My Secular Life, So Far

Editor’s Note: Knowing that “RJ Twain” left the clergy before his doubt became disbelief, I thought it might not be taxing to write about his secular life without referring negatively to his previous life in the clergy. To my surprise, he told me that given his current circumstances, it would be hard to approach the task honestly. So I asked him to speak from the heart, and he did.

================================

By R.J. Twain

Assignment: “Stop talking endlessly about us [Christians] for a month and tell us about your joyful secular lives in detail.”

Gather round, gather round, and hear again the refrain of every self-satisfied member of a powerful majority.

“Stop whining.”

Native Americans. Blacks. Women. Gays. Immigrants. People with disabilities. Atheists. The list is long, and the refrain never changes.

“Stop complaining.”

Don’t talk about the pain, or the loss, or the continual, inescapable consequences of not quite fitting the status quo. Don’t start any groups that heal the hurt. Don’t start any movements that push for change. Sit down, shut up, and take it. And most of all?

“Smile, baby. You look so pretty when you smile.”

Marilyn_Monroe_postcard

You know when I live a joyful secular life? Any time I’m safe from the influence and attention of people like you, John Mark Reynolds. Every day that space gets a little larger:

  • As piece-by-piece I rebuild my life,
  • As inch-by-inch science overcomes superstition,
  • As fight-by-fight we win dignity and opportunity for every human being.

In those spaces, I’m more free and happy than I’ve ever been.

  • Free to think my own thoughts.
  • Free to explore the wide and beautiful world with good friends at my side.
  • Free to contribute to the continuing story of mankind’s progress.

Outside of those moments, I don’t live a joyful secular life. I live a frustrating, stressful life as trying to claw my way back from the edge of complete bankruptcy and isolation. I see my kids six days a month, and I’m not allowed to take them to one of my joyful secular celebrations on Sunday, per terms of the divorce agreement, thanks to a highly religious ex-wife and a highly religious judge. I bite my tongue every day, because I know speaking honestly can cost me still more than it already has.

I will stop talking about you the very instant you stop making my life more difficult. Until then, plug your ears or open your mind. I’m done being silent.

======================

mark twainBio: RJ Twain – Occasionally funny, sometimes even on purpose. Raised in an evangelical home, RJ moved slowly to the theological left during his time in ministry, until he moved so far left he fell off the edge. He left a conservative Christian denomination to enter a very liberal one, which he left while he still believed in God, but had major doubts. Today, he’s a humanist, a rationalist-in-training, and a member of the Clergy Project.

>>>> Photo credits: By Teichnor Bros., Boston – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30153808

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Mark_Twain%2C_Brady-Handy_photo_portrait%2C_Feb_7%2C_1871%2C_cropped.jpg

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  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

    You certainly have the right to say what you will. Good. Nobody should tell anybody to “shut up.” We agree. Here is my small point: it is odd that a liberating experience intellectually has produced a website (Patheos Non-Religion) that is mostly about religion. That is sad and suggests that fundamentally American secularism is just Christianity without religion: culturally sterile. Maybe not. Academic atheists and secular humanism are very attractive alternatives, but sadly we see not much of that here. I hope your life becomes joyful and that my fellow religious believers give you the freedom to live that life.

    • Brian Westley

      Hey John, why do you slam atheists with some frequency here on pathos, but don’t allow comments? Of course you CAN, but it looks like intellectual cowardice to me.

      • Jennny

        Yes, Mr Reynolds, I’d genuinely like to know why Path/Ev bloggers are afraid of comments. The infamous Mark Driscoll said he was too busy to moderate them, but others pointed out that if he has the large church he claims, there must be several of his minions able to do it. I read Patheos/Ev till I saw the light. I began feel some of its bloggers came across as arrogant and thought they were above criticism. Either they didn’t allow comments or were defensive or downright rude to anyone who didn’t make sycophantic ones. And mention you believed in inclusion of LGBTQ in a comment however politely and you were banned. My perusal of most of the other Patheos categories, shows to me that they are mostly polite to nay-sayers and allow open debate – and trolls too. I was hurt on behalf of a commenter on one of Patheos/Ev’s top blogs. His comment was on topic about being so hurt by his church shunning him for no good reason. The blogger replied ‘So your point is? Hope you feel better for getting that off your chest, don’t comment again. I only allow positive comments.’ Christian love oozing out of every pore there don’t you think? As RJ Twain says, the sheer freedom of deconverting is a wonderful experience.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

          I have written about why I don’t allow comments here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/2017/10/atheist-et-jesus-divine-revelation-talking/ It has nothing to do with my disilike of interacting with people who disagree with me as I hope my response at the moment indicates.

          • Jennny

            I apologise for not having studied your blog thoroughly enough. My confirmation bias it may be, but I maintain that a little more Gal 5:22-23 and a little less ‘I am 6ft above criticism’ from P/Ev bloggers would be a better advertisement for their faith than the gratuitous rudeness in evidence from some of them.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            As a person who periodically engages Patheos non-religious for this reason, who debates leading non-religious types (Barker, Shermer, Eldredge, etc), who just got back from Minnesota dialoging with college students (and now answering twenty-two questions they sent me), I think you are missing what most of us do. Blog comments tend to the puerile and profane (maybe including mine!) . . . and there are better forums with a broader (less anonymous audience) like Twitter and Facebook where the mechanism is better and where I have engaged in threads hundreds of posts long. Not engaging in every forum is not engaging in none. . .

          • Raging Bee

            So you complain about comments being “puerile and profane,” and that’s your excuse for confining your arguments to two of the most puerile and profane social-media outlets out there? Sorry, not buying that excuse. Try again.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Facebook does not have me dealing with anonymous people . . . who are almost always bad actors. Twitter allows for shorter threads and fast dialog with the people (some anonymous). Those tools work best for me.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds
    • Linda_LaScola

      HI, John Mark — thanks for weighing in and for the kind words to RJ Twain.

      As for a liberating experience producing a non-religious website thats mainly about religion — I have two thoughts: 1) there is not necessarily a direct relationship between the two and 2) The blogger, RJ Twain is certainly not in a position to respond. He is a member of The Clergy Project who is not directly involved with Patheos. He writes here at my invitation like all other Clergy Project members.

      Maybe you’d like to weigh in on recent post on this same subject that did not mention religion in a negative way at all. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rationaldoubt/2017/11/the-centered-life/

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        Correlation never is just causation . . .but it is sad. The piece cited above is generally helpful to anybody, religious or not, and is exactly what I hope most pieces in a plularistic place would be: how I live my life . . .

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

          To give an example: Chinese Christians who live in an officially atheist state who face high grade oppression for their beliefs generally argue (when they argue) for their ideas and do not put down atheism (even when they come to free societies where they could). This seems more effective, mentally healthy, and better for a pluralistic society like our own where religion and atheism must co-exist peacefully!

          • ElizabetB.

            Hello again, John Mark N! I think I see what you’re saying, but… when we learned about the effects of the Zika virus, it was good to warn about those effects and not just talk about the delight of being mosquito-bite free.

            There are many places to discuss life without mentioning religion; seems to me there is a place for warning against harmful versions of it, and analyzing points of view….

          • Linda_LaScola

            excellent analogy!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            It is. Atheism of the sort practiced in China has directly killed millions. One can earn against it without saying “all atheists”…

          • mason lane

            That’s Communism not atheism.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Mason: in China the government experiments with many ideas but state atheism is non-negotiable. How is Hong Kong communist?

            Don’t deny the experience of millions of people punished only because they are not atheists even if marxists in economics.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Agree basically.

    • mason lane

      “That is sad and suggests that fundamentally American secularism is just Christianity without religion: culturally sterile.” What? Seriously, do you just pull these absurd thoughts out of a tall black hat?

      You either have no concept of Secularism, have confused it with Humanism which still is not Christianity sans the religion (not sure which Christianity brand you mean), are trying to express another one of your apologist convoluted tangled twisted ideas, or and most likely, just being your regular apologist troll self.

      “Here is my small point: it is odd that a liberating experience intellectually has produced a website (Patheos Non-Religion) that is mostly about religion.”

      Microscopical small indeed.
      Consider:
      How germs have helped to produce medical science.
      How mental illness has produced psychiatry.
      How tyranny has produced democracy.
      How rapes have produced a sexual abuse crisis center.

      Maybe those analogies will help you see how Intellectual Liberation has produced Pathos Non-Religion which is mainly about religion.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        Well, I do have a tall black hat that I use at very formal events, but I did not pull this idea from it. Instead, it is based on the amount atheism has contributed positively to the formation of US culture and the amount Christianity has contributed positively and negatively to American culture. Atheism seems to punch below its weight even compared to such cultural minorities as Mormons. LDS people have certainly faced and face minority idea status, but appear more constructive in the face of this.

        My own church is a religious minority (for hundreds of years) in nations. We think a lot about how to handle this well . . . And don’t always get it right. Still even in nations where atheists make our lives . . . Shorter. . . We have tended to focus most, though not all, our efforts on a positive case for Christianity rather than the negative case against (that form) of atheism.

        Secularism has several meanings. I meant the philosophy (including a governing philosophy) that rejects all religious ideas and concepts. Humanism is, of course, often religious (see Christian humanism).

        The casual assumption that religion is similar to mental illness, germs, tyranny, and rape may be one reason pop-atheism is so disliked in the US. This is not a very sensible idea in a nation where ideas of government depend in part on Christian philosopher John Locke or that has produced scientists like the Christian Francis Collins. We may be wrong . . . And we certainly have done harm, but your analogy is intellectually suspect.

        Perhaps a comparison will make my point:

        Imagine a Christian who thought ALL atheism was a germ/mental illness/tyranny/or rape and that he or she should always attack atheism in the most extreme manner. That would be unhealthy and also false. Atheism is NOT always bad . . . Or foolish. . . Or tyrannical in practice. In fact, in present nations where state atheism is killing Christians and where they face oppression of epic proportions the proper approach (and one most take) is to make a positive case for their views.

        Of course, if you think an idea is false, you should say “why,” but I am not sure making that the center of your public face is reasonable or good, but apparently just about every writer here disagrees.

        • mason lane

          Hmmm, I have a tall black hat, from when I was in a rock band. (I should scan the pic for you) Looks like we’re both mad hatters. But back to serious business.

          You just don’t get it do you? You really don’t. …. “based on the amount atheism has contributed positively.” What?

