Bad News: Greensboro Mayor Gets Rid of Moment of Silence…

***Update***: Joshua Deaton and other members of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Atheists/Agnostics/Skeptics attended last night’s city council meeting to voice their opposition to the invocations.

Here is Joshua’s speech:

Bill Knight is the mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina and he’s decided to do away with moments of silence before city council meetings!

Good for him! Finally a mayor with some common sen—-Oh, Christ, he replaced it with something even worse:

The moment of silence at the beginning of the City Council meetings will be replaced by an invocation, something the mayor has the authority to include.

Tonight’s invocation will be a remembrance of veterans in honor of Memorial Day, Knight said. At future meetings, the invocations will be more akin to prayer.

“I think this adds a very distinctly America quality and a very necessary element,” he said. “We all believe in something. This is an opportunity to exercise that without infringing on the government-religion prohibition.”

Umm… this is a perfect example of “infringing on the government/religion prohibition.”

And what does he mean “we all believe in something”? Are atheists unamerican because we don’t believe in god?

Is Knight inviting Humanists to deliver an invocation? What’s the proportion of Christian speakers to non-Christian ones?

Are Greensboro taxpayers ready to pay for the inevitable lawsuit?

This is a problem just waiting to happen.

Meanwhile, I don’t know know about Councilperson Robbie Perkins, but I like him already:

[Perkins] said the invocation is a move in the wrong direction. “Why do we want to do this?” he said. “Are we returning to the 1950s?”

(via Religion Clause)

  • KeithLM

    These prayers are just so stupid. What is it they are praying for? Guidance to make the right decision for their town? Is that really needed? Is it significant? Does anybody really care about what usually happens at a town hall meeting that it needs divine intervention?

    I can understand, to some extent, the desire to pray for a sick family member, or victims of a disaster (caused by their god no less), and some other things. But this idea of praying before each school day, or meeting, or FFS before a sporting event is just stupid and frankly vain.

  • Kristian Gore

    Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?~ James Madison

  • Kristian Gore

    A friend recently told me there is no separation of church and state. He said it’s not in the constitution “It doesn’t say it and it doesn’t mean it”. I came back with this and 11 other quotes from Madison the principle writer of our constitution and bill of rights:
    “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”~ James Madison

  • Bob

    @KeithLM:

    I know what you mean. If the purpose for which you gather requires an invocation to be effective/good, then it’s not much of a purpose to begin with.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Isn’t it ludicrous that Mayors and councillors can’t just get on with the job at hand – spending taxpayers money wisely, making good decisions for the benefit for those that live in the city, rather than ludicrous religious posturing that really has nothing to do with their job or mandate?

  • JD

    I would suggest that a return to many 1950s attitudes is exactly what the theocrats want.

  • Jonas

    At future meetings, the invocations will be more akin to prayer. “I think this adds a very distinctly America quality and a very necessary element,” he said.

    I’d like to know who called it an ‘America quality’ not an ‘American quality.’ Did he misspeak, or was it printing error?

    Also he appears to be taking a swing at non-believers for not praying. — Calling them Un-american.

    Why is this necessary again?

  • Bob

    @JD:

    More like “1150″ than 1950. A browbeaten, impoverished peasantry under the heel of self-absorbed aristocracy, with dollops of God and Jesus to keep you in line.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    Yet another moronic political leader who thinks America is a Christian nation.

    “We all believe in something.” He’s obviously referring to a higher power/creator/mythological being, and it’s offensive.

    Prayer should be banned from ANY government-related activity. This includes invocation, voodoo, rain dances, and any other horse shit.

  • https://sites.google.com/a/uncg.edu/uncg-atheists-agnostics-skeptics/ Phillip Drum

    I’m the President of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Atheists/Agnostics/Skeptics and we went to the city council meeting last night to voice our concern for this change. Here is the video from when Josh Deaton, one of our founding members took the podium:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nx2m39QFXI

    Also, we intend on going back to every meeting and the videos will be up as they come up.

  • Richard P.

    Oh come now your all so harsh.
    How else to they get to make public displays of their righteousness.
    That closet thing is so last century.

  • Ron in Houston

    What bothers me most is the “gaming” of the system that theists do in these situations. Exemptions exist in laws to allow things like invocations that honor fallen veterans.

    The problem is that folks take well meaning exceptions and shamelessly manipulate them to push their agenda.

    I often wonder about the ethics and morals of theists.

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    The rule is pretty simple. Generic prayers are OK. Sectarian prayers are not. So a government body can have a prayer, and probably invoke “God,” but it can’t reference a specific god, like Jesus.

    I say the rule is “pretty” simple, but apparently this is too complex for a lot of people to understand. But then again, some people also seem to find confusion in the quite simple taxonomy involved here: the city council is not a church.

  • SpencerDub

    I often wonder about the ethics and morals of theists.

    Oh come now, Ron. Surely, you can’t be suggesting that theists are amoral? I think you’re confusing theists with the baby-eating atheists; everyone knows that you’re only moral if you’ve got God!

  • Aaron

    I think this adds a very distinctly America quality
    So “American” = “believes in God”?
    According to some, I guess.

  • Trace

    Thanks Phillip for the link..and thanks Josh for your eloquent plea.

