Ben Carson Blathers About Church/State Separation

Ben Carson is clearly setting up a run for the Republican nomination for president and he knows darn well that you can never hurt yourself by going after those evil atheists. Nor does it hurt that the arguments you make when you do so are overly simplistic, self-contradictory or just plain stupid. He’s responding here to the FFRF trying to get the Navy to stop putting bibles in hotel rooms on bases.

Like traditional religions, atheism requires strong conviction. In the case of atheists, it’s the belief that there is no God and that all things can be proved by science.

Nonsense. Now I don’t buy the argument that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God (I think it requires more than that; you have to have at least considered the arguments offered for a god and concluded that they are false on some reasoned basis), but that’s about process, not conclusion. Most atheists would not take the position that they know there is no god, they say there’s no good evidence or logical argument to compel such belief. And no, you do not have to believe that “all things can be proved by science” to be an atheist, for crying out loud. I know lots of things that science can’t prove; that does not make me magically not an atheist.

It is extremely hypocritical of the foundation to request the removal of Bibles from hotel rooms on the basis of their contention that the presence of Bibles indicates that the government is choosing one religion over another. If they really thought about it, they would realize that removal of religious materials imposes their religion on everyone else.

Okay, let’s see….I’m really thinking about it…and nope, this is bullshit. Do you think for one millisecond that Carson would make this argument if the religious material being removed was Muslim? Not a chance. As always, these arguments are a pretext for Christian privilege.

Some atheists argue that there should be a library or cache of religious material at the check-in desk of a hotel from which any guests could order a Bible, Torah, or Koran for their reading pleasure. No favoritism would be shown through such a system, and those who reject the idea of God would not have to be offended.

This is like saying there shouldn’t be certain brands of bottled water in hotel rooms because there may be guests who prefer a different type of water or are offended by bottled water and think everybody should be drinking tap water. The logical answer to such absurdity would, of course, be that the offended individual could bring his own water or simply ignore the brand of water he does not care for.

Yes, Ben, it’s exactly like that. Or it would be, if the Constitution said anything at all about the government not endorsing a particular brand of bottled water. But it doesn’t. It does, however, forbid the government from endorsing or giving special privilege to one religion, or to religion over non-religion.

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  • keithb

    I wonder what President Romney would have done here?

  • hoku

    It’s amazing to me that his faith is as strong as his preference for bottled water.

  • Doug Little

    The logical answer to such absurdity would, of course, be that the offended individual could bring his own water

    Nailed it and he doesn’t even know.

  • John Pieret

    Damn! And to think he became a medical doctor without ever having had to learn to reason!

  • D. C. Sessions

    Actually, the proposition “all things can be proved by science” is antiscientific, given Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

    And as long as I’m being pedantic (which seems somewhat on-topic here), the statement

    I think it requires more than that; you have to have at least considered the arguments offered for a god and concluded that they are false on some reasoned basis

    makes the very common fundie mistake of conflating “invalid” with “false.” If you conclude that those arguments are false, you are making the assertion that their conclusion (“There is a god”) is factually not true — which you earlier concede is not knowable. It is, after all, possible to arrive at a correct conclusion from an invalid argument: “the sun is shining, therefore the Moon is not in the sky.” About half the time the Moon is, in fact, not in the sky — but don’t bet on that basis.

    Failing to pay attention to the difference between “false” and “invalid” is one of the most seductive logical errors around, and one of the most commonly abused. Thus no surprise that theologists of all sorts love it so much.

    </pedant>

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com tommykey

    Bringing your own bottled water to a hotel or resort is the only logical conclusion, given how much they charge you for drinking the bottled water they provide. I remember staying at the El Conquistador in Puerto Rico and the bottled water in the room cost $7 each.

  • eric

    Most atheists would not take the position that they know there is no god, they say there’s no good evidence or logical argument to compel such belief

    I say I know, but I do it in part to make a point: in regular speech we do not reserve “I know” only for things for which we have absolute philosophical certainty, we use it to describe things we have just a reasonably high confidence for. I know my work will pay me on pay day. I know my dishwasher has completed its cycle. I know there is no dragon in my garage.

    For some historical reason, our culture has adopted a double standard in its speech when it comes to atheism. If you say “I know…” and what follows is not an anti-God statement, you will be assumed to be making a ‘regular’ knowledge claim – i.e. ‘know’ implies you have high confidence, but that your belief is subject to revision should new evidence arise. But if you say “I know…” and what follows is an atheism claim, everyone assumes you are making a claim of absolute philosophical certainty.