          Atheism doesn’t do anything. I repeat ATHEISM DOESN’T DO ANYTHING. Atheism is merely no belief in any deity, especially yours. :)

          Secularism does do great great wonderful things. Like the United States Constitution. The laws of the United States which are secular laws in a secular nation. Secularism produces the sciences; the sciences that demand evidence and have no room for irrational “faith” in deities the way religion so ignorantly tried for ages to explain life and natural phenomena.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You are equivocating on “secularism.” Secularism in the sense of different spheres of activity (church/state) is compatible with religion and Christians helped develop it. Secularism the philosophy that sees not good in religion and shuns it is not the same thing. The second has done little good or bad in American history because few have held it.

        • Brian Westley

          The casual assumption that religion is similar to mental illness, germs, tyranny, and rape may be one reason pop-atheism is so disliked in the US. This is not a very sensible idea in a nation where ideas of government depend in part on Christian philosopher John Locke

          Locke’s “A Letter on Toleration” argued for religious toleration — except for Catholics and atheists. I prefer better philosophers.

          Imagine a Christian who thought ALL atheism was a germ/mental illness/tyranny/or rape and that he or she should always attack atheism in the most extreme manner.

          I don’t have to imagine; Theodore Shoebat.

          And you’re very like someone who says not all Jews are bad, but frequently points out how bad some Jews are. After a while, it looks like the author has a problem with Jews, period.

          • mason lane

            Mr. Reynolds is trying the Trumpism deflection trick …. he knows our references of disdain are for the Evangelicals, their nonsense beliefs, propaganda, mental abuse of credulous children, and the persecution and shunning of anyone who leaves their cult.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Locke was wrong on some things yet I am thankful for what he got right … given what is good about our Republic. And so we agree: Shoebat crazed.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think ill informed pop atheists (see Jesus mythicists, Jesus-Horus folks) are not intellectually serious just like most atheist scholars. I don’t think the view that all religion is toxic is defensible or helpful in a Republic. None of that has anything to do with atheism qua atheism.

          • Brian Westley

            I don’t think the view that all religion is toxic is defensible or helpful in a Republic. None of that has anything to do with atheism qua atheism.

            Well, your column from two days ago (“We Meant Well: The Millions Dead Were an Excess of Enthusiasm”) convinces me of both your hypocrisy and your vituperative hatred of atheists.

          • ElizabetB.

            “Hoping Atheists…” is helpful perspective; thanks for the lead. (tho tough to read the characterization)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            It is a true account of history.

          • ElizabetB.

            “tough” was about the characterization of a dialog-er, not the blog. I know the web is the wild wild west, but I worry about how we write to one another. ‘True account of history’ — will have to think about that! : )

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Oh I see. Yes. We should be as kind as we can be. To think we could talk about present religious people in labor camps for not being atheist without mentioning atheism would be like talking about Central African Christian terrorist groups without reference to Christianity.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds
          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks! I think there’s value looking to history, but also limitation. People seem to agree that there are both constructive and destructive worldviews that are both theistic and non-theistic. I think the determining factor is: what is one’s worldview? Does it include truthtelling, integrity, respect, compassion, etc? I think that is what determines the character of the political regime, not whether or not the regime is religious or non-religious. Civilization is still relatively young, and I think constructive non-religious worldviews and regimes are a hopeful possibility.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Well, Hope I think requires substance. I would like to see it done first. Singapore is the closest I think to realizing this … and sadly religious folks are being killed today by atheist regimes:

          • ElizabetB.

            I prefer to evaluate regimes on a case-by-case basis. What’s to prevent a god from being cruel and capricious (e.g. requiring families to ostracize nonbelieving members)?

            When we prefer some religious regimes over others, I think we are judging them by some standard other than their religiosity.

            — the same standards we would use if the regimes were non-theist.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think this points to the existence of a transcendent moral law which suggests a God.

          • ElizabetB.

            The nominalist/realist question unlikely to be put to rest anytime soon : )

            I’m wondering whether this partially underlies some of the dynamics here & in the blog posts mentioned. Sometimes it seems that you think of atheism or anti-theism as a “thing” — which can be faulted for not having its own culture, etc. and can be judged by acts of regimes which are anti-theistic — whereas many dialog-ers here seem to think of themselves as individuals of many different cultural stripes who find themselves agreeing that a particular strain of religion is harmful. Not thinking of atheism or anti-theism as a “thing,” I evaluate regimes on a case-by-case basis, including historically-based Christian ones. Thanks for the dialog

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I love dialog and appreciate the chance to talk.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            That seems strong for attacking a system that killed millions of people. Readers can note that while these systems were atheistic and defended by many of the Western atheists at the time, I pointed out that some prominent atheists did not and that atheism did not create a necessary connection to brutal regimes. However, since it often has in some circumstances caution is warranted. You will note that I have also written about the type of religion that produces horrible regimes.

          • Brian Westley

            That seems strong for attacking a system that killed millions of people.

            You were attacking atheists as a class of people — THAT’S what makes you a vile person.

            However, since it often has in some circumstances caution is warranted.

            Just like a bigot who continually “cautions” against those invidious Jews.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Every officially atheist nation has murdered millions. That is not true of every officially religious state. I was not attacking atheists as a class of people and would oppose anyone doing so. I am attacking a subset of atheists as I pointed out in the piece. I have attacked classes of religious people in the same manner. It is simply a fact that there has been no atheist state that has not murdered millions.

          • Brian Westley

            Every officially atheist nation has murdered millions. That is not true of every officially religious state.

            Golfclap.

            John, you’re never going to convince me you’re anything but a vile, hateful Christian who dishonestly paints atheists as some kind of special threat, just like Luther did regarding Jews 500 years ago. I consider him to be partly responsible for the Jewish holocaust. You are likewise trying to gin up a pogrom.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I oppose a big state. The absurdity of your response is that atheists are jailing Christians today for being Christian or denying them equal rights. We could join in opposing this as I have opposed and will oppose any discrimination against atheists.

          • Brian Westley

            The absurdity of your response is that atheists are jailing Christians today for being Christian or denying them equal rights.

            That does not justify your tarring ALL atheists as evil, potential mass-murderers.

            We could join in opposing this

            Fuck off, I don’t join with vicious bastards like yourself.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I don’t think all atheists are evil just because they are atheists. All belief systems and so all of us can be coopted by a vile system so we all have to stand on guard.

            If this is vicious, you have lived a good life.

          • Brian Westley

            I don’t think all atheists are evil just because they are atheists.

            That’s not how you write.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Yet look here I am clarifying it for you! I defined a particular kind of antitheist in a second post even using a hash tag to make clear I was referring to a subset of atheists.

          • Brian Westley

            Yet look here I am clarifying it for you!

            I’d say you’re just doing a “Some of my best friends are X” and your actual attitude was seen from the start.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Some of my best friends are atheists.

          • Geoff Benson

            Really! I don’t think there’s anything like the equivalent persecution of heretics that there has been by Christianity over the centuriest.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I do. Any atheist regime. Partly due to technology of course it was much harder to survive as a dissident in the Soviet Union than Christian nation. There is a sad history of Christians persecuting dissidents (Cathars, Jewish people, etc), but also a happier tradition of leaving Hume and others alone. We should root for that form of religion in a world growing more religious, just as I hope atheism avoids the bloody path it has taken and gives us a mild secular humanist regime. I would be happy to live in Gene Roddenberry’s Federation!

          • Geoff Benson

            Well there we are again, straight into disagreement. Atheist regimes as, opposed to secular, represent a tiny proportion of nations worldwide, though I acknowledge China is a problem. Those nations that are technically atheist, have substituted ‘God’ with cult, and often tyrannical, leadership. Genuinely secular regimes are, on the whole, much better examples, and fly in the face of your arguments.

            The world is becoming less religious at a very rapid rate. Oppressed countries, such as China, or third world countries, such as Nigeria and other African countries, are lagging, but there are already signs that even their religiosity is beginning to diminish.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            The world is becoming more religious. You can’t just make up “facts”: https://www.google.com/amp/www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/07/why-people-with-no-religion-are-projected-to-decline-as-a-share-of-the-worlds-population/%3Famp%3D1 Despite state atheism religion is growing in China with education and prosperity. The myth that secularism is growing globally contradicts all the data we have.

          • Geoff Benson

            I think we’ve been here before but, heyho.

            We argued once about Hitler and, although I conceded he wasn’t really the devout Catholic he pretended to be, he at least understood the power of religious belief, with its accompanying credulity, allowing him easy manipulation of the populace. Stalin was more obviously atheist, but he understood the methods used by religion and adopted them to his own, genocidal, agenda. Pol Pot, pretty similar. Franco, the largely ignored dictator of the twentieth century; why ignored? Because he carried out his vicious persecution in the actual name of the Catholic religion he so venerated. Mussolini; largely the same.

            In short, whilst atheism was in the minds of some of the horrific dictators, it wasn’t their driving force, as far as historians are aware. On the other hand, religion in its various guises, and disguises has been ever present.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Well, that’s just wrong since it doesn’t explain the faceless persecution of religious in the 1970’s post Stalin or today’s Chinese persecution which was just reiterated as to support atheism. Religion can of course justify murderous regimes and Franco and Mussolini’s are sad and appropriate examples. In fact, however, there are happy examples of nations with state churches that allowed evolution to more secular regimes without carnage or nations with Christian super majorities that have tolerated atheism. So it is not a parallel case… again my central argument is to hope (if it comes) for a secular humanist atheism as dominant and not the mass movement ant-theism we have seen in the past. I am not sure we really disagree?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            He did not pretend very well as Catholics persisted as the main opposition to his regime with Communists to the end.

          • Geoff Benson

            Not really. The Catholic Church was hand in glove with the Nazis, with only a few, albeit notable, exceptions.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds
          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            None of what follows answers the central point that atheism has yet to control the levers of power without going to its murderous aberration. Islam has done so. Christianity has done so. I hope Western secular humanists do so.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            The difference is that Jewish people have been persecuted for centuries in a unique way. They have almost never been the pwrsecutors. That’s not true of Christians or atheists.

          • Brian Westley

            The difference is that Jewish people have been persecuted for centuries in a unique way.

            So you think that makes it OK for you to falsely vilify atheists now?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. You cannot talk about the persecution of religious people today in China without talking about atheism any more than one can talk about the Crusades without mentioning religion.

          • Brian Westley

            Why don’t you blame the Chinese and the “Yellow Peril”? China has hardly had an egalitarian government in thousands of years.

            But no, you have to blame atheists as a class of people.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            First, that would be racist. Second, it has had better governments. This one has called the most.

            I blame the atheist government of China, because they call themselves atheists and punish people for not being atheists. What would you call them?

            I do not blame atheists as a class of people.

          • Brian Westley

            First, that would be racist.

            So? Blaming atheists as a class is no better.

            I do not blame atheists as a class of people.

            You write as if you are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am not blaming atheists as a class, but certain anti-theist atheists.

