Atheists, Show Some Respect!

(This essay was originally published in issue #1 of the AHS newsletter, Secular Future.)

As the New Atheist movement grows in size and influence, we’ve been assailed by pundits and theologians who say we ought to be more respectful – that we need to choose our words carefully and afford religious believers the courtesy they are due. And I couldn’t agree more. Respect is a moral imperative for all people, and I think it’s especially vital that we, as the vanguard of a reform movement seeking to make our mark on society, are respectful at all times toward the powers that be.

That’s why I think it’s especially important for atheists to buy ads on trains and buses, to speak out on TV and the radio, to publish editorials in newspapers and journals, and especially, continue to publish blockbuster books like The God Delusion that make the case against theism with force and candor. I also encourage atheists to speak out in their personal lives wherever possible, to make their views known to family and friends and to push back against aggressive and intrusive religious proselytizing whenever and wherever we encounter it. I believe that respect for the religious demands no less.

As you might have guessed, although I agree with clergy and apologists that atheists should be respectful, I define respect somewhat differently than they do. I believe that when you disagree with someone, especially in a matter of importance, the most respectful course of action is to speak your mind clearly and firmly, making certain that the other party knows exactly where you differ with them and why.

To my mind, this seems like the only honest definition. When religious apologists call for “respect,” what they generally seem to mean is that atheists should be silent and not speak our minds if doing so might offend someone. For instance, when Richard Dawkins was interviewed for the Canadian TV show The Agenda last May, the host, Steve Paikin, read him the following passage, which originally appeared on an atheist website and which Dr. Dawkins quoted in The God Delusion:

“You have included in your book the ‘new ten commandments’ for atheists, and I want to read out the third commandment, which is: ‘Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness, and respect.’ Do you think you have shown those qualities to those who oppose your side of the argument?” (see video)

Since I was the original author of that passage, I feel compelled to set the record straight. In context, my original essay most emphatically did not advocate refraining from criticism of others’ beliefs, and I strongly object to that misrepresentation of my views. (In fact, my “new ten commandments” also include these: “Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you”, and “Question everything”). How would that be showing respect? In what sense is it respectful to paper over your differences in the name of false amity, to stifle your opinions just because others might disagree?

That’s not respect, but rather condescension. This advice treats the religious, as columnist Johann Hari says, as if they were immature and excitable children who need to be protected from anything that might upset them. Acting this way toward theists would be to treat them as less than fully mature adults – it would be a failure to respect their status as rational agents who can evaluate an argument on the merits and respond to persuasion. Personally, if someone I knew thought I was making a disastrously ill-advised choice, but held back from saying so because they thought I couldn’t handle hearing it, I would find that far more offensive and disrespectful – verging on a lie by omission. No one should fear honest criticism.

Granted, there actually are some believers who can’t handle criticism without becoming angry or violent. (I’m thinking of groups like the Muslims who protested cartoons of Mohammed by marching through the streets of the UK waving banners that said things such as “Massacre those who insult Islam“). But even this is no reason to refrain from criticizing them. To do otherwise would be to send them the message that they can have their way any time they want it, just by threatening the rest of us if their desires aren’t met. It rewards people for being irrationally and violently protective of their own cherished ideas. The message we should be sending – the one that shows the most respect for all groups in a free society – is that the price of being able to air your views is that other people have the right to speak out as well, even if you don’t like what they have to say.

There’s another sense in which a strong and impassioned defense of atheism is a respectful act. Regardless of how certain specific religious groups feel about it, our society is founded, among other things, on the ideal of free speech as a human right. We are all heirs to the legacy of the Enlightenment, a grand historical tradition of rational debate and democratic inquiry. Countless brave people from history – activists, patriots, rabble-rousers, and freethinkers and believers both – waged great battles to wrest this basic human right from the grasp of tyrants. Our freedom is a precious gift which they have bequeathed to us, and we can best honor them by making full use of it. To silence ourselves, to refuse that gift out of some spurious and ill-advised notion of politeness, would be an act of extreme disrespect toward those who suffered and even died to bring it to us. The best way to honor their memories is by making full use of their gift and voicing our opinions boldly, trusting that the tumult of debate will ensure that bad ideas are defeated and good ones ultimately win out. I, for one, intend to show that respect to my forebears; and I encourage atheists everywhere in the world to do likewise.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com Cannonball Jones

    the most respectful course of action is to speak your mind clearly and firmly, making certain that the other party knows exactly where you differ with them and why

    Never a truer word spoken. It infuriates me the way many religious people have redefined respect to mean unquestioning obedience. They also seem to have forgotten that respect is not something automatically granted but something which must be earned. If they wish me to show respect to their beliefs then first they must convince me that those beliefs have earned respect – no easy task.

  • velkyn

    Respect is earned. I have yet to see where religion or theists in general have earned any respect at all. Why should I respect a bunch of people who circle the wagons any time one of them is criticized, no matter how much they themselves disagree with the target of the criticism? Why should I respect a buch of people who consistently lie about science and are such hypocrites to accept any science that makes them comfortable?

  • http://www.methodicalmusings.com Joshua

    This is by far one of the best pieces I’ve read on this subject. What “divine” timing as well, because I have been struggling with how to be respectful toward Christians when I do feel as if they are far too easily offended and hurt. It is so easy to accidentally persecute believers that there have been times when I have been tempted to just shut up and put up, but this is definitely not the best answer. Your contrast between treating them as intellectual equals and condescending is insightful. Good essay!

  • nogrief

    Respect requires two additional words to round out its full meaning. If one figuratively stomps his foot and DEMANDs respect he probably won’t get it. One the other hand one is more likely to COMMAND respect through the quality of his thinking and his actions.

  • http://piepalace.ca/blog Erigami

    I respectfully disagree with CJ and velkyn. Respect is not earned, it is the default posture. Whenever we disagree with someone, regardless of their background, we have to operate on the assumption that they know what they are talking about, and have a logical reason for their actions.

    Speaking out isn’t about confronting “tyrants” or changing tyrants minds, it’s about convincing the onlookers (who in turn convince the tyrant). The best way to do that is to be reasonable.

  • AC

    I think what Erigami is calling respect, Cannonball Jones and velkyn might call courtesy. There’s more than one definition of respect, and I think they get easily confused in discussions such as these (mainly because people don’t define their terms).

    I also don’t think it’s necessarily valuable to assume people are acting rationally. People aren’t always rational and there’re plenty of things that aren’t irrational either.

    I think we should give people the courtesy/respect of letting them explain themselves, rather than making assumptions about their beliefs/opinions/etc. before we know what they are.

  • http://www.ahsstudents.org.uk AlexMagd

    I have to disagree. You wouldn’t automatically respect someone extolling racist or misogynistic values, and using false information to support those stances. It is critical that we do not assume that people know what they are talking about, but instead approach each new piece of information with a rational and inquiring mind. I am a firm believer in respecting people, but I have no qualms about disrespecting their beliefs – whether on religion, politics, philosophy or whatever.

    Ideas must earn respect, otherwise you get a society that blindly accepts the viewpoints of everyone without critical analysis of those views. I do not operate on the assumption that someone knows what they are talking about unless they can bring evidence to the table. Society moves forward by selecting those arguments and beliefs that are beneficial, or demonstrably true, and rejecting those that aren’t. That process is always going to leave some people out in the cold, but as long as we maintain a basic respect for them as human beings, there is absolutely nothing wrong with robustly challenging their views or opinions. I don’t think for a minute Ebonmuse is suggesting that we disrespect them as people but, as is often the case with dearly-held beliefs, religious people tend to take unfavourable analysis of their views as an attack on their person.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-4275-DC-Secularism-Examiner Paul Fidalgo

    This is the attitude I keep wishing I’d hear from atheist activists. Less kick-the-Christian, more kick-the-Christianity. You dig? :)

  • Brock

    This is the attitude I keep wishing I’d hear from atheist activists. Less kick- the-Christian, more kick-the-Christianity. You dig? :)

    This works both ways, as I think any atheist who is “out” can testify. People constantly confront me with their assumptions of what an atheist is, and assuming it applies to me. An amusing sidelight is the woman several years ago, who, on learning that I read a lot of science fiction, immediately assumed that I believed in UFO’s, and was completely baffled when I said that I didn’t. The two were so identified together in her mind that she was unable to disentangle them.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    This is the attitude I keep wishing I’d hear from atheist activists. Less kick-the-Christian, more kick-the-Christianity. You dig? :)

    Where is all this alleged “kick-the-Christian” that I keep hearing about but that no one seems to present?

  • Seomah

    Whenever we disagree with someone, regardless of their background, we have to operate on the assumption that they know what they are talking about, and have a logical reason for their actions

    That maybe true in an internet blog when information about other people is lacking, but in real life that assumption is dismissed easily in just 3 seconds, and almost always correctly. When the vast majority of people you talk with have no idea and just repeat what they hear on tv, respect is quick to disappear.

    Now tolerance and courtesy, that’s another question; those should be granted even when not deserved. The respect I’m refering is something more akin to admiration for other people.

    P.D. Just a word of thankfulness to you, Ebonmuse, for this fantastic site and his brother’s. Thank you!

  • Sarge

    I try to cut people the same ammount of respect that they are willing to cut
    me. Like Jefferson, I believe that anyone may ride his hobby-horse as he wishes and
    and believe in one, none, or a pantheon as long as it doesn’t break my leg or
    pick my pocket.

    Unfortunately, there are many believers of many stripes whose credo is that their credo grants them leave to do exactly that.

    One of the groups I played with had a habit of saying grace before a meal when we ate when we were on the road. I usually refrain from noise or eating most of
    the time, but the meal would come. we were expected to join hands, and then everyone would beg for mercy on the trip, go over how the vittles were to be blessed,
    blah, blah, blah. This could go on for a bit and I got sick and tired of
    eating meals that were at less than their optimum, so I’d start eating at the
    two minute mark. I was tasked with being less than respectful, and asked how respectful were they of me, requiring me to eat a less than satisfactory meal
    than I’d paid for. Well, they felt a little sacrifice wouldn’t hurt. I reminded
    them that I had no belief and no desire to sacrifice to something that I
    didn’t believe existed. But, I did propose an alternative; say their grace
    when we sat down and get it over with, and we could ALL eat a decent meal.

    Well, I was informed that IT WASN’T DONE… it was disrespectful of the deity,
    and I was being disrespectful to them. So I and another person (Chuch goer, actually, but felt like I did) either ate at the counter or sat at another
    location. We were finally asked to leave because of our “lack of respect for
    others”. We were with them or against them, no neutrality.

  • velkyn

    exactly AC. I can be courteous/polite to someone no matter how ignorant they are. I do not however, respect e.g. have high regard for, them in the least.

    In my experience, I have learned not to expect any theist to be rational or to mean well. I have also learned that there is nothing different between attacking a Christian and attacking Christianity, considering on how each of them has their very own version of their religion. They want the religion, then they can take the responsbilty for it because they have decided its morals and actions are right. To try to say that one is seperate from the other is rather like how Christians say “hate the sin, love the sinner” when you know very well they hate both.

  • nfpendleton

    “…as if they were immature and excitable children who need to be protected from anything that might upset them.”

    Then I’m very disrespectful, as in my personal experience this is exactly the kind of reaction my dissent has elicited from theists, including close family members. I’ve begun refering to it as, “Touching their Psycho Button.”

  • Sarge

    The more fundagelical they are the more immature and excitable they are, indeed. The greatest act of disrespect that they experience is that people can do as they like without a second thought on a Sunday or a Wednesday.

  • Javaman

    I clicked on “Massacre Those Who Insult Islam,” and believe it or not, CNN has blacked out the picture of a Muslim protester holding the sign. This is exactly what Adam is talking about. CNN is trying to insulate religion from reality, and BTW, doesn’t the Bible say that blasphemers should be stoned to death? What’s the difference between these two statements? Christianity is the mirror image of Islam.

  • Alex Weaver

    This is the attitude I keep wishing I’d hear from atheist activists. Less kick-the-Christian, more kick-the-Christianity. You dig? :)

    The recognition that these are different is something I’d like to see from Christians (and theists in general) in actual debates as well as in abstract meta-arguments.

    Also, I conditionally disagree that the beliefs a person holds have no bearing on that person’s character. The focus should be on the belief, but I don’t think we’re obligated to think that Klansmen and Neocons are “good people who happen to have bad ideas.”

  • http://marcschooley.com MS Quixote

    That’s not respect, but rather condescension. This advice treats the religious, as columnist Johann Hari says, as if they were immature and excitable children who need to be protected from anything that might upset them. Acting this way toward theists would be to treat them as less than fully mature adults – it would be a failure to respect their status as rational agents who can evaluate an argument on the merits and respond to persuasion. Personally, if someone I knew thought I was making a disastrously ill-advised choice, but held back from saying so because they thought I couldn’t handle hearing it, I would find that far more offensive and disrespectful – verging on a lie by omission. No one should fear honest criticism.

    Sorry for reproducing this whole paragraph, but Amen Ebon. Well said, and if I have bad breath, so to speak, please keep explaining it to me until I understand.

    And here’s a related thought to consider: even when atheists aren’t converted, or theists aren’t deconverted, honest, and firm, discourse personalizes people, removing the stereotypical demonization that exists between the two groups. It’s difficult to hate a group of folk different than yourself when you’re familiar with some of its members. That’s not a bad result, even if it’s not your primary goal.

    I’d also like to add one other thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of y’all don’t fully realize that most atheists theists engage with bear a striking resemblance to the ignorant theists y’all are always describing here, and nearly everything you claim here is easily applicable in those circumstances, which is to say, I get what you mean.

  • bestonnet

    Alex Weaver:

    but I don’t think we’re obligated to think that Klansmen and Neocons are “good people who happen to have bad ideas.”

    Though most of them probably are.

  • Alex Weaver

    Though most of them probably are.

    I see no evidence of this. Are you contending that the decision to hold morally reprehensible and objectively false views is something for which people should not be expected to take responsibility?

  • Polly

    but I don’t think we’re obligated to think that Klansmen and Neocons are “good people who happen to have bad ideas.”

    Though most of them probably are.

    When our descendants look back at us I hope they regard us as wretches. That’s how I look back at most of the people and ideas throughout history, with only tiny minorities adopting humane and sensible philosophies.

    Bad beliefs spoil character. (Just like apologetics leads to brain damage)
    3 examples:

    My youth pastor who drops a tear at the drop of a hat, gleefully describes (with sound effects) blowing away birds on a hunt. Neither compassion nor an iota of reflection serves to hinder his thrill at the kill; Not the hunt, THE KILL.
    I do get hunting. But, it’s the “reasoning” that allows a seemingly sensitive family man to take JOY in killing that didn’t sit well with me: “god gave us the animals.”
    I suppose if he’d been born into a culture that regarded female babies as a waste, his daughters would have a rough road ahead.

    I wish there were a term to describe the precise and sharp-edged delineations of those who divide the world into 1)god’s favorites and 2)fodder for the former.

    I already told the story about my mother’s view of he Palestinians. If you’re not on god’s side, then your basically the devil and need to be beaten back. You have no rights, human or otherwise.

    This is the primary reason Xians can rationalize Hell. If you’re out of god’s “circle of trust” you’re shit and an eternity of torture or any other horror is OK cause god said so right in his word.

    This is also the main impetus behind war and warcraft. Dehumanize the enemy. See him as evil incarnate and yourself (or your government) as the epitome of civilization and morality.

    My point is that I don’t think you can separate the two. Deep down, I found something repugnant in my youth pastor et al (I’m so sorry to say) Whatever they may be onthe surface, I think just below the surface, they are WRETCHES.

  • bbk

    I respect religion the way I respect an STD. Wearing a condom doesn’t mean I don’t respect the girl I’m with.

  • Valhar2000

    I see no evidence of this. Are you contending that the decision to hold morally reprehensible and objectively false views is something for which people should not be expected to take responsibility?

    No, I think he probably means that those people justify their views and their actions to themselves.

    We have all seen on movies and TV the quintessential bad guy, who, upon hearing the question “Why are you doing this?” answers (for some reason, usually with an English accent) “Well, I suppose I’m just not a nice person.”.

    This sort of thing is rare, however. People like to think of themselves as reasonably good, and reasonably upstanding, and when they act in ways that contradict that, or think thoughts that contradict that, they experience cognitive dissonance.

    They can resolve that dissonance by modifying their actions and changing their long-held beleifs, or they can reduce it by inventing justifications. The latter is orders of magnitude easier to do.

    Thus, white supremacists hate black people not because they are a bunch of useless rednecks with nothing better to fill their bleak lives, but because black people are “criminals” or “vicious”. They explain away any evidence that contradicts this because it is easier to do this than to understand it, and they invent justifications for that (“that’s liberal commie talk” or “that’s what the ACLU always says, and everybody knows you can’t trust them”).

    You may find a psychopath among those movements who admits that they do it because it’s so much darn fun, but most of them are swimming in an ocean of self-justification, entirely unwilling to make the enormous effort required to swim all the way up to the surface.

  • velkyn

    white supremacists are a bunch of useless rednecks with nothing to better their bleak lives who invent lies to excuse their actions *because* of what they are. From my experience, there are some people who are nasty unpleasant people and they *choose* to remain this way.

  • Alex Weaver

    How does adding self-delusion and intellectual dishonesty to their psychological make up make them less immoral?

  • DemonHype

    You know how believers often will say that atheists don’t believe just because we like our drugs and murder and big sex orgies, etc? I often feel that to be another form of their usual projection, because it often seems that they follow one belief or another due to their desire to do as they like and still be “saved”.

    I guess what I’m saying is, yes, everyone thinks of themselves as “good”. But when they need an abortion or want to kill someone or at least ruin their lives for whatever reason, lie, cheat, steal, etc….they seem to choose beliefs that will justify them.

    Of course, with Xianity (the one I’m most familiar with, as I’m sure is common in the USA), you can justify just about anything. So you get some nice Xians like Universalists who are pretty damn tolerant of just about anyone (I’ve heard even atheists go there for the social circle) because they believe people have a responsibility to be good, decent people and treat each other right and that’s what God really wants, and so the beliefs they adhere to will tend to be the nice ones. Then there are the nasty fundegelical types like my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s clan, who feel they are owed something but don’t want to earn it, and they want to do some ugly things to people they don’t like. So they adhere to beliefs that allow them do do those things and still claim the high ground–the whole “I don’t have to make any effort to be nice and I can demand my way and even enforce it by any means necessary, and I can be as monstrous as I want to be, because all I have to do is hold a specific idea about Jesus in my head to be justified”. And they tend to be nastier about criticism because they enjoy that wonderful sense of entitlement without having to earn that entitlement.

