Atheist Kills Three Muslims in North Carolina

I woke up Wednesday to the news that an “anti-theist” in Chapel Hill, North Carolina had killed three Arabic Muslims. There are reports that it was caused by a fight over a parking space, but the Christian right will seize on this as proof that atheists are immoral and dangerous — just as do whenever a Christian commits some horrible act. You want disturbing irony? This is the cover photo on his Facebook page:

craighicks

He condemns religion because it leads to killing people, then he goes out and kills people. What an asshole.

Let’s start with the obvious: I unequivocally condemn this ghastly brutality. So does every atheist I know. I was glad to see the Center for Inquiry put out this statement:

Everyone at the Center for Inquiry is horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless murders of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. These three young people were clearly full of life, love, and a genuine desire to use their talents and intelligence to help others. The world is a little bleaker today for their loss. Our sincere condolences go out to their families, friends, and the Chapel Hill community.

“We hope that what ultimately emerges from this tragedy is a deeper understanding between people of all faiths and no faith that each one of us has the capacity to do good, to help in our own small ways to make the world a better place,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “Despite our differences in beliefs, we are all part of the global human community, and we are all responsible for each other.”

Added Lindsay, “The alleged killer is reported to have promoted ‘atheism’ in some of his writings as a ‘solution’ to world crises, but there is absolutely nothing about the lack of belief in a god that supports the murder of innocent people, or doing any kind of harm to anyone. As secular humanists, we at CFI will continue to work toward fostering a free and enlightened world for everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe.”

American Atheists as well:

The staff of American Atheists is saddened by the deaths of Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Barakat, who were killed on Wednesday, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We mourn with their families, their friends, and with everyone touched by this tragedy.

“American Atheists condemns violence in any form, including violence against people of faith,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “No person should be a victim of violence because of their religion. Anyone who would attack a person because of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, attacks the very foundation of freedom. We must work to understand one another as people and recognize that our differences are an important part of our shared humanity.”

The obvious response to this tragedy is that he didn’t do it because of his atheism because atheism has no doctrines or tenets, but I certainly hope no one uses the “he wasn’t a true atheist” argument. Atheists are every bit as capable of and prone to violence and brutality as any other group of people. One of the distinctions between a rational atheism and religious belief is the recognition that all human beings are capable of both extraordinary kindness and horrifying brutality, often at the same time. In contrast to religious beliefs, we do not claim that being an atheist will make someone a better person.

I think one thing it brings into focus is the fact that atheism is not enough. Atheism only indicates you what you don’t believe, not what you do believe, not the ideals by which you live your life. For that we need more. For me, that more is humanism, but not all atheists are humanist. And some atheists, as we’ve learned from harsh experience over the last few years, are really terrible people. I see no need to run from that fact or pretend otherwise.

Update: And we have our first “he wasn’t a true atheist” sighting on Facebook, a guy named Scott Maddox posting on a Facebook thread. “”The guy is actually a Christian,” he declared without a shred of evidence. When asked to support that claim, he said:

“Because liking god delusion and no other books is obviously how a Christian imagines atheists to be. Either the profile is fake or he’s lying to not besmearch Christianity.”

My eyes nearly rolled out the door and down the street. And then he continued to defend that claim, again without a shred of evidence:

“Ok so my current theory is that there already was an atheist Craig hicks and his profile got hacked and the photo album “Me” was created in the past, but updates recently with media photos and the privacy settings were set to hide when these photos of the shooter were added to this profile.”…

“You guys are missing the point. The guy is anti religion not pro killing believers. It smells of fake profile. His real profile, if he even has one, is probably hidden already because that’s usually what happens when a high profile case happens.”…

“Also, who uploads thousands of atheist memes to their album? I just post them to my wall because it’s easier. Whoever did this hack, had time to upload a ton of data.”

Then he declared that he’s just “being skeptical.” No, you’re channeling Alex Jones’ idiotic paranoia. This is all just proof that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group. Maddox and some others are doing exactly what they undoubtedly scoff at and mock when Christians use “he wasn’t a True Christian” argument. That’s ridiculous! Except when we do it, of course. Then it’s perfectly rational.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017276335 Strewth

    Those poor people and their families. This is terrible.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    If any atheist can be linked to this killing by his public rhetoric, it’s Sam Harris, who, since 9/11, has been doing his part to contribute to pig-ignorant anti-Muslim religious and ethnic bigotry, and has explicitly said that Islam’s worst fundamentalists are the “true face” of that religion, and less-extremist Muslims aren’t really true Muslims, they’re just “nominal” or fake Muslims. That’s why so many other atheists (especially those on FTB) have been trying to kick Harris to the curb for many years now. If any REAL atheist (as opposed to the evil amoral Stalinist straw-atheist that persists in the fantasies of Christian bigots) had led Hicks to kill those people, it could well have been Harris.

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    There is a great political cartoon on the subject

    http://www.gocomics.com/jeffdanziger/2015/02/10

    Nails it perfectly

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    Sorry that was a mistake

    Trying to do too many things at once

  • gshelley

    It seems he killed people over a parking dispute. Would he have done so if they were white, or not Muslims? I don’t know. People do things like that, but we don’t seem to have much information yet. A lot of people seem to think he was extremely anti-religious and that fed into it, but the ones I have seen are limiting it to claiming this is what the Facebook page said, or quoting something he said about religion in general, which is clearly not the same thing.

  • eric

    Its horrible. On the new about an hour ago it appeared there more be may to it than the parking fracas and it may indeed have been a hate crime. At least, that’s what the police were reporting they were investigating. If he did it out of some ideological dedication to atheism or to send some sort of warped message to muslims, then it is a hate crime and his penalties should be increased consistent with NC’s and federal law.

    Raging Bee:

    If any atheist can be linked to this killing by his public rhetoric, it’s Sam Harris, who, since 9/11, has been doing his part to contribute to pig-ignorant anti-Muslim religious and ethnic bigotry,

    Yeah! And rap music causes crime! We must remove Grand Theft Auto from the shelves because it contributes to carjacking! And I’m going to take this opportunity to mention my pet peeve, because I’m that sort of person!

    Idiotic logic and gallows politics, Bee. Uncool.

  • Trebuchet

    The usual suspects are, of course, blaming PZ.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oh please. We routinely blame religious rhetoric for at least contributing to various acts of violence and hate, and it’s perfectly appropriate to do so when the facts indicate a connection. If we can make a case that violent and bigoted acts can be facilitated by religious beliefs and rhetoric, then we’d better be willing to accept that such acts can also be facilitated or encouraged by atheist leaders — especially when the atheist leaders in question sound almost exactly like the religious leaders we rightly condemn.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The usual suspects are, of course, blaming PZ.

    Which is totally fucking ridiculous. The people blaming PZ are probably doing so because he’s the only high-profile atheist they even know about. They’ve been proclaiming PZ the “atheist pope” at least since 2005.

    Seriously, do those idiots quote anything PZ actually said that sounds like he’s encouraging anyone to kill Muslims indiscriminately?

  • Sastra

    Raging Bee #2 wrote:

    If any atheist can be linked to this killing by his public rhetoric, it’s Sam Harris … has explicitly said that Islam’s worst fundamentalists are the “true face” of that religion, and less-extremist Muslims aren’t really true Muslims, they’re just “nominal” or fake Muslims.

    Assuming this is true, why would the killer have been inspired by this to go after what were obviously westernized, liberalized, educated, “‘nominal’ or fake Muslims?” Someone who hates and fears fundamentalist Christians is not going to go to a UU meeting and shoot Karen Armstrong because she’s not really a Christian.

  • Sastra

    Trebuchet #7 wrote:

    The usual suspects are, of course, blaming PZ.

    Along with Atheism + and Political Correctness and a deep concern for social justice and minorities. Which makes no sense at all. The killer doesn’t seem to have had much of a focus on social justice issues.

    The ‘usual suspects’ are being highly irrational.

  • dugglebogey

    I don’t understand why this is even a story.

    Atheists don’t claim to be better people than others because they are atheists. Christians do that.

    Atheists just claim that other atheists are just that, other people. Not better, not worse because they are atheists. Some are good, some are not.

    Christians claim they are better people because they are christians, although some of them claim that they are not better people because they are all “sinners.” But they do claim a connection between their belief and morality. Atheists do not.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    dugglebogey: it’s a “story” partly because people are blaming atheists and atheism, and we kinda have to respond to it. It’s not at all fair, but it’s a fact nonetheless.

    The killer doesn’t seem to have had much of a focus on social justice issues.

    FWIW, the killer seemed to have a bit more such focus than the morons who are bashing PZ over this.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Assuming this is true, why would the killer have been inspired by this to go after what were obviously westernized, liberalized, educated, “‘nominal’ or fake Muslims?”

    One possibility is that he just went for the Muslims he saw in his range. Another is that he was responding to Harris’ pander-point about how even sensible moderate believers are still susceptible to manipulation by extremists, just because they still harbor the beliefs that the extremists get to define for their purposes. That’s just Harris’ version of the old “immigrant hordes overwhelming us natives/divided loyalties” scare-tactic, so the killer could have got it from Harris, or he could just as easily have got it from its source.

  • my2cents

    This is sad. The main reason it is sad is because three people died when they should have lived. Plus on a less important note it’s sad because this will be used as rally cry against atheists whether we like it or not.