            And look! You took my text as saying it and I am here telling you what I meant! I am and was not condemnedinf all atheists as a class. I pointed out some antitheist mass movement times have been violent (universally) in power. That’s a fact.

          • Brian Westley

            I am not blaming atheists as a class, but certain anti-theist atheists.

            But that is not what you wrote.

            You took my text as saying it and I am here telling you what I meant!

            I’m saying you’re just trying to backpedal now.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Why would I do that? I am quoting my own text and I can assure you my non-theist colleagues got my meaning.

          • Brian Westley

            Why would I do that?

            Because you don’t like being called out as a bigot against atheists.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Why? If I thought what you said, then I could click bait to traffic. I don’t think it. I agree with you that not all atheists are mass movement anti theists with an inability to temper rhetoric.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            And I am not. There are qualifiers in the first piece you are ignoring and a direct contradiction of your reading in the second. We agree: not all atheists.

          • Brian Westley

            I still say you are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            OK. Great. And apparently you have persuaded me to back pedal. Isn’t that good? I am happy to agree “not all atheists.” Can’t we just get along opposing bad people running gulags and bad religious terrorist groups?

          • Brian Westley

            Not while you keep vilifying atheists.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I will “villify” any group that is committing mass murder. Since we agree “not all atheists” … your cause seems won.

          • Brian Westley

            But you continue to vilify “atheists”.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I villify atheists who run mass murdering regimes. I support secular humanism as a viable alternative for a peaceful future.

          • Brian Westley

            But you still don’t write that way.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think you misunderstand what I’m saying and look I’m here to clarify. I have clarified. We agree.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think pointing out there are atheist regimes who kill people and persecute them for not being atheists is not villifying all atheists.

          • Brian Westley

            I think pointing out there are atheist regimes who kill people and persecute them for not being atheists is not villifying all atheists.

            This is the way you vilify all atheists:

            “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.”

            Yet there is decent reason to connect the atheism to the killing. Atheism as the dominant form of thought in a state correlates very neatly with mass murder.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You are leaving out all the qualifiers and disclaimers and that I wrote a second follow up to help make the point. I have no reason to deny my actual views. If I thought atheism qua atheism was always bad, I could say so. I don’t. Sorry you misread my pieces.

          • Brian Westley

            You are leaving out all the qualifiers and disclaimers and that I wrote a second follow up

            That’s why I consider it insincere backpedaling. Your original attitude came through in the first article.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Or it could be that seeing some people like you could misunderstand, I clarified as I am doing now. I have no reason to try to curry favor here. Let’s agree!

          • Brian Westley

            I have no reason to try to curry favor here.

            Of course you do; you don’t like having your own words thrown back at you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No author hates being quoted even misquoted.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Our readers will note that Mr Westley has yet to express concern that millions are being harmed in the name of atheism. He is more concerned to show I think something I don’t think.

          • Brian Westley

            Our readers will note that Mr Westley has yet to express concern that millions are being harmed in the name of atheism.

            And there you are — I didn’t go for your red herring.

            He is more concerned to show I think something I don’t think.

            OK you vicious prick, NOW you’re deliberately lying about me and claiming I’m more concerned with a fucking INTERNET ARGUMENT than people being killed and imprisoned. But it’s OK for you to defame me in your world, since I’m an atheist.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Perhaps avoiding violent rhetoric would help? I don’t think all atheists are angry. I don’t think all atheists are “mass movement anti theists.”

            I do think we should focus on present gulag victims.

          • Brian Westley

            Perhaps avoiding violent rhetoric would help?

            You first. “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I do hope we don’t face death. In Syria, my very church is getting killed by Islamic people. Not ALL Muslims… but Muslims. We can’t talk about our killers wirhout reference to Islam. In China, it is state atheism and so it seems fair to say: if Islam became dominant in Texas, I hope it doesn’t do what it periodically does in Syria …that it isn’t that Islam. And of course there have been Islamic regimes that have been better… so that is hopeful. In the same way we can hope that if an atheist regime gained power here it would be different than we have ever experienced. We have some reason for that hope (the nature of Western atheism) but also reason for concern.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Mass murder is red, but not in herring blood.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Curious about your education? Where did you go?

          • Brian Westley

            What are you babbling about now?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am trying to get a handle on your educational background to help me communicate.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Sad.

          • Brian Westley

            Yes, lying about me IS sad.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am not lying about you. I do think the important thing are the tens of millions presently suffering.

          • Brian Westley

            I am not lying about you.

            “He is more concerned to show I think something I don’t think.”

            That’s a lie.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Good. Condemn atheist regimes who mad murder.

          • Brian Westley

            Admit you deliberately lied about me first.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I didn’t lie about you , but even if I did, repudiating mass murdering regimes should not depend on my moral status!

          • Brian Westley

            I didn’t lie about you I love , but even if I did, repudiating mass murdering regimes should not depend on my moral status!

            It doesn’t, but if you aren’t going to admit you deliberately lied about me, I’m not going to bother answering your questions. There’s no point arguing with you if you feel free to lie about me.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            So you will not. OK.

          • Brian Westley

            Keep lying, liar.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You know that after jolly discussions with Niles Eldridge, Barker, Shermer… name calling is not going to deter me. We agree:

            1. Mass murder in religious and atheist regimes is wrong.
            2. Not all atheists and not all religious supports such regimes .

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            This is ok if you are a high school student, otherwise, disturbing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Pardon the Siri typos … should not text and drive.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I don’t feel free to lie about you. I disagree with your approach.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            College please?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Education please?

          • Brian Westley

            I see no reason to keep discussing anything with a dishonest person like yourself.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Why not? I have listened. The dialectic is long. Never quit.

          • Brian Westley

            I see no reason to keep discussing anything with a dishonest person like yourself.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am sorry you feel that way. Keep an open mind!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            And yet here I am and here you are. Don’t give up! Keep an open mind!

          • Brian Westley

            An “open mind” isn’t the issue. There’s no point “debating” with a dishonest person like yourself.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            So you often say in debate. I have looked at your history. Don’t run.

          • Brian Westley

            I won’t rise to your juvenile baiting; I often tell people who lie about me that there’s no point.

            And you still defame atheists as a class of people here in this thread, e.g.:
            None of what follows answers the central point that atheism has yet to control the levers of power without going to its murderous aberration.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Again missing the context. It would be good if atheists had the levers of power and did not kill people…but hopefully if America developed a large secular party it would be humanist and not like the sort that have governed to date. The atheists referred to in the article are mass movement antitheists seeking political power. If that does not fit you, then it does not refer to you.

          • Brian Westley

            No, there’s no “context”. You keep condemning “atheists” and “atheism”.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            But you are.

          • Brian Westley

            I’ll point out your repeated lies and slurs, but that’s not debating. You can fuck off any time.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Well, we disagree on my honesty, but Socrates would talk with anyone!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            The atheism of those people not all atheism. See the context.

          • Brian Westley

            The “context” are a bunch of statements how terrible atheists are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. It is not.

          • Brian Westley

            Of course it is.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Well, if I was unclear to you in that one post, here I am listening to you and saying: “not all atheists.” All mass movement anti-theist regimes gaining power to date have been historically brutal. This continues today. That is no idle concern to avoid just as I have frequently labored against Bannonism … a blood and soul nationalism here. I suspect I have spilled more pixels over it.

          • Brian Westley

            Well, if I was unclear to you in that one post, here I am listening to you and saying: “not all atheists.”

            But you keep blaming atheists as a class in your other writing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. I do not. As I often say, I owe a great deal to atheist mentors for my education

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I said Western atheists were not terrible in the first piece!

          • Brian Westley

            Not really, no: “Many of your friendly atheists next door (almost always former Christians) repudiate this, but not because of any atheistic beliefs.”

            You’re STILL trying to give moral credit to your religion, even when atheists are involved.

            And there are plenty more statements showing your bigotry against atheists: “When atheists gain power and can impose an anti-theism, they have always started killing people.”

            “atheists” with no qualifier — ALL atheists.
            “can impose an anti-theism” — ALL atheists ALWAYS do this whenever possible.
            “always started killing people” — NO exceptions.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I had qualified the term earlier in the article. This is like saying not all x are y but these x are y… and then discussing those x.

          • Brian Westley

            I had qualified the term earlier in the article.

            That’s not how I read it — when I write, if I mean some Christians, I write “some Christians” or use other modifiers.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            And yet I did qualify it. And then in case someone missed the point wrote a follow up article.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            What is your education level? I am curious.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            One further comment: atheism qua atheism implies other beliefs but is itself simple non-theism. It could take a secular humanist route (excellent) or a mass movement anti-theism (so far always bad), but by itself determines little. That was my point in the quote: the culture in which one becomes an atheist seems to count.

          • Brian Westley

            To me it looks like the typical Christian dodge that atheists are inherently immoral but can absorb some morals if they are around Christians.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            And yet it is not. I don’t think that.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            It is a falsehood to say I was attacking every form of atheism. Atheists are jailing people today in the name of atheism. That’s wrong just as when forms of religion persecute people in the name of religion. Sadly atheists of the bad diet set a murder record last century… using marginalizing language against religion.

          • Brian Westley

            It is a falsehood to say I was attacking every form of atheism.

            You keep blaming atheists as an entire class of people.

            Atheists are jailing people today in the name of atheism.

            What do you mean by “in the name of atheism”? I think you’re just doing more scapegoating.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. I am not. I am talking about Chinese Christians in labor camps for bony being atheists. You aren’t scapegoating when you simply repeat the charge and the state in the last month has doubled down on its commitment to atheism.

          • Brian Westley

            No. I am not.

            Yes, you are.

            “Hoping Atheists (Or at Least Anti-Theists) Do Not Kill Us This Time.”

            Yet there is decent reason to connect the atheism to the killing. Atheism as the dominant form of thought in a state correlates very neatly with mass murder.

            You’re a contemptible bigot and liar.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Note the qualifications in my post you have not cited: “How could this be given our experience with the generally friendly atheists in America and Europe? Of course, there are few atheists in most parts of the world. Even Europe is nothing like majority atheist.*

            This question is of personal interest to me. I have known victims of atheistic regimes, but also friendly Western atheists. I owe a good bit of my education to wonderful atheists. Atheists are friends, neighbors, and have been co-workers.

            Yet there is a difference between the atheists one meets. There are atheists who simply think there is no God, life force, or higher power. That is a belief without a system! Talk about anything else and you will find great grounds for agreement. Then there are atheists who are also anti-theists: they actively dislike and work against religion. These are the atheists that have proven dangerous in power and are worrisome to civil society.”

