than rubbing one hand against the other — which should make him the patron saint of Boston priests today. ”
          http://thesmartset.com/article05111001/

        • Ignorant Amos

          Perhaps systematically allowing their clergy to abuse children for decades, while hoodwinking authorities, destroying evidence, and hiding offenders in the Vatican, and ordering their members to obstruct justice makes them utter failures.

          Let’s not complain too much, when we consider how bad the clergy was, from the bottom all the way up to the Bishop of Christ himself, at a time when they WERE the authorities.

          Apparently their debauchery was a whole lot worse when the only authority they had to answer to, was themselves.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know for sure, but no other religion that I know any amount about seems to actively recruit children helpers, and from what I understand, the boys who seek these positions are in awe of Catholicism and all the pageantry, and have never heard of sex or any sex scandals. I kind of feel like it’s a built-in aspect. As I said above, I think it’s pretty common for victims of molestation to develop urges to molest, to manifest their secret in a new secret. Celibacy isn’t the whole picture, looking for opportunities to cheat on their oaths isn’t the whole picture, but the church tradition of recruiting young boys to light the candles and be part of the weekly pageant, like no other church does, seems to be a fixation. Priests don’t need to be in any contact with children. Joining the church as an aide to the priest, or wanting to, or parents entrusting their children to, is the problem. Celibacy is something that can be resolved with hookers. Come on.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I don’t know for sure, but no other religion that I know any amount about seems to actively recruit children helpers, and from what I understand, the boys who seek these positions are in awe of Catholicism and all the pageantry, and have never heard of sex or any sex scandals.

          Do ya think not? Has the number of altar boys dropped in recent decades as there has been more openness on this subject? Or is it more the case that it is more a case of not believing the problem is what it is, and anyway, a NIMBY approach is taken, naively?

          I didn’t join the army as a young man in the belief I was getting killed on the battlefield, even though that was a very real possibility. It’ll never happen to me attitude is employed.

          I kind of feel like it’s a built-in aspect. As I said above, I think it’s pretty common for victims of molestation to develop urges to molest, to manifest their secret in a new secret.

          There seems to be good evidence to support such thoughts.

          Results. Among 747 males the risk of being a perpetrator was positively correlated with reported sexual abuse victim experiences. The overall rate of having been a victim was 35% for perpetrators and 11% for non-perpetrators. Of the 96 females, 43% had been victims but only one was a perpetrator. A high percentage of male subjects abused in childhood by a female relative became perpetrators. Having been a victim was a strong predictor of becoming a perpetrator, as was an index of parental loss in childhood.

          So, yes. The RCC is a pervert factory. Though the contortions to explain away the deviancy in a report commissioned by…yes, you guessed it, the RCC, is flabbergasting. Salon did a piece on the research here…

          http://www.salon.com/2011/05/19/priest_5/

          Celibacy isn’t the whole picture, looking for opportunities to cheat on their oaths isn’t the whole picture, but the church tradition of recruiting young boys to light the candles and be part of the weekly pageant, like no other church does, seems to be a fixation.

          Indeed. It appears that it being boy victims comes down to availability. I’m thinking that someone with a predisposition for having sex with children, couldn’t possibly have found a better employment position than that of unquestioning trust in the priesthood.

          Priests don’t need to be in any contact with children.

          Well, they do really.

          Joining the church as an aide to the priest, or wanting to, or parents entrusting their children to, is the problem.

          I’m not sure that was the problem with this particular institution, though it certainly would account for many others. The Boy Scouts, a fencing club, a youth football team, the army cadets, schools, etc.

          Celibacy is something that can be resolved with hookers. Come on.

          Of course. The celibacy nonsense and the homosexual angle are both red herrings. It is well accepted that priests often break their vows of celibacy, getting caught is the bigger problem.

          On celibacy in the Salon article…

          I’ve read that the reported rate of child sexual abuse among priests isn’t any higher than in the general population.

          I’m not sure we have any evidence that this is more of a problem in the priesthood than outside of it. I mean, people try to blame celibacy, but the Boy Scouts of America have had comparable problems. I think it’s so much more egregious and so much more shocking when it’s a priest because they’re in a trusted position. They’re supposed to be people with the highest moral standards. So, the shock and outrage that we experience is far greater than occurs in other cases.

          As for blaming the abuse scandal on teh geyz in the priesthood, well that’s just doing what Christians such as Luke do best, scapegoating.

          From the Salon article…

          What do you make of the finding that gay priests were not likelier to abuse than straight priests? The researchers found that priests more often abused boys than girls simply because they had more access to them.

          First of all, how do we know who is or isn’t a gay priest? It depends on what [abusive priests] are going to acknowledge. There’s a man named Richard Sipe, who was previously a priest and is now a mental health researcher, and from his experience he believed that the percentage of [closeted] gay men in the Catholic Church was quite high. Again, I’m not saying this in any critical way, but it may be that some of these men for obvious reasons were hesitant to acknowledge their sexuality.

          There’s a tremendous body of data showing that gay men are no more likely to become sexually involved with a boy than are heterosexual men to become involved sexually with a girl — and that’s one of the reasons that they allowed gay men to adopt in Florida. The evidence simply doesn’t support that this is a gay problem. In fact, I think that’s one of the mistakes the church made early on, thinking they had a homosexuality problem when what they really had was a child sexual abuse problem.

          There’s a tremendous body of data showing that gay men are no more likely to become sexually involved with a boy than are heterosexual men to become involved sexually with a girl — and that’s one of the reasons that they allowed gay men to adopt in Florida. The evidence simply doesn’t support that this is a gay problem. In fact, I think that’s one of the mistakes the church made early on, thinking they had a homosexuality problem when what they really had was a child sexual abuse problem.

          I would add that the case that toppled the Irish government of the day, involved a priest with a penchant young girls.

          Born John Gerard Smyth, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Smyth, upon joining the Norbertine Roman Catholic religious order in 1945, changed his name to Brendan. The Norbertines, also known as the “Premonstratensians,” were aware of Smyth’s crimes as early as the late 1970s, yet they did not report him to either the Garda Síochána or the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Smyth was moved from parish to parish and between dioceses and countries whenever allegations were made. In some cases, the order did not inform the diocesan bishop that Smyth had a history of sexual abuse and should be kept away from children. He abused children in parishes in Rhode Island and North Dakota and at one time worked in Boston, all in the USA, and was suspected of similar actions while on pastoral work in Wales and Italy. Norbertine Father Bruno Mulvihill made several attempts to alert church authorities about the abuse committed by Smyth.

          If you can stomach it.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODvv6tQ3naQ

        • TheNuszAbides

          well, not the real lives, anyway — i’m sure more than a few were terribly, terribly concerned with how perilously close to doubt[*gasp!*] their souls were during/after the abuse of their ‘mere’ bodies ‘and’ minds.

    • Joe

      First, he should define what he means by ‘value’. It has several meanings, as Bob points out,from financial to personal to material.

      I suspect Bannister is begging the question (actually, I’m certain of it) by defining ‘value’ as a property of worth given by his God.

      • Kodie

        Well, we’re just to assume every human is precious to god. For what, it’s still very hard to tell. I mean, he loves us and wants us to love him. He has apparently many faulty methods to get this love, primary being that humans have to continue to spread the word. And when they do spread the word, they think being saved in heaven takes priority over feeding you, or that feeding someone to make sure they are lucid and hear the message so that they can, of their own free will, grip onto this superstition.

        There’s nothing in it for the Christian. Absolutely nothing. They think they are helping god, and often go out of their way to make sure other people hear the “good news” and let it take over their life.

        And essentially, our lives have no meaning, that’s what they think the atheist thinks. Without god’s value, humans have zero value, that’s why we’re all killing each other and stuff. That’s why they would rather preach to someone than give them money to buy a sandwich, or if they do have regular compassion, go buy them a sandwich and bring it back with a prayer. That’s why they tip waitstaff with fake money that turns out to be scripture, and think that message is worth more than a couple dollars.

        The truth is, at least with these slackers keeping us down, there are too many problems to solve, and too many people who need help. If Bob is talking about sacrificing the shoes to save one drowning child, or paying $500 to save two children in another country by paying for supplies. Well, if you already bought the shoes, you are out $500 and looking for a chance to ruin those shoes to perform some heroic deed that might even happen when you are wearing your cheap old flip-flops – or never. If you have $500 to spend, you want the shoes and you hope they never have to be ruined. At a critical moment of life or shoes, the shoes go, but you’re not going to spend that money on poor kids in another country, because they have no value. Suffering is a crisis, but saving two children doesn’t save all the children anyway. That’s how we tend to think. All the money spent on charity every year by all humans, religious or not, doesn’t seem to have made an impression on the problems. Who takes the time to read up on the outcomes of charitable donations. Who takes the time to see that donations to any certain charity have alleviated the problem they set out to address? There’s still breast cancer, abused animals, birth defects, etc., and if you choose to donate to an animal shelter that rescues abused animals, that means you’re not spending that shoe money on curing birth defects or breast cancer. Might as well buy the shoes, or save it for real-life details like car insurance payment or your kids’ regular-priced shoes and offer a prayer, because god solves all these problems his own way, in his own time, for his own reasons.

        • Joe

          Well, we’re just to assume every human is precious to god

          I really wish he would come out and say something like that. At least we have a definition to work from. Just saying ‘value’ is meaningless as value can be completely subjective. Instead we got post after post of obfuscation and confusion.

          Of course, the theist still has to show how god can value something and therefore impart value into something. Its Euthypro all over again….

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      If Bannister is going to imply that “what is the value of a (human) life” is the sort of question his religion can answer while science can’t, then he could at least walk us through his religious life-value calculation.

      Alternatively, he could do what Louis Pojman did and evaluate ten of the top secular attempts to justify egalitarianism. Here was Pojman’s conclusion:

          The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

      The question really seems to be: Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest? Perhaps we should revert to explicit legal prejudice against lower classes, as we see in the Code of Hammurabi. That’s already the de facto situation in America’s justice system, but right now we pretend that it equally serves people of all socioeconomic statuses. Perhaps we should shed that fiction? What reasoning can you give to not shed that fiction?

      • Joe

        Alternatively, he could do what Louis Pojman did and evaluate ten of the top secular attempts to justify egalitarianism

        Why would he do something as specific and unrelated as that?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You see zero relevant connection between “what is the value of a (human) life” and “grounding equal worth”?

        • Joe

          Yes. If you can’t put a value on life, how can you say we’re equal? Or, we become equal by default.

          Comparison between two things is subjective. The value of an individual should be objective. All the pens in a packet are equal, but what value do they have? Please stay on topic. Bannister is the one failing here.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          If you can’t put a value on life, how can you say we’re equal?

          Easily. Here’s an instance where you don’t need absolute value in science and engineering. Voltage is never an absolute measurement. Instead, voltage is a measure of difference between two points in spacetime. When you say that two voltages are equal, you are making a relative comparison. If you want to say that two voltages are different, you don’t need any units unless you would like to say how different. If you find that two voltages are equal (via direct comparison), then units don’t matter.

          Comparison between two things is subjective.

          That’s not necessarily true. Voltages can be compared objectively without absolute values or units.

        • Joe

          So, what measurement are you comparing between humans? Potential Difference? Speed of travel through space time? ‘Tallness”? Which one do we pick to compare human equality?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          If you’re having that much trouble with what egalitarianism (“every human is of equal worth”) is, perhaps we should end this conversation.

        • Joe

          It’s the ‘equal worth’ part that I’m having trouble with. Either there is some ontological concept that we can compare, or we have equal worth by default. And of course, before we start saying ‘what gives humans equal worth’ we have to establish if that is indeed the case.

          What’s the issue here? I think the conversation shouldn’t have even begun, so I’m happy to end it there.

        • Kodie

          We very obviously put different values on different lives. Lives of people we don’t know are lower value than people we do know, or else we’d constantly be at all the funerals, and not, say, curse that you’re behind a long funeral procession when you have to get to work. We pay people differently for the work they do, I guess that’s not supposed to be the value they are, but most people do some kind of work we all ultimately rely on. … I mean, the person working at some teen fashion clothing store is probably expendable compared to someone working at a gas station, right? They are probably not paid the same. I meant to start right in on the Oscars montage of dead people. Some people get clapped a lot harder because they are so famous, you can’t not clap, but some poor shit who ran a camera is not going to be worth as much as Carrie Fisher, right? Probably most people in the Motion Picture industry who died won’t be worth as much to people as her, by claps.

        • Joe

          In this case though, you’re equating importance to you with value. Which I agree with, so I’d like to know what individual theists think “value” is?

          It’s also not out of the question to say prima facie that, all else being equal, people should be considered equal. Certainly in situations where your loved ones are not inconvenienced. So we have value meaning different things depending on the situation.

        • Otto

          You make a good point.

          Treating people equally and saying all people are equal are 2 different things.

        • Kodie

          This is how we organize ourselves into families, small, manageable units to prioritize. If you live in a suburban environment, you probably know your neighbors, and if one of them has a sick kid with let’s not call it cancer, but something else not well-known, it’s not your kid, but you probably will do what you can – you might donate to the charity doing research on this illness, or do a walk-a-thon for that cause. That’s a lot more than I’d do, given that a lot of kids are sick with a lot of different illnesses, so how would I pick one, since I don’t know any sick kids? Since I’ve already heard of cancer, I might pick cancer, but I might otherwise pick hunger or education, if I wanted to do something for kids. You know a person with a particular illness, and I do not.

          Furthermore, since you know that kid or their parent, it would be socially awkward for you not to put on the show that you care, which is different but might have a lot of similarities to actually caring. They put out the hat in the neighborhood, and the schools, and maybe this kid goes to the same school as your kid, but not in the same class, and doesn’t live on your block, you can get away with doing less. If it doesn’t put your own family out too much, you do what you can to a limit. But in choosing to donate to this particular lesser-known but serious illness, you are probably not giving the same effort toward a more obvious or common cause.

          I would say distributing these things, as they go, is similar to organizing ourselves into manageable units called families. Your family cares about what it cares about, has the resources you all have, and I have what I have, and it’s probably not the same, and it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t make you more important than me or the other way around, but each person can only carry so much, and we all hypothetically get what we need without thinking I’m the only one who cares and that we have to care about every person equally. We’re delegated smaller responsibilities, and I think where god comes in as a meaning-making creature is that we’re aware we don’t matter that much. We’re aware that I don’t matter to you as much as your family or your neighbor’s sick kid, and I don’t care about your neighbor’s sick kid or you that much, but that we suppose it’s ok, because everyone has their networks and we don’t have to stress out about all the pain and suffering, and if you don’t even have a network and are drifting through life, of course, that’s where you’d still have god if he existed.

          We know we don’t know our ancestors or care about long-dead relatives as much as our own grandma, but when we are old and dead and gone for many years, who will think of us and visit that headstone in the graveyard? That’s why people think there’s a god, maybe not necessarily where you go when you die, but that we have an awareness that no one will care in a very short time that we were ever here, and it’s sort of grieving over ourselves, like if you walk through a cemetery and see an old, old, old headstone well, you saw it, so there’s that. It’s sort of odd because people don’t go to cemeteries that much just to walk around, but that’s why we carve these things and other monuments, so someone will associate that name with their life once in a while for as long as the granite can hold up, that doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it touches the brain for a moment even if you have no idea who that was.

      • eric

        Well I haven’t read your citation but I see no prima facie reason why we must ‘ground’ moral egalitarianism in the supernatural. Is this just a complaint about subjective morality writ large? Okay, it’s subjective. We simply declare egalitarianism to be a goal (one of several that need to be balanced) which our social and moral system will try and achieve – i.e. a principle on which our subjective morality is built, rather than an outcome of our subjective morality – and be done with it.

        Besides which, grounding egalitarianism in the supernatural really does nothing to solve his problem, because now you’ll just have humans fighting about which supernatural concept or principle should be used. IMO in most cases the supernatural is just a middleman used to confuse people about the origin of the supernatural claim. It’s still humans, making claims about morality, Only now they’re doing it by making claims about what the supernatural says about morality, instead of just making claims about morality. Cut out the middleman; until we have well-accepted evidence of some supernatural origin for morality, it serves no useful purpose.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Well I haven’t read your citation but I see no prima facie reason why we must ‘ground’ moral egalitarianism in the supernatural.

          I think there’s a middle, between ‘naturalistic’ and ‘supernaturalistic’. That middle is what Pojman calls ‘metaphysical’. Here’s why I don’t think the law of the excluded middle applies:

          ‘naturalistic’ ∼ “reality is finitely complex” + Ockham’s razor
          ‘supernaturalistic’ ∼ “breaking the laws of nature”
          ‘metaphysical’ ∼ “reality is more complex than we observe”

          I suspect one’s reasons for adopting egalitarianism must be anchored in something more than just the ‘naturalistic’. But I don’t see why violations of the laws of nature need to exist to support egalitarianism. What I suspect is that one must “walk by faith, not by sight”, into the lawful (that is, not ‘irrational’) unknown. Why? Because I’m pretty sure the route from here to actually implemented egalitarianism far exceeds any single person’s lifespan. I think the history of failed utopianism is good evidence of that.

          We simply declare egalitarianism to be a goal (one of several that need to be balanced) which our social and moral system will try and achieve – i.e. a principle on which our subjective morality is built, rather than an outcome of our subjective morality – and be done with it.

          I think more and more people around the globe are beginning to suspect that this is a contentless rationalization, a new Divine Right of Kings to keep the masses in their place. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “justice too long delayed is justice denied”. The question I have is this: What else must happen for the elites to question their nice little story on how we’ll head toward egalitarianism? And if they were never actually heading there—if it was always a rationalization—then what is the true state of affairs?

          Cut out the middleman; until we have well-accepted evidence of some supernatural origin for morality, it serves no useful purpose.

          I think there is something deeply wrong with demanding evidence for morality, in the same sense one has evidence for the existence of the Higgs boson. At its core, the demand for evidence indicates a refusal to trust the self-expressions of others. Instead of believing that they’re in pain, you insist on throwing them inside an MRI machine to see if they’re in pain. It’s all an elaborate excuse to avoid trusting others. After all, the Enlightenment was all about no longer having to trust the authorities. Why not just destroy any and all trust of humans by humans? Let evidence rule! I’m not convinced that is a good world.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest?

        Most people would confirm that they do. My wife is more important than your wife, for example.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          So… should we ditch egalitarianism?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Let’s do our best. But let’s agree that very few people truly believe that we’re all equal.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Mmm, Dollhouse: “I try to be my best.”

          So does that mean while you currently value your wife more than mine, you wish you could value them the same?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          No. You’ve given us a dozen permutations of “Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest?” and I’m reminding you of what we already know: very few of us see all people equally.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Then what does the underlined mean:

          LB: So… should we ditch egalitarianism?

          BS: Let’s do our best. But let’s agree that very few people truly believe that we’re all equal.

          ? For example, should we give up on Western liberal ideals of justice, which seem predicated upon egalitarianism?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ?? No, let’s keep our Western ideals. The courts might achieve egalitarianism better than individuals would (which is why judges must recuse themselves when their individual preferences would risk their egalitarianism).

          But why must I tell you this? This is obvious.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I don’t understand; on the one hand you believe that your wife has greater worth than mine†, and on the other hand you want the courts to head toward egalitarianism.

          Why would I want you to tell me this? Well, because I’m not convinced that the evidence indicates that egalitarianism is an ideal toward which we are approaching, even asymptotically. And so, I suspect that ‘egalitarianism’ is a pretty little story we tell ourselves to excuse ourselves from actually working toward it (vs. toward a much lesser goal), in a very similar way to how Marx understood ‘religion’ to operate. Surely we should not believe lies?

          † Strictly speaking, you said “My wife is more important than your wife, for example.”, but I took it to be a response to my “Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest?”, where the underlined in your statement is a rejecting of the underlined in mine.

        • Joe

          I don’t understand; on the one hand you believe that your wife has greater worth than mine†, and on the other hand you want the courts to head toward egalitarianism.

          I don’t understand why you think Bob’s feelings towards his wife is somehow a legal matter?

          You know why egalitarianism is favoured by the courts? Because, unlike you or Bannister, they bother to set out a definition and a reason for equality. Which you still haven’t done yet.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I don’t understand why you think Bob’s feelings towards his wife is somehow a legal matter?

          I took him to be responding to “Are all humans of equal worth or do some matter more than the rest?” If he only builds morality on his personal feelings somehow mixed with the personal feelings of everyone else, then egalitarianism is not where you’ll head, because not everyone’s feelings matter equally in society. That’s just a social fact of any society which isn’t egalitarianism or truly headed toward egalitarianism (even if only asymptotically).

          You know why egalitarianism is favoured by the courts?

          Except that it isn’t. Egalitarianism is the ideal, but that’s not how it actually works out, at least not in the US. If you think it does, you need to go out and collect some evidence instead of believe the fairy tales people tell themselves so that they don’t actually have to make the requisite sacrifices to push us toward egalitarianism. Or are you happy with ‘egalitarianism’ operating like Marx took ‘religion’ to operate—as an opium for the masses and blinder for the elites so that they wouldn’t appreciably improve the situation?

        • Joe

          Except that it isn’t. Egalitarianism is the ideal, but that’s not how it actually works out, at least not in the US

          Why do you have difficulty separating a concept to how it operates in reality?

        • adam

          “Why do you have difficulty separating a concept to how it operates in reality?”

          A lifetime of delusion and avoidance of reality:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/62da10177de8c12d9feedf1a0ff3d448ed929feef887a1192640edb3a8a15953.jpg

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I do not think I will spend time responding to you until something sufficient changes with the following:

          1. your refusal to admit you strawmanned me (second refusal)

          2. your refusal to substantiate your accusation of “He’s a flat out liar” (my request for elaboration, second refusal)

          3. your libelous assertion that “Luke is going to ask for empirical evidence as to why it’s best to notify the authorities about child abuse!” (falsity demonstrated)

          I do not wish to discuss with you while you think the above is acceptable behavior.

        • Joe

          What would I gain by any further responses from you? You’ve already demonstrated that your responses are meandering and evasive. Plus, I don’t need links to an article I’m already reading.

          Use this as another opportunity to get out of answering a direct question, if you like. I don’t care. I’m off to sleep well at night.

        • adam

          “pretty little story we tell ourselves to excuse ourselves from actually working toward it ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/583c7fb5581a22462f74d1f15438c0c9669adf0c11ad148d8f6ac78e1a1aa72a.jpg

        • Kodie

          It’s probably impossible to see all people equally valuable. At best, we can see all people as deserving of the same basic rights and amenities, but the reality is you’re only one person, and I’m one person, and maybe all together, a lot of people can see all the other people equally valuable in society. I mean, it’s sort of encoded in our laws, but in practice seems difficult to accomplish. We can only say we want all people to have the basic rights and amenities, and when they don’t have their basic rights and amenities, you still treat your wife better, instead of telling her to hold on while you run out of the house and look for someone who doesn’t have anything and give them the shirt right off your back.

          This is why we have society. We’re all in this together down here alone. You live on the other side of the country from me, and yet you can treat my neighbors better than I do – if they are in need and you have given to charity, while I have not, it’s plausible for you to be more caring than I am about people who are nearer to me than they are to you. But you’re not likely to walk into my grocery store and get the same treatment I do, because I am familiar and on a friendly basis. They are treating me better, and I am treating them better than I think most customers do, but there are starving and sick people I am not helping, and I am not so friendly basis with them that I know if they are suffering, but I hope I lighten their burden by being grateful and friendly.

          Pay attention – this is where god usually comes in. There are other people helping people I am not helping, and all together, we make a society. The religious realize they are focusing on their immediate concerns, and hope that god “sends” others to care for those that are too much for one person. It’s a little bit of Marxism, from each according to their ability to each according to their need. Since we live in a capitalist society, there is no certainty that all will at least get the minimum basic rights and amenities.

          Anyway, I don’t want to be competitive, but you and I can’t treat people equally. You are more patient than I am. You are likely more sociable than I am. If you see someone who is good with people, a good helper, a good listener, giving all their focus to one person, keeping eye contact, listening to that person like they are the only person in the world, makes that person’s day but – is there more they could or should do? How long will that positive experience last? How many other people died alone while that one good person was spending all their time with one needy person instead of spreading themselves thin so everyone could get a shallow experience instead of the devoted attention of someone who cared?

          If we’re going to treat everyone equally, we have to listen to everyone, or go to those least-listened-to and listen to them instead of someone who already has had sufficient attention, and we all have to do all the things we can all the time, or we have to realize we can individually do only so much, given my personality vs. yours, maybe I have to do less or something different than you do, and hope there are enough people who have spare time and resources to give out to bring everyone else up and pretend those people are as important as your family members.

          It’s probably just impossible to value all life equally. Societally, we conform to laws that value all lives equally, meaning ending them costs some kind of penalty, even though those lives might have ended by accident or disease.

    • TheNuszAbides

      my guess is he’s counting on the pearl-clutching selective incredulity of the choir he’s actually preaching to — who won’t even be slightly comfortable with the thought experiment of calculating such a value. why, that’s almost as bad as manufacturing the value in a laboratory!

  • guerillasurgeon

    As Dara Briain said: “Science knows it doesn’t know everything. Otherwise it would stop.”

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      That is not the slightest bit incompatible with “Science can answer any and all questions.” The issue under contention is whether there is anything in the category of ‘truth’ which is not best addressed by the methods of science, at every point in time/​maturity. (Compare this to science taking over when one can be disciplined enough in that matter and when there are enough data.)

      • Joe

        “Science can answer any and all questions.”

        Who said that?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Read the OP.

        • Joe

          The OP that points out the fact that this is a straw man argument? That OP?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Yep. For the purpose of this particular thread, I don’t care whether it’s a straw man (quibbles here); the Dara Ó Briain quotation was plausibly meant to conflict with it.

        • Joe

          I don’t care whether it’s a straw man

          Well, it is. So why are you attacking that position, instead of what was actually said?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I already dealt with the allegation of straw man. Switch to that thread if you want to engage that matter with me. Here, I’m interested in precisely what @guerillasurgeon:disqus meant with the Dara Ó Briain quote. Perhaps you could let him/her clarify?

        • Joe

          The quote refers to the fact that science is a process, not a destination. It’s entirely in keeping with the theme of this post.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I doubt Andy Bannister would disagree that “science is a process, not a destination”. As long as we can be agreed on that, I rest my case in this thread.

        • MNb

          We agree that you doubt.
          Do we also agree that your doubts are irrelevant and that only what Bannister actually writes is relevant? That’s something I doubt given the many comments you have devoted to this question.

      • guerillasurgeon

        Yes perhaps, but Dara is a comedian. With a PhD in physics mind.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m not sure I see the relevance to the matter at hand. Perhaps I’m just taking your comment too seriously?

        • guerillasurgeon

          It was a joke. I don’t know if you saw the clip, but I would have thought that if you had you would have realised. Because after all he is a comedian. So yes, you are almost certainly taking it too seriously.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        That is not the slightest bit incompatible with “Science can answer any and all questions.”

        But note that the only person making this argument (and then only to refute it) is Bannister.

  • eric

    I don’t defend this argument because no one makes it. No one makes it, that is, except theists who seem to be drawn to strawman arguments like flies to garbage.

    Consider the audience for an apologetics book. It’s going to be Christians who want reassurance. Strawmen atheist arguments work here because the intended audience is unlikely to be familiar with the real thing. Movies like God’s Not dead are very similar; they present an unrealistic caricature of non-belief that could only possibly seem serious to…the intended audience. In hindsight, I’m actually kind of surprised it’s taken 7 chapters before we got to a howlingly bad misrepresentation. Hey…maybe this is one of the better apologetics books. :)

  • Joe

    Goodness me, this book should be printed on straw paper!

    “Why?” in response to every statement. He asks, “Why is the pursuit of knowledge a good thing?” and “Why is it wrong [for a scientist] to lie about [experimental] results?”

    I’ve come to realize that some things are just brute facts. Sure, we can give multiple reasons to why knowledge is good, but we can still keep asking ‘why’. Of course, the exact same thing is true for anything God supposedly wants us to do: Why? At some point you regress back to a brute fact that would even precede a god: we do things for reasons.

    Now suppose a nonprofit organization that provides bed nets to protect children from malaria-carrying mosquitoes (or some similar project) shows you how a $500 donation would save one life or more. Most people would discard this appeal after a few seconds’ consideration, including those who would have sacrificed their shoes.

    Which is actually the wrong answer. Take the nets, and let the guy drown, as long as two lives or more would be saved. Of course, we don’t always think logically, and are quite capable of overriding our logical brain.

  • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

    To attempt to tie this to reality, Bannister quotes Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto, “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” But just two sentences later, Bannister bungles that into, “Science can answer any and all questions.” Yes, that is quoted accurately. And no, that’s not even close to what the scientist said.

    Perhaps you could sketch out what role questions not answerable by science play in society? My guess is that Bannister would see such questions as diminishing in intensity and articulation, eroding away as it were. There is a reason that we say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So, if science is the only reliable tool, then everything will look like it can be addressed by that tool. How is this not reasonable?

    How do we compute the value a human life?
    […] Or we can weigh the cost of an improvement in food or road safety, for example, against the number of lives it will save.

    Unless you set “value of a human life” ≡ “minimum cost to save a human life”, you’ve got a data type mismatch going on, here.

    Our moral programming tells us (in general) to value human life over other kinds of life. Why is this? It’s a product of our evolutionary path, which is explained by science.

    From Richard Dawkins:

    One of the dominant messages of The Selfish Gene (reinforced by the title essay of A Devil’s Chaplin) is that we should not derive our values from Darwinism, unless it is with a negative sign. Our brains have evolved to the point where we are capable of rebelling against our selfish genes. (The Selfish Gene, xiv)

    Perhaps you would like to somewhat restate your claim? Biological evolution is perfectly compatible with genocide and slavery; it cares at most about tribalistic morality.

    • Joe

      Perhaps you would like to somewhat restate your claim?

      I don’t see why? Darwinism is not evolution. Evolution is not the only thing that motivates us.

      • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

        If in fact we ought to rebel against [biological] evolution in order to be moral, then explaining morality merely in terms of evolution is problematic. And yes, I get that Bob cleverly didn’t say that evolution completely explains morality. He just conveniently left unstated what is required in addition to evolution.

        • Joe

          If in fact we ought to rebel against [biological] evolution in order to be moral,

          Why ought we?

          He just conveniently left unstated what is required in addition to evolution.

          Let me guess, something supernatural?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Well, anyone who thinks that genocide is bad or slavery is bad ought to. Basically, anyone who thinks we ought to be anything other than tribalistic ought to.

        • Joe

          Well, anyone who thinks that genocide is bad or slavery is bad ought to. Basically, anyone who thinks we ought to be anything other than tribalistic ought to.

          What does any of that have to do with evolution?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It has to do with whether [biological] evolution is anywhere near being an explanation of our present moral sense—that is, a moral sense which condemns e.g. genocide and slavery.

        • Joe

          It has to do with whether [biological] evolution is anywhere near being an explanation of our present moral sense

          Well, that’s debatable of course, but what does a very specific moral sense have to do with evolution?

        • Michael Neville

          Luke is riffing on a prior thread when he was told that morality is evolutionary. Humans, as social animals, evolved morality to help us live together in groups. What Luke is conveniently forgetting is that while humans have morals, what is or is not moral differs,often widely, from group to group.

          Ancient Hebrews, as was generally true for Iron Age groups, thought slavery was moral. It was so moral that the people who wrote the Bible even gave rules for slave holding.

          Luke can (that’s can) be an interesting, engaging person to talk to. However he has his faults. He will only admit to error if his errors are thoroughly criticized. He gives links which supposedly supports his views but often don’t or even contradict what he’s saying. Also if he insults you then it’s your fault you were insulted, not his for giving the insult.

          Approach Luke with caution.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          What Luke is conveniently forgetting is that while humans have morals, what is or is not moral differs,often widely, from group to group.

          Incorrect. I’m not at all forgetting this. Indeed, tribalistic morality is predicted by biological evolution. What is not predicted is the transcending of tribalistic morality. Indeed, the opposite of that is predicted, at least per my best understanding of biological evolution, and apparently, Richard Dawkins’ as well.

        • Joe

          What is not predicted is the transcending of tribalistic morality

          What’s “tribalisitc morality”, and how did we ‘transcend it’?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Tribalistic morality is a morality which advantages one’s own group over against other groups. To advantage the group instead of just the individual, one needs some amount of altruism. But the altruism cannot spread past the group (tribe), on pain of advantaging the other group over one’s own, thus reducing chances for propagation of one’s genes.

          An example can be found in the Big Think article How Tribalism Overrules Reason, and Makes Risky Times More Dangerous.

          How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question. What I am questioning is whether the pressures of natural selection are in any way conducive to such transcending. I am thereby under no obligation to say how we transcended it.

        • Joe

          How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          Very easily. We simply extend the boundaries of our ‘tribe’. This is not a mystery, nor very difficult to solve.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Well hey, why don’t you contact the governments of various countries having severe problems with tribalism and give them your simple suggestion? There’s a whole lot of terrible going on out there to which you apparently have the magical antidote!

        • Joe

          There’s a whole lot of terrible going on out there to which you apparently have the magical antidote!

          Didn’t you bristle at the accusation of making straw man arguments earlier?

          Show me where I said I had an antidote.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Show me where I said I had an antidote.

          Tribalistic morality is pervasive in the West right now. I said how we transcended it is an important question. You treated the matter simplistically with your “Very easily”:

          LB: How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          J: Very easily. We simply extend the boundaries of our ‘tribe’. This is not a mystery, nor very difficult to solve.

          What I’m suggesting is that if you really understand how this happened, you could solve the problems gripping the world when it comes to tribalistic morality. Because the more correct thing to say is that in certain times and places we’ve sorta-kinda transcended tribalistic morality. We at least have an egalitarian ideal; whether or not we’re increasingly well-approximating it or actually slipping away is a big question. But you seem to have a good grasp of how this works, and thus I want to see you put that good grasp into action. Of course I am obviously doubting that you do have a very good grasp.

        • Joe

          You treated the matter simplistically with your “Very easily”:

          You’re confusing a solution with it’s implementation.

          Are you suggesting we don’t know why people die of starvation?

          We’ve transcended tribalisitc morality (by being more inclusive) in some places but not in others. What other approach to morality both explains this phenomenon, and can propose an answer?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You’re confusing a solution with it’s implementation.

          Nope, I’m doubting it’s a solution if you can’t implement it.

          Are you suggesting we don’t know why people die of starvation?

          Where did that question come from? On that issue, I suggest investigating the 2012-02-05 Huffington Post article, We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People — and Still Can’t End Hunger.

          We’ve transcended tribalisitc morality (by being more inclusive) in some places but not in others. What other approach to morality both explains this phenomenon, and can propose an answer?

          That isn’t an explanation, that’s an assertion. If all you have is an assertion instead of an explanation, that’s fine. I just think it’s important to differentiate between the two.

          As to better explanations, that’s one of the things I’m searching for. That search is made difficult by what seems like a lot of nonsense floating around, plus a lot of overly simplistic understanding which seems to permit people to stop looking for better answers, in a similar way to how atheists claim that “God did it” shuts down further investigation.

        • Joe

          So, after all your questioning, quote mining and links that go nowhere, all you wanted to say was: “we don’t know”.

          Thanks. You contribution has been noted.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          links that go nowhere

          You do not seem to have understood the following exchange:

          J: Why do your links refer back to this very same article?

          LB: Disqus obnoxiously started tracking all URL clicks in December 2016. I wrote a TamperMonkey script to remove that.

          I’ll elaborate. The tl;dr is that Disqus quasi-broke the functionality whereby one can hyperlink to a different comment in the same page. The detailed, technical explanation of how that happened follows. Last December, I wrote a script which reverses this obnoxious behavior of Disqus, which has the nice side effect of disabling Disqus’ ability to track every link you click within a comment.

          When you click a link that leads to a precise Disqus comment, like the following—

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2017/01/bad-atheist-arguments-science-can-explain-everything/#comment-3103352553

          —Disqus modifies the link, as you can see be comparing and contrasting what you see above as text, and what happens if you right-click and copy the hyperlink location (not the hyperlink text). Here’s how Disqus alters it†:

          http://disq.us/url?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.patheos.com%2Fblogs%2Fcrossexamined%2F2017%2F01%2Fbad-atheist-arguments-science-can-explain-everything%2F%23comment-3103352553

          The problem is that before Disqus started doing this, clicking a link to another comment in the same page merely shifted focus to that comment, loading it if it weren’t already loaded. This is because one is merely shifting from one bookmark (e.g. #comment-3103352553) to another. But with the URL tracking, the page has to reload. This is made more problematic because Disqus does not always properly navigate to the comment indicated by the bookmark. You can work around this by waiting for the Disqus comments to load, then adding an “x” to the URL in your browser (e.g. #comment-3103352553x), and hitting [enter]. At least in Chrome, this causes the browser to navigate to the target comment.

          Now, obviously the above is onerous. It makes it much less nice to say, “Hey, I’ve already dealt with this in this comment.”

          † Actually, there’s more junk at the end (e.g. %3A74OoKhfGyj3GhlfB6lb2yiDLMgY&cuid=2306652), but that’s irrelevant to the main idea.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          […] all you wanted to say was: “we don’t know”.

          Incorrect; I want to see the extent to which folks recognize they have an insufficient answer, and what they think the next steps are in dealing with that fact. I think the atheist is absolutely right to criticize simplistic “God did it” explanations; I merely think that the atheist should be barred such simplistic explanations as well. Fair’s fair, right?

        • Pofarmer

          Nope, I’m doubting it’s a solution if you can’t implement it.

          Cities of 10 million people and countries of 100’s of millions of people kind of prove it can be implemented.

          As to better explanations, that’s one of the things I’m searching for

          No, you’re not, or you’d be quoting people like Churchland who are actually working on the problem. What you are looking for is information to support your own biases.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          LB: How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          J: Very easily. We simply extend the boundaries of our ‘tribe’. This is not a mystery, nor very difficult to solve.

          LB: What I’m suggesting is that if you really understand how this happened, you could solve the problems gripping the world when it comes to tribalistic morality.

          J: We’ve transcended tribalisitc morality (by being more inclusive) in some places but not in others.

          LB: Nope, I’m doubting it’s a solution if you can’t implement it.

          P: Cities of 10 million people and countries of 100’s of millions of people kind of prove it can be implemented.

          Are you contradicting what you wrote elsewhere on this page:

          LB: How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          P: It’s pretty clear looking around we never have.

          ?

          LB: As to better explanations, that’s one of the things I’m searching for.

          P: No, you’re not, or you’d be quoting people like Churchland who are actually working on the problem. What you are looking for is information to support your own biases.

          Ahh, so because I’m not consulting the people you would consult, I’m merely looking for information to support my own biases? That’s beautiful logic. So when I read stuff like Democracy for Realists and Anti-intellectualism in American Life, I’m just trying to support my own biases?

        • Pofarmer

          Are you contradicting what you wrote elsewhere on this page:

          Not my intention. My intention is to point out that we’ve changed the boundaries of what tribalistic tendencies were/are.

          You’re looking at philosphy and sociology, not the hard science.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          My intention is to point out that we’ve changed the boundaries of what tribalistic tendencies were/are.

          Ok, but such changes are irrelevant to the matter at hand if one cannot continue them for some period of time and result in zero tribalism. Pivoting from one tribalism to another is not necessarily ‘progress’. If now we enslave people via globalism instead of plantations down the street, that’s not necessarily ‘progress’. If we’ve greatly reduced pollution in our neck of the woods while relying on manufactured goods from a region drenched in pollution, that’s not necessarily ‘progress’. And so on.

          If we aren’t actually moving toward stated ideals, and yet predicate claims on the idea that we are moving toward them, those ideals are serving as an opium of the people.

        • Pofarmer

          Ok, but such changes are irrelevant to the matter at hand if one cannot
          continue them for some period of time and result in zero tribalism.

          I’m reminded of the statement, “The perfect is the enemy of the Good.”

          Pivoting from one tribalism to another is not necessarily ‘progress’.

          It’s not necessarily not, either.

          If now we enslave people via globalism instead of plantations down the street, that’s not necessarily ‘progress’.

          Do we know that’s what we’re doing? Would these people be better off as subsistence farmers or jungle tribesman?

          If we’ve greatly reduced pollution in our neck of the woods while
          relying on manufactured goods from a region drenched in pollution,
          that’s not necessarily ‘progress’.

          Certainly it’s seen as progress, and certainly it’s shortcomings can be addressed. The question is are Knowingly and intentionally doing this?

          If we aren’t actually moving toward stated ideals, and yet predicate
          claims on the idea that we are moving toward them, those ideals are
          serving as an opium of the people.

          Now you’re gonna have to get into a whole list of things. What stated Ideals are we talking about? What claims are being made, etc, etc? What does any of this have to do with the original argument now that we’ve gotten deep into the weeds.

        • adam

          ” What does any of this have to do with the original argument now that we’ve gotten deep into the weeds.”

          Lukeism https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e354fc7cc2b98ee33f9a417062b3d79eafde2b48cf1d653e36212bc07a77cf2.jpg

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m reminded of the statement, “The perfect is the enemy of the Good.”