  • abb3w

    @0, Ed Brayton

    I unequivocally condemn this ghastly brutality.

    ObDitto

    @0, Ed Brayton

    This is all just proof that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group.

    Motivated reasoning, also.

    @5, gshelley

    Would he have done so if they were white

    Interesting question. I’ve speculated a number of times about higher social dominance orientation among the activist sub-segment of atheists — though support for the conjecture is only via potential parsimony for explaining some diverse phenomena.

  • scienceavenger

    This is all just proof that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group.

    It does no such thing. All it shows is that we aren’t 100% free of mindless tribalism, but that’s a far far cry from being as capable of it as any other group. We do have one less tribal motive, so we have that going for us, which is nice.

  • eric

    @12:

    I don’t understand why this is even a story.

    It not, as far as I can tell. By that I mean that of course the story is getting lots of coverage as a triple homicide, but the main news networks are not over-emphasizing his atheism. They’re still in the “we’ll tell you the facts as we get them” mode of reporting, which tends to be scattered and mention all sorts of stuff. They have mentioned he was an outspoken ‘anti-theist’ on his website, but IMO there’s not been any real media push to emphasize this to the exclusion of other information, they’re just reporting it. That may change, of course. Also I’m not talking about blogs or bloggers; there may indeed be many of those using this event to attack atheism. But for now I think ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, etc… aren’t over-emphasizing the fact, they’re just doing standard reporting of any fact they can grab hold of around a triple homicide.

  • eric

    I should add that even the FOX coverage of the event (During my workout, I click over to them when CNN goes to commercial) didn’t rally say much about his atheism. Again, his website got mentioned, but they then turned to other stuff, they didn’t really dwell on it.

  • http://mostlyrational.net tacitus

    That he was a licensed gun owner is surely one of the more pertinent facts of this case. Not every gun owner is going to kill someone, of course, but the more gun owners there are, the more likely this sort of thing is going to happen. Absent the gun, he would most likely only be facing assault charges, not murder charges.

  • my2cents

    I just watched some of CNNs coverage. I didn’t really like the quote they used. In fact it reminded me of statements just about every atheist makes. I don’t like that quotes like “Praying is pointless, useless, narcissistic, arrogant, and lazy; just like the imaginary god you pray to,” being used as justification for this being a hate crime. It might very well be a hate crime, I don’t know this man at all but I have said similar things to this and have read many things like this from countless atheists who would never murder anyone.

    It’s very sad that these 3 people lost their lives and any murder is wrong yet assuming it’s a hate crime just because someone is openly against religion is not a leap I will support. If it does turn out to be hate crime that is sad and I will condemn it even more but I don’t like that it seems to be assumed simply because the murderer is an atheist and openly condemns religion.

  • iangould

    “…but the Christian right will seize on this as proof that atheists are immoral and dangerous — just as do whenever a Christian commits some horrible act.”

    Yeah you’d never see Ed or any of the commentators here doing that to Muslims.

  • Michael Heath

    I thought we stopped swallowing Stephen Gould’s ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ bullshit.

    Ed asserts:

    One of the distinctions between a rational atheism and religious belief is the recognition that all human beings are capable of both extraordinary kindness and horrifying brutality, often at the same time.

    I’d bet money many people don’t demonstrate either attribute. I’d also bet money there are significant differences based on religious beliefs, perhaps not by broad measures but instead when we delve down one degree and consider liberal/fundamentalist theological beliefs.

    Ed further asserts:

    In contrast to religious beliefs, we [‘rational atheists’] do not claim that being an atheist will make someone a better person.

    This is an [uncited] empirical claim; as is the first assertion I quoted. Given the results I’ve seen regarding incarceration rates by religious beliefs, I’m skeptical this is true by that measure or broader measures.

  • Michael Heath

    Ed asserts:

    This is all just proof that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group.

    One incident, where we don’t have all the relevant evidence collected, is proof? One person’s actions is representative of an entire group?

    All three assertions I quoted of Ed’s are not up to his standards. Ed, are you sick this week?

  • Michael Heath

    Please note that Raging Bee fails to actually cite speech by Sam Harris that lends an atom of credibility to his argument.

    This is typical of Mr. Harris’ critics. Nearly all his critics don’t like his arguments but can’t refute those arguments, so instead they impotently defame him and misconstrue his arguments.

  • Suido

    This is all just evidence that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group.

    Oh, hey, look, I just fixed the teeny tiny nuance that some of you are complaining about. Do you feel better now?

    I’m so glad we have pedantic nitpickers poring over every blog post as if it’s a legal or scientific document, because those minor errors are the real problem, amirite?

    For fucks sake. People died. And your response is get pedantic about the difference between proof and evidence.

    Seriously.

  • Michael Heath

    dugglebogey writes:

    I don’t understand why this is even a story.

    Hate crimes are related to terrorism, where they can overlap. In both cases such crimes extend fear beyond the sphere realized in most non-hate crimes.

    If an atheist kills three Muslims, other Muslims unrelated to the victim are going to be concerned other atheists will go after them. That’s why hate crimes and terrorism have disproportionate impact from the specific crime. They create victims beyond those initially and directly impacted.

    I also think freedom of conscience remains largely sacroscant in the U.S. It would be shocking and newsworthy if a Republican killed three Democrats just because they were Democrats, or allegedly in this case, an atheist killing Muslims for being Muslims.

  • 9780007103072xxx

    Go over to the fucked up PZ blog, where saying someone may have a mental problem is sufficient to get you banned. The incestuous bunch is tarnishing atheism right there, you don’t need any fucked up killer to do that job.

  • Michael Heath

    Suido edits Ed’s post:

    This is all just proof evidence that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as any other group.

    Suido writes:

    People died. And your response is get pedantic about the difference between proof and evidence.

    Whoosh.

    First off, one event is not in any way [compelling] “evidence” either. Here we’re confronted with mere anecdotal evidence. That used to be ridiculed in this forum when we had a more scientifically literate set of posters.

    Secondly, my objection here is Ed’s un-cited and I bet incorrect description of entire populations. I’m not even attempting to be pedantic, I think he’s instead misinforming his readers about entire populations.

    Ed’s also succumbing to the same criticism you charge against others (I think me). He’s ‘exploiting’ a tragedy to promote assertions that we can conflate attributes for two very different groups; without providing any evidence at all such a conflation is objectively true.

    I don’t have a problem with Ed leveraging this tragedy to discuss traits about the atheists and the religious. I do have a problem with his demonstrably sloppy thinking – at a minimum making extraordinary claims without providing an iota of evidence.

  • colnago80

    Re Michael Heath @ #25

    It should be noted that PZ Myers is one of the worst offenders on this blog network in this regard.

    The problem is that Sam Harris tells the truth and the Myers and the Bees of the world think it’s hell.

  • http://thoughtsandrantings.com Patrick from Michigan (Yes, that one!)

    Ed,

    I saw this and I must say, I am much disappointed in the right’s response to it.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Michael Heath

    @colnago80

    The problem is that Harris often goes off a barely related pedantic philosophical tangent, and due to his sometimes poor writing skills and due to his very poor social awareness, he can easily be misconstrued.

    The problem is also that Harris sometimes actually advocates clearly wrong-headed and heinous views, such as: Advocating torture as a practical matter as opposed to mere hypothetical “time bomb” thought experiments. Arguably advocating racial profiling based on his antics during the airport screening debacle. Perhaps most damning and most relevant is when Harris clearly and unequivocally advocating that certain people are so dangerous because of their mere speech and advocacy that they should be put to death, and gave Osama bin Laden as an example (without mentioning conspiracy to commit murder, etc.).

    Citations available upon demand. I’m too lazy to look them up right now. You can easily find the sources yourself.

  • Michael Heath

    Thanks “Enlightened Liberal” for so perfectly illustrating my earlier description of nearly all of Sam Harris’ critics.

  • exi5tentialist

    Atheism only indicates you what you don’t believe, not what you do believe

    This is wrong. I believe there is no God.

    I put you on notice, Ed, that when I say I am an atheist, it indicates something that I do believe.

    It’s primarily atheists who keep insisting on getting this wrong.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Michael Heath

    That is fantastic. Other people know that I take one of the hardest lines against Muslims in particular, and all religious people in general, for creating culture where it is socially acceptable to be religious, which almost necessarily leads to more violence.

    Far from a Sam Harris critic, I think the man is brilliant, and overall he makes many good points.

    However, some of his arguments are incredibly wrong-headed.

    As for citations:

    Sam Harris advocating that we should kill some people solely because their free speech and political advocacy is too dangerous.

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, the answer cannot be, “Because he killed so many people in the past.” To my knowledge, the man hasn’t killed anyone personally. However, he is likely to get a lot of innocent people killed because of what he and his followers believe about jihad, martyrdom, the ascendancy of Islam, etc. A willingness to take preventative action against a dangerous enemy is compatible with being against the death penalty (which I am). Whenever we can capture and imprison jihadists, we should. But in many cases this is either impossible or too risky. Would it have been better if we had captured Osama bin Laden? In my view, yes. Do I think the members of Seal Team Six should have assumed any added risk to bring him back alive? Absolutely not.