            Just in case someone would make the mistake you are making I wrote a follow up piece: “Anti-theists# in the United States are positive they will not kill Christians if they ever get power and I believe them. There is no evidence that American anti-theists will ever develop a mass movement of anti-theists capable of exercising power. Anti-theists as individuals have had power in the United States and will have power, but there is no reason to think this dangerous”

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/2015/04/anti-theists-are-sure-they-will-not-kill-you-this-time/

          • Brian Westley

            Just in case someone would make the mistake you are making I wrote a follow up piece

            That should have tipped you off on how your remarks are interpreted.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No matter how clear one is, certain personality types will not take agreement for an answer!

            Since I wanted my views to be crystal clear, I followed up there and here: atheism qua atheism is not violant. Mass movement anytheistic atheism with power had been.

          • Raging Bee

            Atheists are jailing people today in the name of atheism.

            Where? Citation required.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            China. And the demands for citations from an anonymous person (where is your degree from? where did you go to grad school?) is odd.

          • Raging Bee

            Funny how my anonymity only becomes a problem for you AFTER you realize you’re losing the argument.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Ha! Well, assume I am losing. I can stand it. I am out here thinking, reasoning under my own name … debated and studied under excellent atheists under my own name and have actually read relevant experts on philosophy of science and religion. I can stand a proclamation of defeat from “Raging B.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            It is a great gift to be self aware enough to know when you are losing.

          • Raging Bee

            I assume you’re talking about China. If so, they’re not jailing anyone “in the name of atheism,” they’re jailing people who pose any sort of (mostly imagined) threat to their power and stability. They do this regardless of their suspects’ religion, and they’ve been doing it (and worse) pretty much all the way back to the Chin Dynasty, LOOONG before those atheistic commies took over. Read some Chinese history — Mao wasn’t the first evil despot to rule there.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am no expert on Chinese history. I do know enough to understand your characteristic of Chinese history as one of mass murder (atheist government) and mass jailing is wrong. Atheism is one of the few non-negotiables for the last half-century of Chinese life and the deforming influence of this idea breaks centuries of Chinese cultural leadership. Ethnocentrism is ugly.

          • Raging Bee

            Yep, that last comment proves you’re no expert in Chinese history. I’m no expert either, but you don’t have to be one to see that the Communist Chinese state isn’t really all that different from its predecessors.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            That’s simply false. Mao’s government committed crimes against humanity with few parallels in human, let alone Chinese history. Sitting here with my China: A New History and reminding myself what a great and civilized nation China has been. Your ethnocentrism and generalization about China is grossly offensive.

          • Raging Bee

            Right…generalizing about China is “offensive,” but blaming atheists for “crimes against humanity with few parallels in human, let alone Chinese history” is perfectly okay. (And no, I wasn’t generalizing about China, I was generalizing about Chinese governments. Your dodging about isn’t doing your credibility any favors.)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Atheists take the credit for and continue those policies today. Second, just as not all theists are responsible for harm done in the name of theism, so not all atheists are responsible for harm done in their name. Third, since Chinese governments have not all been terror states. See Sun Yat-sen as a modern case. Since Chinese governments are run by Chinese people, generalizing that one of the oldest global civilization has perpetually been terrible has implications for the Chinese people.

          • Raging Bee

            So now you’re effectively calling me a racist when I say something about Chinese governments. That’s a longstanding tactic of deflection, often practiced by REAL racists; and it further undermines your credibility.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am saying your false claim that Chinese governments have been repressive is ethnocentric and false. See (as one example) Sun Yat-sen.

          • Raging Bee

            There’s nothing at all “ethnocentric” about making a claim about a country’s government(s). Even if the claim is false, it’s still not “ethnocentric.” Your attempt to attack my motives is just plain dishonest.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Making a broad and demonstrably false (see Sun Yat-sen) claim about Chinese government which is thousands of years old is ethnocentric.

          • Raging Bee

            However many times you repeat a lie, it’s still a lie. And a dodge.

            You started off sounding kind of intelligent, but you’re rapidly fading into the background of standard Christian apologetic blither-points.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Saying a thing is a lie doesn’t make it say. Your claim is that atheists in China (who are well educated and claim to be atheists) are not persecuting theists because they are atheists (despite their claims to the contrary), but because like all Chinese governments they are following the Chinese precedent. This is false and insulting. It assumes: 1. Chinese atheists do not understand atheism and are not really atheists 2. Chinese governments have always practiced mass murder (Mao) and re-education camp policies (today). We do not have to look far back in Chinese history to see patriot Sun Yat-sen as an exception. In fact, for most of human history Chinese government was relatively enlightened with a civil service that provided a modicum of social mobility and stability.

          • Raging Bee

            It assumes: 1. Chinese atheists do not understand atheism and are not really atheists…

            No, it doesn’t, you fucking liar.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Leaving aside your offensive characterization of Chinese history- why do you think Sun Yat-sen and Mao led such different regimes?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I don’t hate atheists or even atheism. I do hate regimes that kill millions of people on the name of atheism and are defended (at the time) by prominent Western atheists. (Again: some did not.) I also hate religious aberrations in Christianity that produce terrorists as in Norway or central Africa.

    • mason lane

      You are a part of those who persecute. You are the monster. You and your “fellow believers” are religious supremacists and as evil as racial supremacists with beliefs absurd beliefs used to bully and persecute humans who don’t believe the ancient nonsense. As RJ makes clear, YOU are the problem, you are the creepy monster in the dark. So don’t try to pass it off on your “fellows.” You can’t plea bargain down off what you are.

      And,… do you thinks your academic style euphemistic patronizing insults and refusal to engage with the opposition on your blog go unnoticed? Not.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        Yes. Bullying is wrong. See above.

    • RJ Twain

      “You certainly have the right to say what you will. Good. Nobody should tell anybody to ‘shut up.’ We agree.”

      No. We do not agree.

      My post had a point.

      You missed it.

      If you read an AA blog, you will hear people processing the negative impacts alcohol has had on their life, and their continuing attempts to move past it. If you comment on that blog, and tell them how odd and sad it is that they spend all their time writing about alcohol, and advise them to write more about their glorious new alcohol free life, you are either clueless, or a troll.

      Rational Doubt features voices of the Clergy Project, an organization that only exists because losing faith in the pulpit costs so much. I post under a pseudonym for a reason. My loss of faith still costs me, and it will cost me more before the year is done. The Clergy Project helped me escape a very difficult position, and they’ll help me more before the year is done. This organization, and this blog, are two of the very few places where I can speak honestly about how much it costs, how much it still hurts, and you step into that space and tell me to be more positive? Are you really that clueless, or are you just a troll?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        I don’t know you. Maybe you need to be negative. By all means do what is best for your mental health. My point about positivity is and has been about Patheos non-religion in general. It is almost all negative as if one persons nad experience with alcohol meant Prohibition was needed.!

        • RJ Twain

          Negativity is not a need. More like a survival tactic. And I would hardly call Patheos non-religion one person’s experience. It’s almost as if an entire group of people had a shared negative experience and surprise surprise surprise, they agree that warning other people about it is a good idea. The suffragettes talked a lot about men. The civil rights movement talked a lot about white people. Recovering alcoholics talk a lot about alcohol. If you think that’s odd, I think you’re odd.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think your comparisons point to the problem. Religion helps most people involved. Warning other people about dysfunctional forms of religion might be good, but rare is the post on this general site that does this. Religion (especially Christianity) is painted in a very hostile manner with little or no nuance. In fact, if we are talking about the suffragettes they talked a great deal about women and how women could cleanse politics or why women were (to steal a phrase from Dorothy Sayers) human. They minimized negative rhetoric to accomplish their (worthy) goal. The Civil Rights movement had a positive agenda (my Dad’s era so I recall some of that myself) and folks like my parents talked far more the good that was coming and justice than demonizing groups of people . . . to be effective and mentally healthy. Of course given the comments and posts on Patheos non-religious in general in might be that most poster think all religion that is serious is bad or toxic. If so, that is a position that is hard to defend. The best analogy that you suggest (alcoholics) is good, because drinking is a source of pleasure for many and does not lead to disease in most. Groups like AA do not demonize those who drink, but give help to those harmed by drink. In fact, this site often has more in common with the Prohibitionists who longed to see an end (even legal end) to ALL drink for all people based on their experience. Are there people on Patheos non-religious who are live and let live about religion (Evangelical ,Islam, Mormon, or Pagan) perhaps. . . but they are drowned out by the “all faith is ignorance” or other extreme rhetoric.)

          • Raging Bee

            Religion helps most people involved.

            That excuse got trotted out when the Catholic Church’s child-sex-abuse first came to light. “How can you say bad things about the Church when they’ve done so much good? You’re all just meanie bigots WAAAAH!” And some free-market jackass at the Economist said the same thing about antebellum US slavery!

            So tell us: how much more evil does any given church have to do before you have to admit our criticisms of said church are valid and worthy of your acknowledgment? Twice as much as we see today? Ten times?

          • Kevin K

            Didn’t do Joan of Arc much good, either, or the Salem witches, or those snapped up by the Inquisition, or those involved in the Crusades or the 30 Years War …. and on and on.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            People do evil. People do not live up the standards they profess. Atheists do this when they fail reason or fall for alt-right lies (see the atheist Richard Spenser). We should not tolerate groups run by people who harm people . . . at all.

          • Raging Bee

            Hey, John, here’s another perfect place for you to remind us how helpful religion is:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches/2017/11/16/two-accusers-step-forward-alabama/

            Go ahead, let’s see what sort of reception you get…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds
          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Doug Jones is a Christian: We have our values too,” Jones said. “I go to church. I’m a Christian. I have as many people of faith that have been reaching out to me about this campaign. Because you can be an extremist. You can take everything to an extreme, and no one really wants that…They want someone who cares about all people, not just a select few…. That’s what I think the teachings of religion are, is the caring about the least of these, the caring about all people, and making sure there’s a fairness to everything.” http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/09/son_of_a_steelworker_doug_jone.html

          • Raging Bee

            You can take everything to an extreme, and no one really wants
            that…They want someone who cares about all people, not just a select
            few….

            Those who really want that tend to be called “socialists,” and far worse, by the extremists who currently control the tone and content of religious dialogue in the USA.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Note that if an atheist sends you to jail in China for being a theist, that atheist is not really an atheist. Now my preferred candidate (and nobody has called me a socialist ever) Doug Jones who is making much of his church affiliation in the cited story is dismissed because others are “currently” in “control” of “tone” and “content” of not some religious dialogue, but of religious dialogue in the US. Well, no. Here I am. Conservative theologically, opposed to Moore before the stuff of the last week. . . millions of us.

            Doug Jones is a Christian: not all religious people are bad. Religion is not bad for all people. Those are the facts. There are bad forms of religion and some people use theism as an excuse for power trips and evil. The same is true of atheism. We should be allies instead of one side deciding ALL THOSE PEOPLE are evil.

