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Appealing to Scientific Values

Water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. What if someone says, "Well, that's not how I choose to think about water."? All we can do is appeal to scientific values. And if he doesn't share those values, the conversation is over. If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn't value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?

  • mikespeir

    This will be my desktop wallpaper for a while.

  • DMG

    Very true. :(

    A good suggestion I heard once is to ask your conversational partner, “can you imagine any conceivable evidence that would make you reevaluate your position on this matter?”

    If the answer is no, then the discussion is already over.

    It’s a good question to ask yourself periodically too, to ensure you’re not being just as dogmatic. Dawkins’ “fossil rabbits in the precambrian” is a good example of a possible answer.

    • http://www.ryan-mclaughlin.com Ryan

      I agree, and definitely a guard against our own dogmatic tendencies is always worth cultivating.

      I think it’s Haldane’s fossil (or rather Precambrian) rabbits though :)

  • tsstevens

    He is the same man who stated that some beliefs are so dangerous it would be ethical to kill those who hold them. Nice.

    • Nzo

      It helps his case when he’s right… and he is.

      • tsstevens

        So we should kill an atheist who believes that religious blood must flow?

        • Nzo

          No. Many atheists have a damn good reason to hate religion enough to believe something like that. Religion is a force of hatred, bigotry, and the platform people in power stand on to infringe on the rights of others.

          Merely stating that SOME of these religious beliefs are so dangerous that a bloody war would be required to keep the peace is actually pretty reasonable, given the state of certain religions, and the paths others are taking.

  • tsstevens

    So a Christian who believes an atheist is so dangerous that killing him would be ethical would be correct?

    • TrickQuestion

      Many of them have been. But that does not mean it is correct.

      • TrickQuestion

        Then again, you would be extremely hard pressed to find an atheist who killed anyone in the name of atheism. Good luck finding the opposite true. People “of faith” kill people all the time, just for not thinking the same way they do.

    • Custador

      If he could demonstrate that the atheist was going to go and kill a whole bunch of other people for not being atheists, then utilitarian ethics justify the Christian killing the atheist, because that is the route of the greatest possible benefit (and least possible harm) for the maximum number of people. However, that situation is hypothetical; I doubt you’ll find many examples of that actually occurring. Inb4 Mao, Lenin, Pol Pot yadayadayada. They weren’t killing people for not being atheist, they were killing people for not worshiping their personality cults.

      On the other hand: If I saw a man pull out a machine gun and start spraying it into a crowd, screaming Allahu Akbar, I’d kill him if I could. The difference being, that’s an example you might actually encounter in real life.

  • tsstevens

    Yet it cannot be denied that the mass murder of those who follow religion because of the belief of some cult means that person holds beliefs that are so dangerous that it would be ethical to kill them. Can it? Yeah, I’m gonna bring up Stalin, live with it. He had the belief that those who did not share his beliefs were to be put to death. Can it be denied his beliefs were that dangerous?

    • TrickQuestion

      And that is different than people of faith killing people who don’t believe what they do…how? Stalin didn’t use atheism as a justification for his killing. He used political power.
      People of faith kill other people of faith because of differing religions. And they claim to be doing a good thing when they do it.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      Your entire premise is based on twisting a quote from The End of Faith, which Harris has already clarified.

  • tsstevens

    All I see is clarification that says, yes, we should try and prevent people with dangerous beliefs from doing harm.

    Placing atheism aside for a moment, because of Stalin’s beliefs he saw fit to kill those who follow religion. Now is this not a man whose beliefs are so dangerous it would be ethical to kill him?

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      You don’t think we should try to prevent people from doing harm?

    • Nzo

      he saw fit to kill those who follow religion

      …he saw fit to kill a lot of people, regardless of their beliefs. <—- fixed.

  • tsstevens

    Do I believe we should prevent people from doing harm? Of course I do, but it is not what people believe that causes harm. Suppose hair color was what caused it, do we kill everyone who is blonde because they have been found to do harm? No, it is those who would set out to do harm, those who follow religion are no more inclined to do so than atheists.