          That doesn’t prevent a rationalization from being a rationalization.

          Do we know that’s what we’re doing? Would these people be better off as subsistence farmers or jungle tribesman?

          Seriously? Similar arguments were made to argue that slaves and serfs were better off. Here’s a thought experiment: for every increase in the well-being of the Haves, increase the well-being of the Have-Nots by half. Is that justice? Is that humane?

          P.S. According to Jared Diamond’s The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race, jungle tribesman actually had it pretty good. Much better than subsistence farmers—that’s pretty much the worst state to be in, apparently.

          The question is are Knowingly and intentionally doing this?

          I do not believe that knowledge and intention are required to be incredibly evil. Neither does the law: WP: Criminal negligence.

          What stated Ideals are we talking about?

          Egalitarianism.

          What does any of this have to do with the original argument now that we’ve gotten deep into the weeds.

          The question is whether the stated explanations for “Our moral programming” have any hope in hell of heading [asymptotically] toward egalitarianism. If not, we should be honest with ourselves and evaluate where we’re actually headed.

        • Pofarmer

          The question is whether the stated explanations for “Our moral
          programming” have any hope in hell of heading [asymptotically] toward
          egalitarianism.

          Since we’re having the conversation, then apparently it fucking does.

        • Otto

          And Luke thinks the religious explanations have any hope in hell of heading toward egalitarianism?

          Not that I have ever seen…

        • Pofarmer

          If anything it’s the exact opposite.

        • Kodie

          Or everything you have seen. They all want everyone to believe the same thing, and if we all did, then we would be equal to god and to them. As it is, most Christians give other Christians a pass just for being Christians and don’t quiz them on what denomination they are before giving them the nod.

        • Otto

          That’s right, and yet silently they ‘know’ why the other Christians are getting it all wrong but do not spend hardly any time trying to convince the others why.

        • adam

          ” Pivoting from one tribalism to another is not necessarily ‘progress’.”

          Depends on the prior tribalism, doesnt it?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3ac9f7ed84299d16306f7b7297cd75b7a698c7ae27d27411e6b1984ae61fb79.jpg

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’m not sure what you’re stuck on. We have an array of emotions. The ones we tend to lean on or express or feel too quickly (anger, jealousy, greed, impulsiveness) we typically call “bad,” and the ones we usually need more of (sympathy, compassion, kindness, patience, generosity) we typically call “good.”

          People living in tribes have these, and people living in the modern West have them.

          So where’s the problem, now?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          My problem is a grossly simplistic explanation of morality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current state of explanation is due to the stance that Harry Kroto advanced: “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.

        • Otto

          I would agree since ‘God’ is THE most grossly simplistic explanation of morality and it is certainly dangerous.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It would be interesting to see how you measure the level of dangerousness. How does one operationalize this and then go observing in the world to see if you’re right or not? Surely you don’t just assume it?

        • Otto

          When people can irrationally ascribe their actions and motivation for their actions to an ill-defined, nebulous and completely subjective ‘ultimate authority’ how could it be described as anything other than dangerous? The results speak for themselves, when ‘the will of God’ can be equally used to justify the feeding of the poof or the killing of infidels…or literally anything in between.

          No assumption necessary, the proof is in the pudding.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          When people can irrationally ascribe their actions and motivation for their actions to an ill-defined, nebulous and completely subjective ‘ultimate authority’ how could it be described as anything other than dangerous?

          One example would be when the religion involves the following:

          But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25–28)

          What this ultimately reduces to is requiring true followers of Jesus to allow other people to carve their sins in the flesh of the followers, just like sins were carved into the flesh of Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Such people are only “dangerous” to those who have rationalized power as morality.

        • Otto

          1. So anyone that does not read the Gospels as you do is not a ‘true follower of Jesus’. It is good to know you have set yourself as the standard of what a true follower is, let’s see you go out and convince all those false followers of Jesus that you are correct with your obvious objective position concerning Jesus.

          “Such people are only “dangerous” to those who have rationalized power as morality.”

          2. You are cherry picking a positive example as if that tells the whole story. As I said above ‘The will of God’ can be equally used to justify both positive behavior as well as the absolute worst behavior, that is what makes it dangerous.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          So anyone that does not read the Gospels as you do is not a ‘true follower of Jesus’.

          No, my intention was to establish a kind of religion which can “be described as anything other than dangerous”.

          You are cherry picking a positive example as if that tells the whole story.

          No. Any given person may well be a combination of Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior and anti-Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior. What is relevant is whether there exists any accessible force which can help one move toward Matthew 20:25–28, despite the great cost entailed.

          As I said above ‘The will of God’ can be equally used to justify both positive behavior as well as the absolute worst behavior, that is what makes it dangerous.

          You are using “The will of God” equivocally.

        • Otto

          “No, my intention was to establish a kind of religion which can “be described as anything other than dangerous”.

          This is not relevant to my point, I already established that it is possible. Just because gasoline can potentially be used safely does not mean it isn’t dangerous. With gasoline the difference is we have an objective standard to compare it to, not so with ‘the Will of God’.

          “No. Any given person may well be a combination of Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior and anti-Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior .

          You are subjectively defining what is ‘Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior and anti-Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior’ and calling it objective…it isn’t.

          “You are using “The will of God” equivocally.

          Which is exactly the way theists use ‘the Will of God’…that is my point, thanks for making it for me.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Just because gasoline can potentially be used safely does not mean it isn’t dangerous. With gasoline the difference is we have an objective standard to compare it to, not so with ‘the Will of God’.

          This is an apples-and-oranges comparison. Something objective we know about gasoline is the likelihood of various kinds of damage to matter. Surely you profess no objective standard for how gasoline ought to be used. And yet, your “dangerous” arises completely from the normative realm, not the descriptive realm.

          It’s not even clear what it would mean to have “an objective standard to compare [to]” in the normative realm. We know that things operate very differently in the land of is vs. the land of ought. The land of is is compulsory in a way very different from the land of ought. For there to be natural law (ought) which perfectly mirrors the laws of nature (is) would be to deny any distinction between the two.

          You are subjectively defining what is ‘Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior and anti-Matthew 20:25–28-type behavior’ and calling it objective…it isn’t.

          What are the conditions under which a string of words operate in an objective fashion vs. a subjective fashion? I’m rather surprised that you think “lord it over others” is subjective; I should think you could distinguish between coercive power and non-coercive power, between manipulative social relations and non-manipulative social relations. Unless you think that in truth, there is no difference?

          Which is exactly the way theists use ‘the Will of God’…that is my point, thanks for making it for me.

          Why is it interesting that different people mean different things by a concept? Perhaps the word most abused in this fashion is ‘freedom’, and yet we still go on using it as if it is useful. When we’re being good, we are careful to indicate just what some particular use of ‘freedom’ is supposed to mean. Why can the same not be done for “the Will of God”?

        • Otto

          Nothing in this refutes the point I started with. Again you have gone off on a tangent ostensibly to distract from it….again.

          “What are the conditions under which a string of words operate in an objective fashion vs. a subjective fashion? I’m rather surprised that you think “lord it over others” is subjective….”

          Do all your Christian counterparts agree with your interpretation of this and its application? If not how can you claim your view is objective and by what basis do you do that from?

          “Why is it interesting that different people mean different things by a concept?”

          The fact that people mean different things by the concept is not the problem, the problem happens when their concept is attributed with ultimate authority as I stated from the beginning. At that point any and all behavior can and will be justified by it….and at the same time they (you) call it objective as if that term has any meaning in this context.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I don’t see how any of this has anything to do with the fact that one can distinguish two kinds of social behavior without falling prey to No True Scotsman, without lapsing into pure subjectivity. Agreement between people has absolutely nothing to do with objectivity.

          Now, if all you meant by “how could it be described as anything other than dangerous?” is that “sharp knives are dangerous and thus we must be careful to use them well”, we can end the conversation right away. But if somehow you think we can avoid the dangers caused by this mythological object ‘religion’, then I’ll ask you to demonstrate your case in a rigorous fashion. Perhaps you mean that we can placate the masses with things they can buy and entertainment, and thereby get fewer wars? Perhaps you mean we can have something like this:

              The worry has been repeatedly expressed that the individual lost something important along with the larger social and cosmic horizons of action. Some have written of this as the loss of a heroic dimension to life. People no longer have a sense of a higher purpose, of something worth dying for. Alexis de Tocqueville sometimes talked like this in the last century, referring to the “petits et vulgaires plaisirs” that people tend to seek in the democratic age.[1] In another articulation, we suffer from a lack of passion. Kierkegaard saw “the present age” in these terms. And Nietzsche’s “last men” are at the final nadir of this decline; they have no aspiration left in life but to a “pitiable comfort.”[2]    This loss of purpose was linked to a narrowing. People lost the broader vision because they focussed on their individual lives. Democratic equality, says Tocqueville, draws the individual towards himself, “et menace de la renfermer enfin tout entier dans la solitude de son propre coeur.”[3] In other words, the dark side of individualism is a centring on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society. (The Malaise of Modernity, 3–4)

          ? If so, I’ll agree, in the sense that while a civilization is decaying, it can appear pretty according to certain metrics. But such civilizations have a habit of either self-destructing, or becoming so weak that they end up being dominated by other civilizations, which aren’t so pretty according to said metrics.

        • Otto

          “Agreement between people has absolutely nothing to do with objectivity.”

          You are absolutely correct…which is why I asked the following question…”If not how can you claim your view is objective and by what basis do you do that from?”…which gave you a perfect place to explain why your position on the matter IS objective. Of course you completely ignored that and moved on. You would make a great politician.

          “Now, if all you meant by “how could it be described as anything other than dangerous?” is that “sharp knives are dangerous and thus we must be careful to use them well”, we can end the conversation right away.

          I am glad we are in agreement and you have finally admitted religion is dangerous. Now since you are aware of this and you claim to have an inside track on the Objective message of God why do you spend so much time on atheists boards and not on Christian boards telling other Christians why they are getting it all wrong and if only they would listen to you humanity (and their souls) would be far better off?

          “But if somehow you think we can avoid the dangers caused by this mythological object ‘religion’, then I’ll ask you to demonstrate your case in a rigorous fashion.”

          It can never be avoided but it’s effects can be mitigated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

          As for your assertion that I might endeavor to replace religion with materialism…that is just another in many attempts at derailing topics by you, not to mention another argument from consequence , you sure like those don’t you?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          O: Do all your Christian counterparts agree with your interpretation of this and its application? If not how can you claim your view is objective and by what basis do you do that from?

          LB: Agreement between people has absolutely nothing to do with objectivity.

          O: You are absolutely correct…

          If I am “absolutely correct”, then why on earth did you include the underlined? Sometimes I ignore parts of a comment so that I can first carve out the irrelevant bits, leaving the meat behind without gristle, fat, and bone.

          Of course you completely ignored that and moved on. You would make a great politician.

          Actually, I started working on it in the comment to which your “If not how can…” was a response:

          LB: It’s not even clear what it would mean to have “an objective standard to compare [to]” in the normative realm. We know that things operate very differently in the land of is vs. the land of ought. The land of is is compulsory in a way very different from the land of ought. For there to be natural law (ought) which perfectly mirrors the laws of nature (is) would be to deny any distinction between the two.

          What should I say in response to your refusal to engage that paragraph? “Of course you completely ignored that and moved on. You would make a great politician.”? But what’s more egregious is that you refused to respond to this:

          LB: I’m rather surprised that you think “lord it over others” is subjective; I should think you could distinguish between coercive power and non-coercive power, between manipulative social relations and non-manipulative social relations. Unless you think that in truth, there is no difference?

          After all, that is at the heart of the discussion.

          ———

          It can never be avoided but it’s effects can be mitigated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

          You do realize that many atheists who argue online think that religion can be pretty much eradicated, right? It is not unreasonable to suspect that perhaps you are one of them, when you write things such as:

          O: When people can irrationally ascribe their actions and motivation for their actions to an ill-defined, nebulous and completely subjective ‘ultimate authority’ how could it be described as anything other than dangerous?

          Now, returning to the OP, let us suppose that “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” How are we to do anything but irrationally defend the moral correctness of motivations and actions, when there is absolutely zero truth in the normative realm? How is “a healthy dose of skepticism” going to help, if it is true that “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”? If there is no truth in the normative realm, then there is only power.

        • adam

          “What should I say in response to your refusal to engage that paragraph?”

          That he is pulling a “Lukeism”.

        • Susan

          If I am “absolutely correct”, then why on earth did you include the underlined?

          Because you haven’t shown that you are absolutely correct. Because the very question Otto asked you is:

          .”If not how can you claim your view is objective and by what basis do you do that from?”

        • Otto

          “If I am “absolutely correct”, then why on earth did you include the underlined?”

          Considering your lack of anything that would count as evidence for your claim, coupled with a lack of anything that can be regarded as sound reasoning for it either I think it is reasonable to point out that there is NO consensus or even a convergence of thought on the subject. That is not evidence in and of itself but it is something one would expect if there was any objective truth to the claim you are making, especially since the same claim is made by others that contradict your position. As such your claim can be rejected out of hand as nothing more than a baseless assertion.

          Apparently your claim of objectivity boils down to “prove I don’t”…if that is all you have to offer then you are right the conversation can end there.

          “What should I say in response to your refusal to engage that paragraph?”

          There is no reason to think there is a ‘land of ought’ as defined in a religious sense that mirrors anything in ‘natural law’. Religion, (especially your religion) only uses natural law as a prop and is more than happy to reject it when the outcome would not be favorable. That is a load of gibberish and I rightly ignored it.

          “I’m rather surprised that you think “lord it over others” is subjective

          Sure it is subjective unless you are saying all those Christians in current power over others on this country (and other counties, including every church hierarchy) are wrong to be in any position of power. We certainly have a whole lot of Christians in power and I don’t hear any ‘True Christians’ calling them out for being in positions of power and authority and telling them instead to submit their lives as the servants of others. I don’t hear any Christian authority saying they are wrong…I do hear a whole lot of them give support to their fellow Christians seeking power, so apparently they are reading things a bit differently than what you claim to be a plain ‘face value’ approach.

          Additionally if you want to play the ‘read it at face value game with the Bible I will be happy to play. I also know if I took one passage out of the Bible and used it in an argument I would be told I am not using it correctly with the context of other quotes elsewhere. That is nothing but a 3 card monte game, it has nothing to do with demonstrating Objective truth, not that I think there is any such thing in regards to the Bible.

          “You do realize that many atheists who argue online think that religion can be pretty much eradicated, right?”

          Yes there are some, I am not one of them. There are still people who think the earth is flat…nuff said.

          “Now, returning to the OP…”

          First the original post as far as your and my discussion here was where you said… ” I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.”… and I applied that the to the very simple explanation of morality of God, and then you took exception to my rebuttal.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Considering your lack of anything that would count as evidence for your claim, coupled with a lack of anything that can be regarded as sound reasoning for it either I think it is reasonable to point out that there is NO consensus or even a convergence of thought on the subject.

          Oh give me a break. Immanuel Kant distinguished between treating people as a means to an end and treating people as an end in themselves. That is the distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. That distinction is what undergirds “you shall not lord it over each other like the Gentiles do” (Mt 20:25–28). Do you really want to claim that when one of the most famous works of moral philosophy (18,000 ‘citations’) presents that distinction—

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. (After Virtue, 23)

          —it is merely an instance of “subjectively defining”? Or is your argument not so much that we cannot objectively speak in terms of manipulative vs. non-manipulative social relations, but that possibly Matthew 20:25–28 isn’t playing on that distinction? If that’s the case, then I’m happy to allow that there are multiple interpretations, just like there are many interpretations of quantum mechanics.

          There is no reason to think there is a ‘land of ought’ as defined in a religious sense that mirrors anything in ‘natural law’. Religion, (especially your religion) only uses natural law as a prop and is more than happy to reject it when the outcome would not be favorable. That is a load of gibberish and I rightly ignored it.

          I care much less about that (I actually know very little about natural law theory) than about the claim that ‘objective standards’ in is-land are necessarily quite different from ‘objective standards’ in ought-land. Do you agree or disagree with this claim?

          Sure it is subjective unless you are saying all those Christians in current power over others on this country (and other counties, including every church hierarchy) are wrong to be in any position of power. We certainly have a whole lot of Christians in power and I don’t hear any ‘True Christians’ calling them out for being in positions of power and authority and telling them instead to submit their lives as the servants of others. I don’t hear any Christian authority saying they are wrong…I do hear a whole lot of them give support to their fellow Christians seeking power, so apparently they are reading things a bit differently than what you claim to be a plain ‘face value’ approach.

          A good example of said “calling them out” is Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity. But I agree that this happens all too infrequently. It is something I would like to go about changing. But I sense that much more wisdom and knowledge is required to do so, than I currently possess. Trump’s election is providing a nice “in”, though: I get to ask Christians whether they would have voted for an even more despicable person, just so that they can maintain a grip on the reins of power. You know, just like Jesus did.

          Additionally if you want to play the ‘read it at face value game with the Bible I will be happy to play. I also know if I took one passage out of the Bible and used it in an argument I would be told I am not using it correctly with the context of other quotes elsewhere.

          All argument takes this form, whether you have a text or not. The ultimate support for a position almost never has a single reason (∼ single passage). One virtually always plays off various concerns against one another. So, if you think you can avoid this game, you’re deluded. Instead, let’s learn to play it well. Let’s learn to understand the superposition of possible interpretations as the conversation evolves.

          Yes there are some, I am not one of them. There are still people who think the earth is flat…nuff said.

          Oh come on, that is disanalogous: there are many more atheists, proportionately, who think that religion can be eradicated than there are people who think that the earth is flat.

          First the original post as far as your and my discussion here was where you said… “I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.” … and I applied that the to the very simple explanation of morality of God, and then you took exception to my rebuttal.

          Ok? If “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”, then how do we talk about the structure of morality other than in terms of, “If you want X, then do Y”? If Harry Kroto is correct, then there can be no truth about ends, only truth about means. That restriction seems to reduce ‘morality’ to mush. I presented what I think is the first timber of non-Harry Kroto-‘truth’ with Matthew 20:25–28. But instead of working with that, you objected that there are multiple interpretations and thus we can’t work with it†. The problem is, there are always multiple interpretations once you get away from “medium-sized dry goods”. If you require philosophical support for that claim, go skim Underdetermination of Scientific Theory and Theory and Observation in Science.

          † I am taking a bit of poetic license, here. Feel free to offer something you believe is more accurate.

        • Otto

          “That distinction is what undergirds “you shall not lord it over each other like the Gentiles do” (Mt 20:25–28). Do you really want to claim that when one of the most famous works of moral philosophy (18,000 ‘citations’) presents that distinction—”

          Really…so what Jesus is supposed to have said in 2 or 3 sentences exactly encapsulates what Kant wrote in thousands and thousands of words to describe… in your opinon…I don’t know why Kant wasted his time than. The point is your connection to this and saying what Kant described and what Jesus said here are the same exact thing is nothing but your opinion and saying as such is not evidence that such a concept is objective in the sense you are using it nor that your interpretation is objective either. Nice try though.

          “I care much less about that (I actually know very little about natural law theory) than about the claim that ‘objective standards’ in is-land are necessarily quite different from ‘objective standards’ in ought-land. Do you agree or disagree with this claim?”

          I have no reason to believe that there are objective standards in “ought land”…you would have to define your terms and and then demonstrate such a thing is real. You are seeming to try to smuggle things into this discussion and get me to agree to the concept before it has even been discussed….not that it matters to the point that started this discussion, again you are deflecting from the original point as is your MO.

          “I get to ask Christians whether they would have voted for an even more despicable person, just so that they can maintain a grip on the reins of power. You know, just like Jesus did.”

          According to your argument with the Matthew verse they are not even true Christians, I think you should tell them that and why. You explained it to me rather easily so a lack of wisdom and knowledge does not seem to be the issue.

          “Let’s learn to understand the superposition of possible interpretations as the conversation evolves.”

          That is for you Christians to figure out, I have no reason to do so other than to point out the quite apparent conflicts when read with a plain reading.

          “Oh come on, that is disanalogous: there are many more atheists, proportionately, who think that religion can be eradicated than there are people who think that the earth is flat.”

          And my point is those atheists are wrong just like the people who believe the earth is flat are also wrong…that was the analogy. Irrationality exists everywhere in humanity (you and me included).

          “Ok? If “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”

          I never said that nor have I argued it. I am not convinced philosophy in any regard can come up with objective truth in and of itself.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Really…so what Jesus is supposed to have said in 2 or 3 sentences exactly encapsulates what Kant wrote in thousands and thousands of words to describe.

          Nope, that “exactly” is a figment of your imagination. The idea that Kant may have further developed the same distinction Jesus was playing on is perfectly consistent with what I wrote. But I’m happy to admit that the claim that Jesus was playing on the same distinction is something that ultimately needs to be defended instead of merely asserted. (First though, I need you to consider it possible.) What I’m trying to deal with now is your label of “subjectively defining”.

          But perhaps your “subjectively defining” was entirely to do with my somewhat tongue-in-cheek use of “true followers of Jesus”? It is becoming clear to me that it was a mistake to say that; instead I should have argued that one can cluster Christianity into multiple natural kinds, each which has distinct causal powers, the results of which can be investigated in a fashion that doesn’t lead to No True Scotsman objections. I simply wanted to hit the ground running with one specific cluster, instead of having to deal with the “infinite interpretations hypothesis” right away. Perhaps I was wrong to attempt that shortcut.

          …not that it matters to the point that started this discussion, again you are deflecting from the original point as is your MO.

          Here’s how the discussion between us started:

          BS: I’m not sure what you’re stuck on. We have an array of emotions. The ones we tend to lean on or express or feel too quickly (anger, jealousy, greed, impulsiveness) we typically call “bad,” and the ones we usually need more of (sympathy, compassion, kindness, patience, generosity) we typically call “good.”

          LB: My problem is a grossly simplistic explanation of morality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current state of explanation is due to the stance that Harry Kroto advanced: “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.

          O: I would agree since ‘God’ is THE most grossly simplistic explanation of morality and it is certainly dangerous.

          My attempt to ascertain “how you measure the level of dangerousness” failed; your response establishes no such thing. So I abandoned that line of thinking and advanced an initial timber of a morality which doesn’t seem “dangerous”. We pretty much got stuck at that point—apparently because you object to my use of “true followers of Jesus” and/or because of my attempt to establish a dichotomy “between manipulative social relations and non-manipulative social relations”. Hopefully the above will clear that up.

          What I didn’t point out at the time is that you engaged in the tu quoque fallacy: I criticized Bob for presenting “a grossly simplistic explanation of morality” and your response was neither to agree nor rebut that, but make a similar criticism of Christianity. What is your justification for deploying that fallacy? Or… is it not actually always a fallacy? (I get charged with it more than I think is warranted, but I haven’t got my interlocutors to agree on any sort of standard. Perhaps we can do that, here.)

          LB: But if somehow you think we can avoid the dangers caused by this mythological object ‘religion’, then I’ll ask you to demonstrate your case in a rigorous fashion.

          O: As for your assertion that I might endeavor to replace religion with materialism…that is just another in many attempts at derailing topics by you, not to mention another argument from consequence , you sure like those don’t you?

          LB: You do realize that many atheists who argue online think that religion can be pretty much eradicated, right? It is not unreasonable to suspect that perhaps you are one of them, when you write things such as:

          O: When people can irrationally ascribe their actions and motivation for their actions to an ill-defined, nebulous and completely subjective ‘ultimate authority’ how could it be described as anything other than dangerous?

          O: Yes there are some, I am not one of them. There are still people who think the earth is flat…nuff said.

          LB: Oh come on, that is disanalogous: there are many more atheists, proportionately, who think that religion can be eradicated than there are people who think that the earth is flat.

          O: And my point is those atheists are wrong just like the people who believe the earth is flat are also wrong…that was the analogy. Irrationality exists everywhere in humanity (you and me included).

          Now that this conversation is stretched out, I can better explain. You had an initial criticism, that justifying morality via religion is bad. What wasn’t clear at the time—and frankly still isn’t—is whether you think there is something better. After all, if we really believe Harry Kroto’s scientism, then morality can only reference truth in matters of means, not ends. A logical consequence of that is that how ends are selected in society would ultimately be an instinctual and/or irrational process. Words such as “ill-defined, nebulous and completely subjective” would perfectly describe the selection of ends. The scientists could throw in a few chunks of instrumental rationality into the mix, but that is all. The ultimate selection of ends would be a product of each person’s subjective desires, weighted by his/her social power. There would be little rational argumentation (non-manipulative social relations) and a lot of coercion (manipulative social relations).

          When I suggested that maybe you have a better suggestion, that wasn’t a derail, and it was a statistically appropriate guess (atheists who think religion can be removed for the betterment of morality are not uncommon). How we should deal with conflicting values is quite the pressing issue in our day and age; the level of ‘explanation’ of morality provided by Bob seems woefully insufficient. I take Andy Bannister’s criticism to be that Harry Kroto’s scientism denies that there is very much structure in the choosing of values (many of which irreducibly depend on ends). This worry is foundational to two important (to moral philosophy works by Alasdair MacIntyre: After Virtue (18,000 ‘citations’) and Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (4,000 ‘citations’).

          Perhaps the chief characteristic of the 2016 US presidential election was the amount of raw manipulation which went on, truth-agnostic manipulation. Anyone who knows anything knows that truth even in empirical matters becomes a casualty of war when values conflict strongly enough. If those values cannot be adjudicated rationally, they will be ultimately be adjudicated by truth-agnostic force. I have some ideas, but certainly no robust answers, for how to get out of this mess. Is it so wrong for me to push others to also think about how to escape this mess, and have that not solely consist of analyzing my position?

        • Otto

          “The idea that Kant may have further developed the same distinction Jesus was playing on is perfectly consistent with what I wrote.”

          The key word here is ‘may’.

          “(First though, I need you to consider it possible.)

          It is possible, so what. That has nothing to do with your take being objective.

          ” instead I should have argued that one can cluster Christianity into multiple natural kinds, each which has distinct causal powers, the results of which can be investigated in a fashion that doesn’t lead to No True Scotsman objections.”

          The whole reason you brought this into the discussion was because you were attempting to use it as some sort of evidence for your view being objective. So we would have ‘objective Christianity and non-objective’. I am happy to disregard the whole thing and get back to your evidence (or apparent lack of evidence) for your view being objective

          “My attempt to ascertain “how you measure the level of dangerousness” failed”

          I find it interesting that when you say ‘simplistic explanations for morality are dangerous’ you apparently do not have to quantify the level of dangerousness…but I do.

          “and your response was neither to agree nor rebut that, but make a similar criticism of Christianity. “

          This isn’t true…I said I agreed that grossly simplistic explanations for morality are dangerous, (though I am not sure I agree that is what Bob did, that is for you an him to hash out not me). So the whole part above about the fallacy I committed is wrong…and your whole point there is moot. You even quoted me saying I agree with that statement and now are saying I neither agreed or disagreed…ugh.

          “You had an initial criticism, that justifying morality via religion is bad. What wasn’t clear at the time—and frankly still isn’t—is whether you think there is something better.”

          Something else that isn’t clear is if you agree with me that the the simplistic religious explanation for morality is dangerous, you agree that statement is true sans ‘religion’, are you saying by adding religion to that statement it is not true?

          But to answer your question yes I think justifying morality through argument and debating the issues is better, it is what it means to be a moral agent. Ascribing our morality to some nebulous ‘other’ makes us essentially amoral, we are no longer moral agents and have given up our ability to be such. Does that make morality subjective in a way that most religious apologists use that in a derogatory sense to argue fallaciously for ‘objective morality’? Yep, it sure does. I think morality can be founded on very basic premises and then built upon, and in fact I think this is what has happened.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The whole reason you brought this into the discussion was because you were attempting to use it as some sort of evidence for your view being objective. So we would have ‘objective Christianity and non-objective’. I am happy to disregard the whole thing and get back to your evidence (or apparent lack of evidence) for your view being objective

          I’m not sure I agree. There are at least two [plausibly relevant] notions of ‘objective’:

               (A) A way of carving up reality which can be intersubjectively communicated in a reliable fashion.
               (B) The one true way to describe reality.

          Did you always mean (B)? I was mostly operating according to (A). Secretly, I suspected that there was a problem with (A), due to what I perceive as an as if belief in emotivism, understood this way:

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. (After Virtue, 23)

          On this understanding, I would have a problem establishing (A). That is, my attempt to say that there are manipulative and non-manipulative ways to treat other human beings which be something upon which you and I may not be able to agree. Or at least, we might agree on that bare fact, but be completely deprived of any truth for establishing any reasonable line of demarcation between the two modes of social relations.

          I find it interesting that when you say ‘simplistic explanations for morality are dangerous’ you apparently do not have to quantify the level of dangerousness…but I do.

          I’m sorry; did I miss where you asked me to quantify dangerousness?

          LB: What I didn’t point out at the time is that you engaged in the tu quoque fallacy: I criticized Bob for presenting “a grossly simplistic explanation of morality” and your response was neither to agree nor rebut that, but make a similar criticism of Christianity.

          O: This isn’t true…I said I agreed that grossly simplistic explanations for morality are dangerous, (though I am not sure I agree that is what Bob did, that is for you an him to hash out not me). So the whole part above about the fallacy I committed is wrong…and your whole point there is moot. You even quoted me saying I agree with that statement and now are saying I neither agreed or disagreed…ugh.

          Wait a second, let’s revisit:

          LB: My problem is a grossly simplistic explanation of morality. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current state of explanation is due to the stance that Harry Kroto advanced: “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.

          O: I would agree since ‘God’ is THE most grossly simplistic explanation of morality and it is certainly dangerous.

          I took your agreement to exclusively apply to the underlined. Did you in fact agree to every aspect of that comment?

          Something else that isn’t clear is if you agree with me that the the simplistic religious explanation for morality is dangerous, you agree that statement is true sans ‘religion’, are you saying by adding religion to that statement it is not true?

          I actually was never clear on exactly what concrete social/​cultural/​political situations you were referring to with “‘God’ is THE most grossly simplistic explanation of morality”. For example, let’s take the domestication of the European continent by the Roman Catholic Church. It would be odd to call that “dangerous”. But I’m also not sure you would characterize the system of moral justification in play with “‘God'”. Instead of going down this rabbit hole, I attempted to simply start building a morality from the ground-up, one with critical foundation in the Bible. But we can go back and investigate what “‘God'” means as an explanation, and examine concrete situations where “‘God'” has been used as the [only?] explanation.

          My guess is that the above will look like I’m being extremely difficult, that I should obviously know what it means for “‘God'” to be the only explanation. After all, I’m a Christian! But I’m just not convinced that you can have a contentless explanation with true motivational power. What I suspect is that “‘God'” actually has sophisticated social meaning if in fact it is the explanation. And so, I prefer to examine concrete situations instead of abstractions which may fail to well-match anything in the history of human existence.

          But to answer your question yes I think justifying morality through argument and debating the issues is better, it is what it means to be a moral agent.

          According to Alasdair MacIntyre in 1988, this was the state of affairs of “justifying morality through argument and debating the issues”:

              Yet both the thinkers of the Enlightenment and their successors proved unable to agree as to what precisely those principles were which would be found undeniable by all rational persons. One kind of answer was given by the authors of the Encyclopédie, a second by Rousseau, a third by Bentham, a fourth by Kant, a fifth by the Scottish philosophers of common sense and their French and American disciples. Nor has subsequent history diminished the extent of such disagreement. It has rather enlarged it. Consequently, the legacy of the Enlightenment has been the provision of an ideal of rational justification which it has proved impossible to attain. And hence in key part derives the inability within our culture to unite conviction and rational justification. Within that kind of academic philosophy which is the heir to the philosophies of the Enlightenment enquiry into the nature of rational justification has continued with ever-increasing refinement and undiminishing disagreement. In cultural, political, moral, and religious life post-Enlightenment conviction effectively has acquired a life of its own, independent of rational enquiry. (Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, 6)

          (I pick on MacIntyre because his work in this realm is extremely well-respected, and thus I take his positions to be worth considering as plausibly good descriptions of our situation. If you’d like, I can provide work between 1988 and now which indicate the situation has, if anything, gotten worse.)

          So… what if your plan doesn’t work? Do you think it may be in part based on an increasingly dominant belief that “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”? Do you think it may be due to the corrosive results of a de facto emotivism, which destroys any ability whatsoever to distinguish between manipulative social relations and non-manipulative social relations? It would appear that many of Trump’s supporters felt manipulated (but were unable to express it in coherent ways), and that many Brexit supporters also felt manipulated, and were also unable to express this in coherent ways. I find that to be quite the interesting situation, given that MacIntyre wrote about the matter in 1981. I suspect he was extremely prescient, and anyone not taking him seriously is not serious about the truth. Or… maybe there is no ‘truth’, not in this domain?

          Ascribing our morality to some nebulous ‘other’ makes us essentially amoral, we are no longer moral agents and have given up our ability to be such.

          Are you under the impression that anything other than a minuscule fraction of what you believe is ‘moral’ comes from anything like your ‘choice’? If so, I suggest examining the empirical evidence; you could start with Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. If you are happy to admit said “minuscule fraction”, then I have some other things to say. The idea is that almost all of our morality does come from an ‘other’, one that can be made less nebulous by careful study.

        • Otto

          “Did you always mean (B)?

          I always meant B as it related to a religious definition of objectivity. A does not need a religious foundation and actually works better without the baggage of religion.

          “I’m sorry; did I miss where you asked me to quantify dangerousness?”

          Oh ffs Luke, your implication is quite obvious that since I didn’t (or at least haven’t) quantified the level of dangerousness my statement is somehow invalid…but yours is fine without. Quit playing this game with us, this is the type of shit that drives people nuts with you.

          “I took your agreement to exclusively apply to the underlined. Did you in fact agree to every aspect of that comment?”

          Yeah, I quoted that and said I agreed with it, and then I added God to the statement…I don’t see how that turns what I said into a fallacy. Are grossly simplistic explanations for morality dangerous or are they not? I can agree with the general statement and not agree that Bob is being grossly simplistic. Those 2 things are not mutually exclusive.

          “I actually was never clear on exactly what concrete social/​cultural/​political situations you were referring to…”

          You are making it far more complicated than it needs to be. It is more like….’X action is right/wrong because God said so’ … that is dangerous. Anything can be justified or vilified with using such logic. I have been very clear on that multiple times. Quit dancing and answer the question now.

          “According to Alasdair MacIntyre in 1988…”

          I don’t care. I am not talking to Macintyre, I am talking to you. Either paraphrase what he is saying and whether you agree with it or don’t post it. I haven’t read his stuff and I have no intention of engaging with something I haven’t read because you want to try and prove how well read you are on the subject. It really comes off rather condescending when you do that and I wish you would stop.

          “So… what if your plan doesn’t work?”

          Where exactly did I say it was my plan? I think it is just the state of affairs we find ourselves in. I never claimed it was perfect, I said it was better in answer to your question and I am willing to defend that position.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I always meant B as it related to a religious definition of objectivity. A does not need a religious foundation and actually works better without the baggage of religion.

          Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed. The basic idea is for there to be truly no irrelevant people, such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without. It seems ridiculous that we’d live in such a reality by mistake. And yet, without a design condition like that, I doubt we will ever asymptotically approach egalitarianism. So I claim we have a choice: either abandon egalitarian, very much like Marx wanted people to abandon ‘religion’, or adopt a metaphysical view which goes beyond the evidence, while being consistent with the evidence. I believe the starting point for this whole thing is to establish an objective difference between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. Which is what I tried doing, quite early in this discussion.

          Oh ffs Luke, your implication is quite obvious that since I didn’t (or at least haven’t) quantified the level of dangerousness my statement is somehow invalid…but yours is fine without. Quit playing this game with us, this is the type of shit that drives people nuts with you.

          I never meant to imply that. That I do not think I can do anything with a statement doesn’t automatically mean I think it’s invalid. That’s stupid-ass logic—and yes, I realize it might be a social protocol around here I have to learn. Sometimes I just don’t know how to continue some part of a conversation, and thus leave it dormant.

          Yeah, I quoted that and said I agreed with it, and then I added God to the statement…I don’t see how that turns what I said into a fallacy. Are grossly simplistic explanations for morality dangerous or are they not? I can agree with the general statement and not agree that Bob is being grossly simplistic. Those 2 things are not mutually exclusive.

          The fallacy is in my saying, “Bob, your idea of morality is so simplistic it’s dangerous” and you responding by not continuing the conversation about Bob’s idea of morality, but suddenly shifting gears to talk about some view of morality you apparently think I (or some group with whom I strongly associate) hold. That really is tu quoque.

          You are making it far more complicated than it needs to be. It is more like….’X action is right/wrong because God said so’ … that is dangerous. Anything can be justified or vilified with using such logic. I have been very clear on that multiple times. Quit dancing and answer the question now.

          I suspect “because God said so” is less dangerous than “because society says so”, if God is said to be ‘just’ and society is said to fall arbitrarily short of being perfectly just. Under such circumstances, those who believe that society is unjust have recourse against society. If instead all morality is “because society says so”, there is no recourse. If society is against you, you’re fucked.

          I don’t care. I am not talking to Macintyre, I am talking to you. Either paraphrase what he is saying and whether you agree with it or don’t post it. I haven’t read his stuff and I have no intention of engaging with something I haven’t read because you want to try and prove how well read you are on the subject. It really comes off rather condescending when you do that and I wish you would stop.

          What’s so wrong with calling an expert witness to the stand? Exactly how many times have I done that with you in this conversation? But I’ll simplify it for you. I’m claiming that MacIntyre argues that your ‘plan’ (see below for term choice)—

          O: But to answer your question yes I think justifying morality through argument and debating the issues is better, it is what it means to be a moral agent.

          has failed. And there’s no evidence-based, rational reason to think that trying other things anywhere in the vicinity of what has already been tried, will succeed. Look around: Trump, Brexit. How much more evidence do you need?

          Where exactly did I say it was my plan? I think it is just the state of affairs we find ourselves in. I never claimed it was perfect, I said it was better in answer to your question and I am willing to defend that position.

          If you’d like, we can speak in terms of ‘understanding of rationality’ instead of ‘plan’. We could branch out and say that there are really two things at play: (i) the power of rationality; (ii) the rationality of power. The former is Socrates, the latter is Machiavelli/​Nietzsche/​Foucault. You’ve advanced an understanding of (i) and/or (ii) that I called a ‘plan’. I’m arguing that your understanding on one or both of these matters is critically incomplete. This incompleteness is impossible to combat if one believes Harry Kroto’s “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”

        • Otto

          “Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed. The basic idea is for there to be truly no irrelevant people, such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without.

          I have no idea how you are going to attempt to justify this statement but you are welcome to try. You are actually making 2 claims here. 1. That conscious design by a deity would achieve the goal. 2. That absent lack of design it is impossible.

          Good luck, put your money where your mouth is.

          “I never meant to imply that.”

          Well you did.

          “Sometimes I just don’t know how to continue some part of a conversation, and thus leave it dormant.”

          You could try explaining why my statement needs a dangerousness assessment but your does not. So I will ask that question…

          “and you responding by not continuing the conversation about Bob’s idea of morality”

          I continued the conversation regarding your general statement of “simple explanations of morality are dangerous”. I was not attempting to discredit your argument of Bob. I do however see how it could be viewed that way.

          “I suspect “because God said so” is less dangerous than “because society says so”, if God is said to be ‘just’ and society is said to fall arbitrarily short of being perfectly just. Under such circumstances, those who believe that society is unjust have recourse against society. If instead all morality is “because society says so”, there is no recourse. If society is against you, you’re fucked.”

          I think it is the exact opposite. If God said so there is no recourse because God is viewed as the ultimate authority. Societal norms can and do change, sometimes for the better through argument and debate and sometimes for the worse. But since society is NOT viewed as being an ultimate authority change is much easier to accomplish.

          If god is said to be just, what standard are we using to judge God just? Essentially we as humans are either making that judgement (which is the same as judging it for ourselves and are just adding God to the equation unnecessarily) or we are giving up our moral agency altogether and that makes us ‘amoral’.

          “What’s so wrong with calling an expert witness to the stand?”

          When calling an expert witness the other side gets to cross examine. I don’t get to do that. You are putting him on a pedestal as if he has the last say. I am sure there are other experts who would disagree with him and I am not going to do endless hours of research just to have a discussion. If that is what you are looking for I will be done with this. Responding to you is time consuming enough as it is.

          “Exactly how many times have I done that with you in this conversation?”

          Way too many which is why I asked you to stop. I don’t mind you taking what you think he means and presenting them in your own words but I don’t have time to respond to you AND him. I don’t even know if what you quote accurately describes his position without doing major research, which I don’t mind doing on my own time but I can’t do that every time you quote someone I have never heard about. That is not the way to have a decent discussion.

          I told you it is not “my plan”. I think it is the way morality HAS progressed.

          “Look around: Trump, Brexit. How much more evidence do you need?”

          And yet if we look at the big picture society has improved substantially over the long term. Woman’s rights, civil rights, gay rights…etc. People are treated more equally by social institutions than at any other time in history over all. Progress is often 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Citing recent setbacks is looking at the small picture. So no I disagree that “my plan” (your words not mine) has failed.