    I think it’s pretty multi-faceted. Bad character chooses bad beliefs, bad beliefs inspire or intensify bad character, and so bad character becomes even more invested in those beliefs. For someone with hateful beliefs to let go of those beliefs would be about as easy as getting those super-executives to let go of some of their obscene wealth that they haven’t earned and don’t deserve.

    That’s not to say that a nice, sweet, liberal xian has justification in his or her beliefs. I’m just saying that if someone holds beliefs that focus on genuinely good behavior towards others and holds it above faith itself, and that focus enables them to treat even an atheist like an equal human being, then that person is genuinely a better person. Probably because their sense of validation comes from their actions towards others, which they can take real credit for and can easily continue with to continue that validation. It’s not as much of a threat to deal with someone of different or no beliefs, because their validation comes from their genuine good characters and the good actions they take because of it, and the faith part is like the chocolate syrup on the ice cream. It’s not as much of a shock for someone to suggest that the syrup isn’t necessary to make the ice cream delicious. They are more able to give credit where credit is due when they see open atheists being as real-world nice as they are, and they find it less necessary to come up with theories of atheist duplicity to “explain” why they are still superior, and they are more able to say “I don’t like what the buses say, but atheists have the same rights to free speech as I do”–and then act on that, without finding ways to disenfranchise their opponents under the table.

    So yes, I agree with those who take a person’s beliefs as an indication of character. It’s not to say I immediately assume that a fundegelical is the epitome of evil, because labels are not always perfect (just look at Fred Clark, who is evangelical and still a great guy) or that someone from the UU church will necessarily see an atheist as an equal. It’s always good to talk to the person and find out exactly how s/he defines those beliefs, because even in regards to a regimented faith party there can be very personal and individual views on any given subject. But no matter how sweetly a person smiles as they describe how people who don’t buy into their particular ideology will be tormented for eternity in hell, or how all unbelievers should either be silent or be dead…well, you’ll be hard pressed to convince me that her sweet motherly smile makes her just a nice person with bad ideas. She wants to believe these things, she will take any opportunity to justify them, and as such, she bears responsibility for those beliefs.

  • bestonnet

    Whilst the consequences may be the same there is the difference of intent between the truly evil (who are very rare) and the merely misguided who are otherwise good (and wanting to fight evil).

  • Alex Weaver

    It is impossible for an adult of sound mind to be that wrong and still be “honestly wrong.”

  • Sarge

    I am a “redneck”, and I have known white supremiscists and klansmen in my life.

    Most of them (rank and file) are not intrinsicly “evil”, or even stupid for the most part, but they are several other things. They are willfully ignorant,on the margins, immature, insecure, and afraid. They are not over fond of logical thought on selected subjects

    So, they band together with others like them which gives them the illusion of being one of an elect, a hate object which no matter how “low” they sink they will never be that (black, Jewish …etc). They regard stubborness, cruelty, and bloody mindedness as signs of strength. (not for nothing do the klan robes have pointy heads)

    They are manipulated by people who know how to use this, and can focus a mass of unhappy people. They can be made to do cruel, stupid, and yes, evil things. I honestly think that most of them would be just as happy in a dynamic little theater group with a halfway decent director.

    Most of them style themselves as christians, even “real christians”, get quite gooey and teary over “th’ luvva gawd”. And they do a lot of these things in the name of this deity.

    Good people or bad? All I know is you better watch out for them and their “Love” of their race and deity. It’s just the American version of the taliban and the others.

  • Polly

    I’ve had the opportunity to ponder this on a personal level, too. I’ve been friends with racists including guys who use the n-word. A major improvement was when he actually starting saying “n-word” instead of the actual word (Who says people can’t change, eh?) While they were “good guys” meaning we had things in common and enjoyed some of the same activities, I was thoroughly disgusted by their racism. And even being a gunowner myself they were a bit TOO enthusiastic about the right to bear arms. (laws/”rights” mean little or nothing to me beyond obvious practicalities)

    What to do? You can’t exactly “break-up” with a guy.
    The last friendship I had with a person of this persuasion has been downgraded to distant acquaintanceship and partly owing to such stark differences in worldviews I’m not inclined to reverse the trend.

    Interestingly, some of the racists I knew when I was a teenager I befriended in church! But others from the same group tried to dissuade them from racism. And they weren’t particularly religious.
    None of these people were hard up financially or socially. Quite the opposite.

  • Virginia

    Coming from an oriental background, I have a lot of resonance with the words “To silence ourselves, to refuse that gift out of some spurious and ill-advised notion of politeness, would be an act of extreme disrespect toward those who suffered and even died to bring it to us”.
    A Chinese myself, I am much privileged to be raised in a society where there is free speech, free flow of information, many basic human rights are protected here at where I live. Yet tyrannical ideas is so much entrenched in human civilization — Europe have their Dark Ages, Chinese have Feudalism and later 1600′ onward the gradual slip to repression. Confucian philosophy emphasize “li” (something close to etiquette), and maintaining a harmonious relationship. So anything that upsets a relationship, hurt other people’s feeling is a “disrespect” in this culture.

    I very much resented this notion as it breeds hypocrisy and incongruency, and certainly stifles free and open communication.

    So in this part of the world I live in, people kept a silent dissatisfaction to religion/theist, but out of ill-informed idea of “respect”, open criticism of theism or Christianity is not that welcomed here. Of course with the influence of the Internet, more and more people are embracing free speech and express freely their minds.

    I firmly believe that not just theists or Christians can share what they believe, we as atheist, can share what we “believe” and what we disagree with them.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    I think a very important point is being missed here. As Otto Rank stated, “Human beings are religious creatures.” Like it or not, historically and anthropologically there is no such thing as a human culture without paranormal beliefs. We, the Atheists, are the “freaks of nature” that reject what, even to our own culture, is the norm.
    A strong case can be made that evolution saved mankind from an early prototype of intelligence by giving us the capacity to be suggestible and hypnotizable. As John Schumaker states in his “The Wings of Illusion”… “At that point, all reality-transcending belief, including religion, was born.”
    The unfortunate reality I think we all must face is that it just may be impossible to construct or evolve a sentient being capable of, in time, unraveling the mysteries and laws of the universe while simultaneously fully coming to grip with the reality that their “being here”, there “life” as it were, is no more important than that of a potato. We certainly would not call that creature human. It would be more accurate, I think, to call it a machine.
    ALL human beings construct, to one degree or another, an illusionary world to inhabit. Most choose organized religions and the rest construct individual ones to suit their own nature. We atheists are in the later group. Both culture and religion exist to provide us with an invisible means of support and a way to express our heroic longings. They both shield us from the hideous truth that we are “just meat”. That our lives are meaningless.
    Any even rudimentary investigation of religion (private and organized) will immediately show very clearly that there is no distance a human being will not go to insure him/her self that “they” are more than meat. What, the question must be asked, would be the point of it all if at the beginning we all realized that the end COULD hold no meaning for anyone? From this realization religion, culture, dissociative pathology and the innate ability to be hypnotized arise in man, because it was necessary if any degree of sanity were to be expected.
    So, what does this have to do with “respect”? Think of it this way. We are ALL far at sea without a boat. Each of us, hopefully, has a floatation device. A few manufactured their own and are quite proud of them. Most purchased their own from a dealer or were issued one at birth. They all work to one degree or another but none of us know how we will hold up under hurricane winds and torrential rain. We are ALL perpetually very nervous about this situation and rightfully so. We use what we know. There is safety in numbers. We cling to those who share our form of flotation device. We reject and despise those who, by refusing our brand and type, increase our terror by their very existence. The simple fact that they do exist and float beside us is concrete proof that we have made a choice and that choice, like any choice, COULD be wrong. Their very existence “questions” the assumption that we must be right. It “questions” the very foundation of our world view and, as a consequence, our magnificently crafted denial of death scheme. THEY remind us that we “could” be wrong.
    Only two questions remain.
    1. How do you politely inform someone psychologically incapable of accepting the fact that they are “just meat” that they are, in fact, “just meat”? My answer would be…. You can’t.
    2. What is to be done with this fact in a world awash in nuclear weapons and occupied by billions of people who are convinced that this life is really nothing when compared to the life they will have “next” if they perform correctly in this one? Especially when “correctly” involves eliminating people who disagree.

    There is no “polite” way to ask a person far at sea to remove their flotation device. In fact, to do so would surely mean they would sink. No help there I’m afraid.

    The answer, in my opinion, can only come from more… (wait for it)… religion. Until and unless a culture can be fashioned that successfully denies or softens the inevitability of death while simultaneously providing a “reason” to live, mankind is destined to destroy itself. As Atheists we must construct and feed that “culture”. Being “right” and “scientific” and having truckloads of “proof” on our side is not enough. In the end we will survive or perish as a species based entirely on our ability to come up with a culture that works better. Politeness or rudeness, respect or disrespect have nothing to do with it at all. They are wholly irrelevant terms when confronted with a person hypnotized into thinking they are a chicken.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    They both shield us from the hideous truth that we are “just meat”. That our lives are meaningless.

    In the cosmic sense, perhaps, but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.

    The answer, in my opinion, can only come from more… (wait for it)… religion.

    I disagree. If someone is dying of poison, swallowing more doesn’t help them. If someone is dying of a disease, getting as many other diseases as possible isn’t going to help. Besides, religion doesn’t really provide a “reason” for living. It provides a hope against the inevitability of death. Knowing that there is nothing after death helps one to appreciate what we do have. Thinking that some glorious afterlife comes next should lead one to actually look forward to death.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    OMGH tells us… “In the cosmic sense, perhaps, but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.”

    To who? What makes it real? How real is that meaning 5 seconds after you are dead meat (as apposed to living meat)?

    Religion isn’t poison OMGH. Ask most of the people alive today. Certainly SOME religions are highly toxic with respect to mankind’s future, but all poison…no. I too am an Atheist. But, apparently unlike you, I don’t confuse myself into thinking that mankind can continue to function (without going mad) WITHOUT some means of “convincing” of him/herself that there is some kind of purpose to life. For some it is Jesus, Allah, The Book of Mormon, … for others it’s golf, sex, MONEY… but, it has to be something. We are hard wired for it. Public religion or Private religion… take your pick. NOBODY gets in or out without one. Sorry. It’s part of being human.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    To who? What makes it real? How real is that meaning 5 seconds after you are dead meat (as apposed to living meat)?

    It’s real to me. You’re making an error in concluding that only some deeper, cosmic meaning is at all meaningful. There doesn’t have to be a grander scheme of things in order for us individually to decide that we can make our own path, our own meaning. Atheism is not the same as nihilism, and religion isn’t the antithesis to nihilism either.

    Religion isn’t poison OMGH. Ask most of the people alive today. Certainly SOME religions are highly toxic with respect to mankind’s future, but all poison…no.

    It’s an analogy. Generally, the cure for some sort of ill is not to continue to partake in that illness or try to induce more of it. Once you replace one set of faith-based, irrational ideas with another, then what? You’re still left with faith-based, irrational ideas.

    But, apparently unlike you, I don’t confuse myself into thinking that mankind can continue to function (without going mad) WITHOUT some means of “convincing” of him/herself that there is some kind of purpose to life.

    I’m not a nihilist, nor does one have to be in order to be atheist. Again, you are looking at things as if there must be some cosmic order or at least that people must believe there is, or some external purpose in order to keep people happy/contented/in line/whatever.

    For some it is Jesus, Allah, The Book of Mormon, … for others it’s golf, sex, MONEY… but, it has to be something.

    Again, I disagree. I’m a counter-point, as are many others who post here. I don’t see an external purpose for life. We are here, we make our own purpose, we live it out. Our own purpose is shaped by our evolution as social animals, of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that we don’t have to believe in some sort of external purpose.

    Finally, the “purpose” of life as given by the major religions is to hope for a quick death followed by some after-life if one logically examines what those religions espouse. I don’t see this as a “purpose” at all.

  • http://dsimon.typepad.com/ DSimon

    OMGF, watch out for that poison analogy, it might bite you in the back! In lieu of easy access to an antidote, swallowing lots more of the poison can induce vomiting and save you. Or at least, so television tells me…

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    OMGF… Where did you get the idea that I am… “concluding that only some deeper, cosmic meaning is at all meaningful.”? Nothing could be farther from the truth. I see no external purpose to life.
    BUT, that is not my point.

    My point is simple. There is not now, nor has there EVER been on this planet ANY culture devoid of paranormal beliefs. Why do you think that is? Do you think every human society that has ever been was made up of entirely stupid people and it took you to figure that out?
    I too am a lifelong Atheist. What I’m not is foolish enough to ignore the all too human facts staring us both in the face. Again, I am forced to agree with Rank, Becker, Keirkegaard and all the rest who see humans as “religious creatures” before they are biological creatures. You don’t have to agree. You have chosen a “private” religion to shelter you from the storm. In your words… “we can make our own path, our own meaning”. Bingo!

    You end your post with this… “Finally, the “purpose” of life as given by the major religions is to hope for a quick death followed by some after-life if one logically examines what those religions espouse. I don’t see this as a “purpose” at all.” With all due respect, what you don’t know about religion is a lot.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Cosmo is a faitheist, apparently…

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Hardly themann1086.

    The concept of a God seemed absurd to me from as far back as I can remember. That is precisely why I found the human need for paranormal beliefs, Gods, magic, supernatural beliefs and the rest so curious. It’s easy to just say believers are wrong, or stupid, or weak minded, or just frightened children…. But it does nothing to explain the universal nature of religion-paranormal beliefs. Nothing at all.
    In case you haven’t noticed calling believers stupid does nothing but “reinforce” their particular beliefs.

    Do an experiment. Try telling a person hypnotized into thinking they are a chicken that they are not. Good luck with that.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    /facepalm

    Is does not equal ought. Just because superstition is widespread does not mean it is good. The original definition of faitheist (which was not on the UD site, weirdly) is someone who “believes in belief”; that is, they don’t believe in the supernatural or paranormal, but believe that such beliefs are good. That seems to be precisely what you’re arguing.

    And there are plenty of reasons that people of all intellects believe weird (and wrong) things; I shouldn’t have to preface every fucking critique with “I don’t think people who believe X are on the whole any more stupid than the general population, I just think they’re wrong and here’s why”.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    There is not now, nor has there EVER been on this planet ANY culture devoid of paranormal beliefs. Why do you think that is? Do you think every human society that has ever been was made up of entirely stupid people and it took you to figure that out?

    It is however only relatively recently that the evidence and scientific rational for the atheist position bacame available. As Richard Dawkins pointed out,

    An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

    It is only recently we have been able to conclusively point to the age of the earth as billions, not thousands, of years old. Add to this that in large parts of the world this information has only been availabled for decades, it is not surprising we still inhabit a superstitious world.
    I accept that we have evolutionary pre-dispositions to infer agency and anthropomorphise, but the selective value of this is diminished and we can rationalise ourselves out of the habit. Religiosity is not inevitable and it is not necessary for a valuable life. Time will tell but my money is on increasing secularisation in the long run.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve Bowen, I tend to agree with most of what you say with regard to “selective value”, but I’m finding myself losing more confidence day by day in mankind’s ability to “rationalize ourselves out of the habit”. If you are right how does one explain the astounding growth of Fundamentalism? Why isn’t it declining instead of growing?

    I live just a few miles from the homes of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe in a state that pioneered the rights of freedom of/from religion. What do I see? The largest Christian Fundamentalist University in the world and a population that, if they could, would totally remove any mention of evolution from public schools. Of course not ALL people feel this way, but, enough do that if it were put to a vote I have no doubt as to the outcome.

    You post… “Religiosity is not inevitable and it is not necessary for a valuable life.” and, you may very well be right, but, I think it totally depends upon your definition of “religiosity”. It may not be inevitable for the individual… but I defy you to point out a culture anywhere on earth that doesn’t share paranormal beliefs.

    Belief is the partner of willful ignorance. As the only animals that “know” we are here and “know” we will die and “know” we are engaged with the rest of biology in a “Mutual Eating Society” … there appears to be MUCH mankind would prefer to deny. Our own pathetic insignificance in this universe, for one.

    ALL cultural world views are “shared fictions”. WE are at the center of the world and every culture proves this by being its own death denial scheme. Bullshit is the glue that holds us together and we have a psychological inability to tolerate people who do not subscribe to our death denial plan. Call it religion, call it brain washing… call it bullshit, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that human beings “evolved” to view out groups as prey animals. How do you think George Bush got elected? Why do you think it was that each and every time the American public was “reminded” of 9/11 and informed that the Homeland Alert status was changed from one color to another, more “serious” one…. Bushes popularity increased? It’s called Terror Management Theory.
    As Ernest Becker informed us… “your beliefs about the nature of reality serve a death denying function”… Reminders of death have been shown, in hundreds of experiments, to dramatically INCREASE intolerance toward people who are “different” and to increase aggression. So, when you post… “Time will tell but my money is on increasing secularization in the long run”…. I would agree, PROVIDED things get “less” stressful on good old planet earth and human beings find themselves competing “less” for resources that get more and more scarce each and every day. Baring that, sadly, I don’t think you have the proverbial “snowball’s chance in Hell”.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    You have chosen a “private” religion to shelter you from the storm.

    Rubbish. Rejection of religion does not necessarily entail accepting an alternate religion. And, what storm am I supposedly sheltering myself from (that you, I suppose, are able to face since you are so advanced?)

    With all due respect, what you don’t know about religion is a lot.

    With all due respect right back, you don’t know anything about me or what I do know, so I don’t see how you can make such idiotic, snap judgements. If Xianity promises an afterlife of eternal bliss, then why would one not want a quick death so that one can get on with it? This would be the logical conclusion of one who truly believes in the Xian idea of heaven. Do you dispute that? If so, then point out why it isn’t logical instead of making ad hominem statements.

    If you are right how does one explain the astounding growth of Fundamentalism? Why isn’t it declining instead of growing?

