Bill Maher on the Absurdity of Religion

Bill Maher was on Larry King Live last night. Of course, religion was a topic of discussion.

Some of the transcript:

KING: Mitt Romney — can a Mormon be elected?

MAHER: Well, I don’t think so, actually, because Americans take their faith very seriously, which is so silly and ironic, because one set of preposterous, ridiculous religious beliefs makes no more sense than the next. But, of course, since most people don’t subscribe to the Mormon faith, they are a little suspicious of a guy who believes in something called celestial marriage, which means that if you’re very good to your wife while you are married here on Earth, when you die, you and your wife get to rule over an entire planet, Larry.

You know, somebody once gave me a little certificate that says, you know, they can name a star after you.

KING: Yes.

MAHER: But in the Mormon religion, they actually give you the planet, not just a certificate, but the actual planet.

Maher also discussed his upcoming documentary tentatively titled The Absurdity of Religion (though I do like the title Religulous…):

KING: Not bad. OK. Tell us about the upcoming documentary on religion. Does it have a title, because you once said religion is stupid. That’s not the title, is it? MAHER: No, no, I was kidding. I think the title is requesting to be “Religulous.”

KING: “Religulous.”

MAHER: That’s ridiculous.

KING: “Borat” guy director.

MAHER: That’s right. Larry Charles, the brilliant Larry Charles who directed “Borat,” he’s the director.

KING: What’s the concept? When does it come out?

MAHER: It should come out at Easter. I would like it out as soon as the time people are celebrating the space man’s flying up to heaven.

KING: (inaudible)

MAHER: Oh yes. Absolutely. Lion’s Gate is releasing it. I think it’s going to unleash a great torrent of energy in support of this proposition.

KING: This is the atheist view of religion.

MAHER: Well, yes. It’s certainly the doubter’s view. How much of an atheist a person is, even I, who I’m not a believer, say, look I can’t know. My main proposition is I don’t know, and, therefore, if some other human being tells me or anybody else what happens when you die, my answer to them I don’t know what happens when you die so how do you know? The answer is you don’t know, so to purport to present yourself as someone who can tell in such great detail, and the detail is amazing, isn’t it, about what happens when you die you?

We have to get away from a system of faith. Mitt Romney always says we need a person of faith in the White House. They all would say the same thing who are running for president. No, we need a person of doubt in the White House. Stop with the faith and start with the doubt.

KING: Where do you — give me what I will see. Do you talk to religious leaders?

MAHER: Oh, we talk to everybody. We went everywhere. We went to every place where there’s religion. We went to Vatican City and we went to Jerusalem and we went to Salt Lake City and, you know, I think I’ve insulted everybody, you know. It’s across the board, and we got amazing access. I mean, we were …

KING: Really?

MAHER: We were at the dome — we were standing right next to the rock, the Dome of the Rock where Mohammed flew up to heaven. We were — we were in that mosque, places they never filmed before. The Wailing Wall you’re not allowed to have cameras, inside the Vatican. We just found out that even though the sign says you’re not allowed to enter here there’s so many tourists with cameras and such and nowadays when you make a documentary like this it’s kind of guerrilla shooting. You don’t need a big crew. You just pretend you’re tourists and you’re shooting and then can you make a movie.

KING: Is this like Michael Moore in a sense?

MAHER: I would never compare myself to Michael more because, first of all, he’s a genius. He does what he does incredibly well, but I think …

KING: This isn’t that type?

MAHER: This is — You know, I hope that people laugh — we’ve shown 10 minutes. That’s all we have so far. We’re still cutting it together. But the 10 minutes that we’ve shown I’ve seen it shown to audiences twice. They laugh so hard because the topic of religion is just so inherently funny. I mean, politicians are funny because they promise things that they can never deliver on, and the gap between what they promise and what they deliver is great fodder for humor, as people from Mark Twain up into our own day have demonstrated but what religious people have promised, your own planet, come on, that’s a little beyond Social Security.

Father Jonathan Morris had a response to Bill. I’m not sure where he received the information that Maher says certain things in his movie, but there’s no doubt many Christians believe the very things Morris claims they don’t. And in the process, Morris is just providing more fodder to Maher.

If Christianity really taught that God took out a pen, wrote a book for us, called it the Bible and dropped it from the clouds, I too would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that. As history shows, human beings wrote the Bible and, according to Christian belief, their writing was divinely inspired.

So God didn’t write it. God just told other people to write it. Using His words.

If Maher wants to address the absurdities of religion, let him. And if there are Christians out there who would like to point out that the “crazy” beliefs aren’t representative of true Christianity, let them do it, too. I would imagine the latter group has much more of an uphill battle.

(Thanks to Infidel Joe for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Bill Maher, Larry King Live, Mitt Romney, Mormon, The Absurdity of Religion, Religulous, Larry Charles, Borat, Easter, Jesus, Lion’s Gate, Michael Moore, Father Jonathan Morris, Bible[/tags]

  • PrimateIR

    From the Article, Father Jonathan

    I suspect we would make perfect business partners — a publicist’s dream team. My work as an adviser on the set of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” my role as an analyst for the FOX News Channel, and the fact my home and workplace is a stones throw from the Vatican might partially offset Mr. Maher’s reputation as being somewhat bias toward things religious.

    I guess Father Jonathan could give us all a lesson in the fine art of name dropping. Later on the Padre says

    If Christianity really taught that God created cancer, child abusers and earthquakes to torture his own children, I too would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that. The evil in this world is not willed by God.

    So Christians don’t believe that God is omnipotent and omnipresent? That’s big news indeed! That’s larger than the movie if you ask me.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    So Father Morris thinks divine dictation is ever so much more reasonable than the laughable concept that God writes things longhand. (Now if he had mentioned a word processor….)

    In the spirit of Father Morris’ laughable rebuttal (“Nobody’s ever proven Christianity wrong”…therefore TRUE!):

    As history shows, human beings wrote the Bible and, according to Atheist belief, humans are frequently fallible, especially when it comes to things that nobody can prove.

  • http://www.kellanstec.com Kellan

    Maher is one of my heroes. My favorite quote:

    “I believe in goodness for goodness’ sake, not because you’re getting some reward in the afterlife. If you’re being good for an award, then what sort of person are you anyway?”– Bill Maher

  • Richard Wade

    So Father Morris thinks divine dictation is ever so much more reasonable than the laughable concept that God writes things longhand.

