Brian Sapient Responds to Your Comments

After my posting yesterday about the Rational Response Squad’s more aggressive tactics, you all had a lot to say.

Brian Sapient is responding. And calling you out.

An excerpt:

As for “deconverting” success, we counted no less than 150 emails and 50 posts on our forum in the last year from believers who–in full or large part credit the RRS for their deconversion. I’d like to see how that stacks up against other atheist groups!

And this:

For a comparison as to how “passive atheism” doesn’t attract people like “aggressive atheism” does look towards the Humanist Vision challenge. A project that we were happy to support and put an equal amount of effort in to as compared to our Blasphemy Challenge. A project that I’d consider a failure in comparison and I know the reasons why, do you?

Humanist vision: 6 responses (note the overwhelming support from RRS via “links”Eye-wink

Blasphemy Challenge 1,444 responses, and there were about another 700 that have been removed for a multitude of reasons that are not relevant to the current discussion.

This one was interesting:

… different people are susceptible to different modes of thought. One person’s bitter pill is another’s only chance to get through to. I’ve got a bitter pill and Hemant carries a glass of water around with him. You see how we work together?

Maybe we use the same pill, I just shove it in your throat because I know you need it, Hemant gives it to you by hand and hopes you trust him to take it.

He has a lot to say. Some worth reading. A lot I don’t care much for.

Go check it out and see what you think.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I said this over on the other thread but I’ll post it here too:

    I think it’s important to point out that Sapient’s claims to “effectiveness” are only relevant if we all agree that converting the other side ought to be the goal in the first place. Personally, as I’ve said before, I think there far more important goals both atheists and Christians ought to be working together towards (e.g. improving the status of atheists in society, maintaining the separation of Church and State, undermining the Religious Right, fighting poverty, ending slavery, protecting the environment, global peacemaking, creating a society of mutual-respect and active concern for others, etc.) none of which require one side to convert the other.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    Some constructive nitpicking:

    Ironically some atheists will buy into this, and become theistic pawns. Like they were when they were still religious, only now they’re atheist pawns for theism.

    Poisoning the well is not only aggressive, but fallacious.

    As for “deconverting” success, we counted no less than 150 emails and 50 posts on our forum in the last year from believers who–in full or large part credit the RRS for their deconversion.

    There could be selective bias at work, since the the type of people who are into the RRS are probably more likely to speak out and send e-mails.

    You’d have stopped investigating a claim altogether because someone seemed overly confident about their claim? Doesn’t seem very skeptical to me.

    So public embarrassment is one principle.

    Embarassment, while a possibly successful tactic, works by the same non-skeptical route as when people feel distanced by the RRS. Endorsing one and condemning the other seems inconsistent at best and dishonest at worst.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian

    All this confirms for me is that people are sheep, they love to follow. Having a loud and aggressive agenda will attract followers to the fold of atheism.

    Excuse me if I’m not impressed.

  • monkeymind

    From Brian’s blog:

    You’ll have a hard time enjoying our “behaviour” if you’re on the ass end of it, I get that.

    Anal rape analogies. Gotta love it.

    Also – do you think that by being aggressive, and talking about shoving things down people’s throats, you will silence people who disagree with your goals and your tactics? ‘Fraid not.

    Excuse me if I’m not impressed with your “rationality” either.

  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    Of course, neither of you respond to the implication that Sapient’s techniques match those of cult recruiters. They can be pretty successful, too. Is this the ends justify the means?

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to associate with people who run in a methodological crowd with Opus Dei, the Moonies, etc.

  • Mriana

    I still say UnRRS is the opposite side of the same coin as the Religious Reich. Hemant, you are far better character than the UnRRS.

    Quote:

    Mriana said,

    It is indeed their behaviour I do not like. I’m sure they can be very fine young people, but their behaviour has little to be desired and is indeed a big turn off to me.

    Brian’s response:

    You’ll have a hard time enjoying our “behaviour” if you’re on the ass end of it, I get that.

    Now he’s acting like a snot nose brat. Glad he’s not my son.

    Oh they blocked my user name. FINE! I’ll say it here, but it’s a shame you won’t let me say there, Brian. Nice that you can address me there, but I am not allowed to respond? You call us out, but won’t allow us to say anything? NICE! :roll: Now that sounds like you’re in defensive mode Brian. Block/ban me because I don’t agree with your tactics without giving me a chance for rebuttle? Well, like I said, I’ll say it here.

    Quote:

    Mriana said,

    I’m not so certain the UnRRS has and sometimes they sound an awful lot like Fundies. That sort of anger doesn’t jive and it’s not condusive to anything, except a big turn off.

    Brian:
    Our sort of “anger” isn’t “condusive” to anything?