    Because it’s a natural thing sometimes for people to cling more tightly to things that aren’t true when they really want them to be true. That and the loudest voices tend to be fundies.

    …but I defy you to point out a culture anywhere on earth that doesn’t share paranormal beliefs.

    As has just been pointed out to you, “Is” doesn’t imply “Ought.”

    Belief is the partner of willful ignorance.

    And your remedy for that is more willful ignorance and more belief. Fantastic.

    Bullshit is the glue that holds us together and we have a psychological inability to tolerate people who do not subscribe to our death denial plan.

    No, culture and being a social animal is what holds us together. Do you think that without supernatural beliefs we would all be hermits?

    I would agree, PROVIDED things get “less” stressful on good old planet earth and human beings find themselves competing “less” for resources that get more and more scarce each and every day. Baring that, sadly, I don’t think you have the proverbial “snowball’s chance in Hell”.

    With resources getting more scarce, do we need more religion or less? With religions getting in the way of actual progress and the ability to develop renewable energy sources, do we need more religion or less? With religious propensities to identify people as either in my group or out of my group, do we need to promote that sort of thinking or promote a more united thinking? I don’t think you have a clue what you are talking about.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Calm down OMGF. Keep your wits about you and notice that I have no disagreement with you what so ever on what “should” be the way things run with regard to religion. It is, in fact you that think you disagree with me on the “whys” of the thing.

    [you post] ..”And, what storm am I supposedly sheltering myself from (that you, I suppose, are able to face since you are so advanced?) Oh, I’m not advanced. But I am dealing with existential angst of knowing that, although I have almost God-like powers I am ridiculously temporary and absurdly insignificant. I think religion was the twin of man’s genetically selected for ability to dissociate ourselves from that angst. To “make” meaning out of being just another kind of meat on a planet powered by mutual eating.

    [you post] .. “Because it’s a natural thing sometimes for people to cling more tightly to things that aren’t true when they really want them to be true.” Well, I could not have put it better myself.

    [you post] .. To my statement that {Belief is the partner to willful ignorance.} ..”And your remedy for that is more willful ignorance and more belief. Fantastic.” NO! It’s not MY remedy…. it’s the “human remedy” that Atheists such as ourselves struggle to put behind us.

    [you post] .. “No, culture and being a social animal is what holds us together.”

    In closing I would say that both “culture” and that “social animal” business are synonyms for bullshit. Culture is the bullshit we agree to pretend is important and being a “social animal” is how we do it.

    I’m about what “is” because it is my philosophical enemy, and one should always endeavor to understand one’s enemy. You are, or seem to be, more about what should be. Why should I have a problem with that?

    (One more thing) You posted at me this in a response to my “suggesting” that your religious education could possibly be, shall we say, underdeveloped.

    ….”With all due respect right back, you don’t know anything about me or what I do know, so I don’t see how you can make such idiotic, snap judgements. If Xianity promises an afterlife of eternal bliss, then why would one not want a quick death so that one can get on with it? This would be the logical conclusion of one who truly believes in the Xian idea of heaven. Do you dispute that?”…

    I don’t have to! Isn’t it obvious to you that, in order to function as a denial of death scheme, it couldn’t PROMOTE killing yourself? If YOU were putting it together what would you do? You would make “life” (like yours anyway) sacred. Offing yourself would have to be the biggest “no-no” of all. Unless, of course, there are what culture [read: bullshit] likes to call extraordinary circumstances. Then all hell breaks out.

    You close your post to me with a torpedo launched directly at my midsection… “I don’t think you have a clue what you are talking about.”

    I will maintain a noble silence.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Keep your wits about you…

    Ah, because pointing out that you are using ad hominem is not doing so, but using ad hominem is?

    …notice that I have no disagreement with you what so ever on what “should” be the way things run with regard to religion.

    Rubbish, or did you not claim that we need more of it?

    Oh, I’m not advanced. But I am dealing with existential angst of knowing that, although I have almost God-like powers I am ridiculously temporary and absurdly insignificant. I think religion was the twin of man’s genetically selected for ability to dissociate ourselves from that angst. To “make” meaning out of being just another kind of meat on a planet powered by mutual eating.

    Hmmm, not seeing an actual answer to my question in there, which weakens your argument.

    NO! It’s not MY remedy…. it’s the “human remedy” that Atheists such as ourselves struggle to put behind us.

    Did you or did you not claim that we need more religion?

    In closing I would say that both “culture” and that “social animal” business are synonyms for bullshit. Culture is the bullshit we agree to pretend is important and being a “social animal” is how we do it.

    Are you wholly unaware that there are other animals that behave in social ways and exhibit the same types of behavior as humans? It’s not bullshit, it’s part of our evolutionary heritage.

    You are, or seem to be, more about what should be.

    Again, what makes you think you are qualified to speak about me. Simply because you can’t keep your story straight and make arguments that I object to doesn’t mean you know me.

    I don’t have to! Isn’t it obvious to you that, in order to function as a denial of death scheme, it couldn’t PROMOTE killing yourself?

    Yet, there’s the rub, isn’t it? If one were to be an internally consistent Xian, one would want death. Yet, they don’t? Why not? They are just as afraid of death as any other human, so they make up feel-good stories about getting to live on and never think about the logical conclusion that one should come to.

    Offing yourself would have to be the biggest “no-no” of all.

    Where did I say anything about suicide? Stop reading what you want to read and deal with what I said.

    You close your post to me with a torpedo launched directly at my midsection… “I don’t think you have a clue what you are talking about.”

    I will maintain a noble silence.

    Wow. Talk about contradicting yourself in the space of two sentences. You may want to come down off your high horse, stop making ad hominem attacks, and back up your assertions. I’ll also note that you’ve ignored the objections that I brought up (repeatedly) that led to my conclusion that you haven’t the faintest clue of what you are talking about. It’s much easier to run and hide than to answer criticism isn’t it?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    There is another possibility you know. As the saying goes, “I can explain it to you, but, I can’t understand it for you”.

    When you wrote… “If Xianity promises an afterlife of eternal bliss, then why would one not want a quick death so that one can get on with it?”.. Did you not mean suicide? If not, what did you mean?

    All the best, CW
    (I confess, I find your hostility puzzling)

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Did you not mean suicide? If not, what did you mean?

    No, not necessarily. Quick death is not synonymous with suicide. One should want to die and go to heaven as quickly as possible in order to obtain their eternal bliss. That Xians don’t desire this shows that they lack faith in their own faith.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    @Cosmo Wafflefoot
    I must confess I can’t quite put my finger on what it is I don’t like about your argument. The suggestion that more of the same religion is an answer only seems to make any sense at all if we accept your rather narrow and uber competitive view of society, and maybe thats where the problem lies.
    We (you, me and OMGF) agree that religion is an artifact of evolution, but you and I at least don’t agree what kind of artifact it is. I see it as a misfiring of the otherwise useful trick of assigning intentionality to natural phenomena you can’t understand (Thunder make big noise/Gods are pissed off). You see it as death denial which I think is a later cultural development, software, not firmware.I think rationality, critical thinking and secular society can overcome belief in the afterlife. It may take a lot more generations but it can happen.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve, we are about 99% there on agreement.
    If you are at all interested in how I came to have my views I would suggest the following:

    “The Denial of Death” (Pulitzer prize winning book) by Ernest Becker
    “The Wings of Illusion” By Dr. John Schumaker
    “Art and Artist” by Otto Rank

    If you have the time, or inclination, to read them I think you will easily see where I am coming from. Google them on Amazon if you like.

    [you post]… “You see it as death denial which I think is a later cultural development”…

    Yes, I do because it is impossible for me to conceive of our first fully sentient ancestor NOT being terrified at the thought of the world WITHOUT him/her in it. I don’t think that has changed, nor do I think it will without massive educational uplift of our species. Perhaps, not even then.

    Try this on. http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/xfLz3_qjhvU-ernest-becker-denial-of-death.aspx

    All the Best
    Cosmo

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Follow it with this Steve. I think you will find it well worth your time. It does, perhaps, a better job. And, there is more.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0mqxnnsSHM

    All The Best

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Just FYI, the issues being discussed here were also addressed in a post from 2007, “Is Atheism Unnatural?

    I have a few other thoughts:

    Like it or not, historically and anthropologically there is no such thing as a human culture without paranormal beliefs.

    Depending on how you define “human culture”, this is probably false. I’d cite the Greek Atomists, the Indian Carvakas, certain sects of Judaism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. And what about the growing secular community that’s up to 15% of the American population and even higher in younger generations and in European countries? Does that not count as a culture?

    How do you politely inform someone psychologically incapable of accepting the fact that they are “just meat” that they are, in fact, “just meat”? My answer would be…. You can’t.

    I agree with that. However, I wouldn’t agree that the only alternative is to be silent. Daniel Dennett has pointed out that religions are experts at setting things up so it’s impossible to criticize them without being perceived as rude. That’s OK by me; no social justice or reform movement ever got anywhere solely by being polite.

    OMGH tells us… “In the cosmic sense, perhaps, but the meaning that we impart to ourselves is real.”

    To who? What makes it real?

    If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real. Nothing else is needed. You seem to subscribe here to the fallacy of reification, that some magical extra ingredient is needed to turn “mere” self-chosen meaning into “real” meaning. As an atheist, you should see the flaw in this. Meaning always exists in a mind and is relative to what that mind values; how could it possibly be otherwise?

    How real is that meaning 5 seconds after you are dead meat (as apposed to living meat)?

    Obviously, dead people no longer find anything meaningful. That, again, doesn’t mean that that meaning isn’t real to us while we exist.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Mornin Ebonmuse,

    Thanks for your well thought out post. I must disagree, but, that is what discussion is about. You mention… “the Greek Atomists, the Indian Carvakas, certain sects of Judaism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism”… and that was a good shot, but, I think you are confusing “paranormal beliefs” with a belief in “a God” or a belief in a life after death. They are NOT the same. Besides, who could say that Greek culture was not overflowing with Gods, Goddesses and spirits? Zen Buddhism? Please! Certainly nothing “paranormal” about accepting as fact that arrows can shoot themselves or that Zen Masters can hit the same target, in the dark, through walls and without ever seeing the target.

    I would NEVER suggest that the answer is to be silent.

    .You state… “If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real. Nothing else is needed”..

    So much for schizophrenia. In two short sentences you have cured more people than you can even imagine. Not to mention all those folks out there who believe in magic, 4 leaf clovers, horse shoes, not walking under ladders, never putting shoes on a table, throwing salt over your left shoulder and wishing on a shooting star.

    If, as you say… “Meaning always exists in a mind and is relative to what that mind values”… there doesn’t appear to be any choice but to hang up the sign that says [Anything Goes].

    You post… “that some magical extra ingredient is needed to turn “mere” self-chosen meaning into “real” meaning”… Isn’t it? Will there be no reference, no connection to some kind of objective, measurable reality? What then is the difference between “self-chosen meaning… and belief?

    Of course all meaning is real to us while we are alive. That’s the point. To create our own “safe” world and THEN inhabit it claiming it to be real. That is a personal religion.

    You will have to excuse me now. I need to find my lucky socks. Today is the 10th and [10] is my lucky number, so I buy a lottery ticket, but, it never pays off unless I am wearing my lucky socks. I’m sure you can understand that. My good friend (what an idiot) stops at his church and lights a candle for Jesus on the way to meet me at the 7-Eleven where we buy our tickets. You have to be a moron to believe that ridiculous crap he believes. That’s what bothers me about religion. How about you Ebonmuse?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    So much for schizophrenia. In two short sentences you have cured more people than you can even imagine. Not to mention all those folks out there who believe in magic, 4 leaf clovers, horse shoes, not walking under ladders, never putting shoes on a table, throwing salt over your left shoulder and wishing on a shooting star.

    And said with such astoundingly smug condescension – usually a trait of those who are full of it. Deciding on our own meaning to life (personal meaning or purpose) is not the same as being unable to tell the difference between reality and the unreal, or having superstitions. What in the world makes you equate the two? How in the world did you go from purpose to lucky charms? That you make such illogical leaps is not helping your argument.

    If, as you say… “Meaning always exists in a mind and is relative to what that mind values”… there doesn’t appear to be any choice but to hang up the sign that says [Anything Goes].

    Wrong again. Meaning or purpose is not the same as moral relativity or making up one’s own reality.

    You post… “that some magical extra ingredient is needed to turn “mere” self-chosen meaning into “real” meaning”… Isn’t it?

    Three for three. No, it isn’t. We do not need some cosmic approval for our meaning. Should our meaning be in accord with reality? Sure. But, what reference or connection to some kind of objective, measurable reality would you claim must exist for a self-chosen purpose of making oneself and others happier in life to be real?

    That’s the point. To create our own “safe” world and THEN inhabit it claiming it to be real. That is a personal religion.

    No, wrong again – you’re batting 1000. What I choose to see as meaningful has no bearing on changing the world around me. It is simply not a religion, unless you define religion so loosely as to incorporate any belief in anything, in which case the word no longer has any meaning.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    OMGF… I wish I could say that communicating with you was fun. But, I’m going to do you a favor and let you slide. You appear to be the kind of poster whose entire program consists of cutting apart what other people think. NEVER a new or insightful thought of your own. NEVER even the slightest hint of polite discourse.
    You are like the guy who ALWAYS likes to go fishing with the boys, but NEVER puts his own line in the water… just criticizes the other fishermen.

    In parting: …. “What I choose to see as meaningful has no bearing on changing the world around me.”…

    Perhaps that is because your life is inconsequential. Would it still apply to Hitler, Jerry Falwell, Jeffrey Dahmers, George Washington or General Patten?

    Do us both a favor and don’t respond to any of my posts. I promise to return the favor.

    Good Luck
    GParker

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    OMGF… I wish I could say that communicating with you was fun.

    Your smug condescension is a barrel of monkeys…

    Perhaps that is because your life is inconsequential. Would it still apply to Hitler, Jerry Falwell, Jeffrey Dahmers, George Washington or General Patten?

    No, perhaps it is because actions can have affects, but our beliefs do not shape reality. This is something I assumed you would agree with, since you seem to be a nihilistic fatalist.

    Do us both a favor and don’t respond to any of my posts. I promise to return the favor.

    The favor is solely yours since you can’t actually answer the objections raised and have yet to do so. Your entire line of defense from my arguments has been to use ad hominem and ignore the substantial points. For instance, let’s look at your inappropriate use of the word “religion” or your attempt to categorize meanind and purpose as somehow connected to schizophrenia. Face it, you can’t handle the criticism of your ideas and you can’t defend your ideas, so instead of resort to childish insults and evasion. Typical.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    MS Quixote “I have a sneaking suspicion that many of y’all don’t fully realize that most atheists theists engage with bear a striking resemblance to the ignorant theists y’all are always describing here, and nearly everything you claim here is easily applicable in those circumstances, which is to say, I get what you mean.”
    Atheists don’t have a lock on courtesy or intelligence and, just as it rains on the just and unjust alike, they aren’t immune from Dunning-Kruger.
    Also, hey! *Pout!*

    DemonHype “So you get some nice Xians like Universalists who are pretty damn tolerant of just about anyone…”
    I see that you haven’t run across the militant Universalists. They take their belief in a vague, ill-defined something-or-other really really seriously. Worse, when they hear that I’ve spoken poorly of them, they’ll come out and protest quietly nowhere near where ever it is I am, with hateful signs saying things like “I love you, man” and “Have a nice day, brother”, tasty casseroles and comfortable chairs. Then, when I try to walk past them, I’ll have to run a gauntlet of hugs and good tidings. They’re monsters.

    Cosmo Wafflefoot “How do you think George Bush got elected?”
    The first time, he presented himself as more moderate than he was, while his speech writers put enough evangelical “codewords” in his speeches that “the base” got excited enough to vote for the Party that they’d vote for anyway and his links to the heads of “the base” (or “baseheads”) made damn sure that they got out and voted.
    The second time, most people (including the Dems) were so cowed by “the war” (and the conflation of “dissent” and “unpatriotic”), while “the base” still believed (and most still do) the “big lie”.

    “…I would agree, PROVIDED things get “less” stressful on good old planet earth and human beings find themselves competing ‘less’ for resources that get more and more scarce each and every day.”
    There I’d agree. “Worse” is a breeding ground for radicalism.

    Oh, and don’t capitalize “atheist”.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Modusoperandi…. You may find this interesting.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fear-death-and-politics

    And, if it’s all right with you, I will capitalize whatever I like. Even Atheist.

    All the best
    Cosmo

  • Thumpalumpacus

    NEVER a new or insightful thought of your own. NEVER even the slightest hint of polite discourse.
    You are like the guy who ALWAYS likes to go fishing with the boys, but NEVER puts his own line in the water… just criticizes the other fishermen.

    I can unequivocally call bullshit on this.

    I’ve been a correspondent here for three years, and OMGF has consistently put up thoughtful, tightly reasoned, and (yes, on occasion) tartly worded replies. He has helped me clarify my understanding of many of the internal contradictions of religions.

    Your posting is not only smug and self-satisfied, it possesses the cardinal flaw of typing first and thinking later. I’d humbly suggest you alter your order of operations, particularly when it comes to pronouncing upon contributors with a track-record.

    In short — he’s proven himself to me. You should answer his objections if you hope to do so, without whining about how not-fun the whole thing is. Life’s tough. Get a goddamned helmet.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Plus, OMGF helped me move. I didn’t want to move and he kept all my stuff and the place where I was forcibly and in the middle of the night moved to had a family who were clearly not expecting me, but the thought was there.

  • Caiphen

    ‘Atheists don’t have a lock on courtesy or intelligence and, just as it rains on the just and unjust alike, they aren’t immune from Dunning-Kruger’.

    Modus

    So true. That’s why we need to always question our own beliefs and welcome criticism of ourselves from others. Our reasoning could be all f***ed up and we don’t even realise.