  • scmike

    SpencerDub said: “”everyone knows that you’re only moral if you’ve got God!”"

    As a Christian, I would never argue THAT. It’s not that atheists can’t and don’t behave morally, but that they cannot account for what they are doing, as they have no absolute standard of morality by which to condemn or codone ANY behavior in their worldview. Hope this helps.

  • Joel

    Thanks for posting this Hemant! I always find it incredibly insulting when non-believers are completely ignored by pious windbags seeking the approval of ignorant theists. I actually live in Greensboro and for some reason (maybe the fact that I’m busy as hell) I missed this bit of news. I will definitely be drafting a letter to the mayor in the next couple of days, and I suggest all of my fellow Greensboro residents who read this blog do the same.

  • Brandon

    @ scmike:

    I like to give FriendlyAtheist.com posters the benefit of the doubt before I go off assuming that they are sanctimonious pricks, so I’m going to assume that you are being satirical.

    “You can’t be moral without God” (and its variations) is an old fallacy. It’s false, arrogant, and frankly offensive.

    Claiming that we have no standard of morality is absurd, especially since you employ the same frigging standards that we do every time you break the laws of your precious fictional book (and I know you do, otherwise you’d be in jail for murder).

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    scmike:

    Saying that you can’t tell right from wrong without a transcendent standard of right and wrong is like saying you can’t tell red from green without a transcendent standard of red and green.

    i.e. it’s patently absurd.

  • SpencerDub

    For what it’s worth, my comment was facetious– I had hoped the “baby-eating” line would give it away.

  • Siamang

    Gee, how can I tell loud from quiet without an infinitely loud thing as an objective standard?

  • Siamang

    This calls for my famous “Fonzie Rebuttal” to Lee Strobel.

    (The next to the last paragraph is a rephrasing of Strobel’s own futile argument for an absolute moral standard, recasting his argument from the existence of evil as an argument from the existence of ‘nerds’.)

    Just because we can perceive good and evil, or light and dark, or loud and quiet as different as relative to each other does not mean there is an absolutely loudest thing, an absolutely brightest thing or an absolutely good thing.

    There is no such thing as the loudest sound of all time, against which we measure all sounds for their relative quietness. Rather, all one needs is two sounds to measure relative difference.

    If some kids in high-school are cool, and some are nerds, and most kids can agree on which are which, does that mean that the fictional character Fonzie exists? Would answering this question be an adequate way to discover whether or not Fonzie exists, or if he is instead a work of fiction:

    And, second, granted that the major objection to belief in Fonzie is the existence of nerds, does the concept of nerdishness itself not suggest a standard of coolness or a style and demeanor from which nerds deviate, so these kids ought to be cooler (rather than just happening to be the way they act normally), don’t such ‘nerds’ or ‘wimps’ seem to suggest a separate standard of what makes cool kids cool independent of nature?

    I guess if “Cool” exists, and we are able to perceive it and differentiate cool kids from nerds, then certainly Arthur Fonzerelli is a real living being and not a fictional character on Happy Days.

  • scmike

    Brandon,

    You said: “”I like to give FriendlyAtheist.com posters the benefit of the doubt before I go off assuming that they are sanctimonious pricks, so I’m going to assume that you are being satirical.”"

    Let me guess, you’re NOT the atheist this site was named after, are you? :)

    You said: ““You can’t be moral without God” (and its variations) is an old fallacy. It’s false, arrogant, and frankly offensive.”"

    Then it’s a good thing that is NOT my argument (as I have already mentioned).

    You said: “”Claiming that we have no standard of morality is absurd, especially since you employ the same frigging standards that we do every time you break the laws of your precious fictional book (and I know you do, otherwise you’d be in jail for murder).”"

    That’s just it Brandon, atheists DO behave morally, but they cannot account for an absolute standard of morality that SHOULD be adhered to in their worldview by which to call anything ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

    Let’s take murder for instance; as a Christian, I know it’s wrong to murder because I have an absolute, unchanging standard (the commandments of God) which tells me this.

    Why shouldn’t people murder one another in your worldview (especially if they can get away with it and it benefits them to do so)?

  • JohnFrost

    Lol, scmike is funny! :)

    (Of course, as an atheist, I have no explanation for my calling anything “funny” or “unfunny”… maybe Loki instilled this sense of humor in me? Or the Coyote? Wait, wait, I got it– Anansi, you trickster!)

    I’m a Greensboro resident, too, who never pays attention to local news… quite disappointed (but not shocked) to see my hometown headlined here. I’ll be looking up how to write the mayor/city council, and if this gets ugly and we have to sue, I’d be happy to sign on as a fellow complaintant.

  • scmike

    MikeTheInfidel,

    You said: “”Saying that you can’t tell right from wrong without a transcendent standard of right and wrong is like saying you can’t tell red from green without a transcendent standard of red and green.”"

    Exactly! Without a transcendental standard (e.g. Divine revelation) one would have no way of distinguishing between ‘red’ and ‘green’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or anything for that matter, as one could never know that their observations of reality were in fact correct or that their senses and reasoning are valid.

    You said: “”i.e. it’s patently absurd.”"