    Sam Harris on torture:

    (same link)

    I believe the reasonable takeaway is that Harris wrongly believes that “ticking timebomb scenarios” are far more common than realistic. Ignoring the moral problems, the scenarios where torture is effective for all practical intents and purposes is safely confined to our imagination. Whereas, war is effective, and sometimes unavoidable. I can name situations where the only moral and practical option is war, for example World War 2 and the Nazis. It is effectively impossible to name a scenario that has actually happened in the real world where we are better off because we tortured someone, especially when you factor in the slippery slope problems. Harris’s problem is that he overplays the significance of a “time bomb scenario” straight from the TV Show 24.

    On racial profiling at airports

    (same link)

    It’s pretty clear Harris strongly supports it. The questions are whether it’s justified in practice, and whether it could be justified in a hypothetical world with different facts.

    Just as an example of his foolishness:

    Whatever the practical constraints are on implementing such a policy, I remain willing to bet my life that the woman in the photo below [old white woman] is not a suicide bomber.

    Well, then you are foolish. I can imagine that old people are more willing to die, especially with terminal illness, especially if terrorists are holding family members hostage, etc. I wouldn’t make that bet myself.

    Even if racial profiling of “Muslims” at airports was cost effective for reducing rates at which planes are bombed, we have to ask about the related social costs. This racial profiling would not happen in a vacuum. Harris loses on this point too, and loses badly IMHO.

  • kellym

    Dave Silverman came out as a big supporter of “gun rights” at last year’s CPAC. Too bad American Atheists will never take any action to reduce gun violence. Are there any atheist organizations working towards reducing American gun violence?

  • Michael Heath

    “Enlightenment Liberal” lies about what Sam Harris stated:

    As for citations:

    Sam Harris advocating that we should kill some people [Harris referred to Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden] solely because their free speech and political advocacy is too dangerous.

    The people you refer to in your quote of Harris were not targeted because of their speech and political advocacy. What a delusional argument, thanks for reminding me why I haven’t read any of your prior posts over the past several months.

    Instead those two protagonists either remain targets (Ayman al-Zawahiri) or were targeted and killed, OBL, because of they’re mass murderers whose primary role was running a terrorist organization that continues to commit terror.

    Here you vividly illustrate another attribute of nearly all of Sam Harris’s critics; that they answer Voltaire’s prayer.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    On racial profiling at airports

    (same link)

    It’s pretty clear Harris strongly supports it

    He explicitly does:

    The Israelis have had a spotless record of airline security since 1972. It is widely imagined that they would never be so stupid as to profile people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. But this is just a pious fantasy. The Israelis have well-trained screeners who use all the information they can possibly glean to mitigate the risk of terrorism. Racial and ethnic profiling appears to be central to their process. I agree with many of my critics that we should emulate the Israeli approach insofar as it is possible. That would require smart, well-trained screeners who are empowered to use their discretion (i.e., to profile).

    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-knowing-your-enemy29

    Re torture, using a trite and highly contrived thought experiment at a time when our government was actually torturing people in order to defend it (even if only under “certain” circumstances) amounts, in my view, to a staggering misplacement of emphasis and concern. At the least.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    Some background about Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, and their murderer.

    Abu-Salha was just visiting her sister.

    http://fusion.net/story/47569/chapel-hill-shooting-my-best-friend-was-killed-and-i-dont-know-why/

  • dingojack

    MH – take the ‘When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda…’ argument & swap sides. How compelling is the argument now?

    Dingo

  • Synfandel

    A view from (just barely) outside:

    Here in Canada, the news media and the public discussion aren’t even mentioning the words “atheist” or “anti-theist”. While they acknowledge that there might by a not-yet-established ethnic hatred angle to the story, it’s primarily seen as yet another tragic incident in the US’s long and sad history of gun violence.

  • dingojack

    I sure Rupert is waiting in the wings to tweet how a ‘death cult’ is engaging in ‘acts of terrorism on the streets’.

    @@

    Dingo

  • Michael Heath

    Lady Mondegreen writes:

    On racial profiling at airports

    (same link)

    It’s pretty clear Harris strongly supports it

    He explicitly does: [quotes Harris]

    All you’re doing here is pointing out an argument of Sam Harris’ where you disagree. You are not even attempting to refute it.

    I did encounter one person engage with Harris in a written debate on racial profiling. It was very enlightening. That’s one of a mere handful of examples that caused me say “nearly all” to describe Harris’ critics as ridiculous. A mere handful aren’t. I thought Harris won that debate, but kudos to the person who engaged with him given how rare it is to see anyone make honest credible arguments against Harris.

    Lady Mondegreen:

    Re torture, using a trite and highly contrived thought experiment at a time when our government was actually torturing people in order to defend it (even if only under “certain” circumstances) amounts, in my view, to a staggering misplacement of emphasis and concern.

    I agree your criticism here is credible. Kudos to you for providing one of the few examples where people are actually able to credibly challenge Harris. But let’s also be clear, we both agree he used poor judgment, but you fail to provide a rebuttal that challenges his argument and reveals it’s not a credible position.

    My admiration for Sam Harris is first directed at his ability to craft excellent arguments. Regardless of my own positions, I seek the rare few who can do so. In this case, I not only disagreed with Harris taking up this argument while simultaneously condemning the Bush Administration’s use of torture, but like you, also thought he showed very poor judgment.

    Lady Mondegreen:

    Re torture, using a trite and highly contrived thought experiment at a time when our government was actually torturing people in order to defend it (even if only under “certain” circumstances) amounts, in my view, to a staggering misplacement of emphasis and concern. At the least.

    [Heath bolded]

    So here we agree Mr. Harris is open to criticism for using poor judgment to abstractly argue torture might be justified in certain cases when his own country is abhorrently practicing it. But then you fall into the same trap nearly all of Harris’ critics do, you don’t like his argument but provide no counter to it.

    Anyone whose read Ed’s blog over the years knows I’m one of the most ardent opponents of torture in this forum. So my criticism of your post here isn’t because I support Harris’ position on torture, I do not though I respect it*. Instead I’m merely pointing out the inability of nearly all his critics to credibly respond to his arguments.

    In addition, nearly all his critics mostly pick out a very small sample of his arguments, which they can’t credibly refute, in order to justify their defamation of him.

    *Harris’ argument is that there are certain times where we should employ torture if we have confidence it would work and it would save innocents from the evil of others. IIRC, he still advocates use of torture in these instances still be a criminal offense.

    I respect his argument though it’s so abstract his argument’s only about rare extremes during a time when as you rightly noted, we needed only practicable arguments. But even if a situation like Harris’ came up where his argument was to torture, I still object to his position. I instead take the position the cost of using torture is too high when considering the longview. That it’s better to take the hit now and always maintain and continuously improve our standards of decency. But even in this case I concede Harris has a credible compelling argument and therefore even this doesn’t deserve the defamation his critics like to heap on him. Let alone when he consider the total body of his arguments.

  • Suido

    Michael H, #29:

    First off, one event is not in any way [compelling] “evidence” either. Here we’re confronted with mere anecdotal evidence. That used to be ridiculed in this forum when we had a more scientifically literate set of posters.

    Your dismissal of the importance and validity of interpersonal communications is noted. I hope your co-workers never tell you stories about what they did on the weekend, as I imagine it would be annoying when you respond by dismissing their story as anecdotal and therefore not worthy of consideration.

    Michael H, #29:

    Secondly, my objection here is Ed’s un-cited and I bet incorrect description of entire populations. I’m not even attempting to be pedantic, I think he’s instead misinforming his readers about entire populations.

    And here’s the rub. You made that interpretation of his words. I interpreted it differently. It’s not crystal clear what his meaning is, but again, this is a blog post, not a scientific journal. Let’s look at the words again, and I’ll insert one more edit, which will clarify how I understood his meaning:

    Ed, OP:

    This is all just proofevidence that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as members of any other group.

    I read that, and I assumed he was talking about individuals. I didn’t assume he meant entire populations. I read that passage and, based on my previous reading of Ed’s blog, I decided it was highly unlikely that he was making sweeping generalisations. You, on the other hand, decided he was. The wording is a bit ambiguous.

    Michael H, #29:

    I don’t have a problem with Ed leveraging this tragedy to discuss traits about the atheists and the religious. I do have a problem with his demonstrably sloppy thinking – at a minimum making extraordinary claims without providing an iota of evidence.

    Sloppy writing can indicate sloppy thinking, but everyone makes mistakes at time. People write fast, they type fast, they skip sentences during review processes, inserting/ deleting words that they think should or shouldn’t be there. We know our brains are feeble like that.

    Assumptions like yours are also fairly sloppy – why not ask for clarification before riding your high horse all the way to the deep end?

    When discussing individuals, as I think Ed was, the evidence provided is valid information. An example of population A who demonstrates tribalism that has been observed in population B. Hardly misleading or controversial.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    All you’re doing here is pointing out an argument of Sam Harris’ where you disagree. You are not even attempting to refute it

    If you’ve been following the conversation you’ve been part of, you’ll have noticed that EnlightenmentLiberal wrote that:

    [Harris has been] [a]rguably advocating racial profiling based on his antics during the airport screening debacle.

    And then later, a bit more confidently:

    It’s pretty clear Harris strongly supports it.

    I was agreeing that Harris indeed supports racial and ethnic profiling, and providing explicit evidence for it.

    You can tell that’s what I was doing, because I quoted EL’s words, and then said, “He explicitly does.” And then provided the evidence.