    I reject this double-standard, and I want to see it gone. There is no good reason to treat atheism claims semantically different from other knowledge claims. “I know God exists” can be said by people who are not a 7 on the Dawkins scale, and everyone should understand that saying it does not imply a claim to be a 7 on the Dawkins scale.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Okay, let’s see….I’m really thinking about it…and nope, this is bullshit. Do you think for one millisecond that Carson would make this argument if the religious material being removed was Muslim? Not a chance. As always, these arguments are a pretext for Christian privilege.

    It is not. That’s the most idiotic thing I’ve read all day.

    This is not about so-called “Christian privilege”. This is not about ensuring that us Christians are at the head of the line. This is also about ensuring that non-Christians aren’t in line at all.

    As such, Carson would need no opinion on Muslin material being removed, as it wouldn’t be there in the first place. And it’s not. Thank God.

     

    Now, if you want to talk about privilege, how about all those hotel room drawers with nothing in them? Why do nine out of ten hotel room drawers promote Athiesm?

  • eric

    @5 – let’s not abuse Godel. His theorems only apply to sets of axioms that can be arithmatecally added (subtracted, etc…). Scientific theories and ‘laws’ are not generally considered axioms (they are conclusions, not premises, and they change when we get new evidence), and while some can be arithmetically combined, not every member of the “set of scientific theories” has this property. So, for example, we can arithmetically combine E=hv and E = mc^2, but we cannot arithmetically combine E = hv with the Theory Of Evolution.

  • eric

    Now, if you want to talk about privilege, how about all those hotel room drawers with nothing in them?

    You think that’s bad? What about all those empty hotel closets, hmmm?

  • cptdoom

    It is extremely hypocritical of the foundation to request the removal of Bibles from hotel rooms on the basis of their contention that the presence of Bibles indicates that the government is choosing one religion over another.

    Except that there are many bibles out there, and even the various accepted Christian sects can’t agree on which of them are actually the “Word of God.” So by allowing only one version of those bibles into this government building, the government is excluding all religious beliefs, even Christian, that don’t accept that version as true.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Eric, there are any number of factual questions about the world we live in that are inherently related to mathematics far more powerful than algebra (consider the procession of seasons, timing of eclipses, etc.) They are surely part of the set included in the proposition “all things can be proved by science.”

    And any formal system that can address those everyday things — sunrise, sunset, seasons, etc. — is already powerful enough to be inconsistent or incomplete. If it’s incomplete, then the proposition “all things can be proved by science” fails. And if it’s incomplete, you can prove anything whether true or false. Which generally leads us to the conclusion that there are true statements about the Universe that can never be proven.

  • Chiroptera

    “An atheist doesn’t have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can’t be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question.” ~ John McCarthy

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730511544 billdaniels

    So, Eric, how exactly did you get the dragon to leave your garage?

  • magistramarla

    Since my hubby is a retired officer, and now a DOD employee, I’ve been around military installations for over thirty years, even lived on one, and we’ve stayed in both AF and Navy hotels. On most of those installations, we’ve met foreign officers and their families who are stationed in the US as liaison officers. Many of those officers were Muslims. We’ve even known a few Buddhists and Hindus who were representing their countries. Whenever we have been on Navy installations, we have seen the largest number of foreign officers, so I suppose that it makes sense to address the Navy hotels first.

    IMO, the Navy has the best locations, and this is coming from an AF spouse!

    Since those officers and their families are guests of this country, I think that it is a great idea for the military hotels to be decent hosts. I like the idea of keeping a library of assorted religious reading materials for the guests to request.

    The Defense Language Institute deals with this situation very well. It has a delightfully diverse student body made up of all branches of US military members learning many languages as well as guest military members from other countries learning English. It simply makes sense to be decent hosts and to make these guests feel comfortable.

    BTW, I don’t mean to slight enlisted personnel. I’m simply more familiar with military officers.

  • eric

    I bought a Bandersnatch to chase him out. :)

  • Kevin Kehres

    Whoever that atheist was who suggested a library of religious (and non-religious) materials be made available without bias is one smart cookie. Problem is, there’s always going to be one religion left out. Wicca, satanism…whatever. Best not to promote any religion at the risk of offending anyone’s specific religion.

    Bring your own holy books and your own bottled water.

  • skinnercitycyclist

    @magistramarla

    OT, I was at DLI in 1981, learning German, man was that great, even if I was in the army…

  • Kevin Kehres

    BTW and FWIW: I don’t think Carson fully understands the difference between hotels run by a branch of the federal government and hotels run by private businesses.

    Hotels I’ve stayed at lately have a Gideon bible, a Book of Moron, and a Bhagavad Gita. No Dianetics, yet, but it’s probably only a matter of time. Hilton hotels still routinely have copies of “Be My Guest” by Conrad Hilton. And who cares? Not me. I’ve got plenty of reading material on my e-reader and via computer to need any of those.