          “This incompleteness is impossible to combat if one believes Harry Kroto’s “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”

          I have a question .

          What other philosophical construct do we have to determine truth reliably and how is its reliability determined?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I have no idea how you are going to attempt to justify this statement but you are welcome to try. You are actually making 2 claims here. 1. That conscious design by a deity would achieve the goal. 2. That absent lack of design it is impossible.

          Why is 1. contentious? As to 2., can you really defend, on naturalistic assumptions, that if one fewer African dies in Senegal, [with any reasonable probability] your life would be better? And can you really defend, on naturalistic assumptions, that [with any reasonable probability] there exists a way we could approach true and full egalitarianism (such that all people could actually contribute to everyone else from what is unique in them instead of being replaceable cogs), such that the asymptote is egalitarianism and not something else?

          O: Oh ffs Luke, your implication is quite obvious that since I didn’t (or at least haven’t) quantified the level of dangerousness my statement is somehow invalid…but yours is fine without. Quit playing this game with us, this is the type of shit that drives people nuts with you.

          LB: I never meant to imply that.

          O: Well you did.

          Would you be kind enough to tell me whether the laws of logic are sufficient for said implication, or whether you also had to draw in social protocols? Simply indicating which you believe is the case would be sufficient. I’m used to having to reverse engineering social protocols with little to zero help from those with social power.

          You could try explaining why my statement needs a dangerousness assessment but your does not. So I will ask that question…

          I took you to be implying that any explanation of morality which crucially depends on God in one way or another is necessarily dangerous. And here, I mean “implying” based on social protocol, not merely the laws of logic. In contrast, when I said that simplistic morality is dangerous, I just mean morality which cannot be explored much more intricately than Bob seems willing to, so that we can analyze what is going wrong around the world (again: Trump, Brexit, etc.). If you want, I can explain how failure to analyze situations to sufficient detail is “dangerous”.

          I do however see how it could be viewed that way.

          Thank you. I don’t recall the last person on CE who admitted that I might possibly have a legitimate viewpoint, when what I saw differed from what they say. I’m quite happy to strike the tu quoque accusation from the record.

          I think it is the exact opposite. If God said so there is no recourse because God is viewed as the ultimate authority. Societal norms can and do change, sometimes for the better through argument and debate and sometimes for the worse. But since society is NOT viewed as being an ultimate authority change is much easier to accomplish.

          If god is said to be just, what standard are we using to judge God just? Essentially we as humans are either making that judgement (which is the same as judging it for ourselves and are just adding God to the equation unnecessarily) or we are giving up our moral agency altogether and that makes us ‘amoral’.

          I don’t understand; what’s the ultimate authority for morality if it isn’t society and it isn’t God? Hopefully not just your feelings? As to what standard of justice, that’s easy: we have ideals which transcend what we can actually implement. The problem is when it starts being accepted that the ideals are nothing more than a façade. Then the one with little to no social power has nothing to which [s]he can appeal. But if God is around and has power on tap for those interested in justice and righteousness, then one can call bollocks on the idea that the ideal cannot be asymptotically approached.

          I also don’t understand how we have to make up 100% of the moral standard in order for us to have > 0% moral agency. Now, the idea that we would follow God’s law just because “he says so” is not something the Bible desires. It is clearly stated that the law is to teach us to love God (perhaps we can approximate: ‘God’ ≈ truth/​beauty/​goodness/​justice/​righteousness) and to love our fellow humans—all of them, not just some of them. What does it mean to love them? To pursue what is best for them—and really what is best for them, not a pretty little story we tell ourselves while we try to shape them into what we think is best for us. The idea is that we learn to love God’s creation just like he does, and then our motivation isn’t to follow his laws like a child.

          Now, I can see the argument that if we make up 0% of the moral standard, we have 0% moral agency. I do think that part of being god-like beings is to lay down bits and pieces of moral standard. For example, I can dictate when it is and is not right for someone to attack me in a martial arts studio. There is something very alluring to Kant’s Kingdom of Ends, although I think that the rules I set down for how you must treat me can legitimately be different from the rules you set down for how others must treat you. And of course, we can’t just go willy-nilly in the rules we set. But part of me being me around other people is that they respect me in some deep way. Here I can say that I see ‘morality’ as instrumental to excellence in relationship—the key is not that I follow some rules, but that I be excellent to my fellow human beings and ultimately, all creation. Now, in addition to forcing us to obey the laws of nature, what’s so wrong with God asking us to act in other ways? If he’s not allowed to ask such things, why would we have any right to ask them of others?

          When calling an expert witness the other side gets to cross examine. I don’t get to do that. You are putting him on a pedestal as if he has the last say. I am sure there are other experts who would disagree with him and I am not going to do endless hours of research just to have a discussion. If that is what you are looking for I will be done with this. Responding to you is time consuming enough as it is.

          You’re totally misreading my intentions. You can cross examine, by asking me. And I never, ever meant to give MacIntyre the last [and final] say. In fact, this particular time I was extra-careful to say: “I take his positions to be worth considering as plausibly good descriptions of our situation.” Maybe you’re working on inertia from past instances, but I was quite clear, here.

          My reason to bring up the WJ excerpt was merely to present it as a possible evaluation of our state of affairs which cannot just be dismissed out-of-hand. Were I to have just said it myself with no excerpt, I suspect my thoughts would have been so-dismissed. That’s my normal experience, online and IRL. There are people on CE who like to say that my representations of texts are not to be trusted, and so anything short of a full excerpt would be insufficient. Yeah, it’s a fucking obnoxious way to operate. But I don’t know a better way, unless I am not supposed to appreciably challenge the positions of the regulars.

          Way too many which is why I asked you to stop.

          Are you speaking in terms of this discussion, or all of our discussions put together? Because I’ve been meaning to scrape all of the Disqus conversations in which I’ve ever participated, and this might be that final little push to do it. I find that all too often, people exaggerate on such things. Shall we consult the evidence? (I press this issue because you gave me a hard time. But more motivation to actually scrape comments and make a nice searchable database also exists…)

          I think it is the way morality HAS progressed.

          I’m aware of various arguments, including Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. What is really hard is for me to see how you could possibly be wrong. For example, suppose we had nuked ourselves not to oblivion, but halfway. Would that be a ginormous ‘ding’ in our moral record, such that overall progress could be questioned? What I’m asking is whether you’re making a claim that could be falsified, or one that is true by definition.

          And yet if we look at the big picture society has improved substantially over the long term. Woman’s rights, civil rights, gay rights…etc. People are treated more equally by social institutions than at any other time in history over all.

          This is only true if the power elite haven’t gotten that much further away from the people who now have relatively well-protected rights. One way to have the situation degrade is to have constantly increasing power differentials. Power differentials corrupt rationality and turn it into rationalization. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice) If 2/3 of the increase in human well-being is given to the power elite and 1/3 is given to the masses, that’s not a stable trajectory. Try considering what would happen if the power elite got to extend their lives by 3x while most are denied it (say, because of carrying capacity of the earth). Once the power elite can see the masses as sufficiently like ants…

          What other philosophical construct do we have to determine truth reliably and how is its reliability determined?

          For starters: (i) your personal report of your own experiences cannot be scientifically tested; (ii) reality would suck if such personal reports were thereby utterly discounted, except in “which flavor of ice cream would you like”-type situations. That’s not a philosophy, but it makes clear that very important decisions have to be made based on something other than scientific truth.

        • Otto

          First off let me say that this is an incredibly weak attempt at supporting your claim.

          “Why is 1. contentious?”

          Because if you are right and this reality was formed by a deity it has failed to happen thus far. This isn’t evidence that it can’t happen but it certainly is not evidence that it can.

          Additionally there are plenty of examples of people the world would have been better off if they had never existed, or ceased to exist. I don’t see a theistic view changing that.

          “As to 2., can you really defend, on naturalistic assumptions, that if one fewer African dies in Senegal, [with any reasonable probability] your life would be better?’

          I can defend the idea the world would be better off, I am a part of this world so by extension I would be better off.

          And how do you claim your life is better with this scenario under a religious assumption? How does that change anything for you?

          “And can you really defend, on naturalistic assumptions, that [with any reasonable probability] there exists a way we could approach true and full egalitarianism…”

          Wrong answer Luke, the claim was made by you so you, you need to defend that it can’t happen. Nice try at burden shifting.

          “I took you to be implying that any explanation of morality which crucially depends on God in one way or another is necessarily dangerous.”

          I have explained that simply explaining God as a basis for morality provides no consistency of the results, history to this point supports my point. It takes away our moral agency making us amoral.

          “I don’t understand; what’s the ultimate authority for morality if it isn’t society and it isn’t God?”

          Each person is ultimately their own moral authority even if they ascribe their morality to God, or they give up their moral agency altogether which makes them amoral. There is not a way around this no matter how bad you want it to be different.

          “I also don’t understand how we have to make up 100% of the moral standard in order for us to have > 0% moral agency.”

          Because being a moral agent means we have to ultimately make moral decisions of what is right and wrong individually, and that includes determining God is actually moral, if we go down the rabbit hole far enough. If we are just turning over that decision making to God with no thought we are no longer moral agents. Do we have moral agency or don’t we Luke?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          First off let me say that this is an incredibly weak attempt at supporting your claim.

          I’m not surprised; I’ve had very little time to work on it and no critics to really examine it. But it doesn’t worry me, because I’ve seen ten of the best secular arguments for egalitarianism examined and found wanting. (By Louis Pojman, in Equality: Selected Readings.) My competition isn’t much of a threat. But if I can’t make appreciable progress in reasonable time, then I’ll start worrying.

          Because if you are right and this reality was formed by a deity it has failed to happen thus far. This isn’t evidence that it can’t happen but it certainly is not evidence that it can.

          Correct. I would have to show some special ability to head toward egalitarianism, with full egalitarianism being a plausible asymptote. I would have to somehow associate this special ability with God. But my point was simply that the God Christians worship would be able to create such a reality. Did you mean to take issue with that claim?

          Additionally there are plenty of examples of people the world would have been better off if they had never existed, or ceased to exist. I don’t see a theistic view changing that.

          I disagree; I carve up good and evil by choices, not by people. And I doubt that wiping Hitler from history would have changed all that much. Maybe we would have needed to wait a few more years for something Holocaust-like to happen, and guess what? We might have had nuclear weapons at that point.

          The theistic view would necessarily adopt a metaphysic which goes beyond the evidence, while staying consistent with the evidence. Louis Pojman argues that without metaphysical support, there doesn’t seem to be any way to sufficiently justify and motivate egalitarianism. To go beyond the evidence, one will almost certainly have to assume things about the structure of reality (like I briefly did). How can this be done in a way that is at least somewhat reliable? One possible route is to ask how scientists learn to go beyond the evidence with better than random chance of success.

          I can defend the idea the world would be better off, I am a part of this world so by extension I would be better off.

          Really? Evolutionarily, one more African alive in Senegal means you have to compete more for resources. With present modes of industrialization, one more person alive in a third-world country means more pollution, more global climate change. Or imagine if every human were to have an equal opportunity to visit the natural wonders of the world. How much less frequently could the well-off visit them?

          But suppose you somehow deal with the above objections. We then have to ask if the world would be sufficiently better off for you to pursue egalitarianism with the requisite motivation and resources. Because another option is that you might just salve your conscience by tossing a few bucks over there, leading to the situation Peter Buffett describes in his 2013 NYT piece The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          LB: And can you really defend, on naturalistic assumptions, that [with any reasonable probability] there exists a way we could approach true and full egalitarianism (such that all people could actually contribute to everyone else from what is unique in them instead of being replaceable cogs), such that the asymptote is egalitarianism and not something else?

          O: Wrong answer Luke, the claim was made by you , you need to defend that it can’t happen. Nice try at burden shifting.

          I don’t see why the default position should be that “the asymptote is egalitarianism”. But you haven’t necessarily claimed that “full egalitarianism” is possible [with any reasonable probability]. If you want to go on the record as refusing to make that claim, then my point will have been made.

          LB: I took you to be implying that any explanation of morality which crucially depends on God in one way or another is necessarily dangerous.

          O: I have explained that simply explaining God as a basis for morality provides no consistency of the results, history to this point supports my point. It takes away our moral agency making us amoral.

          It is not clear to me that “crucially depends on God”“simply explaining God as a basis for morality”. Can you confirm/​deny that “⇒”?

          Each person is ultimately their own moral authority even if they ascribe their morality to God, or they give up their moral agency altogether which makes them amoral. There is not a way around this no matter how bad you want it to be different.

          So when a child is sexually abused such that [s]he learns to request more sexual abuse (because, say, [s]he will get a candy bar after), is that child “ultimately their own moral authority”? I’m really not entirely sure what “ultimately their own moral authority” means. I’ve long found myself having to follow the social protocols others set, so this idea that I could set some of my own and have that mean anything at all is rather unfamiliar. (Surely ‘morality’ and ‘social protocols’ are deeply connected.)

          Because being a moral agent means we have to ultimately make moral decisions of what is right and wrong individually, and that includes determining God is actually moral, if we go down the rabbit hole far enough. If we are just turning over that decision making to God with no thought we are no longer moral agents. Do we have moral agency or don’t we Luke?

          I reject your all-or-nothing framing of the issue. “Only the Sith speak in absolutes.”

          LB: For example, suppose we had nuked ourselves not to oblivion, but halfway. Would that be a ginormous ‘ding’ in our moral record, such that overall progress could be questioned? What I’m asking is whether you’re making a claim that could be falsified, or one that is true by definition.

          O: Did humanity overall make the conscious decision to nuke ourselves or did just a very few people make that decision.

          We can ask the same question of Nazi Germany. How many Germans robotically followed orders, not intending any harm? My point is that a tremendous number of humans had to cooperate to make the Holocaust happen, just like it took a tremendous number of humans to bring nuclear weapons into existence. If most humans fail to inculcate the requisite wisdom and ability to analyze situations to ensure that the work of their hands is not used for terrible destruction, while still engaging in said work—are they guilt-free? Because what’s really going on here is that moral agency is being subcontracted to authorities.

          If the world is now filled with people who are nice enough if you meet them at the supermarket but unable and/or unwilling to prevent disasters they have the intellectual resources (or chances to develop the intellectual resources) to prevent, what ought we really say about their moral status? Note that global climate change is perhaps a stronger example for my case, since a disaster in that realm is not the result of one person pressing a button. (But the single button press to end the world improperly obscures that we created that button.)

          No, it is demonstrable the we have consistently moved forward over time empirically.

          Let’s not forget that I said, “What I’m asking is whether you’re making a claim that could be falsified, or one that is true by definition.” I’m well-aware that by Steven Pinker’s per-capita metric of violent [deaths?], we have moved forward (on a fractal scale: millennia, centuries, decades). According to that metric, we can imagine a future state where humans have colonized one quadrillion planets. To maintain order, the morally worst planet is determined each year and then destroyed with a planet-killer. According to Steven Pinker’s metric, that would be a better kind of existence than ours. And yet, many people seem to revolt at that situation. It is as if his metric… isn’t quite right. Or maybe very much not right.

          Here’s a way I think your hypothesis can be falsified, or rendered a bad hypothesis (because it’s measuring the wrong thing). Consider a rocket attempting to escape Earth’s gravity. If it’s moving quite quickly and halfway to escape, maybe everyone’s happy. On the other hand, what if it runs out of fuel too soon? It’ll still be going quickly for a time, but that won’t be enough. The rocket will ultimately tumble back to earth and be destroyed. We’ll have to start again. BTW, this is quite similar to the plot of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

          O: What other philosophical construct do we have to determine truth reliably and how is its reliability determined?

          LB: For starters: (i) your personal report of your own experiences cannot be scientifically tested; (ii) reality would suck if such personal reports were thereby utterly discounted, except in “which flavor of ice cream would you like”-type situations. That’s not a philosophy, but it makes clear that very important decisions have to be made based on something other than scientific truth.

          O: While that may be true it does not answer my question in any way shape or form, it is nothing more than a dodge.

          I don’t have a well-fleshed-out philosophical construct for truth which Harry Kroto excludes with “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” But I’m pretty sure that you act as if such truth (a) exists; and (b) has some degree of reliability. I’m pretty sure everyone does, except perhaps true Nietzscheans (“there are no facts, only interpretations”). If Christianity tries to grapple with such truth and isn’t the best, that’s only a problem if there are better competitors. As someone told me when I was either a creationist or an ID advocate: “Evolution might have problems, but until something better comes along, we’re sticking with it!” I found it to be quite the compelling argument; it is what drove me to finally accept evolution, both as theory and fact. (And this, via internet discussion.)

        • Otto

          “I’m not surprised; I’ve had very little time to work on it and no critics to really examine it.”

          That is not much of an excuse for making a broad declaratory statement. So when you say …“Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.”…you don’t mean it is actually something you can support you just intend to throw a balloon in the air and see how it floats…got it.

          “But it doesn’t worry me, because I’ve seen ten of the best secular arguments for egalitarianism examined and found wanting.”

          Just to be clear, are we talking about people being treated equally or are we talking about people actually being equal in every regard?

          “My competition isn’t much of a threat.”

          Funny because I see the theistic argument as little threat, especially since this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to and that was the best you could do.

          “But my point was simply that the God Christians worship would be able to create such a reality.

          The God Christians worship could do a lot of things and yet reality does not reflect anything of the sort. The answers (*read rationalizations) of this problem are poor and very often logically conflict with other parts of the Christian belief, though Christians will swear up and down this isn’t true.

          Additionally if the ‘God can do anything’ argument is going to be used I don’t know why you waste your time positing arguments. It would be like playing cards against someone and in your mind all your cards are wild so you win anytime you want. And then you have the gall to ask if I take issue playing a rigged game with you…lol.

          “And I doubt that wiping Hitler from history would have changed all that much.

          Yeah that there makes all kinds of sense…not having Hitler would not change much…that is about as inane of a statement I have heard you say.

          But we don’t even have to go with Hitler, how about Charles Manson? How about Jeffrey Dahmer? Please explain how in your view these people are a benefit to the world and humanity would have been worse off without them? That is what you need to do for you claim to have any semblance of rationality.

          “Louis Pojman argues that without metaphysical support, there doesn’t seem to be any way to sufficiently justify and motivate egalitarianism.”

          There doesn’t seem to be a way to justify and motivate egalitarianism with metaphysical support either after reading your weak attempt. Asserting your God can do it does not support or explain anything and is not in anyway the least bit interesting.

          “Really? Evolutionarily, one more African alive in Senegal means you have to compete more for resources.”

          You wrongly assume I would base my argument on evolution, this is actually a common mistake I see you (and other Christian apologists) make quite often. So maybe it would benefit you to understand something about many atheists. We don’t tend to use evolution as a motivation for our behavior, it is merely an explanation of how the world got to where it is. It would behoove you to read that again and again until you truly get it as doing so would save everyone a lot of time in the discussions we share.

          “I don’t see why the default position should be that “the asymptote is egalitarianism”. But you haven’t necessarily claimed that “full egalitarianism” is possible [with any reasonable probability]. If you want to go on the record as refusing to make that claim, then my point will have been made.”

          This is just a continuation of your burden shifting. You claimed that egalitarianism can only be achieved through God

          Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.

          Me refusing to claim that it can does absolutely nothing to make your point. I can say “I don’t know”…”I don’t know” is THE most reasonable answer to questions we don’t know the answer to. But boy do you theists HATE having to say ‘i don’t know’. You have to show it is impossible or you have to rescind your claim. I don’t think you can show it is impossible, I suggest you rescind your statement.

          “It is not clear to me that “crucially depends on God” ⇒ “simply explaining God as a basis for morality”. Can you confirm/​deny that “⇒”?”

          “Crucially depends on God” are your words not mine, I don’t think it is for me to confirm or deny, you are the one that seems to think….”crucially depends on God” ⇒ “simply explaining God as a basis for morality”.

          “Crucially depends on God” sounds like presuppositionalist claptrap to me, but that is just my provisional take without knowing anything more about what you mean.

          “I’m really not entirely sure what “ultimately their own moral authority” means.”

          Are we moral agents or are we not? Being a moral agent means we attempt to make morality decisions in any given situation. If God just informs us as to what is moral we can’t be moral agents. Another problem with God informing morality is how did each person determine God is in fact a moral being? Is that just assumed? If it is not assumed then each theist had to judge God good. Either God is assumed to be good (which is circular) or ultimately each theist judged God good using their own sense of morality, in which case they are their own moral authority even if they are not cognizant of that fact.

          “I reject your all-or-nothing framing of the issue. “Only the Sith speak in absolutes.”

          I truly hope this was complete jest considering your all or nothing statement that egalitarianism can only be achieved though God.

          “My point is that a tremendous number of humans had to cooperate to make the Holocaust happen”

          This statement makes me believe that you do not understand Steven Pinker’s argument.

          What percentage of the world’s population is OK with genocide now? What percentage was ok with genocide 500 years ago? 1000 years ago? 2000 years ago? In the big picture which direction is that percentage moving?

          His argument is that things have gotten better over time and yet we are told that things are getting worse, quite often we are told things are getting worse by theists, and even more specifically Christians.

          “I don’t have a well-fleshed-out philosophical construct for truth which Harry Kroto excludes with “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”

          Well I think we might be getting somewhere. Kroto say’s “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability. You have as much admitted this to be the case. He does not appear to be saying we could not develop other constructs or that other constructs are impossible, only that nothing else has been shown to be reliable and apparently he is correct because you (and others) have never been able to provide an alternative. I am open to the idea there could possibly BE alternatives, I can be convinced, I am willing to bet Harry could be too.

          If Christianity tries to grapple with such truth and isn’t the best, that’s only a problem if there are better competitors.

          This would be true if Christianity could ever show it is actually grappling with such truth, or that such truth exists, up to this point it is merely asserted.

          “I found it to be quite the compelling argument; it is what drove me to finally accept evolution, both as theory and fact. (And this, via internet discussion.)

          I honestly and truly commend you for keeping an open mind and following the evidence where it leads.

        • Susan

          Bravo!

          Really, Otto. Excellent comment.

        • Otto

          That is very kind of you to say Susan. Thank you.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          That is not much of an excuse for making a broad declaratory statement. So when you say …“Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.”…you don’t mean it is actually something you can support you just intend to throw a balloon in the air and see how it floats…got it.

          Support logically, or support evidentially? I was aiming for the former; it would appear that you were focused on the latter. If appearance is reality, your approach is fallacious; let’s recall the context:

          LB: There are at least two [plausibly relevant] notions of ‘objective’:

               (A) A way of carving up reality which can be intersubjectively communicated in a reliable fashion.
               (B) The one true way to describe reality.

          Did you always mean (B)?

          O: I always meant B as it related to a religious definition of objectivity. A does not need a religious foundation and actually works better without the baggage of religion.

          LB: Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.

          Your claim about (A) can be attacked at a purely logical level, and that’s what I intended to do. Were this to show signs of success, we could then establish how to connect the model to reality. What empirical tests could be run, or predictions could be made?

          Just to be clear, are we talking about people being treated equally or are we talking about people actually being equal in every regard?

          Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. It’s not clear that “people being treated equally” is a sufficient condition for “equality of opportunity”, but it does seem to be a necessary condition (if you’ll allow for transient periods of e.g. affirmative action).

          Funny because I see the theistic argument as little threat, especially since this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to and that was the best you could do.

          I don’t know what you see as “the theistic argument”. The object of your “this is an incredibly weak attempt” evaluation certainly can’t be it.

          The God Christians worship could do a lot of things and yet reality does not reflect anything of the sort.

          This line of thinking is why I wrote the following to you on SO:

          LB: (3) Here’s the bottom line of how I look at these issues. Either humans have tremendous potential that they’re morally culpable for failing to activate (but infinite forgiveness is available), or no being like the God of the Bible exists. This constitutes a strong commitment to theosis, with arbitrarily much happening “this side of the eschaton”. I recently found out that C.S. Lewis seems to hold to pretty much the same position […]

          What I’d like to know from you is whether any possible set of phenomena could convince you that the above, and the two subsequent paragraphs I wrote (not quoted), are true. That is, what kind of activation of said “tremendous potential” would you need to see? I realize that you probably despise the idea that God requires us to grow up more and pull our heads out of our asses before we’re ready for more power. But surely you could put such feelings aside?

          Additionally if the ‘God can do anything’ argument is going to be used I don’t know why you waste your time positing arguments.

          I do not understand your reasoning. An omnipotent God can desire theosis for his creation.

          Yeah that there makes all kinds of sense…not having Hitler would not change much…that is about as inane of a statement I have heard you say.

          So be it. I believe evil is a lot less concentrated than you, apparently. It may use certain people as focal points and they certainly welcome the focus, but that is much different from thinking that e.g. some people are just real bad apples. I think the line between good and evil runs through humans, not between them.

          There doesn’t seem to be a way to justify and motivate egalitarianism with metaphysical support either after reading your weak attempt.

          Then tell me what it would take for the attempt to not be weak and then I’ll go away and if I develop it to the requisite level, I will present it. Give me standards by which I can measure the idea on my own, so I don’t inconvenience you so much.

          We don’t tend to use evolution as a motivation for our behavior, it is merely an explanation of how the world got to where it is.

          I was assuming enlightened self-interest, whereby you’re still competing for resources—even if you eschew Social Darwinism. But we can happily strike that from the record, and I can ask you to demonstrate what you claimed you could do: “I can defend the idea the world would be better off”.

          This is just a continuation of your burden shifting. You claimed that egalitarianism can only be achieved through God

          False. Check your faulty reasoning. I merely said that (i) ten of the top arguments had been found wanting; and (ii) I suspect I have an argument which would work. I neither said nor implied that no future secular argument could possibly work.

          Me refusing to claim that it can does absolutely nothing to make your point. I can say “I don’t know”…”I don’t know” is THE most reasonable answer to questions we don’t know the answer to. But boy do you theists HATE having to say ‘i don’t know’.

          Putting aside your incorrect lumping of me with some group of theists, I have no problem with you saying “I don’t know”. But then if you don’t know, exactly how much are you going to sacrifice to try to advance egalitarianism, especially given how little rational support others have for thinking it is possible? And if there is insufficient belief, surely that will turn into insufficient action, and then how likely will humans actually be to asymptotically approaching egalitarianism?

          “Crucially depends on God” sounds like presuppositionalist claptrap to me, but that is just my provisional take without knowing anything more about what you mean.

          I’m basically asking if there is a “complexly” version of “simply explaining God as a basis for morality”, which does not lead to the result you allege of the “simply” version: “provides no consistency of the results”.

          Are we moral agents or are we not? Being a moral agent means we attempt to make morality decisions in any given situation. If God just informs us as to what is moral we can’t be moral agents.

          Why can’t God partly inform us, other people partly inform us, and us inform the rest? The notion of ‘morality’ as some impartial set of rules which exists outside us fails here; what ‘morality’ really must push toward is healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, neither party dictates all of the rules for how that relationship will operate.

          What percentage of the world’s population is OK with genocide now?

          Whatever percentage were required to allow the Rwandan Genocide to happen. Remember, acts of omission can be evil. And yes, we knew a “final solution” was going to implemented before it was. See Rwandan Genocide § United States (that’s a dated entry with an explicit US section; diff, current).

          His argument is that things have gotten better over time and yet we are told that things are getting worse, quite often we are told things are getting worse by theists, and even more specifically Christians.

          Is his argument that “things have gotten better over time”, or “deaths per capita via violence has gone down over time”?

          Kroto says “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability. You have as much admitted this to be the case.

          I’m honored that you would allow me to speak for all of philosophy, but I must decline the honor: in now way do I have the relevant expertise or access to the relevant expertise to make such a claim. So your “as much admitted this to be the case” is simply invalid. Now, what you could do is help me understand what would qualify as another way to “determine truth with any degree of reliability”. So for example, how do we measure the reliability of your own evaluation of your experience? You seem to think you can somehow know it. If you flesh that out a bit more, I might be able to find a philosophy which matches it—for example, phenomenology. I also have a friend who’s philosophy faculty whom I could ask. But I’d want it to be a well-framed question.

          I honestly and truly commend you for keeping an open mind and following the evidence where it leads.

          Why thank you. Too many people seem to think that if convincing isn’t quick and fast, it won’t happen. Let me tell you, it took a while to convince me. But there were enough patient, civil people to do it. IIRC progress anti-correlated with insults and failure to charitably interpret what the other had to say.

        • Otto

          “Support logically, or support evidentially? I was aiming for the former; it would appear that you were focused on the latter.”

          It failed on both counts, you did neither.

          “Your claim about (A) can be attacked at a purely logical level, and that’s what I intended to do.”

          My claim about ‘A’ was that it did not require a religious foundation. You never logically attacked that.

          “Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.”

          How would this ever be accomplished? People are at different levels of intelligence, physical abilities, etc. Some people cannot under any circumstance be brain surgeons, etc. How are you going to change that with a theistic world view? I just don’t see how under any circumstance all people can have equal opportunity. I do think trying to get as close as possible is a positive goal. God being all powerful could have created such a world but that sure didn’t happen. If you think egalitarianism is an objective truth and goal why wouldn’t God just create us all equally? That is a data point against your claim.

          “I don’t know what you see as “the theistic argument”.

          The argument you made that egalitarianism can only be achieved if God as a foundation for it. Did I miss something? After all what I said was in response to this…

          But it doesn’t worry me, because I’ve seen ten of the best secular arguments for egalitarianism examined and found wanting. ….. My competition isn’t much of a threat. But if I can’t make appreciable progress in reasonable time, then I’ll start worrying.

          Your competition is not a threat…not a threat to what?
          I took that to mean ‘not a threat to your theistic explanation’.

          “What I’d like to know from you is whether any possible set of phenomena could convince you that the above, and the two subsequent paragraphs I wrote (not quoted), are true.

          First I was convinced that was true. As you know I was a Christian believer, I just believed for poor reasons. To answer the question, yes all my beliefs are provisional based on the evidence, etc. If reasonable evidence was provided I would change my mind. I want to hold as many true beliefs as possible (true meaning that which comports to reality) and reject as many false beliefs as possible.

          “I do not understand your reasoning. An omnipotent God can desire theosis for his creation.

          That isn’t the issue here. The reasoning you are putting forward as I read it is God could make it that way. And while I agree that an omnipotent God could do ‘X’ that is not support for whether God has done ‘X’.

          “So be it. I believe evil is a lot less concentrated than you, apparently. It may use certain people as focal points and they certainly welcome the focus, but that is much different from thinking that e.g. some people are just real bad apples. I think the line between good and evil runs through humans, not between them.”

          Again that isn’t the issue. You claimed that in you view all humans import something positive on your life such that you (and in your view the world itself) is better off having them in it rather than not having them in it. How does that work for you concerning people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson? They are but 2 examples, there are many more like them. How did (does?) people like that offer something positive in your view that they provided more positives than negatives?

          “Then tell me what it would take for the attempt to not be weak and then I’ll go away and if I develop it to the requisite level, I will present it.”

          It is weak because you have not logically provided support that a religious model could achieve egalitarianism as you have described it. I am comparing your ideal to the reality we share and I have yet to see you provide an argument that shows you can get from point A to point B using a religious foundation.

          “I was assuming enlightened self-interest, whereby you’re still competing for resources…..I can ask you to demonstrate what you claimed you could do: “I can defend the idea the world would be better off”

          It starts from a very basic foundation. Health and well being is generally more favorable than being sick. Life is generally preferable than death. From there I don’t want to be murdered, I don’t want the people I care about to be murdered. I don’t want my stuff stolen, I don’t want the stuff of the people I care about stolen. The best way to do that is to surround myself with people that agree with those basic premises. From there it logically follows that the more people in the world that are given those same basic rights the more likely me and the people I care about will continue to have them as well. If the world is full of people that agree that slavery is wrong what are the chances that I will be a slave, or my kids, or their kids, or my friends and their kids? None…zero. The bottom line is if other people are given basic rights it helps ensure my own.

          “False. Check your faulty reasoning. I merely said that (i) ten of the top arguments had been found wanting; and (ii) I suspect I have an argument which would work. I neither said nor implied that no future secular argument could possibly work.”

          You said…

          “Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.The basic idea is for there to be truly no irrelevant people, such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without.

          Were you not describing egalitarianism? If you weren’t what was it that you were describing here?

          “And if there is insufficient belief, surely that will turn into insufficient action, and then how likely will humans actually be to asymptotically approaching egalitarianism?”

          What we don’t know is if sufficient belief can develop over time. You are claiming it can’t sans design. Design I take to mean is design by a deity…correct? You have not established that such a belief can’t be sufficiently established over time without God as a foundation even though you claimed as much. In the end you don’t know but you are claiming you do know.

          “I’m basically asking if there is a “complexly” version of “simply explaining God as a basis for morality”, which does not lead to the result you allege of the “simply” version: “provides no consistency of the results”.

          I don’t know, I have yet to hear one. The problem is when God is used as a foundation for morality anyone can just say “my God agrees with X”, another theist can say “my God disagrees with X”. They are then at an impasse. Evidence that one or the other is actually correct would have to be presented and to this point it is impossible for that happen given the lack of evidence for anyone’s God.

          “Why can’t God partly inform us….?

          How does one determine that what God has morally informed us of is correct? It still leads back to the individual in the end. The individual is still making the basic judgement that God is in fact informing morality.

          “In a healthy relationship, neither party dictates all of the rules for how that relationship will operate.

          I agree completely with this. Now if you have person A saying gambling is wrong and when asked (why?) their foundation leads back to God how is person B supposed to refute that so that “neither party dictates all the rules”? God as a foundation in this case does not help a healthy relationship, God hinders it.

          “Whatever percentage were required to allow the Rwandan Genocide to happen. Remember, acts of omission can be evil. And yes, we knew a “final solution” was going to implemented before it was.”

          Once again, Steven Pinker is not arguing we have attained perfection nor does he argue perfection is even attainable, only that things have shown improvement over time despite claims of the contrary.

          “Is his argument that “things have gotten better over time”, or “deaths per capita via violence has gone down over time”?

          Are you saying the latter is not better? Also that is just one data point he uses to show that over all things have gotten better over time, slavery is less, women have more rights, etc. are others. Do you not agree?

          “Now, what you could do is help me understand what would qualify as another way to “determine truth with any degree of reliability”.

          I don’t know either. Science is based on quantifying measurements through the scientific process, it is evidence based which is what makes it more reliable. I would agree with you that science in and of itself is woefully lacking in its ability to answer some questions but the issue is how do we attain reliability without evidence, measurement and experimentation in regards to those questions that science is lacking in its ability to address? I would like an answer to that as much as anyone.

          “Too many people seem to think that if convincing isn’t quick and fast, it won’t happen. Let me tell you, it took a while to convince me.”

          I agree, the road I took has lasted decades, it is not over either.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It failed on both counts, you did neither.

          In that case, I’ll need help understanding what might possibly constitute “success” of the “logical” variety (as opposed to the “empirical” variety, which I’ve already covered). I’ve been around this block quite a few times, and I’m worried that the philosophical presuppositions undergirding this conversation actually render success impossible.

          My claim about ‘A’ was that it did not require a religious foundation. You never logically attacked that.

          Well, it’s not entirely clear what you mean by “religious foundation”; note that I used a different term:

          LB: So I claim we have a choice: either abandon egalitarian, very much like Marx wanted people to abandon ‘religion’, or adopt a metaphysical view which goes beyond the evidence, while being consistent with the evidence.

          I chose that term because Louis Pojman does in a section I’m now going to excerpt—not because I want you to take him as an authority but to preemptively defend myself against inevitable claims that I’m misrepresenting him:

              The possibilities [for grounding equal worth] are frighteningly innumerable. My point is that you need some metaphysical explanation to ground the doctrine of equal worth, if it is to serve as the basis for equal human rights. It is not enough simply to assert, as philosophers like Dworkin do, that their egalitarian doctrines are “metaphysically unambiguous.” But, of course, there are severe epistemological difficulties with the kinds of metaphysical systems I have been discussing. My point has not been to defend religion. For purposes of this paper I am neutral on the question of whether any religion is true. Rather my purpose is to show that we cannot burn our bridges and still drive Mack trucks over them. But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

          We can discuss what the difference might be between ‘metaphysical foundation’ and ‘religious foundation’, if you’d like.

          How would this ever be accomplished? People are at different levels of intelligence, physical abilities, etc.

          I’m pretty sure that egalitarians have robust notions of ‘equality of opportunity’ which survive your rather obvious objections. I suspect that a critical component to their response would be to re-jigger how society values different kinds of human competence. For example, I doubt that the top expert in suicide prevention is given anything like the honor given the top expert in economics. But if you’re still going to make a big deal over ‘equality of opportunity’, then we may have to abort any conversation dependent on that idea being possibly achievable. I get tired of Whac-A-Mole, where every single aspect of everything I say must be robustly defensible on pain of being mocked and dismissed. ‘Tis tedious.

          I do think trying to get as close as possible is a positive goal.

          Sure, you can have warm, fuzzy feelings about it. But if you only really believe in it half-heartedly—because, say, you never let your beliefs ever grow stronger than what the evidence robustly supports—then it seems almost guaranteed that we won’t get as far as possible toward egalitarianism, of the ‘equality of opportunity’ version.

          God being all powerful could have created such a world but that sure didn’t happen. If you think egalitarianism is an objective truth and goal why wouldn’t God just create us all equally? That is a data point against your claim.

          I think God desires theosis. God doing too much for us is antithetical to theosis.

          The argument you made that egalitarianism can only be achieved if God as a foundation for it. Did I miss something?

          You missed the fact that I made so much argument. It may help to know the following two facts of logic:

               (1) “No good argument of type T has been found for X” ⇏
                      “No good argument of type T exists for X”.
               (2) “There exists a good argument of type ¬T for X” ⇏
                      “No good argument of type T exists for X”.

          I realize that (1) and (2) are often denied due to stupid-ass social protocols. What is strictly speaking “⇏” is insinuated to be “⇒”. I do my best to never play such games.

          Your competition is not a threat…not a threat to what?
          I took that to mean ‘not a threat to your theistic explanation’.

          Correct. You may wish to differentiate between “available competition” and “logically possible competition”. I explicitly targeted the former.

          The reasoning you are putting forward as I read it is God could make it that way. And while I agree that an omnipotent God could do ‘X’ that is not support for whether God has done ‘X’.

          I never argued that “could” ⇒ “has“.

          You claimed that in you view all humans import something positive on your life such that you (and in your view the world itself) is better off having them in it rather than not having them in it.

          I can see how you would get that from what I wrote:

          LB: The basic idea is for there to be truly no irrelevant people, such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without.

          It would be better to say that the uniqueness is potential, and may or may not be sufficiently actualized in any given person. I like John Calvin’s “seed of religion” for this matter. I would add that no matter how much evil some individual has done, the chance is not lost to sufficiently actualize the dormant potential. What I did not meant to imply is that humanity is always better off with the actions a person ended up choosing. My bad for leaving that as a possible interpretation.

          It is weak because you have not logically provided support that a religious model could achieve egalitarianism as you have described it.

          Ok, but for all I know, it is logically impossible to provide you something non-weak. After all, you yourself have yet to justify striving toward egalitarianism (vs. some lesser goal where others have rights while you have nicer things) for any reason other than your wishes. Putting a finer point on it, why not strive for what you know to be possible rather than what you don’t know to be possible? Why not pick a lesser goal than egalitarianism? Surely it is better to have truth as a goal rather than something indistinguishable from fantasy?

          The bottom line is if other people are given basic rights it helps ensure my own.

          I can appreciate the logic of this. But it seems founded on a particular model of human nature which just doesn’t seem to capture all of reality. Chiefly, I am thinking of those humans who desire to have power over other humans. Even if all the fundamental needs are taken care of, even if all natural wonders are accessed by lottery ticket—even by the rich—there will still be humans who strive to increase their power over other humans. The more power you allow others to have, the more vulnerable you make yourself to their ambitions (cf. “Peace through strength”). The more power you reserve for yourself, the more the ‘rights’ of others become meaningless.

          tl;dr Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population will always apply to social power, even if all other resources are made infinite.

          What we don’t know is if sufficient belief can develop over time. You are claiming it can’t sans design.

          I suspect it can’t, sans design. It would probably take quite a bit of argument to turn that suspicion into an argument. That is because one must take into account facts of human psychology into account and not just logic—given that humans are not purely logical.

          [1] Design I take to mean is design by a deity…correct? [2] You have not established that such a belief can’t be sufficiently established over time without God as a foundation [3] even though you claimed as much. In the end you don’t know but [4] you are claiming you do know.

          [1] Correct. [2] Correct. [3] I did not so-claim. [4] I did not so-claim.

          What I have said is that if we don’t have enough justification to do the really hard work to move toward egalitarianism, our ability to progress very far toward it could easily be hamstrung. I do not need proof that we could not possibly asymptotically approach egalitarianism, on naturalism, for my argument to go through.

          LB: I’m basically asking if there is a “complexly” version of “simply explaining God as a basis for morality”, which does not lead to the result you allege of the “simply” version: “provides no consistency of the results”.

