Why Must We Respect Your Beliefs?

(source)

  • LRA

    If I said that our senses were fooling us and I was CERTAIN that the sky was really an ineffable color of magical fluorescent green and not the blue that you see with your eyes, then you’d likely question my “belief”. Wouldn’t you?

    It’s because it’s a ridiculous claim. Just like any other metaphysical claim that lacks evidence and certainty.

    Of course, that point is lost on religious thinkers.

    • JonJon

      So, all metaphysical claims are equally unrespected by you? Or do you privilege some metaphysical claims? The vast majority aren’t going to have what you call “evidence and certainty.” What I hear you saying is that all metaphysical claims are ridiculous, and that no metaphysical claims deserve respect. Do I have that right?

      • Custador

        Any metaphysical hypothesis whose followers proclaim it as the ultimate transcendent truth in the face of overwhelming evidence against it is certainly worth disrespecting massively imho.

        • JonJon

          Is the “evidence against it” also metaphysical? I mean, there certainly is metaphysical evidence for and against things, but if we are allowed to discount metaphysical claims at will, I can simply discount your metaphysical evidence. It is also possible to insulate metaphysical claims against empirical evidence (which I think might be what you’re actually driving at). The standards of metaphysical and empirical “evidence” are and should be quite different. I don’t think that means that metaphysical claims get a free pass: they are subject to certain standards, but probably not the same ones used to judge empirical claims. Ruling out *all* metaphysical claims (just because they cannot be held to an empirical standard) is quite a different proposition than insisting that metaphysical claims are held to a high standard appropriate to weighing a metaphysical claim.

          • LRA

            JonJon– can you give me an example of metaphysical evidence?

            • JonJon

              Metaphysical claims are *by definition* not supported by empirical evidence. I assume that when you use the word evidence that you mean something akin to empirical, scientific, physical evidence (since I know you have a science background.) This is why I asked for a clarification.

              If you mean to say that some metaphysical claims are better supported (by non-empirical standards) than others, then I agree with you. If, in fact, you mean that theist metaphysical claims are not supported by empirical evidence and should be thrown out, then by parity of reasoning *all* metaphysical claims should be thrown out, since metaphysical claims are not supported by empirical evidence.

              Support for metaphysical claims exists, it can be better or worse. In fact, many of the same guidelines used to judge between competing theories can be extended to metaphysical assertions. If a metaphysical claim is not logically or internally consistent, then it is less well-supported than one that is. If a certain metaphysical claim has less explanatory power or a smaller scope than another, then it is also less well-supported.

            • LRA

              Exactly– which is why I’m suspicious of them. I purposely gave an empirical and anti-empirical example to demonstrate this point. Metaphysical “support” –as you call it– is suspicious to me. How can it be confirmed if not in the physical world? (that’s a real question, not a rhetorical one)

            • JonJon

              “Confirmed” is a scary word for me. Also, I will have to apologize because I haven’t done metaphysics in a little while.

              Let’s consider a metaphysical question: is space the void between objects, or are objects just a particular *kind* of space? (Thus a chair would be ontologically the same thing as a mushroom; it would be a region of space that is particularly “chair-ish,” as opposed to “mushroomy” space.

              This isn’t determinable by physical evidence. It is a question of the way things are *behind* physical reality. You can use physical stuff to explore these questions, but the question is in a different realm. I may be completely wrong on this, but from what I remember metaphysics is basically subject to the rules of philosophy rather than the rules of science: confirming or disconfirming is basically not possible beyond a theory’s usefulness and consistency.

            • Ty

              “I may be completely wrong on this, but from what I remember metaphysics is basically subject to the rules of philosophy rather than the rules of science”

              Which is why I will mostly shrug at it. Philosophy is the beginning of inquiry, not the end. Philosophy can come up with all sorts of claims about what makes a chair and a mushroom different, science can tell you what their atomic structures are.

              I respect philosophy a lot, and I think we need people asking philosophical questions because they often are the starting point for research. But if a question begins in philosophy and then never goes anywhere else, it’s not all that useful to me.

            • LRA

              JonJon-

              If you can’t demonstrate your claim to me, then I’m unlikely to believe it. If you try to condemn me for my disbelief, then I’m likely to begin to disrespect you. If you try to force me to believe what you believe or go after little kids in a public forum to force them to believe what you believe, then I’m likely to get outraged (especially if your belief is demonstrably false). So, yes, metaphysical claims are likely to be disrespected by me.

            • LRA

              Also:

              “Let’s consider a metaphysical question: is space the void between objects, or are objects just a particular *kind* of space? (Thus a chair would be ontologically the same thing as a mushroom; it would be a region of space that is particularly “chair-ish,” as opposed to “mushroomy” space.

              This isn’t determinable by physical evidence. It is a question of the way things are *behind* physical reality. You can use physical stuff to explore these questions, but the question is in a different realm. I may be completely wrong on this, but from what I remember metaphysics is basically subject to the rules of philosophy rather than the rules of science: confirming or disconfirming is basically not possible beyond a theory’s usefulness and consistency.”

              Einstein, the scientist, was pretty clear about spacetime. Admittedly, he was a theoretical physicist, but his claims have been supported by mountains of physical evidence.

              As far as what’s “behind” reality– that is a question well addressed by nominalism. We “create” what’s “behind” reality so as to frame our understanding of it. Think about Kant’s “spacetime glasses” (and yes, I know that Kant isn’t particularly nominalist, but I think it’s still apropros.)

              Meta-physics, is (as you pointed out) what is *beyond* the physical world, and that we can not know because we have no way to sense/detect/know about it. So, metaphysical claims are pretty much pointless from an epistemological standpoint, IMO.

            • Olaf

              —“Let’s consider a metaphysical question: is space the void between objects, or are objects just a particular *kind* of space? (Thus a chair would be ontologically the same thing as a mushroom; it would be a region of space that is particularly “chair-ish,” as opposed to “mushroomy” space.”—

              LRA you make no scientific sense in this logic whatsoever.
              And the reason why you make no sense is that you build a “human” logical of what you “think” that quantum mechanics and relativity is.

            • LRA

              Olaf– that wasn’t me that was Jon Jon…

            • JonJon

              I feel like your appeal to nominalism, while it solves some of the problems I’m mentioning, introduces other problems. In fact, it feels like avoiding the problems more than anything else. There isn’t anything that recommends one particular way of dividing reality (nominalism) from any other way *besides* metaphysics. In effect, you’re choosing not to examine the question because the awesome tool you happen to have (empirical investigation) doesn’t work in that scenario. Just because the tool doesn’t work doesn’t mean that there is in fact nothing to be done. Just because we don’t have an empirical way to determine what lies behind reality doesn’t mean that nothing underlies it.

              (Also, I don’t know if you mean that all metaphysical claims are associated with attempts to influence children. If that’s what you’re arguing, I’d have to disagree with you.)

              Ty, I understand your position. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it.

            • LRA

              “There isn’t anything that recommends one particular way of dividing reality (nominalism) from any other way *besides* metaphysics”

              No- that is what philosophy of language is for…

              “Also, I don’t know if you mean that all metaphysical claims are associated with attempts to influence children. If that’s what you’re arguing, I’d have to disagree with you”

              LOL! :D JonJon… you should know that a series of conditional (if then) statements and a conclusion of “likely” doesn’t mean that I think that *ALL*
              “metaphysical claims are associated with attempts to influence children.”
              Of course I don’t think that!

            • JonJon

              Just responding to what I read:

              “So, yes, metaphysical claims are likely to be disrespected by me.”

              This implies that metaphysical claims are “likely” to fall on one side of your if/then statements.

            • Olaf

              Sorry LRA, I thought you quoted it.

            • Olaf

              JonJon, you are very good in wordplay but sadly enough wordplay means nothing if reality checks through experiments is saying other-ways.

              You might as well invent some complex sounding wordplay that the 500hertz sound-wave is blue and thus means that Unicorns exist since they have a blue horn.

            • LRA

              Olaf- No worries! I quoted JonJon in order to respond to him directly. :)

            • Olaf

              Religious discussions always end up with wordplay. Somehow they think that if you repeat it a loot and change the logic then suddenly the universe will respond and make it happen.

              The wordplay is only good for Science fiction books. Great ideas but means nothing in reality.

            • JonJon

              It turns out every discussion in history depends on the use of language. You don’t have to listen to what I’m saying. By all means, ignore me if you think I’m speaking nonsense. But it isn’t out of bounds to speak persuasively; nor is it unfair to use the rules of logic. While “they” (?) might think that the world will simply bend to their argument, I don’t think you have good grounds to assume that *I* think that.

            • Sunny [Sunny Day

              “JonJon– can you give me an example of metaphysical evidence?”

              Wishful thinking?

          • Custador

            Not at all; there’s no reason at all that physical evidence shouldn’t disprove a metaphysical hypothesis. Metaphysical statements are just ideas – and some ideas are provably wrong in the real world.