    I’m sure you didn’t mean it but I would expect this type of argument from a well prepared and intelligent theist, not a well prepared and intelligent atheist. It’s good that you tell it as it is though.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I’m just smart enough to realize that I’m an idiot.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    What is this, a “Tag-Team” ..”Plus, OMGF helped me move. I didn’t want to move and he kept all my stuff…”

    I am beginning to get the impression that you guys (or girls) are probably not quite half my age. I have no problem at all with that, or with the fact that I seem to be able to find little that I can agree with in your thinking. That’s OK too and “should”, by rights, make for even better conversation. But it doesn’t and it won’t as long as people have the idea that this is some kind of contest.
    Speaking for myself, I am a VERY “satisfied” person, so the “self-satisfied” part is correct. “Smug” is probably the result of having traveled over this ground so many times before. I assure you it is not intentional and perhaps in the eyes of the beholder at least to some degree. At any rate, is it that much worse than calling people’s thoughts and opinions “Rubbish” and “Bullshit”? I really don’t think so. How productive of intelligent discourse is that? In short, perhaps, there is some blame here that should be spread around.
    We have differing opinions. Does that have to be or make a contest?

    [Case in point:] OMGF posts… “No, perhaps it is because actions can have affects, but our beliefs do not shape reality.”…

    Now, I don’t have a helmet, nor should I need one Thumpalumpacus, but, from my way of thinking and my experience that HAS to be one of the most naive things I have seen written in a long time. “Our beliefs do not shape reality”?

    Then what does?

    They certainly shape our internal reality, if they didn’t there would be no such thing as the placebo effect. There COULD be no such thing as hypnotism. The “fight or flight” hormonal cascade that biologically prepares us to protect our lives and transforms our internal biochemistry is ENTIRELY dependent upon our “belief” that we are in danger. How about the hundreds of experiments in TMT that clearly show that our “beliefs” even unconsciously effect our decision making and our propensity to violence with regard to people we see as “different” from ourselves? How much deeper do we have to go? For Pete’s sake, if I pull a lemon out of my pocket and show it to you… within seconds specific enzymes designed to deal with the breaking down of the acidity of lemon juice specifically will be secreted under your tongue. EVEN if it’s a plastic lemon!

    Are none of the above reality? Were and are they not ENTIRELY the physical result of beliefs?

    Of course they are. Besides that they can be both measured and predicted. Have Jewish, Christian and Muslim “beliefs” not “shaped the reality” of both the Mid-East and our foreign policy?

    OK, so if you find that too smug for your liking I offer my apology… but get real and read this again. …” ‘No, perhaps it is because actions can have affects, but our beliefs do not shape reality.”…

    What do we base our actions on?

    Have a nice morning all
    Cosmo

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Thanks Thump and Modus. I know I can be terse at times, but I hope that some nuggets of wisdom come out too.

    Cosmo,

    I am beginning to get the impression that you guys (or girls) are probably not quite half my age.

    Age has nothing to do with your arguments being less than good.

    But it doesn’t and it won’t as long as people have the idea that this is some kind of contest.

    No one’s treating it as a contest. What you don’t seem to get is that you’ve shown up, paraded some ideas that some of us disagree with, and now you seem to be pouting because we don’t simply sit there and play the part of the “yes” men.

    At any rate, is it that much worse than calling people’s thoughts and opinions “Rubbish” and “Bullshit”?

    I do not retract using “Rubbish” since you directly contradicted yourself and claimed something that was completely false. I even pointed out how you did this and why it was false. As for “Bullshit,” I never said that to you, except to point out that your use of it was not correct.

    They [beliefs] certainly shape our internal reality, if they didn’t there would be no such thing as the placebo effect.

    First of all, we’ve been talking about religious beliefs and now you want to talk about any belief, which is a bait and switch. Second of all, I’ve been speaking about external reality, as have you, so it’s another bait and switch to focus entirely on internal reality. In the context of what we were talking about, our beliefs do not shape our external reality. Your whole paragraph is a red herring.

    Then, when you try to relate it back to external realities, it falls apart again. Beliefs themselves do not “shape the reality” of both the Mid-East and our foreign policy. The reality of those things is what it is regardless of what we believe about it. It’s the action of acting on those beliefs that shapes reality. I can believe all I want that going into Iraq was a bad idea, but that doesn’t make it reality. What makes it reality is all the external conditions and the empirical realities, independent of my thoughts on the matter.

  • Caiphen

    ‘I am beginning to get the impression that you guys (or girls) are probably not quite half my age’.

    Cosmo

    If that were true about me, you’d be one hellova old fella.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    …”First of all, we’ve been talking about religious beliefs and now you want to talk about any belief, which is a bait and switch.”…

    Please excuse me, I had no idea our discussion was to be limited to only one “kind” of belief. I confess to being shocked to learn that the mechanism by which belief works differs from belief to belief. I stand corrected. I honestly had no idea that the only belief permitted to be discussed was religious belief.

    …”I’ve been speaking about external reality, as have you, so it’s another bait and switch to focus entirely on internal reality.”…

    Excuse me again. What I “attempted” to do was demonstrate to you that “belief” in and of itself, can profoundly effect our biochemistry. Our biochemistry effects our actions AND our thinking. You want external, I’ll give you external.

    If I hypnotize a person, susceptible to poison ivy, and tell them that a maple leaf is a poison ivy leaf and rub it on their skin… guess what happens. They break out. Is the skin external enough for you?

    [no doubt, now is the time for you to pull yet another "rule" out of your ass that I have broken]

    It’s OK. (your statement)… “Beliefs themselves do not “shape the reality” of both the Mid-East and our foreign policy” is so far beyond ridiculous that I dismiss it out of hand. I suppose the religious (it HAS to be religious, right?) Beliefs of the Muslim terrorists on 9/11 did nothing to shape US foreign policy… and all that GOD is on America’s side had nothing to do with it either.

    You really have to cut this out OMGF. You have given me a gut ache from laughing…

    … I can believe all I want that going into Iraq was a bad idea, but that doesn’t make it reality. What makes it reality is all the external conditions and the empirical realities, independent of my thoughts on the matter.”…

    I see. That, of course, would explain the universal agreement on this question.

    I’m guessing you are about 19…20. That magnificent age when we are SURE we know it all.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Please excuse me, I had no idea our discussion was to be limited to only one “kind” of belief.

    Well, when we are having a discussion on idea X, it is rather schiesty to claim that I’m wrong due to idea Y, which is simply not part of the context of the discussion. It’s a bait and switch, just like I said. If you think this is some “rule” that I pulled “out of [my] ass” then I suggest you actually do some searching for logical fallacies and learn something about them.

    Excuse me again. What I “attempted” to do was demonstrate to you that “belief” in and of itself, can profoundly effect our biochemistry.

    And that matters how in the context of the actual discussion topic?

    I suppose the religious (it HAS to be religious, right?) Beliefs of the Muslim terrorists on 9/11 did nothing to shape US foreign policy…

    It is not their beliefs that flew planes into the buildings. They could believe that America is the devil all they want without it changing a single thing. Their actions of flying planes into buildings changed our policy. Do beliefs lead to actions? Yes. And I’ll be the first to argue that, since I routinely argue that having bad beliefs leads to committing bad actions. But, the beliefs themselves do not alter reality.

    You really have to cut this out OMGF. You have given me a gut ache from laughing…

    What we should really do is get back to the original topic. I’ve made many, many objections and counter-points to your statements which you have continually avoided, instead trying to focus on one specific point out of context – thus making it mostly irrelevant – and trying to drag the conversation away from the shortcomings of your argument. It’s a common tactic of those who can not defend their arguments. Once the discussion meanders away from your assertions, people forget about them, they go unanswered, and then you claim that you won by default (or hope the appearance is there). Another tactic you seem to be using is ad hominem, which I’ve pointed out multiple times. That you seem to want to focus on my “tone” or your estimations of my age show that you are trying to discredit me instead of my arguments.

    I see. That, of course, would explain the universal agreement on this question.

    Universal agreement on what question? Whether we should have invaded Iraq? How incredibly wrong you are, considering there are many rethuglicans who still support Bush’s actions.

    I’m guessing you are about 19…20. That magnificent age when we are SURE we know it all.

    You can believe whatever you want, but it doesn’t make me that age…which is the whole point.

    Now, perhaps you can defend your assertions that we all practice a religion, or that there must be some externally given meaning for any meaning to exist? Or maybe you can defend your assertions that the cure for religion is to have more of it? Perhaps you can defend your assertions that internally decided meaning/purpose somehow doesn’t exist and if it did it would cure schizophrenia or somehow validate the idea of having a lucky rabbit’s foot? These are all things that you’ve asserted and have not supported, instead opting for ad hominem and personal attack against me. So, let’s see some support for your assertions, since you are so old and wise.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    I have come to the conclusion that you don’t understand a thing you read. Probably because you are so hell bent on disagreeing. 18?

    …”your assertions that internally decided meaning/purpose somehow doesn’t exist and if it did it would cure schizophrenia”…

    Where the hell did I EVER say that?

    Ebonmuse posted: …”If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real.”.

    I posted back: ..”So much for schizophrenia”.. I mentioned NOTHING about “curing schizophrenia”. That was your overactive imagination at work again. OF COURSE it wouldn’t cure schizophrenia. It would make it disappear from the world as a recognizable disease. After all…

    ….”If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real.”..

    So, if you really believe that chipmunks use Lima beans, with the help of Space Aliens, implanted within your brain as a device that enables them to control your movements and thoughts…. Those beliefs would have meaning to you and be real. You wouldn’t be schizophrenic after all! Lima Beans would BE what you “believe” they are… for real.

    …”Now, perhaps you can defend your assertions that we all practice a religion”… Of course I could, but not as well as Rank, Becker, Kierkegaard, Jung, Reich, Adler…must I go on? Haven’t you read anything on this subject? I forgot. You already know all you need to know. 17?

    Oh… When I posted… “I see. That, of course, would explain the universal agreement on this question.” I was of course being sarcastic (and you didn’t even get THAT.)

    Jeepers!

  • Maynard

    I think I see some of the disconnect here.

    ….”If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real.”..

    The meaning is real. If, to me, those fantastic lima beans mean that the holy chipmonk trinity (Alvin, Simon, Theodore) is in charge and I should submit my life to living under their guidance, then that meaning is real. Doesn’t prove the existence of the beans, alien benefactors, or IC (intelligent chipmonk). But what it means to me is true enough.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    OF COURSE it wouldn’t cure schizophrenia. It would make it disappear from the world as a recognizable disease. After all…

    Sorry that my shorthand use of “cure” was inaccurate. The fact remains, however, that this is under dispute and you simply re-iterating yourself doesn’t make it any more true. That you have completely misunderstood what Ebon and I have both said on this matter is what is at issue. That, and the fact that your response is neither here nor there and not at all accurate to what we are talking about.

    Those beliefs would have meaning to you and be real.

    Again you try the bait and switch. Meaning, as we were all discussing it, is purpose, as in the meaning or purpose of our lives. What you are trying to equate it to now is interpretation of reality.

    So, let’s look at your example. If one believes that lima beans are devices used by space aliens to enable thought control, does that make it real? If we look at my argument that our beliefs do not shape reality, then the answer would be no. Simply because you believe that something is real doesn’t make it so. IOW, the belief about lima beans doesn’t affect reality. Hmmm, sounds like what I’ve been saying. Good try though.

    Of course I could, but not as well as Rank, Becker, Kierkegaard, Jung, Reich, Adler…must I go on?

    Yes, you must defend your assertions, and claiming that some group of philosophers agrees with you, especially without giving cites/quotes/etc. to show as much makes you sound like a crank. I can tell you right now that as an atheist I hold to no religion.

    I was of course being sarcastic (and you didn’t even get THAT.)

    Well, maybe because it doesn’t make any sense. Whether my opinion is true or not, it is not determined by my having the opinion. Your off-hand remark does nothing to counter the example, and only strengthens my contentions (as do your continuing attempted jibes at my age) that you don’t have the ability to back up your baseless assertions. Condescension, sarcasm, ad hominem, evasion, personal attacks, vitriol, etc are not a substitute for cogent argumentation. If we really were to equate age to wisdom and take you at your word that you are both old and wise, I would have to question both your attacks at my age and your claim to either age and/or wisdom. One would think that you would know by now that your attacks on me do not make your arguments any more correct.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Sure did change your writing style though. As far as making my arguments more correct to you… What does it matter? In your own words, “my argument that our beliefs do not shape reality” I assume still applies.

    Tell Maynard that, if he believes what he wrote to us he should probably keep it to himself. There is a name for that.

    Have a good time

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    This guy’s an egotistical prick. I’d like to cover him in spaghetti right now.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sure did change your writing style though.

    Or not…or is that another failed attempt at sarcasm?

    As far as making my arguments more correct to you… What does it matter?

    What does it matter? Seriously? Are you that unable to see beyond your own bloated ego? I’ve been asking you to back up your assertions from the beginning and to support your arguments. If you are right, I’d like to know, but I’m not going to simply accept your words without support, nor will I be cowed by your insult, vitriol, and condescension.

    Tell Maynard that, if he believes what he wrote to us he should probably keep it to himself. There is a name for that.

    A) You can tell him yourself.
    B) Your response is either more of that failed sarcasm or it completely misconstrues what he said (perhaps intentionally?) What Maynard said is accurate, and it shows that he understood what Ebon and I have said a whole lot better than you have.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    You mention… “the Greek Atomists, the Indian Carvakas, certain sects of Judaism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism”… and that was a good shot, but, I think you are confusing “paranormal beliefs” with a belief in “a God” or a belief in a life after death.

    No, I’m not. None of the cultures I just listed were adherents of anything that we would understand as a supernatural belief. Rather, they all believed that the world was governed by an unbroken mesh of laws which we could come to discover.

    Besides, who could say that Greek culture was not overflowing with Gods, Goddesses and spirits?

    I cited the Atomists specifically, not Greek culture in general. Philosophers like Democritus and his followers believed that the gods were real, but that they were material beings made of atoms, just like humans (and everything else).

    Certainly nothing “paranormal” about accepting as fact that arrows can shoot themselves or that Zen Masters can hit the same target, in the dark, through walls and without ever seeing the target.

    Your sarcasm just goes to show that you don’t know very much about Zen Buddhism. Some devotees can perform quite surprising feats of concentration, but none of them would describe that ability as in violation of the laws of nature.

    .You state… “If meaning is real to the person who believes in it, then it is real. Nothing else is needed”..

    So much for schizophrenia. In two short sentences you have cured more people than you can even imagine. Not to mention all those folks out there who believe in magic, 4 leaf clovers, horse shoes, not walking under ladders, never putting shoes on a table, throwing salt over your left shoulder and wishing on a shooting star.

    As Maynard and OMGF pointed out, you’ve failed to grasp my point. If you find meaning in some activity, then that meaning is real to you, by definition. Meaning is simply that which is meaningful to the individual, and if you find meaning in holding some bizarre supernatural belief, fine. This emphatically does not mean that the beliefs which underlie that meaning are necessarily true or valuable. If I make it my purpose to search for the Holy Grail, then my life has a purpose, by definition. That doesn’t mean that the Holy Grail actually exists.

    I’m guessing you are about 19…20. That magnificent age when we are SURE we know it all.

    Please do everyone a favor and stop this rude and condescending speculation on people’s ages. It’s insulting, it’s irrelevant, and it adds absolutely nothing to the conversation. A good argument is a good argument and a bad argument is a bad argument, regardless of the age of the person making it. If you have something to say, then address other people’s ideas on their merits.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com/ Steve Bowen

    Cosmo Wafflefoot
    Thank you for the references here and in the previous posts.
    Yep! I think I see where you are coming from, and the arguments are pursuasive as far as they go. But I think there is a danger in assuming that the drama of history is really indicative of human values at the time. For example, if the Iraq invasion had happened at a time pre -internet, would the disquiet of the opponents have been recorded? I doubt it.
    More importantly (for the puposes of this discussion) I think you are overlaying a contemporary dialogue between secular and theistic society with a historical baggage it doesn’t need. Fo’ shiz!(and I find, since passing fifty, I can use these idioms not only ironically but with some genuine literary effect) all the 99% you say you and I agree on is there. But beyond that there is the two hundred or so years since the industrial revolution, that has provided enough empirical proof of the effectiveness of science and reason to expect that the rational critism of supernatural forces should not be considered unreasonable.
    To suggest, as you appear to do, that pandering to religious superstition is a solution to the problem of religion in the face of evidence against it, is ludicrous. It may be a short term panecea, alleviating political strife in our lifetimes, but it is not a solution. You are an atheist, you understand the flaws in theistic thinking. What, apart from short term appeasment is achieved by your prescription?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Thanks Steve, perhaps we are getting someplace.
    [you post]… “You are an atheist, you understand the flaws in theistic thinking. What, apart from short term appeasement is achieved by your prescription?”… What a great question.

    First of all, it’s not a prescription but an observation. An opinion if you will, relating to an observation. Flaws indeed! The question I ask myself is why are these “flaws”, this ability to swallow all manner of balderdash whole so seemingly universal?
    [you post]… “But beyond that there is the two hundred or so years since the industrial revolution, that has provided enough empirical proof of the effectiveness of science and reason to expect that the rational criticism of supernatural forces should not be considered unreasonable.”
    That, I think is the BIG question. Yet, for most of the humans living on our small planet it IS unreasonable and my point is that is no accident. I am convinced that “if” science could explain “everything” it would still not be nearly enough to satisfy… as a direct result of what humans are and how they have evolved to be.
    We “create” a reality that we can be comfortable in. The fear of death and the realization that, in the end, we are no more meaningful than a potato or an insect is, at its root, unacceptable to most humans. It is utterly incompatible with an unconscious that knows not death. Soldiers don’t go into battle thinking “they” will be killed. They know someone else (the other guy) will be killed. Luck is when the other guy gets hit with an arrow.
    Ask yourself these questions? Why do we have suicide bombers? Why do people believe that only members of “their” particular faith are “the chosen”? Why are paranormal beliefs ubiquitous throughout the world?
    My answer would be because beliefs of this nature offered a survival advantage. There was something about them that made their adherents better at something and stronger at something than people unable to “dissociate” themselves from what a scientist would call reality. What could that be?
    When people are tested for their ability to be hypnotized, “Dissociated”, an interesting fact is revealed. The high scorers prove to be the same people who score high on “being religious”. They also score highest on their tendency to follow strong leaders. Could this alone be the reason? Did it make easily dissociated people more fit to live in larger groups? More easy to manage and control? Stronger as a nation or fighting force?
    Prior to 100 years ago, and that would include at least 100,000 years all told, there was no health care to speak of apart from shamanistic ritual. Religion, dissociation, magic, singing, dancing, charms, hypnotism and the ever fascinating placebo effect that to this day is routinely found to be MORE powerful than some of our better selling medicines ant treatments. If we are at base “rational” creatures rather than religious creatures, WHY should this be? My answer would be… because we are not rational creatures. Because, in essence, we were never evolved to face reality square. Because we ALL live in a world of illusions that we ourselves construct with the help of the culture we inhabit.
    It is quite ridiculous to think that what we would call primitive shamanistic healing rituals… never worked. Nothing that doesn’t work would be found universally throughout human space and time. Of course it worked then, works today in fact. Anything that exists so universally MUST have powerful survival value. Is it a huge leap of faith to think that after thousands of generations of humans who, basically, only had shamans, priests and holy men as doctors/healers… who ONLY had hypnotism, religious beliefs and the well developed art of dissociation in their black bag… that this “easily convinced” (dissociated from reality) trait found in those who “healed” but not in those who didn’t (hard to dissociate) would NOT dominate our species? In my opinion, THAT is what happened and why we find ourselves, today, where we are.
    If you are interested in a deeper approach to this subject I would suggest “The Corruption of Reality” by John Schumaker. It’s full of fascinating ideas. One of which is the fact that there is a direct correlation between how “free” one is of irrational beliefs and the rates of clinical depression. The “religious” it appears suffer far less, are treated and hospitalized less and recover faster.
    So, if as I think, humans evolved to be “religious” organisms and need filters from a reality that is “un-face-able…. We will find them. Like it or not. Rational, scientific, common sense not withstanding.
    It’s also interesting to note that the more a culture dysfunctions and proves itself incapable of providing a ground for individual heroism….. The more religion rises in power and influence.