    God: (big, echoing voice) “Okay, we finally got you your parchment, your reed pens, ink and a table. Are you ready?”
    Prophet: “Uh, yeah, I guess. It’s still weird taking dictation from a voice out of nowhere.”
    God: “We’ve been over that. I’m too much for you, you’d freak out.”
    Prophet: “Yeah, okay. Alright, I’m ready.”
    God: “In the beginning God created the heaven and—“
    Prophet: “Wait, not so fast. In…the…be…gin…ing…”
    God: “You spelled ‘beginning’ wrong. It has two n’s.”
    Prophet: “Really? Why? Oh, sorry, never mind. Okay I squeezed the ‘n’ in there. Hope neatness doesn’t count.”
    God: “That’s okay, nobody’s perfect. Now continue with, God…created…the—“
    Prophet: “Uh, excuse me, are there going to be pictures in this book? I can’t draw to save my life.”
    God: (sigh) “No, no pictures.”
    Prophet: “Oh good. Okay let’s keep going.”
    God: “God…created…the…heaven…and…the…earth—“
    Prophet: “Uh, question?”
    God: “Jesus Christ, what now!?”
    Prophet: “Who?”
    God: “Never mind, that’s later. What’s your question? This is gonna take forever.”
    Prophet: “Well you seem to be dictating this in the third person. It sounds like I’m the one telling the story rather than you. Wouldn’t it make more sense if you dictated it in the first person? You know, like ‘In the beginning I created the heaven and the earth,’ and so on, then people would be more likely to believe it’s really your own words.”
    God: …………………
    Prophet: “Hello?”
    God: “I’m thinking, dammit.”
    Prophet: “Sorry.”
    God: “I’m gonna do this myself and I’ll drop it out of the sky for somebody else I have in mind when I’m finished. I’ll take the parchment and the pens and the ink. Thanks anyway.”
    Prophet: “Wow, they disappeared. Freaky. Uh, can I keep the table? I could get more parchment and start my own scribe business.”
    God: (distant roll of thunder)
    Prophet: “whoa.”

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Dear god,
    Dont know if you noticed,
    But your name is on a lot of quotes in this book.
    Us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look,
    And all the people that you made in your image,
    Still believing that junk is true.
    Well I know it aint and so do you…

  • Vincent

    The problem here is that Father Jonathan is a Catholic and he’s referring to Catholic beliefs when he says what christians believe.
    He apparently lives in Italy too, which would put him a bit out of touch with American fundamentalism.
    What he said is true about Catholics, and as a former Catholic I share his frustration. Nearly every atheist I meet who used to be Christian was put off by things like the inconsistencies in the supposedly inerrant bible.
    Well, as a Catholic I wasn’t taught the bible was inerrant in the first place. Catholics admit it’s all kinds of screwed up. That doesn’t mean it’s not divinely inspired, just that it came through the flawed medium of humans and is therefore itself flawed.
    But to say “christians don’t believe x” is just as untrue, since many christians believe a lot of things Catholics don’t, and many Catholics believe things the Vatican doesn’t actually teach.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Oh, my. Bill Maher, Larry King and the kind of Catholic priest that CNN gets on to represent religion. We’re really talking quality here, aren’t we.

    I’d really love to see what would happen if blog atheism tried to take on real, sophisticated religious thinking. As it is we get about the same level of discourse that you get when James Randi takes on the creme of tabloid psychics, dishonesty all around. Not something that is a surprise to anyone who has been observing commercial atheism for the past thirty years.

    Vincent gets a lot closer to the actual situation than the post does because there is no such thing as “CHRISTIANITY”. The beliefs and practices of people calling themselves “Christians” is extremely varied from the most absurd biblical fundamentalism to those who look on the collection as a motivation to thinking for yourself to those who think it’s largely primitive myth with a bit of actual inspiration. But commercial, pop atheism isn’t about the reality, it’s a commentary on a cartoon, full of sound and fury, just an alternative form of bigotry.

    If Maher is on the band wagon, the fad has peaked, the commercial opportunities in the future might be there but my guess is that it will be more on the level of Prometheus press, the Regnery of materialist fundamentalism, than it will be of MTV.

  • http://web.mac.com/zenner41/ JonJ

    Olvizi,

    Religious Americans are proud of the fact that more than 80% of Americans poll as Christian; I guess that’s supposed to be some sort of evidence that “Christianity is true.”

    But what percentage of American Christians are represented by your “sophisticated religious thinking”? I would guess that it’s a very distinct minority. What Maher and the other “militant” atheists/agnostics are arguing against these days is the kind of religion that the great majority of Americans believe, and they’re doing it precisely because it’s a political threat to the kind of politics they stand for, as proven by the influence the religious right has had in the last number of years. The additional fact that religion is untrue (even in its “sophisticated” forms) is something that philosophers, mostly, are interested in.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I’d really love to see what would happen if blog atheism tried to take on real, sophisticated religious thinking.

    Oh my, the same old lame, tired critique of The God Delusion repackaged. Well, I’ve been reading Hitchens’s book, God is Not Great, and he certainly addresses “sophisticated” religious thinking in detail and quite successfully shows that it is not at all sophisticated after all.

  • severalspeciesof

    To olvlzl, no ism, no ist,

    I must disagree when you claim that:

    there is no such thing as “CHRISTIANITY”

    because you then go on to define, very aptly, the very thing you say doesn’t exist:

    The beliefs and practices of people calling themselves “Christians” is extremely varied from the….

    Christianity encompasses all, if not most of the very items/beliefs you mention. That’s why it’s so difficult for the atheist to even grant a debate with the Christian. One doesn’t know which Christian is going to pop up. It’s like “whack a mole”. And what exactly is “real, sophisticated religious thinking”? If the foundation of the thinking (a personal God exists) is fraught with unreliability (personal revelation) then there is no need to debate the “sophistication”. No need to argue about what has been placed on top of the table if the legs of the table won’t keep whatever is on top, on top!

  • Vincent

    Basically Father Jonathan is making an elaborate “no true scottsman” fallacy.