            • JonJon

              Some ideas are indeed provably wrong in the real world. Metaphysical ideas, basically by definition, escape this. I’m relying really really heavily on the definition of metaphysics here: it means just what it sounds like: beyond or above “physics”.

            • Custador

              Fine then any idea (like religion) which claims to be metaphysical but at the same time makes physical assertions which are provably wrong is:

              a) Not really metaphysical, and
              b) Wrong.

            • JonJon

              This is a really interesting argument. I think I have to untangle it a little. I think that when a metaphysical claim depends on or predicts a set of empirical circumstances that doesn’t match up with reality, then it is pretty indefensible. So I agree with you at least somewhat.

              On the other hand(s) though, if a similar metaphysical claim only uses empirically verifiable starting points, then it is difficult to say where it would be wrong, although it isn’t metaphysical as far as it is predicting real-world circumstances. Likewise, if a claim doesn’t predict reality at all, then it is definitely metaphysical, not really provably wrong, etc. As far as you’ve gone, though, I’d say you’re right. I just think it is almost trivially easy to scale back the real-world claims of the metaphysical side of Christianity.

            • Ty

              Yes, Custador, I agree.

              Most of these discussions turn out to be supernaturalists/metaphysicalists/theists wanting to not have their cake and eat it too.

            • Custador

              If it’s based on an empirically verifiable starting point, it’s not metaphysical by definition. Religion is not metaphysical. There are bits of philosophy which are, but not religion.

          • nazani14

            How about math? Can you use mathematics to prove any metaphysical hypothesis? Math is definitely the best language for discovering and describing many aspects of reality.

        • LRA

          ^ This!

          • LRA

            (Directed at Custador– oops!)

      • DarkMatter

        “Just like any other metaphysical claim that lacks evidence and certainty.”
        You miss out this part.

        • JonJon

          No, I didn’t miss it. The possibility exists that I’ve misinterpreted it, which is why I asked.

          • DarkMatter

            I do not think you are just asking.

            • JonJon

              You are welcome to think that.

            • LRA

              I think you are thinking what I’m thinking. But then again, maybe you think that I think that you think something else…

              :P

            • JonJon

              Woah… Heavy stuff dude…

            • DarkMatter

              I didn’t know it’s about mushrooms and chairs.

            • LRA

              Yup. We intellectual heavy weighs are like that, dude.

              ;P

    • Brian

      This is tiring stuff! I don’t even know what metaphysical means! LMAO

    • LRA
  • http://davidellisart.blogspot.com/ david ellis

    This morning I came across this comment at the blog GIRLIE JONES on the accusation of being an “angry feminist”:

    “Which is what makes it so handy to label any kind of criticism as “angry” and then lecture even the excruciatingly polite and nuanced speaker about how if they would only moderate their tone people might listen!”

    We atheists can relate to that.

    • beyonddeities

      OH YES. I’ve seen that. Very good points on that blog. Also: ontd_feminist and their rant about the ‘tone argument.’

    • Roger

      I think that that’s an argument that is always applied by majority/dominant groups to minority groups. Gays get it in the form of, “If you all weren’t so flamboyant and stopped sleeping with people of the same gender, we’d totally love you!” Blacks got it (still get it) in the form of “Stop being so militant and angry! If you weren’t so angry and militant, racism would totally go away!”

  • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

    Why?

    Simple.

    If one expects to be respected, they must show respect in return. That doesn’t mean you agree with them, but understand that a person’s beliefs are very real to them. They are a core part of who they are, and when you mock their beliefs, you are mocking them personally.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Bender

      That’s the problem, you take it personal. I respect your right to have your beliefs and to express them freely, but if those beliefs are baseless, and include such preposterous ideas as talking snakes, virgin births or resurrecting people, I have no obligation to respect them. If you take offense, that’s your problem.

      • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

        Here’s the flaw in the “If you take offense, that’s your problem” argument.

        If a person is sexually harassed or offended by a racist/sexist/vulgar joke, etc., then is that their “problem” too?

        Using your argument is a cheap way of avoiding responsibility for the things you do/say.

        • Ty

          If someone is offended, it is in fact ‘their’ problem. I am offended by things other people do. That’s my problem. I also have the right to be offended, and I have the right to change who I associate with if I feel strongly enough about it.

          Harassment is a legal issue precisely because there is a power dynamic involved that removes the element of ‘choice’.

          The real issue is not that atheists follow Christians around shouting anti-theistic propaganda at them. For most people who make the “I’m offended” argument when talking about atheism, the thing that offends them is that atheists have the nerve to exist, and to not be ashamed of their beliefs.

          Until Richard Dawkins follows you home and forces you to read his books or his website at gunpoint, then you don’t have anything to complain about. Yes, he holds your beliefs in utter contempt. But it is entirely possible to go your whole life without ever reading a word he’s written.

          • elizabethdamaro

            “For most people who make the “I’m offended” argument when talking about atheism, the thing that offends them is that atheists have the nerve to exist, and to not be ashamed of their beliefs.”

            Disagree. Actually, take a look at some of the posts that hit this blog for example. Christianity is *mocked* here regularly. People use words like “Jebus” and the like. It’s childish and rather disgusting and not even close to productive skeptic thinking.

            *Some* do want their atheism to be some sort of badge that is intent on straight out ridicule of theism. Fine. So be it. The theist does own their own offense, on that I agree, but let’s not pretend that there isn’t a movement (including even many of Daniel’s posts on his blog and comments from members) that is hell bent on slamming *those idiot theists*. Just as atheism sprang up in opposition to theism, theism has their own motive as well (and not what you suggest) to work to spring against the counter that is just so… not even disrespectful alone, but adolescent and yes, hostile.

            Case in point: The Rational Responders. Come on. Seriously? They are the “Westboro” of the “atheist movement”.

            So to speak.

            • Erik

              I’ve never seen this argument before.

              -.-

            • LRA

              “It’s childish and rather disgusting and not even close to productive skeptic thinking.”

              “including even many of Daniel’s posts on his blog and comments from members”

              Daniel H. Florien! You are CHILDISH and DISGUSTING do you hear me???
              GO TO YOUR ROOM MISTER AND DON’T COME OUT UNTIL I SAY SO!

            • Elemenope

              Christianity is *mocked* here regularly. People use words like “Jebus” and the like. It’s childish and rather disgusting and not even close to productive skeptic thinking.

              Quite the contrary, religious symbols like the person of Jesus have immense psychological power due to their social role, and deconstructing them, sometimes brutally, is in fact a service to free thought by dethroning the idols they stand for. It’s not really my style and I don’t engage in it, but it does have utility.

              And for what it’s worth, hostility to idols (including its own) has a long storied Christian history, and so it’s not like the Atheists are engaging in anything particularly new or even alien to the Christian oeuvre.

            • LRA

              It probably never occurred to some people that “Jeebus” is a made up name to indicate what Jesus and his teachings have been turned into by ignorant, white, right-wingnuttery.

              “Down with WELFARE!!! Jeebus would approve!”

            • LRA
            • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

              Meh, I took a poll in the forums: basically everyone said they deliberately mangle the name *because* it is disrespectful to do so. I thought it was an interesting thread.

            • Elemenope

              Er, on that thread Phrankygee outright said what LRA just said, and most others said that it was making fun of the southern pronunciation of the name. I think only Rodney argued it is intended purely disrespectfully.

              And the Simpsons got there first.

            • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

              Apparently I’ll have to look at that thread again…

            • Sunny [Sunny Day

              “Actually, take a look at some of the posts that hit this blog for example. Christianity is *mocked* here regularly. ”

              Is that supposed to be a Bad Thing?

            • Ty

              I just love the complete lack of self awareness in someone coming to a blog called, “Unreasonable Faith,” written by an atheist former pastor, and then complain that religion is not treated with respect.

              I certainly wouldn’t go to Ray Comfort’s blog and complain that he doesn’t treat atheism with respect.

            • Nelly

              yeah, that’s what I thought too.

              and to make it clear, I’ve had Christianists right up in my face, yelling at me that I’m going to hell for driving a friend to a woman’s clinic. I’ve been mocked and taunted and “prayed for” etc. I feel no need to respect anyone who invades my space

            • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

              “I certainly wouldn’t go to Ray Comfort’s blog and complain that he doesn’t treat atheism with respect.”

              But Ty, don’t atheists do that all the time?

            • Ty

              “But Ty, don’t atheists do that all the time?”

              If they do, I am unaware of it.

              Making fun of Ray is atheist sport, but worrying that he doesn’t respect us is not something I’ve ever seen anyone do.

            • Jabster

              @JonJon

              If Danny Boy (it’s much east to type than Daniel) constantly said he respected believers, as Comfort constantly says he respects atheists, then it would be a fair comparison. There’s also a difference between atheists wanting Comfort’s respect and pointing out that he constantly lies.