    Good day Steve
    CW

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Wow.

    Steve did ask a good question, and you completely dodged it. In all those words, there’s not an answer anywhere to be found. Instead, we are treated to you re-iterating your position, which is what we’ve all been objecting to.

    Really, it boils down to you claiming that religion exists, so therefore it must have a use and be beneficial. I think we can all see the flaw in that reasoning.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Cosmo Wafflefoot
    Well! You’ve done pretty great job of precis on the references you asked me to read. But I get that. I understand why you think religion and superstition is ubiquitous, and I don’t really argue with it; it’s a sound hypothesis.
    However as OMGF pointed out, the question you acknowledged, you haven’t answered. Unless you mean to say that we are all so darn’ hardwired irrational that it’s pointless even trying to pursuade society that evidence and reason is a better way to proceed.
    Even way back in “the selfish gene” Dawkins summed up by saying humans were the first animal capable of escaping the tyranny of our genes. Behaviour that had survival value in a pre-scientific age does not have to survive in an enlightened one, we can modify our response to woo if we want to.
    I agree, displacing superstition worldwide won’t happen overnight, and it may never happen totally. But those of us that take the materialist position have every right to make the case without accomodation. If we don’t try we will never succeed.

  • Moondog

    I’m currently reading through Daniel Dennet’s Breaking the Spell and in it, among other things, he discusses and explains about shamanistic healing in the natural process of the development of religion. I think you’re stretching it to say we are genetically predisposed to believe in the supernatural due to a direct survival advantage–belief in God and the supernatural could be the result of a misfiring of some other aspect of our brains that provided a survival advantage (Richard Dawkins discusses this in the God Delusion, as well). And I think you go past the breaking point if you mean to say that continued belief in the supernatural amongst the vast majority of our species is inevitable or beneficial as it continues to provide some kind of genetic reproductive advantage. You can believe fighting is pointless, but shutting up never changed anything. And you’ll forgive the rest of us for trying to make the world a better place by fighting religious faith with evidence-supported reason.

    And as for shamanistic healing, although the placebo effect is real and beneficial, for all your hoary wisdom you seem to have no idea what the life expectancy of people was prior to modern medicine.

    If you want to be a pessimist, that’s your business. If you want to believe that your life has no more meaning than a sausage, be my guest. But the rest of us aren’t buying it. The meaning we choose for our lives is in no way inferior, and is arguably superior, to one given to us by some god. It’s real, genuine meaning, Take it or leave it.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Hi Steve…

    … “Unless you mean to say that we are all so darn’ hardwired irrational that it’s pointless even trying to persuade society that evidence and reason is a better way to proceed.”…

    I would not say “irrational”…BUT…

    You got it. But, that is not to say that we could not do one hell of a better job. Prepare the damage, if you will.

    As E.O. Wilson points out in “On Human Nature”, post-ideological societies such as our own tend to regress steadily toward “inward self-indulgence”. I believe that is a good description of “our” society, how about you?
    Culture has ALWAYS been the intended architect of society. How have Atheist cultures worked out so far? The former CCCP comes to mind. Religion is now booming in Russia! Why?
    When you post…. “But those of us that take the materialist position have every right to make the case without accommodation. If we don’t try we will never succeed.”…

    What do you hope to succeed at? Getting all the other humans to agree with “your” view of “reality”? Isn’t that the same “need” we see in all religious societies and religious people? Isn’t it easy to see why? When someone disagrees with your concept of what is real… BINGO!… You are threatened because it is this (your view) that keeps you psychologically afloat, gives you self-worth and self respect. It’s YOUR umbrella of illusion that keeps you from getting wet in a world that does not care, by definition. I submit the same mechanism is at work.

    I have come under a lot of heat for trying to make the case “for religion” in spite of the fact that I am an Atheist. I do it for a reason. As a younger man I too searched for answers. Ebonmuse made me laugh because, in fact, I have spent more time than it deserved in Zen Monasteries. Enough to experience the fact that they work the exact same way that Paris Island does.
    If we are to successfully fight, let alone overcome an enemy…. it behooves us to KNOW that enemy.

    ….”Dawkins summed up by saying humans were the first animal capable of escaping the tyranny of our genes. Behavior that had survival value in a pre-scientific age does not have to survive in an enlightened one…”

    Indeed, but, to our detriment, sugar will still taste good and we will still have a biological craving for it and fat and salt also. That is a “tyranny” that can be escaped from in rational moments only. I fear humans have far too few of those and in times of stress, little to none. If the horrors of organized religion are to be fought or minimized, in my opinion, we MUST know that enemy. Dismissing religion or religious people out of hand because… they are stupid, or fools, or will not listen to reason, I think, misses the most important point. I have come to see it as a sign of immaturity to expect to “scientifically” explain to a Southern Baptist that the earth is older than 6000 years. It’s a waste of time. They CAN’T hear you because, being human, they are capable of dissociation.
    When I hear people say I HAVE NO RELIGION…. I have to laugh. Even if they provided me with a Birth Certificate from the planet Vulcan… I would be obliged to remind them that…. They had religion there too.

    Thanks Steve
    CW

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Hi moondog… I will “leave it” if you don’t mind.

    You post]…” ….it continues to provide some kind of genetic reproductive advantage”…

    I never stated nor believed that. Although, it does appear that deeply religious people like Mormons, Mennonites, Born Agains and Muslims are FAR out breeding us Atheists…. So who knows?

    Also… {you post]…”And as for shamanistic healing, although the placebo effect is real and beneficial, for all your hoary wisdom you seem to have no idea what the life expectancy of people was prior to modern medicine.”…

    In fact, I have a very good idea and have been a practicing physician for the past 33 years. To medicine I would add Plumbers, farmers, public sanitation, transportation, flush toilets, clean water… (you are no doubt aware that roughly 80% of human disease was once attributable to contaminated drinking water?) Besides, past prime reproductive age life span is somewhat irrelevant to nature. With regard to “mental Health” I think you would be interested in comparing the success rates between “Modern Medicine” and “Primitive cultural shamanistic practices within said culture. They got us beat hands down from what I have read.

    Thanx Moondog
    CW

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    With regard to “mental Health” I think you would be interested in comparing the success rates between “Modern Medicine” and “Primitive cultural shamanistic practices within said culture. They got us beat hands down from what I have read.

    Then you’ve been reading some serious fucking bullshit.

    Sorry, mental health is one of my touchy subjects. I don’t take kindly to BS like the above.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    How have Atheist cultures worked out so far? The former CCCP comes to mind. Religion is now booming in Russia! Why?

    I’m suspecting sock puppet here.

    The former CCCP was more of a cult of personality and a religion of the same than an atheistic society. Further, forced atheism doesn’t work, and no one is advocating that. The reason religion is “booming” is because it never actually left. People didn’t give up their religions, because once again forced (de)conversion doesn’t work.

    What do you hope to succeed at? Getting all the other humans to agree with “your” view of “reality”?

    Again, you have failed to answer the question. Further, what do you mean by “‘your’ view of ‘reality’?” There is an objective reality out there. That the Earth is not 6000 years old is not simpy “my” view of reality, but objectively true. Again, our subjective beliefs do not change these facts.

    When someone disagrees with your concept of what is real… BINGO!… You are threatened because it is this (your view) that keeps you psychologically afloat, gives you self-worth and self respect. It’s YOUR umbrella of illusion that keeps you from getting wet in a world that does not care, by definition. I submit the same mechanism is at work.

    No, it most certainly is not. Basing our “view” on the objective facts of the world is not a psychological safety net, not subjective, nor an illusion. In fact, it completely negates what you are trying to say.

    If we are to successfully fight, let alone overcome an enemy…. it behooves us to KNOW that enemy.

    And what has this to do with the price of tea in China? Knowing one’s “enemy” is not the same as advocating for more religion.

    Dismissing religion or religious people out of hand because… they are stupid, or fools, or will not listen to reason, I think, misses the most important point. I have come to see it as a sign of immaturity to expect to “scientifically” explain to a Southern Baptist that the earth is older than 6000 years. It’s a waste of time. They CAN’T hear you because, being human, they are capable of dissociation.

    Wow. Do you not even see the contradiction there? You imply that we are all dismissing religious people as stupid, fools, incapable of listening to reason, and then claim that we shouldn’t try to convince them of the age of the Earth because they are incapable of listening to reason.

    When I hear people say I HAVE NO RELIGION…. I have to laugh.

    You’re the only one laughing. Atheism is simply not a religion by any conventional definition. If you want to make up new definitions, then you should use a new word.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Someone posted earlier] …”Really, it boils down to you claiming that religion exists, so therefore it must have a use and be beneficial. I think we can all see the flaw in that reasoning.”…

    Point it out.

    themann… Perhaps you could educate me with respect to where cross-cultural psychologists and psychologists agree with you that traditional cultural therapies DON’T work as well as western psychotherapy within traditional cultures, as I stated they often do. I would be interested in reading those findings. Thank you.

    CW

  • Moondog

    Hey, Cosmo. So, basically, what you are really saying in all this is that you of all people are special. Different. Humans in general need religion. They’re predisposed to it. There’s no fighting it. They’re gonna believe whatever they need to believe to get by, to deal with death. Even us atheists that believe that our lives have meaning and explain to others that they don’t need God to experience a meaningful life are just fooling ourselves, and that is our own religion that we are proselytizing to protect our psychological crutch. But, you. You and the bleak few like yourself. You have the courage, the honesty to admit that there is and can be no meaning to life and there’s no point fighting the programming of the robotic worker ants of the rest of humanity. That about it?

    Oh and, if you poke around the net a bit you’ll find plenty of former Southern Baptists that are now secular humanists/ atheists. Lots of people who thought and educated themselves out of religious delusions. So, no. I don’t think fighting evidence-free faith or trying to educate people is pointless.

    And would you mind summing up just what message you’re really trying to get across in say 3 or 4 sentences? Cause I just don’t see the point of this nihilism, fatalism, and arrogance you’re peddling.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    No Moondog. I’m not special and I’m not different.

    With regard to… “Even us atheists that believe that our lives have meaning and explain to others that they don’t need God to experience a meaningful life are just fooling ourselves, and that is our own religion that we are proselytizing to protect our psychological crutch.” Yes.

    We all like to believe our lives have meaning. That is precisely what religion is about. A rose by any other name….

    CW

  • Moondog

    Hmmm. Not willing to sum up your point? Well, let me help. I went back to your original comment, Cosmo, where you say,

    Until and unless a culture can be fashioned that successfully denies or softens the inevitability of death while simultaneously providing a “reason” to live, mankind is destined to destroy itself. As Atheists we must construct and feed that “culture”. Being “right” and “scientific” and having truckloads of “proof” on our side is not enough. In the end we will survive or perish as a species based entirely on our ability to come up with a culture that works better.

    So, let me ask a more constructive question. How do you, and how should we, as atheists, “construct and feed that “culture”.”?

  • Moondog

    Oh and saying that everybody but you has a psychological crutch equivalent to a religion is the same as saying that you’re special and different. In a word: arrogant. But arrogance I could handle if only your assertion was supported by reality and the generally accepted meanings of words.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Moondog… that’s a tall order. My thinking is along the lines of “religious” duty to some kind of “purity” with regard to the planet and ourselves. A “religion” that sees pollution of both the environment and our bodies as unholy. A spiritual awakening, if you will, to our place as “how” the universe observes itself. Since we did not “come into the world”… but out of it, I think that somehow making THAT connection to our responsibility to “ourselves” AS our responsibility to the world, would be essential.
    There must be ritual because it is such an important part of culture and people love it. It should involve “Reverence for Life”!
    Culture delivers information and misinformation to each new generation. It is as Ernest Becker called it the “Macro-lie”. I see no reason that a farcical God in the sky must continue to be a part of religion. Other than, of course, the Death Denial aspect of religion. That, I think, could be overcome by a “culture” that offers sufficient opportunities for “heroic” activities that, in effect, provide immortality.

    It’s a tall order to engineer in a short space. That’s a start.

    CW

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Moondog…. Where the hell did I say or imply that I don’t have a “psychological crutch”?

    As far as arrogance goes… Oh, there is PLENTY of THAT to go around here!

    All the best
    CW

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    What do you hope to succeed at? Getting all the other humans to agree with “your” view of “reality”? Isn’t that the same “need” we see in all religious societies and religious people?

    No. Asking people to agree on objective, measurable, repeatable data is not equivalent to asking people to believe in the invisible fairy at the bottom of your garden.

    When someone disagrees with your concept of what is real… BINGO!… You are threatened because it is this (your view) that keeps you psychologically afloat, gives you self-worth and self respect. It’s YOUR umbrella of illusion that keeps you from getting wet in a world that does not care, by definition. I submit the same mechanism is at work.

    I’m not sure I can keep up with all the schizophrenic lurching between nihilsm and existentialism. Again, the epistemology of science is something on which consensus can be achieved. A worldview based on it will be as empirically accurate tomorrow as it is today. You can have as much faith as you like in the Shaman when he cures today’s headache, it won’t stop him failing to reset your broken leg tomorrow.

    Dismissing religion or religious people out of hand because… they are stupid, or fools, or will not listen to reason, I think, misses the most important point. I have come to see it as a sign of immaturity to expect to “scientifically” explain to a Southern Baptist that the earth is older than 6000 years. It’s a waste of time. They CAN’T hear you because, being human, they are capable of dissociation.

    Which is fine until he gets to be president.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve… check this Blog out.

    http://whoistheabsurdman.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2010-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&updated-max=2011-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=22

    [you post] …”No. Asking people to agree on objective, measurable, repeatable data is not equivalent to asking people to believe in the invisible fairy at the bottom of your garden.”…

    I live 17 miles from Liberty University in Virginia……. Y’all come right down and try that out on the 10,000 students. I will be there to see how well you make out.

    I have enjoyed todays conversation….. See Y’all soon.
    CW

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    ….”Again, the epistemology of science is something on which consensus can be achieved. A worldview based on it will be as empirically accurate tomorrow as it is today.”…. [see: Texas B of E]

    On a lighter note: http://levelsofillusion.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/global-warming-skeptic-speaks-at-liberty-university/

    Great day everybody!
    CW

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    As E.O. Wilson points out in “On Human Nature”, post-ideological societies such as our own tend to regress steadily toward “inward self-indulgence”. I believe that is a good description of “our” society, how about you?

    Oops! I let this one get by.
    In what sense is “our” society post – ideological? If you mean the U.S, from my European perspective you are living in a classic hegemony, with religiosity and social conservatism the societal norm. Atheism is a radical position (in a way it mostly isn’t in Europe)and liberalism is still for the minority in practice. But it’s not just our society, Muslim culture is a de facto hegemony with apostasy being a very dangerous road indeed.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Hello Cosmo,

    I think I see a flaw in your strategy here.

    1) You say that human beings aren’t capable of facing reality without constructing some kind of illusory meaning for themselves, as they do in religion.

    So, if as I think, humans evolved to be “religious” organisms and need filters from a reality that is “un-face-able…. We will find them. Like it or not. Rational, scientific, common sense not withstanding.

    2) You say that a secular humanist philosophy which teaches us to construct our own meaning is no different from religion in this regard.

    With regard to… “Even us atheists that believe that our lives have meaning and explain to others that they don’t need God to experience a meaningful life are just fooling ourselves, and that is our own religion that we are proselytizing to protect our psychological crutch.” Yes.

    We all like to believe our lives have meaning. That is precisely what religion is about.

    3) You say that it’s useless and futile to try to argue someone out of the illusory meaning they’ve chosen for themselves.

    What do you hope to succeed at? Getting all the other humans to agree with “your” view of “reality”? Isn’t that the same “need” we see in all religious societies and religious people?

    So, my question is: What exactly do you hope to accomplish here? Why are you trying to persuade us? Shouldn’t your own argument lead you to conclude that we are just as impervious to persuasion as any religious person, and that your trying to convince us otherwise would just be a waste of your time?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Point it out.

    Your whole entire argument about the evolutionary advantages of religion pretty much is it. Or did you mean that I should point out the logical flaw? It’s the is/ought fallacy. Simply because something is doesn’t mean it ought to be.

    We all like to believe our lives have meaning. That is precisely what religion is about. A rose by any other name….

    So, you are making up your own definitions…

    My thinking is along the lines of “religious” duty to some kind of “purity” with regard to the planet and ourselves.

    Oh, so you’re really a scientologist in deep cover…

    I live 17 miles from Liberty University in Virginia……. Y’all come right down and try that out on the 10,000 students. I will be there to see how well you make out.