          • Raging Bee

            Note that if “Raging B” is correct an atheist who sends you to jail in China for being a theist, punishes you for not being an atheist, that atheist is not really an atheist.

            The most charitable response I can offer here is “LOLWUT?!”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Chinese atheists are well educated people who say they are atheists and punish people for not being atheists. Other than your ethnocentrism (the Chinese are like that), do you have an explanation of why they are not atheists?

          • Raging Bee

            Oh looky, here’s another great place to pass on the good news:

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/11/15/florida-megachurch-pastor-accused-of-molesting-4-year-old-girl/

            I’m off to get popcorn…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            And any philosopher is odd.

        • Raging Bee

          Twain made a reasonable point, and you childishly accused him of “needing to be negative.” Would you say that to a recovering addict who talks about his past drug problems? You just showed how cowardly and dishonest you are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I would not. And when people are harmed by bad forms of religion (some of which you have helpfully posted), then venting is helpful and good. Pretending all religion is bad for human health is contrary to evidence (https://www.livescience.com/52197-religion-mental-health-brain.html) just as is the belief that all religious forms are good for health would be.

    • Raging Bee

      Yep, that’s certainly a small point all right. Why do we talk about religion a lot here? Because even though we may have freed our own minds from all that crap, we’re still living in a world where all that irrational BS and con-artistry still has a lot of effect on people, good and bad, desired or not. Your “small point” is just the latest version of “Neener neener, made you look! I’m still important, nanny nanny boo boo!”

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        No. It wasn’t. What’s your name? Why don’t you have the courage of your convictions?

  • mason lane

    Wow RJ! The power of truth born in a human heart. (Metaphorically; I know it’s your brain :) )

    You’ve certainly shared your candid heartfelt secular life experience in our society where the abusers (like the notorious John Reynolds and Betty Bowers) so piously poorly and pitifully play the phony victim role. We’re certainly in the era of fake news, fake victims. I love how you pointed out how the politically/religiously majority abusers of different kinds of oppressed groups always want the abused to sit down, shut up, and be quiet.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/db2546da5ecae11670e38e13049110c6455b99705263a9d5fa74c55f829da5ed.png

    I think it’s important to say I’ve never experienced any kind of abuse, defamation, religious supremacist actions, from liberal Christians, it’s always the Evangelical extremists. How about you?

    Maybe one day, as religious fundamentalists die out in the US, a couple generations from now, the Evangelical types will be mostly extinct. We have a dream.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

      Can I ask how my disagreeing with you is “abuse?” I do not want anyone to sit down, shut up, or be quiet. I do think continuously calling people you disagree with bad names is not productive to life in a Republic or turning every disagreement into a shouting match is good.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

        I also do not think I am the victim and have written against American Christians making too much of persecution. My church faces real murders weekly in places like Syria.

      • mason lane

        LOL! “I do think continuously calling people you disagree with bad names”

        You Evangelical Christians, (are you not an Evangelical?) are the apex predator when it comes to calling people bad names; lost, sinner, reprobate, apostate, fornicator, unbeliever, follower of Satan, blasphemer, anti-Christ tool, evil hearted, unwashed, unclean, wrongdoer, evildoer, transgressor, miscreant, offender, and let’s not forget dammed. ( I’m sure I’ve missed some)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t recall calling you any of these names. Please don’t confuse disagreement with judgment. I don’t know you and cannot evaluate your character.

    • RJ Twain

      Liberal Christians have been and continue to be close friends. Looking back, I see a very clear correlation between the conservativeness of a given person’s Christianity, and their treatment of me throughout this process of change. There are outliers of course, but the trend line based on my experience is stark. Do you honestly believe fundamentalism will die out? I wish I could, but I don’t. The idea is too sticky.

      • ElizabetB.

        Thank you for this powerful post. In discussions of ideas and theories, I think we stay in danger of losing sight of real life tragic consequences of these divides. I’m so sorry this is your experience and you and your children are not totally free to be together.

        I don’t have ideas either as to how to diminish fundamentalism. Some say humor goes a long way toward being able to make a point without making people defensive… maybe some way to employ that strength of yours will turn up! Meanwhile, I would like to hear a targeted discussion of what would help!! and get to work! Thanks again for this eloquent succinct response, wishing you well

        • RJ Twain

          Thank you for the kind words. It’s better than it was, and will be better still a year from now. Your mention of humor as a useful tactic reminds me how important faithless comedians were to my developing humanism. They were the first to prove to me beyond all denials that you could be good and brilliant and funny and an atheist all at the same time. Mark Twain. Tim Minchin. George Carlin. A hundred others. There’s something surgically gentle about comedy. You’re volunteering to let someone poke you. You don’t like it? Don’t pay for the ticket. Don’t stay for the show. It’s the most courteous of discourtesies, and I think it provided me the safe space I needed to explore ideas I couldn’t yet accept. If I could be that for someone else, I would feel greatly honored.

  • Geoff Benson

    This is a very good post, RJ Twain. It exposes the lie that religious belief can instil. For me, passive religious belief belongs at the bottom of a very slippery slope. Yes, it can be harmless, though it requires an abrogation of reason, at least in a compartment of one’s life. The trouble is its existence allows, and supports, the rest of the slope. Further up are more reasonable, but fervent, believers, the likes of John Reynolds (hi John). Then it just gets worse; Westbroro Church is there, Ken Ham and his creationist buddies, Kim Davis and her bigoted supporters, Steven Anderson….then go to Islam, they’re there as well. ISIS is in the mix.

    So I don’t see the need to project an especially positive view of secularism, it’s enough that it undoes the damage caused by religion. Of course, simply being a much more reasonable worldview is a pretty good reason to reject religion. But, if I really have to think of something positive from my non-belief, how about I can get out on my bike every Sunday morning; or whatever else I choose to do!

    • ctcss

      It exposes the lie that [some approaches to] religious belief can instil.

      It’s not religion that’s at fault anymore than politics, business, sports, law, etc. is at fault. It’s the approach one takes towards any of these human endeavors that makes the difference.

      For me, passive religious belief belongs at the bottom of a very slippery slope. Yes, it can be harmless, though it requires an abrogation of reason, at least in a compartment of one’s life.

      You appear to be conflating lack of desire to actively participate with lack of reason. For instance, I care about whom I vote for in an election, but I am not actively involved in canvassing or fund-raising. I guess that makes me a more passive participant in our political system. It does not, however, make me someone who doesn’t engage in reason when I do participate.

      The trouble is its existence allows, and supports, the rest of the slope.

      Which makes about as much sense as saying that more helpful forms of government support the existence of, or provide cover for, bad forms of government ‘cuz they’re both government, right?

      Further up are more reasonable, but fervent, believers, the likes of John Reynolds (hi John).

      The thing that you like about John is that he thinks (uses reason) and is also kind towards others.

      Then it just gets worse; Westbroro Church is there, Ken Ham and his creationist buddies, Kim Davis and her bigoted supporters, Steven Anderson….then go to Islam, they’re there as well. ISIS is in the mix.

      And the problem with these types is not that they are religious, it’s the fact that they do not appear to exercise reason and that they are not kind towards others. There is no actual line from John to them because John’s approach to religion does not correspond to their approach to religion.

      Do you see my point?

      • mason lane

        Evangelical fundamentalism (like all other fundamentalist religions) is the problem we wonderful free-thought apostates regularly address on Rational Doubt.

        Reason, evidence, science, rationality are not integral to these blind faith delusional fundamentalist religions, whether of the Christian, Islamic, or Jewish franchise.

        John is not kind toward others, he just a more slippery patronizing Evangelical apologist troll. :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

          Reason, evidence, science are all integral parts of my epistemology. Just asserting it is not doesn’t make it so.

          • mason lane

            So then buddy John, … you’re not an Evangelical Christian who believes in blood sacrifice of a son who’s father has him tortured and killed and then the son comes back from the dead, (a zombie who tells people, “Don’t touch me I’ve not yet ascended”) after 3 days in a tomb and then later defies gravity and flies up into the stratosphere and beyond with the promise he and hid father will one day punish all those on planet Earth who refuse to adore and worship the father-son as deity? So are you saying you demand reason, evidence, and science before you believe anything? I assume you don’t believe the attache meme. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c6ca1fd5423554469e3536d84505ee53510da4ca926464689abc8c50586ce19f.jpg

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I do believe the propositions in the Apostles Creed. I believe them based on reason and experience. I do not think one should be into compartmentalizations. I do not think assenting to the truth of the Apostles Creed requires suspending my belief in science. Don’t confuse science with philosophical naturalism.

          • ElizabetB.

            How do you handle “born of the virgin Mary”? Most of the other propositions I can see how people can take symbolically

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            If you accept a creator God, the creation of new life in Union with Mary is on the same lines.

          • ElizabetB.

            reminds me of the Qur’an account: “God need only say ‘Be!’ ” 3:48ish Thanks

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Nice.

          • Raging Bee

            If we accept one such unproven fantasy, ANY insane belief or delusion can be “on the same lines.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            If we just call ideas we do not like unproven fantasy, we will delight a click-bait audience, but not engage in reasoned discourse.

          • Raging Bee

            That’s why we only call unproven fantasies unproven fantasies.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Excellent. We simply disagree on the status of God and religion.

          • Raging Bee

            What “experience,” exactly? Specifics, or you’re full of shit.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Personal experiences of God in my life. Personal experiences of God as reported to me from people I trust. Evidential, though not conclusive.

          • Raging Bee

            No specifics, no case.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I have personal experiences of God. Why should I be more specific about a personal thing with an anonymous person on the Internet?

          • Raging Bee

            I and several friends of mine have personal experiences of different gods. Why should yours carry any more weight than mine?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            They should not. They point to a phenomena that needs explanation. One explanation is materialistic, others are not. Religious experience by itself points to a question to answer. You have given one such answer. I have given a different one. Some very smart and thoughtful people agree with you (atheism) and some very smart and thoughtful people agree with me (theism).

          • Raging Bee

            They point to a phenomena that needs explanation. One explanation is materialistic, others are not.

            And the former is supported by evidence, while the latter are not. And if we accept the latter explanationS (not the plural, it’s important), then we get truckloads of CONTRADICTORY explanations (as in, multiple pantheons that explicitly disagree with each other and can’t all be true at once), which means we really get nothing worthwhile at all. Best to stick with the materialistic explanations.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No, because they explain away the phenomenon and don’t explain it as experienced. Second, materialism is almost certainly false given the existence of mathematical objects. Third, the “hard problem” of conscious is likely impossible to explain on materialist grounds. Fourth, moving to the particulars of religious systems is a category error if discussing theism. Philosophically serious options are far fewer monotheism, panetheism, pantheism, and polytheism. Monotheism has contributed greatly to the development of science (see John Losee for an account) and does not have a problem with math, as does materialism, or consciousness.