  • PrimateIR

    Richard, your scripts make me think of Fafblog. Did you ever read his entry “Great Moments in History, 4000 B.C.: God Hides the Dinosaur Bones”

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Writerdd, the reason you heard that charge against “The God Delusion” is because it is true. Dawkins demonstrated that his knowledge of the subject of religion is superficial and geared towards that which is easliy disposed of. You might not care that the new splash of pop-atheism is based on shallow research and thinking but it doesn’t change that fact. If your assertion is that Hitchens amidst his frothing venom is a better researcher than Dawkins, it doesn’t speak well for the most prominent thinker in the group. Actually, most of Hitchens is glister that only imitates gold.

    Severalspeciesof, actually what you point to isn’t an excuse for lumping an enormous diversity of thinking into one cartoon and laughing at it. I’ve had a lot of criticism to aim at atheists but I always distinguish between the bigoted, superficial snobs and serious and good-natured atheists. The latter don’t seem to frequent atheist blogs much, maybe they find the topic boring when addressed at such a juvenile level. I’d suspected that someone might realize that diversity within a group is a requirement to avoid stereotyping not an invitation to indulge your inner child in that way.

  • PrimateIR

    Dawkins demonstrated that his knowledge of the subject of religion is superficial

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist – one specific example. just one.

  • http://joshuamcharles.com Josh Charles

    Is there footage from Maher’s upcoming video available anywhere?

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Dawkins demonstrated that his knowledge of the subject of religion is superficial and geared towards that which is easliy disposed of.

    If you’d bother to read The God Delusion, you’d see that Dawkins had no intention of addressing “sophisticated” theology because he thinks all theology is bullox based on its pressuposition for the existence of God. He addressed the popular religious beliefs that are running rampant in America (and many other places) with substance and style.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    writerdd, you point out that the book confirms my point that Dawkins addressed only unsophisticated thinking on religion, after you complained about my pointing out the fact that was what he had done and then you accuse me of not knowing what was in the book. Is this what passes for logic around here?

    PrimateIR, you ask for one, I’ll give you two. For someone who is supposed to have once been a scientist his assertions of applying probability to the question of the existence of God was pretty stunningly superficial, both in terms of theological concepts (just the assertion that God is supernatural would put him beyond the reach of any type of mathematics, which are a part of the physical universe) and especially in terms of science. Considering the scorn he heaped on those who tried to use Bayesian probability ideas to prove the existence of God, it’s hypocritical as well.

    His idea of the necessity of an “evolved God” was one of the more stunningly stupid things I’ve read from an alleged scientist. The idea of an evolved God is in no way necessary or even logical. It is entirely self-serving and totally silly. I have accused Dennett of being an echo of Dawkins but in this case it was a reverse echo of Dennetts totally wigged out idea that natural selection was responsible for every aspect of the physical universe.

    I could add that the 747 bit is nothing I’ve ever heard even a relatively unsophisticated religious person promote. I will point out that the original argument has a lot in common with the “evolved God” idea that Dawkins clings to.

    I don’t expect that you will bother to understand either example but I’m hardly the only one who has pointed them out. I expect to hear the same old lines Dawkins and his friends have cribbed from better atheists of the past parroted back at me.

  • Darryl

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist, there you go again . . .

    Any atheism is good atheism. Who are you to judge anyone’s reasons for being atheist? Writerdd is correct: Dawkins refuses to do what theologians require, that is, to cede the ground of argument to them by engaging them on their terms and with their definitions. Theologians are expert at confusing any issue and complicating ideas as a way to obscure the fact that what they’re saying is a pile of bullshit. About the time they think you’re getting too close for comfort–you’ve discovered the flaws in their arguments–they re-parse their categories or add another layer of interpretation onto their doctrines and away we go again.

    If you’re not happy with the polemical approach that Dawkins and Hitchens take, then try the Daniel Dennett approach wherein he gradually dissolves away the rock of faith by the gradual and effortless work of the river of simple examination.

  • Darryl

    Whether or not it is advisable to consider the probability of a supreme being, one thing is clear: Dawkins exemplifies the approach that humans ought to take to knowing; that is, they ought to use the best methods of research rather than trust in blind faith in myths and legends from a pre-modern age.

  • Vincent

    How did a blog about Bill Maher and a Catholic Apologist become an argument about Dawkins’ “the God Delusion”?

    olv…
    I agree the evolved god is not a good argument, though it’s not as stupid as you describe. Based on observation we determine that things start out simple and become more complex. God being the most complex thing would have started out simpler.

    I could add that the 747 bit is nothing I’ve ever heard even a relatively unsophisticated religious person promote.

    I have. Not only that, but it’s just an extension of the watchmaker analogy christians have stood behind.

    As to his probability argument, please explain why it is superficial?
    And in doing so, please explain why probability used to argue FOR the existence is not superficial.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Darryl, I have never judged anyones personal reasons for being an atheist. You can believe whatever you want or to come up with something honest like “I just don’t believe it”.

    However, if you exert tripe, which is what Dawkins and his acolytes here have done, and pretend that it is a rational argument you are asking for someone to point out its shortcomings.

    Probability is a branch of mathematics. Mathematics is a part of the physical universe, I defy any of you materialists or true believers of scientism here to deny that fact. You would have to admit that there is something outside the physical universe if you did. As a part of the physical universe it would have no known applicability in any proposed supernatural entity. There is simply no logical means to apply any type of mathematics to anything outside of the physical universe. To apply it to a God who is said by those who believe in it to be “all powerful” “eternal” and “everlasting” as if something that was “all powerful” etc. would be bound by its strictures is pretty stunningly stupid for someone who holds an Oxford chair “For the Public Understanding of Science”. I have seen very little evidence that Dawkins, the author of explanatory myths, the inventor of “memes” the expert in the probability of the supernatural, understands science himself.

  • Vincent

    So are you saying god lies outside the physical universe and has no effect on the physical universe? Certainly you cannot measure the probability of something that has no connection whatsoever to the physical universe.

    Once god crosses the line to affecting the universe, his actions become measurable and thus testable under probability.