    So our sort of “anger” didn’t lead to us posting a blog, Hemant reposting it, and you making an ignorant absolute statement out of it?

    Since you’re probably not following along, telling the world what we do doesn’t lead to anything, sounds emotional, irrational, and absolute when you are actually a product of it’s origin. Furthermore, I’ve already submitted evidence of several people who left religion because of us, and one is enough to prove your statement invalid. It was sitting right above the comment you made! How convenient.

    No your anger isn’t conducive to anything. It’s a big turn off and IF your brand of atheism was the only form of atheism, I’d want no part of it. I hardly believe what I said was ignorant, esp if what you do is a BIG turn off to atheism- even though you feel it’s not. IMHO it is and I am ashamed to call myself an atheist. I can’t call myself a theist because I don’t believe in a historical Jesus or God and even if I were I’d be ashamed to say I was a theist due to the Religious Reich. I’d rather take a page out of Sam Harris’s book and call myself nothing. Thank humans there is Humanism.

    What Hemant does is his business, but I think he is better than you all are, has more taste, tact, and dignity.

    Product of what origin? Not liking cruelty and meanous done to others? No, I don’t like it when people are being mean and hateful to others. I hardly think that is irrational to not like hatred and meanous. By the same token I could say you are a product of your origin too. BOTH my sons have more reason and compassion than I’ve seen from RRS. I truly believe Hemant does too.

    No one convert is not enough evidence to prove my statement is invalid. I don’t believe they have any basis to stay atheists. Nothing to hold onto that will keep them as atheists. They don’t have enough education from you all to have a basis. Bob Price has more knowledge of religion than any of you all, including Rookie. I have far more respect for Bob. I truly feel there are far better ways and still give people meaning to why they decided to “let go of God” than nothing. An actual education for starters helps a lot, IMO, and not just science, but religion too and Bob Price, for one, has a corner on that IMO and is far more decent in his tactics.

    No, I’d be proud to call Hemant my son, if he were my son, but I can’t say the same for those of the RRS. I can’t say I’d be proud to call any of you all my children. I sometimes wonder if you all speak to your mothers the same way, but then again, at least one of you I hear has not told their parents that they are an atheist. What sort of example is that?

    I have far far more respect for Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris for that matter than you all.

    More from the world of not logically sound, and emotional arguments against the RRS…

    Not logically sound because I care about human dignity. Really? Emotional arguments? Emotional? Can’t help it if I’m a passionate and compassionate woman, now can I? I do things from my heart and I truly believe that has more meaning than anything else- even religion. Sorry, I need a better intellectual argument then that.

    Whatever the case, I am not discriminate. I will call both atheist and theist alike on their behaviours- esp if it is not dignifying to the human.

    MikeClawson said:

    Personally, as I’ve said before, I think there far more important goals both atheists and Christians ought to be working together towards (e.g. improving the status of atheists in society, maintaining the separation of Church and State, undermining the Religious Right, fighting poverty, ending slavery, protecting the environment, global peacemaking, creating a society of mutual-respect and active concern for others, etc.) none of which require one side to convert the other.

    I agree 100%. This game of trying to get people to convert is just plain silly and being a militant atheist or a militant theist won’t get anyone anywhere. Reason, compassion, and love will.

    I’ve said this before too, but I have more respect for MikeC and Bishop John Shelby Spong than I do for any of the kids at RRS.

    One more thing, Brian:

    Quote:
    I assume he’s quoting Richard:
    In religion he’d be exactly like the bigots we face.

    Brian:
    Oh fuck it…. Fuck you Richard Wade.

    Do you kiss your mama with that mouth? That really was not nice and Richard is an atheist, but what you and Richard do is none of my business. However, I happen to agree with Richard- but um… Brian, no thanks, you’re a little too young for me.

  • Mriana

    monkeymind said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    From Brian’s blog:

    You’ll have a hard time enjoying our “behaviour” if you’re on the ass end of it, I get that.

    Anal rape analogies. Gotta love it.

    Oh you caught those sexual analogies too in his posts? :lol: Funny, I never stooped to such crude and rude remarks, which is also another big turn off, IMHO. I turned the boy down nicely, as you can see, monkeymind. It never ceases to amaze me how militant fundamentalist atheists like to attack and gag other atheists and with far less tact, esp when they don’t agree with the constructive criticism they receive from fellow atheists. Guess they just can’t take it. Of course the Religious Reich is the same way, so I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised one bit.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Banned by RRS, Mrianna, eh? Take it as a badge of honor. :) Anyway …

    This game of trying to get people to convert is just plain silly

    I disagree. I don’t see anything wrong with trying to rationally convince people that one’s position is right, which is what conversion should be about. The problem comes when irrationality creeps in.

    and being a militant atheist or a militant theist won’t get anyone anywhere.