            Again: materialism isn’t a foolish position but “Raging B” has made no argument for it and remains unknown to us in terms of his or her training or competence. We do know “Raging B” has not dealt with a seminal thinker Quine.

          • Raging Bee

            Second, materialism is almost certainly false given the existence of mathematical objects.

            Even when math reinforces and fleshes out materialistic explanations? What a load of bullshit. You need to get out of your theo-academic bubble and understand that your talking-points really aren’t as new, or plausible-sounding, to us as you seem to think they are.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            My view of math is the standard view of mathematicians (see https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/) . My training was not in theology or religion (not even mostly philosophy of religion though I passed a qual on it). Mathematical objects are a major recognized problem for materialist theories as the Stanford article points out.

          • Raging Bee

            “Document not found.” Still bluffing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I just went to the link, but in case there is a typo; https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/

          • Raging Bee

            Third, the “hard problem” of conscious is likely impossible to explain on materialist grounds.

            Does superstition have a better explanation? And no, bald unfounded assertions of the “goddidit” variety don’t count as “explanations.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            We agree. Superstition is bad.

            For better, non-materialist explanations, start with forms of idealism and psychological dualism.

          • Raging Bee

            Still bluffing. Put up or shut up.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            LOL.

          • Raging Bee

            Fourth, moving to the particulars of religious systems is a category error if discussing theism.

            Are you fucking kidding me? You’re actually saying it’s an “error” to talk about the particulars of religious “systems” when talking about religious “systems?” That’s just a lame excuse to pretend you know something about “god(s)” without having to talk about any particulars that could easily be shown to be wrong or irrational. This is bullshit, and you’re not fooling anyone.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Leaving aside the invective, you seem to be asserting that one cannot study monotheism without immediately studying the different forms it takes. That’s false. The common idea of monotheism is powerful and has important implications that do not require particular religious commitments to study. One could even be a monotheist with no religion. Aristotle was a monotheist without any religion to give one example.

          • Raging Bee

            Don’t confuse science with philosophical naturalism.

            The only people making that mistake are theistic apologists like you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Well, no. As any reading of philosophy of science literature (even from atheist only) would tell you. . . trained ATHEIST philosophers often try to warn pop atheists to avoid this error.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Here is a left-of-center critique of this problem (not from an apologist): https://thehumanist.com/commentary/three-warning-signs-village-atheism-new-religion

          • carolyntclark

            Asserting that religion, evidence, science are integral parts of your epistemology cannot extend to your religious beliefs. The Supernatural is not proved by these means, that’s why it’s called “faith”. Theism requires that you suspend the laws of nature. The very nature of Religious Faith is lauded as belief in spite of and beyond human understanding.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            So I disagree. Theism does not require suspending the laws of nature and I think you misunderstand what serious theists mean by faith. Here is an informal definition: reasonable trust or belief in a proposition about which you are not certain.

            Theism undergirds and so does not suspend the laws of nature. My basement does not suspend my roof! I reject belief in spite of human understanding.

          • carolyntclark

            Laws of physics are undergirded by fantastical myth.
            “serious theists have reasonable trust or belief in a proposition about which they are not certain”
            ( &*%@#!)%^&$&%+^& )
            That’s quite a statement, John.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Since (see Quine for a deeper explanation) all scientific theories are underdetermined by evidence … and alternatives are always possible, I don’t see how this is particularly controversial. Faith is a reasonable trust. Of course like all words faith can be used other ways, but my definition is mainstream.

          • carolyntclark

            Interesting that Quine was an atheist.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Yes. Many great thinkers are atheists.

          • mason lane

            most all

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            That’s just not true. The fathers of Western philosophy Plato and Aristotle were theists. Basic philosophy of science was developed by thinkers like William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, and William Grosseteste. Scientists like Newton and Kepler were theists. In more modern times, we have Mendel and the father of the Big Bang, Father Lemaitre.

          • mason lane

            With the science of today all those would be atheists. They have an excuse. You don’t.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            There is nothing about today’s science, that they produced, to make them atheists. Look up “scientism.” Avoid it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Try Father George Coyne.

          • mason lane

            “Theism undergirds and so does not suspend the laws of nature.” That’s pure BS. Theism is fantasy nonsense and has nothing to do with the laws of nature. Theism only undergirds myth and fantasy in the mind of those who believe and require no evidence. You evidently live in a mental world of false equivalency where theistic myth is equal to proven laws of science and nature. That’s quite a mental scam requiring a complete lack of intellectual integrity and maybe doesn’t even produce any cognitive dissonance with you. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0b3919557b9c2515f064dcb1cb490960cf3ece1c9f943092f992440cbad291a6.jpg

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Might be best to avoid quoting a man who sex harassed my co-workers. He wasn’t a scientist anyway.

            Philosophy and/or religion operate at the metaphysical level to provide the assumptions science needs. That’s true even if atheism is true and religion isn’t needed to do the metaphysics.

            Science laws are highly probable assertions as are certain philosophical assertions. Of course the different fields use different forms of evidence … science cannot exist without prior philosophy and maths that are not part of science.

          • mason lane

            “Science laws are highly probable assertions as are certain philosophical assertions.” You are so so wrong. The last person I recall using the level of twisted logical, false equivalency, and irrational comparisons in his rhetoric was Charles Manson. Reading you reminds me of listening to him. :)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Charles Manson? That’s not funny, really.

            What do you think of Quine and underdetermination of scientific theories? This is very basic stuff.

          • mason lane

            “Philosophy and/or religion operate at the metaphysical level to provide the assumptions science needs.”

            Metaphysics: “abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality.” yep, that’s your trolling talk.

            And John, I will quote anyone I choose to.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            OK. So you have no metaphysics? That’s a metaphysical claim you know…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Did the faithful Catholic priest who first proposed Big Bang theory have this problem?

          • mason lane

            John The Faithless;
            Lemaître didn’t attempt to claim there was any equivalency between his belief in the supernatural and science, as you attempt to do and rationalize as you troll about your irrational and unscientific religious beliefs. You evidently have not faith and insist non-existent evidence, when real faith, according to your Christian religion, relies on a “supernatural” hope with no evidence. Hence, you continually declare yourself a man of no faith.

            Your posts also confirm you are a person of no real faith claiming you have evidence for a hope/faith, that with it’s claims, denies science and reason. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

            “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            He did not have cognitive dissonance as you claimed religious must.

            Note the association with faith and evidence in He verse you quote… not all things are “certain” and faith fills the gap between certainty and doubt.

          • carolyntclark

            −Avatar
            John Mark N. Reynolds carolyntclark • 9 days ago
            “OK. That runs the risk of being a case of an epistemic bubble, right?”

            −Avatar
            carolyntclark John Mark N. Reynolds • 7 days ago
            .”vs. the illusionary religion bubble. Choose your bubble.”

            Avatar
            John Mark N. Reynolds carolyntclark • 7 days ago
            “I prefer to avoid all bubbles.”
            ——————————————————————
            I detect a bubble.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. The nice thing is faith demands challenge and welcomes it due to the lack of certainty. We have faith based on evidence but continue to seek understanding …

          • Raging Bee

            Theism does not require suspending the laws of nature…

            Plenty of theists explicitly disagree with you there.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Since there are billions of us, plenty of theists think plenty of things.

          • Raging Bee

            So you’re denying your own assertion?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No.

      • Geoff Benson

        “Do you see my point?”

        I see the point you are trying to make but I don’t agree with you. The problem is that it goes to the crux of why dialogue between atheists and apologists can be hard.

        I don’t deny that there can be perfectly reasoned discussions between these groups, but this is only possible up to a point. Morality is a case in point; exchanges can take place that are totally at odds, but don’t necessarily venture into religious philosophy. Or discussions on free will, biblical archaeology, or ancient Hebrew.

        However, at some point the scales start to tip, because ‘god’ enters the equation. and that’s where I think reason begins to become much vaguer. I absolutely disagree with equating religion with politics, or law, or whatever. None of these disciplines have underlying premises which people have to take on faith, certainly not in the way religion demands. Which is why I stick with my point about the slippery slope. The benign religion of the little old lady who attends church each Sunday makes possible the next step up the chain, which ultimately leads to Fred Phelps, and beyond.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

          I don’t think “faith” is used any differently (or should not be) than in any discipline you cite. You may have an overly narrow idea what Christians mean by faith.

          • Geoff Benson

            I disagree entirely with what you say, with the possible exception that politics can display, at its core, the kind of cognitive dissonance that is required of religious faith. So that leads us….well, are there different definitions of faith? As an atheist, I hold that there is no evidence for the existence of any deity. Someone who thinks otherwise must consider either that there is evidence, from the same factors I discount, or else invoke faith.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I think there is evidence. Let me define faith in a “popular” way: substantial hope. . . Hope with evidence. Let me define faith more precisely: “x demonstrates faith if x asserts a proposition y is true based on reasons, but the truth of y, while probable, is not certain.”

          • Geoff Benson

            You’ve just defined the scientific method, which is a preponderance of evidence. It’s also the approach taken in courts of law, where guilt must be established beyond all reasonable doubt (though in civil courts it is ‘balance of probabilities’). In science there is no ‘faith’ involved, rather it’s ‘this works, let’s go with it until it doesn’t’. Sometimes the word ‘faith’ can be mixed up with words such as confidence or trust, but religious faith has a particular meaning that even apologists struggle to define.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I just defined it as I do in churches. No push back there. Maybe your view of conservative religious is too narrow?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Since Christians helped develop both: not shocking.

          • Raging Bee

            Or struggle to obfuscate.

          • mason lane

            Twilight Zone theme plays :) x+y = religious myths are factual (The new fake math)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Of course we would have to define: myth, fact, and then discuss if you are right.

          • Raging Bee

            Let me define faith in a “popular” way: substantial hope. . . Hope with evidence.

            Yeah, but faith in god(s) or supernatural/religious beliefs doesn’t fit that definition, because there’s no evidence at all.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Yes. There is. Go read a Richard Swinburne book. You might reply, you have and are not impressed. Of course, since you are anonymous, we do not know your educational background at all so we would not be able to confirm the plausibility of this claim. There is credible academic support on both sides of the atheism/theism divide and the failure of pop atheism to recognize it is harmful to dialog in our Republic.

          • Raging Bee

            Sorry, but I don’t take reading recommendations from religious apologists. My reading list is already full, and the apologists are almost invariably bluffing. You may be sincere and the book you recommend may have actual substance; but if you can’t at least sum up the author’s general thesis and show why it’s a valid counter to my arguments, then I’m forced to conclude, by years of previous experience in arguing with apologists, that you most likely don’t really have anything.