    Naturally, I disagree. However, you do raise a good question: by what standard of logic do you call ANY argument ‘absurd’? How do you account for that standard? Why does that standard necessarily apply to ANY argument?

  • scmike

    JohnFrost,

    You said: Lol, scmike is funny!

    (Of course, as an atheist, I have no explanation for my calling anything “funny” or “unfunny”… maybe Loki instilled this sense of humor in me? Or the Coyote? Wait, wait, I got it– Anansi, you trickster!)

    Hey John, I’m glad to see that you realize the need to abandon your atheism in order account for the things that cannot be accounted for in an atheistic worldview. That’s always refreshing! ;)

  • scmike

    Siamang,

    You asked: “”Gee, how can I tell loud from quiet without an infinitely loud thing as an objective standard?”"

    I would argue that, apart from God, you could never know what “loudness” or “quietness” is (or anything else for that matter).

    I’ll show you what I mean: tell me one thing you know for certain Siamang and how you claim to know it.

  • JohnFrost

    “Exactly! Without a transcendental standard (e.g. Divine revelation) one would have no way of distinguishing between ‘red’ and ‘green’”

    This goes beyond absurd… I call Poe.

  • Mike

    Why shouldn’t people murder one another in your worldview (especially if they can get away with it and it benefits them to do so)?

    Because in my worldview (and I suspect the same for most atheists) I value freedom, equality, and justice. That is my absolute standard of morality. I just didn’t need a book to tell me it was. BTW, there are plenty of Christians in prison for murder. Guess the standards weren’t so absolute for them.

    This goes beyond absurd… I call Poe.

    Actually, I call Occam’s Razor. What basis is there for the argument that without God’s revelation you would not be able to “know” what loudness or quietness is?

    …and, with apologies to Siamang, I will pick up your gauntlet. Cogito ergo sum.

  • scmike

    JohnFrost,

    I said: “Exactly! Without a transcendental standard (e.g. Divine revelation) one would have no way of distinguishing between ‘red’ and ‘green’”

    You said: This goes beyond absurd… I call Poe.

    Problem is, in calling ANY argument absurd, you’re appealing to a transcendental standard of logic and reason. How do you account for that standard in your worldview John?

    Also, how do you know that the senses and reasoning you use to distinguish one thing from another are reliable? I look forward to your response.

  • scmike

    Mike,

    I asked: “Why shouldn’t people murder one another in your worldview (especially if they can get away with it and it benefits them to do so)?”

    You replied: “”Because in my worldview (and I suspect the same for most atheists) I value freedom, equality, and justice.

    That’s nice, but why SHOULD anyone else adhere to your standard?

    You said: “”That is my absolute standard of morality.”"

    Actually, that is your ARBITRARY standard of morality, as it has zero authority and is not law-like in any way.

    You said: “”I just didn’t need a book to tell me it was.”"

    Then you should have no problem accounting for the ABSOLUTE, immaterial, universal laws of morality by which you call any behavior ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. So far, no dice.

    You said: “”BTW, there are plenty of Christians in prison for murder.”"

    Riiiight. Just like there are plenty of atheists who believe in God. :D

    You said: “”Guess the standards weren’t so absolute for them.”"

    Behavior has nothing to do with the existence of the standard. If an absolute speed limit of 55 mph was posted and someone drove 75 mph, does that mean that the standard doesn’t exist?

    You said: “”Actually, I call Occam’s Razor. What basis is there for the argument that without God’s revelation you would not be able to “know” what loudness or quietness is?”"

    The basis is the impossibility of the contrary. Apart from the God of the Bible, it is impossible to KNOW anything. If you dispute this, perhaps you can tell how it is possible for you to know anything for certain in your worldview?

    As for calling Occam’s Razor, consider this quote:

    Occam’s razor states that one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything, however, the simple theory must be able to account for or explain what needs explaining. It’s not enough to have a simpler theory if you can’t account for anything. Though we shouldn’t add entities beyond what’s needed, we also should not subtract entities beyond what’s needed.
    -Paul Manata

    You said: …and, with apologies to Siamang, I will pick up your gauntlet.

    I’m sure he won’t mind you saving him the embarassment. :)

    You said: Cogito ergo sum.

    Actually, it was atheistic Philosopher Bertrand Russell who pointed out the fallaciousness of that statement. Seems fitting.

  • scmike

    Siamang,

    You said: “”Just because we can perceive good and evil, or light and dark, or loud and quiet as different as relative to each other does not mean there is an absolutely loudest thing, an absolutely brightest thing or an absolutely good thing.”"

    If this is truly your position with regards to behavior, then child molestation, murder, rape, lying, etc. are not ‘wrong’ according to your worldview, they’re just ‘different’.

    You therefore have zero justification for condemning ANY behavior, apart from your own personal preference, which is purely arbitrary and therefore irrational. Perhaps you should give this some serious thought?

  • Mike

    That’s nice, but why SHOULD anyone else adhere to your standard?

    You didn’t ask why anyone else should adhere to my standard. You asked why, as an atheist I would not murder. I answered. You seem to think that simply because someone does not believe in God that they have no basis for morality. I simply used myself as an example to display that you can have a basis for morality without an adherence to a particular religion.