    I will puckishly nitpick here. Being a militant atheist or a militant theist does get some people somewhere. It’s just a matter of whether that somewhere is worth going.

  • Mriana

    J. J. Ramsey said,

    December 21, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Banned by RRS, Mrianna, eh? Take it as a badge of honor.

    :lol: Maybe I should. Makes no sense to call someone out and then put a gag on them though.

    The problem comes when irrationality creeps in.

    Oh being overbearing or imposing.

  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    I’ve been thinking about this, where I stand, etc. Some tidbits have come up, but the most important thing about my own position is that I am basically a humanist and that makes me a proponent of Free Will. And Sapient’s techniques demand serious scrutiny from this point of view.

    Mriana’s experience proves one of my main concerns: that Sapient is indulging in cult-like programming. When Mriana becomes an effective and thoughtful critic of his methodology, he shuts her up, though he continues to attack her. Students of cults will recognize the technique. One can properly guess that if any of his “converts” spin off into an undesirable direction, he will attack them likewise, prevent people from seeing just what these people think.

    Insecurity is at the root of this desire to convert, to control the views of others. One wonders just how firm Sapient’s own atheism is that he is willing to throw out free choice. Sapient’s aim here is control and who among us has not bristled at the attempt of churches or political movements to control our thinking? Sapient is like the Millenialist who feels s/he must convert everyone to Jesus that s/he can before the Rapture. There’s an almost pathological desire to tot up the convert numbers as evidence that he’s a better atheist than other atheists out there. By statisticating (a kind of fornicating) the issue, he chews out the heart of what it means to make up your own mind and joins the ranks of other missionaries and zealots.

    I don’t think we humanists are served by a siege mentality. This is not forced on us by circumstances, but chosen by us as a response to circumstances. And if we’re really after the individual’s right to choose belief, we must rule out any kind of coercion whether by the state, family, community groups, or self-appointed saviors.

    This also goes to prove that being an atheist does not immediately credential one as a humanist.

  • Mriana

    I don’t think we humanists are served by a siege mentality. This is not forced on us by circumstances, but chosen by us as a response to circumstances. And if we’re really after the individual’s right to choose belief, we must rule out any kind of coercion whether by the state, family, community groups, or self-appointed saviors.

    Yes, I too am a humanist, not necessarily a perfect one, but I agree with you and you also hit on more things that irks me about the RRS.

  • Tao Jones

    1. I’d be curious to find out who these converts of theirs are… rebellious teens who quite likely might go back to being theists after the phase is over? (It happens)

    2. Funny how in the video he linked to, Brian lumps in people who are critical of the RRS along with people who slander and defame the RRS.

    3. Yes Brian, I don’t like your group because you’re right. My mistake, you’re not arrogantly ignorant at all.

    5. RRS is quite good at getting attention. That doesn’t mean their tactics are appropriate, only that they are attention gathering. I can go downtown and get a lot of attention by ranting on a street corner, but I won’t convince many people. I can strap a bomb to my chest and threaten to blow myself up, I’ll make the 6 o’clock news but I won’t convince many people. Of the percentage of people who read the Unabomber Manifesto, how many actually bought into it?

    6. The Catholic Church probably converted more than 150 people in the US last year. Does that make the Church superior to the RRS? Does that mean the church’s message is stronger and more effective? Does it say anything at all?

  • Daniel

    Yes, many of the RRS’ tactics are aggressive and can viewed as insulting; I’m not surprised that many atheists disagree with their methods (not to mention the theist people out there).

    However, I think they do have a point; I think that, as much as many of us might dislike their attitude, we need a group within our ranks that does the “dirty work” and that’s able to galvanize the efforts and intentions of those who are more receptive to… let’s call it “militant displays”.

    I’ll try to illustrate my view:
    Do you believe that something like “The blasphemy challenge” was truly focused ONLY on ridiculing some religious concept?
    It’s true, the whole concept revolved around poking fun at the whole “blasphemy/holy spirit” issue and yet, as offensive as such display is to believers, I have to ask myself if it was the theist public they wanted to touch. It’s unreasonable to think that someone can simply change the world view of another person if said person holds such world view firmly; it would require (and indeed does)a great amount of dialogue, debate and time (in most cases, years) to even start to scratch such views; that’s assuming the other person is even open to the possibility of questioning their beliefs. However, someone who’s already “in the limbo” and passively doubting their concepts is a different matter; sometimes, all they need is a “wake up call” to admit to themselves that they are not comfortable with their current state a that, indeed, there’s another option to be explored. As many of you might know from personal experience, rejecting the dogma you were born into can be a very difficult and, sometimes, traumatic experience. In the end, apathy and silence is easier than taking a stand, that’s something that takes courage; and some people need to be inspired to take the next step, be it to actively start to questioning themselves and reviewing their concepts or just to go out and expose their views.