            And let’s face it — “a Richard Swinburne book” isn’t much of a guide. Can’t you at least offer a title or two, let alone a more specific reference to a chapter or specific subject covered?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. Richard Swinburne is an Oxford philosopher of international standing. That you would opine in philosophy of religion without reading him is revealing. Tell you what – give me your name and academic credentials and I will know how to get you a start up syllabus. So far we know you have not read Quine (must read atheist in philosophy of science) or Swinburne. Hard to recommend when I know nothing about your background.

          • Raging Bee

            Since when did you need to know my background just to answer a question about the general thrust of someone’s book(s)?

            Apologetics: the bluff that keeps on bluffing. I’ve heard this sort of thing before, particularly from Catholics — they’ve been writing stuff for centuries, so they’ll never run out of books to say you HAVE TO READ before you can ever validly conclude you’re right or that the Church is wrong.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am trying to gauge your educational level to make good recommendations. You have not read an important atheist, Quine, or a leading theist philosopher of our time.

          • Raging Bee

            Sorry, not an excuse for your total failure to provide ANYTHING. You’re bluffing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Then so I am. I will leave it to our readers to determine who has provided content, citations, articles, and relevant books read.

          • Raging Bee

            Your assertion is false. The faith required by religion has absolutely no place in any other discipline.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Have you read Quine? Serious question.

          • Raging Bee

            No. What does he have to say that contradicts what I just said?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Pretty much your view …

          • Raging Bee

            What, specifically, does Quine say that’s relevant here? Serious bluff-call.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Ha! Well, since you can look up my grad degrees… and Quine is a seminal philosopher of language in the last century why would I be bluffing? But ok, I will play along : Try the topics- Quine and indeterminacy, Quine and the underdetermination of scientific theories, and Two Dogmas of Empiricism as a start.

          • Raging Bee

            Sorry, not enough. Can you at least breiefly specify the Two Dogmas of Empiricism?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. Read this short work.

          • Raging Bee

            IF it’s short, then you should have no problem giving a brief summation.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            What would happen to your quest for knowledge? I have actual college students to teach and I am not going to do their work either.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Btw: Two Dogmas is a paper not a list. Take a good epistemology class or don’t talk about a subject area you don’t know.

          • Raging Bee

            Still nothing. You’re bluffing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            But look you are “winning!”

          • Raging Bee

            Well, yeah, that’s what happens when I play against someone who keeps on trying to buff.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds
          • Raging Bee

            That’s not a summary. You’re still bluffing.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Assume I am bluffing. The quest for learning something you should know should not depend on my good faith. The relevant idea in Quine is the underdetermination of scientific theories (all of them) from evidence used to support them (informal description). That should get you started.

          • Raging Bee

            The quest for learning something you should know should not depend on my good faith.

            Believe me, I’m not depending on your good faith at all. That’s why I’m asking you to back up your claims.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I have. I have made no claim without referring to supporting texts, historical examples. What I will not do is read books for you, explain basic concepts to you that are a Google away. When I do point to a hard problem for materialism (mathematical objects), you “dismiss” it easily. I am NOT saying that atheism is foolish, that the argument for the existence of math objects is over and conclusive, or that theism is surely true. I am saying you are too extreme in your dismissal of theism and non-materialist views and as a result do harm to your own cause. You think you are winning with this strategy. OK.

          • Raging Bee

            What I will not do is read books for you…

            I’m asking you to quote, and argue from, what you remember from the books you’ve already read.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Why? They form the basis of the arguments I am making to you now. You do not see to understand philosophy, philosophy of science, or philosophy of religion well so I am pointing you to people other than I am who are more expert. However, I will stand by everything I have argued here.

          • Raging Bee

            Okay, refute my statement about MOs and stand by that.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You cannot refute a statement. A statement is not an argument.

          • Raging Bee

            So you’ll refute it if I call it an argument? Okay…refute my ARGUMENT about MOs and stand by that.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Make an argument.

          • Raging Bee

            Seriously, that’s exactly my point: I made a statement of a self-evident fact, and you can’t refute it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            If it were self-evident, then most mathematicians would not disagree with you now would they?

          • Raging Bee

            If it wasn’t self-evident, you would have refuted it by now.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            So most mathematicians don’t see your self-evident truth?

          • Raging Bee

            You still haven’t quoted ANY mathematician denying it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I have given you two articles and quoted the claim from that most mathematicians believe in MO. Start with Frege and work out.

          • Raging Bee

            QUOTE Frege and we’ll work out from there.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No.

          • Raging Bee

            Yep, just bluffing the whole time.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Ha! You have no idea how complex the argument is . . . This is not a matter of pull quotes. Here is as spare a summary of his work as I could find for you to start with: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege/#AnaStaNum

            Go to 2.5 for why a simple quote is impossible. It’s like someone saying: show me why X believes in the modern theory of physics in one simple quote.

          • Raging Bee

            Yep, still bluffing. I read that section, and while I didn’t get all of it, it was pretty obvious that nothing in that chapter actually refuted what I said. He merely redefined a number as a “class” of things to which the number applies; but none of that proves that numbers, or any other MOs, exist independently of material objects or events, any more than any other observable quality an object may have.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            “While I didn’t get all of it” . . . Yes. See 2 A for a few things you missed. http://www.iep.utm.edu/mathplat/#SSH2aii

          • Raging Bee

            And that’s bullshit. First, “natural numbers exist” is empty because it isn’t specified what “exist” means. And second, it still doesn’t refute my claim that numbers and other MOs can only be proven to exist consequent to the existence of other material objects. With no material referent or basis, no MOs can be proven to exist as anything other than really interesting ideas that people can play with.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Find a good friends who does advanced math and chat about how this has gone.

          • Raging Bee

            So…not even a name this time?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            How about yours? Where did you go to college?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. You’ll have to find your own honest friend.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            “Merely” . . . This is laugh out loud funny. Frege “merely” redefined. . .

          • Raging Bee

            I am saying you are too extreme in your dismissal of theism and non-materialist views and as a result do harm to your own cause.

            There’s nothing “extreme” in dismissing claims that have no evidentiary support. Either that, or I’m a big-time extremist for dismissing claims of vampires and zombies.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            If we find a scholarly tradition arguing for the existence of vampires and zombies, with arguments in favor of their existence appropriate to their status (they would have to be material for material beings), then you would be hasty. As we have no such scholarship, you are free to dismiss at will, Gridley.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Decent summary here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/quine/ (see references to Two Dogmas)

          • Raging Bee

            Okay, that’s a little something. Here’s an important quibble I find right away:

            Mathematical objects are independent of intelligent agents and their language, thought, and practices.

            What should be said here, is that mathematical objects exist, and are relevant, insofar as they help to describe or explain real-world material things and events.. They exist because, and ONLY because, they describe or explain MATERIAL objects and events that are “independent of intelligent agents and their language, thought, and practices.”

            Yes, I guess one could imagine mathematical objects without knowing anything about any material reality or connecting them to anything in said reality; but one could also imagine ghosts, fairies, and other supernatural or unfounded ideas. Without a connection to reality, they can’t be considered “real.”

            So far, at least, none of this puts any dents in any reasonable naturalistic/materialistic worldview.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Then you have not read enough. Here is the relevant summary of the problems for a reasonable/materialistic worldview: “Mathematical platonism has considerable philosophical significance. If the view is true, it will put great pressure on the physicalist idea that reality is exhausted by the physical. For platonism entails that reality extends far beyond the physical world and includes objects which aren’t part of the causal and spatiotemporal order studied by the physical sciences.1 Mathematical platonism, if true, will also put great pressure on many naturalistic theories of knowledge. For there is little doubt that we possess mathematical knowledge. The truth of mathematical platonism would therefore establish that we have knowledge of abstract (and thus causally inefficacious) objects. This would be an important discovery, which many naturalistic theories of knowledge would struggle to accommodate.

            Although these philosophical consequences are not unique to mathematical platonism, this particular form of platonism is unusually well suited to support such consequences. For mathematics is a remarkably successful discipline, both in its own right and as a tool for other sciences.2 Few contemporary analytic philosophers are willing to contradict any of the core claims of a discipline whose scientific credentials are as strong as those of mathematics (Lewis 1991, pp. 57–9). So if philosophical analysis revealed mathematics to have some strange and surprising consequences, it would be unattractive simply to reject mathematics.3 A form of platonism based on a discipline whose scientific credentials are less impressive than those of mathematics would not be in this fortunate situation. For instance, if theology turns out to have some strange and surprising philosophical consequences, many philosophers would not hesitate to reject the relevant parts of theology.”

          • Raging Bee

            Then you have not read enough.

            Yeah, that’s what Christian apologists say every time they want to discount any and all criticism of their religion.

            For platonism entails that reality extends far beyond the physical world and includes objects which aren’t part of the causal and spatiotemporal order studied by the physical sciences.

            Sorry, but none of that follows from the existence of mathematical objects. Such objects exist as part of “the causal and spatiotemporal order studied by the physical sciences;” so their existence says absolutely nothing about anything outside of that order. And you sure as hell can’t use them to “prove” that your religion, or anyone else’s, is at all valid.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You are arguing with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the implications . . . not me. The quote you are attacking is from a scholarly summary of the situation.

            And the existence of immaterial objects (as the article states) would not be part of the world science studies. I am not using them to prove my religion, but to show that materialism (like idealism and dualism) has serious problems, very serious problems.

            Are you still winning?

          • Raging Bee

            You are arguing with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the implications . . . not me.

            First, you sound like a religious bigot insisting I’m arguing with THE BIBLE, not him. And second, I’m not arguing with the Encyclopedia, I’m saying that the philosophy described in it is wrong.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            On what basis? or training are you making this claim? Are you a mathematician? A philosopher? If not, then give us an argument against Frege or the view of most mathematicians. Second, your analogy is a bad one. I am questioning your competence in the area, not asserting the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is inerrant . . ..

          • Raging Bee

            You’re arguing from authority, without addressing the substance of my actual statement. Still bluffing, in other words. I thought you said you had a class to teach…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Waiting for the class while I am working on the PowerPoint. An argument from authority is useful if the authority has relevant credentials and the person making counter claims has none. The burden of proof is, in that case, on the dissident if both are making contrary claims. You have adopted a position contrary to the experts in the field and “dismissed” it without an argument.

            BTW:

            This is not the same as the informal fallacy, the false appeal to authority, which has someone claiming expertise based on irrelevant credentials (eg. a medical doctor making epistemology claims).