    Actually, that is your ARBITRARY standard of morality, as it has zero authority and is not law-like in any way.

    Choosing to follow a morality set forth in a book or established by religious doctrine is no less arbitrary. As far as I am concerned, Christianity has zero authority. If “law-like” is your concern, then I think the secular laws in place to prevent murder should be sufficient.

    Riiiight. Just like there are plenty of atheists who believe in God.
    Claiming No True Scottsman, then?

    Behavior has nothing to do with the existence of the standard. If an absolute speed limit of 55 mph was posted and someone drove 75 mph, does that mean that the standard doesn’t exist?
    That was exactly my point.

    The basis is the impossibility of the contrary. Apart from the God of the Bible, it is impossible to KNOW anything. If you dispute this, perhaps you can tell how it is possible for you to know anything for certain in your worldview?

    I do not believe it is possible to KNOW anything for certain. The part of your claim that I reject is “Apart from the God of the Bible.” Explain how belief in the “god of the Bible” changes the ability to know.

    RE: Occam’s Razor. Yes. You have added an entity.

    I’m sure he won’t mind you saving him the embarassment.

    I would not presume to speak for him.

    Actually, it was atheistic Philosopher Bertrand Russell who pointed out the fallaciousness of that statement. Seems fitting.

    If you accept Russell’s arguments…

  • scmike

    Mike,

    I asked: “That’s nice, but why SHOULD anyone else adhere to your standard?”

    You replied: “”You didn’t ask why anyone else should adhere to my standard. You asked why, as an atheist I would not murder.”"

    Sorry Mike, looks like you may have misread my question. No problem, here it is again:

    I asked: ‘Why shouldn’t people murder one another in your worldview (especially if they can get away with it and it benefits them to do so)?’ (From May 20, 8:32 AM)

    You said: “”I answered.”"

    I trust you can see your error now.

    You said: “”You seem to think that simply because someone does not believe in God that they have no basis for morality.”"

    Nope, I know it for certain. Apart from the God of the Bible, you have no logical justification for morality (i.e. that which ‘should’ be), as the most your worldview could ever hope to give us is that which ‘is’. I’d really like to see how you logically get from that which ‘is’ to that which ‘should be’.

    You said: “”I simply used myself as an example to display that you can have a basis for morality without an adherence to a particular religion.”"

    Actually, all you demonstrated was your arbitrary personal opinion, which again has zero authority and is not law-like in any way. Again, morality is that which ‘should’ be. Surely you’re not positing that your standard is the ideal are you? If so, how do you know this to be the case?

    You said: “”Choosing to follow a morality set forth in a book or established by religious doctrine is no less arbitrary.”"

    Unless of course that moral standard is a reflection of the absolute, immaterial, universal nature of God, which it is.

    You said: “”As far as I am concerned, Christianity has zero authority.”"

    Thankfully though, what you may believe about Christianity has nothing to do with the actual truth and authority of Christianity. I am pleased with that.

    You said: If “law-like” is your concern, then I think the secular laws in place to prevent murder should be sufficient.

    Could those laws change? If they did change such that murder was deemed lawful, would it then be right to murder? How do you know?

    I said: “Riiiight. Just like there are plenty of atheists who believe in God.”

    You replied: “”Claiming No True Scottsman, then?”"

    Nope. Mutual exclusivity.

    I said: “Behavior has nothing to do with the existence of the standard. If an absolute speed limit of 55 mph was posted and someone drove 75 mph, does that mean that the standard doesn’t exist?

    You said:That was exactly my point.

    Glad we agree that just because some people may transgress an absolute standard doesn’t mean that the standard isn’t there.

    Now, how do you account for the existence of absolute standards in your worldview?

    I said: “The basis is the impossibility of the contrary. Apart from the God of the Bible, it is impossible to KNOW anything. If you dispute this, perhaps you can tell how it is possible for you to know anything for certain in your worldview?”

    You replied: “”I do not believe it is possible to KNOW anything for certain.”"

    Then, perhaps I should ask you if you are certain that you believe this? Are you? ;)

    You said: “”The part of your claim that I reject is “Apart from the God of the Bible.” Explain how belief in the “god of the Bible” changes the ability to know.”"

    Gladly, but first I need to correct your understanding of my claim. It is the Christian position that God has revealed Himself to all people so that we can know for certain who He is and what he expects of us with regards to morality, logic, reason, etc. Therefore, I don’t BELIEVE in God, I KNOW for certain He exists (as do you).

    Apart from Divine revelation from a Being that knows everything, it is impossible to KNOW anything for certain (as you are demonstrating right now). We both claim to know things Mike, but only one of us can logically account for that possibility in our worldview. I can and have, while you have not and cannot. Why trust such an absurd and hopeless position?

    You said: “”RE: Occam’s Razor. Yes. You have added an entity.”"

    Not at all. I have provided the necessary preconditon for absolute laws of morality, logic and reason, as well as knowledge (by the impossibility of the contrary).

    Your inability to provide a competing account for these concepts while holding to a contrary worldview only serves to demonstrate the truth of my claim. I am grateful!

    I said: “I’m sure he won’t mind you saving him the embarassment.”

    You said: “”I would not presume to speak for him.”"