          O: I don’t know, I have yet to hear one. The problem is when God is used as a foundation for morality anyone can just say “my God agrees with X”, another theist can say “my God disagrees with X”. They are then at an impasse. Evidence that one or the other is actually correct would have to be presented and to this point it is impossible for that happen given the lack of evidence for anyone’s God.

          I did not follow this pattern—”my God agrees with X”—when I wrote the following:

          LB: Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed. The basic idea is for there to be truly no irrelevant people, such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without.

          I 100% agree with you that if all you can do is say “my God agrees with X”, your “it is certainly dangerous” very much applies. But it’s not clear that you can find any examples of said [“simply”] “my God agrees with X” in the Bible, at least ones spoken of YHWH. For example, Ezekiel 6 ends with “Then they will know that I am the LORD.” The context is that Israel has been crazy evil (more evil than the surrounding nations: Ezek 5:5–8—yes, you atheists would be intelligent to deploy this against the RCC wrt pedophilia) and after YHWH gives them the smack-down, they’ll know that he is God. But why will then then know that he is LORD? Because of his demonstrated power? Or his predictions that contra the proclamations of “Peace” (Ezek 13:10,16), terribleness was coming? I think it was the latter, which is downright scientific.

          How does one determine that what God has morally informed us of is correct? It still leads back to the individual in the end. The individual is still making the basic judgement that God is in fact informing morality.

          In addition to what I wrote immediately above, here’s how God told Moses to answer that question:

          “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’ (Deuteronomy 6:20–25)

          So, God saved the Israelites and this is evidence that he wants what is good for them. God demonstrated incredible power, and so it is plausible he has the requisite intelligence and wisdom to know what is good for the Israelites. He gave them good land to live in. (Attempts at a genocide tangent will be ignored.) Following God’s laws will allegedly allow the Jews to perpetuate instead of die out. These are incredibly empirical matters. Where things get fuzzy is over the long term, where you can do ancient versions of pumping CO2 into the air for multiple generations before the ill effects are felt. When cause and effect are this far separated in time and complexly related, it is easy to veer off-course, to fall prey to just-so stories. Quite a lot of the Bible is focused on those long-term patterns, which are ostensibly studied by the human sciences and humanities.

          Once again, Steven Pinker is not arguing we have attained perfection nor does he argue perfection is even attainable, only that things have shown improvement over time despite claims of the contrary.

          Talk of “perfection” is a straw man. Pinker has indeed shown improvement over time according to a very specific metric. How one generalizes from that to overall moral progress is nontrivial, IMO. There are more ways to harm a human being than physical assault. Many more.

          Also that is just one data point he uses to show that over all things have gotten better over time, slavery is less, women have more rights, etc. are others. Do you not agree?

          Slavery per capita is certainly less; I’m not sure that total # of slaves is less. Women do have more rights, etc. On the other hand, the quality of world leaders seems to have declined and the civic virtues of the masses seems to have declined. This is a post-truth world. Many people have lost hope in the future, and we know that the resultant fear can be incredibly dangerous. Catastrophic global climate change looms over us, and it’s not clear we will do what is required to do some intelligent combination of mitigating it and dealing with the changes which are too expensive to mitigate. Propaganda seems to be getting more effective and more pervasive. How this all balances out is rather unclear to me.

          I would agree with you that science in and of itself is woefully lacking in its ability to answer some questions but the issue is how do we attain reliability without evidence, measurement and experimentation in regards to those questions that science is lacking in its ability to address? I would like an answer to that as much as anyone.

          We must revitalize the importance of trust. It is no mistake that the Greek words for ‘faith’ in the NT—pistis and pisteuō—are probably better translated ‘trust’. But it cannot long remain a blind trust; children do start out this way, but in healthy situations they learn to mature. I just wrote a comment critiquing the RCC for failing to properly pursue maturity among all humans, based thoroughly on scripture. So we must also revitalize the importance of civic virtue, noting that maturity and virtue are inextricably related. This runs afoul of political liberalism, because it places a duty on the individual toward the common good—a duty which has clearly eroded in the West, something I’m especially aware of in the US. Trust has certainly eroded in the US, from 56% in 1968 → 33% in 2014. It is well known that trust in institutions is quite low. (e.g. 2016-09-14 Gallup Americans’ Trust in Mass Media Sinks to New Low)

          I had the privilege of talking to Charles Taylor in December 2015 and he said something quite interesting along these lines. I impudently asked him whether ‘secularism’ is anything other than ‘methodological positivism’ (explanation). He graciously responded that secularism can work quite well, if one is not suspicious of the Other. Given Taylor’s record, I trust his expert judgment on this matter. Part of being suspicions, of course, is attributing evil intention when perhaps no intention existed at all. (See the fundamental attribution error. Incidentally, my pastor mentioned this idea in his sermon yesterday, albeit not by name.)

          N.B. Speech of decline is possibly problematic; globalism puts additional strains on situations which may actually require more maturity/​competence/​virtue than was required beforehand. Suffice it to say that nowadays, we need more than we have.

        • Otto

          “In that case, I’ll need help understanding what might possibly constitute “success” of the “logical” variety.”

          How about a simple non-fallacious syllogism?

          “Well, it’s not entirely clear what you mean by “religious foundation”; note that I used a different term:”

          Regardless of what term you used you did not support that what you said.

          Additionally what is being discussed here is your claim that…

          Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.

          The use of your word design implies God…God ====> religious foundation. Just be honest in your discussions and we wouldn’t have to go around in circles. You and I have had enough discussion to know that when you use the term ‘metaphysical’ you are meaning some generic God concept.

          Yes you quote Louis whatever his name is. I don’t agree with him, I don’t agree with you in reference to him. I have explained why. He is saying it can’t be done sans religion when I have pointed out he (nor you) really knows that. It has not been done yet… is not the same as ‘can’t be done at all’.

          “We can discuss what the difference might be between ‘metaphysical foundation’ and ‘religious foundation’, if you’d like.

          Maybe first you should figure out what distinction Louis makes because in that paragraph he seems to use religion and metaphysical interchangeably.

          “I’m pretty sure that egalitarians have robust notions of ‘equality of opportunity’ which survive your rather obvious objections.

          My point is Luke that people the world over will have differences of opportunity for a wide variety of reasons. Egalitarianism might be a nice ideal but I am not sure it can ever be achieved, you claimed it can “metaphysically” but you have yet to actually support that.

          “I get tired of Whac-A-Mole, where every single aspect of everything I say must be robustly defensible on pain of being mocked and dismissed. ‘Tis tedious.”

          Oh piss off, in this you are the mole that pops out a 3 new holes with every post you make. Your lack of self awareness is astounding.

          “Sure, you can have warm, fuzzy feelings about it. But if you only really believe in it half-heartedly—because, say, you never let your beliefs ever grow stronger than what the evidence robustly supports—then it seems almost guaranteed that we won’t get as far as possible toward egalitarianism, of the ‘equality of opportunity’ version.”

          For someone such as yourself that seems to believe in it whole heartedly you seem to have a really hard time supporting that it can be achieved or how to go about it other that asserting that the metaphysical route is THE answer. Could you possibly be more vague?

          “I think God desires theosis. God doing too much for us is antithetical to theosis.”

          That literally answers nothing as to my question. What does theosis have to do with making people completely unequal?

          “You missed the fact that I made so much argument. ….

          Did you forget about your statement here?

          Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.

          What in the world did you mean by ‘designed’ if not God?

          “Correct. You may wish to differentiate between “available competition” and “logically possible competition”. I explicitly targeted the former.

          The available theistic competition is equally weak (if not more so). Which is exactly what I said…. and then you asked what I meant by theistic argument! FFS who is playing wack a mole again! The theistic model is no more logically possible unless you are just going to retreat to the ‘God can do anything’ cop out…that does not make it logical.

          “I can appreciate the logic of this. But it seems founded on a particular model of human nature which just doesn’t seem to capture all of reality. Chiefly, I am thinking of those humans who desire to have power over other humans. Even if all the fundamental needs are taken care of, even if all natural wonders are accessed by lottery ticket—even by the rich—there will still be humans who strive to increase their power over other humans.”

          Yep this is all true, but I am not the one claiming egalitarianism can be achieved. I am not convinced it can as the way you define it. How is your theistic / religious / metaphysical model gonna deal with this issue? Just claiming it can without explaining ‘how’ does nothing.

          Let’s take Marx. His thesis concerning socialism was to have a classless society and that until such is accomplished we will continue to have revolutions. This is a fine idea in theory, in reality it is not that simple and may be impossible. You ideal of egalitarianism looks like it suffers from the same issue of theory vs what happens in the real world.

          “I suspect it can’t, sans design.”

          I suspect it can’t with or without design. But that is not what you said, you said …”Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.”

          ‘Most definitely does need’ sounds pretty unambiguous….’I suspect it can’t’ sounds pretty non-committal. I guess you are backing off your statement.

          “That is because one must take into account facts of human psychology into account and not just logic—given that humans are not purely logical.”

          This is equally a problem for both naturalistic and the metaphysical model.

          “[1] Design I take to mean is design by a deity…correct? [2] You have not established that such a belief can’t be sufficiently established over time without God as a foundation [3] even though you claimed as much. In the end you don’t know but [4] you are claiming you do know.
          [1] Correct. [2] Correct. [3] I did not so-claim. [4] I did not so-claim.

          Let me post your quote for the 3rd time….”.”Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.

          “But it’s not clear that you can find any examples of said [“simply”] “my God agrees with X” in the Bible, at least ones spoken of YHWH.”

          God has plenty of interpreters for what God means/meant. You are one and every other theist has their own take as well. Additionally you are incorrectly assuming the Bible is the only scripture of a claimed God. There are plenty of other followers of other scriptures and Gods to deal with.

          So, God saved the Israelites and this is evidence that he wants what is good for them.

          How is that different from God just claiming he is moral? How do you know God did not free the Jews from Egypt so he could refer back to that when in actuality it was nothing more than a way to gain trust the same way a grifter gains the trust of their mark? It still goes back to the individual, that changes nothing.

          (not to mention the Egypt/Moses/Jew thing never actually happened, I am only hypothetically playing along here)

          “Talk of “perfection” is a straw man. Pinker has indeed shown improvement over time according to a very specific metric. How one generalizes from that to overall moral progress is nontrivial, IMO.”

          So are your taking issue with Pinker and claiming human morality has not improved over time?

          “Slavery per capita is certainly less; I’m not sure that total # of slaves is less. Women do have more rights, etc. On the other hand, the quality of world leaders seems to have declined and the civic virtues of the masses seems to have declined. This is a post-truth world. Many people have lost hope in the future, and we know that the resultant fear can be incredibly dangerous. Catastrophic global climate change looms over us, and it’s not clear we will do what is required to do some intelligent combination of mitigating it and dealing with the changes which are too expensive to mitigate. Propaganda seems to be getting more effective and more pervasive. How this all balances out is rather unclear to me.”

          The only thing I even potentially agree with in this paragraph is the climate change, the rest of it is blather.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          LB: Support logically, or support evidentially? I was aiming for the former; it would appear that you were focused on the latter.

          O: It failed on both counts, you did neither.

          LB: In that case, I’ll need help understanding what might possibly constitute “success” of the “logical” variety (as opposed to the “empirical” variety, which I’ve already covered). I’ve been around this block quite a few times, and I’m worried that the philosophical presuppositions undergirding this conversation actually render success impossible.

          O: How about a simple non-fallacious syllogism?

          That’s a dodge if I ever heard one. You’ve said nothing to mitigate the underlined. I think I will simply abort this tangent and wait until and if I have found a way to mitigate it.

          Regardless of what term you used you did not support that what you said.

          I claim it was a building block. You rejected that building block, thus preventing me from going further toward ‘religious foundation’.

          [1] The use of your word design implies God…God ====> religious foundation. [2] Just be honest in your discussions and we wouldn’t have to go around in circles. [3] You and I have had enough discussion to know that when you use the term ‘metaphysical’ you are meaning some generic God concept.

          [1] Correct. [2] I have been honest. [3] Incorrect, unless “some generic God concept” is so generic that Louis Pojman would allow overlap between it and what he meant by “metaphysical explanation”.

          [1] He is saying it can’t be done sans religion when [2] I have pointed out he (nor you) really knows that. [3] It has not been done yet… is not the same as ‘can’t be done at all’.

          [1] Incorrect. [2] Correct. [3] Correct.

          Maybe first you should figure out what distinction Louis makes because in that paragraph he seems to use religion and metaphysical interchangeably.

          Nope. That he sees no successful explanation which is not metaphysical, and no successful metaphysic that is not religious, does not mean he is equating the matters, nor conflating them. This might be an interesting enough matter for me to attempt a guest post on SO; let me know if you’d be interested. I’m very confident that @jlowder:disqus would agree with my stance, and would be very interested if (and precisely how) he disagreed.

          My point is Luke that people the world over will have differences of opportunity for a wide variety of reasons. Egalitarianism might be a nice ideal but I am not sure it can ever be achieved, you claimed it can “metaphysically” but you have yet to actually support that.

          I disagree with the “nice ideal” characterization. If it is impossible, pretending that is where you are headed is terrible. It may be no better than the Republican Party, which pretends that it is all about the American Dream while plausibly working very hard to maintain and build up class distinctions—the antithesis of the American Dream. I am quite concerned that ‘egalitarianism’ might function quite similarly to how Karl Marx thought ‘religion’ functioned. John Dickonson allegedly said something like: “Don’t forget that most men would rather maintain the fantasy of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.” That’s not a “nice ideal”, that’s manipulating people with false dreams.

          Oh piss off, in this you are the mole that pops out a 3 new holes with every post you make.

          Not only is that tu quoque, it’s apples & oranges. I don’t require that every aspect of everything you say is rigorously defended.

          For someone such as yourself that seems to believe in it whole heartedly you seem to have a really hard time supporting that it can be achieved or how to go about it other that asserting that the metaphysical route is THE answer. Could you possibly be more vague?

          I will wait to answer such questions until you can accurately restate my position. In the meantime, I’ll quote from Marcus Aurelius from Gladiator: “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.” Things aren’t that bad now, but they might be heading there.

          That literally answers nothing as to my question. What does theosis have to do with making people completely unequal?

          It’s almost as if God doesn’t want everyone to be a star NFL quarterback.

          O: The argument you made that egalitarianism can only be achieved if God as a foundation for it. Did I miss something?

          LB: You missed the fact that I made so much argument. It may help to know the following two facts of logic:

          O: Did you forget about your statement here?

          No. I simply never claimed nor implied the underlined.

          O: First off let me say that this is an incredibly weak attempt at supporting your claim.

          LB: I’m not surprised; I’ve had very little time to work on it and no critics to really examine it. But it doesn’t worry me, because I’ve seen ten of the best secular arguments for egalitarianism examined and found wanting. (By Louis Pojman, in Equality: Selected Readings.) My competition isn’t much of a threat. But if I can’t make appreciable progress in reasonable time, then I’ll start worrying.

          O: Funny because I see the theistic argument as little threat, especially since this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to and that was the best you could do.

          LB: I don’t know what you see as “the theistic argument”. The object of your “this is an incredibly weak attempt” evaluation certainly can’t be it.

          O: The argument you made that egalitarianism can only be achieved if God as a foundation for it. Did I miss something?

          […]

          O: The available theistic competition is equally weak (if not more so). Which is exactly what I said…. and then you asked what I meant by theistic argument! FFS who is playing wack a mole again! The theistic model is no more logically possible unless you are just going to retreat to the ‘God can do anything’ cop out…that does not make it logical.

          I’ve helped you out by underlining the things I agree with and striking out the things I disagree with. BTW, I had expected you to say “your theistic argument” instead of “the theistic argument”. I am so used to stupid little gotchas on websites such as this one that I am extra careful. Were you to socially punish stupid gotcha-ing, I would be happy to diminish the amount of preemptive defense I use with you.

          Yep this is all true, but I am not the one claiming egalitarianism can be achieved. I am not convinced it can as the way you define it. How is your theistic / religious / metaphysical model gonna deal with this issue? Just claiming it can without explaining ‘how’ does nothing.

          I am working on the ‘how’. Your “this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to” is simply incorrect. Just yesterday I discussed a closely related matter with an atheist friend of mine who happened to be in SF. He asked if the “idea of God” is sufficient to motivate various good things, if “God actually existing” was therefore unnecessary. I responded that there still seems to be deep contention, over whether human psychology is ill-fit for maximal thriving and thus is best off via deception (at least of the masses—there’s a long history of thinking that the masses need religion while the elite can have knowledge), or whether human psychology is well-fit but current instantiations are corrupted and underdeveloped.

          One immediate consequence of supposing that human psychology isn’t as broken as is often believed is that we might think that various mental illnesses aren’t just random defects in the individual, but may be partly or even largely caused by society. Nancey Murphy, faculty at Fuller Seminary (which has a highly respected School of Psychology), wrote about this matter in her 1997 Anglo-American Postmodernity, endorsing what she calls the ‘psychosocial model’, whereby “mental illness is caused by life experiences.” (61) But this model was discarded in favor of the ‘medical model’ whereby “speaking loosely and a bit polemically … mental illness is ‘caused’ by physiological abnormalities.” (61) Fast forward to 2013 and we have Liah Greenfeld’s Mind, Modernity, Madness, which provides a wealth of evidence in favor of society being a potent causal factor in certain mental illness. The bottom line is that humans aren’t as broken as previously thought.

          I have other bits and pieces as well. For example, those able and willing to follow some basic principles with respect to relational sin are able to maintain fantastically better relationships. If egalitarianism needs anything, it needs robust trust. If such trust is eroding, then the prospects of egalitarianism will erode with it. Going further, there are works such as Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought and Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs. But synthesizing this kind of stuff and compacting it to combox-sized results is incredibly difficult. “How Christianity supports and enables egalitarianism” is probably the stuff of a PhD dissertation. Now, if you want to try for easy, simple, cheap solutions to the current world’s problems—solutions which don’t require deep thought and careful analysis—then go ahead. I don’t think such strategies have any hope of success.

          Let’s take Marx. His thesis concerning socialism was to have a classless society and that until such is accomplished we will continue to have revolutions. This is a fine idea in theory, in reality it is not that simple and may be impossible. You ideal of egalitarianism looks like it suffers from the same issue of theory vs what happens in the real world.

          You could be right. Fortunately, I don’t need you to believe me in order for me to try. I don’t need you to be part of my revolution, possibly unlike Marx. My plan does not require those who do not want to make the requisite sacrifices, to make such sacrifices. Only the willing are required, only those who want to engage in Hebrews 11:6-type behavior need to. I don’t even need to tax you to attempt this. It would, however, be helpful if you were to not say false things, nor unknown-to-be-true things, which stymie such work.

          I suspect it can’t with or without design. But that is not what you said, you said …”Actually, I can think of an instance of (A) which most definitely does need reality to be designed.”

          ‘Most definitely does need’ sounds pretty unambiguous….’I suspect it can’t’ sounds pretty non-committal. I guess you are backing off your statement.

          Another logic failure. “an instance of (A) has property P” ⇏ “all instances of (A) are known to have property P”

          LB: That is because one must take into account facts of human psychology into account and not just logic—given that humans are not purely logical.

          O: This is equally a problem for both naturalistic and the metaphysical model.

          True. But logic is an instance of Rationalität while I can claim that any full model of humans requires Wertrationalität. See WP: Instrumental and value rationality; the distinction between these two kinds of rationality comes from Max Weber, who identified the former with ‘bureaucratic rationality’—where you make the means as efficient as possible, without questioning the ends. Last night I had dinner with a seasoned sociologist and asked him about the current state of affairs of Wertrationalität (value rationality). His response: absolutely pitiful. This matches quite well with some of Alasdair MacIntyre’s core theses in After Virtue (1981, 18,000 ‘citations’), a point I verified with him. And so, too many people associate ‘rationality’ (≠ ‘logic’) with stuff like rational choice theory. One sees this in Pankaj Mishra’s 2016-12-08 article in The Guardian, Welcome to the age of anger in his use of ‘rational’ vs. ‘irrational’—although I suspect he was doing that somewhat tongue-in-cheek (that is, I suspect he knows that rational choice theory is a terrible model of human nature).

          As any scientist knows, a bad model will lead to bad predictions. If we think that the only ‘rationality’ there is, is one which satisfies the axioms of Arrow’s impossibility theorem (a really fun topic), then we’ll find quite a lot to be ‘irrational’ which is actually quite intelligible on a different, better model. But by using a loaded term which pretends to be comprehensive—such as ‘rational’—we preclude such investigation. Books end up having to be written called things like Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonisation, Against Method, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, Rationality and the Ideology of Disconnection, Missing Persons: A Critique of the Personhood in the Social Sciences, and The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy.

          Now, what if there were a way to understand Christianity which provides an edge in rendering humans more intelligible than the best competition in the human sciences can manage? What if that model were to aid in heading [asymptotically] toward egalitarianism? Well, people like you might quibble that “God has nothing to do with it”, but a lot of people would probably snap to attention and think that there might just be something to that Christianity thing. This is where my energies are aimed. I’m sure you have a story to spin, that even if I make progress via a non-naturalist metaphysic, there is a naturalist metaphysic which is somehow ‘better’. That’s fine; there will always be True Believers.

          Additionally you are incorrectly assuming the Bible is the only scripture of a claimed God.

          I am? That’s like saying that some psychologist who chooses to devote the vast majority of his/her efforts to a single paradigm of the many listed in the the table of contents of Luciano L’Abate’s 2011 Paradigms in Theory Construction is “incorrectly assuming that no other paradigm could possibly be better”. Let various people compete in their various paradigms, with ways to compare the results. That’s how life has always worked, that’s how science works, and guess what? It works.

          How is that different from God just claiming he is moral? How do you know God did not free the Jews from Egypt so he could refer back to that when in actuality it was nothing more than a way to gain trust the same way a grifter gains the trust of their mark? It still goes back to the individual, that changes nothing.

          There is always room for doubt. I love using the V (2009 TV series) as an example. At any point YHWH could have started misleading his people—that is entirely correct. Likewise, at any point my wife could cheat on me. Of course, I judge that to be exceedingly unlikely, but am I rational to do so? We would have to get into how trust can be rationally built up.

          BTW, I still disagree with “it still goes back to the individual”—I think the vast majority of decision is actually made outside of the individual, which is why I’ve repeatedly cited Christian Smith’s Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. But if we do away with the delusional fiction that is social atomism, that doesn’t necessarily destroy your point; you could fall back on “It still goes back to the [mostly:] society and [somewhat:] individual, that changes nothing.”

          But what would it mean for things to not go back to the individual or society + individual? It’s not really clear to me what contrast you’re trying to draw. I think God wants us to trust him and want him (and his will), not just obey him. So in a crucial sense, it must “still go back to the individual”. In fact, Deut 5:22–33 and 1 Sam 8Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32 expresses a desire that precisely that happen!

          (not to mention the Egypt/Moses/Jew thing never actually happened, I am only hypothetically playing along here)

          That’s fine.

          So are your taking issue with Pinker and claiming human morality has not improved over time?

          It’s not clear that I’m taking issue with Pinker; does he claim that overall, “human morality has improved over time”? I would like a quote for that. What I understand is that he definitely argues that “physical violence per capita has decreased over time”. Personally, I would say that there have been gains and there have been losses. The following constitutes a huge loss, one which could be disastrous to humanity:

              The worry has been repeatedly expressed that the individual lost something important along with the larger social and cosmic horizons of action. Some have written of this as the loss of a heroic dimension to life. People no longer have a sense of a higher purpose, of something worth dying for. Alexis de Tocqueville sometimes talked like this in the last century, referring to the “petits et vulgaires plaisirs” that people tend to seek in the democratic age.[1] In another articulation, we suffer from a lack of passion. Kierkegaard saw “the present age” in these terms. And Nietzsche’s “last men” are at the final nadir of this decline; they have no aspiration left in life but to a “pitiable comfort.”[2]    This loss of purpose was linked to a narrowing. People lost the broader vision because they focussed on their individual lives. Democratic equality, says Tocqueville, draws the individual towards himself, “et menace de la renfermer enfin tout entier dans la solitude de son propre coeur.”[3] In other words, the dark side of individualism is a centring on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society. (The Malaise of Modernity, 3–4)

          Notice that “less concerned with others or society”. Now, what events around the world fit that pattern? And so, I’m just not convinced that things are, overall, getting better. Then again, they might not be getting worse, either. In my discussion with my sociologist friend last night, we talked about how the shifts from ‘hunter-gatherer age’ → ‘agricultural age’ → ‘industrial age’ → ‘information age’ have put increasing stress on people. If circumstances get more demanding and people don’t do enough to step up to the challenge, it could appear that humans are now worse. But if we don’t get appreciably better, nuclear war and catastrophic global climate change remain probabilities and not just possibilities.

          The only thing I even potentially agree with in this paragraph is the climate change, the rest of it is blather.

          Good to know you think that stuff like @disqus_s4ylzQ9exo:disqus’ Living in the Post-Truth Era and Truth: What Really Matters Now (The Secular Outpost) is just “blather”.

        • adam
        • Otto

          “That’s a dodge if I ever heard one. You’ve said nothing to mitigate the underlined. (I’m worried that the philosophical presuppositions undergirding this conversation actually render success impossible.)”

          What presupposition is needed to make your claim logically valid?

          I have yet to see you really lay any groundwork and walk me quickly through your argument like I did with mine.

          “I disagree with the “nice ideal” characterization. If it is impossible, pretending that is where you are headed is terrible.”

          I have never pretended that is where I am heading. Your idea and my idea of what egalitarianism could look like are very different. I think your idea is impossible that people could have equal opportunity the world over with any consistency. Additionally you claim it can be done but seem to have no basis that it CAN be done. That is terrible.

          “I don’t require that every aspect of everything you say is rigorously defended.”

          Yes you do, you literally nit pick everything.

          “I will wait to answer such questions until you can accurately restate my position.”

          I will not, either clarify your position or I am done. You made a statement and have not defended that statement with logic or evidence.

          “It’s almost as if God doesn’t want everyone to be a star NFL quarterback.”

          It is more like God doesn’t want everyone to walk, or hold a pencil, or have vision, or be able to think clearly, etc and on and on. That still does not answer the issue or what that has to do with theosis. That is a horrible dodge.

          LB: I’m not surprised; I’ve had very little time to work on it and no critics to really examine it. But it doesn’t worry me, because I’ve seen ten of the best secular arguments for egalitarianism examined and found wanting. (By Louis Pojman, in Equality: Selected Readings.) My competition isn’t much of a threat. But if I can’t make appreciable progress in reasonable time, then I’ll start worrying.
          O: Funny because I see the theistic argument as little threat, especially since this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to and that was the best you could do.

          So apparently I am wrong to think you have given “quite some thought” to the subject but you have “seen ten of the best secular arguments” for it and they failed in your eyes. Did you examine them decently or just give them a quick once over?

          Either you have put some time into this or you haven’t. Your statement here implies you have put effort in one this and yet you deny that is the case. Something does not add up here Luke. How did you know these were the best? Were you just taking what someone else said for granted?

          This…

          Were you to socially punish stupid gotcha-ing, I would be happy to diminish the amount of preemptive defense I use with you.

          Does not jive with this…

          “I don’t require that every aspect of everything you say is rigorously defended.”

          “Now, if you want to try for easy, simple, cheap solutions to the current world’s problems—solutions which don’t require deep thought and careful analysis—then go ahead. I don’t think such strategies have any hope of success.”

          Something I notice quite often in our discussions Luke is that you will make definitive statements and when I work to get you to flesh them out a bit so I can understand what you are basing such statements on you often come back and declare they are just to complicated to explain in a comm box. I can appreciate that they are complex answers but I see no reason why you can’t explain them in a synopsis. If you can’t do that you are wasting your time making assertion comments here that you have no intention of really defending.

          “It would, however, be helpful if you were to not say false things, nor unknown-to-be-true things, which stymie such work.”

          Matthew 7:4
          How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?

          “Another logic failure. “an instance of (A) has property P” ⇏ “all instances of (A) are known to have property P””

          I find it hilarious you argue with formal logic when it suits your needs but then will switch to more informal debate on a whim, and vice versa.

          “Now, what if there were a way to understand Christianity which provides an edge in rendering humans more intelligible than the best competition in the human sciences can manage? What if that model were to aid in heading [asymptotically] toward egalitarianism? Well, people like you might quibble that “God has nothing to do with it”, but a lot of people would probably snap to attention and think that there might just be something to that Christianity thing. This is where my energies are aimed. I’m sure you have a story to spin, that even if I make progress via a non-naturalist metaphysic, there is a naturalist metaphysic which is somehow ‘better’. That’s fine; there will always be True Believers.”

          I have no need to concern myself with a response to this “what if” because I have no reason to think it will ever happen. Christianity continues to fail to bring society together or to elevate itself above the rest because its foundation is intrinsically flawed. But I do agree there will always be true believers (ironically that is also one of its flaws).

          “Let various people compete in their various paradigms, with ways to compare the results. That’s how life has always worked, that’s how science works, and guess what? It works.”

          I think a mortal flaw in religion is that the results cannot be compared because positive results are completely subjective. Religion is not even able to get a baseline down for any comparison to happen. I wish you luck tilting a windmills.

          Likewise, at any point my wife could cheat on me. Of course, I judge that to be exceedingly unlikely, but am I rational to do so? We would have to get into how trust can be rationally built up.

          BTW, I still disagree with “it still goes back to the individual”—I think the vast majority of decision is actually made outside of the individual,…

          ‘You’ judge that your wife is unlikely to cheat on you?…where did that judgement originate form? The individual…you.

          ” … So in a crucial sense, it must “still go back to the individual”.”

          I agree which is why it is a paradox that most theists don’t even see.

          “Good to know you think that stuff like Keith Parsons’ Living in the Post-Truth Era and Truth: What Really Matters Now (The Secular Outpost) is just “blather”.”

          This stuff has been happening since the beginning of civilization, sometimes it get better, sometimes it regresses. People (and especially leaders) have always played fast and loose with the truth to the point that what is being said has no bearing in reality. The problem I have is not that Parsons’ is wrong, it is that this is not new. We humans have this myopic view that the time ‘we’ live in is the most important to the point that whatever going on at any given time is over-emphasized in its importance overall. It is the stuff of ‘end of the world’ claims.

          Well Luke I don’t see this going anywhere since you now say that your claim is too complicated to explain here.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          What presupposition is needed to make your claim logically valid?

          One key presupposition is that a stochastic ‘universe generator’ would be exceedingly unlikely to generate a universe where egalitarianism can be asymptotically approached. Another is that there is a tremendous amount of human potential locked away via false beliefs, refusal to take risks, and insufficient support for the inculcation of all human abilities.

          I have yet to see you really lay any groundwork and walk me quickly through your argument like I did with mine.

          For the time being, I fear that will be impossible, since you got stuck on “equality of opportunity”. I connect that term to the clause I originally used, “such that each person is unique in some way that humanity would be better off with, than without”. A huge difficulty, which I got at with “I doubt that the top expert in suicide prevention is given anything like the honor given the top expert in economics”, is that the way humans happen to value human ability A vs. human ability B can be quite arbitrary. The notion of egalitarianism I’m pushing necessarily questions the current way we value various abilities. Until I can better work that out, I’m afraid “we may have to abort any conversation dependent on that idea being possibly achievable.” The next step for me is probably to do this investigation: “I’m pretty sure that egalitarians have robust notions of ‘equality of opportunity’ which survive your rather obvious objections.”

          I have never pretended that is where I am heading.

          That’s fine; I suspect many people are still pretending. Hence the last bit from Pojman (earlier excerpt):

          But, if we cannot return to religion, then it would seem perhaps we should abandon egalitarianism and devise political philosophies that reflect naturalistic assumptions, theories which are forthright in viewing humans as differentially talented animals who must get on together. (Equality: Selected Readings, 296)

          Perhaps, for example, those with talents society values more ought to have more access to places like Yosemite. Perhaps those with fewer talents society values deserve merely a trip to the beach once per year. Perhaps those with greater talents deserve more political power than those with fewer talents. And so forth. Of course, those with fewer talents can try to organize and set up what Nietzsche called a slave morality. Perhaps it will be a permanent battle between the smarter more politically savvy and the rest. Incidentally, my wife and I just finished watching the three-part Star Trek Enterprise arc BorderlandCold Station 12The Augments, featuring genetically enhanced humans who thought they were better than the rest. Definitely food for thought, given stuff like CRISPR.

          Additionally you claim it can be done but seem to have no basis that it CAN be done. That is terrible.

          Why is it terrible if I refuse to strong-arm or manipulate anyone into joining me? As to a “basis that it CAN be done”, that’s precisely what I’m after. What exactly would such a basis look like? Surely it would be made up of an evidential base plus expert experience. If God exists and is like the Bible describes, surely he would have power on tap for something like “equality of opportunity” egalitarianism. And yet, Christians [at least these days] seem to suck so hard at it. Passages such as Ezekiel 5:5–8 allow for this, and explain such failure as consisting of injustice and unrighteousness. Succinctly put, the powerful use their power more for themselves than for those with the least power. And so I’ve been exploring this and related matters.

          The persistent problem I face is that any forward progress I can demonstrate will be explained by something other than God having anything to do with anything. Either some lesser model would explain the same thing, or what would be demonstrated wouldn’t be part of the domain of ‘truth’ at all. I have yet to crack this nut. As I said before, I worry that presuppositions in play render it un-crackable.

          Yes you do, you literally nit pick everything.

          Ummm… you ain’t seen nothing. There is plenty I overlook. Shall I actually “nit pick everything” for some time period, to show you the difference? 😀

          O: For someone such as yourself that seems to believe in it whole heartedly you seem to have a really hard time supporting that it can be achieved or how to go about it other that asserting that the metaphysical route is THE answer. Could you possibly be more vague?

          LB: I will wait to answer such questions until you can accurately restate my position. In the meantime, I’ll quote from Marcus Aurelius from Gladiator: “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish… it was so fragile. And I fear that it will not survive the winter.”

          O: I will not, either clarify your position or I am done. You made a statement and have not defended that statement with logic or evidence.

          What you demand by “clarify your position” is probably the introduction to a PhD dissertation. I am willing to work toward such a thing, but not in the face of you relentlessly misrepresenting what I’ve actually said, despite my attempts to correct your errors. If you’d rather your illogic not be called out for what it is, then let’s be done. Maybe a year or two down the line, I’ll have this stuff much better formulated and it’ll be robust enough for your tastes.

          It is more like God doesn’t want everyone to walk, or hold a pencil, or have vision, or be able to think clearly, etc and on and on.

          Sure, because no great discoveries have been made by such people as a result of their disabilities. Let’s pretend I didn’t attend a presentation at Caltech on how bipolar disorder may have been responsible for the creativity of some geniuses.

          So apparently I am wrong to think you have given “quite some thought” to the subject but you have “seen ten of the best secular arguments” for it and they failed in your eyes. Did you examine them decently or just give them a quick once over?

          Actually, they failed in the eyes of Louis Pojman, something I made clear. I read them, but I did not do the kind of deep investigation to warrant the conclusion of his which I excerpted. I must stand on the shoulders of giants, and transparently expose the work of the giants to others’ critique.

          I took your “this is obviously been a topic you have given quite some thought to” to mean “enough thought such that if there were a good answer, then you’d be able to present it”. I don’t think I’ve put anywhere near enough thought/​investigation into it for that. I doubt the work I’ve done is anywhere near what Locke and Hobbes did for their theory of the social contract. It seems that you greatly underestimate what is required for the kind of work product you demand. Or maybe I’m just dumb. 😀

          This…

          LB: Were you to socially punish stupid gotcha-ing, I would be happy to diminish the amount of preemptive defense I use with you.

          Does not jive with this…

          LB: I don’t require that every aspect of everything you say is rigorously defended.

          The category of things which could be nit-picked is much larger than the category of things which can be gotcha-ed. Furthermore, the very effort to socially punish gotcha-ing would greatly diminish the amount of gotcha-ing, requiring very little total nitpicking. There is no contradiction, not in the slightest.

          Something I notice quite often in our discussions Luke is that you will make definitive statements and when I work to get you to flesh them out a bit so I can understand what you are basing such statements on you often come back and declare they are just to complicated to explain in a comm box.

          I think you’re grossly exaggerating. For a few months now, I’ve taken to using the term ‘combox’ whenever I do what you describe, and I find exactly one time in the last few weeks I did this: “But synthesizing this kind of stuff and compacting it to combox-sized results is incredibly difficult.” I didn’t use the term at all in the recent SO discussion we had.

          I can appreciate that they are complex answers but I see no reason why you can’t explain them in a synopsis. If you can’t do that you are wasting your time making assertion comments here that you have no intention of really defending.

          First, I don’t have everything fully figured out. Neither, as it turns out, do any of my atheist interlocutors. Therefore, I see it as acceptable to advance works-in-progress. Second, sometimes I hit a snag, such as thinking that the “equality of opportunity” type of ‘egalitarianism’ is a concept that can be worked with for the time being, without having to be carefully explored.

          Your suggestion that I “have no intention of really defending” such things is belied by my Disqus history, where you can see me develop, articulate, and correct central ideas I’ve been working on. It is belied by three extremely smart atheists (each of whom is both a scientist and an engineer) telling me that they can proceed further in conversations about Christianity with me than most any other Christian.

          Matthew 7:4
          How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?

          Tu quoque?

          I find it hilarious you argue with formal logic when it suits your needs but then will switch to more informal debate on a whim, and vice versa.

          Seriously, you want me to argue only in formal logic all the time? I should think that would be exceptionally dry and tedious. Instead, I generally try to be as informal as possible for any given part of a discussion. Also, how about actually admitting when ya made a logical error? Is there some stupid game, whereby admitting you did that to me or in a conversation with me allows me to score major points or some crap like that?

          I think a mortal flaw in religion is that the results cannot be compared because positive results are completely subjective.

          “Completely subjective results” are as fictional as a private language. We’re social beings, not radically isolated atoms.

          ‘You’ judge that your wife is unlikely to cheat on you?…where did that judgement originate form? The individual…you.

          Are you making an empirical statement or a metaphysical statement with the underlined? If the former, you will be able to sketch out a perfectly reasonable state of affairs which could be the case but isn’t, kind of like how F = GmM/r^2 could have instead been F = GmM/r^2.001. I’ve tried to understand the underlined as an empirical statement—as saying, “Reality is like this, not like that”—but I keep failing to find any reasonable notion of “that”.

          [Post-truth] stuff has been happening since the beginning of civilization, sometimes it get better, sometimes it regresses.

          You don’t think climate change denial could result in worse consequences than other instances of civilizations going post-truth?

          We humans have this myopic view that the time ‘we’ live in is the most important to the point that whatever going on at any given time is over-emphasized in its importance overall.

          ‘Tis true, we do tend to do this. We might also do things like think that ‘our’ time is the most progressed, most enlightened of all times.

        • Otto

          “One key presupposition is that a stochastic ‘universe generator’ would be exceedingly unlikely to generate a universe where egalitarianism can be asymptotically approached. Another is that there is a tremendous amount of human potential locked away via false beliefs, refusal to take risks, and insufficient support for the inculcation of all human abilities.”

          Those are really strange presuppositions, I guess that is what has to be done if you don’t feel the ability to defend them logically or with evidence.

          “For the time being, I fear that will be impossible, since you got stuck on “equality of opportunity”.

          Ahhh….it is MY fault for you not being to be able succinctly explain your position because I didn’t just accept this as a reasonably achievable goal axiomatically.

          “is that the way humans happen to value human ability A vs. human ability B can be quite arbitrary.”

          I agree, and the difficulties don’t end there. We also arbitrarily value certain relationships over others among a whole host of arbitrary things we do and value. Pointing out these issues does nothing to explain how they can be overcome metaphysically.

          “That’s fine; I suspect many people are still pretending.

          And referring to Pojman and his comment about returning to religion…religion and religious views are also part of the problem with things and people that humans value arbitrarily. It is really no help in this endeavor.

          “Ummm… you ain’t seen nothing. There is plenty I overlook.

          There is plenty I overlook too…don’t let you arrogance cloud your self awareness.

          “What you demand by “clarify your position” is probably the introduction to a PhD dissertation. I am willing to work toward such a thing, but not in the face of you relentlessly misrepresenting what I’ve actually said, despite my attempts to correct your errors. If you’d rather your illogic not be called out for what it is, then let’s be done. Maybe a year or two down the line, I’ll have this stuff much better formulated and it’ll be robust enough for your tastes.”

          I can honestly say I have never seen someone give so many excuses and explanations for why they can’t support their assertions.

          “Sure, because no great discoveries have been made by such people as a result of their disabilities. Let’s pretend I didn’t attend a presentation at Caltech on how bipolar disorder may have been responsible for the creativity of some geniuses.”

          Ok well while we are at it we can pretend that the explanation for every disability, every awful disease and flaw in our makeup is part of some grand scheme to make us better in the long run. The ‘God gave us cancer so we could cure cancer’ rationalization.

          “Actually, they failed in the eyes of Louis Pojman”

          Yes but apparently you agreed with him…

          ” I don’t think I’ve put anywhere near enough thought/​investigation into it for that.