            • Daniel Florien

              If we could only be more like Liz instead…

            • elizabethdamaro

              When did I make any such complaint? I sited two different examples of why theists may respond the way they do. You claimed that “For most people who make the “I’m offended” argument when talking about atheism, the thing that offends them is that atheists have the nerve to exist, and to not be ashamed of their beliefs.”

              I’m showing you, no, for the most part, a lot of the gripe and reason they get offended (which I said they indeed needed to own their own offense) was due to the ridicule and glaring disrespect of their belief system. Not because atheists have the nerve to exist, but because *some* atheists are over their top in their slam of theism.

            • elizabethdamaro

              *cited*

            • Custador

              You’d need to add “utterly blind to own flaws”, “completely unable to concede even the most minor point at all, ever”, “having a gigantic and totally unjustified superiority complex”, “incredibly offensive” and “in a state of complete denial” to get close to Liz.

              My prediction? She’s lying for Jesus – she’ll claim atheism for a while and then, when she’s pissed off enough people, she’ll “convert” back to Christianity with a nice story for her church about how the mean, nasty atheists were mean and nasty and made her see the light of Jeeeeebus.

            • elizabethdamaro

              Ad Hominem.

              I’m going to say this right here, this post (and a few of LRAs and even Daniels) were about *me* and not at all about the statements I made.

              If there is a derail here, it is coming from posts like that.

              Now… can you really not see that some theists would definitely take offense to the over the top ridicule of their belief system? You really can’t see how Ty and others *just* made my case for me, that there are atheists who are hell bent on slamming theism and ridiculing it. Have you never even visited Rational Responders? Come on.

              Of course people are going to get offended when their belief system is ridiculed. Sure, they have to own it. But to claim that theists are just put off because atheists exist is nonsense. They are put off because they are being made fun of on a regular basis.

              Did you ever stop to consider, how powerful the indoctrination is on the theist brain? How wired it is to that thought process. How, especially if one has come from such a place, another approach to enlighten the theist might be some compassion and respect for that wiring alone and not just in your face ridicule of their god or belief system.

              The statement is true, that when belief systems are attacked, so is the person, because when it comes to a belief system as this… their brains are very much rewired to it. It takes a lot sometimes to undo the indoctrination that has them in their grips.

            • Custador

              Liz, I am loathe to address you directly since I already decided that you serve no function other than to raise my blood pressure, but I will just say this: If you come to a public forum then you have no right to expect people to refrain from discussion you – especially when you behave the way that you consistently behave. In short: Like it or don’t. I really doubt anybody else gives a shit.

            • elizabethdamaro

              I could care less if you want to discuss me. But Daniel has stated he does. So has LRA and others.

              You again, you use your post to talk about *me* and derail off topic onto a topic of how you dislike me instead.

              Stay on topic.

              The accusations that I am the one trolling blogs or threads, is totally utterly false, especially in light of these two posts from you and others that people have made here in this thread.

              Apparently, people *do give a shit*. So it is your behavior that is problematic for them, not mine.

              Now, care to address the actual statements on topic that were made?

            • Sunny [Sunny Day

              “You again, you use your post to talk about *me* and derail off topic onto a topic of how you dislike me instead.

              Stay on topic”

              Golly gee, Thanks Thread Cop!

              I don’t know how we would Ever found our way back after going so far off topic.

              You’re My Hero!

            • Elemenope

              If we could not do this again, that would be swell.

            • DarkMatter

              “Golly gee, Thanks Thread Cop! ”
              I don’t think she care of this remark though she might not mind being one here of here, as a “care_less” person.

            • Elemenope

              I’d merely prefer another thread doesn’t get swallowed by raging irony storms. That’s all.

            • DarkMatter

              “Apparently, people *do give a shit*. So it is your behavior that is problematic for them, not mine.”
              I don’t know why there is a need for her to let others know she is impervious to others problems.

            • Sunny Day

              Ok, ok, come on DM, we can do something safer like throwing rocks at Beehives.

              It was getting dark and musty under there anyway.

            • DarkMatter

              Am I doing that?

            • Siberia

              Disagree. Actually, take a look at some of the posts that hit this blog for example. Christianity is *mocked* here regularly. People use words like “Jebus” and the like. It’s childish and rather disgusting and not even close to productive skeptic thinking.

              And I should care because…?

          • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

            For most people who make the “I’m offended” argument when talking about atheism, the thing that offends them is that atheists have the nerve to exist, and to not be ashamed of their beliefs.

            I think I’ll name that argument “scarecrow” based on all the straw used to make it.

            The “offended” argument comes from being told, repeatedly, that they’re irrational, afraid of science, non-thinking, brainless zombies.

            • Elemenope

              That is the flip-side of the criticism coin, and coming from the people who have political and social power which dwarfs anything atheists can muster, rings slightly hollow. All an atheist can do–literally the *worst* an atheist can do–is be strident.

              And, putting it in a slightly different way, the Christian community writ large has been less than tolerant, historically and contemporaneously, of any sort of secular criticism. And outside the halls of academia (where at least you have theologians of stature like Tillich acknowledging the importance of the secular critique), there is a palpable feeling of “it’s not your place to criticize”, even though we have to live in the same countries and deal with the policies motivated by those beliefs.

            • Ty

              “The “offended” argument comes from being told, repeatedly, that they’re irrational, afraid of science, non-thinking, brainless zombies.”

              Since you have to actively go looking for it to read any of those sorts of criticisms, I will toss that strawman right back at you, stud.

              Where, outside of websites and books dedicated to discussing atheism, do you hear any of those sorts of criticisms?

            • elizabethdamaro

              Ty, you claimed the reason theists get offended is just by the fact that atheists exists and aren’t afraid to say it.

              That is bull. Come on. There is plenty of bashing on both sides often. The theist in their arrogance claiming the atheist is lost – that’s ridicule. The atheist in their arrogance claiming the theist is an idiot – that is ridicule.

              Hell, in this thread we have a comparison of JonJon to all those “other Christians” who Nox claimed would never have a reasonable discussion.

              There are religious forums all over, open to both theists and non theists a like, there are interviews on television, there are frickin movies made as well. Bill Maher anyone? You can’t say that there hasn’t been a movement to gain publicity for the non theists. And that is okay. But some of that movement has used straight out ridicule and stereotyping to slam theists.

              I mean, even that blogs or forums exist for the sole purpose of ridiculing theists is enough to prove the point valid. Just as valid as when an atheist is ridiculed on theism sites to “convert”.

              And no, you don’t have to go actively looking for it Ty.

            • Elemenope

              The point remains that one happens far more than the other; one is socially accepted, encouraged even, and the other reviled as strident and uncouth. Christians nearly never experience the whole “surrounded by enemies” feel that Atheists in many places live with every day. There existing some (basically anonymous) safe havens to vent online really doesn’t undercut that one bit.

              The rightness of an act can depend upon the position of the one doing it.

            • elizabethdamaro

              I don’t in any way suggest that the persecution and alienation lands on the side of the non theist. Clearly it does. Theism has tradition and social acceptance attached, and again, the indoctrination is so ingrained and wired in that brain, that the mere thought of atheism is foreign.

              And some of that venting, as I said, is just so adolescent. I can’t get behind it either way. (not on either side). It’s hardly productive and yes, while it is an outlet… I feel it just distracts from the more academic and obvious way to rid the god concept from societies. Isn’t the goal to be taken seriously? How serious do you really think the Rational Responder site is taken? And when I see blog posts on here or elsewhere about how it is ZOMBIE DAY on Easter, I mean… come on. And the whole Jeebus thing. And so many others.

              Two wrongs *don’t* make a right. We learned that one, in kindergarten.

            • Elemenope

              I get what you’re saying. I agree, it’s not my style either; I generally don’t engage in ribald mockery of religious icons.

              *But*, I disagree that it doesn’t have a serious role to play in “rid[ding] the god concept from societies”. The presumption that the majority enjoy (in pretty much all contexts) is that their sacred cows are beyond reproach, and that their privilege is so ingrained as to be invisible *to them*. One of the things that ridicule does do is remind (in some case, instruct for the first time!), that to others, their sacred cows are nothing but cows.

              Two wrongs *don’t* make a right. We learned that one, in kindergarten.

              :) Transgression is one of the major bases of humor, and one of the more important ones from a social perspective. Mockery does serve a useful social purpose, and can be a situational right act, much as mocking the emperor’s belief that he has clothes in the old story was the correct thing to do.

            • DarkMatter

              “Isn’t the goal to be taken seriously? How serious do you really think the Rational Responder site is taken? And when I see blog posts on here or elsewhere about how it is ZOMBIE DAY on Easter, I mean… come on. And the whole Jeebus thing. And so many others. ”

              Is she saying UF is a ‘kiddy” site?

            • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

              From atheists themselves….in real life, in blogs, etc. Personally, I do find it just as offensive as when Christians say the same things about atheists….”godless, bound for hell, etc.”.

              It comes from a position of damnable pride and refusing to believe that you could very well be wrong.

              Also from the writings of Hitchens, Dawkings, Mills, et.al. You know, those who believe things like: Religion is akin to a virus, if you’re not a rabid literalist fundy then you’re not a “true Christian”….those who paint all believers with the same broad brush by not allowing for any ‘degrees of freedom’ between fundamentalist and universalist.

              I believe what I believe, but I also believe that I could be wrong. Personally I don’t ever want to think that I have all the answers….

              The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. – Bertrand Russell

        • Bender

          If a person is sexually harassed or offended by a racist/sexist/vulgar joke, etc., then is that their “problem” too?

          It’s not the same. People deserve respect regardless of race or gender. Beliefs don’t. Beliefs are just ideas, and ideas are only respectable if they are based in reason and evidence. Baseless ideas deserve no respect. If you believe in talking snakes, you’re either crazy or stupid.

          • VidLord

            “If you believe in talking snakes, you’re either crazy or stupid.”

            lol everyone knows the snake “inferred his intentions” via some sort of telepathy. I won’t digress as to why “God” would create such a snake or plant such a tree or create the perfect setup for failure…… But anyway you and your talking snake – You simple minded fool! You only display your ignorance by making such a statement.

            You are lost in a material world of proofs, evidence and rational sense. You are like a fish in a fish bowl trying to make conjectures about what is outside the fish bowl!

            The universe is your little fish bowl – it is amazingly tiny – like an atom sitting atop a blade of grass. Run along with your little mind – your tiny – amazingly incapable little mind.

            • Roger

              Dude, you believe that your universal superintelligence allowed a talking serpent to hoodwink and bamboozle two idiotic creations and, as a result, condemn all of humankind to ridiculous acts of fealty and obeisance…yeah, totally logical. And living in a world of logic is so sad…sad that that logical, scientific world has given us computers, medicines, telescopes that peer into the deepest recesses of our universe…yeah, that’s sad.

            • LRA

              (I think he was joking, Roger)

            • Jerdog

              Ohh reverse Poe.

            • Michael

              Roger, I can’t even tell if you are trolling.

          • elizabethdamaro

            Why do people deserve respect regardless again?

            Must have missed that class…..

            • Elemenope

              Skipped kindergarten; explains much.

            • elizabethdamaro

              If you think that individuals deserve to be held in high esteem by default, you might have been the one who skipped kindergarten.

            • Sunny [Sunny Day

              Kindergarten, isn’t that the place where socialization skills are practiced en mass?

            • Sunny [Sunny Day

              “held in high esteem by default,”

              “High” Why did you pick that word? Who used elevated esteem before you so that you would need to specifically refer to High Esteem?

            • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

              Because everyone is deserving of respect and dignity.

              Once you start deciding who is and who isn’t, then you just fall back into an ‘us vs. them’ mentality in which one group believes they are better, more civilized, more whatever than the other and that gives them all the justification they need to look at “Them” as less than human.

              Will it always be returned?
              Hardly.

              But if we are to be the change we wish to see in the world (Ghandi), then how people return our kindness towards them cannot be a motivating factor.

            • Elemenope

              I agree with you that persons, by and large, are worthy of respect, and even if they aren’t, the presumption that they are regardless functions to respect the fact that humans are not wise enough to apprehend all present value.

              But it does *not* follow that all beliefs are worthy of respect. A belief that it is OK to kick dogs and cats would not be worthy of respect, for example. We make subjective valuations about the integrity and consequence of different beliefs and are free to say “this one is worth following”, “this other is worth tolerating”, “this other is malignant and should be ridiculed and opposed”.

            • elizabethdamaro

              Everyone is deserving of respect and dignity because everyone is? That’s circular you know.

              Some people are *not* worthy of respect, and a lot of people don’t show people respect. Do I need to respect those who slam me on this forum? Do I need to respect Hitler? Do I need to respect Sarah Palin? Do I need to respect the rapists? No.

              Respect deals with esteem. It goes beyond tolerate to platform and elevation. And not every person is worthy of elevation to that platform.

              I can hope the best for humanity, and even care for others… I can even bestow kindness and grace towards those who haven’t merited respect, but there is no reason that by default all people need to be esteemed.

              And no reason at all to esteem some beliefs regardless.

            • Custador

              “Do I need to respect Sarah Palin? ….No.”

              Finally some common ground ;-)

            • Elemenope

              I think we might all be operating on different senses of “respect”. I think, for example, that regardless of how odious Sarah Palin’s policy ideas and cynicism are, she is deserving of the basic respect that all humans are insofar as freedom from molestation and violence and the possess the ability to pursue whatever makes them happy (so long as it doesn’t harm others).

              That’s what I mean by “respect”; an assignment of human rights and liberties that are not capriciously tide to my or any other opinion of the person’s actions and/or beliefs.

            • Elemenope

              …and that would be *tied*, not tide. Ugh, damn.

            • elizabethdamaro

              That is an interesting understanding of the word “respect”. I don’t see those as being default regardless. Survive. Adapt. Kill for the territory kind of thinking. Certainly we have evolved as a civilization of human beings, but I don’t see how that evolution necessarily translates to suggesting all human beings get that kind of pass.

              Besides, it won’t work. Sadists are instantly ruled unfit under that definition, since their pursuit of others involves harming another.

              In other words: The concepts are loaded with subjective terms and ideas. Without a universal innate gene of morality (and that does not exist), we can’t really do any more than get along with others and either accept people into our circles or reject them and remove them.

              I don’t see how “respect” fits that discussion.

            • elizabethdamaro

              *their pursuit of happiness”

            • Elemenope

              It fits in exactly where we socially have decided by law, among other venues, that people are equal by original moral position. That’s where the concept of legal rights comes from (if you strip out the theistic baggage), and does not differ overmuch from the concept of moral rights. Of course a person can act to lose some of these things; a murderer loses their freedom of action and probably limits their ability to pursue happiness by being imprisoned for life.

              Sadists are instantly ruled unfit under that definition, since their pursuit of others involves harming another.

              I did anticipate that in the original comment with the “so long as it does not harm others” proviso…unless they can find a masochist to help them out. Generally speaking, people aren’t often defined by a singular desire, and even more rarely are they defined by a singular desire that is directly harmful to others. But I will admit that there are individuals who may not be coverable under a universal moral paradigm of equal valuation (so called “monsters”). I’m not saying it’s a perfect system, only that the base notion of assuming everyone equally entitled to not be harmed and to do how they will within the boundaries of harms is a solid one.

            • Siberia

              Sadists are instantly ruled unfit under that definition, since their pursuit of others involves harming another.

              But if they find masochists to work with, and do so with the masochist’s consent, it’s all good and well.

            • elizabethdamaro

              I’m not discounting law, and for the record, not all sadists are searching for a masochist’s consent.

              Yes, we have laws based on some common morals. But again, I don’t see how that translates into “respect” for individuals by default just because of those laws. Sounds like apples and oranges if you ask me.

            • Elemenope

              Try this, I’m using the word in the following way:

              “I respect the fact that you are a human being and concomitant with the status of being a human being, you have certain legitimate expectations of me to respect that status by not assaulting you or taking your stuff away without consent and generally letting you do your thing, whatever that may be so long as it doesn’t harm me or take my stuff away or prevent me from doing my thing because I too am a human being whose status as such demands that it be respected.”

            • elizabethdamaro

              Nah, don’t buy into it. Again, I’m going with the more primitive understanding of simple survival. The thinking that allows a person to kill another also just because there is only so much territory.

              Again, we may have evolved a bit to make ourselves sound all compassionate about the species, but truth be told… I don’t think respect ought to be a default, even in your use, for the simple fact that space is one thing and species is another. Harm sometimes comes simply so one of them can survive.

            • VidLord

              “Harm sometimes comes simply so one of them can survive.” Yeah totally agree. We are conditioned to respect life due to our advanced society. Go to a rural village in south america and you will see a father watch his son die and not shed a tear or even think twice. For many life is the curse and death – death is the freedom. Consider yourself extremely lucky you’re sitting at a desk somewhere comfortable and reading this on the internet.

            • Elemenope

              I agree that it is a descriptive reality that life is often nasty, brutish, and short and fueled by competition for survival. I think though it is good to aspire to make something more of it; my observation was meant normatively, not descriptively. That it is better, on balance, for people to be acclimated to respect certain basic values that inhere to simply being human than for them not to be.

            • elizabethdamaro

              “That it is better, on balance, for people to be acclimated to respect certain basic values that inhere to simply being human than for them not to be.”

              key point in your argument: it is the values you respect. Sure. But that doesn’t translate to individual. All it translates to is your standard for value, attached to people in general.