    I don’t see the displays of the RRS geared towards the theist public, but to those “in the periphery” of theism/atheism: Undecided/would-be-agnostics/”closet atheist”. Sure, many of them can be touched with a more friendly approach; some of them, however, can’t.

    If you are a theist person, I believe it’s fair game for you to be pissed with the RRS and maybe, if you feel like it, you should go and take your concerns to them; however,for atheist and even agnostics, I think it would be shallow on our part not to acknowledge that they do have a purpose and they are, to some extent, helping the atheist/agnostic community by inspiring others to be open about their views.

    It all comes down to objectives: I’ think the efforts of the more “moderate” of us are geared towards fighting the stigmas in the minds of the public, while the more militant ones try touch those individuals who are still undecided/in the closet.

    However, as Dennis Miller said:
    -Of course, that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong
    (btw: Sorry if it’s was long :P )

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Joel Sax,

    By statisticating (a kind of fornicating) the issue, he chews out the heart of what it means to make up your own mind and joins the ranks of other missionaries and zealots.

    Taking a page from the RRS with the attitude, I see. What, are population statistics invalid now because they wrongly turn people into numbers? Someone asked for hard evidence, and he gave it.

    This also goes to prove that being an atheist does not immediately credential one as a humanist.

    I suggest cutting the elitist attitude.

  • Tao Jones

    7. Considering I had to scroll left and right to read through Brian’s response, that tells me he doesn’t strategically think about his audience. He just does what he wants. Maybe he has a fancy wide screen monitor and his poorly designed Web site is good enough for him, but it needlessly alienates his potential audience. Telling, really.

  • http://paxnortona.notfrisco2.com Joel Sax

    Miller writes

    I suggest cutting the elitist attitude.

    You know, Fundamentalists (and country music lovers) like to hurl that at Christians who don’t partner up with their program. I’m not surprised to hear it from you. You’re cut from the same cloth. When your methods and attitude can’t take the heat of humanism’s call to respect the human being over ideology, you call it elitism.

    A classic cult tactic, I dare say, designed to obfuscate.

    Mriana: We don’t always agree, but on this I’ll be glad to be on your team any time.

    Daniel: As opposed to your poor weak atheism, humanism does not endorse militancy. By supporting RRS’s methods in the hope of attracting more converts, you become co-opted into their coerciive techniques and sucked up into their system of ethics. You think that by standing a step or so back, the blood doesn’t fall on you. It’s there, right down the front.

    Tao Jones:You’re describing classic cult behavior. Which only goes to show that you don’t have to believe in a God, Higher Power, etc. to practice these techniques. A lesson to the wise.

  • Mriana

    Mriana: We don’t always agree, but on this I’ll be glad to be on your team any time.

    Thanks. I don’t expect to always agree, but I’m glad we do agree on this one. It seems like many of us are on the same side in this case too.

  • Maria

    Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?

    I don’t know about that, but he did say he wants to put his mother in a mental institution b/c she is a theist. Btw, Mriana, congrats on being banned, lol. Guess if they don’t like you disagreeing with them, they ban you. Yeah, we all know that works so well……..

    1. I’d be curious to find out who these converts of theirs are… rebellious teens who quite likely might go back to being theists after the phase is over? (It happens)

    2. Funny how in the video he linked to, Brian lumps in people who are critical of the RRS along with people who slander and defame the RRS.

    3. Yes Brian, I don’t like your group because you’re right. My mistake, you’re not arrogantly ignorant at all.

    5. RRS is quite good at getting attention. That doesn’t mean their tactics are appropriate, only that they are attention gathering. I can go downtown and get a lot of attention by ranting on a street corner, but I won’t convince many people. I can strap a bomb to my chest and threaten to blow myself up, I’ll make the 6 o’clock news but I won’t convince many people. Of the percentage of people who read the Unabomber Manifesto, how many actually bought into it?

    6. The Catholic Church probably converted more than 150 people in the US last year. Does that make the Church superior to the RRS? Does that mean the church’s message is stronger and more effective? Does it say anything at all?

    very well said. someone made similar points on rrs’s website, but Brian refused to even read it b/c they started the post with “since when are you intellectual?”

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    If you are a theist person, I believe it’s fair game for you to be pissed with the RRS and maybe, if you feel like it, you should go and take your concerns to them;

    I’m a theist, and quite honestly, I’m not pissed at all by the RRS… just slightly amused. Extremists are far too easy to ignore. I’m more concerned about them for the sake of my atheist friends who really do care about improving the perception of atheists in society. If that is your goal then I really think people like Sapient and his RRS are really, really hurting you. They just feed all the negative stereotypes that religious people have of atheists. They become an easy group for intolerant, paranoid Christians to point to and say “See, that’s what atheists are really like. They’re all out to get us and corrupt our children.” That in turn makes my job as a pastor harder when I try to convince my congregation and other Christian friends that not all atheists are like that and that we really should be working together with you guys for shared goals.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Amen to MikeClawson’s comment #1.