    Let’ hope not for his sake. :D (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

    I said: “Actually, it was atheistic Philosopher Bertrand Russell who pointed out the fallaciousness of that statement. Seems fitting.”

    If you accept Russell’s arguments…

    Sorry Mike, an argument need not be accepted in order to be valid, as truth does not equal persuasion.

  • Siamang

    If this is truly your position with regards to behavior, then child molestation, murder, rape, lying, etc. are not ‘wrong’ according to your worldview, they’re just ‘different’.

    No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying we measure good and bad behavior against other behavior, and not against an immeasurable infinite.

    When you build a house, do you build it up from the ground, or down from the sky?

    “You therefore have zero justification for condemning ANY behavior,”

    On the contrary. I have the same as you: minimize harm. I just don’t pretend my invisible friend told me so.

    “apart from your own personal preference, which is purely arbitrary and therefore irrational.”

    I’m sorry, when have you established that I am arbitrary and/or irrational?

    I’m not arbitrary, nor am I irrational, as anyone who knows me can attest. Please refrain from insults.

    “Perhaps you should give this some serious thought?”

    Trust me, I have. I’ve had a million internet arguments with people like you who subscribe to the notion that you’re the only one with grounding for morality.

    Look up Epicurus. Look up the Euthyphro dilemma.

    Just because your fictional God commands something in a book written by (fallible, arbitrary, irrational) men, that doesn’t make it good.

  • Mike

    I asked: “That’s nice, but why SHOULD anyone else adhere to your standard?”
    You replied: “”You didn’t ask why anyone else should adhere to my standard. You asked why, as an atheist I would not murder.””
    Sorry Mike, looks like you may have misread my question. No problem, here it is again:
    I asked: ‘Why shouldn’t people murder one another in your worldview (especially if they can get away with it and it benefits them to do so)?’ (From May 20, 8:32 AM)
    You said: “”I answered.””
    I trust you can see your error now.

    No I cannot. I gave you my worldview. It explained quite succinctly, I think, why I believe people should not murder.

    Nope, I know it for certain. Apart from the God of the Bible, you have no logical justification for morality (i.e. that which ’should’ be), as the most your worldview could ever hope to give us is that which ‘is’. I’d really like to see how you logically get from that which ‘is’ to that which ’should be’.

    If I can justify immoral actions towards another being, then that being can justify immoral actions towards myself (let us stick with murder). In order for us to be mutually protected from murder by each other, it should be prohibited to commit murder. Why is that illogical?

    Actually, all you demonstrated was your arbitrary personal opinion, which again has zero authority and is not law-like in any way. Again, morality is that which ’should’ be. Surely you’re not positing that your standard is the ideal are you? If so, how do you know this to be the case?

    You are correct, I did share my “arbitrary personal opinion” and I am not stating that it should be authoritative or law. However, I would like to believe that the idea that murder is wrong would be the ideal.

    Unless of course that moral standard is a reflection of the absolute, immaterial, universal nature of God, which it is.
    Prove it.

    Thankfully though, what you may believe about Christianity has nothing to do with the actual truth and authority of Christianity. I am pleased with that.

    What authority? It only has authority over its adherents.

    Could those laws change? If they did change such that murder was deemed lawful, would it then be right to murder? How do you know?

    Yes they could. And no it would not. Because of my morality based in the values I espoused before. Others might discagree.

    Nope. Mutual exclusivity.

    I see no difference.

    Glad we agree that just because some people may transgress an absolute standard doesn’t mean that the standard isn’t there. Now, how do you account for the existence of absolute standards in your worldview?
    You are missing my point. The standard is not absolute. The speed limit could be changed. And while the limit and the laws could influence one’s behavior, they do not dictate it.

    Then, perhaps I should ask you if you are certain that you believe this? Are you?
    Yes I am certain I believe it. There is a difference between belief and knowledge.

    Gladly, but first I need to correct your understanding of my claim. It is the Christian position that God has revealed Himself to all people so that we can know for certain who He is and what he expects of us with regards to morality, logic, reason, etc. Therefore, I don’t BELIEVE in God, I KNOW for certain He exists (as do you).

    Apart from Divine revelation from a Being that knows everything, it is impossible to KNOW anything for certain (as you are demonstrating right now). We both claim to know things Mike, but only one of us can logically account for that possibility in our worldview. I can and have, while you have not and cannot. Why trust such an absurd and hopeless position?
    Still don’t buy it. You stated it yourself. “It is the Christian position [belief] that God has revealed himself…” You do not know; you simply believe you know. You may claim to KNOW things, but I do not. I am simply a man with beliefs. You are too, but you have convinced yourself that you KNOW. I find that absurd.

    Not at all. I have provided the necessary preconditon for absolute laws of morality, logic and reason, as well as knowledge (by the impossibility of the contrary). Your inability to provide a competing account for these concepts while holding to a contrary worldview only serves to demonstrate the truth of my claim. I am grateful!

    Glad you are grateful, but I have provided a competing account. You have simply dismissed my arguments out of hand and (seemingly smugly) claimed victory. Is that why you are here?

    Let’ hope not for his sake.

    Cute. I wonder if you can argue without insulting those you argue with.

    Sorry Mike, an argument need not be accepted in order to be valid, as truth does not equal persuasion.