          • Raging Bee

            You’re using PowerPoint?! In a philosophy class?! Yer a loser!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am discussing the existence or non-existence of beauty and using images of beauty from the past as examples. This is a lecture. Most of my classes are Socratic based discussions on texts and ideas. And yes . . . PowerPoint is a dreadful program, but the best way I can find to show images in class. Though students do enjoy watching our discourse as well!

          • Raging Bee

            Do philosophers really have “relevant credentials” to assert the possible existence of anything supernatural? I guess that’s a bonus you get as a philosopher: you get to pretend you’re qualified to answer any damn question you want, and then deny anyone else’s credentials to question you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I do not feel qualified to answer questions about the state of physics. I ask my physics friends. Philosophers feel qualified to answer philosophy questions and these include issues of epistemology and ontology which we are now discussing. I am not a theologian so I try to be careful about asserting theological things on my own hook or training.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            The idea that the existence of non-material objects would not put a dent in a materialistic worldview is incoherent.

          • Raging Bee

            Those aren’t “non-material objects,” they’re abstract concepts that help describe material objects. They don’t disprove a materialistic worldview any more than any other thought I have in my head.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            That’s not what mathematical Platonism says. As the article points out. And it does have implications for materialism . . . as the article points out.

          • Raging Bee

            Mathematical platonism is wrong, and I corrected it. See “important quibble” above.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You are now contradicting the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on the implications of mathematical Platonism.

            As for the “ideas” “in” “your head” . . . that is an equally problematic statement. Where in your head is “an idea?”

          • Raging Bee

            Yes, I’m saying mathematical Platonism is wrong.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Great. Most mathematicians disagree with you. My point: materialism has very serious problems and you should not have dismissed them so easily. I assume you now concede this simple point?

          • Raging Bee

            Give me some “problems” that are less easy to dismiss.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You have dismissed the problem of mathematical objects easily. You should submit this dismissal to a journal and you will surely win a major chair in philosophy of mathematics.

          • Raging Bee

            That’s not giving me a problem.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I believe it is not giving you a problem. That’s your problem. This is a real issue and atheists who have materialists have devoted lifetimes of hard work to propose solutions. None is widely accepted yet, but just wishing away the problem with a folk example is not going to do it.

          • Raging Bee

            From a Tom Stoppard play:

            “[blah blah philosophical discourse]….how can we really know if the Sun is shining?”

            “I suppose we could look out the window?”

            “Empiricism?! Is that all you have to offer?!”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I love Tom Stoppard! The faux philosopher goes wrong, because when asked an empirical question, he refuses an empirical solution and then associates it with empiricism! That would be like being asked a mathematical question and then refusing to do math, but demand someone do brain science. Any way cheers to Stoppard! I think my students have done two of his shows.

          • Raging Bee

            Most mathematicians disagree with you.

            Further citations and quotes required.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            “Mathematical platonism enjoys widespread support and is frequently considered the default metaphysical position with respect to mathematics.” http://www.iep.utm.edu/mathplat/

          • Raging Bee

            That’s just another encyclopedia article describing a certain school of thought. Please quote the bit that refutes what I said about mathematical objects.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            What you said was not an argument really so hard to refute. It was an assertion that math objects were mere ideas. To the extent this is a coherent position, it is dealt with by Frege in the original article. FYI: a counter-assertion to an argument is not a refutation on your part, just a statement of your belief. What is your argument against mathematical Platonism?

          • Raging Bee

            So it’s MY fault that you find my statement hard to refute?

            My statement was, in fact, more of a clarification of the basic postulate of mathematical Platonism. MP says MOs exist independently of intelligent agents, and I clarified that this is ONLY because they are necessary to describe and explain material things and events, so whoever perceives the real world, will inevitably encounter whatever MOs are necessary to explain it. That is NOT the same as saying MOs exist as “objects” independent of any material objects.

            I find it amusing that you freak out so much over my mere rewording of a philosophical postulate. If a whole school of thought depends on a badly-worded postulate, then what good is it?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            First, your rewording is not an improvement on the careful wording in the Stanford article. If you think your rewording is better, perhaps you could alert Stanford?

            Second, your rewording is wrong.

            Mathematicians do not use mathematical objects to describe or explain material things and events. Much mathematics (like much mathematical logic) is abstract and deals with abstract objects in a manner disconnected to the material world. That’s the force of some of the arguments from use in mathematics.

            That such abstract mathematical work LATER turns out to be useful to some scientists (in physics) is remarkable and suggest the priority of math as a field of knowing outside of and useful to science. Math does not grow out of science, arguably in reverse.

            Your argument is also viciously circular as it hides the conclusion in the phrase “perceives the real world” since the MP asserts that part of the real world includes the mathematical objects she is using to do mathematical work (unrelated to explanations of material parts of reality).

          • Raging Bee

            Mathematicians do not use mathematical objects to describe or explain material things and events.

            People in the real world do.

            Much mathematics (like much mathematical logic) is abstract and deals with abstract objects in a manner disconnected to the material world.

            So why should we consider that stuff relevant in the real world? If it’s not connected to the real world, then you can’t use it to support claims about the real world.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I am confident my friends in math do in fact live in the real world. You are just asserting what you believe . NOTE: you cannot claim MO are not relevant to the “real world,” assuming they are not in the real world, as this is the thing we are discussing. The bad news for materialist scientists is that after abstract math was done, they ended up needing the math in the material world that the mathematicians had produced from MO. This was a heavy blow to certain forms of materialism.

          • Raging Bee

            You are just asserting what you believe

            No, I’m responding to what YOU SAID.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            MO are in the real world or they are not. Frege (cited in the Stanford article) and the usage of the experts (mathematicians) suggest they are real. You have given no argument to say they are not, just asserted they are not and given an alternative explanation of sorts.

          • Raging Bee

            MO are in the real world or they are not.

            A totally meaningless statement that does not refute my original claim.

          • Raging Bee

            NOTE: you cannot claim MO are not relevant to the “real world,” assuming they are not in the real world, as this is the thing we are discussing.

            NOTE: I never said that.

            Oh, and your use of the phrase “materialist scientists” puts you squarely in the class of religious anti-rationalists/obscurantists trying to denigrate reason in order to keep people from using it to the detriment of religious authoritarians. I’ve heard this shit before, and I know where you’re going with it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            No. I don’t think so. There are atheists who are not materialists. For example, some Platonists are atheists.

          • Raging Bee

            That just means some atheists kinda-sorta fell for the con-game.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Or perhaps, just mayhaps, you are wrong and overstating the case?

          • Raging Bee

            Mayhaps, mayhaps not. So far no evidence that I’m wrong here.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I believe you do not see any.

          • Raging Bee

            Second, your rewording is wrong.

            My experience and studies prove it isn’t.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            What are they?

          • Raging Bee

            Um…gee, not much, really, other than a fucking lifetime of observing things that have observable qualities, and never seeing those qualities independent of objects that have them…you know, just stuff…

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You would not be able to “see” a mathematical object so that is the wrong test to apply to its existence.

          • Raging Bee

            Actually, that proves my point: we can’t “see” MOs because they only exist based on the existence of material objects and events. No material objects, no MOs.

            It’s like a color: not real in and of itself, but real as a quality that some objects have and others don’t.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            This is merely you restating materialism. If immaterial objects exist, they would not be “seeable.”

            Note that none of your sentences introduce a new idea. They merely restate materialism. Of course, if MO’s are based on material objects, they do it exist, but that is what appears untrue in how they are used,

            Math objects are not always qualia in mathematical reasoning. Math does not start with objects. You seem to be thinking of math as being bound by activities like counting.

          • Raging Bee

            If immaterial objects exist, they would not be “seeable.”

            A tired old excuse for your inability to prove any claims about “immaterial” (a.k.a. supernatural) objects.

          • Raging Bee

            Note that none of your sentences introduce a new idea.

            I never said any of my ideas were new. Only that they’re true and you have still so far failed to refute any of them.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I believe you believe that.

          • Raging Bee

            Math does not start with objects.

            Actually, yes, it starts with the need to count and quantify material things. And most of the basic concepts in math are at least based on material things (or simplified representations thereof), such as two objects moving in parallel (parallel lines), shapes seen in the real world, etc.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            So this is not higher math. You know this, right? This is what we learn in high school, but not what professional mathematicians do.

          • Raging Bee

            If the concepts that professional mathematicians work with don’t have any connection to real-world things or events, then their objective existence, per mathematical Platonism, isn’t really proven. And if such MOs are based on real-world math at all, then their existence is dependent on, and arising from, the material world that math is created to describe.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You are not giving an argument here, just reasserting your belief in materialism.
            If you can only prove that abstract objects exist if they connect to your self-defined “real world” (already a viciously circular claim on your part), then you have created a non-falsifiable criteria.

            Second, your statement that if MO have “real” world use (circular again), then that shows their existence depends on the material world is false. It could equally be the case that idealism is true and the “real” world arises from ideas/mind/MO.

            Third, you are simply wrong about what math is and does. Math was not “created” to describe the material world. Math can do that (itself a problem for materialism), but from ancient times pure math existed for its own sake. Scientists gave to math, not vice versa. Kepler is instructive here.

          • Raging Bee

            It’s not a “belief,” it’s an observable and self-evident fact.

            It could equally be the case that idealism is true and the “real” world arises from ideas/mind/MO.

            No, it couldn’t, because there’s no evidence of this ever happening.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Not if you exclude the evidence that would count for idealism by definition as you do. This is sad.

          • Raging Bee

            Examples of such evidence, please?

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            “Raging Bee”. . . find an atheist with a grad degree in math. Sit and chat and see how he thinks this has gone.

          • Raging Bee

            So…no evidence then? Got it.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            You did not understand anything said so far. No sense going further.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            I just want you to get tired of all this winning. Have a Happy Thanksgiving if you are in the States!

          • Raging Bee

            Now you’re sounding like GK Chesterton, a well-known Christian-apologist hack who has tried to pretend physical laws aren’t real because we can’t “see” them. (Which is bullshit, because we see the effects of such laws on material objects every day.)

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            Too bad mathematicians do not make this error (assuming GKC does). They work with abstract objects without referring to the material world.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/eidos/ John Mark N. Reynolds

            BTW: one refutes an argument and contradicts a statement.

      • Raging Bee

        It’s not religion that’s at fault anymore than politics, business, sports, law, etc. is at fault. It’s the approach one takes towards any of these human endeavors that makes the difference.

        I heard the same excuse made for Communism. And just about every stupid backward authoritarian religion ever founded.

        There is no actual line from John to them because John’s approach to religion does not correspond to their approach to religion.

        Actually, it very much does correspond, especially when (as we see below) he whines about all the criticism of religion he sees on blogs like this one, and trots out the “You have to think about all the (unspecified) good religion does too!” dodge. Dishonest apologists cannot distance themselves from the dishonesty of their religions.