    Cooperating with theists should not be equated with being wishy-washy and mealy-mouthed. I often post comments on the most popular LDS blogs, talking about politics and especially about seeing atheists as regular people who deserve rights (not monsters). It is because I’m not about deconverting people (or telling them their beliefs are wrong) that my comments are taken seriously there and generate real discussion.

  • Tao Jones

    MikeClawson said,

    They just feed all the negative stereotypes that religious people have of atheists.

    You mean the arrogant angry atheist intellectual stereotype? Sapient? Noooo… couldn’t be.

    I’m just very glad that you — as a theist, but more importantly as a pastor — can see the RRS for what it is.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    That in turn makes my job as a pastor harder when I try to convince my congregation and other Christian friends that not all atheists are like that and that we really should be working together with you guys for shared goals.

    Too funny — over on my blog I’m handling the other side of the same coin. That’s why I have Clawson’s blog listed in my sidebar: to use as a handy counterexample when people claim that all Christians think like the religious right.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    p.s. I agree with Greta Christina’s good cop, bad cop analogy, and I’m glad that the hardliners are pushing the poles of public discourse. I just don’t like the implication that the people who cooperate with theists (and befriend them without a deconversion agenda) aren’t out there on the front lines making a difference.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Joel Sax,
    Slow down there. You’ve gone fairly quickly from “I’ve been thinking about this, where I stand…” to “When your methods and attitude can’t take the heat of humanism’s call…” And then I was compared to a fundamentalist (and country music lover?) for the first time. Did you mistake me for the RRS? Because I’m not from the RRS, and I’m far closer to agreeing with Hemant or Mike Clawson.

    Yeah, I don’t call myself a humanist. Do you really think it’s because I hate humanity or that I’m not “credentialed” enough? I just don’t like the word is all, with all its little connotations. Much like the way that some people avoid the label “atheist” because of the “aggressive” connotation created by the likes of RRS.

    Tactics is one particular point that you seem to agree with the RRS on. I see you poisoning the well (comparing me to a fundie), using sexual analogies (“statisticating”), and intimidation (“can’t take the heat”). I can’t tell if you’re doing it on purpose, but the comparisons draw themselves.

    I apologize for being unclear with the “elitist” accusation. It is elitist to imply that everyone wants to be just like you, only they aren’t “credentialed” enough. If I said, “Being an agnostic does not immediately credential one as an atheist,” that would seem a little off-key as well.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    p.p.s.: I think my comments here are suffering from jumping into the middle of this discussion before reading the beginning…

    1. I support the goal of helping atheists to feel comfortable about coming out as atheists. If that’s the goal of RRS, then good.

    2. I don’t find it objectionable for atheists to try to deconvert people (and I don’t find it objectionable for religious people to try to convert people). However, I don’t think it’s the most important goal, and it is not my goal.

    3. It’s possible that RRS makes it harder to convince people that atheists are nice in the same way that the religious right makes it hard to convince people that Christianity does not equal bigotry. However, there’s a big difference between the two in that RRS doesn’t advocate voting away anyone’s rights, so they shouldn’t be considered equivalent. The second that RSS advocates actual discrmination against religious people, I’ll go after them. But as long as all they’re doing is explaining why they think religion is wrong, I don’t really have a problem with them. Perhaps they make Mike’s job a little harder, but I think you’re up to it, as I am. ;)

    4. I’m in the trenches talking to actual theists, and speaking out against the religious right really is easier when you make it clear that you’re not secretly out to destroy religion, and that we can cooperate.

    5. I am not a “passive atheist” nor a “theistic pawn.” Such terms are divisive and counterproductive for getting the atheist community to work together.

  • Daniel

    I was trying to point out that, to some extent, there’s the need of some degree of militancy within a social movement ;as such,dismissing the work of the RRS at the moment would not help atheism: they do touch a lot of people which the more agreeable atheists can’t.
    I don’t really like their methods; still, I think it’s better to work, find common ground/goals and try to figure out what’s best for us all with our more militant fellows, than to just ignore them or push them away. Fragmentation would only do us more harm than good right now. Plus, if their tactics are indeed (or they become) counterproductive to our common goals, it would be easier for us to try and dialogue with them and expose our concerns.

    As mister Mehta rote:

    We can criticize the tactics the others use. But for now, we’re still in this together. We need the mutual support of each other.