              Now, I’m drunk as shit, but what I get that you are saying is basically golden rule kind of thinking. Sounds great in theory, does not flesh out in practice, and still doesn’t justify respect for other human by default.

    • DarkMatter

      It’s not what she is asking.

    • Jabster

      “If one expects to be respected, they must show respect in return. That doesn’t mean you agree with them, but understand that a person’s beliefs are very real to them.”

      er no … that means you tolerate their beliefs not respect them. Why on earth do you think I would respect the belief that some sky daddy rules over the world?

      “They are a core part of who they are, and when you mock their beliefs, you are mocking them personally.”

      … and if you believe in stupid things then that’s what you deserve.

      • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

        @jabster

        So, you’re saying that if someone believes in something you think is “stupid” then they’re not worthy of basic human dignity and respect?

        • Ty

          The person is. Beliefs are not people, no matter how much a person is attached to them.

          I’d treat KKK members with basic human dignity, in spite of the fact that I hold their beliefs in utter derision.

        • Custador

          Depends how stridently they want to share the stupid…

        • LRA

          Because Christian beliefs respect the basic humanity and dignity of all persons? Are you daft?

          Your religion condemns people that don’t fit into a very small “in” group. What have you to say to that?

          • JonJon

            I think Christianity teaches a respect for the dignity of all persons. I think that while Christianity *does* condemn outsiders, it also sets the bar for entry remarkably low: if you want to join, I’m fairly certain you’re allowed. The process for joining the “in” group is not restrictive *at all*. On top of that, Christianity encourages outsiders to join: we aren’t even trying to keep people “out”. I’m not sure that’s restrictive. In fact, I think it’s roughly the the opposite.

            • Jasowah

              “I think that while Christianity *does* condemn outsiders, it also sets the bar for entry remarkably low: if you want to join, I’m fairly certain you’re allowed.”

              Okay, but what about homosexuals? I know SOME (and by SOME I mean a very small percent) Churches and Christians are “okay” with homosexuals, but most are not. In fact, I have only heard of them and seem 2 pictures of priest marrying two gays.
              So what about them? “Just stop being Gay and you can totally join!”

              Man, NO PROBLEM. I should probably leave my brain at the door too, and pick up the book “How to make excuses for your God” by Lee Strobel.

            • JonJon
            • DarkMatter

              Is that the chairs and mushrooms you are grooving in?

            • VidLord

              JonJon thanks for this link:

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

              It amazingly displays how the sheer diversity of religion betrays the point of religion! Just like Dawkins did with his map of where different religions are. Why would religions congregate amongst different countries on the map? Because they are indoctrinated from parent to child, generation to generation.

              http://unreasonablefaith.com/2010/05/08/dawkins-if-science-worked-like-religion/

            • LRA

              That’s not exactly true– a non-believer is not welcome. And that bar is not low at all… asking me to believe something that has aspects of it that are demonstrably false is setting the bar *high*! It is asking me to give up my reason! Further, if one actually believes what the bible says about “joining”, it says the unbeliever is going to hell, and not to be unequally yolked with an un-believer (and here un-believer means anyone non-christian).

              As far as who the in-group is, Christians themselves can’t decide on that– and they are restrictive to those who don’t think the way they do. Why ex-communicate people otherwise? Why have multiple denominations?

            • JonJon

              “And that bar is not low at all… asking me to believe something that has aspects of it that are demonstrably false is setting the bar *high*! It is asking me to give up my reason!”

              No, no it isn’t. If I wanted to encourage that, I’d have different entrance requirements than “confess with your lips that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.” That ain’t harsh. It also doesn’t necessitate abandoning reason. As much as I get told that it does (over and over and over again) this simply isn’t true. Reason is fully compatible with many, many things. Why limit its effectiveness when confronted with religion?

              Now, deciding *not* to join is a free decision not to join. I’m not sure how making a free decision to not join a community, and then being miffed that the benefits of that community might not be extended to you, is reasonable. If i’m misinterpreting your statements in some way, let me know.

            • Siberia

              I’m not sure how making a free decision to not join a community, and then being miffed that the benefits of that community might not be extended to you, is reasonable.

              I don’t know about LRA, but I, for one, don’t give diddly squat about Christians or whatever “benefits” they pretend to glean from it. Christians, much as Muslims, are a non-issue. I don’t give a crap.

              What I do give diddly squat for is the sanctimonious “respect us!” cries because I don’t give a crap.

            • LRA

              “If I wanted to encourage that, I’d have different entrance requirements than “confess with your lips that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.” That ain’t harsh”

              Yes! It is! Specifically, claims about the biblical “evidences” as to why Jesus is the Christ and why God is living and what will happen to me if I don’t believe. I might as well tell you to “confess with you lips that Harry Potter is the Chosen one, vanquisher of the onmi-evil Valdemort or be cursed with burping up slugs forever.”

            • JonJon

              And then you’ll hang out with me?

              And if I decide not to you won’t. I don’t see the issue here. It isn’t as though I don’t get to decide. Heck, if I want to hang out with you but still am not quite sure about the whole Voldemort thing, *I could lie.*

              I guess I just don’t understand what the issue is. These are not strenuous entrance requirements. The requirements for entering the boyscouts are way, way more restrictive. The requirements for US citizenship, car rental, membership at the local chapter of the Lions… These are all more restrictive.

              Am I way off base? I really don’t understand…

            • LRA

              It’s not about hanging out… it’s about being co-members of a democratic community that has “in” and “out” groups. If you don’t believe that, then why aren’t there more atheists in politics? Inevitably, some of them *do* lie in order to enter that field of work. I doubt that Obama is really a christian– and what about Hillary Clinton? but whether s/he is or isn’t, s/he has to commit to certain stances whether s/he believes them or not. That’s a problem because being a Christian doesn’t must mean just believing in Jesus, there are a whole slew of other stances on social issues that come with it, and there is a commandment in place to proselytize people to that way of thinking.

            • Elemenope

              I’ve never understood this whole “Obama-is-a-secret-non-christian” thing. Can someone explain to me the reasons for thinking this is so?

            • JonJon

              I will agree that as far as participation in Christianity or any other religion is coerced, whether through force or by some kind of inescapable social pressure, it is restrictive. I don’t know if that’s what you were saying the whole time, though. I still don’t know that the community is restrictive, but when participation in it is forced I don’t think there is any doubt that there is a problem.

            • JonJon

              @ LMNOP

              Isn’t there a psychological phenomenon where people assign their own opinions and beliefs to strangers? I’m blanking on what it’s called. I suppose it would be related to anthropomorphism, or transference?

            • LRA

              JonJon– are you really suggesting that religion and politics don’t mix?

            • LRA

              Nope–I’m not suggesting he’s a Muslim– I’m suggesting he’s an academic (most of whom don’t believe) and that his stances on many policies do not fit the christian mold.

            • Elemenope

              I’m suggesting he’s an academic (most of whom don’t believe)…

              Academics in the field of law tend to break that mold.

              …and that his stances on many policies do not fit the christian mold.

              Er, which ones? From what I can tell, pretty much all his policies are compatible with a moderate/liberal Christianity.

              I’m blanking on what it’s called. I suppose it would be related to anthropomorphism, or transference?

              Transference or projection. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the Obama-is-a-secret-atheist thing, which is far less odious than Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim-because-his-name-is-funny-sounding-and-he’s-lived-other-places I suppose because at least it’s not driven by xenophobia, but no less confusing to me.

            • LRA

              The point is, I just said I had my doubts, nothing more. Also that I don’t believe that every “christian” in politics is actually a christian because to say out loud that you are a non-believer can be the political kiss of death.

            • JonJon

              Projection, that’s the word I was looking for…

            • LRA

              Meh- call me cynical, but I don’t see the son of a former muslim-cum-agnostic and a cultural anthropologist who later married another former muslim and moved her family to Indonesia as suddenly finding Jesus– *except* for going into politics and making himself look better to voters.

            • Elemenope

              LRA, you’re cynical.

              ;-)

            • LRA

              LOL! Ok I walked right into that, didn’t I?

              :D

            • Michael

              LRA, I refuse to respect your beliefs respecting Obama’s beliefs.

              But I don’t care enough to worry about it.

            • LRA

              LOL!

              Well, I refuse to respect your beliefs concerning my beliefs about Obama’s beliefs. So there!

              :P

            • Jasowah

              “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_denominational_positions_on_homosexuality”

              Okay, I guess I should have expected that. But that chart did make me smile a bit.
              “Sure, we’ll let you in, but Ordaining, Blessing or Marriage? Ummm… not so much.”

              You have proven your point there. I do know many Christians who approach that as more of a, “I don’t hate the person I hate the sin”. I would say that is more of a toleration than an acceptance though.

              (Any other point I think I would like to make now has already been done so. I missed out last night! =P)

            • Yoav

              Academics in the field of law tend to break that mold.
              Fred Phelps got through law school.