          I just think if you haven’t put the work in it to feel qualified to answer my question you probably shouldn’t make absolute assertions about your conclusions. Kinda putting the cart before the horse don’t ya think?

          “I think you’re grossly exaggerating. For a few months now, I’ve taken to using the term ‘combox’ whenever I do what you describe…”

          Regardless of whether you used “combox” or not the excuses are the same.

          “Tu quoque?

          You accused me of saying “false things, nor unknown-to-be-true things, which stymie such work.” Pointing out that you are being hypocritical with regards to this is not ‘Tu quoque’. It does not make it OK if either of us does this. I just found it amusing that this conversation has been going on for awhile know about a claim you made about something that is ‘unknown-to-be-true’ to you and yet you made a truth claim about it, a claim that you now admit you have not worked on enough to be able to defend your conclusion.

          “Also, how about actually admitting when ya made a logical error?

          I don’t actually agree that I did, but honestly I am not that well versed in formal logic so I certainly could be wrong and I could have made an error.

          “”Completely subjective results” are as fictional as a private language.

          So every religion has the same goal and is driving for the same results?

          “Are you making an empirical statement or a metaphysical statement with the underlined?

          I think my point was rather self evident. Where was the judgement made that your wife could/can be trusted if not by “you”?

          “You don’t think climate change denial could result in worse consequences than other instances of civilizations going post-truth?

          Yes I do think the overall consequences can be much worse. That wasn’t my point.

          “We might also do things like think that ‘our’ time is the most progressed, most enlightened of all times.

          Or that we have reached the end of our evolution.

        • Susan

          I can honestly say I have never seen someone give so many excuses and explanations for why they can’t support their assertions.

          Amen.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Those are really strange presuppositions, I guess that is what has to be done if you don’t feel the ability to defend them logically or with evidence.

          Presuppositions don’t get defended with logic. Nor do they get identified with evidence. I suspect that they operate as I describe on Phil.SE; set ‘presupposition’ ≡ ‘axiom’.

          Ahhh….[1] it is MY fault for you not being to be able succinctly explain your position because [2] I didn’t just accept this as a reasonably achievable goal axiomatically.

          [1] Nope, no fault needs to be meted out. [2] Accepting something for the sake of argument is very differently from accepting something axiomatically.

          I agree, and the difficulties don’t end there. We also arbitrarily value certain relationships over others among a whole host of arbitrary things we do and value. Pointing out these issues does nothing to explain how they can be overcome metaphysically.

          Actually, perhaps the reason you think “equality of opportunity” could not possibly describe our world is that the way you value various human abilities is screwed up. That is compounded by the fact that under-developed abilities are hard for non-experts to properly value. If our society under-values a whole range of abilities and thus under-develops them, it is all too easy to see those people with those potential abilities as less capable and not good material for “equality of opportunity”.

          I can honestly say I have never seen someone give so many excuses and explanations for why they can’t support their assertions.

          Try relentlessly questioning someone and never accepting a concept (e.g. “equality of opportunity”) without rigorous defense and you’ll start getting excuses popping out of just about anyone. Do I need to cite some sociological research on this matter?

          Ok well while we are at it we can pretend that the explanation for every disability, every awful disease and flaw in our makeup is part of some grand scheme to make us better in the long run. The ‘God gave us cancer so we could cure cancer’ rationalization.

          Nope, I think plenty of terrible is due to human stupidity, human arrogance, and human cowardice. Yes, you’ll be able to find plenty of room to still argue, and I don’t really care. Why? Because what really matters [to most people] is which models of human nature lead to better and faster actualizing of human potential. If somehow Christians can prove to be especially adept at this, folks will pay attention, even if you were to yell with a megaphone about how red in tooth and claw the process of evolution was. The problem is that Christians are not known for this, perhaps because at least in the West, they have no interesting edge in this. And so I spend quite a lot of time trying to understand why, and what results they would have to show for people to snap to attention—minus the True Believers, of course.

          Yes but apparently you agreed with him…

          Your point being?

          I just think if you haven’t put the work in it to feel qualified to answer my question you probably shouldn’t make absolute assertions about your conclusions. Kinda putting the cart before the horse don’t ya think?

          Absolute assertions like what? Surely you aren’t going to spit out [corrected] misinterpretations of what I’ve said again?

          You accused me of saying “false things, nor unknown-to-be-true things, which stymie such work.”

          Yes, and the obvious meaning was stating them as if they were known to be true. That’s what renders said text intelligible, in context. When I said “I’m worried that the philosophical presuppositions undergirding this conversation actually render success impossible.”, it’s because I’ve seen it plenty of times before. Various little errors and distortions—which atheists don’t necessarily even know they’re doing—can easily contribute to this “impossible“.

          Pointing out that you are being hypocritical with regards to this is not ‘Tu quoque’.

          Why don’t you pick out an example or two which you think qualify as me “being hypocritical”? First, read the next chunk, as I intend to disqualify one example you might use.

          I just found it amusing that this conversation has been going on for awhile know about a claim you made about something that is ‘unknown-to-be-true’ to you and yet you made a truth claim about it, a claim that you now admit you have not worked on enough to be able to defend your conclusion.

          Ever since I wrote “Actually, I can think of an instance of (A)” I was talking about “(A) A way of carving up reality which can be intersubjectively communicated in a reliable fashion.”—that is, a communicable, logical possibility and not “(B) The one true way to describe reality.” So I dunno what you mean by arguing that I’m claiming to know something about reality that is ‘unknown-to-be-true’. I’m operating on the principle that before one has to think something is actual, one must first think it is possible.

          I don’t actually agree that I did, but honestly I am not that well versed in formal logic so I certainly could be wrong and I could have made an error.

          That’s hardly ‘formal logic’. Here’s it in plain English. Pojman looked for what he considered the ten best secular arguments for egalitarianism and found that they all failed. He therefore thought that the best chance for supporting egalitarianism was via a metaphysic, and the best chance for supporting such a metaphysic was via religion. But he never ruled out that there might be an eleventh secular argument which works. Nothing that he or I said can in any way be construed to deny that an eleventh, successful, secular argument could exist.

          So every religion has the same goal and is driving for the same results?

          Bouncing from extreme to extreme, eh? From “completely subjective results” to “completely objective results”?

          I think my point was rather self evident.

          It wasn’t to me, just like “equality of opportunity” wasn’t self-evident to you. So either buck up and provide a rational defense, or admit that you do precisely the thing I did. 😀

          Yes I do think the overall consequences can be much worse. That wasn’t my point.

          It was mine, in mentioning post-truth. Maybe you were a little quick to dismiss it as “blather”.

          Or that we have reached the end of our evolution.

          You mean like The End of History and the Last Man?

        • adam
        • adam

          ” I’ve had very little time to work on it and no critics to really examine it.”

          So you’ve diarheaed your claim without thinking it through.

          Isnt that christianity in a nut-sack…

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/01ac5d29cc4fd19ac9ddde9ec0dd69fd02ab47db6242e32dc020bb46e6c16f37.jpg

        • adam

          “I took you to be implying that any explanation of morality which
          crucially depends on God in one way or another is necessarily dangerous.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c3ebeedc5791b914bfb820e951bfb91d01de25376f065b596f509f1388e95d3c.jpg

        • adam

          “I suspect “because God said so” is less dangerous than “because society says so””

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc08e92607fbb10ca5d9fec66168d9bf582a2748fa716fdb4283c37e046c25e1.jpg

        • Greg G.

          Such people are only “dangerous” to those who have rationalized power as morality.

          Or everybody justifies a morality that accords to their position in life and society. It is just that we are more bothered by an alternate morality when it is in power.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m quite open to the possibility that with the resources available to the atheist, ‘morality’ can be nothing but a facade, kind of like Marx held ‘religion’ to be a facade. Indeed, Harry Kroto’s “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” seems to necessarily entail that morality is a facade. (It’s also self-defeating or viciously circular, but we can ignore that for now.) On Kroto’s stance, speaking truth to power is dubious, especially when power can do this:

          Proposition 1: Power defines reality    Power concerns itself with defining reality rather than with discovering what reality “really” is. This is the single most important characteristic of the rationality of power, that is, of the strategies and tactics employed by power in relation to rationality. Defining reality by defining rationality is a principle means by which power exerts itself. This is not to imply that power seeks out rationality and knowledge because rationality and knowledge are power. Rather, power defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality. The evidence of the Aalborg case confirms a basic Nietzschean insight: interpretation is not only commentary, as is often the view in academic settings, “interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something”—in the case master of the Aalborg Project—and “all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.”[4] Power does not limit itself, however, to simply defining a given interpretation or view of reality, nor does power entail only the power to render a given reality authoritative. Rather, power defines, and creates, concrete physical, economic, ecological, and social realities. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 227)

        • Greg G.

          Think of Carl Spackler from Caddyshack where you see a reference to power in Proposition 1.

          https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwioic7qoMrRAhUm94MKHcD2BNoQjRwIBQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.monologuedb.com%2Ffilm%2Fcaddyshack-carl-spackler-2%2F&psig=AFQjCNHbVsFn-bP8CogqtR1DU6CYvzMpKg&ust=1484779508460818

          Carl “defines what reality “really” is” for him. Carl “defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality” in his world. It’s just that his reality doesn’t impinge so much on the reality of others while the power of Judge Smails can force his reality on others. That is the difference power makes.

          Neither actually changes reality. They can only change the perception of reality. That is what religion does with its facade. An atheist agrees with most other people in the world that your religious beliefs are wrong. If your morality is tied to your religion, then the basis of your morality is wrong. If your morality is based on promotion of mutual benefits (apes understand that) and fairness (even dogs understand that), it doesn’t matter what facade you use to justify it. If your morality forces you to want to prevent others from their desires when it is none of your business, those others will feel a need to resist you which keeps you both from thriving, making it a not-optimal situation.

        • Greg G.

          Think of Carl Spackler from Caddyshack where you see a reference to power in Proposition 1.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7ab8f619d420633210e6132f15019fb7c03780d6201f7e2b2364895ced16a938.jpg

          Carl “defines what reality “really” is” for him. Carl “defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality” in his world. It’s just that his reality doesn’t impinge so much on the reality of others while the power of Judge Smails can force his reality on others. That is the difference power makes.

          Neither actually changes reality. They can only change the perception of reality. That is what religion does with its facade. An atheist agrees with most other people in the world that your religious beliefs are wrong. If your morality is tied to your religion, then the basis of your morality is wrong. If your morality is based on promotion of mutual benefits (apes understand that) and fairness (even dogs understand that), it doesn’t matter what facade you use to justify it. If your morality forces you to want to prevent others from their desires when it is none of your business, those others will feel a need to resist you which keeps you both from thriving, making it a not-optimal situation.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Neither actually changes reality. They can only change the perception of reality.

          Sure. As it turns out, being able to profoundly influence others’ perception of reality is insanely powerful. For example, you can get your way with major town renovations in an ostensible democracy, by defining what constitutes rational discourse, what is allowed to be discussed, etc.

          That is what religion does with its facade.

          Your use of the word ‘facade’ possibly indicates you think there is an alternative to a ‘facade’, as if power doesn’t profoundly impact perception of reality in a way much more intense than the philosophy of science concept of theory-ladenness, as if you can perceive social reality in some objective, neutral way. Would you clarify?

          If your morality is based on promotion of mutual benefits (apes understand that) and fairness (even dogs understand that), it doesn’t matter what facade you use to justify it.

          Mutual benefits to those in your tribe, less nice things to those outside your tribe. This is just a fact of our international social reality. Pretty little ideas of altruism won’t change that, and I doubt there is evidence that our evolved moral intuitions are sufficient to truly conquer tribalism and work toward an actual egalitarianism. And so, we’ll have people who preach “mutual benefits” while supporting slavery via globalism. How quaint.

          If your morality forces you to want to prevent others from their desires when it is none of your business, those others will feel a need to resist you which keeps you both from thriving, making it a not-optimal situation.

          Yeah, because this and/or your “mutual benefit” clause totally justifies stuff like the individual mandate. But here, I’ll be open. Show me a respected scholar or scientist who explains all of morality solely based off of the two concepts you’ve advanced. Let me examine his/her peer-reviewed work and criticism thereof.

        • MNb

          You first, given

          “I think grossly simplistic explanations of morality are especially dangerous in our present, unstable times.”

        • adam

          “It would be interesting to see how you measure the level of dangerousness”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/60865103a336b5d68f96eb3254e706491af8f8a5dbd80dafef9edf2beab0319d.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          I’m not sure what you’re stuck on

          Stupid.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Make your point. Is it that the existence of modern morality shows the hand of a supernatural being?

        • Pofarmer

          How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          It’s pretty clear looking around we never have.

          What I am questioning is whether the pressures of natural selection are in any way conducive to such transcending.

          Why wouldn’t it be? The rise of modern city’s, and fitting into them, is certainly a selection pressure.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          LB: How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.

          P: It’s pretty clear looking around we never have.

          I somewhat agree:

          LB: Because the more correct thing to say is that in certain times and places we’ve sorta-kinda transcended tribalistic morality. We at least have an egalitarian ideal; whether or not we’re increasingly well-approximating it or actually slipping away is a big question.

          LB: What I am questioning is whether the pressures of natural selection are in any way conducive to such transcending.

          P: Why wouldn’t it be? The rise of modern city’s, and fitting into them, is certainly a selection pressure.

          Not all selection pressures are instances of natural selection. Critically, humans frequently act now based on beliefs about the future, something natural selection does not do.

        • Pofarmer

          Critically, humans frequently act now based on beliefs about the future, something natural selection does not do.

          Why not? Why wouldn’t accurate prediction of future events be a selection pressure?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer
        • Pofarmer

          Why?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer
        • Joe

          Why not?

          Being able to make predictions regarding the future would be a very strongly selected trait.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I’m just shocked that it’s the theist teaching the atheists about how natural selection is purposeless.

        • Joe

          I’m just shocked that it’s the theist teaching the atheists about how natural selection is purposeless.

          You aren’t.

        • adam

          When do humans NOT act based on beliefs about the future?

        • Greg G.

          Humans either survive those actions or they do not. Either the dumber humans go extinct, leaving a gene pool of smarter humans or the species goes extinct. It’s natural selection.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Oh c’mon, natural selection is purposeless, while humans are [sometimes] purposeful. Once mind enters the picture, it’s not clear that modeling everything as non-mind (that is, purposeless) is as good as modeling some aspects as mind (that is, purposeful).

        • Joe

          Why is a mind purposeful?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The statement “humans are [sometimes] purposeful” is the kind of thing that if a person questions it, one responds by questioning what world they’re living on.

        • Joe

          You never answer directly, do you?

          Humans are sometimes purposeful, so what?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I do not believe I ought to have inferred “Humans are sometimes purposeful, so what?” from “Why is a mind purposeful?”.

          If you wonder why the fact that “humans are [sometimes] purposeful” is relevant, I suggest you investigate why, in debates between creationists & ID advocates and defenders of evolution†, the latter are very careful to emphasize that natural selection is purposeless. Given your refusal to admit you strawmanned me and your refusal to substantiate your accusation of “liar”, I’m not going to expend the effort to teach you on this topic.

          † I don’t know what the best term is here; ‘apologist’ is a poison-word around here, even though the denotation would make ‘evolution apologist’ perfectly sensible; I am told that ‘evolutionist’ is insulting, and so I’m left without a good term. Suggestions welcome.

        • adam

          “I am told that ‘evolutionist’ is insulting, and so I’m left without a good term. Suggestions welcome.”

          The Sane and Well Educated

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23eeba58303068fc18695bfdad4cfebff7feee97fd5451228baab8b4b094739e.jpg

        • adam

          ” I’m not going to expend the effort to teach you on this topic.”

          Yes, we noticed that when you first got here.
          We all assume from your dishonesty that you CAN’T.

        • Joe

          Great non answer.

          Evolution is purposeless. I suspect, (though it’s impossible to know what you actually mean because plain speaking seems an anathema to you) that you’re trying to imply that because purposes exist, evolution somehow has a purpose? Throw me a bone here, for once just come out and say what you really mean.

        • adam

          ” for once just come out and say what you really mean.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67552f8a03afca953b25efc500ec8ac6d3a4f4e66ecf9a6df711dca561d2376f.jpg

          If he told you what he really meant, you could see how silly it is.

          I think he thinks he is using the Socratic Method, but he doesnt provide enough EVIDENCE or HONESTY to look beyond the shit he spews.

        • adam

          “You never answer directly, do you?”

          It’s called EVIDENCE of dishonesty.

          When he does answer directly, you can see how dishonest he really is, but he doesnt want that kind of evidence.

        • Joe

          It’s frustrating and bizarre.

          He’s derailed and spiraled this whole comment thread out of control, seemingly all because the article doesn’t say what he thinks it should, and that things he deems important are worthy of debate.

          After this, I won’t reply to him unless it’s in relation to one of my comments.

        • adam

          “that things he deems important are worthy of debate.”

          OH, he wont debate even his comments, honestly.

          His ‘references’ RARELY support his point and often times make the opposite point.

          He tries to bury any point he disagrees with under mountains of his bullshit.

          I caught him lying, and of course he just dumped more shit on the shit pile.

          I can’t take him seriously.

        • MNb

          “spiraled this whole comment thread out of control”
          Welcome to the Lukieboy Show.
          It won’t make any difference whether you reply to him or not and to what comments of his. The Lukieboy Show is unstoppable – the best you can get out of him is he totally ignoring you, like he does with me. That’s a comfortable position.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, that is typically what he does. Bring up more and more inane stuff until you can’t figure out where you started. He’s decided that atheists are full of bullshit, or something like that, and it’s his purpose in life to flush us out, or something, I dunno. It’s hard.

          Edit.

          What he typically does, and what I see he’s doing below, is question if we can know anything at all.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Welcome to the world of Breuerism’s and the Luke Breuer Show.

        • Joe

          Consider me baptised. So to speak.

          I wonder what his actual aim is? Since he’s not as direct as most apologists., who at least are upfront about their beliefs and aims, he never arrives at a decisive argument or salient point.

          I guess we’ll never know.

        • Pofarmer

          To fight against the bullshit atheists peddle is his stated aim.

        • Joe

          I wasn’t aware “Fight bullshit with bullshit” was an idiom.

        • Kodie

          I thought it was to gain praise for his brilliant insight, or at least an opponent worth his time – which he freely spends so much of but complains how ungrateful we are for it.

        • Susan

          he never arrives at a decisive argument or salient point.

          He is a self-reported ex-creationist. He seems to have abandoned the position but not the tactics.

        • staircaseghost

          The phrase I’ve used before to explain it is “a sentient library card with Tourette syndrome.” It really is an autonomic reflex with him, not a conscious act to persuade a partner in conversation or defend a specific point of view.

          It’s like, you mention in your post a new scientific study on the effects of lead in drinking water on children’s health… then the keyword-search seizure hits, and you get a link-farmed comment like “correlation is not causation. I wonder if you’ve considered David Hume’s criticisms on this point. Moreover, here’s a recent study in sociology that was withdrawn because of manufactured data. I wonder what you think of this blockquote from a 600 page monograph on Thomas Kuhn and scientific anti-realism?”

          Once I realized that he just fundamentally doesn’t conceptualize his commenting in terms of evidence and argument directed at a conclusion, I couldn’t really be angry at him. He’s a combox pest, for sure, but he’s not dishonest in the way internet apologists can tend to be. Dishonesty presupposes a language game where truth is at least the nominal goal of everyone involved.

        • Joe

          Wow, that’s the best summary I’ve heard so far.

        • adam

          “, but he’s not dishonest in the way internet apologists can tend to be.”

          He certainly IS in one aspect.
          Claiming that references that either dont support his point or contradict his point actually support his point.

          Yes, then he Gish Gallops trying to bury his LIES.

        • adam

          “Dishonesty presupposes a language game where truth is at least the nominal goal of everyone involved.”

          Unless the game is just to instill doubt in anything not christian based.

        • Kodie

          He’s derailed and spiraled this whole comment thread out of control, seemingly all because the article doesn’t say what he thinks it should, and that things he deems important are worthy of debate.

          That’s the only thing Luke does.

        • Joe

          I’m glad that multiple people agree with me here. It reassures me that his points really do make no sense, and the failing is not with me.

        • Kodie

          Also, we should warn you, which I forgot until now, that he will think we influenced you to have this opinion of him, because he just can’t believe so many people can actually reach this conclusion from their own experience trying to communicate with him, and then he will probably tell you you’re cut off from what he thinks is the favor of response.

        • Joe

          Of course. So many people agreeing can only mean it’s a conspiracy.

        • adam

          ” Once mind enters the picture, it’s not clear that modeling everything
          as non-mind (that is, purposeless) is as good as modeling some aspects
          as mind (that is, purposeful).”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/576b5354eb99d2993f45ae1c298d7ea1beb6be63a081a92e69a99632f9b856b3.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          Oh c’mon, natural selection is purposeless, while humans are [sometimes] purposeful.

          Once again, so what?

        • Susan

          Oh c’mon, natural selection is purposeless, while humans are [sometimes] purposeful

          As are slugs, depending on your definition.

          Once mind enters the picture, it’s not clear that modeling everything as non-mind (that is, purposeless) is as good as modeling some aspects as mind (that is, purposeful).

          No one here has modeled everything as non-mind. No one.

          Whatever aspects you’d like to model as mind require that you show your work.

          Be specific.

          Your response seems to be in no way to connected to what Greg G. said.

        • MNb

          “Your response seems to be in no way to connected to what Greg G. said.”
          Welcome to the Lukieboy Show – with the Great Breuer moving the goal posts faster than your eyes can see.

        • Greg G.

          Huh? Is this response misplaced. I said nothing about natural selection being purposeful. If humans go extinct because of the consequences of human progress, it will just be a long-term failure. There is no purpose to it, it’s just shit happening. It wouldn’t be called “natural selection” simply because anybody who could call it that would be extinct.

          I think Charles Darwin chose the terminology because it eliminates the idea of purpose while using purpose-like terms because language is cumbersome without them.

        • MNb

          “Purposeful” only means “chosing the causes so that they give the desired results”.
          But what would an apologist be without teleology?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I said nothing about natural selection being purposeful.

          Correct. What I was driving at is that to solely explain some given instance of evolution (“change over time”) with natural selection is problematic if and when purpose is a powerful shaping force. Natural selection did not plan for a secretion system to mutate into a motion and sensation system. When we look at the result, we don’t need the concept of ‘purpose’ in our conceptual toolbox. But when we switch focus—say, to “our [current] moral programming”—then we need purpose, and “natural selection” becomes a woefully insufficient explanation.

        • adam

          “But when we switch focus—say, to “our [current] moral programming”—then we need purpose, and “natural selection” becomes a woefully insufficient explanation.”

          What other purpose than survival?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0f8310eb1a4e711870b3c379f6db79539f1e2873f5cf04ef495e2999ae37b5f.jpg

        • Greg G.

          if and when purpose is a powerful shaping force.

          That is not natural selection, it’s teleology as MNb has pointed out.

          Some creatures care for their young and some don’t. The strategy seems to have arisen in fish, birds, mammals, crocodilians, frogs, and even insects. The care ranges from protection, to foraging to feed them, to actually secreting the food from the parent’s body, to teaching skills.

          A small variation of this trait to make it less specific would confer sociability. Sociability opens up a range of selection pressure related to frequent interactions. The variations that confer a tendency that reduces conflict that wastes energy or other negatives, are naturally selected for.

          Monkeys have been trained to do a task for a piece of cucumber. If they see another monkey do the same thing but get a grape in return, they will demand a grape, too. Dogs can be trained to do something without a treat but will expect a treat if they see another dog get rewarded, but they don’t seem to care about the quality of the treat. So a sense of fairness has arisen at least twice.

          Creatures with more complex memory systems can track which members of their society interact best with them and who to avoid. This creates selection pressure for better memory and for social skills.

          But there are times when needs are scarce and the individuals must rely on the tendencies of greed for survival so these traits are retained. This creates some internal conflict between keeping goods or sharing goods in return for future benefits.

          The expectations must be flexible so they can work in the variations of environmental forces.

          That is just one plausible scenario for the evolution of morality. No gods or teleology required, just purposeless natural selection.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          That is not natural selection, it’s teleology as MNb has pointed out.

          You seem to have forgotten that you jumped into a conversation which contained the following:

          LB: What I am questioning is whether the pressures of natural selection are in any way conducive to such transcending.

          P: Why wouldn’t it be? The rise of modern city’s, and fitting into them, is certainly a selection pressure.

          LB: Not all selection pressures are instances of natural selection. Critically, humans frequently act now based on beliefs about the future, something natural selection does not do.

          It also had the following as context:

          One of the dominant messages of The Selfish Gene (reinforced by the title essay of A Devil’s Chaplin) is that we should not derive our values from Darwinism, unless it is with a negative sign. Our brains have evolved to the point where we are capable of rebelling against our selfish genes. (The Selfish Gene, xiv)

          The question here is to what extent “[biological] evolution” makes for a sufficient explanation for “our [current] moral programming”. @BobSeidensticker:disqus admitted it isn’t: “Show me that evolution + society doesn’t explain our morality.”

          A small variation of this trait to make it less specific would confer sociability.

          As human history demonstrates, “sociability” is 100% compatible with slavery and genocide. The idea that we transcended these things (to the extent that we have) “because of natural selection” is extremely dubious. And so I want to ensure that nobody is claiming such a thing; comments like @oldnewatheist:disqus’s (quoted in this comment) makes me think that perhaps he really does believe this.

          That is just one plausible scenario for the evolution of morality.

          This explains the evolution of tribalistic morality. It does not explain the evolution of egalitarian morality. If one wants that, then at least according to Richard Dawkins, you can’t use Darwinism “unless it is with a negative sign”.

        • Pofarmer

          “The Selfish Gene” was published in 1976. Dawkins is not a Neuroscientist. An awful lot of research into ethics and morality have been done since that book was published. Folks like Patricia Churchland would probably disagree with it.

          It does not explain the evolution of egalitarian morality.

          Why not? How much of a step is it from “I want my Tribe to thrive” to “I want my city to thrive” to “I want my country to thrive” to “I want all Humans to thrive.”

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Folks like Patricia Churchland would probably disagree with it.

          Do you have any excerpts to provide on the matter, or articles to point to?

          Why not? How much of a step is it from “I want my Tribe to thrive” to “I want my city to thrive” to “I want my country to thrive” to “I want all Humans to thrive.”

          Such pretty little sentiments have this odd habit of dissipating when the rubber hits the road. See, when people realize the actual cost of approaching egalitarianism more and more, most tend to decide that it isn’t worth the cost. They’ll settle for some simulacrum, as e.g. we find described by Peter Buffett in his 2013 NYT piece The Charitable–Industrial Complex.

          So for example, when I confront atheists with slaverfootprint.org, I have not once gotten the response, “Oh shit, I should alter my consuming habits so that I do not support slavery via globalization.” Instead, I hear justifications such as, “Well, maybe this makes their lives better than they would be otherwise.” Such justifications can be true, for one strategy is to perpetuate this scheme: for every increase in well-being of the Haves, the well-being of the Have-Nots is increased by half that much. This strategy will never get you to egalitarianism.

          Furthermore, the actions by pretty much everyone in this thread indicate that people here do not want me to thrive. So that’s more evidence of how bollocks those ideals are. (And yes, I know y’all will have your rationalizations: you have to punish and discipline me in the process of forming/​storming/​norming. Humans always have their rationalizations.)

        • Paul B. Lot

          So for example, when I confront atheists with slaverfootprint.org

          Oh shit, I should alter my consuming habits so that I do not support slavery via globalization.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You’re now the first. Tell me, how much effort do you think it’ll take you to actually avoid supporting slavery via globalization? How much research will be required? Are you actually going to do it?

        • adam
        • Paul B. Lot

          Tell me…

          No.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Furthermore, the actions by pretty much everyone in this thread indicate that people here do not want me to thrive. So that’s more evidence of how bollocks those ideals are. (And yes, I know y’all will have your rationalizations: you have to punish and discipline me in the process of forming/​storming/​norming. Humans always have their rationalizations.)

          *Tiniest Violin Plays in the Background*

          It is not the case that every human should thrive. Some humans, it seems to me, are psychopaths who derive a sense of well-being from the discomfort of others. If those humans decide to act on their psychopathic impulses, they should be restrained/contained.

          You have not shown yourself to desire to be a functioning and good-faith member of the community and therefore the community owes you no debt to your “thriving”, simply because you bleat about it.

        • Pofarmer

          “Braintrust”

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Do you have any relevant excerpts to present?

        • Pofarmer

          I’m on a phone at this point so no not right at this minute. I also have trouble copy and pasting from Kindle.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          A screenshot with indication of approximately where it is in the book would suffice. I’ve just requested the book from my library.

        • adam
        • Pofarmer

          The entire book is an argument for the evolutionary roots of human morality. I’m not sure you’d find one blurb that really fits this situation.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Really, you can’t find one or two paragraphs somewhere which meaningfully bears on what Richard Dawkins wrote—

          One of the dominant messages of The Selfish Gene (reinforced by the title essay of A Devil’s Chaplin) is that we should not derive our values from Darwinism, unless it is with a negative sign. Our brains have evolved to the point where we are capable of rebelling against our selfish genes. (The Selfish Gene, xiv)

          —? After all, you said “Folks like Patricia Churchland would probably disagree with it.” Surely you can lend at least a bit of support to that with something more succinct than an entire book? I don’t need a full case; I’ve requested the book from my library. But at least one motivating excerpt doesn’t seem to be too much to ask.

        • adam

          Come do a Lukeism and just LIE about a reference.
          Then act offended when your lie is exposed and lie more about it while trying to change the subject.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          One of the dominant messages of The Selfish Gene (reinforced by the title essay of A Devil’s Chaplin) is that we should not derive our values from Darwinism, unless it is with a negative sign. Our brains have evolved to the point where we are capable of rebelling against our selfish genes. (The Selfish Gene, xiv)

          P: “The Selfish Gene” was published in 1976. Dawkins is not a Neuroscientist. An awful lot of research into ethics and morality have been done since that book was published. Folks like Patricia Churchland would probably disagree with it.

          LB: Do you have any excerpts to provide on the matter, or articles to point to?

          P: “Braintrust”

          I’ve had the book checked out from the library for a while now; would you be able to narrow that suggestion down to at least, say, a tenth of the book? That is, can you point me to the center of the argument? I realize that the whole thing may support the idea.

        • Pofarmer

          See, when people realize the actual cost of approaching egalitarianism
          more and more, most tend to decide that it isn’t worth the cost.

          So, once again, even if this is true, how is it evidence against an evolutionary basis for morality?

          indicate that people here do not want me to thrive

          Actually we do. And we want other people to thrive to. Otherwise why argue against this nonsense so hard?

          So that’s more evidence of how bollocks those ideals are.

          No, it’s just evidence of you doing what you always do. Taking stuff out of context or making it something say what it doesn’t say and making incorrect conclusions based on faulty assumptions. You’ve been caught out on it multiple times now.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          So, once again, even if this is true, how is it evidence against an evolutionary basis for morality?

          “evolutionary basis for morality” ≠ “biological evolution as sufficient explanation for current morality”

          LB: Furthermore, the actions by pretty much everyone in this thread indicate that people here do not want me to thrive.

          P: Actually we do.

          If y’all did, y’all would act differently. Also there’s this:

          PBL: It is not the case that every human should thrive. Some humans, it seems to me, are psychopaths who derive a sense of well-being from the discomfort of others. If those humans decide to act on their psychopathic impulses, they should be restrained/contained.

          You have not shown yourself to desire to be a functioning and good-faith member of the community and therefore the community owes you no debt to your “thriving”, simply because you bleat about it.

          As I said, “I know y’all will have your rationalizations”.

          Otherwise why argue against this nonsense so hard?

          A plausible explanation is to build [tribal] group solidarity. See for example Mercier, Hugo, and Dan Sperber. “Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34.02 (2011): 57–74.

        • Pofarmer

          All you seem to be doing here is building a slightly more sophisticated god of the gaps argument.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The quest for a sufficient explanation is the antithesis of a “god of the gaps argument”.

        • adam

          AGAIN, when is MAGIC ‘sufficient’ as an explanation of anything.

        • adam

          “If y’all did, y’all would act differently.”

          How does allowing you to abuse people here with your DISHONESTY allow you to thrive?

          Oh wait, that’s EXACTLY how the RCC thrives.

          You are correct, I dont want you and your dishonesty to thrive like The Church has.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4d13619b3ac0d17b32770ee151935462cade37c1c9734749144fd4cbbf530d40.jpg

          Evolution causes me to consider the whole over the dishonest player.

        • adam

          ” for every increase in well-being of the Haves, the well-being of the
          Have-Nots is increased by half that much. This strategy will never get
          you to egalitarianism.”

          Which explains all the divisiveness in christianity.
          And the childish sibling rivalry of Abrahamic religions.
          They simply are not willing to give up their POWER that they have obtained by conning people.

          Christianity and Islam have a built in paranoia that keeps these ‘faiths’ in a turmoil that defeats egalitarianism.

          They START by division and exist by DIVISION. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8313efa128f4b69f835c9e1249ec7e0a3c6f4ac39bee5f86101f2692e380791d.png

        • Greg G.

          In http://disq.us/p/1fcisia , I replied that humans either survive those actions or they do not. The actions referred to actions based on future expectations. But natural selection would act at the time. When I say “natural selction would act”, I mean humans either survive their actions based on their beliefs or they do not. The factors that are important is how well human expectations align to reality.

          It’s the same thing as the rabbit with better hearing detecting the coyote and staying in the hole versus the rabbit who doesn’t hear the coyote in time. The rabbits act on their beliefs and natural selection happens.

          If religious people focus on gaining political power and believe that there is a God who will protect us from the effects of climate change, then the path evolution has taken with higher and higher intelligence will end with extinction, probably mass extinction, if they are wrong. If Christian Dominionists think they can force the Second Coming by trying to fulfill what they think are prophecies that bring us to a world war with modern weapons, then extra-high intelligence will be a failure. If scientists come up with a plan to reduce global warming but trigger some other unknown effect, extra-high intelligence could be a failure. If we develop the capability to deflect a comet from its path toward a collision with the planet but fail to act on it in time, the whole biosphere could end. That’s just natural selection running its course.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I don’t see how this is relevant to anything I’ve said. Nowhere have I asserted that natural selection stops operating. Instead, I have suggested that where natural selection was a sufficient explanation, it no longer is. Do you disagree with this?

        • Greg G.

          No, I do not agree. If mutation and natural selection produce a brain that is capable of acting against selfish genes, the survival or extinction is natural selection of that combinations of genetics.

          If I have a mutation that makes me susceptible to an addiction to brake fluid, it is something that acts against my selfish genes. If my wife has a mutation that can break down brake fluid into health food, then it is something that promotes my selfish genes. Note: I am not addicted to brake fluid. I can stop anytime.

          It is not that natural selection is insufficient, it is just that a selection pressure can be minimized or neutralized. Predators were a selection pressure for our ancestors but not so much for civilized people. But should the Kanamits come to visit… (I recorded some Twilight Zone shows during New Years and watched the To Serve Man episode.) Nevertheless, if natural selection acting on various mutations produces the ability to eliminate a selective pressure, natural selection is still sufficient to explain it.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You’ve apparently reduced ‘morality’ to “Whatever it takes for my genes to survive.” After all, that’s what natural selection does, right?† But if people think that the way you ought to act won’t necessarily ensure the survival of your genes, then it seems hard to say how natural selection is a sufficient explanation for that kind of thinking. From here, we can see that egalitarianism is a threat to those with a disproportionate amount of social power. For them to push arbitrarily close to egalitarianism would be to reduce their reproductive fitness.

          † We can weaken to “most of my genes”, which is kin selection instead of individual selection. The key is that the size of the tribe cannot expand without limit, or natural selection is no longer selecting for part of the population and against another part.

        • adam

          “The key is that the size of the tribe cannot expand without limit, or natural selection is no longer selecting for part of the population and against another part.”

          But FOR the entirety of humanity.

          Something that christianity doesnt support.

          Christianity is ALL ABOUT DIVISION….

          It would not survive an unification of all people unless it did so by force.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b6b5240f53deb4a0141b0d9196de29540d1f8931a4c8d5713b9547eca65cbd2f.jpg

        • Greg G.

          You have elevated morality from one way traits that influence behavior survive to teleology.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I think plenty of people here associate ‘morality’ with “slavery is wrong” and “genocide is wrong”. Now, if you want to say that it takes teleology to sufficiently support those two instances of ‘morality’, I’m all ears.

        • Greg G.

          But many people have considered slavery and genocide to be moral, even in past two centuries in this country. I said that morality needs to be flexible for the different situations a population must face. We have an aversion to being killed, to having things stolen from us, and to being deceived, plus a sense of fairness that keeps us from doing those things to others until we are under stress and other motivations kick in. Pretty much all the rest of morality is added on and variable. Maybe we can include an aversion to sex with those we grew up with but I think that comes from another selection pressure.

          But when people see the unfairness in slavery and genocide, it becomes a morality issue.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          But many people have considered slavery and genocide to be moral, even in past two centuries in this country.

          Precisely. So if we want to explain what we currently call ‘morality’, natural selection is woefully insufficient. If instead we want to explain basic moral instincts, natural selection may be sufficient. The question is which one we want to explain and deal with.

          I said that morality needs to be flexible for the different situations a population must face.

          Surely you aren’t saying that sometimes genocide and/or slavery is the best option?

          But when people see the unfairness in slavery and genocide, it becomes a morality issue.

          How is ‘fairness’ something in any way relevant to natural selection? Competition thrives on taking advantage of unfairness; it doesn’t promote fairness, except as an instrumental means to dominance. Kind of like how ‘egalitarianism’ is the new opium of the masses, to keep them from realizing things are terribly un-egalitarian, not moving appreciably towards egalitarianism (instead moving away), so that they don’t rebel. Except they’ve perhaps started to rebel.

        • Greg G.

          Precisely. So if we want to explain what we currently call ‘morality’, natural selection is woefully insufficient. If instead we want to explain basic moral instincts, natural selection may be sufficient. The question is which one we want to explain and deal with.

          Basic moral instincts can be explained by natural selection and the ability to consider many factors can be explained by natural selection. Natural selection can explain how we can think but it does not explain what we think. If that is your point, it is too trivial to have been mentioned.

          Surely you aren’t saying that sometimes genocide and/or slavery is the best option?

          It doesn’t matter what I say because humans have considered those to be the best option from time to time. Native Americans were nearly wiped out. The Wounded Knee Massacre was just 126 years ago. The Aborigines were nearly wiped out in Australia. The Coniston massacre was officially sanctioned less than 90 years ago.

          Seneca wrote in the first century that slaves should be considered friends, while Luke’s Jesus didn’t think slaves even needed to be thanked. (Luke 17:9)

          When has slavery ever been universally thought to be immoral? Has it ever been eliminated for a single day since it was first instituted?

          How is ‘fairness’ something in any way relevant to natural selection?

          Sense of fairness, Luke, sense of fairness. The ability to recognize fairness. I gave the examples of monkeys and dogs having a sense of fairness. Do you have an alternate theory of how monkeys and dogs could have a sense of fairness recognizable by humans?

          https://youtu.be/meiU6TxysCg

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Basic moral instincts can be explained by natural selection and the ability to consider many factors can be explained by natural selection. Natural selection can explain how we can think but it does not explain what we think. If that is your point, it is too trivial to have been mentioned.

          Whelp, I think it is quite relevant to mention. If we wish to improve the moral status of humanity, talking about natural selection and investigating its powers will only get us so far. Then we have to shift to other resources, resources which are a great deal murkier than the not-very-pristine nature of evolutionary theory. (That’s not a dig; evolution is simply exceedingly complex and we still don’t understand so much.)

          LB: Surely you aren’t saying that sometimes genocide and/or slavery is the best option?

          GG: It doesn’t matter what I say because humans have considered those to be the best option from time to time.

          Well, again it all depends on whether you want to improve the moral status of humanity. As an old boss said, “If you want to change reality, you had better first understand reality.” Crucially, we must distinguish between pretty little stories we tell about reality, and reality. A wonderful example of how much we’ve actively deceived ourselves can be found in Democracy for Realists.

          When has slavery ever been universally thought to be immoral?

          There are at least two relevant senses of ‘universally’. One is “everywhere people profess that slavery is immoral”, while another is “slavery in no way benefits me”. The former is a pretty little story we tell ourselves; the latter is a simple empirical claim which is probably false for many Americans. And you know what? They don’t care. Why? Because “slavery is wrong” isn’t so strongly believed that people are willing to do the hard work of purging any and all supply chains of slavery. It would simply cost too much, and require you to pay more at the cash register. Face yourself as you really are instead of telling pretty stories about yourself. Be a man, not a boy.

          I gave the examples of monkeys and dogs having a sense of fairness.

          You gave absolutely no reason to think that said sense of fairness is what is operating when we object to slavery and genocide. There is an excellent reason to think that it wasn’t: the fairness that natural selection would favor is one which advantages one group over other groups. That precise sense of fairness is 100% compatible with slavery and genocide. If you are not sufficiently accurate, you risk equivocating between two extremely different kinds of fairness.