    That is true. Unfortunately it is also not possible for you to know that you are the one with full knowledge of what the truth is.

    BTW, I apologize in advance, since I suspect you will no doubt reply to this post, but I will be travelling over the next few days. It is unlikely I will be able to respond for a while. Have a good weekend.

  • scmike

    Siamang,

    I said: “If this is truly your position with regards to behavior, then child molestation, murder, rape, lying, etc. are not ‘wrong’ according to your worldview, they’re just ‘different’.”

    You said: “”No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying we measure good and bad behavior against other behavior, and not against an immeasurable infinite.”"

    And I’m telling you that if that’s the case, there could be no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behavior, just ‘those behaviors which are different’. Sure, a particular behavior might be against your personal preference, but you could never logically justify calling that behavior ‘bad’, apart from an absolute standard by which to gauge this.

    You see, if I say the answer to ‘what is 2+2′ is 76 and you say the answer is 19 we can know that both answers are ‘wrong’ (bad)ONLY because we know what the right answer ‘should’ be. In this case, ’4′ is the absolute standard (in base 10 mathematics) by which we determine the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of ANY potential answer to this problem.

    What I want to know is: what is the absolute standard by which you call any behavior ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in your worldview? How do you account for that standard? Why does that standard necessarily apply to any behavior? Well?

    I said: “You therefore have zero justification for condemning ANY behavior,”

    You said: “”On the contrary. I have the same as you:”"

    I do not doubt that at all. You just choose to suppress the truth regarding the only possible source of the Standard that gives you that justification. Nothing new there.

    You said: “”minimize harm.”"

    And what is the standard that says ‘minimizing harm’ is the ‘right’ thing to do? Didn’t terrorists evolve too? How do you know that they didn’t evolve the ‘right’ morals and you didn’t evolve the ‘wrong’ ones?

    You said: “”I just don’t pretend my invisible friend told me so.”"

    So you’re making this stuff up on your own? Are you sure you really want to admit that on a public forum. :D

    I said: “apart from your own personal preference, which is purely arbitrary and therefore irrational.”

    You said: “”I’m sorry, when have you established that I am arbitrary and/or irrational?”"

    When you failed to posit your non-arbitrary, rational standard of morality by which you call any behavior ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

    You said: “”I’m not arbitrary, nor am I irrational, as anyone who knows me can attest. Please refrain from insults.”"

    My evaluation of your position was not meant as an insult. I just call ‘em like I see ‘em. :)

    You should know, though, that atheism is the very epitome of arbitrariness and irrationality, as it cannot account for any of the necessary preconditions of intelligibility such as logic, reason, morality, truth, and knowledge (to name a few). This has already been demonstrated in this very thread.

    I said: “Perhaps you should give this some serious thought?”

    You said: “”Trust me, I have. I’ve had a million internet arguments with people like you who subscribe to the notion that you’re the only one with grounding for morality.”"

    Sadly though, no argument will ever convince someone who doesn’t want to be convinced. As I told Mike, truth doesn’t always equal persuasion.

    I pray that you cease your suppression of the truth before it’s too late.

    You said: “”Just because your fictional God commands something in a book written by (fallible, arbitrary, irrational) men, that doesn’t make it good.”"

    Well, looks like you just threw any hope of not being seen as arbitrary and irrational out the window with that arbitrary and irrational (i.e. baseless) comment.

    Please prove that God is fictional and that He could not reveal things to us so that we could know them to be objectively certain.

  • Siamang

    Hang on. Full stop. scmike wrote : “Therefore, I don’t BELIEVE in God, I KNOW for certain He exists (as do you).”

    Wait. So your position is that people who don’t agree with you about the existence of God really secretly DO agree with you, but they are lying?

    Wow. The arrogance and self-centeredness of that position is truly breathtaking. I’m frankly stunned.

    That really wraps up any chance of conversation with you, doesn’t it? Anything I say will be completely pointless, as you alone hold the one truthful position, and everyone else knows it, secretly.

    Message received. This conversation is not worth my time, as it’s one-sided.

    I’m done. Have fun ruling the universe.

  • Siamang

    (I’m done talking to scmike at this point, next bit is for any other readers.)

    Man, I knew that religion can really mind-fuck a person, but I’m always stunned when I come across someone so messed up beyond the ability to see or understand any point of view but their own.

    Everyone here has seen the likes of scmike before, and he won’t be the last. I should have known that trying to engage him in conversation was pointless when he played the old trick of claiming God was the author of logic, therefore we can’t offer logical arguments without a tacit acknowledgment that theism is true. Lol. Next he’ll say that God created language, and so by merely talking, he wins the debate!

    The fact that he’s trying to “win” a “debate” with these gotcha-games shows that he’s lost so much. He’s not here to seek understanding. He’s not here to understand or learn anything, or indeed share anything. He is the only one with access to Ultimate Truth, and his ego is too large to let anyone else’s understanding, experience or wisdom make a dent.

    A shame and a waste.

    Yet another case-study in why religion is so important to fight. It erects such walls between people searching to understand each other. What a harmful, dividing force it can be.

    We’ve got to do better.