    All you’re doing here is pointing out an argument of Sam Harris’ where you disagree. You are not even attempting to refute it

    Yeah, I also didn’t attempt to refute the argument that if a woman weighs the same as a duck, she’s a witch.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    And just in case it isn’t CRYSTAL CLEAR: nowhere did I claim to be refuting Harris’s argument.

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  • Michael Heath

    Suido,

    We are not in disagreement on what Ed wrote. I’m responding to what he wrote.

    Ed wrote:

    This is all just proof that atheists are as capable of mindless tribalism as members of any other group.

    Suido responds:

    I read that, and I assumed he was talking about individuals. I didn’t assume he meant entire populations. I read that passage and, based on my previous reading of Ed’s blog, I decided it was highly unlikely that he was making sweeping generalisations. You, on the other hand, decided he was. The wording is a bit ambiguous.

    i don’t think the wording is ambiguous; I read what Ed wrote just as you did and describe above. Instead I think what he wrote was disingenuous where Ed employs a fallacy of balance. I was responding to the implication of his disingenuousness; that he argues the groups are the similar to the point we compare them as such.

    Suido writes:

    An example of population A who demonstrates tribalism that has been observed in population B. Hardly misleading or controversial.

    I think this forum is smart enough to realize that all groups are going to have at least an outlier group that behaves differently the norm. I presume that when I post comments here. A fair reading of what Ed writes insinuates, repeatedly, that atheists are no different than religious people when it comes to, “extraordinary kindness and horrifying brutality”, atheists are no more good than religious people, and atheists and religious people “employ mindless tribalism”.

    Suido on me:

    Your dismissal of the importance and validity of interpersonal communications is noted. I hope your co-workers never tell you stories about what they did on the weekend, as I imagine it would be annoying when you respond by dismissing their story as anecdotal and therefore not worthy of consideration.

    Yep that’s me. I have no ability to determine that a story about a weekend well spent is not the same as an argument made in a forum that invites rebuttals. Sheesh.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Michael Heath

    “Enlightenment Liberal” lies about what Sam Harris stated:

    As for citations:

    Sam Harris advocating that we should kill some people [Harris referred to Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden] solely because their free speech and political advocacy is too dangerous.

    The people you refer to in your quote of Harris were not targeted because of their speech and political advocacy. What a delusional argument, thanks for reminding me why I haven’t read any of your prior posts over the past several months.

    Of course the United States government and others didn’t target them for their free speech nor political advocacy. I never said that. I did say that Sam Harris says that it’s morally justifiable to kill those people because of their particular speech and political advocacy, and that this is the only underlying moral justification for the actions of the United States. Did you even read the relevant bits from my citation? It’s clear as day. It does not get any clearer than this.

    Quoting Sam Harris:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.

    When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, the answer cannot be, “Because he killed so many people in the past.” To my knowledge, the man hasn’t killed anyone personally. However, he is likely to get a lot of innocent people killed because of what he and his followers believe about jihad, martyrdom, the ascendancy of Islam, etc.

    I fail to see how what I wrote is delusional, or even wrong. Rather, it seems that Sam Harris is the one with a very serious moral problem by our usual western standards of free speech. Our moral justification for killing Osama bin Laden was not his political advocacy. Our moral justification for killing Osama bin Laden because he was criminally complicit in a criminal organization, including conspiracy to commit murder, etc. (Ok, the details are hokey. Purportedly he was resisting extra-national “arrest” with a gun, and that gives us justification. But any moral case that can be made must start here, and not with his mere speech and political advocacy.)

    PS: I note that this kind of totalitarian thinking is common across the US left-right political spectrum. Hate speech laws still piss me off to no end. It especially perturbed me when PZ Myers and many Pharyngula commenters wanted the United States government to criminally charge Scott Lively for his particular speech and political advocacy w.r.t. the anti-gay laws in Uganda. I mention this only because both positions are equally ridiculous.

  • Steve Watson

    Give over with the wet liberal self-flagellation. We have no idea of the motivation for these murders. What has Sam Harris to do with the price of fish? Is ‘Letter to a Christian Nation’ scripture? This loon identified as an ‘anti-theist’. That’s a sub-set of our non-community surely? Do atheists subscribe to tomes that advocate murder and hate on every other page? No. This ain’t my fault; it ain’t your fault; it ain’t Harris’s fault. Why would you apologise for something that has bugger all to do with you?

  • StevoR

    @ ^ Steve Watson : To show empathy and respect for those who have been killed and their families and friends?

    I kinda agree with you but that’s your answer. After all telling a friend for example “I’m sorry,” when you hear that someone in their family has died doesn’t mean you caused the death!

    I don’t know why this ant-theist did what he did and killed innocent people. let’s wait until we know more and have more understanding of what the motivation was before we point any fingers please y’all.

  • StevoR

    @7. Trebuchet : “The usual suspects are, of course, blaming PZ.”

    Who exactly is doing this and how the blazes are they jumping to that rather absurd conclusion? Can you be more specific here please?

  • http://sidhe3141.blogspot.com JamesY2

    StevoR (51):

    Here you go.

    It’s the Pitters, and Pit-adjacent people. My guess is that they’re going with the first atheist they can think of who they don’t like.

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Please note that Raging Bee fails to actually cite speech by Sam Harris that lends an atom of credibility to his argument.

    This is typical of Mr. Harris’ critics. Nearly all his critics don’t like his arguments but can’t refute those arguments, so instead they impotently defame him and misconstrue his arguments.

    Jesus fuck, is this pompous noisemaker still around?

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  • eric

    Enlightened Liberal @22:

    The problem is that Harris often goes off a barely related pedantic philosophical tangent, and due to his sometimes poor writing skills and due to his very poor social awareness, he can easily be misconstrued.

    The problem is also that Harris sometimes actually advocates clearly wrong-headed and heinous views

    Yes, and? People say bad shit in public all the time. We don’t turn around and link them to a triple homicide, like Bee did. I’m not sure what point Michael is defending but my original response was simply making that point, not defending some outspoken atheists’ hawkish views.

    Steve Watson: @49:

    This ain’t my fault; it ain’t your fault; it ain’t Harris’s fault. Why would you apologise for something that has bugger all to do with you?

    I agree with your first three sentences, and the last of the three really gets to the off-topic dispute that’s taken up a lot of this thread. I do think that as non-believers its important to condemn these acts, which Ed did and which he reported several groups did. But I don’t see that as apologizing. Its showing sympathy and empathy for the victims. Its a show of support, not some chest-beating mea culpa.

  • colnago80

    Sam Harris raised the issue of whether Osama bin Laden ever personally killed anyone. The answer to that is that he gave orders to have people killed, as did al-Zawahiri. Giving orders to have people killed makes the giver as guilty as the man who fired the gun and subject to the same or greater penalties.

    After all, Hitler, as far as we know, never personally killed anyone (except possibly for his niece, a controversial issue), yet I doubt that there would have been much in the way of dissent if he had been captured, tried, and convicted of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to capital punishment, as were several defendants at the Nuremberg trials.

  • StevoR

    @52. JamesY2 : Ok, thanks for that and clarifying. They are so wrong.

  • Donnie

    colnago80 says

    February 11, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Re Michael Heath @ #25

    It should be noted that PZ Myers is one of the worst offenders on this blog network in this regard.

    The problem is that Sam Harris tells the truth and the Myers and the Bees of the world think it’s hell.

    Well, isn’t that fucking rich coming from you? Have you managed to make it through a fucking week without masturbating to the idea of the U.S. or Israel nuking Iran? I am pretty sure you haven’t…..ass fuck!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I can’t believe I’m finding EnlightenmentLiberal right and Michael Heath wrong. The world turned upside-down and all that.

    When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda, the answer cannot be, “Because he killed so many people in the past.” To my knowledge, the man hasn’t killed anyone personally. However, he is likely to get a lot of innocent people killed because of what he and his followers believe about jihad, martyrdom, the ascendancy of Islam, etc.

    Yes, al-Zawahiri killed people by conspiring to commit specific terrorist acts — but that’s clearly NOT what Harris is blaming him for. Harris is blaming the BELIEFS, and the people who hold those beliefs, for the acts that a small number of believers carried out.

    The problem is that Harris often goes off a barely related pedantic philosophical tangent, and due to his sometimes poor writing skills and due to his very poor social awareness, he can easily be misconstrued.

    Yeah, that’s the standard excuse made by/for people who say incredibly stupid things while pretending to be brilliant thinkers deep inside. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you sound stupid and unhelpful whenever you open your mouth.

    As for specific citations requested by Heath, I could start by citing Harris’ asinine bigoted tirade on Bill Maher’s show, in which he explicitly said that Muslim fundamentalists were the only “true” or “authentic” Muslims, and the less-extremist Muslims are only “nominal” Muslims. (This was precisely the reason why some Taliban shits tried to kill Malala Yousefsai: because she wasn’t a “true” Muslim. And there was Harris agreeing with the Taliban’s reasoning.) His arguments were based on absolutely zero knowledge of the history of the Muslim world, and zero knowledge of actual Muslim doctrine or beliefs. And his arguments were as divisive and counterproductive as they were ignorant.

    Then there’s the time where Harris said that the Taliban — a minority group of people in the most isolated and war-torn part of the Muslim world — were the “true face of Islam.”