        • adam

          “From here, we can see that egalitarianism is a threat to those with a disproportionate amount of social power.”

          Of course https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/49ee4ba4ad5022f9e462b55374323dfe6e70e21b0365a5c0edf83e35b9d58955.jpg

          That is why we need to expose the CON job religion imposes on society and it’s people.

        • adam

          ” Do you disagree with this?”

          Of course.

          And BTW, MAGIC is NEVER a sufficient explanation… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7473573021f185651fa3ec778d985756a1971e739e9fff8a53f5afc497bca2e.jpg

        • adam

          “What I was driving at is that to solely explain some given instance of evolution ”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bf3ab7ed04d447ff091f3cf19fcdefc6aafeccae006445994adc3759435c0aa5.jpg

        • adam

          “How we transcended tribalistic morality is of course a very important question.”

          but an easy question minus christianity.

          Open the tribe to all humans.

          ” What I am questioning is whether the pressures of natural selection are in any way conducive to such transcending.”

          Look how far it has come so far:

          Tokyo–Yokohama Japan
          Population 37,843,000

        • eric

          Who says we have really transcended it? Looks to me like modern nation-states have simply hijacked the concept for their benefit. We’re still tribal; the state merely manipulates our perception of who counts as in our ‘tribe’ to create greater social stability.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Yes, the more detailed version of my stance matches what you say:

          LB: Because the more correct thing to say is that in certain times and places we’ve sorta-kinda transcended tribalistic morality. We at least have an egalitarian ideal; whether or not we’re increasingly well-approximating it or actually slipping away is a big question.

          But if one really tackles this, then one must grapple with whether the stories we tell ourselves about how moral we are, might be arbitrarily false. Maybe we tell ourselves pretty little stories while doing quite horrible things. (Chomsky, for example, advances this stance.)

          If this is sufficiently the case, then what would push us toward more actual egalitarianism, toward truly rebelling against our genes? It’s really not clear to me that nice words do the trick.

        • Pofarmer

          Just look at Trump supporters, as a fer instance.

        • Joe

          I’m familiar with the argument. It’s a variation on the standard “how can random evolution explain morality” nonsense. I’m just trying to show him the error of his ways.

          I’ve already noted, like all apologists, he takes the ‘path of least resistance’ when it comes to arguments. Creating a straw man, or changing the subject are easier than directly addressing the issue.

        • Kodie

          I don’t know, I think most people are still primarily tribal. What makes a tribe might be somewhat different now, but I’m wondering if we really care about other people – those people who are not us or anyone directly co-tribal with others we know. I mean, let’s say you are indirectly tied to someone who is gay, then you might care about gay rights. If you’re not gay yourself, knowing someone who is can call on tribal feelings, as they are in your other tribe, like your family or workplace or community. If you don’t happen to be gay or be related or know anyone outwardly who is gay, your tribe might still keep you in line morally by social pressure to be on “the right side of history” or showing you people you don’t know and what they’re going through.

          What I guess I’m trying to say is, there are many people beyond any given person’s tribe, and you can extend your consideration to them for a variety of conscious or unconscious reasons.
          1. It appeals to your emotions and you think they deserve what you deserve.
          2. People among them touch people among your own tribe, if not you personally, so you feel a connection.

          3 is the important one! People in your tribe have decided it’s the right thing to do, and you go along with that until you sincerely agree with them.

          It’s not like evolution doesn’t explain all 3, but not all of them are rooted in sheer empathy for people in oppressed situations.

          For another example, women have been in a minority situation in plain sight for just about ever. Other oppressed groups gain rights as tribes of men and women, whether they be another race or religion or sexual orientation, but women are not tribal as women. Women go with their tribe against the equality of women or for the equality of women. If you are in a liberal community or tribe, there might be a better outlook for women, but in another tribe, the oppressed women seem to like it just fine – but the idea that some women don’t want to call themselves feminists. I don’t know, I guess it’s like some LGBT people saying they enjoy the new equal rights but they are not activists. Hating on feminism while enjoying the outcomes of feminism is maybe a different kind of thing than just saying you don’t call yourself a feminist. I have said at least several times that I find it hard to call myself a humanist, mostly because I think humans pretty much suck. I think everyone should have all the rights, that’s my view from space. On earth, up close to people, I wish they would just get the fuck out of my way and stop being so fucking stupid and selfish and oblivious.

        • Pofarmer

          what is or is not moral differs,often widely, from group to group.

          this.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I was contesting the sufficiency of this explanation, from the OP:

          Our moral programming tells us (in general) to value human life over other kinds of life. Why is this? It’s a product of our evolutionary path, which is explained by science.

          Here, we see a very specific connection between “Our moral programming” and “our evolutionary path”. But if in fact we needed a huge amount of something which wasn’t [biological] evolution in order to get to “Our moral programming”, then there is a gap in the explanation.

        • Joe

          But if in fact we needed a huge amount of something which wasn’t [biological] evolution in order to get to “Our moral programming”, then there is a gap in the explanation.

          What if we don’t need anything of the sort?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Are you saying you’re ok with tribalistic morality? That’s where you wouldn’t “need anything of the sort”.

        • Joe

          Are you saying you’re ok with tribalistic morality

          What’s ‘tribalistic morality’? What does me being ‘OK’ with anything have to do with it’s truth properties?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          For what tribalistic morality is, see here. For whether we’re ok with it, that sets the referent of:

          BS: Our moral programming tells us (in general) to value human life over other kinds of life. Why is this? It’s a product of our evolutionary path, which is explained by science.

          I should think understanding what the underlined refers to would be quite important to knowing whether “our evolutionary path” is a sufficient explanation for it.

        • Joe

          Why do your links refer back to this very same article?

          What did Bob say that was incorrect? You can drop the ‘tribalisitc’ and just say ‘morality’ from now on.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Why do your links refer back to this very same article?

          Because Disqus obnoxiously started tracking all URL clicks in December 2016. I wrote a TamperMonkey script to remove that. The link is to a different comment in this thread. I can try just a bookmark link: #comment-3103198715. (Edit: fail. Disqus is obnoxious.)

          What did Bob say that was incorrect? You can drop the ‘tribalisitc’ and just say ‘morality’ from now on.

          He didn’t necessarily say anything that is incorrect, hence my request for clarification. If by “Our moral programming” he means to include unchecked impulses toward genocide and slavery, then I probably have no problem with him explaining it by “a product of our evolutionary path”.

        • Joe

          If by “Our moral programming” he means to include unchecked impulses toward genocide and slavery, t

          What unchecked impulses? I don’t have any. Do you?

          You’re begging the question that evolution favours these behaviors rather than the more obvious fact that it runs counter to our instincts. Can you show me examples in other social species?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          What unchecked impulses? I don’t have any. Do you?

          Unchecked by natural selection.

          You’re begging the question that evolution favours these behaviors rather than the more obvious fact that it runs counter to our instincts.

          If you think that evolution and genocide run “counter to our instincts”, you need to learn a bit more about history. You might also want to investigate how many slaves you employ via globalization; one place to do this is slaveryfootprint.org.

          Can you show me examples in other social species?

          I know of no example where other social species have the technology to carry out genocide; I know of no instances where other social species have the means to deploy slavery such that it would be advantageous to them.

        • Joe

          Unchecked by natural selection.

          Plenty of things aren’t checked by natural selection. Why should slavery and genocide be any different?

          If you think that evolution and genocide run “counter to our instincts”, you need to learn a bit more about history.

          Please clarify. What does that have to do with evolutionary biology?

          You might also want to investigate how many slaves you employ via globalization; one place to do this is slaveryfootprint.org.

          Non sequitur. Quit it with those.

          I know of no example where other social species have the technology to carry out genocide; I know of no instances where other social species have the means to deploy slavery such that it would be advantageous to them.

          That’s not what I asked.

        • Michael Neville

          I warned you that Luke’s links often don’t have anything to do with the point he’s trying to make. He likes to see blue in his comments, it makes it seem as if he wasn’t just pulling shit out of his ass.

        • Joe

          He’s a flat out liar, who evades and obfuscates, misses the point or makes the point up as he goes. With most apologists so dishonest, I wonder why they even bother posting on atheist sites?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          He’s a flat out liar

          Where did I lie? Or are you the kind of person who makes such claims without backing them up with specific evidence?

        • MNb

          And ….. let the Lukieboy show begin.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Show me that evolution + society doesn’t explain our morality. Is there some special sauce that can only be explained with a supernatural assumption? Show me.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          “evolution” is a very well-fleshed out explanation, even if there may be major modifications headed its way.

          “society” isn’t. There are a lot of very bad understandings; for example:

          “The historical record leaves little doubt that the educated, including the highly educated, have gone astray in their moral and political thinking as often as anyone else,” write the political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels in their new book Democracy for Realists, echoing Lippmann. What the educated are better at is sounding like they know what they are talking about, because they have been trained in how to make an argument. “Well-informed people are likely to have more elaborate and internally consistent worldviews than inattentive people, but that just reflects the fact that their rationalisations are better rehearsed.” Education gives you the ability to tailor your arguments to suit your personal preferences, which is why it is a big asset on the job market. But it does little to help tailor your personal preferences to suit the best arguments. (The Guardian 2016-10-05 How the education gap is tearing politics apart)

          It seems to me that it would be valuable to come to a better understanding of “society” before citing it as an explanation for morality. Otherwise, you’re doing no better than those who cite “God did it”.

          As to whether one would need “a supernatural assumption”, that depends on what you mean by ‘supernatural’. I don’t recall you ever defining the term. I’m opposed to any notion of ‘supernatural’ which would preclude theosis—that is, arbitrary much growth in human wisdom, knowledge, goodness, and responsibly used power. I suspect there is a sort of infinite lawfulness to such things, and that our growth toward them would be thwarted by many common examples of supernaturalism and magic that atheists like to say God “should” or “would” do.

        • adam

          ” Otherwise, you’re doing no better than those who cite “God did it”.”

          Sure there is.

          One is REAL and the other IMAGINARY and requires MAGIC.

        • MNb

          You’re confusing two things – and I admit that BobS is not always clear on this.
          The fact that humans (and not only humans) have a moral sense can be explained by evolution. Evolution does not prescribe the content of that moral sense.
          In the only way that “rebelling against evolution” makes sense we humans also rebel against evolution as soon as we enter an airplane.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or wearing spectacles, or going scuba diving, or going to the dentist, or….Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…Ad infinitum.

        • adam

          “It has to do with whether [biological] evolution is anywhere near being an explanation of our present moral sense”

          Well it cerrtainly goes a LONG way to explain child rape in The Church.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Evolution demands genocide and slavery? Explain that one for me.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Straw man.

        • MNb

          Then enlighten us, because I don’t get it either.
          If evolution doesn’t demand genocide and slavery, why ought we to rebel against evolution when we think genocide and slavery evil?

        • Joe

          I’ve tried to get him to demonstrate this, to no avail.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer
        • Joe

          So your’re saying there’s nothing in evolution that pertains to genocide and slavery?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer
        • Joe

          I don’t know what you’re arguing for anymore. Do you?

          That’s the benefits of a theology that can bend like a reed in the breeze I guess?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I think it would be helpful for you to first deal with whether @BobSeidensticker:disqus made a straw man of my argument (with: “Evolution demands genocide and slavery?”), a straw man which you echoed (with: “I’ve tried to get him to demonstrate this, to no avail.”). You made a big deal of me allegedly straw-manning; I want to know whether you apply that standard equally to your side, or whether it’s actually ok if your side does it, but not ok if the other side does it. If you end up having double standards here, I doubt you and I can get anywhere productive.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because you don’t do double standards?

        • Joe

          They don’t seem to bother him, at least. Only the accusation.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luke is an expert at Sealioning.

        • Joe

          I think he’s had enough if me now. I think perhaps he’s not all there, as his responses are full of multiple links to this thread. He claims it’s a Disqus issue, but I’ve seen others post links with no problems. He’s an odd fish that’s for sure.

          TEST

        • Kodie

          He links to comments because comments get buried and you could say you never said that and he will throw it back in your face that you said what he thinks is that, but isn’t, multiple times. They are like footnotes but really fucked up.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And that’s my favorite kind of conversation–someone thinks I said X (something that doesn’t sound at all like me), so they bring up my old comments to prove it, and then I’m supposed to drop what I’m doing and clarify what I said or meant or am now saying.

          Good times.

        • Otto

          Wow I never heard of that term. I looked it up and it fits rather well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If in fact we ought to rebel against [biological] evolution in order to be moral, then explaining morality merely in terms of evolution is problematic.

          Yes, human morality is more than evolution. Society (customs, best practices, learning from failures, laws, etc.) is the other source.

          And yes, I get that Bob cleverly didn’t say that evolution completely explains morality. He just conveniently left unstated what is required in addition to evolution.

          Why would I be an atheist unless I got cleverness from Satan as part of the deal?

          In a dozen other posts, I’ve explained my view of morality as I did in this comment. No convenient deception, actually.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Yes, human morality is more than evolution. Society (customs, best practices, learning from failures, laws, etc.) is the other source.

          To the extent that said “other source” involves rebelling against what natural selection produced, stating “evolution” as an explanation is problematic.

          Why would I be an atheist unless I got cleverness from Satan as part of the deal?

          I hear the horns are pretty nice.

          In a dozen other posts, I’ve explained my view of morality as I did in this comment. No convenient deception, actually.

          Deception involves intent; I didn’t mean to impute intent to you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          ”Society (customs, best practices, learning from failures, laws, etc.) is the other source.”
          To the extent that said “other source” involves rebelling against what natural selection produced, stating “evolution” as an explanation is problematic.

          I’m missing the problem.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer
        • adam

          “Without elaboration, “Society (customs, best practices, learning from failures, laws, etc.) is the other source.” ∼ “God did it.””

          Why is MAGIC ever an answer?

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b598571f4bd7f5b61e891132b8ee0da5dd875b77674a7e19a2b719b3119cc5b.jpg

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Perhaps you could sketch out what role questions not answerable by science play in society?

      Questions like what?

      There is a reason that we say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So, if science is the only reliable tool, then everything will look like it can be addressed by that tool.

      No, if science is the only reliable tool, we’ll do the best we can with that tool. In some cases, it’ll do a fantastic job. In others, it won’t be that great (but what can you do if that’s your only tool?).

      Perhaps you would like to somewhat restate your claim?

      I missed the problem. Could you state it more clearly?

      • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

        Questions like what?

        “Are all people of equal moral worth?” would be a pressing question. But perhaps you don’t think that has a truth-value. If so, it’s not really clear how much of a straw man Bannister’s “Science can answer any and all questions.” is. I doubt he’d have a problem with this clarification: “Science can answer any and all questions [which can possibly be answered with knowledge/​truth].”

        LB: There is a reason that we say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So, if science is the only reliable tool, then everything will look like it can be addressed by that tool. How is this not reasonable?

        BS: No, if science is the only reliable tool, we’ll do the best we can with that tool. In some cases, it’ll do a fantastic job. In others, it won’t be that great (but what can you do if that’s your only tool?).

        How does this contradict or rebut anything I said? You’ve criticized Bannister for constructing a straw man, and while I can see some technicalities in your favor, the general thrust seems to be in his favor.

        I missed the problem. Could you state it more clearly?

        You didn’t miss it in this comment. No need to duplicate the conversation.

        P.S. You may be interested in this:

        LB: Disqus obnoxiously started tracking all URL clicks in December 2016. I wrote a TamperMonkey script to remove that.

        Otherwise, navigating to links from one comment to another on the same page will force a page refresh.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Are all people of equal moral worth?” would be a pressing question.

          And I answered it for you: No, my wife is worth more than yours.

          Your mileage may vary.

          it’s not really clear how much of a straw man Bannister’s “Science can answer any and all questions.” is.

          Uh . . . it’s 100% clear? Did I get it right, or was that a trick question?

          He said that this was an equivalent statement to Kroto’s statement. It wasn’t.

          I doubt he’d have a problem with this clarification: “Science can answer any and all questions [which can possibly be answered with knowledge/truth].”

          Seriously, this isn’t a hard concept. Kroto said, “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” That’s not what Bannister said. There are correct ways to paraphrase that, though since it seems to be really hard, I suggest just quoting it verbatim since it’s short.

          How does this contradict or rebut anything I said?

          What I said was quite different than what you said. If that’s not obvious, I’m not sure how to proceed. And I’m certainly not motivated.

          You’ve criticized Bannister for constructing a straw man, and while I can see some technicalities in your favor, the general thrust seems to be in his favor.

          In his favor for what? For my claim that his argument is a strawman?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          He said that this was an equivalent statement to Kroto’s statement. It wasn’t.

          Your objection is a quibble if Kroto’s statement entails Bannister’s.

        • MNb

          “I doubt he’d have a problem with this clarification: “Science can answer any and all questions [which can possibly be answered with knowledge/​truth].””
          Unfortunately what you doubt and don’t doubt is totally irrelevant for the question if Bannister represents atheist views correctly.

        • adam

          “”Are all people of equal moral worth?” would be a pressing question.”

          History as a science addresses that

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d58911033ac590ee151a7a0d48d802e5b092aeafde3d7766adbc386e5f3a84ce.png

      • Ignorant Amos

        Humans were using hammers a aeons before they had nails. Even when hammers are explicitly intended for hitting nails, those hammers get utilised for numerous other purposes.

        Is this the Luke Breuer Show back in town?

    • eric

      Perhaps you could sketch out what role questions not answerable by science play in society?

      Political policy questions. Science informs them, but science can only tell you what the likely material consequences of a policy will be, not whether those consequences are worth it. So, for example, for global warming, science can tell you how the sea levels will likely rise etc. But it can’t tell you whether your reaction should be “oh no, that’s horrible” or “great! I’m speculating on my beach front property in Iowa.” Science can help you understand whether great pandas will go extinct if we take some action (or don’t take some action). But it can’t tell you whether you ought to value this higher than a different use of those same resources (that, say, saves some kids from starvation or whatever).

      Aesthetic questions.

      Ethical questions. Like political policy, science can certainly support and inform any consequentialist moral system (like utilitarianism) by giving us a clearer understanding of the material consequences of our actions. And it could likewise help us pick between moral systems by helping us understand their relative outcomes and consequences. But that’s pretty much it; its limited to this sort of supporting role.

      See? We have a whole tool belt. Not everything need be thought of as a nail.

      • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

        But is there any way to have any confidence in one’s answers to any of the non-nail questions? Recall Harry Kroto: “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” Do said questions just have nothing whatsoever to do with [knowable] truth? (Aside from the instrumental support you note science can provide.)

        • eric

          Kroto’s claim and your question are different. Kroto’s claim could be true, and it could simultaneously be true that there is no way to have high confidence that you’ve found the one objectively right answer to a non-nail question. IOW, your question is not a refutation or counter-argument to his claim.

          The universe does not owe you a high-confidence answer to every question you may have. It may simply be the case that the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability cannot be applied to questions of political policy, aesthetics, morality, and so on.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          e′: Kroto’s claim could be true, and it could simultaneously be true that there is no way to have high any confidence that you’ve found the one objectively right answer to a non-nail question.

          Your original version understates what is entailed by Kroto’s claim; I removed the understatement. If you think that Kroto’s claim actually ought to be modified—for example, to allow [objective] truth-value to the claim “I am feeling pain right now” without needing my brain to be in an MRI machine—you are welcome to describe how he is in error.

          It may simply be the case that the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability cannot be applied to questions of political policy, aesthetics, morality, and so on.

          If that is the case, then there is no morality which is not a veiled rationalization for the exercise of pure power. Where folks say “Might makes right” and mean it to apply in some narrow domain, it would become true everywhere. There simply wouldn’t be any true distinction between ‘might’ and ‘right’. If you think I’m somehow being alarmist, here is an summary of an empirical study of how rationality and power work in a democracy:

          Proposition 1: Power defines reality    Power concerns itself with defining reality rather than with discovering what reality “really” is. This is the single most important characteristic of the rationality of power, that is, of the strategies and tactics employed by power in relation to rationality. Defining reality by defining rationality is a principle means by which power exerts itself. This is not to imply that power seeks out rationality and knowledge because rationality and knowledge are power. Rather, power defines what counts as rationality and knowledge and thereby what counts as reality. The evidence of the Aalborg case confirms a basic Nietzschean insight: interpretation is not only commentary, as is often the view in academic settings, “interpretation is itself a means of becoming master of something”—in the case master of the Aalborg Project—and “all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.”[4] Power does not limit itself, however, to simply defining a given interpretation or view of reality, nor does power entail only the power to render a given reality authoritative. Rather, power defines, and creates, concrete physical, economic, ecological, and social realities. (Rationality and Power: Democracy in Practice, 227)

          Karl Marx believed that religion was wool pulled over the eyes of everyone; the proletariat to get him to accept his position, the oppressor to continue the system as-is. If there is no way to “determine truth with any degree of reliability” in matters of human relations, then our ‘morality’ is just like Marx’s ‘religion’.

        • adam

          “If that is the case, then there is no morality which is not a veiled rationalization for the exercise of pure power.”

          Which is what christianity is all about.
          POWER

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4ee57cb233d671c38fb55fe6e7f6f030457fc4070e7ae4a15a1e148e58eba246.jpg

  • quinsha

    Science can’t answer everything, but religion can’t answer the questions that science can’t answer either. Like, why do I always pull out an odd number of socks out of the dryer when I put in an even number to dry?

    • Kodie

      Science can answer this. The first thing that comes to mind is, how exactly certain are you that the odd sock made it into the dryer, or the washer in the first place? Most of the time I am missing a sock, it turns up later because it rolled under the dresser or something. I keep the other odd sock for a while, and it pairs back up eventually. Also, most of my socks are identical, so if I lose one, I’ll probably lose another one and be down a complete pair so I still have an even number of socks.

      Anyway, if you are organized and compulsive about counting your socks going into the hamper, after you take them from the washer to the dryer, you probably don’t figure on needing to account for them again, but the washer might have eaten them:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G_uCSrzUxE

    • Susan

      why do I always pull out an odd number of socks out of the dryer when I put in an even number to dry?

      What happens when you put an even number in to dry?

      • Kevin K

        That would solve the issue of having a leftover sock, wouldn’t it?

        • Greg G.

          What if you put in an irrational number of socks?

        • Kevin K

          Your dryer explodes.

        • adam

          I would have guessed that it would implode.

          If it explodes, do all your single missing socks reappear?

        • Kevin K

          Actually, I have reconsidered and I now believe that if you put an irrational number of socks in the dryer, they’ll come out wetter than they went in.

        • Greg G.

          It’s the penguin on the telly that explodes.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwTqC2T6q4E

  • Paul

    “…knowledge is good because sometimes we can use it to improve
    life—eliminate a disease or improve food production, for example. Why is
    that good, you ask? Because we seek happier, healthier
    lives—that’s just how we’re programmed. “Good” in this case is defined
    by our programming, put there by evolution. There’s no need to appeal to
    the supernatural to explain this.”

    You’re ascribing agency to a concept – this is known as reification or anthropomorphic bias. Evolution, or change over time, lacks the power to program. You’re the one ascribing this power to evolution. Change over time is not defining the word “good” – you are. How do you define “good”? How do you define “bad”? What objective standard are you using? If there’s no objective standard, there’s no way to actually improve anything – like life. With no objective standard, right and wrong, good and bad are just matters of opinion.

    • Greg G.

      Evolution creates change the way an avalanche creates change. There is no intent to cause change but change happens nonetheless. Saying “evolution” is just a shortcut to trying to explain every mutation that confers a benefit or a detriment and the factors that naturally select for or against them.

      • Paul

        “Evolution creates change…”

        So you’re saying that change over time creates change?

        “Saying “evolution” is just a shortcut to trying to explain every
        mutation that confers a benefit or a detriment and the factors that
        naturally select for or against them.”

        Natural selection selects, but it can only select from the genetic information available. Where did the genetic information come from?

        • Joe

          So you’re saying that change over time creates change?

          Quite obviously it does. The clue is in the word change.

          Where did the genetic information come from?,/blockquote>

          Where did amino acids come from? They’re everywhere, and form through protein syntheses.

          You’re going way off topic here. Way off.

        • Paul

          “So you’re saying that change over time creates change?
          Quite obviously it does. The clue is in the word change.

          But that’s just circular reasoning.

          “Where did amino acids come from? They’re everywhere…”

          That doesn’t explain where they came from.

          “..and form through protein syntheses.”

          Actually, amino acids are used to form proteins.

        • Joe

          But that’s just circular reasoning

          No. it’s logic. If something changes over time it will have changed.

          That doesn’t explain where they came from.

          Do you believe they’re fundamental? Like subatomic particles?

          Have a look here. Then stop going off topic.

          http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/amino-acid-metabolism.php

        • Paul

          “If something changes over time it will have changed.”

          That doesn’t explain what caused the change, which is what I was asking in the first place.

        • Joe

          That doesn’t explain what caused the change

          Natural selection. Natural selection. Natural selection.

        • Herald Newman

          Plus random mutations. These two concepts are the core of evolution.

        • Michael Neville

          There’s also horizontal gene transfer. Every time you get a virus infection new genes are introduced into your body. Much of the so-called “junk DNA” is actually viruses which infected our ancestors.

        • Greg G.

          It is unlikely for an endogenous retrovirus to become part of the genome of different species at the same site in the genome. When we find a common ERV at a common spot in gorillas and humans, it is an indication that the ERV happened in the common ancestor. That we find multiple ERVs at the same sites in great apes, we have to conclude common ancestry.

          The evidence for common descent continues to increase.

        • Herald Newman

          Or God is a terrible designer, who prefers to be deceptive about how life was created.

        • Greg G.

          Loki probably doesn’t like being called “Yahweh”.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          He wants Thor to believe he is Oden, GODS-damnit!

        • Greg G.

          So far, so good, according to Thor: The Dark World.

        • Paul

          Natural selection selects and it can only select from the information available.

        • Joe

          What happens when it gets new information?

        • Paul

          Where did the new information come from?

        • Joe

          See Herald Newman’s comment below. Random mutation.

        • Paul

          First of all, virtually all mutations are a loss of information. Other mutations result in scrambled information. A fruit fly contains blueprints for wings, but during the fruit fly experiments, some some them produced four wings instead of 2, some with now wings. None of these mutation contained “new” information. The information was already there – it just got scrambled. The type of mutations required for molecules-to-man evolution just doesn’t happen.

          But where did the information come from in the first place?

        • Joe

          First of all, virtually all mutations are a loss of information.

          Citation needed. Also, define ‘information’.

          I’m not playing you silly creationist word games. Especially on a post regarding epistemology.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–you’ve really studied this. Where did you learn all from? Please tell me that you don’t get your biology information from some Creationist site but get it from a source that includes biologists.

        • Kevin K

          Wow–you’ve really studied this.

          — Citation required, I’m afraid. 😉

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Looks like at least someone has seen through my sarcasm.

        • Kevin K

          I got a new sarcasm meter for Saturnalia. They were all out of irony meters.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why are Creationists always puzzled about where the information comes from? You’ve got duplication errors (AT becomes AAT) and then copy errors (AAT becomes AGT).

          New information.

        • Kompi

          There seems to be an assumption that information must be “magically new” for it to “count”, somehow – that “scrambled” information can never contain “new” information. One might question whether they’ve ever encountered the concept of anagrams.

        • epeeist

          First of all, virtually all mutations are a loss of information.

          Polyploidy.

        • Michael Neville

          First of all, virtually all mutations are a loss of information.

          One of these days I’d like one of you creationists (and don’t deny it, you’re using creationist arguments) to explain what “information” is. Next I’d like one of you creationists to explain why you think mutations cause “loss of information.”

        • Greg G.

          First of all, virtually all mutations are a loss of information.

          But not all mutations are a loss. Some are beneficial and those increase in number by whatever property it produces allowing its owner to reproduce more successfully. Those that are lost information are deleted from the gene pool by not reproducing. Genomes change.

        • MNb

          “virtually all mutations are a loss of information”
          Yeah, silly, but the ones that don’t lose useful information (ie information that increases the chances to get fertile offspring) are saved.
          And sometimes a loss of information is saved in the same way, as vestigals testify.
          So this so called rebuttal is totally irrelevant.

        • Kevin K

          This is nonsense on a stick.

          First of all, it is untrue — a lie, a fabrication, an out-and-out violation of the 9th Commandment — to state that “virtually all mutations are a loss of information”. Just the opposite in fact, if you’re talking about information.

          In your own example, you just demonstrated that there was information set A (make a fruit fly with 4 wings), and then there was information set B (make a fruit fly with 2 wings), and then information set C (make a fruit fly with no wings).

          Information sets B and C are NEW INFORMATION. Information that previously did not exist, but now does. Say what you will about the end product, but the information needed to create that fly is NEW. It did not exist previously, and now does.

          Saying that the “information is the same but it just was scrambled” is pure sophistry. That’s exactly analogous to stating that new words are impossible because the letters of the alphabet haven’t changed in thousands of years. The “internet” would disagree with you, if it had a voice.

        • adam

          “But where did the information come from in the first place?”

          The properties of chemistry and physics.

          DNA is just another natural polymer.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer

        • adam
        • Kevin K

          You don’t understand the least little bit about information theory, otherwise you would not ask this question. This is the “argument from ignorance” logical fallacy.

          Information is inherent in the structure of every thing … animate and inanimate. It is not limited to “DNA” or “codes” or whatever other scare words you’re trying to conjure up as being too mysterious or difficult to understand and therefore god.

          Salt contains information in its crystalline structure. So does quartz. So do snowflakes. And on and on an on ad infinitum. You do not need to invoke an “information-giver” in order to recognize the information inherent in those structures.

          And that information is there by virtue of their inherent chemical and physical properties, including the number and positions of electrons, bonding affinities, etc. Again, no need to invoke an non-natural solution to a process we have deep understanding of.

          In fact, the deeper we dive into the science, the less we need to invoke supernatural explanations. At present, with regard to virtually every question in the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology, the non-natural has been rejected in favor of the natural. And even more than that, there’s no “space” for a non-natural whatever to insert itself. Because non-natural would be what’s known as a “hidden variable”, and the one thing we’re highly confident of is that there are no hidden variables at the level of Newtonian and even quantum physics.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          Enviromental change for one. Life can cause some of that change.

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          The “information” available changes thanks to environment.

          “The evolution of the peppered moth is an evolutionary instance of colour variation in the moth population as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. The concept refers to an increase in the number of dark-coloured moths due to industrial pollution, and a reciprocal decrease in the population in a clean environment. Hence, the phenomenon is called industrial melanism. It is the first recorded and experimented case of Charles Darwin’s natural selection in action, and remains as a classic example in the teaching of evolution.[1][2] Sewall Wright described it as “the clearest case in which a conspicuous evolutionary process has actually been observed.”[3]”

          One gene with two mutations: black and white. The industrial revolution changes the environment (blackens the trees with soot), and the white mutation became all-birds-can-eat beacons in a dark world while the blacks screwed each other unmolested. The gene pool now contained more of one gene variant than the other.

        • MNb

          “But that’s just circular reasoning.”
          Not at all. One change doesn’t need to be the same as another change.
          Are you really that stupid you can’t think that up yourself?

        • Giauz Ragnarock

          His answer required him not to think of how to defeat his own answer. He only thinks the stuff that supports his answer is important (the Texas Sharp-shooter fallacy).

        • Greg G.

          So you’re saying that change over time creates change?

          Change happens over time. We call that change over time “evolution”.

          Natural selection selects, but it can only select from the genetic information available. Where did the genetic information come from?

          Mutations happen so natural selection then gets to select from the original genes that are also reproduced and the new versions of it. The worst mutations eliminate themselves. Most mutations are neutral. Some mutations enable more reproduction. Those are labeled “beneficial” in terms of reproduction even if beneficial to us if it occurs in a predator or virus.

          Thinking of DNA information in terms of theories of information can be misleading when any change to a signal is considered distortion or a loss of information, such as the definitions creationists apply to it. For example, light from a star is emitted across a spectrum centered on a frequency related to its temperature, so we can tell its temperature by the curve of its emissions. But the atoms of the star absorb certain frequencies. That is called distortion or a loss of information. But it tells us something about the atoms in the star so it is an increase in information. If the atoms are mostly hydrogen, it is a first generation star but if there are other types of elements present, it is a second generation star formed from the debris of an exploded star. The relative velocity of the star and us distort the frequencies by the Doppler effect. Again this counts as a loss of information according to the definition creationists are misapplying to DNA information, but by recognizing the absorption lines of the atoms and where they are in the spectrum received, the relative velocity of the star can be calculated. So we can tell the temperature of a star, the type of atoms it is made of and infer the type of star, and how fast it is traveling toward us or away from us, all from what creationists count as lost information.

          When you ask where the DNA information came from, thinking it had to come from random chance, remember that chemistry was working on thousands of sites on every grain of sand and clay particle for the arctic regions to the tropical regions and hydrothermal vents for millions of years and on lots of planets, too. Chemistry wasn’t trying to create a molecule that could reproduce itself but it was a possibility and we don’t know how many of those possibilities there were. It is unlikely that no molecule that could reproduce itself would not arise somewhere in the universe.

          Something that looks like life would have happened often on a planet with hydrocarbons in water. Splash some hydrocarbons on a rock on a beach, bake it in the sun for a few hours until the next high tide, splash some more water on it and small spheres form and they can merge and divide. Put a molecule that can reproduce itself imperfectly inside and soon you have trillions of trillions of them.

          The evidence indicates that something like that happened as soon as the planet was cool enough for it to happen, so it probably is not as unlikely as we might think. Then it took a few billion years for the independent cells to form multicellular organisms. Now the multicellular forms are all over the planet being exploited by the single cells.

          Remember that the earth was sterile then but now any new life form would have to compete with existing life and would likely be consumed at once.

    • Joe

      With no objective standard, right and wrong, good and bad are just matters of opinion.

      Great. ‘Objective morality’ again. See the multiple responses to Luke Breuer below.

      I believe Bob is referring partly to our genetic makeup, provided by evolution, which does indeed have causal power.

      • Paul

        “…our genetic makeup, provided by evolution, which does indeed have causal power.”

        So change over time provided our genetic makeup? Our genetic makeup may have changed over time, but not the other way around.
        What exactly has causal power? Our genetic makeup? Our genetic makeup simply contains the “blueprints” of how to create an organism. Who/What caused the “blueprints”?

        • Joe

          So change over time provided our genetic makeup?

          Yes. How else? Magic?

          Our genetic makeup may have changed over time, but not the other way around

          Semantics. Yay.

          What exactly has causal power

          Testosterone production, for example. Tell me it doesn’t.

          Our genetic makeup simply contains the “blueprints” of how to create an organism.

          An organism with the characteristics? Yes or no?

          Who/What caused the “blueprints”?

          Question begging to the nth degree. Thankfully that’s irrelevant here. Only that genetic factors can effect behavior.

        • Paul

          “So change over time provided our genetic makeup?
          “Yes. How else? Magic?

          You missed the point. Things do change over time, but how does the concept of change over time provide genetic makeup? Do you have any evidence of this? Do you know how DNA came into existence?

          “What exactly has causal power
          Testosterone production, for example. Tell me it doesn’t.

          You missed the point. I asked the question of causal power in reference to the topic of genetic makeup. Did he mean that the genetic makeup has causal power? Genetic make-up is simply the blueprints. Where did the blueprints come from?

          “Question begging to the nth degree. …”

          It’s not question begging. I’m asking you where you think the genetic blueprints came from.

          “Only that genetic factors can effect behavior.”

          So you’re saying that you have no control over your behavior? You can only do exactly what you were “programmed” to do?

        • Joe

          So you’re saying that you have no control over your behavior? You can only do exactly what you were “programmed” to do?

          What part of can don’t you understand? Seriously, what part, and I’ll explain the meaning of this simple word.

          Regardless of where DNA came from, Evolution, God, Aliens, Pixies or somewhere else, can our makeup influence our behavior? Yes or no?

        • Paul

          I asked those questions because I’m trying to clarify and understand exactly what you said. Did you understand that that’s what I was trying to do?

          Regardless of whether or not genetic make up can influence our behavior, where did DNA come from?

        • Joe

          where did DNA come from?

          You’re asking in the wrong place. Try a biology forum. This post is about the epistemic resolving power of science, and how nothing else comes close.

        • Paul

          “This post is about the epistemic resolving power of science…”

          You did the same thing Bob did. You ascribed agency to a concept which is what science is. It’s something that people use – it has no power in an of itself.

        • Joe

          We both took it for granted that people use science. It’s not a difficult concept.

          Do you actually have a point that is relevant to this article?

        • Herald Newman

          Does he ever?

        • Paul

          Yes, I do have a point. Go back and read my original post.

        • Joe

          Your post made no sense. It seemed to be using the concept of evolution and saying it has no resolving power. No concept does. Not even a God concept.

          The thing that a concept represents is what has causal power.

        • Paul

          But where did that thing come from?

        • Joe

          Irrelevant.

          If you genuinely want to know, there are better places to ask.

        • adam

          “But where did that thing come from?”

          Evolution

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/831e274b356c03b8778b1d9672b8ab244560e2fda7a4cd57b0436d5bda02694f.jpg

          See slavery used to be good
          Gays used to be bad
          And snakes used to talk.

          Things EVOLVE.

        • Paul

          Yes, concepts in and of themselves, have no power. So evolution cannot program the concept of “good.” So my question to Bob was, “How do you define “good”?

        • Rudy R

          I think BobS is referring to social evolution. Good would be defined as a behavior that increases the direct fitness of both the actor and the recipient(s). Good actions aren’t restricted to humans, but are demonstrated in the entire animal kingdom.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Probably from RNA. But if your point is that there are questions about where life came from (abiogenesis) and related issues, that’s right.

        • Paul

          DNA is actually needed to make RNA. But abiogenesis is just pawning off the problem.

          “Evolution has this catch-22: Nothing evolves unless it already exists.” — Dan Tawfik
          http://www.asbmb.org/asbmbtoday/asbmbtoday_article.aspx?id=48961

        • Kodie

          Life is just material that can reproduce. I don’t know what the big deal is.

          http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/12/your-ancestor-is-jellyfish.html

        • adam
        • MNb

          Ah, the smell of a creationist lie in the afternoon. The full quote is

          “What we lack is a hypothesis for the earlier stages, where you don’t have this spectrum of enzymatic activities, active sites and folds from which selection can identify starting points. Evolution has this catch-22: Nothing evolves unless it already exists.”
          That’s not nearly the same as “science can’t explain, hence god”, as you want it appear to be.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yes, that’s where RNA is made now. Different issue–you asked where DNA came from.

          Tawfik has given us a tautology. I don’t see how that’s helpful.

          Indeed, this entire conversation isn’t especially interesting. You and I can kick around some of ideas, but the fact remains that evolution is the scientific consensus. We’re stuck with it as the best explanation we have at the moment.

        • MNb

          He has minequoted Tawfik. Remember MNb’s Golden Rule: creationists are lying until proven otherwise.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Why is there RNA as well as DNA? Did God just practice with RNA? Or maybe RNA is scaffolding, a version 1.0, from the standpoint of DNA.

        • Kevin K

          No. Sorry, that’s completely and utterly wrong.

        • eric

          Whew, then its a good thing for science that atoms and molecules already existed in many varied arrangements. Even organic molecules. If all of that had suddenly appeared simultaneously with the first life, then you’d really have a solid argument.

        • adam

          “But abiogenesis is just pawning off the problem.”

          Nope:

          https://www.wired.com/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

        • Rudy R

          where did DNA come from?

          Perfect example of an argument from incredulity. You imagination is just limited to a “god did it”.

        • adam

          “where did DNA come from?”

          From nucleotides
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleotide

        • adam

          “Things do change over time, but how does the concept of change over time provide genetic makeup? ”

          chemistry and physics

          https://www.wired.com/2010/05/scientists-create-first-self-replicating-synthetic-life/

        • Pofarmer

          Let’s just say that Deism is true, and that our initial genetic makeup was provided, could be a God, could be Aliens, whatever. But let’s just say that the initial blueprint for life on Earth came from off Earth. That really doesn’t change the argument that morality is based on genetic makeup and genetic factors. Our morality is grounded in behaviors and processes common to nearly all primates, and indeed, all mammals, clear back to moles and shrews and field mice. We don’t have any access to a “who” or “what” so we have to revert to Simon Laplace “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

        • Kevin K

          Who/What caused the “blueprints”?

          Natural forces of chemistry, physics, and biology.

          Trying to shoe-horn a “god of the gaps” argument into science questions really is a mark of a shallowly educated person. You should open a book that isn’t bound in leather once in a while.