  • scmike

    Mike,

    You said: “”I gave you my worldview. It explained quite succinctly, I think, why I believe people should not murder.”"

    Sorry Mike, it didn’t explain why people SHOULDN’T murder at all. Again, all you have done is made known your personal preference regarding murder. No offense, but why should anyone else care about your personal preference, especially if they happen to like murdering people and intend to exercise that preference upon you?

    You see, when it comes to arbitrary standards, one is just as valid as another. This means that someone else has just as much right to impose their standards upon you as you do to impose yours upon them, and you would have zero logical justification for saying anything about them doing so if you truly lived according to your beliefs (which, thankfully, you don’t).

    After all, why in an atheistic worldview does it matter what one evolved bag of molecules does to another? You wouldn’t put a lion in prison for killing a gazelle, so what gives human life dignity over that of other life forms in a worldview which denies God?
    You see, apart from an absolute standard of morality, you are forced to admit that

    I said: “Nope, I know it for certain. Apart from the God of the Bible, you have no logical justification for morality (i.e. that which ’should’ be), as the most your worldview could ever hope to give us is that which ‘is’. I’d really like to see how you logically get from that which ‘is’ to that which ’should be’.”

    You said: “”If I can justify immoral actions towards another being, then that being can justify immoral actions towards myself (let us stick with murder). In order for us to be mutually protected from murder by each other, it should be prohibited to commit murder. Why is that illogical?”"

    Because you are arbitrarily declaring murder to be ‘immoral’ with zero justification whatsoever. How do you know that murdering people is not what we should be doing as opposed to not murdering them?

    How do you know that murderers didn’t evolve the right standard of behavior, in which case they are the ‘moral’ ones and you are the ‘immoral’ one? As a matter of fact, how does anyone distinguish ‘moral’ behavior from ‘immoral’ behavior in your worldview?

    I said: “Actually, all you demonstrated was your arbitrary personal opinion, which again has zero authority and is not law-like in any way. Again, morality is that which ’should’ be. Surely you’re not positing that your standard is the ideal are you? If so, how do you know this to be the case?”

    You said: “”You are correct, I did share my “arbitrary personal opinion” and I am not stating that it should be authoritative or law.”"

    Actually, that’s exactly what you’re doing when you label any behavior ‘wrong’ and say that it ‘should not’ be done. In doing so, you become irrational in your thinking and behavior (not to mention inconsistent with your professed atheistic worldview), as you have zero justification for imposing your belief on another.

    In an atheistic worldview, the universe is just ‘matter in motion’ without any purpose whatsoever. Peoples actions are then also meaningless, kind of like the spattering of rain on the ground. You would never look at the different spatter patterns of raindrops on the concrete and call one ‘right’ and another ‘wrong’, you would only say that they are different with regards to one another.

    The fact that you do know that some behaviors are right and some are wrong demonstrates the truth of the Bible that you do know that God exists in your heart of hearts, but are merely suppressing that truth in unrighteousness to avoid accountability to Him. Not very wise.

    You said: “”However, I would like to believe that the idea that murder is wrong would be the ideal.”"

    The ‘ideal’ for achieving what purpose?

    I said: “Unless of course that moral standard is a reflection of the absolute, immaterial, universal nature of God, which it is.”

    You said: “”Prove it.”"

    You’ve already done a super job of proving it for me, by your inability to account for an absolute, objective standard of morality by which you can logically justify calling anything right or wrong. I appreciate that!

    I said: “Thankfully though, what you may believe about Christianity has nothing to do with the actual truth and authority of Christianity. I am pleased with that.”

    You said: “”What authority? It only has authority over its adherents.”"

    Actually, the authority of Christianity is founded upon the God of the Bible, who has revealed Himself to all mankind and whom you continue to appeal to in your responses while denying Him at the same time.

    I give you an example: earlier, you asked me ‘proof’ that God is the source of absolute laws of morality. Obviously you believe in the concept of proof, or you wouldn’t be asking me for it. What you may not realize, though, is that proof of anything requires truth, knowledge (which is certain by definition), and absolute laws of logic and reason.

    How do you account for the existence of any of these concepts apart from the Christian God?

    I asked: “Could those laws change? If they did change such that murder was deemed lawful, would it then be right to murder? How do you know?”

    You said: “”Yes they could. And no it would not. Because of my morality based in the values I espoused before. Others might discagree.”"

    So, who is right; you or them? How do you know?

    You said: “”Claiming No True Scottsman, then?”"

    I said: “Nope. Mutual exclusivity.”

    You replied: “”I see no difference.”"

    One is fallacious, the other is not.

    I said: “Glad we agree that just because some people may transgress an absolute standard doesn’t mean that the standard isn’t there. Now, how do you account for the existence of absolute standards in your worldview?”

    You replied: “”You are missing my point. The standard is not absolute. The speed limit could be changed.”"

    Uh, not if it’s ABSOLUTE (which it was in the scenario I presented).

    You said: “”And while the limit and the laws could influence one’s behavior, they do not dictate it.”"

    Is that absolutely true, or could it be false?

    You said: “”I do not believe it is possible to KNOW anything for certain.”"

    I said: “Then, perhaps I should ask you if you are certain that you believe this? Are you?”

    You replied: “”Yes I am certain I believe it.”"