  • raven

    Accused shooter of 3 Muslim students had earlier run-ins

    .By MICHAEL BIESECKER and EMERY P. DALESIO1 hour ago

    Charged with three counts of first-degree murder is Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who has described himself as a “gun toting” atheist. Neighbors said Wednesday that he always seemed angry and confrontational. His ex-wife said he was obsessed with the shooting-rampage movie “Falling Down” and showed “no compassion at all” for other people.

    and

    A woman who lives near the scene described Hicks as short-tempered.

    “Anytime that I saw him or saw interaction with him or friends or anyone in the parking lot or myself, he was angry,” Samantha Maness said of Hicks. “He was very angry, anytime I saw him.”

    This is going to be like the Sandy Hook school shooting or the Colorado Batman movie shooting.

    No matter how hard you try to understand it, it never makes any sense!!!

    From this article, this guy went around in a perpetual rage, often carrying a gun with a legal CC permit. It was a matter of time before someone ended up dead.

    I suspect the victims being Moslem made them a bit more likely to end up dead. But if it wasn’t them, it probably would have been someone else.

  • birgerjohansson

    (OT: Here are two very recent news items about the consequences of depersonalisation of alleged enemies)

    Breaking news #1 – ISIS Just Executed More Than 150 Women In Fallujah http://www.businessinsider.com/isis-just-executed-more-than-150-women-in-fallujah-2014-12?IR=T

    — — — —

    Breaking news #2 -Conservatives celebrate death of ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller, aid worker and ‘anti-Israel b*tch’ http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/02/conservatives-celebrate-death-of-anti-israel-btch-aid-worker-kayla-mueller/

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    MH wrote:

    Ed further asserts:

    In contrast to religious beliefs, we [‘rational atheists’] do not claim that being an atheist will make someone a better person.

    MH replied:

    This is an [uncited] empirical claim; as is the first assertion I quoted. Given the results I’ve seen regarding incarceration rates by religious beliefs, I’m skeptical this is true by that measure or broader measures.

    Ed’s wording and your wording coupled with your wording leave me a bit unclear about what you’re intending to convey here, but if you mean that different rates of incarceration of atheists and believers is evidence that atheism makes one a better person, then you’re attributing causation. You’ve got to be careful about the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. To talk about causation, you’ve got to control for education, wealth and income–all known to be very significant correlates of incarceration rates. These factors are so overwhelming, to look at any other variable (e.g., religion, race) absent controlling for these known correlates, is fallacious. Actually, we don’t know if any or all of these variables are, stricly speaking, causative or if there are interaction effects with underlying causative factors.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    birgerjohansson: Breaking News #2 is downright sickening. I wonder how many of those victim-bashing “conservatives” are also bashing atheists for Hicks’ actions.

  • eric

    To talk about causation, you’ve got to control for education, wealth and income–all known to be very significant correlates of incarceration rates. These factors are so overwhelming, to look at any other variable (e.g., religion, race) absent controlling for these known correlates, is fallacious.

    Even if it was causative, I’m not sure there’s a compelling case for any action because its going to be a far less important factor than many others. If you’ve got a dollar to spend on crime prevention, then even assuming that religion plays a part, “promoting atheism” is a very lousy use of it. Programs that target (helping) young men (stay out of trouble) are going to be your overwhelmingly best bet. Likewise if we were to hypothetically talk about social restrictions such as GPS-ankleting people as a crime prevention method (I’m using this as an illustrative example, I doubt anyone really suggests we do this) , then the clearly best group to collar is males between 15-35, not theists.

  • colnago80

    Re Raging Bee @ #63

    Gee, I wasn’t aware that the ISIL consisted of supporters of Israel. One learns something new every day.

  • my2cents

    So I just read this “waiting for the atheist community to condemn this awful hate crime committed at UNC Chapel Hill,” and inquired wryly, “Is their silence complicity?”

    http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/02/12/islamist-violence-versus-atheist-violence

    Every single atheist community whether it be FTB, FFRF, Center for inquiry, American Atheists, Secular student alliance, Secular Coalition for America, and the list goes on has condemned this horrible man’s actions. Why is it that a supposed journalist could even say “Is their silence complicity?” when there is no such silence and there has been very open condemnation.

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  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @my2cents

    It’s fox news. They lie. It’s what they do.

    @Raging Bee

    Don’t worry. I’m still your same lovable asshole.

    For example, I’ll still support many of the things Sam Harris says regarding Muslims.

    For example. 99% of Catholics in the US use condoms. Does that mean that there’s some room for legitimate disagreement about whether it’s compatible with Catholicism to use condoms? No. It just means that 99% of US Catholics are bad Catholics. Words might not have objective unchanging meaning, but words still have meanings.

    Similarly, for the 99% of Muslims who identify as Sunni or Shia, the overwhelming consensus of their religious experts (clergy, scholars, etc.) is that the Taliban are the ones who get it right on many issues, such as the mandate that apostates should be put to death in this world by human hands. Yet, that appears to be a minority position of individual Muslims worldwide. (AFAIK, only in the neighborhood of 20% of Muslims want a legal mandate of death for apostates by human hands in this world. 20% is still frightening.) Does that mean that there’s room for legitimate disagreement over whether a legal system without death for apostates is compatible with Sunni and Shia Islam? No. It just means around 80% of the world’s Muslims are bad Sunni and Shia Muslims.

    If they have a problem with my assessment here, either the Catholics or the Shia Muslims or the Sunni Muslims, then I suggest that they should change denominations, or they should get new religious leaders and experts.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    Yes, al-Zawahiri killed people by conspiring to commit specific terrorist acts — but that’s clearly NOT what Harris is blaming him for. Harris is blaming the BELIEFS, and the people who hold those beliefs, for the acts that a small number of believers carried out.

    I think the nuance here is off.

    One argument we have is this: All Catholics are morally culpable in some small part for the child raping actions of their church. I strongly believe that they should not be held legally accountable, but I think some degree of social disapproval is necessary. The many normal Catholics normalize the behavior of the church by continuing to identify as Catholic. The average Catholic does not rape children (at least not directly) but they provide social cover and support which enables Catholic priests to rape children and protect child rapist priests. It’s a very similar phenomenon as rape culture. People who make crude unapologetic rape jokes do not actually commit rape, but they provide social cover and support, they help shape a culture, which enables rape.

    I support this general line of thought. I think that some small degree of social disapproval of simply being Catholic should be cultivated in society because of particular harms that the Catholic social movement does, including condoms and AIDS in Africa, child rape protection, extortion of the poor, etc. Further, I think that some small degree of social disapproval of declaring a faith belief should be cultivated in society – again because of the harms that will almost inevitably follow from having faith. I want to change the culture so that someone who runs for president and claims to be talking to their imaginary friend Jesus will be laughed out of the race exactly like someone who claims to be talking to their imaginary friend Fred.

    Currently, it is a sign that something is wrong if an adult in seriousness claims to be talking to an imaginary friend named Fred, but not if the imaginary friend’s name is Jesus. That’s because of the social and cultural support that people have regarding Jesus but not Fred. If we change that culture to have a general disapproval instead of approval, then people will stop believing in an imaginary friend Jesus exactly like they do not believe an imaginary friend Fred.

    However, that’s not really my complaint with Harris here. Harris is saying that someone might have specific beliefs, strong oratory and persuasion skills, and the right kind of social connections in order to enact great harm to society through free speech – esp. political advocacy. Harris argues that we should hold such people legally responsible, even absent other normal criminal actions like murder or conspiracy to commit murder. (Not necessarily with the death penalty, but mere imprisonment etc.)

    PZ Myers has argued that the US should criminally charge Scott Lively for his responsibility in getting some extreme anti-gay laws passed in Uganda. Again, we see a person who has certain beliefs, strong oratory and persuasion skills, and the right kind of social connections, which allowed Scott Lively to enact great harm to society through free speech – esp. political advocacy, and completely without any normal crime such as murder or conspiracy to commit murder.

    Harris’s reasoning is exactly the same reasoning as Myers. I fail to see a meaningful difference. On this point, both people are ridiculously wrong. Political advocacy is the epitome of free speech, and that must be protected at all costs, no matter how heinous the particular policies being advocated.

  • Michael Heath

    Dr. X at 61,

    You’re making my argument.

    I’m not the one making lazy-ass provocative claims without any empirical evidence, Ed is. This particular blog post is incredibly uncharacteristic of Ed. If it was, I’d be gone pronto since I’m here to learn, not lap up horribly concocted arguments that appear motivated to bring emotional comfort to some.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Why would you apologise for something that has bugger all to do with you?

    Not apologize, but condemn.

    It does have something to do with me. I live on this planet. We share this world together, and we will create the future together. I want to create a better future. Thus it’s everyone’s responsibility to condemn evil acts. Al it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. I don’t demand everyone be an activist, but total apathy and no engagement is morally inexcusable.

    Further, if you want a social movement under a label to be successful, you have to own that label. You have to work with the public to ensure that the public understands what your movement stands for. Thus it’s especially relevant for atheists everywhere to condemn the actions of an atheist when it’s possible for the public to wrongly understand that the bad actions of that atheist are at all representative of the social movement of atheism. It’s about fighting to make this social movement into a force for good in the world, in order to make the world a better place.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Similarly, for the 99% of Muslims who identify as Sunni or Shia, the overwhelming consensus of their religious experts (clergy, scholars, etc.) is that the Taliban are the ones who get it right on many issues…

    This is utterly false, EL, and you’d know it if you actually paid attention, instead of just following a simple ideology with no verification. The fact is, numerous Muslim clergy and scholarly bodies have been explicitly condemning various forms of Islamic extremism at least since the Taliban were created. Your failure to notice such facts on the ground invalidates your entire line of reasoning.