    Still not the same, no matter if 10,000 or 100,000 students reject empirically based observations. What you don’t seem to get is the line between objective and subjective. I’d try to explain it to you again, but you seem incapable of listening to anyone but yourself.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Anyone who’s going to argue with a straight fucking face that modern mental health treatments are no better than shamanistic bullshit isn’t worth my time. Piss off.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    theman… That is NOT what I argued and not even close to what I posted. I requested that you educate me with respect to my error. You don’t seem to be able to… hence, the “Piss Off!” but, I’m arrogant?

    OMGF… “Simply because something is doesn’t mean it ought to be.” When we are speaking of evolution and what seems obviously “selected for”…. what does ought have to do with, what was it, the price of tea in China?

    Ebonmuse… I don’t have a strategy. I am simply trying to have a meaningful conversation. I am not trying to persuade any one of anything. I am just expressing my opinions. If one is not welcome to post here unless one is wearing a [GO ATHEISM] T-shirt… you should indicate that someplace.

    Steve… I’ll stick with E.O. Wilson.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Then clarify what the hell you’re babbling about. If I’m misunderstanding you, please clear it up and accept my apology. Discussion of mental health issues set me right the fuck off, especially when people don’t know what they’re talking about, and my understanding of your statement was one of those.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    What a way you have with words themann. Who could resist such a lavish invitation, especially (what was it) an arrogant prick like myself.

    …”Discussion of mental health issues set me right the fuck off, especially when people don’t know what they’re talking about”….

    I would refer you to…
    Becker, “Escape from Evil”
    Barnauw, “Culture and personality”
    C.F. Emmonds, “Paranormal Beliefs, Functional Alternatives to Mainstream Religion”

    Why am I bothering? If you are at all interested, do the work yourself. To use your phrase… Piss Off!
    I’m looking for discussion, you are looking for a fight. Find someone else to practice your foul language on.

    CW

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Oh goody, civility concern trolling. How quaint.

    Very well. I’ll rephrase.

    You said I misunderstood your intent re: “mental health”. Would you kindly clarify? As I understood it, you were saying that the approaches of “traditional cultures” (aka religious/paranormal cultures) were equal to or superior than modern psychiatric and psychological approaches. I objected to this, quite vehemently. You now say I misunderstood you, and I’d like to know what you meant by this:

    With regard to “mental Health” I think you would be interested in comparing the success rates between “Modern Medicine” and “Primitive cultural shamanistic practices within said culture. They got us beat hands down from what I have read.

    because I can’t grok a different reading of this than what I first interpreted this as.

    Oh, and I will not “do the work myself”. You need to provide evidence for your claims.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    This is what I posted. …”With regard to “mental Health” I think you would be interested in comparing the success rates between “Modern Medicine” and “Primitive cultural shamanistic practices within said culture. They got us beat hands down from what I have read.”…

    My Key words and phrases:
    1. I think you would be interested.
    2. From what I have read.

    …”Oh, and I will not “do the work myself”.”… Quite the scholar I see.
    Perhaps you could get mommy to read it to you.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    And my response was “Then you’ve been reading some serious fucking bullshit.”

    You know, despite my liberal use of profanity, you’re much more offensive than I am. “Get your mommy to read it to you”. Oh fuck you. Put up or shut up. I was asking you to show your work, provide some studies that show that the pharmacological and psycho-therapeutic approaches to mental health are inferior to shamanism. Every effectiveness study I’m familiar with indicates the modern treatments work (better than placebos) while supernatural approaches don’t.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Ebon, I hope you’ll forgive me for my outbursts, but ignorant pomos who think they know everything really piss me off. This guy’s being really fucking condescending and is refusing to backup his arguments with evidence, and as someone with past mental health issues I’m not going to stand for that.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Steve… I’ll stick with E.O. Wilson

    I’m sure you will, you have relied a lot on his brand of socio-biology on this thread and your belief in the inevitability of religion is very close to his. It’s a view; just not one I subscribe to totally and like everyone else here I would like a little evidence to back up your assertions. Also I am still not clear why we should accomodate religiosity as you suggest, other than to save ourselves the effort of arguing against it.
    BTW, it may be true that Daylight Atheism is a micro-hegemony itself. That makes you the radical on this thread which is why you are getting tag teamed. I’ve had the experience myself when asserting an unpopular view. The trick is to argue from evidence and examples and don’t get upset when people knock you down for making bald assertions. Nobody gets a free ride here, not even Ebon :)

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    themann… “and as someone with past mental health issues”… Who the hell are YOU trying to kid?

    …”Every effectiveness study I’m familiar with indicates the modern treatments work (better than placebos) while supernatural approaches don’t.”… In non-western cultures?… Show us one. But, don’t expect us to read a book or anything. ..”You need to provide evidence for your claims.”

    [Steve]… I would agree with Becker: “It doesn’t matter whether the cultural hero-system is frankly magical, religious, and primitive or secular, scientific, and civilized. It is STILL a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakeable meaning. They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a sky-scraper, a family that spans three generations. The hope and belief is that the things that man creates in society are of lasting worth and meaning, that they outlive or outshine death and decay, that man and his products count. When Norman O. Brown said that Western society since Newton, no matter how scientific or secular it claims to be, is still as “religious” as any other, this is what he meant: “civilized society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money and goods MAKE MAN COUNT for more than any other animal. In this sense everything man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.”

    Steve, I’m not asking anybody to “accommodate religiosity”. I just agree with the previous paragraph. Accommodate it or not…it’s there anyway. “themann” is an excellent case in point. Not since my last unfortunate encounter with a “Born Again” Liberty student at the Mall have I heard such a dogmatic defense of “his world view” that “his cure” is THE ONLY way to be cured. All other religions are hogwash/All other attempts to cure are hogwash. Oh, and by the way, don’t expect me to read or investigate any “other” views or opinions… they are obviously hogwash. You would think I suggested to a fundamentalist Christian that Buddhism might work darn well to help make people happier in Tibet. Even “suggesting” that “his way” might not be the best way for everybody is “offensive” and provokes profanity. If that ain’t religion…..

    Steve, you post… “The trick is to argue from evidence and examples… But, don’t we both know that doesn’t work on “the religious” and individuals dissociated from objective reality? (if, indeed, there can even be said to be such a thing)

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    [If memory serves me correctly over 100,000,000 prescriptions were filled in America last year for antidepressants.]

    Study: Meds no better than placebos for all but most severely depressed

    CHICAGO – Mild, moderate and even some cases of severe depression might be better treated with alternatives to antidepressant drugs, which do not help patients much more than an inactive placebo, researchers said on Tuesday.

    Combining data from six studies that examined the effectiveness of two commonly prescribed antidepressants — paroxetine and imipramine — found the drugs produced benefits only slightly greater than a placebo in many patients.

    “They would have done just as well or just about as well with a placebo,” said Robert DeRubeis, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who with colleagues performed the meta-analysis.

    BUT, as any Catholic will be happy to inform themann… First you go to the doctor/Priest to confess…. then you go to the pharmacy/Alter to receive. [NOTE] If your sins/symptoms are “really bad” you will be expected to confer with a Priest/Doctor of higher order and authority. This will take place in a far more elaborate office/church where stronger and more powerful rituals/tests will be performed by a doctor/priest who will be clad in a far more elaborate robe/coat.

    What I find really interesting are the “rates” of clinical depression around the world. How does it look to you Steve? Who is suffering the most? The modern scientific West… or the so called primitive believers in religious nonsense?

    Good Day
    CW

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    CW
    I’m not the one arguing the mental health case, it’s not an area in my experience or expertise, so I’ll leave you to battle out that one with themann1086. Except to say, my instinct (only instinct) is to agree with you in part. The reason I say this is that the placebo effect is in fact an effect, not an imaginary thing. That states of mind can effect health outcomes is not news. Belief that someone is taking time to address your concerns lowers stress, which has direct metabolic consequences, as can the belief you are being medicated.

    Re: Becker. Again not someone I’ve read, will try to rectify that, however: Based on the quote I think he’s guilty of the same fallacy you are, namely equivocation. You are both redefining Religion to mean something outside the normal terms of reference (the way religious apologists use “faith” when thay claim materialists have “faith in science”). A scientific world view isn’t a claim to absolute truth, it is however as good an approximation as we can get and one which allows for the possibility of consensus. Religion however is a claim to absolute truth, but one around which no objective consensus can ever be reached. Hence

    “civilized society is a hopeful belief and protest that science, money and goods MAKE MAN COUNT for more than any other animal. In this sense everything man does is religious and heroic, and yet in danger of being fictitious and fallible.”

    doesn’t stack up; i’ts close to cultural relativism.No human model of reality will ever be wholly accurate, but some models are better approximations than others and can be objectively shown to be so.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    When we are speaking of evolution and what seems obviously “selected for”…. what does ought have to do with, what was it, the price of tea in China?

    Well, since your argument relies on the is/ought fallacy, I was kinda hoping that you would answer the question. I know, kinda stupid to think you might actually answer a question or acknowledge a point made…

    I am not trying to persuade any one of anything. I am just expressing my opinions. If one is not welcome to post here unless one is wearing a [GO ATHEISM] T-shirt… you should indicate that someplace.

    You’re not here for discussion. You’re here to dictate what is to us unenlightened folk and have us praise you for your stunning wisdom and intellect. Then, you ironically claim that one must have a “Go Atheism” T-shirt to post here, while simultaneously posting here and treating anyone who disagrees with you as beneath contempt.

    Steve, I’m not asking anybody to “accommodate religiosity”.

    Then do you repudiate your suggestion that we should fight religiousity with more of the same?

    Not since my last unfortunate encounter with a “Born Again” Liberty student at the Mall have I heard such a dogmatic defense of “his world view” that “his cure” is THE ONLY way to be cured.

    When in doubt, use ad hominem and strawmen representations of your opponents, eh?

    Even “suggesting” that “his way” might not be the best way for everybody is “offensive” and provokes profanity. If that ain’t religion…..

    It’s religion if and only if (iff) it meets the actual definition of religion. Once again, you don’t get to redefine words.

    Steve, you post… “The trick is to argue from evidence and examples… But, don’t we both know that doesn’t work on “the religious” and individuals dissociated from objective reality? (if, indeed, there can even be said to be such a thing)

    How convenient for you then, since you seem allergic to actually trying to defend your arguments. It’s much easier to just claim that they won’t be well received and act as if the weakness of your arguments is really your opponent’s weakness, isn’t it?

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Ok, I’ve calmed the hell down. So I’m going to respond. There will still be snark and snide comments.

    themann… “and as someone with past mental health issues”… Who the hell are YOU trying to kid?

    Aw, I knew you’d imply that my mental health issues were affecting my postings here. Cute, I love when people try to stigmatize those with mental health problems! But no, my problems all relate to anxiety and depression issues.

    …”Every effectiveness study I’m familiar with indicates the modern treatments work (better than placebos) while supernatural approaches don’t.”… In non-western cultures?… Show us one. But, don’t expect us to read a book or anything. ..”You need to provide evidence for your claims.”

    While you’re right, I do, I’m going to point out once again that you have failed to do so. Re: the article you copy-pasta’d (without attributing btw, tsk tsk) was reporting on the well-known fact that anti-depressants are over-prescribed, and many of them (especially, oddly enough, the newer ones on the market) don’t work too well (partly, as my psychiatrist explained it, due to them not having any effect on depression-related issues, such as anxiety). I’m not an expert on biochemistry, my area of expertise is physics, so for more info on various meds I recommend here and, of course, Wikipedia. I’d also note that you completely ignored the other half of treatment for mental health disorders, namely Psychotherapy. This surprises me, since that’s the area most open to criticism re: effectiveness. This largely has to do with the difficulty in comparing different therapies, running blind trials, and so on and so forth. Nevertheless, even in the article you quoted, patients responded (at least somewhat) better than placebo. That’s the benchmark. Obviously, there are huge problems with many of the drugs, and entrenched interests in pharma make it difficult to get at them.

    Not since my last unfortunate encounter with a “Born Again” Liberty student at the Mall have I heard such a dogmatic defense of “his world view” that “his cure” is THE ONLY way to be cured.

    Never claimed that; I did claim that psychotherapy and pharmacological treatments work, and this is backed up by the research. They don’t work as well as I’d like, but they still beat placebos, especially against severe depression. Oh, and drugs don’t work for everyone. Anywhere from a third to a half (depending on the drug in question) are non-responsive.

    All other religions are hogwash/All other attempts to cure are hogwash.

    Well, despite the low effectiveness of pharma/psychotherapy, they’re still our best treatments.

    Oh, and by the way, don’t expect me to read or investigate any “other” views or opinions… they are obviously hogwash.

    I wanted you to provide links and suggested readings. It’s pretty damn difficult to “investigate” when I don’t even have a starting point.

    You would think I suggested to a fundamentalist Christian that Buddhism might work darn well to help make people happier in Tibet.

    Hey, look at those goalposts move! This isn’t about “happiness”, this is about treating mental disorders. Those are two very different things.

    Even “suggesting” that “his way” might not be the best way for everybody is “offensive” and provokes profanity. If that ain’t religion…..

    /facepalm

    I certainly hope that people without mental health disorders avoid unnecessary treatment! I also hope that people who are unresponsive to the medication I take would either find a better one, and/or focus on psychotherapy (and there’s also a wide variety of therapy treatments). What I found offensive was the notion that treating mental health disorders was less effective than shamanism. That might be “ideology” (born out of evidence), but it’s not religion.

    BUT, as any Catholic will be happy to inform themann

    I was raised Catholic.

    First you go to the doctor/Priest to confess…. then you go to the pharmacy/Alter to receive. [NOTE] If your sins/symptoms are “really bad” you will be expected to confer with a Priest/Doctor of higher order and authority. This will take place in a far more elaborate office/church where stronger and more powerful rituals/tests will be performed by a doctor/priest who will be clad in a far more elaborate robe/coat.

    Wow. That… I don’t even know what to say. Treating medical conditions is now on par with confessing affronts to god. And you wonder why you piss me off?

    What I find really interesting are the “rates” of clinical depression around the world. How does it look to you Steve? Who is suffering the most? The modern scientific West… or the so called primitive believers in religious nonsense?

    Who suffers from cancer more? The West as well! Therefore, modern medicine causes cancer!

    No. Because the West has (largely) dealt with most preventable diseases, and we no longer have to worry about dying by the age of 30, we suffer from totally different sets of diseases. Clinical depression rates are “higher” in the West, because (a.) our lack of mass dying from childhood and early adulthood diseases lets us focus on less deadly problems, and (b.) we actually take the time and effort to diagnose these diseases.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Clinical depression rates are “higher” in the West, because (a.) our lack of mass dying from childhood and early adulthood diseases lets us focus on less deadly problems, and (b.) we actually take the time and effort to diagnose these diseases.

    I suppose it may be true that “primitive” societies just have less to be anxious about. Don’t worry though, we’ve got xian missionaries to put a stop to that.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve, I am with you 99.9%. With regard to… “A scientific world view isn’t a claim to absolute truth, it is however as good an approximation as we can get and one which allows for the possibility of consensus.”… I agree, but with exception. It doesn’t “always work” best for everyone. Other than that… I’m with you.

    [Female patient] Age 42, Harvard Fine Arts grad, accomplished artist (National Academy), married, two children, husband (producer of music videos). Presents with advanced Lyme Disease, swollen joints, neurological complications, demoralizing headaches, energy loss… the works. [treatment]… Patient has been on antibiotic therapy for aprox 3 months. Three trials of three different antibiotics. Blood work and clinical findings show no improvement.
    This patient consulted after being advised that long term IV antibiotics was being recommended next by her treating physician and, after some problems with therapy already she was hesitant.

    I had known this person for years. She was very active at an ashram in Falsburg NY run by a woman guru. Dancing was a big part of meditation (or what-ever-the-hell they got up to) and she did…. Regularly dance to “get closer” to whatever it was she was interested in getting close to.

    I asked her, “Do you dance clockwise or counterclockwise?” She replied, “Clockwise”. I informed her that the spirochete that causes Lyme disease is a clockwise corkscrew and, perhaps, she had only been making it stronger.”

    Her eyes opened like headlights. She exclaimed… “YES”… THAT’S IT!

    From that day onward she danced counterclockwise (a lot) refused, to her physicians dismay and against his advice IV therapy. One month later all of her symptoms had disappeared and her blood-work came back normal. Dancing was the only treatment, BUT, dancing that dovetailed totally with her entire “belief” system.

    This was no dummy Steve. AND, I was only guessing how that spirochete was twisted because, off the top of my head… I didn’t remember. But I knew her. So, you tell me what’s real and what ain’t. What works better and what don’t?

    Now for themann (.”Oh, and I will not “do the work myself”) 1086. Did you ever consider that your attitude “may” just be why you have the problems you do?
    Also, for someone with depression/anxiety issues you don’t appear to know or have read squat. Even the suggestion of reading material that “could” give you insight to your problems is met with scorn. Interesting.
    Did you know that, clinically, there are mental illnesses “particular” to Catholics… and Muslims… and so on and so forth? Bet you didn’t…. because you ALREADY know all you need, right?

    And this: …”Who suffers from cancer more? The West as well! Therefore, modern medicine causes cancer!
    No. Because the West has (largely) dealt with most preventable diseases, and we no longer have to worry about dying by the age of 30, we suffer from totally different sets of diseases. Clinical depression rates are “higher” in the West, because (a.) our lack of mass dying from childhood and early adulthood diseases lets us focus on less deadly problems, and (b.) we actually take the time and effort to diagnose these diseases.”…

    IS TOTAL CRAP! You would know that if you read, but… who am I to convince you that your religion is inaccurate?

    Are any of you people old enough to remember TVs with tubes? They used to roll and you would have to fiddle with the control to get the picture steady. Just when you thought you had stopped the rolling it would go in the other direction. Talk about piss you off! At that point what you usually did was smack the top of the set with the palm of your hand…HARD. Funny, but it sometimes stopped the rolling.

    That brings us to Electric Shock therapy. Have you tried that themann? Backed by science you know? Oh, and if you are interested in how the practice of Modern Medicine was based on the organizational plan of the Catholic Church… I could recommend books…. But, then again… “I will not “do the work myself” kind of puts the Kay-Bosh on that, doesn’t it?

    As If all the rest wasn’t ridiculous enough, you try to slide in… “I wanted you to provide links and suggested readings. It’s pretty damn difficult to “investigate” when I don’t even have a starting point.” So, you have multiple personality issues now. One is anxious for information… and the other posts.. “I will not do the work myself”. The plot thickens. But, in your words… Piss Off!