            • DarkMatter

              Which church is that?

            • beyonddeities

              JonJon… the difference between requirements to get a US citizenship, or enter the boyscouts… is that the alternative to not joining is eternal suffering and torture in Hell.

          • elizabethdamaro

            oh, the irony.

        • Didier

          I think it means that you can respect a person without respecting his beliefs. Another person’s beliefs should not be an issue if these beliefs are not imposed on you, it only becomes an issue when someone asks someone else to act according to his beliefs.
          For instance, I do not believe it is our business to tell people in other countries how they should live their lives. However, it is also our right to refuse to sell them goods if they do certain things that are contrary to our values.
          I resent people from other countries expecting us to allow them to practice their faith in our country, in a way that is contrary to our beliefs and values, while at the same time refusing to extend the same privilege to us when we visit their countries.

        • Jabster

          @Christian

          Do you respect (and I do mean respect) the following beliefs:

          Astrology
          Alien Abductions
          Ancient Astronauts
          Nostradamus predictions
          Young Earth Theory
          Homoeopathic medicine
          Paganism

          etc … etc …

          • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

            Short answer?

            Yes.

            Do I agree with all of them?

            No.

            However, nothing constructive will every come out of approaching someone who’s beliefs you vehemently disagree with an attitude of contempt for them.

            • Elemenope

              Is it legitimate to be contemptuous of beliefs that are malignant? Like, for example, a belief that slavery is a legitimate part of a moral social order, or that a certain gender should be relegated to second-class status?

            • Sunny Day

              Respect, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

            • Jabster

              “Short answer?

              Yes.”

              So which ones exactly just so I can judge the level of stupidity of your beliefs. Oh and if you include YEC I have to mark you down as just plain stupid (sorry about that) as I have no other explanation for someone who obviously has access to at least the internet.

              “However, nothing constructive will every come out of approaching someone who’s beliefs you vehemently disagree with an attitude of contempt for them.”

              Well I think it’s constructive to demonstrate that your religion is not worthy of respect let alone deference – which is what you really want isn’t it?

            • http://homebrewedtheology.com christian

              So which ones exactly just so I can judge the level of stupidity of your beliefs. Oh and if you include YEC I have to mark you down as just plain stupid (sorry about that) as I have no other explanation for someone who obviously has access to at least the internet.

              I thought the short, one word answer was sufficient. Looks like I was wrong.

              Well I think it’s constructive to demonstrate that your religion is not worthy of respect let alone deference – which is what you really want isn’t it?

              Nice job at the “deference” strawman… but I gotta tell ya, it isn’t the first time I’ve heard it.

            • Jabster

              “I thought the short, one word answer was sufficient. Looks like I was wrong.”

              So care to enlighten us then or do even you realise just how stupid some of your beliefs are?

              “but I gotta tell ya, it isn’t the first time I’ve heard it.”

              … and there’s a good reason for that and it’s not because it’s a strawman.

      • http://homebrewedtheology.com Christian

        … and if you believe in stupid things then that’s what you deserve.

        With that, you’ve just justified every instance of bigotry, of hate, of intolerance, of violence, of oppression, of enslavement, of genocide this world has ever known.

        Congratulations.

        • Elemenope

          And also managed to justify all social progress. An end to tolerance of slavery, of misogyny, of racism, a desire to hate that which is evil and to destroy the ideas that fuel it.

          Judgment of value: it giveth, and it taketh away.

        • Jabster

          Oh please, less of the poor persecuted Christian histrionics … and what Elem said.

        • Bender

          With that, you’ve just justified every instance of bigotry, of hate, of intolerance, of violence, of oppression, of enslavement, of genocide this world has ever known.

          Congratulations.

          No. You did. In case you haven’t noticed, nobody in this site questioned your right to believe that drivel. We just point out it’s stupid to give those ideas any respect. Those things you claim to “respect” are at best baseless, at worst demonstrably false. So we might legitimably mock those ideas, but we’re not calling for anybody to be attacked, oppressed, or enslaved for believing them. Which is more than can be said about religious people. Historically you have been the ones committing genocide against other people for worshipping a different invisible man in the sky.

        • Nox

          But there is a pretty significant difference between telling someone that they are wrong and tying someone to a stick and setting them on fire. The primary justification for the worst historical examples of persecution was not just the idea that one belief is superior to another. The justification was christianity.

  • DarkMatter

    “… and if you believe in stupid things then that’s what you deserve.”
    esp when you condemn those who do not believe in the first place.

  • http://paraffinsentiment.blogspot.com S

    I love Jesus and Mo.

  • Jordan

    Maybe it’s not so much the respecting the actual beliefs that should be done, but more respecting the dignity of the person who holds those beliefs. And personally, I don’t see, “Respect my beliefs!” as a valid response to the questioning of one’s beliefs; however, I know that if I held outrageous and baseless beliefs (which I hope I don’t), it would hurt my feelings to be point-blank called stupid or moronic, etc. So I feel obliged to not be needlessly rude or aggressive with other people, since I don’t enjoy that myself. And I realize that not everyone wants to consider the feelings of others this strongly, but in my book at least, being a nice person is just as important as being right about something. Obviously the issue gets a bit more complicated when you start factoring in beliefs that violate what I consider to be basic human rights, but I feel you’re much more apt to interact with a harmless Christian housewife who happens to not believe in evolution than you are a violent Muslim cleric who wants to do you harm for showing too much skin.

    • LRA

      Well, your “harmless Christian housewife” has voting privileges in this country that are denying gay people their basic human rights, mandating the teaching of creationism in public schools, and denying women the most fundamental of rights– to control their bodies.

      That is hardly “harmless”.

      • JonJon

        Totally. I say we repeal the 19th amendment; no more housewives with stupid opinions voting.
        All it takes to solve your worries is to remove the vote from people whose ideas you don’t approve of! And since I strongly disagree with housewives…

        • LRA

          LOL! It’s not about disagreement- it’s about Constitutionality and the enforcement of it.

        • Jordan

          You know what wouldn’t hurt, though? A mandatory intelligence and current events test before you’re allowed to vote.

          • JonJon

            I think that would hurt rather a lot, but I’m no civics expert.

          • LRA

            I’m a victim of my own gullibility, here, aren’t I??? :P

            • Nox

              I don’t think there is any disagreement by anyone here that a christian has a right to their beliefs. The question is what level of privilege should be given to a belief without empirical evidence (sort of the point of the comic as I interpreted it). And JJ, while I believe you do believe that non-christians should also have a right to their beliefs (“when participation in it is forced I don’t think there is any doubt that there is a problem”), this does not appear to be the belief of mainstream christianity (to be fair, it is evolving in that direction).

              My belief on the issue. You have the right to believe whatever you want. I have the right to believe whatever I want. I have the right to tell you your beliefs are wrong. You have the right to not believe me. You have a right to tell me I am wrong. I have a right to not believe you. And so on. It is “when participation is forced” that it becomes a problem.

              I’ll pick a couple examples from outside christianity so this doesn’t seem like I’m picking on christianity here. If muslims want to declare that they are not going to be making any images of Muhammed out of respect to their prophet, that is absolutely 100% their right. But as soon as they declare that non-muslims can’t portray Muhammed out of mandatory respect for their prophet, that would be an example of a right they should not be entitled to. The question is not whether certain things are okay to believe, but whether those things should hold an unquestionable position for all people (including non believers) by default. This becomes even more of a forced issue when certain groups are using freedom of speech to advocate for censorship. Another example would be that if the LDS church wanted to announce that they will not be performing gay marriages in their temple, my opinion would be “well that’s a pretty bigoted stance, but if you wanna put up a no girls allowed sign on your clubhouse, whatever, it’s your clubhouse”. But if the LDS church spent several million dollars of mandatory tithe money to rig an election (rig is a strong word but not exactly untrue) to deny gays in california (not gays in Utah, not gay mormons in California, all gay people in California) the right to marry, I would have to step in and say, “Whoah buddy, that isn’t your clubhouse”. If someone doesn’t choose to be mormon, the LDS church has no right to tell them how to live.

              There are lots of things I personally believe without “empirical evidence”, but I would never argue that those things should be default beliefs for others.

            • LRA

              Nox- exactly! I think that too.

            • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

              Nox, I gotta give you this one. I think you’re right. I also think that we might be talking about slightly different versions of “respect.” I don’t mean to argue that disagreement is bad, and I don’t mean to argue that stupid ideas should be tolerated to the nth degree.

              Actually, most of my arguing has been about something kind of tangential. But, I would just like to throw out a couple of thoughts:

              It really is hard to separate ideas from the people who hold them. I have no antagonism toward Bender, but just to illustrate how easy this is, he says “Baseless ideas deserve no respect” (my emphasis). That’s all well and good, but his very next sentence is, “If you believe in talking snakes, you’re either crazy or stupid.” I think the extreme ease with which it is possible to, even unintentionally, flow from one position to another *demands* a certain amount of consideration from the people who decide to disrespect an idea. Not that it should be out of bounds to disrespect an idea, but there should be some consideration given: if not respect, then at least something that protects against an accidental disrespect of an individual.