    The many normal Catholics normalize the behavior of the church by continuing to identify as Catholic.

    No, they normalize it by refusing to condemn it and/or finding excuses not to deal with it. Self-identification isn’t the problem — actions and inactions are the problem. Americans don’t normalize bad US policies by being American, we normalize them by not standing up and fighting them.

    99% of Catholics in the US use condoms. Does that mean that there’s some room for legitimate disagreement about whether it’s compatible with Catholicism to use condoms? No. It just means that 99% of US Catholics are bad Catholics.

    Actually, yes, it DOES mean there’s room for disagreement about condom use. There’s disagreement within the Catholic Church about condom use, therefore, BY DEFINITION, there’s room for disagreement within the Catholic Church about condom use. And if you’re not a Catholic yourself, and have no authority within any Catholic governing body, then you have no right to rule on who is or is not a “true” Catholic. Seriously, who the fuck are you to tell anyone else how much room they have to discuss anything?

    And if you’re going to tell Catholics they’re “bad” because they disagree with a Pope whom you yourself don’t recognize, then you’re not only a hypocrite, you’re just as ignorant an authoritarian as the Pope, without even the fake authority the Pope has. That’s a whole new dimension of bullshit, and your reasoning is as counterproductive as it is false.

    I support this general line of thought. I think that some small degree of social disapproval of simply being Catholic should be cultivated in society because of particular harms that the Catholic social movement does, including condoms and AIDS in Africa, child rape protection, extortion of the poor, etc.

    Where I come from, that’s called “religious bigotry.” Here’s a more sensible and useful alternative: let’s cultivate social disapproval of flawed and irrational religious thinking and specific evil acts enabled by such irrational thinking. That way, we’ll be able to get the more decent and sensible religious people (like my Catholic father and his parents, and like Malala Yousefsai and her parents) to support our goals, instead of recoiling from stupid blanket condemnations by sophists who think they know what all people believe just by the labels assigned to them.

    I’m not the one making lazy-ass provocative claims without any empirical evidence…

    No, Heath, you’re just ignoring the empirical evidence that’s all around you to support those claims.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    Michael Heath at 68,

    I’m not making your argument. I pointed out a logical fallacy in your response to Ed. That doesn’t make Ed’s comment correct, but a bad argument isn’t a convincing way to invalidate someone else’s claim.

    I said that if I was understanding you correctly, you believe that differential incarceration rates of atheists and believers suggest that being an atheist makes one a better person. That’s an attribution of causation that ignores major confounds–education, income and wealth–all of which are also associated with incarceration rates. My point isn’t complicated. You get marked wrong on the exam question about causation with the notation “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” “You’re making my argument” and Ed is “intellectually lazy” are not responses that address your own error in logic.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    Many of the purported condemnations by Muslims scholars of the Taliban, IS, and other Muslim extremist groups, are not as simple as you think. A lot of them can be summed up with “You have the right idea, but be a little nicer”, and they sometimes explain their reasons, such as the efforts are counterproductive and we need to ease people into sharia law, or sharia law does require death for apostates, but potential apostates deserve the benefit of the doubt, a full trial, a chance to repent, and other stuff like that.

    For example, here is an open letter from Muslim scholars which was touted as being this kind of condemnation. It was bandied about basically everywhere in western media for a while, including on this blog. Apparently no one bothered to read it. Here was my analysis of reading it .

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2014/09/29/muslim-scholars-denounce-isis/#comment-359008

    Also see various reference sites online. It is a fact that basically all Shia and Sunni scholars and clergy say that the Koran demands that apostates should be put to death by our hands in this world. A lot of them are nicer about it than IS and the Taliban, but that’s still their position. For example, IIRC one sect offers a chance to repent. Another offers mere life in prison for women until they repent. The above letter says that what qualifies as apostasy should be only “Allah is not god”, but it pretty clearly tacitly acknowledges that apostates should be put to death (and Satanists).

    Regarding “One True Catholicism”. If the full consensus of the governing body is that condoms are bad, and if the consensus of 99% of US Catholics is that the pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth and their authority, then it does mean that 99% of US Catholics are not being good Catholics on this issue for using condoms. It means they are hypocrites, not me. What you say makes no sense whatsoever.

    Regarding “religious bigotry”. There is a difference between justified intolerance and unjustified intolerance. Unjustified tolerance is called “bigotry”. It is not bigotry to be intolerance and express social disapproval of Nazis, of N.A.B.L.A. members. For similar reasons, I will argue that it’s justified to express intolerance and social disapproval of Catholics. Most Nazis were not directly involved in the murder of millions of Jews. Most Catholics are also not directly involved in the murder of millions of people in Africa from AIDS because of the lies spread by the Catholic church regarding condoms. Both are crimes against humanity, at least in spirit. Anyone who supports such an organization who kills millions, systematically protects child rapists, extorts the poor, etc., deserves my condemnation. This is not bigotry. People’s religious beliefs deserve no more respect than their non-religious beliefs. If a particular religious organization is responsible for crimes against humanity, then you better expect I’ll verbally attack the organization, and condemn people for supporting it and belonging to it.

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  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    If the full consensus of the governing body is that condoms are bad, and if the consensus of 99% of US Catholics is that the pope is the vicar of Christ on Earth and their authority…

    The “99% concensus” you speak of does not exist. Catholics are nowhere near as uniform on the “vicar of Christ” question (or on anythng else) as you so mindlessly assume they are. If you actually thought of Catholics as PEOPLE, rather than as the indistinguishable drones of the bigot’s imagining, you’d be better able to understand this.

    Your reasoning fails because it ignores the fact thet humans don’t all think uniformly, and don’t all follow this or that ideology the same way. You’re making the standard bigot’s mistake of being unable to tell “those people” apart from one another.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    If a particular religious organization is responsible for crimes against humanity, then you better expect I’ll verbally attack the organization, and condemn people for supporting it and belonging to it.

    If your attacks sound ignorant and make you look like an idiot, then you better expect people to kick you to the curb and not take you seriously. If you really care about getting anythign DONE about crimes against humanity, then you need to take more time to make sure your attacks are less easily debunked by observation.

  • Michael Heath

    Dr. X to me:

    I said that if I was understanding you correctly, you believe that differential incarceration rates of atheists and believers suggest that being an atheist makes one a better person.

    The point I was trying to make was that Ed is making extraordinary claims about particular similarities between two populations without first validating there aren’t any differences between these two groups on those particulars.

    My pointing out the disproportionate lack of atheists in prisons wasn’t to claim they’re more good because of this trivial anecdote, I’m not making such a claim. Instead I was pointing to a piece of evidence that might suggest that and therefore create some skepticism that Ed’s bald assertion is true.

    Your pointing out my illustrative meant-to-be “splinter” while avoiding Ed’s “log” not only misses my argument; it has you doing so in spite of your making the exact same argument to my post that I was making against Ed.

    I too have respect for Ed, but I don’t think we should passively agree with all his generalizations. This is easily the worst thought-out blog post I’ve seen from Ed in a couple of years.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    So, you’re making a testable prediction. Your testable prediction is that if we take a random phone survey of the American public, and ask the following questions:

    1- Are you a Roman Catholic?

    2- Do you believe or accept as true that the Roman Catholic Church has a special connection to Jesus compared to other churches, or teachings which are closer to the teachings of Jesus compared to over churches?

    3- Do you believe or accept as true that the pope of the Roman Catholic Church has a special connection to Jesus compared to all other living people on Earth today, or that the pope’s teachings are closer to the teachings of Jesus compared to other living people on Earth today?

    Your position is that we should find a significant fraction of people who respond “yes” to 1 to also respond “no” to 2 and 3? Is that your actual position? It’s testable. I say there’s a good chance that this phone survey has already been done (or some equivalent survey).

    If your attacks sound ignorant and make you look like an idiot, then you better expect people to kick you to the curb and not take you seriously. If you really care about getting anythign DONE about crimes against humanity, then you need to take more time to make sure your attacks are less easily debunked by observation.

    I missed out on which step you think is wrong. Help me out and please say which positions you think are right, and which you think are wrong.

    It is right to condemn people who self identify as Nazis.

    It is right to condemn people who self identify as N.A.M.B.L.A. members.

    It is right to condemn people who self identify as Nazis and N.A.M.B.L.A. members because the behavior of self identification normalizes the practice in the culture of being members in those organizations, which enables those organizations to exist, which enables the organizations to continue to carry out crimes.

    The Roman Catholic Church is responsible for crimes against humanity. Not legally because it’s mostly free speech and political advocacy.

    It is right to condemn the Roman Catholic Church for its (non-legal) responsibility for crimes against humanity.

    The Roman Catholic Church could not continue to commit crimes against humanity if it did not have membership, because it would have no funding.

    It is right to condemn individual people who self identify as Catholics because they normalize the practice in our culture of being a member of the Roman Catholic Church and they normalize the practice of funding the Roman Catholic Church, which enables the Catholic Church to continue its crimes against humanity.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    It is right to condemn individual people who self identify as Catholics because they normalize the practice in our culture of being a member of the Roman Catholic Church and they normalize the practice of funding the Roman Catholic Church, which enables the Catholic Church to continue its crimes against humanity.