    Great, then you refute yourself! Now, how is it possible to be certain of anything in your worldview?

    You said: “”There is a difference between belief and knowledge.”"

    Correct. Knowledge is certain by definition while belief is not. Now, once again, how is it possible to know anything for certain in your worldview?

    I said: “Gladly, but first I need to correct your understanding of my claim. It is the Christian position that God has revealed Himself to all people so that we can know for certain who He is and what he expects of us with regards to morality, logic, reason, etc. Therefore, I don’t BELIEVE in God, I KNOW for certain He exists (as do you).

    Apart from Divine revelation from a Being that knows everything, it is impossible to KNOW anything for certain (as you are demonstrating right now). We both claim to know things Mike, but only one of us can logically account for that possibility in our worldview. I can and have, while you have not and cannot. Why trust such an absurd and hopeless position?”

    You said: “”Still don’t buy it. You stated it yourself. “It is the Christian position [belief] that God has revealed himself…” You do not know; you simply believe you know.”"

    Perhaps we can determine that once you tell us how it is possible to know anything for certain in your worldview. You’ve already admitted that you can (after you originally denied the possibility, of course), now please tell how.

    You said: “”You may claim to KNOW things, but I do not.”"

    Really? Guess you forgot about your comment earlier where you said this:

    ‘Yes I am certain I believe it’
    –Mike

    What gives??

    You said: “”I am simply a man with beliefs. You are too, but you have convinced yourself that you KNOW. I find that absurd.”"

    Do you know any of this for certain, or could it all be false? Let me know.

    I said: “”Not at all. I have provided the necessary preconditon for absolute laws of morality, logic and reason, as well as knowledge (by the impossibility of the contrary). Your inability to provide a competing account for these concepts while holding to a contrary worldview only serves to demonstrate the truth of my claim. I am grateful!”

    You said: “”Glad you are grateful, but I have provided a competing account.”"

    Are you certain that you have provided a competing account? If so, how are you certain of this?

    You said: “”Cute. I wonder if you can argue without insulting those you argue with.”"

    Guess you missed the big :D after my comment. Surely you can stand a little friendly sarcasm, (or is that absolutely not allowed in your worldview :) )?

    I said: “Sorry Mike, an argument need not be accepted in order to be valid, as truth does not equal persuasion.”

    You said: “”That is true. Unfortunately it is also not possible for you to know that you are the one with full knowledge of what the truth is.”"

    Do you know for certain that this is not possible? If so, how?

    You said: “”BTW, I apologize in advance, since I suspect you will no doubt reply to this post, but I will be travelling over the next few days. It is unlikely I will be able to respond for a while. Have a good weekend.”"

    No problem Mike. I hope you have a safe trip and look forward to resuming this discussion upon your return. :)

  • scmike

    Siamang,

    You said: “”Hang on. Full stop. scmike wrote : “Therefore, I don’t BELIEVE in God, I KNOW for certain He exists (as do you).”

    Wait. So your position is that people who don’t agree with you about the existence of God really secretly DO agree with you, but they are lying?”"

    I would say ‘self-deceived’ is more like it.

    You said: “”Wow. The arrogance and self-centeredness of that position is truly breathtaking. I’m frankly stunned.

    That really wraps up any chance of conversation with you, doesn’t it? Anything I say will be completely pointless, as you alone hold the one truthful position, and everyone else knows it, secretly.

    Message received. This conversation is not worth my time, as it’s one-sided.

    I’m done. Have fun ruling the universe”"

    Glad to see that you have no rational objection to the argument. Take care. :D

  • scmike

    Siamang,

    You said: “”(I’m done talking to scmike at this point, next bit is for any other readers.)

    Man, I knew that religion can really mind-**** a person, but I’m always stunned when I come across someone so messed up beyond the ability to see or understand any point of view but their own.

    Everyone here has seen the likes of scmike before, and he won’t be the last. I should have known that trying to engage him in conversation was pointless when he played the old trick of claiming God was the author of logic, therefore we can’t offer logical arguments without a tacit acknowledgment that theism is true. Lol. Next he’ll say that God created language, and so by merely talking, he wins the debate!

    The fact that he’s trying to “win” a “debate” with these gotcha-games shows that he’s lost so much. He’s not here to seek understanding. He’s not here to understand or learn anything, or indeed share anything. He is the only one with access to Ultimate Truth, and his ego is too large to let anyone else’s understanding, experience or wisdom make a dent.

    A shame and a waste.

    Yet another case-study in why religion is so important to fight. It erects such walls between people searching to understand each other. What a harmful, dividing force it can be.

    We’ve got to do better.”"

    Your need to save face by directing your responses to those who sympathize with your position instead of towards me (as a means to avoid dealing with my previous challenges to your worldview and those which would surely follow) is duly noted. Priceless!! :D

  • Mike

    As this discussion is getting unweildly with the whole “you Said” “I said” bit, I shall attempt to clear up my position by responding to your final question.

    Do you know for certain that this is not possible? If so, how?

    I am coming to think we are speaking of different definitions of knowledge. I am speaking epitemologically. Therefore, not only can I not claim knowledge (Certainty != Knowledge) but I can also not accept that you do.


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