    Then again, everything I just wrote might just be poor weak atheism.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    The RRS is really more about youth (people in their teens and twenties) rebelling. That age group sees things more in black and white and the RRS is an age-appropriate IMO way to express feelings about atheism. As a person gets older, they see more shades of gray and hopefully desires to find more common ground and compromise. I say let the RRS be. It provides a mechanism for people to rebel who feel the need. Once society becomes more tolerant, the need for the RRS will go away.

    Of course, there is probably some blow-back from the RRS and other overt secularism. More religious reactionaries getting elected all to willing to lead the country into avoidable international conflict.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Me: “The problem comes when irrationality creeps in.”

    Mrianna: “Oh being overbearing or imposing.”

    I have found that the more combative atheists tend to be more irrational. Even Dawkins, who is relatively nice as combative atheists go, has credulously repeated a quote mine of John Adams, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it,” which in context expresses a sentiment opposite to the one Adams had. It’s a variation on the theme of truth being the first casualty of war.

  • Vincent

    HEY!
    I was the first one he responded to!
    And he mentioned my one-line post not once, but twice!
    (and totally ignored my post that praised what he does)

    I still defend what I said though. It is hubris to refer to one’s self as an intellectual, whatever meaning you assign to the term, and whether or not you are one.

    p.s. I’ve been a member of the RRS board for almost a year now. Cool.

  • Mriana

    Maria said,

    December 22, 2007 at 1:09 am

    Do you kiss your mama with that mouth?

    I don’t know about that, but he did say he wants to put his mother in a mental institution b/c she is a theist. Btw, Mriana, congrats on being banned, lol. Guess if they don’t like you disagreeing with them, they ban you. Yeah, we all know that works so well……..

    He must be insane if he thinks he can do that.

    BTW, he is BSing about that not banning from the atheist community. First I can post and now all of a sudden I can’t because I’ve been blocked. He knows very well what’s going on and if he were honest he’d come out with it and say, “Oh we don’t want dissenters posting here.” :roll: Kelly has a childish poll about whether or not Brian should spend a few more days destroying the arguments of atheist dissenters: http://www.rationalresponders.com/should_sapient_spend_a_few_more_days_destroying_the_arguments_of_atheist_dissenters

    Seems like children to me.

    If that is your goal then I really think people like Sapient and his RRS are really, really hurting you. They just feed all the negative stereotypes that religious people have of atheists.

    I agree, MikeC. What they do is abusive in more ways than one.

    That in turn makes my job as a pastor harder when I try to convince my congregation and other Christian friends that not all atheists are like that and that we really should be working together with you guys for shared goals.

    It is sad in a way too.

    I’m just very glad that you — as a theist, but more importantly as a pastor — can see the RRS for what it is.

    I second that, Tao.

    Miller said:

    Yeah, I don’t call myself a humanist. Do you really think it’s because I hate humanity or that I’m not “credentialed” enough? I just don’t like the word is all, with all its little connotations. Much like the way that some people avoid the label “atheist” because of the “aggressive” connotation created by the likes of RRS.

    I can understand, and it is precisely why I prefer the title Humanist. It is because of attitudes like the RRS that I do not like the word atheist. Non-theist seems more appropriate for me, that it is the perpetuated stigmatism various groups give the word atheist. The word is less appealling with such behaviours and I just do not want to be associated with such groups. I’d rather be associated with Humanists and so far it is a group I can be proud of.

    Daniel said:

    As mister Mehta rote:

    We can criticize the tactics the others use. But for now, we’re still in this together. We need the mutual support of each other.

    Then again, everything I just wrote might just be poor weak atheism.

    Maybe, I don’t know, but I for one cannot be supportive of such tactics as the RRS. I would rather take a few pages out of Robert Price’s book. It is far more civil, IMHO.

    Jeff said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:15 am

    The RRS is really more about youth (people in their teens and twenties) rebelling. That age group sees things more in black and white and the RRS is an age-appropriate IMO way to express feelings about atheism. As a person gets older, they see more shades of gray and hopefully desires to find more common ground and compromise.

    Maybe you are right, Jeff. They certainly act like it that is for sure. I do hope when they get older they aren’t as rebellious and hateful, that they chill out a little and become a little more tolerant of others.

    J. J. Ramsey said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:17 am

    Me: “The problem comes when irrationality creeps in.”

    Mrianna: “Oh being overbearing or imposing.”

    That was a typo. It was suppose to be “or being overbearing or imposing”. I didn’t see it until the time to edit elapsed. :(

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    Sapient is okay at the “response” part of things, not so good about the “rational” part. His response to Michael Shermer was a model of incoherent overreaction.