    [Steve} Read “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker (Pulitzer Prize Winning book) I think you will very much enjoy it and it will answer your questions better than I ever could. It’s a GREAT read.

    Good Day All
    CW

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    CW
    I will read “the denial of death”. I’ve done some reading online around it which is why I claim some understanding of your (dare I say it?) ideology. I have to warn you though my normally well primed scepticism in already in overdrive. We’ll see.
    Dancing anti-clockwise. Well I guess the obvious responses include: The antibiotics finally kicked in, the infection ran it’s natural course, her credibility reduced her anxiety and activated her immune system (aka the placebo effect). It’s a nice anecdote and I could give you others from homeopaths, chiropractors et al but the reality is for every person who unwrapped a clockwise spirocete sans medication, many more of them would …die. As Tim Minchin says (stick around I quote him a lot)

    By definition alternative medicine has either; not been proved to work, or has been proved not to work.Do you know what they call alternative medicine that has been proved to work?…Medicine!

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I’m feeling a little deja vu here. CW/cl. Maybe it’s just me.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Now for themann (.”Oh, and I will not “do the work myself”) 1086. Did you ever consider that your attitude “may” just be why you have the problems you do?
    Also, for someone with depression/anxiety issues you don’t appear to know or have read squat. Even the suggestion of reading material that “could” give you insight to your problems is met with scorn. Interesting.

    Patient blaming, good work.

    And I’ve asked for recommended reading, and you’ve given me nothing. I’ve asked several times now, so consider this my last request. If you have something you think I should read, tell me what it is. That is what I meant by “I won’t do the work myself”; I want links and citations.

    Did you know that, clinically, there are mental illnesses “particular” to Catholics… and Muslims… and so on and so forth? Bet you didn’t…. because you ALREADY know all you need, right?

    Citation please. Seriously, you might be right, but unless you show your work I have no fucking clue.

    And this: …”Who suffers from cancer more? The West as well! Therefore, modern medicine causes cancer!
    No. Because the West has (largely) dealt with most preventable diseases, and we no longer have to worry about dying by the age of 30, we suffer from totally different sets of diseases. Clinical depression rates are “higher” in the West, because (a.) our lack of mass dying from childhood and early adulthood diseases lets us focus on less deadly problems, and (b.) we actually take the time and effort to diagnose these diseases.”…

    IS TOTAL CRAP! You would know that if you read, but… who am I to convince you that your religion is inaccurate?

    Citation needed.

    That brings us to Electric Shock therapy. Have you tried that themann? Backed by science you know?

    It’s only useful for severe depression and mania, which isn’t what I have.

    Oh, and if you are interested in how the practice of Modern Medicine was based on the organizational plan of the Catholic Church… I could recommend books…. But, then again… “I will not “do the work myself” kind of puts the Kay-Bosh on that, doesn’t it?

    I already explained that “I’m not going to do the work myself” was my way of asking you to provide citations.

    As If all the rest wasn’t ridiculous enough, you try to slide in… “I wanted you to provide links and suggested readings. It’s pretty damn difficult to “investigate” when I don’t even have a starting point.” So, you have multiple personality issues now. One is anxious for information… and the other posts.. “I will not do the work myself”. The plot thickens. But, in your words… Piss Off!

    Wow. For someone so arrogant about how intelligent they are and how well-read they are, you sure are stupid. “I’m not going to do the work myself” and “show me citations” are not contradictory requests.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Hi steve.
    I have been in practice for 33 years and I have little use for so called “Alternative Medicine”. Unfortunately, at this stage of the game, I feel the same about most of Medicine too. Crisis care is outstanding, but, makes up about 2% of the practice of medicine. The rest is drug distribution. Antibiotics are life savers, but, through overuse to justify a fee we have only fueled the microbial genetic engine. It’s MUCH worse than most people think. Needless surgery, antidepressants for hundreds of millions, 100,000 killed by mistakes in America last year, ZERO real health education beyond “follow your doctors orders”…. I’m glad I’m not new in the business.

    You might be interested in reading “Artificial Happiness” (The Dark Side of the New Happy Class) by Ronald W. Dworkin, MD, Ph.D….. or… “Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs” (a guide for informed consent) by Grace E. Jackson, MD

    For over 30 years a post menopausal woman was “Out of her MIND” for not taking hormone replacement therapy. The science was in! Hundreds of independent studies clearly showed it was the greatest thing since peanut butter. You know where it is now? Antidepressants, in my opinion will go the same way. They were a “gift” to general practitioners from the pharmaceutical companies. Competition from specialists and patients saying, “Why am I paying you if you are only going to send me someplace else?” cut deep into GPs income and prestige. Big Pharma to the rescue! Now, it’s a cash cow that keeps em coming back.
    And the diagnosis: “An imbalance of brain chemistry”. How can you keep a straight face with that beauty? NOBODY knows what “balanced” brain chemistry is because it changes from second to second and there are gazillians (that’s a technical term) of chemicals involved, many that we know nothing about and have not even discovered yet. It’s a total sham. BUT, like the religious faithful, the multitudes cling to their precious diagnosis like Christians to a piece of the “real” cross. For many it defines them, gives them identity, “LOOK, I’m defective!” I malfunction therefor I am. I have identity!

    As for themann…. Remember this? “Oh goody, civility concern trolling. How quaint.” & “Oh, and I will not “do the work myself”. You need to provide evidence for your claims.”… If you walked into my office with that attitude I would very politely say… PISS OFF! …. so….

  • ildi

    Unfortunately, at this stage of the game, I feel the same about most of Medicine too.

    and

    … You need to provide evidence for your claims.”… If you walked into my office with that attitude I would very politely say… PISS OFF! …. so….

    Please tell me you’re about to retire? Please?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    From that day onward she danced counterclockwise (a lot) refused, to her physicians dismay and against his advice IV therapy. One month later all of her symptoms had disappeared and her blood-work came back normal. Dancing was the only treatment, BUT, dancing that dovetailed totally with her entire “belief” system.

    You know, I try my best to be civil, even when responding to people I disagree with. I don’t usually use language like this if I can help it. Nevertheless, I think I can say with confidence that this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

    It’s ironic, CW, that you accuse us of acting like religious people. Considering the evidence of this thread, you yourself espouse a brand of ignorant voodoo nonsense that’s no different from a theist claiming their cancer went into miraculous remission after they said ten rosaries under a picture of the Virgin Mary. I’d explain why anecdotes are not the same as data, but I think it’s pretty clear at this point I’d just be wasting my time. When you can conduct a double-blind clinical test of your ludicrous spinning-around-in-circles therapy and come up with a positive result, then we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, I’m at a loss to see what you hope to achieve here – unless it’s getting yourself laughed at, in which case I can say that you’ve been a resounding success.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    This isn’t your office, asshole, this is Ebon’s site. You came here, not the other way around.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    C’mon, Ebon, you’re being too harsh. I know for a fact, that when I rotate counter-clockwise (when face up) head-to-foot in bed instead of just rolling over, my bellybutton loosens off. Then it rattles when I walk. I’d try rotating clockwise, but I’m terrified of stripping the threads off my bellybutton. Then I’d need to replace it with a bigger one, and it would look all out of proportion.

  • ildi

    The whole “people developed belief systems to cope with the knowledge of their own death and even if these are irrational that’s the way it’s gonna be forever and ever, amen” seems to assume that evolution stops right now. Going from moving about using all four limbs to two was a huge evolutionary leap. Becoming consciously aware of all the cognitive biases people are heir to and actively encouraging critical thinking is a huge developmental step for our species, in my opinion. I can just hear the first apes who kept standing up on two feet being chided by their buddies: “That’s just unnatural, dude! We’re meant to be moving about on all fours with no meaning to our lives…”

  • Zietlos

    I guess I have too much faith in capitalism… I mean, crazy me, I believe, if you can you believe it, I believe that if someone, tomorrow, found out that if you wash then leave tomatoes out in the sun for four nights across a full moon and then eat the mould on them while reciting passages from “The Count of Monte Cristo”, it would cure bad infections and illnesses in a high multitude of people, that a pharma company would say “Hey, lets figure out what works here, skip out on the stuff that will cost us more time and money, and then with the pure cure, SELL IT FOR PROFIT!” (As an aside: Tomato mould = Penicillin reference). The witch-doctory would become Medicine once it could be proved to work with some rate of success.

    If you did it instead with rye grains, the same process, you would get the fungus behind (some of) the Salem psychoses/insanities blamed on the witches. Clearly it is a curse. No, it’s again just mould. And scientists could, if they wanted, make a pill out of it to cause the same effect, were there any profit in it.

    Of course, sometimes things go weird, because, face it, we are all ignorant in some regards. Then that aspect gets taken way out of proportion (see: Acai diet plans). Still grains of truth exist within it (the berry is fairly sweet-tasting, which could throw off hunger for fatty sweets like ice cream, but no miracle-fruit), and the positive components (high vitamin C, good caloric count) can be all capsulized and sold, breaking down the tradition (a false one in this case) into Medicine (a few multivitamins and some aspartame).

    Even modern witch-doctory has grains of truth to it, which can be taken by science to be made into a pure supplement. I mean, really, the only difference between psychologists and confessionals is one tries to make you feel guilty about it, both are really just listening with a “and how did that make (you/your soul) feel?”. Cutting down the unnecessary bits gave us the modern “hit the couch” psychological treatment. Delivering the components through some other form in the same values would be just as effective, because the science (!) behind it is sound, and it works.

    tl;dr : Medicine: If it didn’t work, living to 50 would still be an amazing accomplishment worthy of ousting Methuselah, and not just the time everyone buys a motorbike to relive their youth. But if you were smart enough to skip to the tl;dr, you probably didn’t need to be told that.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Ebonmuse….. I’m surprised at you. You missed the point entirely.

    [... "When you can conduct a double-blind clinical test of your ludicrous spinning-around-in-circles therapy"...]

    Therapy? It wasn’t a therapy! Double-Blind test! Are you mad? It was an attempt to connect and utilize a patients already existing belief system that I CERTAINLY didn’t share, but, could use, perhaps, to her benefit. As far as the patient was concerned (and her treating physician I might add) it was a resounding success. Would I EVER recommend it for another patient? Of course not. The real-life example was offered to illustrate that “belief systems” are very powerful things that can be and are utilized everyplace there are humans. If it is your position that I never should have done so… try telling that to the patient.
    Do you know anything about hypnotism? Do you know that if you perform an induction on a patient susceptible to poison ivy and rub poison ivy leaves on their arm, BUT, under hypnosis tell them you are rubbing maple leaves on them they will likely not break out….. BUT if you rub maple leaves on them telling them they are poison ivy leaves they will? Where is your objective reality now?

    The REAL humor here is that many of you seem to be under the impression that you (and we are Atheists all) have no beliefs that you operate on. That you are scientific modern objective creatures who would NEVER be so foolish as to do or rely on “beliefs”….. only science. Mr. Spocks all, freshly arrived from the planet Volcun using only pure logic to conduct your lives. How proud you all seem to be.

    Knowing full well how most of you distain the idea of reading anything that could disrupt your “beliefs” I will nevertheless make another suggestion. “Born on a Blue Day” by Daniel Tammet. The autobiography of an Autistic Savant.
    Mr. Tammet has the ability to do astounding math calculations in his head. Numbers 1-100, for him, are different colors, shapes, textures and emotional “feelings”. When asked to multiply two 8 digit numbers in his head he produces a correct answer in seconds. What is astounding about Mr. Tammet is he is “high-functioning” enough to explain what he does to neuroscientists. Each of the eight digit figures forms a shape in his head. He “mentally” moves the two shapes together, in his head, as close as he can get them. The correct answer is the “shape” that is left between them after he can push them no closer. So, where is your fucking reality now? Mr. Temmet has struggled with disability all his life and become a fundamentalist Christian for reasons that make sense to him. He can also learn any language enough to pass as a native speaker in aprox 7 days. So, is he just another stupid idiot who fell for religious nonsense [read: not as highly evolved as you]… or do all of us function on beliefs to one degree or another?
    I too deplore the mess organized religion has made of this world. Unlike most of you I have learned that throwing rocks at peoples beliefs is futile due to the nature of what it means to be human. I have chosen to study the phenomena of “beliefs” and better understand how we can, with better knowledge, defuse as much of the horror as possible. I have concluded that the phenomena of “dissociation” is the key. The neurological mechanics for dissociation is hard wired in us all. What is the evolutionary reason for this? Is it impossible for humans to function without it in a world that certainly appears to be a mutual eating society… as many experts on the mind claim… I don’t know.
    But I do know this. Running around with the idea that you are somehow superior to religious people with religious ideations and that you can logically “talk or shame them out of it” is a fools game usually played by people who have constructed “personal religions” for themselves to inhabit remaining ever vigilant that no one finds out. Even themselves. Poor babies.

    [Ildi posts] …”The whole “people developed belief systems to cope with the knowledge of their own death and even if these are irrational that’s the way it’s gonna be forever and ever, amen” seems to assume that evolution stops right now.”…

    I don’t think there is any such assumption, with all due respect. I also see no proof what so ever that people who “claim” (erroneously in my opinion) to be devoid of “beliefs” are more highly evolved. What do Atheists share that could ever bind them together in effective groups capable of attaining power, wealth, land and more opportunities to successfully out-reproduce the religious? As resources grow ever more sparse on an overpopulated planet, I fear the reverse is more likely. There will always be that small percentage that we make up who just have a very bad fit with what the majority are more than comfortable with. There is far more to “belief” than religion.

    Good Day to you all
    CW

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    One final thought. Ebonmuse posts to me: …”You know, I try my best to be civil, even when responding to people I disagree with.”

    Quite BIG of you old man.

    Why not do what the Catholic Church has always done? Ban heretics and put their writings on the big list of things that should not be read by the faithful. Popes throughout the ages have found this a wonderful tool to keep the flock from straying. Traditionally this is how humans deal with people who “question” the treasured beliefs of the group.

    Again… Good Day to you all
    CW

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    It was an attempt to connect and utilize a patients already existing belief system that I CERTAINLY didn’t share, but, could use, perhaps, to her benefit. As far as the patient was concerned (and her treating physician I might add) it was a resounding success.

    Well no, you can’t actually say that can you. There was a temporal correlation between indulging in widdershins terpsichory and her recovery, but correlation is not necessarily causation.

    Do you know that if you perform an induction on a patient susceptible to poison ivy and rub poison ivy leaves on their arm, BUT, under hypnosis tell them you are rubbing maple leaves on them they will likely not break out….. BUT if you rub maple leaves on them telling them they are poison ivy leaves they will? Where is your objective reality now?

    I found a reference to this here The Japanese study dates back to 1962 and doesn’t seem to have a follow up. But it’s interesting though.
    The thing is it doesn’t impact on “objective reality”, placebos have a metabolic effect, we know that.
    Also I’m not sure what the relevence of your autistic savant is. Again we know that individuals perceive things differently. I have a high functioning autistic friend who is the most phenomenal jazz musician, like your example he is a synaesthete but he sees notes as colours and constructs jazz harmonies by blending them like a painter’s pallet (his words). I can’t do that, but I can appreciate the harmonies, I just perceive them in a more main stream way.That he overlays his aural perception with a visual one doesn’t alter the objective reality that sound is a wave disturbance in air, not an electromagnetic one.
    You and I probably don’t do mental arithmetic in exactly the same way, but 2+2=4 however you get there.
    You started your contribution here saying

    The answer, in my opinion, can only come from more… (wait for it)… religion.

    and despite many words and diversions we still haven’t had an explanation why that helps or is necessary

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Apparently when I eat pot brownies, I change reality!

    Ok, it wasn’t actually me. My one friend had this crazy experience where he smelled colors. Yeah, I’m not exactly sure how the hell that works either, but it’s a well-known phenomenon. A few people have it naturally, but most of us can only experience it by using drugs.

    I also find it hilarious that he criticizes us for thinking we’re “superior” while also talking down to us (“poor babies”) and saying things like “unlike most of you”. And we’re the ones with the ego problem?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Hello Steve. [you post] …”Well no, you can’t actually say that can you. There was a temporal correlation between indulging in widdershins terpsichory and her recovery, but correlation is not necessarily causation.”…

    I can’t say, she can’t say and her primary physician can’t say it was a success? I won’t push the argument, but, all three of us can and do. Especially the patient! If you can decide what is real for that patient, can she return the favor for you?

    With regard to “religion” I think we have different definitions and hold differing concepts of just what is or isn’t religion. I don’t think I have ever met someone who wasn’t religious in the sense that they “believe” they can influence the laws of nature to work in their favor by some mumbo-jumbo or another. I think it’s human and I don’t think you do. That’s fine. It’s been my experience, not yours. ASk your jazz friend if he ever has seizures when he was a child. Many times it goes hand in hand with that kind of number/color mix.

    All the best
    CW

  • ildi

    The REAL humor here is that many of you seem to be under the impression that you (and we are Atheists all) have no beliefs that you operate on. That you are scientific modern objective creatures who would NEVER be so foolish as to do or rely on “beliefs”….. only science. Mr. Spocks all, freshly arrived from the planet Volcun using only pure logic to conduct your lives. How proud you all seem to be.

    Strawman, much? When you vent your snark in blog comments, does that mean your hapless patients are spared?

    I have chosen to study the phenomena of “beliefs” and better understand how we can, with better knowledge, defuse as much of the horror as possible. I have concluded that the phenomena of “dissociation” is the key. The neurological mechanics for dissociation is hard wired in us all. What is the evolutionary reason for this? Is it impossible for humans to function without it in a world that certainly appears to be a mutual eating society… as many experts on the mind claim… I don’t know.

    Are you equating dissociation with religiosity now? You seem to jump around a lot with your terminology. So, let me get this straight: reality just sucks so bad that the only way people can handle it is to shut down and disconnect? Why are you so opposed to the pharmaceutical route? Going for altered chemical states has a long and proud history… not just among humans.

    But I do know this. Running around with the idea that you are somehow superior to religious people with religious ideations and that you can logically “talk or shame them out of it” is a fools game usually played by people who have constructed “personal religions” for themselves to inhabit remaining ever vigilant that no one finds out. Even themselves. Poor babies.