        • eric

          Yes, it can be both. Genes are made up of molecules which are made up of atoms, and those atoms interact with each other. So a gene can both affect and be affected by another gene. Likewise, non-genetic atoms in the environment also interact with them (and they with the environment), each changing the other.
          People seem to have a fondness for A->B type causal relationships. But physics, chemistry, and biology are not that simple. Its AB. There are feed-forward and feedback loops. Analog interactions rather than binary logical ones. Emergent phenomena.
          Sometimes metaphors help. Sometimes they confuse. By calling DNA a ‘blueprint,’ you’re creating a sense of agency where none is needed. Its a polymer. It forms like other polymers. It is autocatalytic (meaning: self-replicating), but that is also a natural chemical property of some molecules in some environments and does not require agency to come about – we know of many natural examples of it happening on its own. Life is wonderful, but its wonderful in its arrangement, not in the pieces or parts having qualitatively different physics properties than non-life. Because they don’t.

        • adam
    • Rudy R

      You can subjectively define good as an action that decreases human suffering. Does that not improve life?

    • Ficino

      As humans we have standards that are intersubjectively grounded. That’s the best we get. The Bible offers no objective standard. The standards that are pulled out of it are the subject of constant dispute. Many of them are inimical to humanity’s intersubjectively grounded standards.

      • Kevin K

        Pretty sure Paul thinks biblically “objective” morality is as follows:

        Gayz bad.
        Abortionz bad.
        Womenz shut up and make me a sammich.

        • Annerdr

          Well, there’s all those many, many times that Jesus opined at length about the evils of gays and abortions and uppity women. Because, like the modern church, that is what Jesus cared most about.

    • Pofarmer

      With no objective standard, right and wrong, good and bad are just matters of opinion.

      And so they are. so what?

    • adam

      ” What objective standard are you using? If there’s no objective
      standard, there’s no way to actually improve anything – like life.”

      you mean IN SPITE of ‘objective standard’

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/97d5a299a0d9a90d246d9d17003a59b6bec2b02183db8bdd78bb924453607ea9.jpg

    • eric

      Evolution, or change over time, lacks the power to program

      It lacks agency or an overall direction, but it is easy to think about how random mutation, gene shuffling, and natural selection can ‘program’. First, a new generation of some critter is born. This new generation has basically similar “hard-wired” behavioral adaptations as the last one, but due to genetic mutation and sexual reproduction, there are some differences. Both environmental and interspecies selection results in some of this new generation having more kids than others. Those ‘successful’ critters pass on their particular variant of behavioral adaptations (with some new minor variations in the next generation), and voila, programming.

      Yes, people often do anthropomorphize nature when they talk about it. That can *sometimes* be a problem if people take the metaphorical language seriously or literally, but that seems to be a problem more with creationists, laypeople, and nitpicking philosophy students than with scientists. Scientists rarely have any problem understanding that its just a form of shorthand. They hear a speaker say “nature has programmed the bower bird to make bowers,” and they understand that his refers to the result of generations of sexual and natural selection acting on the bird population; they do not interpret the speaker to be claiming there is some intelligent dude called Nature secretly typing away at his Animal Programming Computer.

      • Kevin K

        Twas ever thus…

        With respect to the theological view of the question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [wasps] with the express intention of their [larva] feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice..

        — Charles Darwin.

    • Greg G.

      With no objective standard, right and wrong, good and bad are just matters of opinion.

      Exactly! They are right or wrong by subjective standards.

      • Kevin K

        He scored an “own goal” on that one, didn’t he?

      • epeeist

        They are right or wrong by subjective standards

        Nope, right or wrong by inter-subjective agreement. Which means they can be universal if not objective.

    • MNb

      “Evolution, or change over time, lacks the power to program.”
      You postulate this without evidence.
      What is postulated without evidence can be rejected without evidence.

    • Otto

      What objective standard did you use to determine your objective standard of ‘good’ was in fact good? Sounds a lot like just your opinion to me.

    • Kevin K

      We’re evolutionarily programmed as social creatures to need to live in cooperative bands in order to thrive. So, while “evolution” as a construct does not have this “power”, the results of the evolutionary process most certainly can be seen to justify the conclusion.

    • Paul B. Lot

      Evolution, or change over time, lacks the power to program.

      If evolution via natural selection formed our multi-cameral brains such that those brains would value the things which those brains would come to define as “good”, can we not say that evolution “programmed” our definition of “good”?

    • Giauz Ragnarock

      “Evolution, or change over time, lacks the power to program.”

      Dying and reproducing are some observations we fit under the umbrella term for a lot of data from multiple fields of study known as evolution. Natural selection is programing.

  • Susan

    Bannister quotes Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto, “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.”

    Bannister bungles that into, “Science can answer any and all questions.”

    Smooth. :-)

    Yes, that is quoted accurately. And no, that’s not even close to what the scientist said.

    (yawn) Welcome to the merry-go-round of apologetics.

    Can science answer ethical questions?

    No. Nor does it claim to. It can certainly inform them, though. When did science say it could “answer ethical questions”?

    Oh, good. We’re about to get schooled by a guy who can’t correctly paraphrase a simple idea.

    Much as I hate to repeat myself, welcome to the merry-go-round of apologetics.

    How do we compute the value of a human life?

    Your next few paragraphs (while interesting and valuable to discussion) are unnecessary to address Bannister’s point. Yahwehjesus is flawed from its lack of evidence right down to its rotten core when it encounters <a href="Euthyphro’s Dilemma.

    In short, it doesn’t add up morally or ethically or evidentially. Deep down, it knows it can’t survive outside the compound so it makes excuses and shifts the burden.

    lying slows down knowledge finding

    Well, it certainly doesn’t help. 😉

    It’s very simple. They claim that an “immaterial agent” exists and explains everything. It has no evidence or explanatory value. It requires extra explanations that it can’t produce.

    Ask simple and straightforward questions about it and you find yourself on the merry-go-round.

    It’s burden shifting of the oldest order.

    No one has to come up with a perfect moral theory or explain how life started or describe in total what our universe is or what we mean when we talk about consciousness to not accept stories about a bronze age messiah.

    That is, they’ve got nothing.

    Their entire apologetic strategy is burden shifting.

    Fuzz, fog, lies. Repeat.

    All I want to know is:

    What they are claiming and how they support it.

    It’s fair to boil down a lifetime of these exchanges into those two simple thoughts.

    An honest person would be chawing at the bit to address those two simple thoughts.

    Apologetics does everything but.

    This is just another example.

    =====

    EDIT: Ultimatelhy to remove a redundant (SIGH)

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    What is the value of a human life?

    My initial response was basically in the direction you went. You don’t think this can be examined scientifically? Ask a medical ethicist. They struggle with this question all the time.

    You mention life insurance, but it also comes to health insurance. For example, how much are we willing to spend to save our lives?

    About 10 years ago, I heard a discussion of this, and at the time, the answer was that it was about $50K/year of life saved. Therefore, we were willing to pay about $50K to extend life one year.

    You can apply this in lots of ways. For example, cancer in children. What’s the value of a cure for cancer in a 10 yo? Well, if we call life expectancy 75, then if you can prevent a 10 yo from dying from cancer and they have a normal life expectancy, then that would be worth about $30 mil. Is that what we are willing to pay?

    These are the ways that the value of life can be can be considered analytically. And it informs the way we act.

    • Kevin K

      I was in a meeting just recently where the question of treating a person with a very, very expensive medication came up. And the presenter (a physician) said he wouldn’t recommend that treatment for someone who had less than a 5-year life expectancy absent the problem the medication would fix. This was in the context of a question about a patient who had multiple co-morbid conditions, of which the disease in question with the expensive treatment was just one of many ailments trying to kill him.

      So yes, the “value” of human life is considered in lots of calculations, often done informally.

  • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

    I have seen many claim that only empirical evidence counts, which is called logical positivism. Of course that mostly has been abandoned. However, some cling to the idea. On the other hand, the claim that science must prove God is still made, which seems pretty dubious to me. Not everything is a matter of science. I find philosophy is sufficient to rebut the arguments for God’s existence.

    • Pofarmer

      That might be true, but Theists don’t only make philosophical claims.

      • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

        No, that’s true, but I’ve seen this said even about non-scientific claims.

        • Pofarmer

          How would you make a philosophical only argument against, say, fall theology?

        • http://musingsfromacorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/ Michael

          That would depend on the specifics. As it relies on the Bible though, you can reject that with historical and philosophical grounds. Science does come into play, it’s just not alone.

        • MNb

          No god, no sin.
          The idea that wrongdoing is heritable can be challenged, especially if that means I am responsible for what some characters did 1000s (literalism) or millions (metaphorical approach) years ago.

  • Kevin K

    Quite possibly the worst-constructed strawman I’ve seen in quite a while. And like the strawman in the Wizard of Oz, it apparently doesn’t have a brain.

    Of course science doesn’t know everything — if it did, it would stop! (ht Dara O’Briain).

    Just because science doesn’t involve itself with certain ethical questions, that doesn’t give religion the right to claim that turf. It is a false dichotomy that every non-science question is of necessity a religious one.

    For example, “We have an atom bomb. Should we drop it on Japan or not” is not a science question. Nor, however, is it a religious one. In part because, depending on who you’re talking to (and which religion), the answer would be different. I’m quite sure Harry Truman prayed over the matter, but in the end it was secular ethics that informed his decision (ending the war sooner, saving US troops’ lives, not allowing Russia to get involved in the conflict, etc.)

  • Ignorant Amos

    The National Health Service here in the UK puts a value on human life here everyday via the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).

    http://www.newstatesman.com/health/2014/08/nhs-drugs-aristotle-and-health-economics-problem-quantifying-value-life

  • Herald Newman

    Here’s an interesting question that I’ve yet to figure out. I’ve yet to meet a Christian who doesn’t believe that human life has infinite value (that’s not to say they don’t exist), and I’ve yet to meet any that behave as if this is true. Why?

    If human life has infinite value, as they claim, why do they treat human life so callously? Why are the poor allowed to suffer without health care in the US? The black community in the US is disproportionately poor, suffers from high crime rates, and is disproportionately under educated. Why [edit]aren’t Christians, white Christians especially, throwing whatever resources they have to make sure that black lives aren’t being lost to violence and poverty?

    Surely sacrificing a little bit of your monetary wealth to help protect the life of somebody else comes as an obvious consequence of humans having “infinite value”, yet Christians don’t seem to behave as if this is true. If beliefs due inform actions, as I believe, then it would seem that Christians don’t think that every human is of infinite value!

    • adam

      ” I’ve yet to meet a Christian who doesn’t believe that human life has
      infinite value (that’s not to say they don’t exist), and I’ve yet to
      meet any that behave as if this is true. Why?”

      Because they understand it is not true.

      It is that faith is HOPING what YOU WISH were true is true.

      “If beliefs due inform actions, as I believe, then it would seem that
      Christians don’t think that every human is of infinite value!” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dfa1d5f877fc039ad3bd7801686b0d520ea5900bfcc9474012fdaaa5dbe69773.jpg

    • Kevin K

      Because they don’t mean it. It’s really that simple.

      • Herald Newman

        The question was meant be rhetorical, but yet, what you say is abundantly clear.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Perhaps there’s a Christianity vs. political conservatism fight going on internally. The imagined Jesus would indeed put other people first, but the conservative side is focused on the money.

    • Otto

      When they say ‘life’ they are including the next imagined life too, so suffering and pain is only temporary. This life is only a place to wipe our feet so this life is not all that valued in and of itself. There is one exception, the potential life of a fetus.

      • Michael Neville

        You will eat, bye and bye,
        In that glorious land above the sky.
        Work and pray, live on hay,
        You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

        –Joe Hill “The Preacher and the Slave”

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      You realize that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian, right?

      • adam
      • Greg G.

        Did Herald Newman ever meet MLK, Jr? Your response does not dispute his second sentence.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Irrelevant. @heraldnewman:disqus is clearly generalizing from his experience to Christians in general. I’m questioning that move. I’m not questioning that the particular Christians with whom he has interacted may be as he describes.

        • adam

          “Irrelevant. @Luke Breuer is clearly generalizing from his experience to MLK, Jr in general.”

        • Greg G.

          Herald Newman has met you in this online forum. Why didn’t you use yourself as an example?

          HN was generalizing from all the Christian he has met but he clearly acknowledged the possibility that some of that type of Christian could exist. But his generalization is drawn from the rarity in his experience.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Herald Newman has met you in this online forum. Why didn’t you use yourself as an example?

          Because this forum (not just Bob, but everyone) tolerates the following kind of behavior:

          MN: I warned you that Luke’s […]

          J: He’s a flat out liar […]

          LB: Where did I lie? Or are you the kind of person who makes such claims without backing them up with specific evidence?

          ← no further responses by anyone

          My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined; it would be beyond stupid to rely on the CE perception of my character or behavior in the way you suggest.

          But his generalization is drawn from the rarity in his experience.

          That doesn’t justify it in the slightest. Maybe I’m in some environment where all the blacks I personally meet are somehow bad to me. Were I to generalize from that experience, I would be labeled a ‘racist’.

        • Greg G.

          My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined; it would be beyond stupid to rely on the CE perception of my character or behavior in the way you suggest.

          The issue he was referring to was Christians putting an infinite value on human life. What is it about your credibility on CE that would prevent you from saying that you do not put an infinite value on human life? Or would your opinion confirm his generalization?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          A wonderful attempt to assassinate my character—based on exactly what evidence? You confirm my reasoning.

        • Greg G.

          Your opinion on the subject of whether value of a human life is infinite defines your character?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          A wonderful attempt to assassinate my character

          What is it about your communications style that this is always a major element of any discussion you have? You can’t just introduce new evidence, correct bad reasoning, and so on? It’s always, “Nuh uh! I did not say that!” and so on, with lots of boring analysis of who said what.

          Be more interesting.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          What is it about your communications style that this is always a major element of any discussion you have?

          Actually, it isn’t. With you, it frequently isn’t. On Strange Notions, it virtually never is. Neither was it on Randal Rauser’s blog before he started smearing Christians (after which I left). Nor is it the case on Secular Outpost. Here’s one way to characterize the places where it happens: “It is allowable to make unsubstantiated assertions about the other person, and refuse to back them with evidence or recant, when challenged.”

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is your commenting style at those two places in the same vogue as those places you have been kicked out of, or those places where you peeve people off?

          Randall Rauser is a Christian.

          http://randalrauser.com/about/

          I’m guessing you mean he was smearing a particular kind of Christian…your kind perhaps?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Given all the unadulterated smearing of Christians getting done on Cross Examined, day in and day out, and from well before you first turned up here a year ago. Will you be leaving here anytime soon? Or are you engaging in another double standard?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          You can’t just introduce new evidence, correct bad reasoning, and so on? It’s always, “Nuh uh! I did not say that!” and so on, with lots of boring analysis of who said what.

          Give me a break; others complain when I misunderstand them. You see me object more often because people are misinterpreting what I say more frequently. Furthermore, I don’t object every time; mostly I object when the misinterpretation (or flagrant straw man) paints me as unnecessarily stupid or evil. Why? Because there’s usually something behind such misinterpretation which’ll make further communication incredibly onerous. Is it really unreasonable for me to not want things to get that onerous?

          Just today you were complaining that in the whole RCC discussion, I was mischaracterizing what others were saying. There, it was A-OK to do something other than “introduce new evidence, correct bad reasoning, and so on”. Double standards much?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You see me object more often because people are misinterpreting what I say more frequently.

          And why is that? I’m asking for a little reflection on your part. It’s possible that a small bit of this miscommunication problem is your fault. And maybe even more.

          Double standards much?

          And here I am, talking to you about something besides evidence and reasoning! But I wouldn’t have to play schoolyard teacher if you focused on introducing new evidence and correcting bad reasoning.

          Be less expensive. Less whining and more contributing, please.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          And why is that? I’m asking for a little reflection on your part. It’s possible that a small bit of this miscommunication problem is your fault. And maybe even more.

          Let’s get real. Others—and perhaps you—want to lay somewhere between 99.99% and 100% of the fault on me. I’ll take somewhere between 80% and 90%. If that’s not good enough for you, say so.

          Be less expensive. Less whining and more contributing, please.

          If you’re going to let your users baselessly accuse me of being a liar—e.g. “He’s a flat out liar”—then I’m going to object. If you’d like to ban me over said objecting, feel free. But there’s a lot simpler solution: prohibit baseless accusations which are sufficiently terrible when a stink is raised. I doubt that would cost you much of any time to enforce. I sure hope you don’t want baseless accusations to thrive on your forums.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Let’s get real. Others—and perhaps you—want to lay somewhere between 99.99% and 100% of the fault on me. I’ll take somewhere between 80% and 90%.

          I have absolutely no trouble at all accepting that 10% of the communication errors between you and me are my own fault. No doubt from time to time, through my own mistakes/ineptitude/assumptions or through my own intense dislike of you, that percentage is higher.

          However. Plainly stated, you bear some percentage, x, of the burden – and it seems clear that x > 50%.

          Given that fact, you should’ve greatly, dramatically, changed your tactics by now.

          The humility and tentativeness knobs on your comment-posting-algorithms should be at a setting orders of magnitude higher than they are.

          But they’re not.

          You continue to conduct yourself in a corrosive, patronizing, let’s play semantic, pedantic, parabolic games fashion. Games, it should be added, based on an implied premise that you have something to teach others. (This last is especially galling given the remarkable degree to which your [certainty of superiority] is directly and inversely correlated to [your actual acumen].)

          Given all of the above, you want us to care whether or not you might have been misrepresented to some degree by someone whose toes you stepped on?

          Get.
          Over.
          Your.
          Self.

          You misrepresented that person to begin with!

          That’s how you got into that particular pissing contest in the first place, remember? Through YOUR OWN ineptitude!

          So. You say you didn’t mean to imply what your words plausibly implied?

          Fine. Maybe you didn’t.

          But now that person has a hard time believing you? I sympathize with them; extremely. You want them to accept your version and they are refusing? Tough fucking cookies, Jack.

          You played a stupid game, you won a stupid prize. Accept your lose, and move on.

          Why has a phrasing like the following not escaped your keyboard?

          I’m sorry Michael. I wrote in such a way that it was easy for you to misunderstand my meaning – and now that we’ve gone this many rounds about the situation we’ve both pretty much worn out each other’s store of good will. I understand that it’s tough for you to believe me right now, that I’ve poisoned my own well so-to-speak, but I’d like to ask you to consider the possibility that I’m being honest. I really didn’t mean to offend you the way that I did, although I understand why [my intention] can’t control [what the outcome was]. Let me know if you want to try to re-start the conversation some time, but for now: I understand where you’re coming from and I’m sorry for the confusion/offence I caused.

          Instead of doing ^^^ that, you’ve decided to repeatedly complain about how this forum is biased against you. Your fighting this hard to control and twist the situation just smacks of the arrogance and nonchalance which were factors in your initial error.

          You don’t always get to control how others perceive you, Luke. Through your own ineptitudes, @michaelneville:disqus has come to perceive you as a liar. Shouting at him, or at @BobSeidensticker:disqus , that Michael is wrong….isn’t going to change that.

          By your fruits, we shall know you.

          And your fruit is almost always rotten. (Here, anyway)

        • Ignorant Amos

          So. You say you didn’t mean to imply what your words plausibly implied?

          A luxury he is reluctant to allow others…i.e. “approve” only means what Luke says it means, even though he has to know what was inferred by the word. Yet insisted that the use of the word “peach” on another occasion meant the most obscure inferred.

          I don’t understand why a clarifying question is out, while jumping in feet first is what is his norm.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Given that fact, you should’ve greatly, dramatically, changed your tactics by now.

          Somehow, what “seems clear [to you]” transmutes into a “fact”. How did that happen? And how does what [merely] “seems clear [to you]”—not what is true—get normative power over me?

          Now, I would be quite interested in suggestions for how I should change my tactics. I would like special advice on how I ought to deal with unsubstantiated character assassination—e.g. “He’s a flat out liar”. It seems to me that a culture tolerant of this allows logic to be supplanted with emotional manipulation. Would that be a correct assessment, in your judgment? You might reference how Hillary Clinton followed Donald Trump into the mud, rhetoric-wise, instead of merely ignoring his nonsense and talking about things that really matter. Possibly this was a tactical mistake, but possibly it wasn’t—because humans are not purely rational creatures, and respond powerfully to tactics like Trump’s, requiring countermeasures instead of 100% “When they go low, we go high”.

          The humility and tentativeness knobs on your comment-posting-algorithms should be at a setting orders of magnitude higher than they are.

          Can you give me 3–5 good examples of comments by regulars here, where they demonstrate such humility and tentativeness? I find examples much easier to follow than abstract descriptions. My guess is you may want to stay away from instances where what seems to be the case to one or a few people suddenly becomes a fact with normative power. But perhaps you actually think this is perfectly normal and acceptable, at least when the person, to whom X seems to be the case, is part of the “in” group, the group with the most social power?

          You continue to conduct yourself in a corrosive, patronizing, let’s play semantic, pedantic, parabolic games fashion.

          I’m confused by this, given the following:

          LB: necessarily implied

          PBL: An oxymoron, no?

          You seem to be exhibiting behavior contrary to how you suggest I behave. Did you really not understand that there exist perfectly acceptable meanings of ‘necessarily’ and ‘implied’ which led to no contradiction, before I posted the definitions? Even if that were the case, that you failed to first check some basic dictionary definitions before claiming that something I said was an oxymoron seems to be the essence of pedantry, and failed pedantry at that.

          Why has a phrasing like the following not escaped your keyboard?

          Because (i) I already apologized for what I actually did; (ii) I refuse to apologize for what I did not do. That you don’t explicitly lay any blame on @michaelneville:disqus for repeating a false accusation (and ad nauseum at that!) indicates that you are far engaging in the impartial reasoning you pretend to wield, even clumsily.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          More meta-navel gazing. I love it! I knew I could count on you. You, sir, take mental masturbation to a new level. This is quality stuff–I’ll print this out and read it a second time in bed. Can’t wait!

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Instead of bitching and moaning, why not jump into my conversation with @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus, which has a high discussion : metadiscussion ratio? Or is it that you actually prefer complaining about metadiscussion instead of engaging in evidence-based, rational discussion?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When you switch over to an interesting discussion, maybe I’ll see that that merits my attention.

          Right now, I’m fascinated by the butt-hurt metaconversation about how everyone’s mean to you. You seem to want to pretend that it doesn’t exist, but it’s all I can see. It’s the Barbara Streisand effect.

          I tried gentle cajoling to push you in a more productive direction, but that just annoys you. Since you enjoy playing the victim, I’ll help out.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Somehow, what “seems clear [to you]” transmutes into a “fact”. How did that happen?

          Because you and I agree? Because you said:

          I’ll take somewhere between 80% and 90%.

          I’ll remind you that the range 80% – 90% contains values which are all greater than 50%.


          And how does what [merely] “seems clear [to you]”—not what is true—get normative power over me?

          Well, 1) we’ve just established that as far as you and I are concerned, it is true. You’re responsible for a percentage higher than 50 of the fault for the poor communication that goes on here.
          2) Normative power “over” you? It has none, unless you let it.


          I would like special advice on how I ought to deal with unsubstantiated character assassination—e.g. “He’s a flat out liar”.

          I just gave you some above.


          I’m confused by this, given the following:
          LB: necessarily implied
          PBL: An oxymoron, no?

          Well, in my follow-up response to that chain I said:

          With that said, there is certainly a rigorous sense of “implication” where modification by “necessarily” doesn’t alter or invalidate the meaning of “implied” – you were using that sense of the word?
          Fair enough.


          Because (i) I already apologized for what I actually did; (ii) I refuse to apologize for what I did not do.

          In what way does the phrasing I suggested place the burden of apologizing for what you “did not do” on you?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Because you and I agree?

          No, we don’t. The fact that someone voluntarily takes the blame doesn’t actually mean that person bears that much of the culpability. You were speaking in terms of culpability, while I was speaking in terms of how much blame I will shoulder voluntarily, with zero regard to what is true.

          I just gave you some above.

          I see, so let me get this right:

               (A) When I mistakenly imply someone is a liar, I must apologize in a very specific, groveling style.
               (B) When someone else flatly calls me a liar without any supporting evidence, there is zero expectation that said person ought to apologize in any way, shape or form.

          Is that correct? Basically, I want you to either endorse that yes, you’re expecting me to abide by flagrant double standards—or explain to me how in fact double standards are not in play. I’m probably willing to abide by those double standards, but I must understand them, so as to not emulate the behavior and expectations of those who post here [along the relevant dimensions, in the relevant contexts]. Surely you know how powerful mirror neurons are?

          Well, in my follow-up response to that chain I said:

          That doesn’t answer my question; I want to know if you’re telling me that I ought not do what you did in the first place—pedantically ask if something were an oxymoron when a brief consultation with a dictionary would show that it is not. Again, this is a question of whether I must refrain from emulating you in certain ways.

          In what way does the phrasing I suggested place the burden of apologizing for what you “did not do” on you?

          Your words could be plausibly read as suggesting I failed to apologize. There is something I failed to apologize for, and that’s because I didn’t do it. There is something I did apologize for, and that’s because I did do it.

          Now, I did not apologize in the groveling fashion you indicated. But why must I apologize in that fashion to others, when they never apologize to me in that fashion? I have had people wrong me plenty of times, and they’ve never ever deployed such groveling—whether online or IRL. Now, perhaps this is just another double standard I must endure. I will consider it. But again, I want it explicitly labeled as a double standard, or I want it explained as to how it’s not actually a double standard. Surely that’s a reasonable request?

        • Michael Neville

          The only reason I’m replying to this because I read Paul’s comment and wanted to see what your reply was.

          Yet again you refuse to admit the you were the one to start the contretemps between you and me. You called me a liar and instead of immediately apologizing and saying something to the effect of “I misspoke, I didn’t mean to say you were deceptive” you tried to excuse your insult by claiming that you were using an obscure, secondary meaning of a common English word. Later, when I told you that I was dropping the subject, you continued on, trying to make it my fault that you insulted me.

          When you showed up this time I very carefully and very cautiously made a comment. I made the mistake of bringing up a well-known situation where one particular Christian Church, as an official policy, supported and protected child rapists. You jumped to their defense, insisting that I hadn’t proven my contention that the Catholic hierarchy approves of child rape, even though I had given evidence that they purposely move the rapists from parish to parish, diocese to diocese and even country to country (the Irish rapist priest Brandon Smyth went from Ulster to Eire and was sent to the US twice). Despite this evidence, you leaped onto your high horse and rode off in all directions, demanding that I give evidence to support claims I’d never made, insisting that I was ignoring the UN’s rapist problems and pretending that I would excuse Navy child rapists because I’m retired from the Navy.

          When I’m damned for not supporting arguments I never made and accused of abhorrent actions based on your dislike of me, then I’m not going to react well even under the best of circumstances. Considering that I distrust and despise you, my reaction to your lies was not surprising.

          Here’s something I recommend you consider: If everyone else thinks that you’re an arrogant, dishonest, pedantic prig, then maybe the fault is not with us. There are reasons why we think you’re asshole and they have very little to do with you being a Christian.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Yet again you refuse to admit the you were the one to start the contretemps between you and me.

          Utterly false. You will never be able to produce evidence for this falsehood, because none exists. Here’s what I actually did:

          LB: Per this, here’s an acknowledgment that despite my personal experience, most people will understand deception as requiring intent. When I wrote the following—

          LB: Then why speak deceptively? Surely you can acknowledge that a good number of people will see “the immorality of” as having a different meaning than “my personal dislike of”?

          —I meant that what currently might be accidentally misleading could, if indeed (i) it is misleading; (ii) you become aware of this; (iii) you continue speaking that way, become intentional misleading.So, my apologies for choose the wrong word to communicate what I meant.

          Should you ever repeat the falsehood you just uttered, I shall start describing you as a liar.

          You called me a liar and instead of immediately apologizing and saying something to the effect of “I misspoke, I didn’t mean to say you were deceptive” you tried to excuse your insult by claiming that you were using an obscure, secondary meaning of a common English word.

          Dude, get it through your thick skull that my experience with the word ‘deceptive’ is different than yours. In my experience, people would describe me as being ‘deceptive’ when I had no such intent, and such that I couldn’t tell they were imputing intent. (Too often, I would take people as succeeding in speaking the truth when they clearly were falsely guessing at intentions, if it were ever “guessing” in the first place.) This isn’t an excuse, it’s an explanation. I did take it to justify a less intense apology than would otherwise be merited. Why? Because intention-free errors require less intense of an apology than intentional errors. That’s a socially accepted protocol; you don’t get to magically change it for yourself.

          Later, when I told you that I was dropping the subject, you continued on, trying to make it my fault that you insulted me.

          Say the underlined any more without producing evidence and I will call you a liar every time you repeat it where I notice. You’re clearly neither mistaken nor deluded, given how many chances I have provided you to substantiate your claim with evidence.

        • Michael Neville

          As I said, you’re still trying to make it my fault that you insulted me. Damn but you’re predictable.

          Okay, I learned my lesson. Don’t try to reason with Luke Breuer, he’ll lie about what you said, refuse to admit to any error, and it’s everyone else’s fault that people think he’s an asshole.

          Forget I said anything, Luke. Talking to you is a worthless endeavor. Which isn’t surprising, considering you’re a worthless person.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I must repeatedly learn that lesson.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          As I said, you’re still trying to make it my fault that you insulted me.

          Liar.

        • Pofarmer

          Don’t forget about dragging in piles of unrelated detritus for you to sift through.

        • Susan

          Don’t forget about dragging in piles of unrelated detritus for you to sift through.

          I spent quite a lot of time and energy to follow Luke through his labyrinths of rabbit holes and watched others do the same, only to find that they didn’t lead where he suggested they did.

          Having expended that time and energy, I would try to follow up with Luke and he would just provide more blue rabbit holes.

          Eventually, I would hear from others who had spent considerable time and energy before me, who had addressed his links not to waste their time going down that rabbit hole and providing reasons why.

          Luke (rather than address those problems, for instance with Hume) would then follow up with isolated links of butthurt and links of praise for Luke.

          It always ends up being about Luke.

          Not about the topic.

          Welcome to the Luke Show.

          It only ends when he gets bored or gets banned.

          In the meantime, all meaningful discussion is derailed.

        • Otto

          That is the absolute worst…he just adds complete nonsense to any discussion by adding things he somehow thinks are relevant. It is one thing to go down a rabbit hole, it is another to have to go down 10-15 simultaneously.

          -If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The idiom “‘bullshit baffles brains” comes to mind.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Now, I want no more butthurt complaints from Luke. You folks stop being mean to him, y’hear?

        • Otto

          Maybe if he would use his butt less as a conduit for his posts it would hurt less….hmmm

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Oh, is that where his stuff comes from …

        • Otto

          I can only say it passes the smell test.

        • Kodie

          Can you give me 3–5 good examples of comments by regulars here, where they demonstrate such humility and tentativeness?

          Look, fucker, you are demanding pretentious idiotic fuck. That’s not my opinion, that’s comprehensive fucking fact.

        • MNb

          Funny, how you admit being imperfect and immediately get totally defensive when someone patiently points out one of your imperfections.
          Christian hypocrisy, I say. They all admit they are sinners and never admit a sin (and before you start whining: that’s an exaggeration).

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even if that were the case, that you failed to first check some basic dictionary definitions before claiming that something I said was an oxymoron seems to be the essence of pedantry, and failed pedantry at that.

          Spooooiiiinnnng!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If you’re going to let your users baselessly accuse me of being a liar—e.g. “He’s a flat out liar”—then I’m going to object.

          Again: ask yourself why it is that you bring complaints of this sort. It’s something about your personality that makes your conversations devolve. You seem to have more enthusiasm for responding to insults than you do to adding to the conversation.

          Suggestion: for one week, have a thicker skin. Ignore all insults and focus on actually contributing to the fucking conversation, like I’ve asked you to. Act like a scholar. See if people’s responses don’t improve.

          #LifeIsAMirror

          I doubt that would cost you much of any time to enforce.

          Wrong. It would take a massive amount of time to read each email, grade it on a happiness scale, and decide whether I should allow it or scold the author. Ain’t gonna happen. And that works in your favor, doesn’t it? It takes a lot for me to ban someone.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Again: ask yourself why it is that you bring complaints of this sort.

          You are naive if you think that the constant stream of unsubstantiated character assassinations do nothing to damage rationality and value for evidence.

          You seem to have more enthusiasm for responding to insults than you do to adding to the conversation.

          That’s bullshit, as anyone can see who is following my conversation with @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus (current last comment), or by observing my latest response to @disqus_vkFzxylbwt:disqus. Or you could go look at my posting on The Secular Outpost, and how the atheist authors there regularly engage my writing. Recently, @Ryan_M1:disqus made an excellent comment about how SO is “trying to do something special and different and rare”.

          Suggestion: for one week, have a thicker skin. Ignore all insults and focus on actually contributing to the fucking conversation, like I’ve asked you to.

          Actually, I think I’ll just silently discontinue conversations where I judge the insults to be in sufficient danger of thwarting the values of rationality and respect for evidence. When I don’t think there’s sufficient danger, I’ll ignore them. Sound like a plan?

          #LifeIsAMirror

          You don’t actually believe that, because when you see badness in me, you attribute it 100% to me, whereas when I see badness out there, I’m supposed to attribute it 100% to me.

          LB: But there’s a lot simpler solution: prohibit baseless accusations which are sufficiently terrible when a stink is raised. I doubt that would cost you much of any time to enforce.

          BS: Wrong. It would take a massive amount of time to read each email, grade it on a happiness scale, and decide whether I should allow it or scold the author.

          Good thing I didn’t suggest you do that.

        • Kodie

          You’re in serious denial and want to put the burden of you back on us. That’s why I’m changing your name to Chore Breuer.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          This has been really productive! We’ll have to do this again.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Let me know if/when you become more interested in supporting characterizations of other people with reason and evidence than with impression. 😀

        • TheNuszAbides

          Actually, I think I’ll just silently discontinue conversations where I
          judge the insults to be in sufficient danger of thwarting the values of
          rationality and respect for evidence. When I don’t think there’s
          sufficient danger, I’ll ignore them. Sound like a plan?

          as if countless opportunities to respond to relevant comments, coupled with your indefinitely declining to take them up, weren’t already evidence you make this excuse to yourself.

        • Susan

          Suggestion: for one week, have a thicker skin. Ignore all insults and focus on actually contributing to the fucking conversation, like I’ve asked you to.

          Not going to happen.

          That is, the degree of probablility that it will happen based on prior observations approaches nil.

          In the meantime, he’ll make mincemeat of any discussion and it will (somehow, miraculously) end up being about Luke.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’re almost certainly correct. I did want to encourage more productive behavior for any lurkers, though.

        • Kodie

          Luke, you really have no ability to reflect on yourself. All you ever do is construct elaborate piles of bullshit. You want so badly to believe in god for any scrap of a reason, you will nitpick in thesis form, but you don’t carry conversations like anyone normal. Evasive Christians come along a dime a dozen. You are not more truthful or direct just because your posts are thoroughly cited, lengthy, or … just because you think so! You are bizarre and annoying, and that’s no reason itself to look down on you, but you burden yourself on doing a much more wordy job than other theists, and you think you are much more inquisitive and furthering discussion, but you lack self-reflection. You are not better or smarter or more thoughtful or more critically thinking than other Christians, and you are not more challenging.

          You are like the dork in school who kept raising their hand to waste the teacher’s time so nobody else could learn. You demand patience and respect, but you are a clueless fucking jerk to everyone else. You don’t get this, you don’t get that, you want to analyze this word and that word and change the subject and ignore the other subject, and you want to complain? My email fills up every hour with buckets and buckets of your shitty fucking posts and people trying to explain why you are missing a clue, lacking brevity, building this castle of matchsticks and deluding yourself that it’s ready to move in and live there.

          I’m not sure if Christianity damaged you or what, but it’s clear you are a victim of desperately needing it to be true, that you will obsess over minutiae to fill that void, to argue that you’re not a liar, that you’re making all the sense, and paranoid that everyone is just spreading rumors about what a loser you tend to be. If you want it to be true, everything else needs your analysis to shake out all the flaws, but not Christianity. Why are you bothering all of us with this? You’re not a fun hobby.

        • Paul B. Lot

          You are like the dork in school who kept raising their hand to waste the teacher’s time so nobody else could learn. You demand patience and respect, but you are a clueless fucking jerk to everyone else.

          Ooooph, I was that kid in classes – rough to see how it affected others around me. 😛

        • Kodie

          I can’t say I didn’t resent the kid asking more questions at a presentation or field trip because the material was just that interesting, but I think there’s a big difference between wanting to know more, and thinking you know more than the teacher and strategically challenging everything they say to undermine them, or stall the lesson time on minutiae about what color pen the teacher prefers, or other kinds of questions about an assignment that should be approached later on a one-to-one.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That happens in coursemanship too. Some arsehole on the course who wants to make ya look like a dick by asking some obscure detail for no other reason than in order to trip ya up in front of those marking the performance. I had a stock answer for those sorts of tossers and it only happened the once per chancer.

        • Paul B. Lot

          I had a stock answer for those sorts of tossers and it only happened the once per chancer.

          And it was?

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Good question.Well presented. Unfortunately I’m not in possession of the answer at this time, but if you see me after the end of the lesson, we can consult the relevant instruction pamphlet in order to address your query.”

          Nobody likes these sort of things eating into their own time, so the nonsense soon ceases to be funny.

          http://www.sentimentaljourney.co.uk/sj/ccp8/media/ecom/prodsm/mtp23-1942.jpg

        • Michael Neville

          INCREDIBLY SECRET: BURN BEFORE READING!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          What were you teaching?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Everything from demolition calculations to minefield breaching, minefield laying to setting booby traps, laying concrete to steel erecting, watermanship to knots and lashings, bridge building to bridge demolitions. Anything a military engineer requires to know.

          Areas of expertise are summarised as follows:

          Basic Field Engineering – Knots & lashings, field machines, basic structures, hand & power tools, construction techniques.

          Water Supply – The production and distribution of drinkable water.

          Demolitions – The use of explosives.

          Force Protection – The construction of protective structures and defensive obstacles.

          Watermanship – The safe operation of military assault craft and outboard motors.

          Mine Warfare – The location and clearance of explosive devices.

          Bridging – The construction of purpose-made and improvised bridges to overcome wet and dry gap obstacles.

          http://www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/26391.aspx

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          That’s a fascinating repertoire, though it’d probably be more fun if getting shot at wasn’t a potential part of the process.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Getting shot at was not so much the problem as getting hit was. }8O)~

          The adrenaline rush goes through the roof under fire. But in those days I was so much younger, when self preservation wasn’t top of the list. As one gets older one tends to wise ta fuck up.

        • Michael Neville

          “Don’t worry about the bullet with your name on it, there’s nothing you can do about it. But be aware of the ones marked ‘To whom it may concern’.” –Anon but probably a combat veteran

        • TheNuszAbides

          and/or munitions dealer?

        • Greg G.

          Getting shot at was not so much the problem as getting hit was.

          Bullets don’t kill people. Bullet holes kill people.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I was reading about PTSD in recent returnees from Afghanistan. (Maybe it wasn’t so much PTSD as simply difficulty in re-entering society.) One of the big things, which I didn’t expect, is that you’re with a platoon of guys who’d die for you. And you’d die for them. There’s lots of adrenaline happening.

          And then you come home … where most people wouldn’t take a bullet for you. Where you might be an interchangeable cog where you work. Things are quite calm, and people chat about things that, from your perspective, seem completely unworthy of attention.

          Does any of this sound like what your compatriots had to deal with?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed it does. Which is why we all enjoy reunions, Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, etc. There is a feeling of esprit de corps even among comrades of differing eras as we all have that one thing in common and know it without having even to talk about it.

          The next get together is in March, when we hold a memorial and remember the murder of a couple of young lads collecting a pizza delivery on the night before they were to be deployed to Afghanistan.

          At about 21:40 on the evening of Saturday of 7 March, four off-duty British soldiers of the Royal Engineers walked outside the barracks to receive a pizza delivery from two delivery men. As the exchange was taking place, two masked gunmen in a nearby car (a green Vauxhall Cavalier) opened fire with Romanian AKM automatic rifles. The firing lasted for more than 30 seconds with more than 60 shots being fired. After the initial burst of gunfire, the gunmen walked over to the wounded soldiers lying on the ground and fired again at close range, killing two of them. killed were Sappers Mark Quinsey from Birmingham and Patrick Azimkar from London. The other two soldiers and two deliverymen were wounded. The soldiers were wearing desert fatigues and were to be deployed to Afghanistan the next day. A few hours later, the car involved was found abandoned near Randalstown, eight miles from the barracks.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Massereene_Barracks_shooting

        • Michael Neville

          There is a feeling of esprit de corps even among comrades of differing eras as we all have that one thing in common and know it without having even to talk about it.

          Bill Maudin, writing about World War II, referred to the “Benevolent and Protective Brotherhood of Them What Has Been Shot At”. A major reason why IA and I get along so well is that even though we were in different conflicts in different services for different countries, we’re both members of this brotherhood and recognize the other as a brother.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker
        • Michael Neville

          My favorite Maudin cartoon has Joe and Willie sitting under a sapling in a driving rainstorm and one is saying to the other: “This damn tree leaks.”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I didn’t realize the Troubles were still so troublesome.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A terrorist shooting just this evening.