    If god never crosses that line, then is he really god?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Vincent, the assertion that the fact of biological evolution would necessitate the evolution of a supernatural creator, with the assertion that a simpler creator couldn’t be responsible for the creation of more evolved forms of life is just silly. How can anyone know?

    If life hadn’t ever arisen in the physical universe, with its amazingly complex arrays of physical objects from subnuclear particles to the enormous structures that might exist in the galactic clusters, with its multi-dimensional structures, just beginning to be studied, the yet to be understood properties of some of its basic forces and vectors, is plenty complex. But notice the idea of a “supernatural creator”. All of evolution, all of physics all of the ever shifting explanations of cosmology are part of humans experience of the natural universe. There is no way to apply the ideas of the relatively young science of biological evolution to a supernatural creator. Evolution happened in the physical universe, the science of evolution is a human artifact. To apply the human science of evolution to things so clearly unrelated to it is anthropomorphizing of the most presumptuous kind. The arguments from design, which are no part of science, are more coherent.

    Dawkins, who ridicules the idea that human beings are a special part of creation (rightly, though I would be more polite about it) is asserting exactly the same kind of special place for “more evolved” species that biblical fundamentalists do for humans. With these materialist fundamentalists the ironies come thick and fast.

    How does he know that God didn’t create it all for the benefit of some “simpler” Devonian creature that became extinct? Maybe we’re just the ill considered after glow of the special insight given to that favored species of “primitive” life. It might explain something, though I don’t know what. But, then, maybe we lowly humans are not supposed to.

  • Darryl

    Probability is a branch of mathematics. Mathematics is a part of the physical universe, I defy any of you materialists or true believers of scientism here to deny that fact. You would have to admit that there is something outside the physical universe if you did. As a part of the physical universe it would have no known applicability in any proposed supernatural entity. There is simply no logical means to apply any type of mathematics to anything outside of the physical universe. To apply it to a God who is said by those who believe in it to be “all powerful” “eternal” and “everlasting” as if something that was “all powerful” etc. would be bound by its strictures is pretty stunningly stupid for someone who holds an Oxford chair “For the Public Understanding of Science”. I have seen very little evidence that Dawkins, the author of explanatory myths, the inventor of “memes” the expert in the probability of the supernatural, understands science himself.

    This statement shows your deficiency in knowledge of science, philosophy, and just plain ol’ reasoning. I doubt very much that you have the expertise to judge the academic standing of someone like professor Dawkins. You’re pulling this stuff out of your ass, aren’t you? Why don’t you do yourself and us all a favor and limit your contributions to things you actually understand. Your slights against Dawkins are uncalled for and stupid.

    Would some of you science/math people out there add some perspective here? Miko, where are you?

  • HappyNat

    How did a blog about Bill Maher and a Catholic Apologist become an argument about Dawkins’ “the God Delusion”?

    Vincent,

    Welcome to “Comments with Olive” . . . . everything comes back to Dawkins/Hitchens/”blog atheists” being wrong, self centered and stupid. A post on toadstools could get a 500 hundred word response about how memes are crap from Mr Olive.

  • Jen

    I’d really love to see what would happen if blog atheism tried to take on real, sophisticated religious thinking.

    Point us in the direction of this thinking, then.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    This statement shows your deficiency in knowledge of science, philosophy, and just plain ol’ reasoning.

    Darryl, please enlighten me. Anyone? What did I say that was untrue? Do you mean that you know proofs that will allow the extension of mathematics into the realm of the supernatural? That will show how the “all powerful” can be bounded within human mathematics? Publish. Please, publish and make your name for all time. It would be a feat of the most extraordinary magnitude that you would become one of the immortals. Uh, sorry. It’s a turn of phrase.

    Jen, Oh, I think it was J. Allen Orr who suggested Dawkins could have addressed William James and Ludwig Wittgenstein. I’d add Teilhard de Chardin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and we haven’t even gotten off the beaten track yet.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Well, do get off the Dawkins topic, I like Bill Maher and I can’t wait to see his film. I’m sure it will be funny and offensive.

  • PrimateIR

    writerdd, I heard it was coming out around Easter. I am anxious as well.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    writerdd, I hate to have to point it out but you are the one who introduced Dawkins into the conversation at 9:23 am. All I did was answer you.

  • Darryl

    HappyNat, you have it right.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Am I the only one who thinks olvlzl, no ism, no ist is a troll? Oy.

  • PrimateIR

    writerdd. olvlzl is our Buddha. He’s here to help us to reflect on our attachment to our ideas and to remind us of the negative consequences of not having a sense of humor.

    In other words, yes, he’s a Troll.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    writerdd, I thought everything in atheism was all about rigorous reasoning and upholding the best traditions of scientific reasoning. But that was just the story and it’s all about all saying the same thing and agreeing with whoever happens to have an anti-religion hate book on the best seller’s list.

    You know, I read the atheist blogs and try to knock a few particles against them for a reason, to see what’s really there. Now I know. It’s not about reasoning and science, just the pretense of reasoning and science.

    If you didn’t like me to point out what you did at 9:23 yesterday you shouldn’t have mentioned it.

  • Karen

    You know, I read the atheist blogs and try to knock a few particles against them for a reason, to see what’s really there. Now I know.

    So now you know. We’re all a bunch of shallow, shifty pretenders who hate god and are heading to hell right along with the triumvirate of evil, D,D & H plus the whole pseudo-sci or CICOP or whatever the cabal is that has your knickers in five-way knots.

    I’d say your mission here is accomplished, no? (waves bye-bye)

  • severalspeciesof

    To olvlzl:

    Severalspeciesof, actually what you point to isn’t an excuse for lumping an enormous diversity of thinking into one cartoon and laughing at it.