    Wow. There’s this other defense mechanism called “projection”…

    I also see no proof what so ever that people who “claim” (erroneously in my opinion) to be devoid of “beliefs” are more highly evolved. What do Atheists share that could ever bind them together in effective groups capable of attaining power, wealth, land and more opportunities to successfully out-reproduce the religious?

    Where did I say that? Being aware of cognitive biases and making a conscious effort to correct for them is not the same as being devoid of “beliefs.” (Though I’m still not sure what special meaning you’re assigning the word by putting it in quotes…) A stable society that takes advantage of science and technology is more likely to survive (e.g., secular Europe), so mass reproduction is not necessarily an evolutionary advantage any more. Children of religious are not automatically religious.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I can’t say, she can’t say and her primary physician can’t say it was a success? I won’t push the argument, but, all three of us can and do.

    Oh c’mon, don’t be so disingenuous. O.K she got better, hooray that’s a great outcome. But you cannot, neither can she or her “primary physician” (what’s wrong with “doctor” by the way, or wasn’t he one?)say it was the dance that did it.
    Look however you slice it, reality isn’t as subjective as you want it to be. When you leave your house in the morning, do you exit by the front door or the second story window? Don’t answer I know and so do you. It wouldn’t matter how much you believed the window was an option you’d still break your neck.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    Apparently when I eat pot brownies, I change reality!

    Ok, it wasn’t actually me. My one friend had this crazy experience where he smelled colors.

    Well yes, back in my youth I was fond of LSD and had synaesthetic experiences quite frequently. But more interestingly and pertinent to the conversation, I am also familiar with the altered states of reality hallucinogens induce, but you know what? The world returns to it’s old predictable self eventually (the blood leaking out of the walls really was just condensation after all).

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Steve… you surprise me…. ["Oh c'mon, don't be so disingenuous. O.K she got better, hooray that's a great outcome. But you cannot, neither can she or her "primary physician" (what's wrong with "doctor" by the way, or wasn't he one?) say it was the dance that did it."]

    Of course it wasn’t the DANCE! (I’m sure she thinks it was) It was her certainty that she had, at last, discovered why she wasn’t getting well and that her “wellness” was once again under her control. That, I surmise, changed her internal biochemistry from one of near hopelessness to one far more conducive to healing. Or, are you going to challenge the fact that state of mind can have profound effects on health and healing.
    (Oh, yes he was a real doctor… what brought that up?)

    OK, after much posting I have come to the inescapable conclusion that no one else here is even the least bit interested in the things that I am with regard to Atheism, religion and dissociation. We are all entitled to our own interests after all. I wish everyone well.

    [Last bit] …[ildi posts]…”A stable society that takes advantage of science and technology is more likely to survive (e.g., secular Europe), so mass reproduction is not necessarily an evolutionary advantage any more.”…

    Survive what? Science and technology have existed for such a short sliver of human time… such an infinitesimally little bit of human history… Take away the oil, electricity… people will go running for their Gods and myths like lost children who have just found their way home. “Stable”…. What in this universe is stable and what happens when it isn’t? “Religion is where mankind hides its ignorance” I would add hopes, fears and dreams.

    Good Wishes
    CW

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Cosmo wrote:

    OK, after much posting I have come to the inescapable conclusion that no one else here is even the least bit interested in the things that I am with regard to Atheism, religion and dissociation.

    You might find it interesting that when reading a book I prefer history or science to fiction.

    If you ponied up some evidence you’d find the exchange richer, I don’t doubt. Not to mention that you’d add enormously to your credibility and interest.

    Since you’ve advanced your claims sans evidence, so may I discard them.

  • ildi

    Take away the oil, electricity… people will go running for their Gods and myths like lost children who have just found their way home. “Stable”…. What in this universe is stable and what happens when it isn’t? “Religion is where mankind hides its ignorance” I would add hopes, fears and dreams.

    You eat a lot of acid, Miller, back in the hippie days?

    There’s a delicious randomness to your responses, Cosmo, that makes me wonder if you’ve started celebrating the weekend early (or maybe haven’t finished celebrating St. Patty’s day…)

    Why do you think people are busting a nut trying to find alternate fuel sources? I remember the study that indicated people who saw themselves realistically were more depressed than people who had an overinflated sense of self-worth. I also remember reading studies that seemed to indicate people who were cup half full actually achieved more than cup half empty people. I guess one can argue that trying to use cool evolutionary advancements/tools (opposable thumbs – highly developed frontal lobes – language – written word – symbolic representation of the world – scientific method) to actually direct our own evolution is a “belief.”

    For a self-proclaimed oldster, you do seem to be stuck in a freshman po-mo nihilistic mindset, but if it works for you… meanwhile, back at the ranch:

    my favorite xkcd.

  • Moondog

    Hey Cosmo. If you’re still around. So, conscious manipulation of people’s beliefs is morally acceptable. Ends justifies means, and all that. Are you a moral relativist or do you just think that anything that reduces human suffering is ok? What do you think about the idea that religious belief is dangerous (creates great suffering and has the potential to create much more suffering than a rational world view)? Sam Harris (among many) holds this view (see the End of Faith) and I find his argument very convincing. It sounds like you and I agree that reducing human suffering is good, but we obviously disagree on how. Whether or not we are hard-wired for religion, I believe less religion will be better for humanity. Not more.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    “Religion is where mankind hides its ignorance” I would add hopes, fears and dreams.

    Why would you add those?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Since you asked Moondog, I will do my best.

    …”Hey Cosmo. If you’re still around. So, conscious manipulation of people’s beliefs is morally acceptable. Ends justifies means, and all that. Are you a moral relativist or do you just think that anything that reduces human suffering is ok?”

    Manipulation is such a negative word. Utilization of already existing strongly held beliefs toward a happier outcome for the person in question and not hurting anyone else … sure. I don’t find a moral problem in that. Especially if no other means to accomplish the desired goal, no other options, are at hand.

    …” What do you think about the idea that religious belief is dangerous (creates great suffering and has the potential to create much more suffering than a rational world view)?”…

    I totally agree. But, I would add, my definition of what is or isn’t “religion” is broader than yours I think.

    …” It sounds like you and I agree that reducing human suffering is good, but we obviously disagree on how. Whether or not we are hard-wired for religion, I believe less religion will be better for humanity. Not more.”…

    I can’t argue with that. That being said, I am still of the opinion that we are hard wired for “dissociation” and that makes us religious creatures. I am of the opinion that religion, in the broader sense, is how we attempt to make a comfortable psychological nest for ourselves to occupy. The problem is that it, necessarily, involves a built in animosity toward anyone who doesn’t share our beliefs because, in effect, they are saying “you are wrong”. That makes people angry and undermines their terror control system, their handle on reality, and increases their level of anxiety. I don’t think Atheists are exempt from this.
    My first post here was/involved my “opinion” that we will never be free of religion. I have come to that conclusion based upon my observations and my readings. Certainly… NO ONE has to agree. It has nothing to do with anyone but me really. I have no real desire to convince anyone that my view of reality is better than theirs. The sun will still rise in the East. Yet, do you not see the animosity suggesting that an others view might not be the best one inevitably generates? Even among Atheists.

    [Back to]… “manipulation of people’s beliefs” if we can. What would you say to “manipulating” the beliefs of Christians totally away from the (nonbelievers are doing Satan’s work) baloney and Toward the (how I care for others less fortunate than myself… and my planet) is how I do God’s work? What a supposed Jesus supposedly taught? Would you find that to be morally wrong? Is even using religion as a tool unacceptable in every case?
    Obviously SOMETHING has to give here. A world awash in nuclear and biological weapons running short on resources and full of hate for the “other” deep rooted in religious beliefs is not good to say the least. I admit I don’t have the answers. I am, like you, searching for them. Unlike most of you it appears I am definitely not convinced that it is possible to remake mankind into totally non-religious animals. I don’t think we will “evolve” away from religion any more than I think we will evolve away from thumbs. Perhaps I’m wrong. But, until and unless we do…. Some kind of management, manipulation, deeper understanding…. makes sense to me even if it doesn’t to anyone else.

    Happy Day
    CW

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Yet, do you not see the animosity suggesting that an others view might not be the best one inevitably generates? Even among Atheists.

    No. I see you being challenged in a dispassionate way about your “view.” I see frustration and annoyance at your obfuscation, dancing, straw men, moving the goal posts, equivocation, misuse of words, smug condescension, projection, etc. It’s a defense mechanism that you have that you seem so intent on imparting onto others. Perhaps you should do some self-reflecting and see why it is that you seem intent on lashing out at us for daring to not simply shut up and listen to you preach.

    Of course, you will not, as I suspect you’re just another sockpuppet.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Is even using religion as a tool unacceptable in every case?
    Obviously SOMETHING has to give here. A world awash in nuclear and biological weapons running short on resources and full of hate for the “other” deep rooted in religious beliefs is not good to say the least. I admit I don’t have the answers.

    The thought occurs to me that the last thing a cancer patient needs is another tumor. I may not have the solution, but it’s fair to say that religion, by dint of its track-record, ought to be stricken from the list of possible solutions as we continue the process of elimination in our search.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Thumpalumpacus… How do you propose to cure people of religion (using your analogy of disease)?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I don’t. What someone else believes is none of my business so long as they leave me the hell alone and do not try to inflict their beliefs on me.

    You are carrying my analogy too far.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Asking what Thump would do is no substitute for supporting your own assertions that we need more religion. Even if no one else has an answer, you need to support your assertions.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    OMGF… How many times do we have to go over this?

    A) I didn’t say the answer is MORE religion.
    B) I did say that in my opinion humans are religious creatures as a result of our ability and tendency to dissociate ourselves from reality as a defense mechanism against an intolerable reality.

    If you are SO RIGHT and I am so off base… what’s holding you back. Come to Virginia and inform the 10,000 students at Liberty University (the World’s LARGEST University that teaches the universe runs on magic) how wrong they are. Show them objective evidence and facts. You can stay at my house for free. It will be worth putting up with your obnoxious “I have all the right answers” just to hear you laughed off the campus.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Expecting Liberty U students to utilize reason regarding religion is like expecting a sailor back from shore leave with money left in his pockets. It may occasionally happen, but that only makes it all the more remarkable.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Well Thumper… what’s your excuse for EVERYBODY else? I mean, between OMGF and you…. you have all the right answers and all the right information. What the hell is stopping you from fixing this “religious” situation. How come you haven’t converted them all to Atheism?

    WHAT are you waiting for?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care what you or anyone else believes so long as you and everybody else MYOB. I’m not an evangelist atheist on a mission to destroy religion, no matter how much you wish to fantasize otherwise.

    Oh, and I didn’t say that I have “all the right answers”. You keep swatting that strawman all you want.

    Also, quit getting sore when people disagree with you. It only makes you look peevish and unworthy of dialogue.

  • ildi

    I didn’t say the answer is MORE religion.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire! From your very first comment:

    The answer, in my opinion, can only come from more… (wait for it)… religion. Until and unless a culture can be fashioned that successfully denies or softens the inevitability of death while simultaneously providing a “reason” to live, mankind is destined to destroy itself. As Atheists we must construct and feed that “culture”.

    You’ve never satisfactorily explained why mankind isn’t more likely to destroy itself given a belief in heaven/hell/immortality. You’ve never explained why believing that we were created by a deity gives us more of a reason to live than, say, the concept that the evolution of intelligent life is a how the universe observes and studies itself. Btw, putting words in “quotes” doesn’t mean you can make up your own personal definition for them.

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    Well, I stand by my original statement. (oops) I think humans are religious creatures. The religions we have, for the most part, are not conducive to living together in huge numbers on a planet running out of resources. I honestly think the idea of somehow magically converting everybody to Atheism or Humanism is doomed from the start. Therefor, I must work with what I have and seek a hybrid. Religious creatures in need of a “religion” that preserves us instead of destroying us.

    ildi, you are right. I have not explained a lot. But I am not alone. Why don’t you explain why, with science, all the evidence, logic, common sense….. Liberty University is growing so fast they can’t build buildings fast enough… Islam is the fastest growing religion (last time I looked) and it is almost impossible for a person to even run for office in America without going on and on about their relationship with God?

    If all the goods are on your side…. Why have you not wrapped this mess up yet?

    What is stopping the rest of humanity from seeing your point?

  • ildi

    If all the goods are on your side…. Why have you not wrapped this mess up yet?

    You’re shitting me, right? Did anybody even set a time frame here, or do you just love you some strawman? First of all, quit using “religion” to mean whatever the fuck you want, kay? If you mean superstitious behavior, that’s one thing; if you mean defense mechanisms, that’s another; if you mean people have to be crazy (i.e. dissociative behavior) to survive, well, you’re going to have to flesh that one out just a little bit more. You want to focus on Liberty University and Islam like you’ve made some incredible point, fine. However, let’s take the big picture and tell me at what point in recorded human history we’ve even had secular governments, when it’s been ok not to be religious w/out risk of being executed for heresy, where slavery is at least acknowledged to be an evil even though it’s not eradicated, where women have legal rights in many countries.

    You seem to have a small mind and a narrow vision. That’s your “belief,” your “religion,” your “problem.”

    Am I wasting my time on a troll?

    someone who posts inflammatory extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    Let’s see… inflammatory… primary intent of provoking emotional responses… no substance to comments…capitalizes atheist…, smells like a troll.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Cosmo, you’re now flooding three different threads on my site with the exact same arguments. Considering you’ve said that you have no intent of convincing anyone to change their mind, I fail to see the point of this. Are there any other topics at all that interest you?

  • Cosmo Wafflefoot

    I’m FLOODING Ebonmuse?

    [I post]… “The religions we have, for the most part, are not conducive to living together in huge numbers on a planet running out of resources. I honestly think the idea of somehow magically converting everybody to Atheism or Humanism is doomed from the start. Therefor, I must work with what I have and seek a hybrid. Religious creatures in need of a “religion” that preserves us instead of destroying us.”…

    [ I get back]… “First of all, quit using “religion” to mean whatever the fuck you want, kay?”..

    I was looking for discussion. What I found was Atheists protecting their own dogma with the fervor of Liberty students protecting their inerrant gospel. Don’t question….. Just believe what you are told.

    I have been an Atheist all my life Ebonmuse. I posted my honest thoughts and opinions. What I found was intolerance, insults and profanity. Minds just as tightly closed as those of fundamentalists.

    There are lots of other topics that interest me Ebonmuse.

  • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.com Steve Bowen

    I posted my honest thoughts and opinions. What I found was intolerance, insults and profanity. Minds just as tightly closed as those of fundamentalists.

    No, just people who disagree with you. You have a world view that you present (repeatedly) but don’t justify. When you are questioned you take umbridge or snipe.
    In general the debate on this site is polite and informed. I think you started the ad hominems right at the start making assumptions about the ages of people commenting on you bald assertions. Some people here enjoy a scrap (no names no pack drill) but they all know what they’re talking about. Address the arguments and we’ll all have a good debate.
    Oh, and most of us don’t parade our pet philosophy on every thread.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    ildi, you are right. I have not explained a lot.

    That’s an understatement right there.

    What I found was Atheists protecting their own dogma…

    What dogma does a rejection of dogma entail?

    What I found was intolerance, insults and profanity.

    No, what you found was dissent which you were unable to separate from your personal feelings of being disagreed with. I’m sorry your little ego got hurt, but asking you to back up your assertions – which you admit you have not done – is not the same as what you are trying to make it out to be. You can’t back up your assertions, so you try ad hominem and strawmen instead.

    Minds just as tightly closed as those of fundamentalists.

    Except we are willing to change our minds given some evidence and rational argumentation, neither of which you have provided. Trying to guilt/shame us into agreeing with you and then complaining when it doesn’t work isn’t the way to proceed. In fact, if we agreed with you simply because you acted tough, then we would be acting the way you claim we are acting.

    There are lots of other topics that interest me Ebonmuse.

    I have a feeling they all involve how awesome you think you are.

  • http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    OMGF “I have a feeling they all involve how awesome you think you are.”
    No, they all involve how awesome he thinks I am. He’s even got a statue of me in his garden. It’s breathtaking. I carved it myself out of an old sofa and a ’73 Ford Maverick. He keeps accidentally throwing it away, but I find it in the trash and put it right back.

  • http://www.AtheistsUnited.org/ Neil C. Reinhardt

    “You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.”

    Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, January 14, 1991

    —————————–

    “The theory that you should always treat the religious convictions of other people with respect finds no support in the Gospels.”

    Arnold Lunn (1888-1974), British author

    —————————

    CHRISTIANS WANT ME TO HAVE RESPECT FOR THE MEMBERS OF A RELIGION WHO HAVE BEEN HARASSING, PERSECUTING, TORTURING AND MURDERING WE ATHEISTS FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS?

    NO WAY JOSE!

    There are STILL States which have laws which discriminate Against Atheists.

    We Atheists are STILL attacked, beaten and/or killed JUST because we are Atheists.

    As late as 2006 (in Ok,) Christians were STILL subjugating Atheists TO WITCH TRIALS!

    MOST Ameriicans would NOT vote for an
    Atheist NO MATTER how other wise well qualifed they are.

    STILL TODAY, MANY, TO MOST, Americans who are Athiests ARE AFRAID to make it public knowledge they are Atheists!

    Did YOU know Chuck Norris wants to BRAND ALL Atheists Foreheads with the words “In God We Trust”?

    Isn’t Norris just a shinning example of Christian Love? (Well, it is rather typical.)

    THE FACTS ARE:

    1. As long as BLACKS went along with the shabby way they were being treated, they did NOT make any progress toward being treated equally.
    They did NOT get equal treatment UNTIL they STOPPED being “nicey nice” and started raising some hell!

    2. As long as WOMEN went along with the shabby way they were being treated, they did NOT make any progress toward being treated equally.
    They did NOT get equal treatment UNTIL they STOPPED being “nicey nice” and started raising some hell!

    3. As long HOMOSEXUALS went along with the shabby way they were being treated, they did NOT make any progress toward being treated equally.
    They did NOT get equal treatment UNTIL they STOPPED being “nicey nice” and started raising some hell!

    And ONLY IDIOTS who do not learn from history would NOT know the ONLY way we Atheists are going to be treated as well as any, and all, religious people are, IS BY RAISING SOME HELL!


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