    The thing is, it’s one thing to be against something, and it’s perfectly okay to be anti-religious. But to get angry and nasty about it in the end only makes you sloppy unless you happen to be really, really on the ball. Some people can do it. RRS too often can’t.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad
  • http://www.secularplanet.org SecularPlanet

    I’m responding here since I don’t want to register at Sapient’s own site to leave a comment. It was typical Sapient. I offer mild criticism and ask for evidence that his methods work, so he removes links to my site and says he will restore them when I want to “unite” atheists. Yes, that’s right, his goal is to unite atheists and his method is to remove links to any atheistic website which expresses any disagreement or skepticism about his methods. Actually I’ve never said anything about RRS at all on my website, so it’s even worse than that.

  • Mriana

    Sounds like Rome’s control over the Vulgar and the Spanish Inquisition. UnRRS is not much different and I can’t believe he was not up front about banning, either. Whatever the case, it is obvious they want control just by observing the methods they use. Well, atheists like cats are virtually impossible to herd or control.

  • Maria

    LOL, now he’s threatened to ban someone who said Mriana was banned-right after saying he doesn’t ban anyone! LOL! and someone just sent me this latest quote of his:

    “The three of us have a combined IQ of about 450, I think that’s a good start. The rest is up to you to remove your head from your ass and read what we write, admit to yourself you’re delusional if you think we’re not intellectuals”

    so now anyone who doesn’t take it on faith that sapient is a genius just b/c he says so, is deluded! lol, yeah, the intellectuals have so much to show for it.

  • Mriana

    From Brian’s blog

    Here is Mriana’s profile, that I was able to access fine until today, when it says “access denied”, and here is somewhere where she posted:

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/user/mriana
    http://www.rationalresponders.com/problems_with_acharya_s_a_brief_review

    Brian, I do hope you peek in over here, because IF I didn’t get a message that I was blocked and not allowed to even sign in, then I would not be having people ask on my behalf as to why I can’t log in and post. A red message upon attempting to sign in that that says user has been blocked would be a sign they have been banned or something. Now please stop threatening them with being banned just because they bring it up and inquire for the information. That doesn’t seem fair to me either. It seems a bit secretive and even worse when the person is not told that they are being banned and what for- I can only assume and you know what assume means.

    I found out yesterday that I was blocked from even signing in to RRS. I’m rather curious as to why you just now know about it. If it is because I do not agree with you and Rookie, I will not apologize for that because I am entitled to my opinions, but it would seem nice to have a reason for being banned.

    Oh shoot! If someone is brave enough to take this over there and post it for me (even if it is a post under your name), I’d be greatful, because if I’m not banned, then I want to know why I’m not allowed to even sign in and post a rebuttle to Brian.

  • anonymous

    Sapient is right about one thing-that negativity is the key to their success. they’re like an emotional vampires-they feed off negativity and it fuels them. e someone I know suggested the best thing would be if people just didn’t pay attention to them-if xtians stopped going there totally to “debate them”, if news organizations stopped interviewing them, and if those in the freethought community who don’t agree with their tactics stopped writing to them. they are like children-they want attention. if they got less, hopefully they’d just devolve into another hate organization with ranting followers. I think that’s a good idea.

  • Mriana

    Maria said,

    December 22, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    LOL, now he’s threatened to ban someone who said Mriana was banned-right after saying he doesn’t ban anyone! LOL! and someone just sent me this latest quote of his:

    “The three of us have a combined IQ of about 450, I think that’s a good start. The rest is up to you to remove your head from your ass and read what we write, admit to yourself you’re delusional if you think we’re not intellectuals”

    so now anyone who doesn’t take it on faith that sapient is a genius just b/c he says so, is deluded! lol, yeah, the intellectuals have so much to show for it.

    Oh get out! IQ scores don’t impress me, because that is all they are scores that can fluctuate at any given moment. They mean NOTHING! Don’t let them bully you or anyone else, Maria. Divide that by three and I’m still not impressed. One day they will wake up after 4 hours sleep, no breakfast, and stressed out beyond anything and score 135 or less. It’s just a score.

    Besides, I’m not sure if that’s bragging or trying to impress others. Who knows, but I don’t buy it and even if they did, like I said it fluctuates and I’m not impressed. Besides, my son and I score pretty high ourselves. It just doesn’t impress me.

    They are being arrogant about their intelligence and one day they will take a fall off their big ego pedestal.

  • Maria

    LOL, I agree Mriana. I’ve often noticed that those who brag about their IQ’s the most are those that use them the least. All 3 members constantly complain about the fact that people point out that none of them have college degrees. Well, if you’re going to claim to be intellectuals in a particular field, you should at least have some credentials, at least something to prove you’ve studied it. Somehow I doubt anyone would take Richard Dawkins seriously if he didn’t have several credentials to show that he is a scientist who has studied his field. RRS frequently make all kinds of claims about Psychology which I’ve heard several people who do have credentials in Psych say are bogus. They demand that others provide evidence when making claims, they need to do the same.