      • elizabethdamaro

        your basic human rights? wait… homosexuals are not denied basic human rights. elaborate on exactly what you think basic human rights are, please.

        • beyonddeities

          Marriage was declared to be a ‘basic human right,’ under the United States government in …..MINDBLANK. Fuck, someone fill me in? Apparently its ‘the fundamental right to happiness..’ asgjklaesfdjhbwkjsnedbhn;esdfnkmlsdf nm,dkj

          • Elemenope

            Unviersal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations, 1948. Article 16.1

            • beyonddeities

              THANKYOU. You know I got luh for you right? K.

            • Elemenope

              :-)

              It’s good to feel useful.

          • elizabethdamaro

            they are not denied marriage. they are denied endorsement of some governments of said marriage. but in the U.S., homosexuals can even get endorsement of their marriage from the government.

            • Elemenope

              Considering the context of the document, it is clear they are referring to legal recognition of the marriage contract, not the existential state of being married.

            • elizabethdamaro

              Goes to the earlier discussion I tried to bring up about the documents themselves.

              If the reason the desire is for recognition is due to the terms of those documents and financial benefits attached, other documents can suffice for that. Not saying it isn’t a hassle, and by and large, then makes it inconvenient… but … the “rights” aren’t really, in practice, denied.

              And, in some states, that recognition exists.

              Again, I’m against any government endorsement of marriage, hetero or homo… so… my take will be rather pragmatic.

            • Elemenope

              Fair enough. I, myself, am ambivalent about the government being in the marriage business, seeing both its salutary effects on efficiency and regularity in an important social institution but also the negative temptation to socially engineer every-which-way through marriage law.

            • Custador

              That’s very disingenuous Liz. The fact that they have to have different laws made for them says “You are not equal” loud and clear. It’s a tacit denial of status to not treat them the same way with the same laws..

            • elizabethdamaro

              It is not disingenuous at all. My position is quite clear. The fact that there is an endorsement on one contract over another is apparently fair game, since again, singles are the most disenfranchised by the current system, regardless.

              If you want all people treated the same with the same law, open it up to ALL UNIONS between ANY CONSENTING adults. And I mean, all.

            • Custador

              Actually I quite agree.

    • DarkMatter

      “I feel you’re much more apt to interact with a harmless Christian housewife who happens to not believe in evolution than you are a violent Muslim cleric who wants to do you harm for showing too much skin.”
      Senseless implication.

    • Siberia

      but I feel you’re much more apt to interact with a harmless Christian housewife who happens to not believe in evolution than you are a violent Muslim cleric who wants to do you harm for showing too much skin.

      I’d rather coexist with my Buddhist and Hindu friends who don’t feel like they’ve to coerce other people to believe as they do, whether by force or by legislation.

      Also, I’ve friends who are Muslim and the same way. They don’t mind that we drink or eat pork or wear short clothes, because they know their beliefs are theirs and we’re each entitled to our own.

  • VidLord

    What many fail to see is that “beliefs” are like a layer of fat over our eyes and reality. The different human sects are irrelevant. Everything gets filtered through the “beliefs” (derived from birth, parents and family) and then a judgement is rendered by YOU. Ask yourself, why are my beliefs extremely similar to my parents? Ponder this question.

    Now ask yourself, why would a homeless person sitting next to you cause you to feel immensely uncomfortable and yet, another person would sit with that same homeless person and feel absolutely nothing? Why? Because your beliefs and experiences are different from that other person! Once you realize HOW you filter reality ~ awareness ~ then you will begin to SEE

  • Nox

    In fairness to JonJon and to Siberia’s muslim friends, it should be said that there are many people in every religion who believe their religion is genuinely about something good and/or are trying very hard to make it about something good. There are things about movements I have been involved with that I have disagreed with and tried to change without abandoning the institution itself. So there should be at least some distinction between JonJon and Pat Robertson. So JJ, speaking at least for myself, I may think you are a victim, but I don’t think you’re the enemy.

    • DarkMatter

      What?!

      • Nox

        Sorry DM, that post was supposed to be an addendum to what I said a little further up the page. Now that I look at it, it really makes very little sense as just a paragraph on it’s own.

      • Nox

        JonJon : “It really is hard to separate ideas from the people who hold them.”

        This is actually a pretty good point, and sort of what I was trying to get at with that ‘victim’ vs ‘enemy’ thing. As was touched on in the “well well well” thread, it is easy to make snap judgments about someone in an online arena since the most substantial thing you know about them is what ideas they align themselves with. You and Brgulker seem like fairly nice and reasonable people, and John C seems, um, nice (I don’t care what anyone says, I kinda like John C). But since you are the only 3 christians who post anything more than “you’re going to hell” here (on an atheism themed blog/forum), the 3 of you are sort of in the position of de facto ambassador and defender of the christian faith to a group of people who have a lot of well justified hostility toward the christian faith as an institution. As you said it is hard to separate ideas from the people who hold them (consider though, that much of what makes a person who they are and determines their actions is what ideas are held by that person).

        That’s why I added that addendum that we should all remember JonJon is not Pat Robertson. Just from the fact that you are here and want to have a real discussion, I would guess you fall somewhere on the far liberal side of the spectrum that is christian belief. As I said there are many decent people who call themselves christians. Most of my family are christians, and they are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Not the brightest, but christlike in the good way.

        It is definitely better to debate ideas than to call names. I would agree with you that it is more legitimate to say an idea is flawed than to say someone is stupid. I would say though that some ideas are stupid or crazy, and it is not an unreasonable assumption that stupid or crazy people are more inclined to think crazy or stupid things. As I said, just from the fact that you are here to have an actual discussion of these issues (and some of what I’ve inferred from your other posts) suggests to me that you don’t actually believe in talking snakes yourself. But the sheer range of possible meanings of the word “christian” means that if you are speaking on behalf of “christians” to people who know a bit of the track record of “christians” you are in the default position of defending some really indefensible things.

        I mean all of this respectfully. Like I said, you seem like a much nicer and smarter person than most people who choose to call themselves christian. More than anything people like you confuse me because I have to wonder how someone who is obviously somewhat intelligent has not found their way out of the matrix.

        • elizabethdamaro

          I can appreciate this discussion, but it is so highly based on assumption and anecdotal research that I can’t take it more seriously than that.

          Seems to me, that so many people are appealing to a fallacy of thinking that individuals are speaking for masses. JonJon does not “represent” Christians at all. In fact, according to that belief system, and I’d venture he agrees, the only one he is supposed to even be associated with representing is the Christ he believes in.

          The fact that LRA wants to pretend Obama isn’t a believer, because, she seems to think all believers must be idiots, or that others want to pretend that JonJon represents the masses of Christians only goes to show poor reasoning.

          It is fallacious.

          Critical thinking ought to be applied even when we are meeting individual human beings. While there is something to be said for alliances and associations, it is totally illogical to transfer one person’s personality or belief system to another. Period.

          Yes, people like labels. Makes it easy. But it doesn’t make it logical. Or correct.

          /nuffsaid

          • LRA

            “The fact that LRA wants to pretend Obama isn’t a believer, because, she seems to think all believers must be idiots, or that others want to pretend that JonJon represents the masses of Christians only goes to show poor reasoning.”

            Wow! Way to follow the WHOLE discussion, ass!

            You still owe me an apology.

          • Nox

            JonJon does not “represent” christians in the sense that he should be automatically viewed as whatever a particular atheist thinks he means by “christian” or asked to apologize for the inquisition. But in the sense that over 99% of the christian spectrum consists entirely of people who would never sit down and have a reasoned discussion about their beliefs with nonbelievers in a forum like this, whether anyone chooses it or not, JonJon does in a very real way, represent christians.

            Don’t take this the wrong way ed, but I’m pretty sure everyone here (including you) understood that I was saying JonJon DOES NOT equal Pat Robertson, and that even though he may feel offended when people criticize christians, he can probably consider a lot of the stuff that is specifically referring to the snake handlers as not being any kind of personal insult at him. JonJon? LRA? You got this from my earlier post right? If not, it’s basically what I was going for.

            Just in case JonJon somehow is as thick as ed is pretending to be, I’m gonna simplify my 3 pages of rambling into 1 sentence which anyone reading this should interpret as the central point of anything I’ve said on this thread.

            JJ, I think what you are defending when you defend “christianity” is a much different idea than what I am attacking when I attack “christianity”.

            • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

              Thank you. I know what you mean, no worries.

              ED, I don’t agree with you: I think I represent more of Christianity than I’m often given credit for, both in the way Nox mentions, and in simple congruence of opinion.