    I find it almost impossibile not to, though I agree with you. Like I’ve said before, it seems to me that many atheists look at theism, with it’s many, many variants, and see the variants as “moles” in the “whack-a-mole” game at carnivals. It’s hard not to stand back a see the game as absurd, yet want to go ahead and whack away. Most atheists don’t whack away, but those that do, I think do see it as a “cartoon” (game) to be shown to all, the absurdity of it all. Apparently, you seem to say (sorry to put words in your mouth):
    “Hey, its unfair that you’re calling this out as a game! I take this very seriously you know! How dare you! Look at all those moles you haven’t whack at yet. And Hey! you’re not even thinking about the various ways to use the hammer that’s been given to you. In fact you’re using the wrong hammer, it can’t possibly work to attack all those moles! And there’s another hammer that can only be seen by a few select people. Plus there’s a whole bunch of moles out there that you can’t see, and since you can’t see them your hammer is useless against them!”
    That above statement is indeed a cartoon, it’s unsophisticated but it rings true to me. And as far as mathematics go. I’ve always thought of math as a descriptor, not an entity.
    And just one more bit of fun, or another way to look at all this: This is indeed the story of the ‘Emperor has no clothes’, with the idea of ‘supernaturalism’ being the clothes, let’s call them ‘super-clothes’. The emperor looks like he has no clothes on because the clothes he ‘s wearing are ‘super-clothes’. They’re not like any other clothes out there, that’s why they’re ‘super-clothes’. And the definition of ‘super-clothes’ is ‘that which is not like clothes in any way’ So of course we can’t prove that he isn’t wearing ‘super-clothes’ because we’ve effectively defined it out of the possibilty of proving he has ‘super-clothes’. But one thing we can say for sure: we cannot possibly have any idea of what the ‘super-clothes’ are like, so effectively, they’re moot. It’s all just mere assertion from here.

  • PrimateIR

    severalspeciesof, I love the whack a mole analogy! I’m stealing it.

  • Vincent

    But one thing we can say for sure: we cannot possibly have any idea of what the ’super-clothes’ are like, so effectively, they’re moot. It’s all just mere assertion from here.

    And that’s basically what I was trying to say above about is a god who can’t be sensed because he’s not part of the universe really god.
    If super-clothes cannot warm you or protect your modesty, are they really clothes?

  • severalspeciesof

    Thanks PrimateIR and Vincent.

    Now I’m waiting for the new mole to pop up. Hmmm, what hammer to use next.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Karen, I was originally interested due to attacks made against me by some of the more charming blog atheists, distorting and lying about things I’d written. The attacks continue and so I decided to wade into the mire and see what it was made of. I’d managed to ignore it before then.

    I have found several interesting things, none moreso than the widespread immunity to really rigorous thinking on the subject. That wouldn’t be remarkable except that the general belief among neo-atheists is that they are the true owners and repository of reason and science when they are really not much different from the general population, just more arrogant. I haven’t found many who can deal with the fact that science has its limits and to ignore those isn’t science, it’s the superstition of scientism.

    I’ve also been interested to find that despite the general cynicism and nastiness of participants, so many have remarkably thin skins for themselves and for the heros of neo-atheism.

    Such a movement is not going to go far, for which I’d imagine more than a few atheists as well as religious believers are grateful. In the meantime, just as the Greens greatest success has been in putting George Bush in the Whitehouse, atheist fundamentalism will strengthen the anti-evolutionary side. While that is unfortunate, I agree with Michael Ruse that it is already happening.

  • severalspeciesof

    To Olvlzl:

    Yes. science has its’ limits, but the supernatural by definition is OFF-LIMITS, meaning any talk about supernaturalism is moot, mere assertions, VOID OF DESCRIPTION (which science deals with and communication uses). Hence any understanding of the supernatural is always going to be essentially meaningless, therefore unworthy of serious thought.

    I’ve gotta go, my unsophistication is getting the better of me.

  • Vincent

    science has its limits and to ignore those isn’t science, it’s the superstition of scientism.

    No, it’s science. That is to say, being aware of the limits and ignoring what’s outside them is science.

    What you say is akin to saying it’s folly while studying 16th century Russian literature to ignore the reproductive cycle of certain Central American cactus species.
    The two do not affect each other.
    If science is the study of that which can be perceived, then it’s science to ignore that which cannot be perceived. But if it can be (anything that has some effect on the universe) then it can be the subject of scientific study.

  • miller

    Re: the whack-a-mole analogy…

    I disagree with this analogy. It is entirely valid to claim that one believes in a different sort of God than the one atheists usually debunk. It is similar to claiming that atheists are commiting a strawman fallacy. On the other hand, it is not, strictly speaking, a strawman, since there are indeed people who hold such views. It is true that no one has time to argue against every single little variation of theism, but simply pointing this out cannot substitute for the arguments you don’t have time to make.

  • dignan

    This conversation has drifted way off into the “is there a God” topic, whereas Maher generally makes fun of particular religions. Whether there’s a God is an extremely complex topic. Whether the beliefs of Mormonism, Christianity, Islam, or Judaism are true is not so hard: they are as silly as the homeless guy down the street who says that aliens control Oprah Winfrey.

  • PrimateIR

    Miller

    It is entirely valid to claim that one believes in a different sort of God than the one atheists usually debunk.

    It is never valid for an adult to have an invisible friend. Never.

    It just happens that if you name your invisible friend “God” instead of “Harry,” you are permitted to walk freely.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Miller said:

    I disagree with this analogy. It is entirely valid to claim that one believes in a different sort of God than the one atheists usually debunk.

    Do you mean like John Shelby Spong who claims to be a non-theist Christian? I think Karen Armstrong and Chris Hedges fall into the same category, in that they believe in something they call God that does not resemble the God described in the Bible, the Koran, or in most other religions, at all.

    I like and agree with a lot of what Spong has to say, and if he believes in the same kind of god as Einstein (as discussed in The God Delusion), then I have no beef with that belief, and as far as I know, neither do any other atheists including the famous author types.

    The problem is that the language has been coopted by the religious nuts and the word God has a certain meaning that is accepted by most people superficially. People who believe in something else that does not match the common meaning of the word should try to find some other name for what they believe in so that they are understood in general conversation.

  • Karen

    Karen, I was originally interested due to attacks made against me by some of the more charming blog atheists, distorting and lying about things I’d written. The attacks continue and so I decided to wade into the mire and see what it was made of. I’d managed to ignore it before then.

    Yes, I get that in spades.

    The thing is, you’ve made your 3 or 4 insulting, stereotyped points ad nauseum around here by this time and – big bad atheists that we are – I’d say we’ve been very polite to you. But it’s rather obvious that you don’t have anything else to contribute to the discussion, unless you’re going to change your posting habits and so far that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    So, I just have to ask: Why do you stick around? You’ve said what you want to say here, so why not move on? Or are you just a curmudgeon who loves to grouse and grumble and insult and pick fights?