    First, it’s only right to condemn SOME Catholics — those who do more than merely self-identify. And second, it is necessary to understand that there will be many self-identified Catholics who would be happy to join a political campaign against RCC abuses, if that campaign wasn’t full of assholes who cared more about bashing them for their identity than observing and giving due respect to their specific actions.

    You need to remember that atheists are still a minority in most countries; and if they want to get anything done, they have to appeal to, and work with, non-atheists — and that means dumping the self-important blanket condemnations and appealing to shared interests. It also means you have to stop accusing people of “hypocrisy” whenever they show signs of having complex thoughts.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    First, it’s only right to condemn SOME Catholics — those who do more than merely self-identify.

    Do you make the same hedge for mere self-identified Nazis? I don’t see a meaningful difference that would make me adopt a different standard.

    if that campaign wasn’t full of assholes who cared more about bashing them for their identity than observing and giving due respect to their specific actions.

    And we’ve reached the end of the road. You are advocating belief in belief.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Belief_in_belief

    Whereas, I hold that identities, beliefs, cultures, deserve absolutely zero respect or consideration just because they’re somebody’s identities, beliefs, or culture. Good thinking, good reasoning, good justifications, good results – that’s what is worthy of respect. I am going to bash their identify, because their identify is based on false assertions about reality, and because their identity and social movement is responsible for crimes against humanity, and because the reasonable expectation is that their identify will always lead to social movements which cause crimes against humanity. Faith is inherently dangerous, and religion poisons everything.

    You need to remember that atheists are still a minority in most countries; and if they want to get anything done, they have to appeal to, and work with, non-atheists

    Do you understand that what you just wrote is not a disagreement about moral responsibility? What you just wrote is a disagreement about tactics. In effect, you’re saying that I’m too much of a firebrand, and I need to be more accommodationist. You realize this, yes?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Do you make the same hedge for mere self-identified Nazis? I don’t see a meaningful difference that would make me adopt a different standard.

    The difference is that Catholic doctrine contains quite a few good bits that Nazi doctrine does not, and that many Catholics adhere to those good bits and not the bad ones. I have no use for Catholic doctrine in general, but if you can’t see any “meaningful difference” between them and Nazis, then you really have no idea what you’re talking about, and all of your reasoning fails because it’s based on disgraceful ignorance and simplemindedness.

    (And would I make the same hedge for self-identified Nazis? Not sure about the Nazis, but something similar did help sink the KKK: lots of people who joined the Klan for purely social purposes ended up being a drag on the hardcore haters, who then had to bugger off to more extreme groups. That doesn’t justify the KKK’s existence, of course, but it does prove that identity is a more complex thing than you or Harris understand, and it doesn’t always deterministically lead to crimes against humanity.)

    You are advocating belief in belief.

    Read for comprehension, asshole. I never advocated anything of the sort. I merely advocate criticism that focuses on specific flaws and wrongdoings, rather than blanket condemnations of people for their identities.

    I am going to bash their identify, because their identify is based on false assertions about reality…

    Really? How do you know that about everyone who shares a religious label? I know plenty of people — Catholics, Pagans, Asatruar — whose identity really doesn’t seem all that tethered to any false assertions about reality, and who seem quite able to hold to their identity while admitting their folktales are nowhere near definitive literal truth. But you can’t bring yourself to admit this, because you’ve let the labels you apply to people control how you think about them. Once again, your reasoning fails because it leads to conclusions that conflict with observable reality. You really need to get outside your momma’s basement and face the fact that people are a lot more complex than you understand.

    (And speaking of false assertions about reality, you’ve made more of those on this thread alone than my Catholic father ever did. At least he had the guts to admit his beliefs were unproven. Glass houses, dipshit.)

    …and because the reasonable expectation is that their identify will always lead to social movements which cause crimes against humanity.

    Given that plenty of believers have OPPOSED such movements, sometimes at the expense of their lives, I’d say your “reasonable expectations” need a bit more work. “Reasonable” is not a synonym for “rationalizing my prejudices.”

    Do you understand that what you just wrote is not a disagreement about moral responsibility?

    Yes, it is. You are assigning moral responsibility based solely on labels, and I’m saying your reasoning is crap.

    What you just wrote is a disagreement about tactics. In effect, you’re saying that I’m too much of a firebrand, and I need to be more accommodationist.

    Ah yes, trot out that tired old “accommodationist” label to throw at anyone who tells you that you need to modify your arguments to acknowledge reality. No, moron, I’m saying you’re being too much of an IDIOT, and you should stop saying things that most people will immediately recognize as ignorant over-generalizations, and make a little more effort to know what you’re talking about before blaming people you know nothing about for events you don’t understand.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Also, EL, I’d like to remind you of the specific alternative critique I offered, which I’ll just re-paste here since you’re probably too lazy to scroll up to an earlier comment:

    Here’s a more sensible and useful alternative: let’s cultivate social disapproval of flawed and irrational religious thinking and specific evil acts enabled by such irrational thinking. That way, we’ll be able to get the more decent and sensible religious people (like my Catholic father and his parents, and like Malala Yousefsai and her parents) to support our goals, instead of recoiling from stupid blanket condemnations by sophists who think they know what all people believe just by the labels assigned to them.

    Please explain why this approach is wrong.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    The difference is that Catholic doctrine contains quite a few good bits that Nazi doctrine does not,

    My ass. Take off your faith goggles. I’m sure both provided community, friends, a social structure. Both also celebrate untold human misery and suffering. For the Nazis, the death and torture of Jews et al. For Catholics, the misery and suffering of everyone who goes to hell – and a lot of suffering in this life too, such as the miserable person that is Mother Teresa. See the work of Christopher Hitchens on this topic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Missionary_Position

    and that many Catholics adhere to those good bits and not the bad ones.

    Again, my ass. Take off your belief in belief goggles. Most Nazis didn’t personally kill Jews. Most Catholics don’t personally ensure the death of millions in Africa by interfering with distribution of condoms, lying about condoms, etc.

    I have no use for Catholic doctrine in general, but if you can’t see any “meaningful difference” between them and Nazis, then you really have no idea what you’re talking about, and all of your reasoning fails because it’s based on disgraceful ignorance and simplemindedness.

    Nazis today generally don’t kill people. That’s because as a culture we have moved on to the point where most people are not Nazis, and where the Catholic church does not have political power. Go back a few hundred years, and you find things like the Spanish inquisition. Even today, in the last few places where the Catholic church has some power, you can find them still responsible for massive crimes, including:

    – Running an international child rape racket and protection

    – Spreading lies about condoms, and interfering with the distribution of condoms, sharing a lot of responsibility for the misery, suffering, and deaths of millions of people.

    – Taking the bodies of millions of pregnant women and making them effective slaves by ensuring abortion is illegal in many countries.

    – Actually causing the death of many pregnant women with complications by their absolute stance against abortion.

    Currently, the Catholic church kills far more innocent people than any Nazi organization, probably by a factor of thousands, if not millions. The church’s kill count almost certainly exceeds the Nazi’s. The Catholic church is one of the biggest forces for evil in this world. You say that’s significantly offset because they provide the moral equivalent of a Sunday knitting club for their members? On behalf of the millions of people whose lives the church has destroyed, fuck you.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Currently, the Catholic church kills far more innocent people than any Nazi organization, probably by a factor of thousands, if not millions.

    A “factor of thousands” means the Church killed 6-12 BILLION people in twelve years; and a “factor of millions” means they killed 6-12 TRILLION people in twelve years. And that’s only counting the people killed in the death-camps. You really have no clue what you’re talking about, do you?

    Again, my ass. Take off your belief in belief goggles…

    I really don’t know how to explain this to you any more clearly: Your reasoning and conclusions contradict observable reality, in so many cases as to make it invalid and useless; therefore your reasoning, premises and conclusions need revision. Lots of revision. People are more complex and contradictory than you say we are, in both our thoughts and our actions; you can’t assign moral responsibility based only on identity-labels (that’s called “guilt by association,” and it’s something racists do); saying you have to get your facts and logic right is not “belief in belief;” and the London Underground is not a political movement.

    Oh, and you still have yet to explain why the approach I described, in bold above, is wrong.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The Catholic church is one of the biggest forces for evil in this world. You say that’s significantly offset because they provide the moral equivalent of a Sunday knitting club for their members?

    Quote where I said anything close to that, or admit you’re full of shit.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    A “factor of thousands” means the Church killed 6-12 BILLION people in twelve years; and a “factor of millions” means they killed 6-12 TRILLION people in twelve years. And that’s only counting the people killed in the death-camps. You really have no clue what you’re talking about, do you?

    In context, I meant recently. Sorry. In context, I meant that the church has killed millions in the last few decades. I doubt even thousands of deaths from actual Nazis organizations in the last few decades.

    The Catholic church is one of the biggest forces for evil in this world. You say that’s significantly offset because they provide the moral equivalent of a Sunday knitting club for their members?

    Quote where I said anything close to that, or admit you’re full of shit.

    See here:

    Do you make the same hedge for mere self-identified Nazis? I don’t see a meaningful difference that would make me adopt a different standard.