          Police officer shot in Belfast

          A police officer has been wounded in a shooting at a filling station in north Belfast, prompting condemnation from across political divides.

          http://www.itv.com/news/utv/update/2017-01-23/injured-psni-officer-shot-twice-in-elbow/

          And a few days ago this shooting happened at house at the school gates where I collect the granddaughter from each Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.

          Children escape injury after shot fired at house in Carrick

          Two young girls have narrowly escaped injury after gunmen attacked a house in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

          http://www.itv.com/news/utv/update/2017-01-19/children-escape-injury-after-shot-fired-at-house-in-carrick/

        • Paul B. Lot

          but I think there’s a big difference between wanting to know more, and thinking you know more than the teacher and strategically challenging everything they say to undermine them

          I was 100% that bold-letter kid. *sheepish grin*

          I totally questioned my biology teacher from I.D. talking-points in H.S. until she couldn’t answer any more things and got fed up.

          I mean, I was also looking for the truth (or so I tell myself now?) – but I was convinced that I had it, and I wanted to see if the teacher could prove me wrong.

          Totally didn’t think about it, at the time, from the perspective of what the other kids might think of me for wasting their time. (I’m sure some were pleased that it derailed some of the classes.)

          The above probably isn’t super shocking, though, I don’t think many other CE (or EN for that matter) posters waste as much time arguing with Luke as I do.

          What did @BobSeidensticker:disqus say a few minutes ago?

          #LifeIsAMirror

        • Kodie

          1. I admire your style with Luke, for what it’s worth. He’s got mountains of bullshit, and you cut it to the actual chase. When I don’t just scroll through the email all fed up with the guy, if I’m going to read a post, it’s probably your post. I feel more comfortable in the character analysis than actually pinning down what he’s fucking talking about, and carrying on a dialogue.

          2. I have this certain memory, perhaps a composite memory, of a trip my class took to Washington, D.C., and I imagine you’re familiar with CNBC… haven’t watched it lately, but that sort of fixed camera peeking in on whatever Congress is up to whatever time of day, so our group was up in some balcony and nothing was happening, and this was part of our tour. I was in 10th grade, and the tour guide asks if anyone has a question, and this was just so boring, and you feel like everyone thinks it’s boring too, and wouldn’t dare prolong it.

          From a perspective now so many years later, and working with kids and teens, I can imagine the workings of government was fascinating to some of my peers, it was something they talked about at home and recognized a vital working part of our government, and we were there live to something we’ve been learning about since 2nd grade basically. I think it might have been more interesting if Congress was doing anything that day. I liked the FBI tour and I got to go inside the barracks at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (an elite few of our group were chosen), and if anyone asked us for questions and anyone in our group asked them, I don’t remember being annoyed. To me, the presentation matters, and if the presentation is dull, asking more questions makes me have to sit politely listening to dull stuff. The information being relayed could be something you want to know and want to know more about, so why not ask. When I find something boring, I can’t imagine anyone finds it interesting enough to be listening and thinking of follow-up questions.

          I guess I went off there. I think Bob and any of us deserve to be questioned if someone disagrees and wants to know what we mean or why we think so or where we got the information we’re repeating. Where Luke fails is that he thinks his writing is clear but ours is confusing and needs to be picked apart pixel by pixel to make sure it passes his examination, but a huge blind spot for Christianity. He’s a fucking chore. He’s not asking a few good questions that open up the dialogue, but leveraging a thousand accusations at atheists for any speck he thinks is out of place, from lumping him in with Catholic boy molesters, or criticizing his writing or fixations, etc. He’s a very sensitive boy who can’t condense his ideas or his questions to a few manageable ones. He’s like, when Christians come over and get a lot of pile-on, he’s the solitary Christian pile-on to a whole atheist blog of dozens of posters. Even when he cuts people out of his roll, he’s posting so many posts, I just don’t fucking care. I’m in 10th grade again in the Capitol Building all over again waiting for this one nerd to stop asking the tour guide boring questions about how a bill becomes a law, which the rest of us learned over 300 Saturday mornings ago. Right now, I’m looking at a (7) in my inbox from here, and know most of those posts must be from Luke. I left my house about 4:30pm and it’s about 12:30 now.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I admire your style with Luke, for what it’s worth. He’s got mountains of bullshit, and you cut it to the actual chase. When I don’t just scroll through the email all fed up with the guy, if I’m going to read a post, it’s probably your post. I feel more comfortable in the character analysis than actually pinning down what he’s fucking talking about, and carrying on a dialogue.

          Paul, and a few others here, have experience with the Luke Breuer Show elsewhere. But you are right, PBL has a certain astute way with Breuerisms.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Only 7, lucky you.

        • Kodie

          That’s 7 different threads and all the new comments in each, and CE is the only blog I read.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There is a time and a place for raising ones hand to waste the teachers time.

          When on an instructors course during my military days, I learned coursemanship. A thing in coursemanship one learns is how to ask questions that will waste time. Teaching a lesson while under adjudication, it helps to plant ringers in the class, who is made up of ones peers on the course. A few ringers with premptive questions that won’t stub the instructor, makes one look good to those marking the performance.

        • Kevin K

          Let’s get real. Many times, you do not make any sense. And then you get all huffy about people not being able to make sense of what you write.

          Fewer posts, more carefully considered might benefit you.

        • eric

          It makes no sense for a lawyer to stay in the courtroom, arguing for the other party’s guilt, when the judge has already rendered a verdict. It accomplishes nothing; merely filling up the air with useless chatter. You objected to being called a liar. Bob responded. He rendered his verdict: be more interesting. Contribute more substance. I get that his response may not be satisfactory to you – that you disagree with his verdict – but at this point continuing to complain that someone called you a liar is just standing in the courtroom, arguing with an empty bench, filling up the thread with useless chatter. Pose a substantive point. Or answer a substantive question. You know, if you’re really that concerned about your reputation, a good way to improve it is to stop with all the ‘he said this, I’m offended’ posts and contribute intelligent thought pieces to the conversation instead.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Luke is a liar, of course we all are to some degree or other, as Dr. House says, “Everybody lies…everybody dies”. But why Luke get’s bent outta shape about it and in doing so, draws more attention to the fact, especially when it’s demonstrably true, is anybodies guess.

        • MNb

          I have noticed that tons of christians are quick to admit that they are sinners and slower than a snail to specify with a concrete example which sin they are guilty of.

        • BlackMamba44
        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Raising a fuss about unsubstantiated character assassination accomplishes purposes even if the bench is empty. I’ll lay it out for you:

               (1) The cost is greatly increased for anyone who considers attempting to assassinate my character with zero evidence.
               (2) Those who wish to create the evidence that { I cause a lot of fuss } have a relatively deterministic way to do that: defame me.

          Of course, (2) provides fantastic evidence for me, as well. After all, the absolute refusal to stomp on unsubstantiated character assassination (indistinguishable from slander/​libel, which is illegal) says a lot about the kinds of people who frequent here. It says a lot about their value (or disvalue) of evidence and reason.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Of course, (2) provides fantastic evidence for me, as well. After all, the absolute refusal to stomp on unsubstantiated character assassination (indistinguishable from slander/​libel, which is illegal) says a lot about the kinds of people who frequent here. It says a lot about their value (or disvalue) of evidence and reason.

          Aaaaaand he’s devolved into hinting at legal repercussions to blog comments.

          Who did we agree was going to watch the clock this time, was it you @Ignorant_Amos:disqus? @disqus_xYWVllyPLU:disqus? @BobSeidensticker:disqus ?

          Quick! We need to note the time, for scientific porpoises.

          BTW, Luke, you’ve failed to incorporate a variable into your calculus: the probability that you would appear so unhinged, illogical, and untrustworthy that everyone would have an extremely low prior-credence when attempting a bayseian analysis of your claims of defamation.

          There’s a parable for this situation, Luke, maybe you’ve heard of it?

          The Boy Who Cried Wolf

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Aaaaaand he’s devolved into hinting at legal repercussions to blog comments.

          LOL, the only way a court would possibly hear this is if somehow y’all were able to appreciably damage my reputation IRL. Nobody cares if it’s just some random website. Ostensibly, nobody would actually write shit like “He’s a flat out liar” if [s]he thought it could have that kind of consequence. But hey, people are often more stupid and sometimes more evil than one likes to think.

          BTW, Luke, you’ve failed to incorporate a variable into your calculus: the probability that you would appear so unhinged, illogical, and untrustworthy that everyone would have an extremely low prior-credence when attempting a bayseian analysis of your claims of defamation.

          Your pedantry fails again. If you don’t require evidence for [some] claims, you are a person who doesn’t require evidence for [some] claims. Prior credences are absolutely irrelevant to observing that. The kind of normative nonsense you are apparently endorsing(!) is probably what led Hillary Clinton to appear to the US electorate be a huge liar in the 2016 presidential election. (That is, worse of a liar than your average politician.) The more expert practitioners of defamation know that if you can repeat a lie enough times, many people can be convinced to view it as true. This is why a healthy skepticism is required. But apparently, folks on CE apply their ‘healthy skepticism’ … selectively. At least, that is what the evidence is increasingly demonstrating.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Yes, Luke. I’m going to take advice about what is or is not “absolutely irrelevant” from a guy who just shifted to the 2016 election as a talking point. :)

          As it happens, though, you’re wrong.

          It is precisely the case that, having established yourself as extremely untrustworthy to many here, and therefore their prior-credences for your claims being extremely low, the truth or falsehood of your claims should be deemed more effort than it’s worth to determine.

          That’s what the parable I referenced is about. If one lowers one’s credibility enough to one’s interlocutors, one loses so much trust that they no longer feel obligated to treat your claims as worth investigating.


          LOL, the only way a court would possibly hear this is if somehow y’all were able to appreciably damage my reputation IRL. Nobody cares if it’s just some random website.

          I never claimed that the knee-jerk reactions you exhibit are intelligent and/or meaningful, let alone anything to take seriously or, god forbid, be afraid of.

          They are, however, grimly hilarious.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuGIgf-ICHM

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          It is precisely the case that, having established yourself as extremely untrustworthy to many here, and therefore their prior-credences for your claims being extremely low, the truth or falsehood of your claims should be deemed more effort than it’s worth to determine.

          Irrelevant: I was talking about the truth or falsehood of others’ claims, not mine.

        • Paul B. Lot

          Irrelevant: I was talking about the truth or falsehood of others’ claims, not mine.

          Oh, it’s irrelevant eh?

          The fact that my prior credence for your claims is much, much lower than for others’ claims shouldn’t affect how closely I investigate their claims when the only one arguing against them is….you? :)

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The fact that my prior credence for your claims is much, much lower than for others’ claims shouldn’t affect how closely I investigate their claims when the only one arguing against them is….you?

          I said nothing about “should” or “shouldn’t”; when I said “Irrelevant.”, it was with respect to my stated purpose:

          LB: Of course, (2) provides fantastic evidence for me, as well. After all, the absolute refusal to stomp on unsubstantiated character assassination (indistinguishable from slander/​libel, which is illegal) says a lot about the kinds of people who frequent here. It says a lot about their value (or disvalue) of evidence and reason.

          If you somehow think I don’t understand the trust/​authority dynamic at play, that’d be cute. Again, I get the impression that folks here like to self-congratulate for having a healthy skepticism, so as to avoid being taken in by false testimony and other incompetence. It is interesting to judge what they really mean by that, from their behavior. As you know, people’s rhetoric can be at arbitrary variance with their behavior.

        • Paul B. Lot

          If you somehow think I don’t understand the trust/​authority dynamic at play, that’d be cute.

          You incompetence might be cute, if it weren’t so sad and destructive.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          A single person, commenting on a few atheist-dominated websites (where the atheists have complete control over the ban-hammer), can be “so … destructive”? Fascinating!

          N.B. The above was said under the assumption that you employed evidence-based reasoning in your claim of “destructive”. If you weren’t actually doing this—well then, all bets are off!

        • Paul B. Lot

          Interesting, a single person, commenting on a few atheist-dominated websites (where the atheists have complete control over the ban-hammer), can be “so … destructive”? Fascinating!

          Well, do you really not understand how bad your problems are? You comment so frequently and disentangling your meanings is so laborious for most people that you ruin dialogue.

          I’ve seen you do it here several times before. I’ve seen you do it at EN.

          Apparently you’ve done it at other sites, as well.

          Sooner or later, you’ll have to stop playing the idiot-savant card and own up to the consequences of your actions.* :-/

          But, as it happens, I wasn’t really referring to the effect you have on [the atmosphere of the site].

          I was thinking about how destructive you are to [all the potential connections which could have been made here].

          *Caveat, this isn’t strictly true as-written, to take my meaning one must understand the implied premise “if you want these dialogues to get healthier”.

          Edits for clarity.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Well, do you really not understand how bad your problems are? You comment so frequently and disentangling your meanings is so laborious for most people that you ruin dialogue.

          Yeah, my frequent commenting is so problematic for @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus; I mean, how does he manage to focus on just the conversation we’re engaged in, instead of getting distracted by all the other comments I make to other people? Perhaps he has a superpower he might be willing to share with you?

          As to disentangling my meanings, I’m sure I could do better. In fact, every time I discuss this stuff with people, I get better at discussing it. Do I fall short of perfection what would be good enough for @disqus_4rvHZwPMCR:disqus? Every time! Oh well, it’s good enough for other people—like [atheist] @disqus_vkFzxylbwt:disqus, as can be seen by our conversation about After Virtue. Here on CE, I can learn more about the social dynamics which powered Trump’s rise to power. 😀

          I was thinking about how destructive you are to [all the potential connections which could have been made here].

          Like what? I’m quite enjoying my current conversation with @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus. Perhaps you’re talking about what conversations could happen if I weren’t around?

        • Paul B. Lot


          Perhaps you’re talking about what conversations could happen if I weren’t around?

          Nope.


          Yeah, my frequent commenting is so problematic for Otto…Perhaps he has a superpower he might be willing to share with you?

          Are you under the impression that I am speaking for myself alone, or even primarily? Cute.

          All the most active usuals have noted it repeatedly. The site owner has noted it repeatedly. Whom are you trying to fool here?

          Yourself?

          Future readers?


          Like what? I’m quite enjoying my current conversation with Otto.

          I have no trouble believing that you “enjoy” most of your conversations here! That would fit nicely in the framework I have for you.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Are you under the impression that I am speaking for myself alone, or even primarily?

          No.

          Whom are you trying to fool here?

          Nobody. I’m just curious about what you apparently think are the better conversations I could have with other people. I don’t really know what they would look like. I know how to have excellent conversations with people like @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus and @disqus_vkFzxylbwt:disqus. But I’ve never really learned to have a good conversation with someone like you. I have no idea what it would look like, and I’m curious about how you know what it would look like. Perhaps you could point me to how you have interacted well with someone like me in as many respects as possible, except that you managed not to hate said person? Or are your claims here not really based on evidence—are they at best, hyper-extended past the evidence?

          I have no trouble believing that you “enjoy” most of your conversations here! That would fit nicely in the framework I have for you.

          Then your framework needs some serious renovation, because I only enjoy a small fraction of my conversations on CE. The rest are like pulling teeth, but I think the result may just be worth it, so I endure.

        • Paul B. Lot
          Are you under the impression that I am speaking for myself alone, or even primarily?

          No.

          Ehn, I think you’re lying. The way you worded this doesn’t jive with your answer:

          Perhaps he has a superpower he might be willing to share with you?


          I’m just curious about what you apparently think are the better conversations I could have with other people.

          Ehn, no. I don’t believe you. I think you are, in fact, trying to fool yourself or your readers by pretending to fail to grasp my meaning.


          I know how to have excellent conversations with people like Otto and Cam.

          Does @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus agree with you? :)

          I have no doubt that you can, occasionally, have excellent conversations. That ability is not in question, nor is it the subject of this discussion.


          Then your framework needs some serious renovation…but I think the result may just be worth it, so I endure.

          I doubt it. “May just be worth it, so I endure” – ah that sweet dopamine release of feeling yourself to be the righteous martyr.

          No no, the lady doth protest too much. :)

          And, once again, hundreds of words expended….all so that you can run and hide from the truth: you are the boy who cried wolf.

          Even if someone was defaming you or slandering you, few people would perk up when you announced it – having announced it falsely so many times before.

          And that fact adequately explains the phenomenon which you claim is evidence of an “absolute refusal to stomp on unsubstantiated character assassination … It says a lot about their value (or disvalue) of evidence and reason.”

          There’s not the slightest bit of unreasonableness or disvaluing of evidence to ignore a man who abuses the truth the way that you do.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Ehn, I think you’re lying. The way you worded this doesn’t jive with your answer:

          You aren’t aware that in English, “you” can be plural as well as singular? It is obnoxious that there aren’t too different words, but there you have it. Once in a while I’ll say “y’all” when I think it’s really important to be distinguish, but here it wasn’t important at all. Your pedantry has failed you again, Paul.

          Ehn, no. I don’t believe you. I think you are, in fact, trying to fool yourself or your readers by pretending to fail to grasp my meaning.

          You may pretend all you want. :-) As it stands, you’re claiming that something better is possible, while providing absolutely zero evidence that it is. If you’re happy with that, then do please continue.

          Does @disqus_K3l83uMZuy:disqus agree with you? :)

          You are welcome to ask him.

          “May just be worth it, so I endure” – ah that sweet dopamine release of feeling yourself to be the righteous martyr.

          Ummm, martyrs generally need sympathetic audiences. My audience is solely constituted by the following two groups of people: (i) those happy to attempt to assassinate my character while never substantiating their claims; and (ii) those happy to stand by and refuse to challenge the former group to actually substantiate their claims. That makes for a pretty piss-poor audience if one wishes to be a martyr. But I never saw knowledge of human psychology as a strong suit of yours, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, here.

          And, once again, hundreds of words expended….all so that you can run and hide from the truth: you are the boy who cried wolf.

          Curiously, you’ve never actually showed where I have cried wolf. Let’s see if you fall into group (i).

          Even if someone was defaming you or slandering you, few people would perk up when you announced it – having announced it falsely so many times before.

          “so many times” ← so little evidence

        • Paul B. Lot

          You aren’t aware that in English, “you” can be plural as well as singular? …Your pedantry has failed you again, Paul.

          English is my second language. :) But, no, I doubt that’s what is going on here. A) There was no indication of a plurality change, and
          B) I’m not among the group that finds fault with you merely for your post-count.


          As it stands, you’re claiming that something better is possible

          Nope, I’m not claiming that.


          You are welcome to ask him.

          What do you think the point of tagging his name was, sweatheart?


          Ummm, martyrs generally need sympathetic audiences.

          False. Well, I mean, true-ish: but a “true” martyr’s audience is all in his/her own head – ie. the part of their consciousness they wall off and call “God”.


          But I never saw knowledge of human psychology as a strong suit of yours, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, here.

          Dunning and Kruger would like a word with you. 😛


          Curiously, you’ve never actually showed where I have cried wolf.

          False.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          PBL: I was thinking about how destructive you are to [all the potential connections which could have been made here].

          […]

          LB: As it stands, you’re claiming that something better is possible, while providing absolutely zero evidence that it is.

          PBL: Nope, I’m not claiming that.

          So… what did you mean by “potential connections”? It seems to me that ‘potential’ ⇒ ‘possible’.

          What do you think the point of tagging his name was, sweetheart?

          I never get emails notifying me of tags, and I know Disqus can be quite wonky.

          LB: Curiously, you’ve never actually showed where I have cried wolf.

          PBL: False.

          Oh do share. Maybe you found one or two instances and then multiplied them to feed 5000, just like Jesus?

        • Paul B. Lot

          So… what did you mean by “potential connections”? It seems to me that ‘potential’ ⇒ ‘possible’.

          You’re missing a piece of the puzzle here, can you find it, @LukeBreuer:disqus ? Keen student of psychology that you are? :)


          What do you think the point of tagging his name was, sweetheart?
          I never get emails notifying me of tags, and I know Disqus can be quite wonky.

          Doesn’t answer the question.


          Oh do share.

          No. I don’t have the time or the interest. Instead, I’ll modify my claim for you:

          Even if a particular poster was defaming you or slandering you, few of the others would perk up when you announced it – your having made similar announcements so many times before – announcements which seemed baseless to the others.

        • Greg G.

          You aren’t aware that in English, “you” can be plural as well as singular?

          I agree. We still use the plural verb form with “you”. We should readopt the singular “ye”. My father used “ye” and maybe still does.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          The most obnoxious instance I know of is this one:

          Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:19a)

          A look at the NET: 1 Cor 6:19 shows that the first ‘you’ is P-2GP while ‘body’ is N-NSN. It’s a single body of all believers. It’s not like this isn’t blindingly obvious from Ephesians 2:19–21, but when you’ve gotta justify your messed-up social structure from a text, why let the difference between a singular and plural get in the way? If we only make ‘you’ a singular, we can make this a text against suicide! (The same pattern shows up in 1 Cor 3:17.)

          Is there some pithy quote about how systems of understanding and systems of law get perverted one little bit at a time?

        • Greg G.

          “He said he went to the store.”

          We don’t know if both instances of “he” refer to the same person. Sign language has an interesting way to deal with pronouns. A position in relation to the space around the signer is established for each individual being talked about and gestures establish which one is being referred to.

          Why can’t we have non-gender specific third person pronouns, while we’re at it? I’ve seen “zhe” for “he” or “she”, “hir” for “him” and “her”, and “hirs” for “his” and “hers” (and the other use of “her”).

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Sadly, I doubt that attempts to reform language will reform humans. I think it goes the other way:

          The corruption of man is followed by the corruption of language. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

          I do, however, respect the notion of performativity. That whole bit about “Sticks and stones may break my bones / but words will never harm me” is ridiculous nonsense. Wise people know this, but we don’t like to listen to wise people. They’re so pesky!

        • Greg G.

          I wonder whatever happened to the “thee and thou” police? They have gone quiet lately.

        • Otto

          “Does Otto agree with you? :)”

          I generally find your (and others here) criticisms of the interactions with Luke to be my experience too, I try hard to keep things cordial but I would be lying if I said I don’t get completely frustrated with the shell games.

        • Ignorant Amos

          If I have to stag on, be aware of the time zone difference when penciling me in.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because Luke wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing…At least not on a single data point anyway.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Modus operandi?

        • MNb

          A wonderful avoidance of Greg G’s question.

        • adam

          “A wonderful attempt to assassinate my character”

          No, EXPOSE your ‘character’ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8f7de2a4d28d78a1bc56bb3f1e4540bc3a32c51fc97fa697efee04900af7d2b4.jpg

        • Paul B. Lot

          My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined;

          Blaming others for your own mistakes is no kind of way to go through life, Luke.

          I understand that you have problems, but you should know them by now. You should plan for them, try to mitigate them.

          If you cannot both post in the styles/frequency to which you are accustomed AND have good conversational outcomes with certain groups of people: change your style or frequency when taking to them.

          (Caveat: no doubt this will fall on deaf ears for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that Jesus was a failure too. “God hardens hearts” and all that. How toxic, an ideology which sees it’s even own abject failures as simply more proof of its righteousness – religion really does poison everything.)

        • eric

          My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined;
          Oh get a grip. With all deference to Bob’s work here, its highly unlikely a couple people calling you a liar on this website will have any sort of larger or long-term impact whatsoever on your reputation in life. The social reach and impact of these threads just isn’t that great. You aren’t going to lose any job, loan, or marriage because of the opinion of you that some other people have stated here.

          And given that Herald N’s post is at best tangential to the OP, it would have been perfectly reasonable to just ignore it. You jumped into this ‘Christians are [generalization]’ mud pit with both feet, people responded to you, and now you’re complaining about being in it.

          So how about this: if you don’t want your reputation besmirched, just get back to the OP. Do you agree or disagree with Bob’s analysis? In your opinion is ‘science can’t know everything’ a valid point? Do you agree its a straw man argument or do you think scientists really make the argument that they can know everything? Be substantive and on point, and I, at least, won’t engage in ad homs.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          With all deference to Bob’s work here, its highly unlikely a couple people calling you a liar on this website will have any sort of larger or long-term impact whatsoever on your reputation in life.

          You’re correct. That’s also utterly irrelevant to my argument.

          And given that Herald N’s post is at best tangential to the OP, it would have been perfectly reasonable to just ignore it.

          Huh? It was @disqus_a9H6kflDom:disqus who tried to make it personal, I refused with explanation. If you want me to be more personal, you’ll have to treat me more as a person, and exert pressure on others here to do the same.

        • Greg G.

          Personal? It was a question about whether Christians assign an infinite value to human life. If you don’t, you could have said, “I’m a Christian and I do not believe that.” Then he would have met one who didn’t believe it. If you do believe that human life has infinite value, why respond? He already stated the caveat that there may be Christians who don’t believe it.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Oh give me a break, you knew you were pressing me to reconcile the following contradiction—

          HN: If human life has infinite value, as they claim, why do they treat human life so callously?

          —via letting CE dictate that I “treat human life so callously”. This, despite zero evidence being presented for that position. But as we have seen, CE regulars do not generally think that they need evidence to assassinate character. Now, how did you pull this little trick off? By saying this:

          GG: What is it about your credibility on CE that would prevent you from saying that you do not put an infinite value on human life? Or would your opinion confirm his generalization?

          The two options you have presented very carefully exclude the possibility that I don’t “treat human life so callously”. This is why I responded with “A wonderful attempt to assassinate my character”. Yes, “personal”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          But as we have seen, CE regulars do not generally think that they need evidence to assassinate character.

          Says the man who reckoned epeeist was the sort of individual who warranted his banning from Strange Notions based on ONE comment, a comment that you had no context in which to place the comment. The man who then pitched up to Cross Examined a short time later, claiming that he is NOT the kind of person who makes assumptions based on a single data point. The man who asserted that I was stalking him across the internet because I was here at CE and commenting about him, and that I went to Debunking Christianity, iirc, to run down his comments. Except I was commenting here before Luke was even directed to this forum and it was Luke himself that linked to his fracas that got him asked to leave DC.

          Also, iirc, you were the one at EN waxing lyrical about the classier level of interlocutor here, in particular, the sites host, whom while not in agreement, nevertheless engaged in fruitful dialogue.

          Changed days indeed.

        • Greg G.

          You have edited quite a bit out of reality to create your narrative.

          HN:
          Here’s an interesting question that I’ve yet to figure out. I’ve yet to meet a Christian who doesn’t believe that human life has infinite value (that’s not to say they don’t exist), and I’ve yet to meet any that behave as if this is true. Why?

          LB:
          You realize that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian, right?

          GG:
          Did Herald Newman ever meet MLK, Jr? Your response does not dispute his second sentence.

          LB:
          Irrelevant. Herald Newman is clearly generalizing from his experience to Christians in general. I’m questioning that move. I’m not questioning that the particular Christians with whom he has interacted may be as he describes.

          GG:
          Herald Newman has met you in this online forum. Why didn’t you use yourself as an example?HN was generalizing from all the Christian he has met but he clearly acknowledged the possibility that some of that type of Christian could exist. But his generalization is drawn from the rarity in his experience.

          LB:
          Because this forum (not just Bob, but everyone) tolerates the following kind of behavior:My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined; it would be beyond stupid to rely on the CE perception of my character or behavior in the way you suggest.

          That is where you played the Sanctimonious Victim card. That was before I posted the line you are now whining about. Every one of my responses in this subthread was about the “infinite value of human life” issue. I never gave a thought or a mention to anything in HN’s post except the first paragraph.

        • Ignorant Amos

          This is what Luke does…it is his wanking material. He loves it.

          But when his folly is laid open, he regresses to the Sanctimonious Victim card. His in group/out group refuge point.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Do you think it’s plausible that I don’t “treat human life so callously”? See, I just don’t know how to establish such a thing on CE. Establishing that would be important for me to use myself as an example.

        • Greg G.

          I had never given a thought to whether you treat human life callously, even when you mentioned it before. I presume that people do not treat human life callously until I have reason to think otherwise. However, the energy you are putting into defending against an accusation that was never made is making be question my assumption that you do not.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Why don’t you sketch out how I would have successfully demonstrated that I don’t in fact “treat human life so callously”? All I foresaw happening is a dog-pile of unsubstantiated character assassination which nobody challenges but me. For example, I could see folks coming down hard on me because I insist that we have evidence that RCC ‘condones’ pedophilia, but don’t have evidence that it ‘approves’ of it. After all, they already have: “You’ve been doing triple backflips just to defend those immoral assholes and one has to wonder why.” Yes, saying we have evidence for ‘condones’ but not ‘approves’ constitutes a defense, somehow.

        • Greg G.

          You could have said you didn’t put an infinite value on human life. Then it wouldn’t matter how callously you treated people. If you do put an infinite value on human life, you could have claimed you didn’t treat people callously but people who treat others like that probably don’t think they do, so it might be difficult to believe no matter what your reputation. But that is the second paragraph which I had forgotten when I first replied to you in this subthread. Quit being so butt hurt.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          If you do put an infinite value on human life, you could have claimed you didn’t treat people callously but people who treat others like that probably don’t think they do, so it might be difficult to believe no matter what your reputation.

          Yep. Which would make me … wait for it … a terrible counterexample. Now, tell me why you pushed for me to make myself a counterexample?

        • Greg G.

          This is all in your head, Luke. I did not push you into anything. Nothing I said was about the “treating people callously”, at least not until you pushed me into it. If something touched a nerve in you, maybe you feel guilty that you treat people callously. The thought never entered my mind until you made it an issue. The more you drag this out, the more that thought is confirmed.

          Which would make me … wait for it … a terrible counterexample.

          How? You haven’t confirmed that you put an infinite value on human life.

          Note to Luke: I am not pushing you to confirm or deny whether you put an infinite value on human life. I don’t care.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          In the future, I suggest you do not ask questions to which you do not desire an honest, truthful answer. Here’s the question you asked:

          GG: Why didn’t you use yourself as an example?

          See, the baseline for using myself as an example runs up against a big problem—a problem which you were kind to identify:

          GG: If you do put an infinite value on human life, you could have claimed you didn’t treat people callously but people who treat others like that probably don’t think they do, so it might be difficult to believe no matter what your reputation.

          Even if I had a pretty good reputation on CE, using myself as an example would be quite iffy. However, perhaps it would have worked. And I might have tried. So the biggest, central reason I did not use myself as an example is that CE does not punish defamation of character, at least when the person is someone they dislike, at least when that person is yours truly. Because with this additional factor, we have the following alteration:

          GG′: If you do put an infinite value on human life, you could have claimed you didn’t treat people callously but people who treat others like that probably don’t think they do, so it might be difficult would be nigh impossible to believe no matter what your reputation.

          There, you have a complete answer to your initial question. Is there anything else you would like to ask me?

        • Greg G.

          There are two kinds of people who claim they don’t treat people callously: Those who do not and those who do.

          We are not on an island of people who always tell the truth and people who always lie and you only get to ask one question.

          If you want to answer the question about whether you assign infinite value to human life, answer it and don’t couch it in the “treating people callously” issue. Just say “I think human life has infinite value” or “I do not think human life has infinite value.” Or don’t. Nobody cares at this point.

          It was inferred that you do believe that when you didn’t just use yourself as an example of a Christian who does not assign infinite value to human life which would take the whole “callousness” out, yet you brought it up. Now it is inferred that you believe that you do treat people callously, you feel some guilt about, but you prefer to remain in denial of it. Whether you actually treat people more callously than anybody else is still an open question. The secondary inferences were made because you have not let this go for two days.

          I am beginning to feel that you continuously bringing this up is a sign of callousness.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          Now it is inferred that you believe that you do treat people callously, you feel some guilt about, but you prefer to remain in denial of it.

          Point of clarification: would that be the kind of inference a scientist would be proud to employ—inference based on evidence and reason, refusing to go beyond what the evidence indicates without explicitly labeling it as speculation—or is it of another kind?

        • Greg G.

          Point of clarification: would that be the kind of inference a scientist would be proud to employ

          Nope, just a heuristic intuition of human behavior using prima facie evidence to screen out in-depth analysis which would likely be a waste of time. Your response is another data point that confirms the heuristic intuition. It’s a tradition that goes back to Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          I see. So what would it have looked like for me to answer your question in such a way that the Lady doth protest the right amount? The problem is that I suspected what you wrote—

          GG: If you do put an infinite value on human life, you could have claimed you didn’t treat people callously but people who treat others like that probably don’t think they do, so it might be difficult to believe no matter what your reputation.

          —but I worried that if I tried to advance it, I’d get silence, smoke-blowing, or denial. (From someone on CE, which would go unchallenged and thus entered into the conversation’s “evidential record”, so to speak.)

        • Greg G.

          So what would it have looked like for me to answer your question in such a way that the Lady doth protest the right amount?

          http://disq.us/p/1feerl6

          Posting that question is more of the “too much”. Let it go.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          http://disq.us/p/1feerl6

          Hmmm, I appear to have missed your question, “If you do believe that human life has infinite value, why respond?” My answer is that I think @heraldnewman:disqus was grossly overgeneralizing in multiple ways, but that there was still something quite good about his critique, if only he were willing to refine it.

        • MR

          There are two kinds of people….

          There are 10 types of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who do not.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Didja ever notice that every number is written in base 10?

          (I think it’s the work of Satan. He knows we’re getting close to the truth.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Condone:-

          1. to disregard or overlook (something illegal, objectionable, etc.).
          2. to give tacit approval to: By his silence, he seemed to condone their behavior.
          3. to pardon or forgive (an offense); excuse.

          Now will ya just fuck off with this crappy nonsense.

        • eric

          More derivative posting. You appear to want to argue about who’s arguing.

          I’m not going to engage. As with the other thread, I’ll ask a substantive question one more time and then, if the subject doesn’t seem to interest you, I’ll drop it.

          What is your opinion of Bannister’s characterization of the nonbeliever side, “Science can answer any and all questions.”? Do you, like us, think it’s a mischaracterization and a straw man argument? Do you think he’s bungled this one completely or that there is some grain of a good argument here (and if the latter, how would you rephrase Bannister to get at the good bit)? Or as a third possibility, do you think his characterization has merit and it’s not a straw man?

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          What is your opinion of Bannister’s characterization of the nonbeliever side, “Science can answer any and all questions.”?

          I attempted to get at this matter in my first comment on this page:

          BS[OP]: To attempt to tie this to reality, Bannister quotes Nobel Prize winner Harry Kroto, “Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine truth with any degree of reliability.” But just two sentences later, Bannister bungles that into, “Science can answer any and all questions.” Yes, that is quoted accurately. And no, that’s not even close to what the scientist said.

          LB: Perhaps you could sketch out what role questions not answerable by science play in society? My guess is that Bannister would see such questions as diminishing in intensity and articulation, eroding away as it were. There is a reason that we say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” So, if science is the only reliable tool, then everything will look like it can be addressed by that tool. How is this not reasonable?

          You can also consult the BSLBBSLB continuation, which ends this way:

          LB: Your objection is a quibble if Kroto’s statement entails Bannister’s.

          (Bob never replied to that.)

        • Paul B. Lot

          And given that Herald N’s post is at best tangential to the OP, it would have been perfectly reasonable to just ignore it. You jumped into this ‘Christians are [generalization]’ mud pit with both feet, people responded to you, and now you’re complaining about being in it.

          Hear hear.

          Can I also note that, since @LukeBreuer:disqus threw his hissy fit, @heraldnewman:disqus editted his comment to read:

          Why [edit]aren’t Christians, white Christians especially

        • adam

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1dad4eb68916d8c25d7e799fcf02af32e47f7104f0920e5b4a3b17beab794f28.jpg

          “My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined;”

          No, only exposed.

          Cry baby

        • Susan

          My character and behavior have almost certainly been irreversibly smeared by Cross Examined; it would be beyond stupid to rely on the CE perception of my character or behavior in the way you suggest.

          I’ve seen this dog and pony show before. We are not The Borg, nor are other groups of individuals who have reacted to your participation negatively. My God, it’s boring.

          Maybe I’m in some environment where all the blacks I personally meet are somehow bad to me.

          How “all the blacks a person meets being somehow bad to that person” is remotely connected to someone claiming to hold a position that is completely inconsistent with their behaviour is beyond me.

          There is no connection at all.

          That is being “black” by any definition is not equivalent to holding a position.

          And behaving in ways that are inconsistent with the position one espouses is not equivalent to “being bad” to a person who notices it. .

        • adam
        • MNb

          Correct. Your question was irrelevant.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Herald Newman is clearly generalizing from his experience to Christians in general.

          Like Randall Rauser smearing Christians you mean? Or is it your opinion that he was smearing Christians, generally?

      • Ignorant Amos

        Yeah, but was he a good Christian. I mean, Michael was a plagiarising, philandering womaniser. No?

        Some Christians would say those morals are bit wanting, given both of them break two of the big ten in the Decalogue.

        Incited violence while preaching peace too, so I hear. Still, an omelette can not be made without breaking eggs. He certainly didn’t see blacks and whites in equal measure…at least some of the times anyway.

        I guess all’s well, that ends well.

    • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

      Why [edit]aren’t Christians, white Christians especially, throwing whatever resources they have to make sure that black lives aren’t being lost to violence and poverty?

      Surely sacrificing a little bit of your monetary wealth to help protect the life of somebody else comes as an obvious consequence of humans having “infinite value”, yet Christians don’t seem to behave as if this is true.

      There is a possible contradiction between the two underlined bits. Exactly how much would you require that Christians—not all taxpayers, just Christians—sacrifice for you to consider that they acting in-line with the belief that “all humans have infinite value”? I think you have something important to say, but I would challenge you to be more precisely correct in your question. The less you give Christians the opportunity to quibble, the more powerful the criticism will be. I will quibble in order to enhance; many others will quibble in order to dismiss.

      • Susan

        Exactly how much would you require that Christians—not all taxpayers, just Christians—sacrifice for you to consider that they acting in-line with the belief that “all humans have infinite value?

        And how much would you require any of us sacrifice consider that they are acting in line with with the belief that “slavery is wrong”?

        For instance, a family living below the poverty line in the U.S. who buy their kids’ socks at Walmart because their kids need socks?

        We can play this game all day and yes. Morality is hard. It is constrained by means. Also, by knowledge.

        You have never even told us what sacrifices you make and what their impact is on things like slavery and genocide.

        You have (as long as I’ve known you) rushed to genocide and slavery on a global level as though, if we can’t provide ideal solutions on a global scale, then we can have no moral positions on those subjects.

        These are difficult and complex subjects that you have provided no solutions for, but use like weapons as soon as someone asks you about Yahwehjesus.

        Atheists are not upset enough about genocide and slavery and defamations about Luke Breuer’s character.

        When is Luke Breuer going to provide evidence that Yahwehjesus is anything but a an imaginary character in Luke Breuer’s imagination?

        21,570 comments now and you have provided nothing, no matter how many requests are made.

        Which is why I say that you (and it sounds like it took you a long time) have abandoned Creationism but still use the tactics.

        • adam

          “When is Luke Breuer going to provide evidence that Yahwehjesus is anything but a an imaginary character in Luke Breuer’s imagination?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f9fb5d7013fd44a0636910274866113829d2d4f79ef642e3c0e10dc30e4c4f94.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s not as much fun talking about the actual topics vis a vis the proper netiquette on how one should be talking about the actual topics.

          Besides, Luke soon finds himself out of his league when he does venture outside his comfort zone. Better for him to nit-pick about manners.

      • al kimeea

        Exactly how much would you require that Christians—not all taxpayers, just Christians—sacrifice

        According to your own Holey Book, Xians must give it all to the poor to sit with doG. IIRC it’s mentioned in Luke. Twice. Luke 14:26-33 and 18:18-22. Sell it all and give the money to the poor.

        No doubt, I’m metaphorically out of context.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer

          That’s definitely a topic worth discussing, but not with someone who unrepentantly uses disgusting rhetorical tactics such as one can see in the following exchange:

          [Cowardly Deleted Account]: [didn’t save the text]

          LB: But that would be to engage in evidence and reason, something I find too many atheists only do when it suits them. The rest of the time, these apply:

              In one definition of the word, it is of course impossible to find any assertions of full skepticism; even silent enactments are difficult. A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

              Another exaggeration may have been the conventional view of the reach of scientific rationality. One does not have to look at religion only in order to find this thought plausible. It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices; one only has to look at the political and social beliefs of the most educated classes of Western societies to gain an appreciation of this. Just one case: What Western intellectuals over the last decades have managed to believe about the character of Communist societies is alone sufficient to cast serious doubt on the proposition that rationality is enhanced as a result of scientifically sophisticated education or of living in a modern technological society. (A Far Glory, 30)

          ak: Yes, very large numbers of the people described believe in an imaginary friend.

          LB: Tu quoque? Because that’s clearly not what the excerpt is about. Or do you quote-mine [& distort] with the best of creationists?

          ak: Homeopathy, moxibustion or imaginary friend, people with letters after their names will believe these things

          Still not evidence for the Abrahamic prick.

          If you want to actually deploy reason, respect the evidence, and be intellectually honest, I’m here. But if you insist that what you did in the above exchange is rational and moral, I will disagree and not feel compelled to answer any comment of yours. Even though in this case, you managed to be on-topic.

        • al kimeea

          Says the disingenuous projectionist.

        • http://labreuer.wordpress.com Luke Breuer