    I find your posts just incredibly tiresome, honestly, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    What you say is akin to saying it’s folly while studying 16th century Russian literature to ignore the reproductive cycle of certain Central American cactus species.

    Vincent, that isn’t a particularly apt analogy. Literature is studied with different tools than science, which are used for studying cacti. You can attempt to use science to study the literature but the results would be neither science or particularly useful except, perhaps, in a few isolated instances. No matter how far science is able to be extended there is absolutely no tool or method within it that can study something that is supernatural. Science studies the natural universe. Any attempt to extend it, as in the probability of the supernatural discussed above, isn’t science, it’s pseudo-science.

    severalspeciesof, I hadn’t noticed anyone not discussing the supernatural. When did you notice that not happening? I think you’ve been missing something.

    writerdd, I hate to tell you but it was Einstein who, copying Spinoza rather closely, coopted the word “God”. It belonged to conventional believers well, well before then. And I’ve got a very strong feeling that he wouldn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with your use of the term here. Science, reason, now God? Is there nothing you people won’t try to steal?

    What I’ve read of Spong and what I’ve read of Armstrong would lead me to think they have entirely different ideas of God. Spong is a deist who I don’t find much substance in and Armstrong seems more of a universalist.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    big bad atheists that we are

    Karen, sorry I missed you before. You don’t think the points criticizing the most parroted parts of Dawkins et al are even relevant to their discussion? What is, genuflection?

    Why do I stick around? Oh, I don’t know Research? Maybe I’m hoping someone will come up with a novel idea to kick around. But it’s less tempting to wait for that to happen as time goes on. You’re in luck, however, as I’ve got a vacation coming up. If that schmuck Austin Cline didn’t have a distortion of one of my posts that needs to be answered, in my own good time, Austin, boy, maybe I’d have left for good by now.

    I do, however, have a growing amount of information about Kurtz and his cult. Maybe I’ll do a Kurtz Kult Watch blog.

  • miller

    I wasn’t thinking of Spong (who is that?). I was thinking of how atheists often toss aside or ridicule the claim “I believe in a different sort of god”. What is wrong with this claim?

    I deconverted from very liberal Catholicism. Some of the usual atheist arguments did not apply for me. If an argument doesn’t apply, you can’t just say, “this is ridiculous… you’re moving the goalposts… you’re like a whack-a-mole”, you have to use a new argument. That is, if you wish to persuade people (I realize this is not everyone’s goal).

    And PrimateIR,

    It is never valid for an adult to have an invisible friend. Never.

    You totally beg the question.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    miller please provide your definition of “God.” The definition is quite important, actually. There’s a big difference between “an old man in the sky waiting to punish those who don’t worship him at judgment day” and “the source of all life and love.” A is nonsense, B is a worthy thought, but in my opinion a misuse of the word God based on popular understanding and usage (which seems to be much closer to A for most people in the US).

    Spong is a very, very liberal retired Episcopal priest. He has written some very provocative books including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture and The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. If you’re at all interested in the idea of a liberal Christianity for the future, you should check out his books.

    I deconverted from Pentecostal/Word of Faith fundamentalism. However, the arguments you mention did nothing for me either. I did not convert because of apologetics and I did not deconvert because of anti-apologetics. I’ve never been interested in that kind of debate, and I’m still not.

  • miller

    The definition I would have used a few years ago would have been the “God is love” sort. I don’t think it’s really a misuse, if that’s how people think they’re using it. Whatever, it’s semantics.

    Well, I’m all ranted out now. I’ve lost hold of whatever was annoying me.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    miller, just curious, not trying to pick a fight. the way language is used is very interesting to me.

  • Maria

    If Christianity really taught that God took out a pen, wrote a book for us, called it the Bible and dropped it from the clouds, I too would doubt. But Mr. Maher, Christianity doesn’t teach that. As history shows, human beings wrote the Bible and, according to Christian belief, their writing was divinely inspired.

    okay, he clearly doesn’t know about the evangelical movement

    The problem here is that Father Jonathan is a Catholic and he’s referring to Catholic beliefs when he says what christians believe.
    He apparently lives in Italy too, which would put him a bit out of touch with American fundamentalism.
    What he said is true about Catholics, and as a former Catholic I share his frustration. Nearly every atheist I meet who used to be Christian was put off by things like the inconsistencies in the supposedly inerrant bible.
    Well, as a Catholic I wasn’t taught the bible was inerrant in the first place. Catholics admit it’s all kinds of screwed up. That doesn’t mean it’s not divinely inspired, just that it came through the flawed medium of humans and is therefore itself flawed.
    But to say “christians don’t believe x” is just as untrue, since many christians believe a lot of things Catholics don’t, and many Catholics believe things the Vatican doesn’t actually teach.

    as a former catholic myself, I can totally relate to that. however, he should have done a little more research before the made that statement.

    The problem is that the language has been coopted by the religious nuts and the word God has a certain meaning that is accepted by most people superficially. People who believe in something else that does not match the common meaning of the word should try to find some other name for what they believe in so that they are understood in general conversation.

    yeah, I agree. Deists run into this problem quite a bit.

    I was thinking of how atheists often toss aside or ridicule the claim “I believe in a different sort of god”. What is wrong with this claim?

    I deconverted from very liberal Catholicism. Some of the usual atheist arguments did not apply for me. If an argument doesn’t apply, you can’t just say, “this is ridiculous… you’re moving the goalposts… you’re like a whack-a-mole”, you have to use a new argument. That is, if you wish to persuade people (I realize this is not everyone’s goal).

    interesting point.

  • I am not you

    So many of us waste our time trying to prove the existance or none-existance of God without even puting our belief to a test. If I have found information that proves a reality then I will place the burden of proof on you and untill you show me otherwise then I will not change my belief. I feel that I have proof of the existance of God, not in the form of numbers and equations but in the form of an invisible relationship which I have experienced. It will be up to anyone else out there to prove that this relationship was actually a fabrication of my own mind.
    This may sound crazy to all who have not experienced that relationaship but the fact is that there is a large majority that has had the same experience. It would be scientifically inmature to make the assumption that a belief is invalid just because we, in our limited understanding of reality, can’t prove it yet. All natural phenomena go through a period of time where they are not fully understood and many will never be understood because of their extraordinary complexity. Why is the study of God any different?