    The difference is that Catholic doctrine contains quite a few good bits that Nazi doctrine does not,

    People are more complex and contradictory than you say we are, in both our thoughts and our actions; you can’t assign moral responsibility based only on identity-labels (that’s called “guilt by association,” and it’s something racists do);

    It’s not guilt by mere association. It’s guilt by membership in a voluntary organization, and by funding that organization, which is well known to commit crimes against humanity. Huge difference. Racists attack a person’s race, something which is basically unalterable, and an accidental aspect of their person. I attack someone’s beliefs and declarations of allegiance, which is exactly what someone does when they say that they are Catholic.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Sorry, EL, the words you quoted are nowhere near the words you put in my mouth. So yeah, you’re full of shit. As always, your arguments fail because they’re based on relentless misrepresentation of what nearly everyone else says and believes.

    It’s not guilt by mere association. It’s guilt by membership in a voluntary organization…

    That’s guilt by association. Not that huge a difference at all.

    …and by funding that organization…

    Okay, that’s a valid measure of guilt — but it’s different for different members of the group, because not every member funds the group in the same way. There’s the people who unthinkingly give at every mass, and/or vote unthinkingly as their bishops or Pat Donohue tells them to; and there’s the people who stop giving when they hear about Church actions they consider wrong; and there’s people who give to specific charitable actions, but not to their parish. All of those people have different degrees of moral responsibility, based on their ACTIONS, not merely on their identity-labels.

    And mind you, we’re only talking here of one extreme example, the Catholic Church, which is far more hierarchically organized, on a global scale, than most other denominations (including Islam); and whose members thus have more organizational connection to fellow members doing things on the other side of the planet, than less-centralized denominations such as Lutherans, Baptists, or Muslims. When we try to apply your guilt-by-association reasoning to any group other than the RCC, it gets much more problematic, very fast.

    I attack someone’s beliefs and declarations of allegiance, which is exactly what someone does when they say that they are Catholic.

    Your attacks are no more justified than attacks on a person’s race, because they’re just as uninformed and simpleminded. And when your targets see through your bullshit sophistry, they will stop listening to you, and you will have lost yet another chance to bring decent-if-imperfect people to support a good common cause. Your “strategy” does no good to anyone but right-wing Christian bigots, by hindering all efforts to unite their diverse enemies against them.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oh, and guess what suggestion of mine you still neglected to address. Here’s a hint: I posted it TWICE, in bold the second time. Your failure to explain why your proposed approach is better than mine says a lot about you, your character, and your ideas.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Raging Bee

    That’s guilt by association. Not that huge a difference at all.

    Moral guilt (not legal guilt) by membership and vocal advocacy is not the same thing as guilt by association. Fundamentally different things.

    There is a fundamental difference between “I am a Nazi” and “I happened to live in Germany during 1940”. Saying “I am a Nazi” means “I support the Nazi organization and its goals, including the extermination of the Jews”. Saying “I am a Catholic” is saying “I hold (most of) the views of the Roman Catholic Church, and I support the organization”. I don’t condemn people for living in Italy or Rome. I condemn people for calling themself Catholic.

    And mind you, we’re only talking here of one extreme example, the Catholic Church, which is far more hierarchically organized, on a global scale, than most other denominations (including Islam);

    And that’s why I’ve been focusing on Catholics specifically. You write as though I have been talking about Christians in general or something.

    Your “strategy” does no good to anyone but right-wing Christian bigots, by hindering all efforts to unite their diverse enemies against them.

    Again, you are being confusing. Could you please be clear when you are making a point about a disagreement over tactics, and when you are arguing that I am actually wrong on moral responsibility? It’s often hard to understand what you mean.

    Oh, and guess what suggestion of mine you still neglected to address. Here’s a hint: I posted it TWICE, in bold the second time.

    I did respond, several times. Apparently you just don’t like the answer. Here it is again:

    Here’s a more sensible and useful alternative: let’s cultivate social disapproval of flawed and irrational religious thinking and specific evil acts enabled by such irrational thinking.

    All religious thinking is flawed and irrational. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called “religious”. All religious thinking leads to evil acts. Faith, dogma, are inherently dangerous and toxic.

    That way, we’ll be able to get the more decent and sensible religious people (like my Catholic father and his parents, and like Malala Yousefsai and her parents) to support our goals,

    You and I have different goals. I want to eradicate faith and dogma because such thing are inherently dangerous and toxic. You want to treat the symptoms of faith and dogma with band-aids without addressing the underlying cause. I want to fix the actual problem.

    I don’t want to get accidental allies, which is what your Catholic father is. It’s a mere accident that he happens to align on some goals, that his faith happens to allow him to align with my goals of making the world a better place on specific issues. He might happen to be able to support me on goal X, but he will later oppose me on other goal Y because of its irrational religious belief.

    The biggest underlying cause of evil in the world is faith, dogma, and religion in all of its forms. If we want to make the world a better place, it seems like the best place to start.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Could you please be clear when you are making a point about a disagreement over tactics, and when you are arguing that I am actually wrong on moral responsibility?

    I’m doing both: I’m showing that your arguments about moral responsibility are crap, AND I’m saying that pushing crap arguments that anyone can see through in an instant is a stupid and counterproductive tactic.

    I want to eradicate faith and dogma because such thing are inherently dangerous and toxic. You want to treat the symptoms of faith and dogma with band-aids without addressing the underlying cause. I want to fix the actual problem.

    Your goal is simply unattainable in the foreseeable future. And in the meantime, there are other things that really need to be done, things that ARE attainable if we get our heads out of the clouds, start caring about real people instead of just labeling them, and focus on more specific problems. Your insistence on perfecting human nature according to a utopian ideal, while refusing to engage with real people to solve real problems in the real world, is the mark of an uncaring escapist looking for excuses to avoid any responsibility toward real fellow humans. You’re no better than the Communist ideologues of the last century, who wanted to remake humans according to unrealistic ideals while having nothing to offer real people.

    I don’t want to get accidental allies, which is what your Catholic father is. It’s a mere accident that he happens to align on some goals, that his faith happens to allow him to align with my goals of making the world a better place on specific issues. He might happen to be able to support me on goal X, but he will later oppose me on other goal Y because of its irrational religious belief.

    You say that about someone of whom you know absolutely nothing, except for ONE of the many labels he wore in his life? This just proves that beneath all your new-atheist sophistry, you’re just another ignorant self-righteous uncaring bigot.

    You don’t want allies? That’s fine — we don’t want you either.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Your goal is simply unattainable in the foreseeable future.

    With an attitude like that you are right that we’ll never get there.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oh, so it’s MY fault your bigoted bullshit crusade won’t succeed? Lemme guess…it’s Obama’s fault we’re not succeeding in Iraq too, right?

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Also:

    You say that about someone of whom you know absolutely nothing, except for ONE of the many labels he wore in his life? This just proves that beneath all your new-atheist sophistry, you’re just another ignorant self-righteous uncaring bigot.

    No. That one label tells me all I need to know. It tells me that he is not ready to fight against faith, dogma, and bad thinking, which is precisely the fight that I want to engage in.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Oh, so it’s MY fault your bigoted bullshit crusade won’t succeed? Lemme guess…it’s Obama’s fault we’re not succeeding in Iraq too, right?

    I fail to see what Republican talking points have to do with anything, considering that we both loathe Republicans. Right?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    That one label tells me all I need to know. It tells me that he is not ready to fight against faith, dogma, and bad thinking…

    I know, from actually knowing the guy and observing his words and actions, that you are dead wrong again. And anyone else who knew him, Catholic or not, would reach the same conclusion. Do you really not understand that you cannot judge the whole of a person solely by one label?

    Once again, your logic and reasoning leads to conclusions that are flatly contradicted by observable reality, because it is totally disconnected from reality and not sufficiently (or even slightly) informed by relevant facts. This is what bigotry is, this is what bigotry does.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I fail to see what Republican talking points have to do with anything…

    That’s because you fail to see that you’re doing the same thing Republicans do: blaming their critics for their own failures.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    I know, from actually knowing the guy and observing his words and actions, that you are dead wrong again. And anyone else who knew him, Catholic or not, would reach the same conclusion. Do you really not understand that you cannot judge the whole of a person solely by one label?

    So, you’re saying your father actually isn’t a Catholic, e.g. doesn’t have any religious beliefs, but he just happens to call himself a Catholic? Is he willing to issue minor and mild condemnations of religious people with unsubstantiated religious beliefs? I would think no.

    Serendipitously, these two threads happened. I think you should read the threads, and especially my replies, to get a better understanding of where I’m coming from.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/heinous/2015/02/18/judging/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/02/the-demarcation-problem/

    Also this post where I clarify my position to someone else:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2015/02/09/open-thread-for-aetv-904-russell-and-lynnea/#comment-600306

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Hmm… 3 links hit moderation. I didn’t notice. And it’s still not approved. Reposting.

    I know, from actually knowing the guy and observing his words and actions, that you are dead wrong again. And anyone else who knew him, Catholic or not, would reach the same conclusion. Do you really not understand that you cannot judge the whole of a person solely by one label?

    So, you’re saying your father actually isn’t a Catholic, e.g. doesn’t have any religious beliefs, but he just happens to call himself a Catholic? Is he willing to issue minor and mild condemnations of religious people with unsubstantiated religious beliefs? I would think no.

    Serendipitously, these two threads happened. I think you should read the threads, and especially my replies, to get a better understanding of where I’m coming from.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/heinous/2015/02/18/judging/

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2015/02/the-demarcation-problem/

  • EnlightenmentLiberal