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  • Mriana

    Well that is fine and I read what you said. None of it changes my mind and what you said, well let’s put it this way, those who know me know it’s not true and something is very wrong. Doesn’t help that posts have been altered, but that’s alright, they can see through that as well as the statement that is out of context on your blog.

    I’m entitled to my opinion and nothing I read has changed that. Personally, I don’t want to go back to such sneaky, degrading, demeaning attitudes either. I won’t deal with such abusive behaviour, so don’t unblock me. No not sour grapes, I just wanted a change to rebuttle on your turf. Doesn’t matter, since I already have.

  • AJ

    J. J. Ramsey,

    I have found that the more combative atheists tend to be more irrational. Even Dawkins, who is relatively nice as combative atheists go, has credulously repeated a quote mine of John Adams, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it,” which in context expresses a sentiment opposite to the one Adams had. It’s a variation on the theme of truth being the first casualty of war.

    He is not trying to express the opposite sentiment. Dawkins is making a different point that’s very much in line with what Adams is trying to express. If the point was that Adams thought that the world would be better without religion, then yes, that would be trying to express an opposite point to what Adams actual said. Yet taking Dawkins in context clearly shows that was not his intention. It is also accompanied by other Adams quotes.

    John Adams,

    Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been on the point of breaking out, “This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!” But in this exclamation I would have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company, I mean Hell.

    Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p41-42, p43

    The genie of religious fanaticism is rampant in present-day America, and the Founding Fathers would have been horrified. Whether or not it is right to embrace the paradox and blame the secular constitution that they devised, the founders most certainly were secularists who believed in keeping religion out of politics, and that is enough to place them firmly on the side of those who object, for example, to ostentatious displays of the Ten Commandments in government-owned public places. But it is tantalizing to speculate that at least some of the Founders might have gone beyond deism. Might they have been agnostics or even out-and-out atheists? The following statement of Jefferson is in-distinguishable from what we would now call agnosticism:

    Remarks of Jefferson’s such as ‘Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man’ are compatible with deism but also with atheism. So is James Madison’s robust anti-clericalism: ‘During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.’ The same could be said of Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Lighthouses are more useful than churches’ and of John Adams’s ‘This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it.’ Adams delivered himself of some splendid tirades against Christianity in particular: ‘As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?’ And, in another letter, this time to Jefferson, T almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!’

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    AJ, you are trying to wriggle out of the obvious:

    *Any reasonable person who read Dawkins’ quote of Adams would conclude that Dawkins was indicating that Adams thought the world would be better without religion in it.

    *Any reasonable person who read the source of Dawkins’ quote would conclude that Adams did not think the world would be better without religion in it.

    You can pile up all the verbiage that you like, but we are still left with Dawkins misleadingly quoting Adams out of context.

    You did a deeper hole by pointing out Dawkins’ further credulity. As Ed Brayton on Dispatches from the Culture Wars pointed out, Jefferson was no atheist:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/11/hitchens_jefferson_and_atheism.php

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    Oh, and Ben Franklin was no atheist, either:

    http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2007/02/hitchens_and_franklin.php

  • AJ

    J. J. Ramsey,

    AJ, you are trying to wriggle out of the obvious:

    *Any reasonable person who read Dawkins’ quote of Adams would conclude that Dawkins was indicating that Adams thought the world would be better without religion in it.

    *Any reasonable person who read the source of Dawkins’ quote would conclude that Adams did not think the world would be better without religion in it.

    You can pile up all the verbiage that you like, but we are still left with Dawkins misleadingly quoting Adams out of context.

    I’m not trying to wriggle out of the obvious, you can’t tell the wood from the trees. Any reasonable person would conclude Dawkins was indicating what he said he was before quoting the Founding Fathers. He lays out his points, then quotes some people, and none of them had anything to do with what you were accusing him of. The Adams quote in full doesn’t weaken Dawkins point of the founding fathers being Deists, and some possibly Agnostics and Atheists.

    He seems to be wrong about Jefferson being an Agnostic (he doesn’t say Jefferson is an Atheist), but you seem to think that’s somehow dishonest. Being wrong is not dishonest, you haven’t given evidence to suggest Dawkins is trying to mislead anyone, you’ve only done what you accuse Dawkins of, taken someone out of context.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    AJ: “The Adams quote in full doesn’t weaken Dawkins point of the founding fathers being Deists”

    No kidding, Sherlock. You are still dodging the fact that someone taking Dawkins’ word on what John Adams said would come to a false conclusion about Adams’ views.

    AJ: “He seems to be wrong about Jefferson being an Agnostic (he doesn’t say Jefferson is an Atheist), but you seem to think that’s somehow dishonest.”

    Actually, as I already indicated above, I think Dawkins is being credulous here, rather than outright dishonest.

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