    We must all approach any scientific problem with an open mind, understanding that all things that have not been proven false are possible solutions. Some possibilities may seem outrageously inprobable but it is not wise to discount a theory just because our manufactured systems, which communicate natural phenomena, deem it inprobable. In addition, if a theory has such a low probability then it would follow that the theory is false, however there is no statistical evidence that suggests that the possibility of God’s existance is even close to zero. I would suggest that it will be impossible to determine such statistics with any amount of accuracy.

    Regarding the religious of the world, I can only apologize for all evil and hate that has been communicated and will be communicated by people of faith. I certainly understand that it has caused great division and spite, but lets try to find truth by being civil and open minded. Only if we are open to all scientific and spiritual discovery that we will come to the truth.

  • Swabbie

    I am not you said, Amen brother.

  • Richard Wade

    So many of us waste our time trying to prove the existance or none-existance of God without even puting our belief to a test. If I have found information that proves a reality then I will place the burden of proof on you and until you show me otherwise then I will not change my belief. I feel that I have proof of the existance of God, not in the form of numbers and equations but in the form of an invisible relationship which I have experienced. It will be up to anyone else out there to prove that this relationship was actually a fabrication of my own mind.

    If this is an example of you putting your belief to a test, it’s not very impressive. You set up a criteria where it is impossible for your belief to be credibly challenged because the negative that you incorrectly insist is the responsibility of others to prove cannot be proven, given the popular definition of God.

    In other words you have built an impregnable tower of circular logic and stand safely inside, saying “You can’t reach me, nyah nyah nyah.” It is basically an autistic stance, saying that because your belief can’t be disproved by others, whom you don’t actually let into your fortress, then you can be comfortable assuming it’s true.

    No one should try to “test” your belief, since it is clear that you don’t really want it properly tested. To try to do so against your will would be aggressive and unkind, and as I said before, futile. Your so-called test would be another one of those wastes of time, not proving anything to anyone else, or even to you, unless you remain inside your circular thinking. In there, you can “prove” anything to your own satisfaction.

    I agree with you that we should remain open-minded about things we don’t fully understand, about things for which there is little or no evidence, pro or con. However, assuming the truth of an unproven and un-disproven claim is not open-mindedness. It is gullibility.

    If you are concerned about not wasting time then it might be better to simply enjoy your belief that you have said is based on your personal experience and not try to justify it and reinforce it in your mind by constructing fallacious arguments that only sound logical or scientific if one does not examine them closely. Your personal experience is yours and yours alone. Let it have its dignity. It cannot be “tested” in the way you have described, and it is undignified to pretend to do so.

    • kreeshoony

      well spoken. nothing is true based solely on lack of evidence against.

  • I am not you

    In other words you have built an impregnable tower of circular logic and stand safely inside, saying “You can’t reach me, nyah nyah nyah.” It is basically an autistic stance, saying that because your belief can’t be disproved by others, whom you don’t actually let into your fortress, then you can be comfortable assuming it’s true.

    On the contrary, I welcome you into my humble “fortress”. This is why I envolved myself in this discourse. I welcome you to test the truth of my belief. I was simply saying that I can’t see a way in which you will be able to prove it false. The only option you have is to come in and look for it. If you find it then it will be proven true. If you don’t find it then, unfortunatley, you still can’t say that it is false.
    If we look for something with the mindset that it is false then I guarantee that we will not find it. On the flip side, I also understand that if I am looking for something with the mindset that it is true then I will certainly find it regardless of its truth. That is why it is so important to have an open mind. Believing in something that we have preconceived to be true is not a legitimate use of our free will. I would argue it is not free will at all, but simply sheep following their own imagination. It is not “belief” either because we are simply following others you claim to believe.

    However, assuming the truth of an unproven and un-disproven claim is not open-mindedness. It is gullibility.

    I am not assuming a truth of an unproven and undisproven claim. As I said before, I have proven it. I have proven it to myself. Unfortunately I do not have the capability to prove it to you. You will have to do that yourself.

    Your personal experience is yours and yours alone. Let it have its dignity. It cannot be “tested” in the way you have described, and it is undignified to pretend to do so.

    Thank you for respecting my belief and recognizing its dignity. If all beleivers and non-beleivers did the same then we would get much further.

    I admit, “test” is probably the wrong word to use in this instance, but it is, in a way, a test. You have to subject yourself to an unknown and determine if it is indeed true. It is the only way one can test something that can only be proven by one’s personal experiences.

  • Richard Wade

    I am not you, I admire what appears to be your open-hearted approach, as well as your taking personal responsibility for your belief rather than the sheep-like reasons to believe that you described. But I don’t think anyone will be interested in going to the effort of testing (or whatever we call it) your belief. I see two reasons for this: Firstly you have correctly described it as both unprovable and un-disprovable by an outside observer, so it would be pointless. Secondly the only motive I can see for someone wanting to disprove your very intimate and personal belief would be to indulge in aggression and sadism. I’m not into that, and I don’t associate with anyone who is. I’m not concerned with others’ beliefs. I concern myself with objectionable real-world behaviors in society that some believers do to impose their beliefs on others, such as manipulating politics, interfering with public education, threatening personal liberties, social persecution and physical assault. Then I’m all over them.

    I’m not clear on this: If you’re already comfortable with your personal proof of your personal belief, then why the need for a test?

    If your motive for inviting someone into your fortress is like the spider inviting the fly into his parlor, hoping that during their misguided attempt to prove false your belief they will find what you have found, don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to even fall for that, let alone end up believing in what you believe. Slyness is not respectful of free will, something that you emphasize has great importance.

    If you greatly value free will then if you have the desire to promote your belief in others, you need to be extremely careful not to become a clever “sheepherder” and inadvertently interfere with the free will of those you are engaging. Perhaps the best approach is to let people find their own paths.

  • Polly

    Perhaps the best approach is to let people find their own paths.

    Ah, so simple and yet so profound. Great advice…for anyone & everyone.