            • elizabethdamaro

              “But in the sense that over 99% of the christian spectrum consists entirely of people who would never sit down and have a reasoned discussion about their beliefs with nonbelievers in a forum like this, whether anyone chooses it or not, JonJon does in a very real way, represent christians.”

              See Nox, you just made a huge generalization. 99% of people won’t sit down and have a reasoned discussion? Cite the evidence for such a huge claim.

              The fact that you compare JonJon to other Christians is my point. You make him some sort of exception to your rule.

              True Scotsman is all over the discussion above.

              People are individuals.

              and LRA: get over it.

            • Elemenope

              He is an exception to the general rule. And regardless of the trite fact that “people are individuals” it is legitimate and often necessary to generalize over groups with reasonable allowance for deviation. Who is likely to care that I use the word “God”, who is likely to get Sickle-Cell anemia, who will root for the Red Sox; in many contexts and for many purposes, it is absolutely justified to generalize.

            • elizabethdamaro

              You know, I’m not slamming demographics El… but you can hardly call the stereotyping and generalizations here about believers the same.

              The general rule appears to be based on a made up statistic Nox came up with and LRA’s very fallacious reasoning behind academic study.

        • Siberia

          I’d have to say that, otoh, I do NOT respect the beliefs of an colleague that thinks gays should not be allowed to adopt and would legislate against it (we were talking about what we would or wouldn’t do about this subject). I do not know his religion, I suspect he’s an atheist or agnostic, but I do not and will not respect that belief.

          Ironically, I also have a colleague who is a Christian and, while he believes homosexuality is unnatural, was pretty cogent that we should not legislate on his beliefs. I respect him a lot more for that (even if I’d argue his position to death), because he *knows* he can’t force us to believe as we do.

          This was in postgrad class.

          I am also happy that one of the Supreme Court magistrates also declared that, while he is personally against abortion, he would decide not on his beliefs but on the Constitution, as is his job to do.

  • elizabethdamaro

    the whole “Obama” isn’t a True Scottsman part of this thread entertained me quite a bit.

    Reason is a tout of this place, right?

    • Erik

      bad troll is bad. *yawn*

    • Elemenope

      Reason is tempered by experience, and much of the world (and our judgments and feeling about it) has little to do with reason. If LRA believes that Obama is an agnostic/atheist who must play Christian in order to run for office in the US, it’s a valid hypothesis. I was just asking if that hypothesis has an empirical basis; most hypotheses about the world and its objects are not, even among avowed empiricists. Life is too short for that.

      It is a bit different, though, to have unattested beliefs about objects we can be fairly sure exist (like presidents, for example) than to have such beliefs about entities that are themselves unattested by evidence. That, I think, is the hard floor of rationality for this context.

      • Nox

        “Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.”
        -Barack Obama (in 2006).

        This is not exactly a statement against faith, but it is the type of thing I would not picture most christians saying (and if I remember it was mostly christians who went all glen beck over this quote).

        • Elemenope

          It was a speech given at a church to a congregation.

          Just throwing that out there.

        • elizabethdamaro

          So was this one… a church to a congregation.

          You think that is relative, because LRA might be suggesting our President is a liar?

          He is either a believer or a bold faced liar and manipulator. If you take people for their word, he’s clearly a believer in Jesus Christ and the doctrine that he is a sinner in need of a savior from his god.

          “I believe in — that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that I am redeemed through Him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis. I know that I don’t walk alone. And I know that if I can get myself out of the way that, you know, I can maybe carry out in some small way what — what He intends. And it means that those sins that I have, on a fairly regular basis, hopefully will be washed away. But what it also means, I think, is a sense of obligation to embrace not just words but, through deeds, the expectations, I think, that God has for us.” (Barack Obama. Saddleback. 2008)

          See, that quote and the one you posted actually are evidence of a direct statement of Obama’s faith.

          It is True Scotsman to pretend he isn’t a “real Christian”.

      • LRA

        “If LRA believes that Obama is an agnostic/atheist who must play Christian in order to run for office in the US, it’s a valid hypothesis.”

        I don’t have a set belief about it, I just have doubts.

        -He’s from Hawaii… have you been to Hawaii? Not exactly a bastion of religion there unless crystal healing counts
        -He lived a good number of years in Indonesia, which is 98% muslim.
        -His mother married a muslim who deconverted and was agnostic.
        -His mother was a cultural anthropologist and looked at religion through that eye, according to Obama
        -His stepfather was a deconverted muslim
        -He went to Harvard. If Boston is anything like NYC, then, again, religion is not exactly a big deal there
        -He’s an academic, most of which are non-believers (although I heard your point about that being different for Law school)
        -Atheists rarely get elected, and certainly not to the position of president

        I’m not saying it’s conclusive, but….

        • Elemenope

          I understand the circumstantial case. However, his report of his conversion experience is plausible. Working in inner city Chicago with church groups on community organizing, seeing the positive work that churches can do, and the personal witness that his Christian fellow-travelers demonstrated, etc., etc.. He certainly also uses religious rhetoric like a pro, and at the very least does not seem at all uncomfortable dealing in the realm of faith.

        • Daniel Florien

          Seems to me he’s a liberal xian, just like he makes himself out to be. Either that or he’s just a good pretender, in which case what’s the practical difference?

          • LRA

            I was just stating earlier to JonJon that the christian community is not so easy to enter into for an unbeliever, whether that be a church or politics. I was asking, “Why aren’t there more atheists in politics?” (Hint- they don’t get elected…)

          • Kodie

            One practical difference is sneaking atheism into presidential office. I have no opinion whether he is or is not a Christian or an atheist, I’m not looking for clues. It’s just the odds of atheists in office using a plausible cover story, there have to be a good handful we could suspect. Why Obama? Why not Obama? It makes sense either way. He could be just what he claims to be, or that could be his plausible cover story. I’m not buying into the circumstantial evidence either way, and really so far hasn’t mattered to me.

          • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

            The degree to which he can be trusted.

            • http://agnosticism2010.blogspot.com/ nomad

              Oops. What am I saying! He’s a politician.

            • LRA

              LOL! WIN!

            • Nox

              He is a politician, and the thing about politicians is you usually don’t hear much about the ones who “can be trusted” since their careers are so short. Either way, I would be inclined to consider a liberal christian and a faithless politician who understands his need to cater to the faith base are both less scary than a Bush/Palin type who is actually horny for the end of the world (I’m guessing this is what you meant about practical difference Daniel). And there are a lot of factors besides which sky daddy a person aligns themselves with that determine their policies. Consider the fact that our one catholic president had a really good civil rights record, and the only crusade he ever started was that one in Vietnam which didn’t get really bloody until we had a quaker in office.

              Note to Ed: Yes, I know the Vietnam war was not religiously based. Please do not pounce on this as an incorrect statement. It is a literary device.

              Note to Everyone Else: Yes, Richard Nixon was a f*cking quaker. Look it up. I thought it was bullsh*t at first too.

            • Elemenope

              Yeah but he was a bad Quaker.

  • Nox

    Good point LMNOP.

    But was he a bad quaker because he carpet bombed Cambodia, or was he a bad quaker because he did not order the military to carry the bombs over there on wagons? Wait, are quakers even allowed to use bombs? I would also think wiretapping is not on the approved list of quaker activities.

    :)

    • http://jonmarke.blogspot.com JonJon

      Quakers don’t have to use wagons, that’s Shakers or the Amish.

      :D

    • Elemenope

      BTW, love the Lateralus flamey-eye thing.

      • Nox

        Thanks.

        And you get bonus points for getting the reference.

  • Nox

    “See Nox, you just made a huge generalization. 99% of people won’t sit down and have a reasoned discussion? Cite the evidence for such a huge claim.”

    Cite the evidence that I made the claim that you are claiming I made.

    I’m still willing to play nice with you ed. The offer to do this the other way is still on the table, but this is not the right forum for the fight I think we’d both like to have. Daniel has stated explicitly and politely that he would like things to be peaceful. And really, that shouldn’t even be necessary if we are all adults and we are all here because we want to be here.

    But. Now that I know that you know how to read, I’m not gonna waste time defending what you are pretending to think I said. If you want to disagree with what you obviously do realize my actual statement was, go right ahead, and please tell the entire class what you’re reasons are. If you are only looking for soundbites that you can assign an imagined meaning which no one else here would think I said, then we are at an impasse, and I guess for now playing nice with ed just means pretending ed is not here.

    • elizabethdamaro

      “But in the sense that over 99% of the christian spectrum consists entirely of people who would never sit down and have a reasoned discussion about their beliefs with nonbelievers in a forum like this, whether anyone chooses it or not” Cited.

      You assume a lot to think I want a fight with you. When you stereotype people, I’ll say something about it. I used your post as an example of my point about the fallacies in reasoning some are making,

      That you don’t think my post is “peaceful” because it disagrees with your statement, is on you.

  • 1984

    “One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it. ” B. Russell