  • I am not you

    I’m not clear on this: If you’re already comfortable with your personal proof of your personal belief, then why the need for a test?

    I am not going to claim that I have perfect faith and I always know for a fact that God exists. That would not be authentic. I often question my own faith and question what I have determined to be true. So I often try to objectively look for truth and, each time, I am lead back to the same conclusion that I had before. Again, this is why it is so important to have an objective (open minded) analysis. I need to make sure that what I believe is, in fact, what I believe and not what someone has spoon fed me. I understand that all this sounds ideal. I don’t want people to think that I have this false idea that I am able to be perfectly objective. I can’t. That is what makes it difficult but, as are all things, the more difficult they are, the more rewarding they are.

    If your motive for inviting someone into your fortress is like the spider inviting the fly into his parlor, hoping that during their misguided attempt to prove false your belief they will find what you have found, don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to even fall for that, let alone end up believing in what you believe. Slyness is not respectful of free will, something that you emphasize has great importance.

    I try not to have a motive, though I admit the art of persuasion interests me. I see it this way; If I experience something that is amazing, I will want to share it with my wife because I know it will give her joy. In the same way, I feel that I am aware of something that is truly amazing and I want to share it and for others to experience it. All I can do is hope that people take the suggestion and hopefully they will have the same experience. So your comment regarding letting “people find their own paths” is valid, however, as I said before, I feel that I am aware of something amazing and I am inviting others to witness it only because I know it will give them joy.

    Aside from the personal fulfilment one might feel by experiencing God, I also beleive that we are all part of the same body, trying to accomplish a task. For us to accomplish this task it would be best if we were working as a team. So I feel that we should collectively determine truth so that we can more efficiently accomplish the task. The task is simply to make sure that everyone feels loved and shares love. The question should be, what is Love? The answer to this question can only be answered by first answering the question, Is there a God?

  • Richard Wade

    I try not to have a motive, though I admit the art of persuasion interests me. I see it this way; If I experience something that is amazing, I will want to share it with my wife because I know it will give her joy. In the same way, I feel that I am aware of something that is truly amazing and I want to share it and for others to experience it.

    Your motive of wanting to persuade is very transparent, and when you’re straight forward about it, it’s not objectionable. Since you like to double check your convictions, perhaps you should be concerned about two possible motives behind the motive: It is natural to want to share with others something that is joyful for you. That is a positive and healthy motive, and I’m sure you have it. The other one I suspect vaguely from other things you have said. Many believers like to surround themselves with other believers for the reassurance they get from the group that their shared belief is correct. The penguins huddled in the middle of the flock get more shelter from the antarctic wind than the ones out on the edge. The bigger the flock, the more penguins get the shelter. If you are troubled from time to time by gaps, thin spots or weaknesses in your belief, your other motive might be to keep building a bigger flock around you to shelter those spots from the chilling winds of doubt. That motive is not positive or healthy because it involves manipulating others for your own selfish purposes. I’m not saying for certain that motive is in you, but I have suspected it in many and I have seen it confirmed in several.

    You wanted challenges to see if you’re authentic. Here’s one you might not have been expecting.

  • Mike B

    Wow. I labored though these posts to try and find some gems of real discussion. It’s been difficult. Let me point out a few reasons I’m posting:

    “And if there are Christians out there who would like to point out that the “crazy” beliefs aren’t representative of true Christianity, let them do it, too. I would imagine the latter group has much more of an uphill battle.”

    The implication here is that “belief” in God is crazy and difficult to defend, implying that Athiests have no trouble defending their own belief system. Ouch! I dont’ see that as open minded nor fair. Belief is held on a variety of levels. There is indepth belief and functional belief. As a theologian it is necessary to have both an indepth and a functional belief. Whereas for a common person functional is perfectly fine. Very few of you can describe the “inner workings” of the law of gravity not in finite detail. You have a functional knowledge and this is good enough. To intentionally confuse the two is intellectually dishonest.

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist made some brilliant points and the majority of athiest cried foul. Now perhapse his tone was brisk or all business but to mock and impune him because you find his arguments “tiresome” is a bit childish. The topic of God isn’t “silly” that’s like saying: War is a silly thing. It may seem like it to those outside, but to those in the foxholes war doens’t seem all that silly. It’s deadly serious.

    As to Dawkins: there are a lot of holes in his argument, lots. Where is his discussion concerning the assult on science by the existentionalist: Foucault, Derrea?
    How has he taken Wiggettenstein into his work? What is the mechanism that drove the creation of DNA? (Contrary to the post that was given earlier life does not grow from less complicated to more complicate it goes the direct opposite. That’s called the 2nd Law of thermodynamics, of which the theory of evolution (macro evolution), directly contradicts.)

    olvlzl I hate to say it was correct. Just like Richard Wade accused “I am not you” what is this site all about? It’s a place where like minded people congregate to congragulate each other on how “scientific”, “rational” and “free thinking” you all are.

  • I am not you

    Many believers like to surround themselves with other believers for the reassurance they get from the group that their shared belief is correct.

    This is unfortunatly true in many cases. Though I believe that by participating in this dialogue it shows that this is not the case for me. We should all be willing to confront others of dissimilar beliefs in an honest attempt to find truth. We should never fear truth.

  • Richard Wade

    I am not you,
    If an honest attempt to find truth is your motive then you should be commended for exploring in new territory. I respect those who seek truth rather than those who sell truth. When people of dissimilar beliefs meet, if the goal is to have an effect on themselves, (seeking) then often both groups are enriched. If the goal is to have an effect on the others, (selling) then the outcome is often divisive, destructive or even tragic. The world does not need a few great teachers. We need billions of great learners.

    Although I cannot say for certain it hasn’t happened I have never witnessed a person change their beliefs about God one way or the other in the course of one of these blog exchanges. What I have seen many times is that people change their beliefs about each other. They come away with their primary viewpoints unchanged, but their negative misconceptions, stereotypes and bigotries about the other group are swept away. That, in my view is the most important effect of these discussions. Free of their mutual loathing and mistrust, people of disparate beliefs can work together for common goals on issues that are important to all of them.

    I must leave this place for the time being. I wish you much learning in your travels.

  • PrimateIR

    Good bye Richard. I hope we see you again soon.

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