    • Kodie

      Did anyone say to kill all the Christians? If Christianity caused every Christian to become a raving violent maniac, then it would be classified properly as a mental illness that we might work toward a treatmen and have to institutionalize people to keep them safe and keep them from causing harm to others. As it is, most Christians believe a lot of silly things and they might wish all the abortion doctors were dead, or wear t-shirts with scripture on them implying that god should strike the president dead, or gather to hold signs that are glad about AIDS killing gay men, but they aren’t raving violent maniacs. Believing that a higher invisible power has control over your thoughts and morals is slightly physically dangerous, but mostly it’s poisonous to schools and politics. So we try to talk to them instead about their mean and judgmental opinions. Even in a case where someone was a raving violent maniac, the police only shoot to kill when there’s no other way to stop them. It’s preferred to capture them alive unless there’s not enough time to stop them from a massacre. For example, if we could have killed Timothy McVeigh or the Olympic Park Bomber (Eric Robert Rudolph) ahead of time, would have been fair. McVeigh was caught and received the death penalty, while Rudolph is serving 3 consecutive life sentences in max, since he also bombed an abortion clinic and a lesbian nightclub.

      An atheist might be as dangerous and we’d want him or her stopped in time as well, but their reasons would not be an appeal to god.

      Are you clear on the subject or are you going to keep making stuff up that’s not true?

  • Theory_of_I

    @tsstevens:

    “Do I believe we should prevent people from doing harm? Of course I do, but it is not what people believe that causes harm…… No, it is those who would set out to do harm, those who follow religion are no more inclined to do so than atheists.”

    Christians vs gays = hate crimes born of belief
    Christians vs abortion clinics and doctors = hate crimes born of belief
    Christians vs children and others possessed by demons = crimes caused by religious fanaticism/insanity born of belief
    Irish Protestants vs Catholics = hate crimes born of belief
    Sunni vs Shia vs anyone who disagrees with Islam = hate/fanaticism crimes born of belief

    The farther back in history you look, the worse it gets.

    An estimated 81% of the US population professes belief in a god(s) — 19% are non-religious
    The US has the largest per-capita prison population in the world. 98% of convicts profess belief in a god(s) — only 2% are non-religious.

    Your claims are not supported by fact.

    • Theory_of_I

      InB4 Scottsman
      “No Christian commits crimes — No criminal is a Christian”
      The absolute truth as decreed by tsstevens.

      • UrsaMinor

        And yet, strangely, Christians are overrepresented in America’s prison population. One of the best predictors of religiosity is whether or not you have been incarcerated multiple times.

        • Theory_of_I

          Holy 25 to life, Ursa – Prison chaplains are truly miracle workers!

          • UrsaMinor

            Yes, well, unfortunately, the miracle of converting someone to Christianity does not keep them out of jail. The person most likely to be incarcerated is the person who has been incarcerated one or more times in past; it parallels the probability of being religious.

            Accepting Christian values does not make you a good citizen, Q.E.D.

  • Theory_of_I

    Holy 25 to life, Ursa – Prison chaplains are truly miracle workers!

  • Theory_of_I

    Ignore the reply brainfart…=(

    • UrsaMinor

      What reply brainfart? Nothing to see here, move along. :)

  • tsstevens

    And how many atheists are there compared to christians?

    • Kodie

      What are you getting at?

  • tsstevens

    If thereafter many times over more Christians than there are atheists then by law of averages there would have to be more Christian criminals.

    • Kodie

      Why aren’t they more moral on average?

    • Bill

      Except christians claim to have superior morals because of their religion. If christianity doesn’t lead to a better life, what’s the point?

    • Kodie

      Why don’t you discover how to use the reply button?

    • UrsaMinor

      Yes, but you’ve missed the main point. The default prediction is that the percentage of Christians in the general population will be reflected in the prison population; i.e., that Christianity has no influence on moral behavior. This is the null hypothesis. So if X% of the general population is Christian, you expect the same percent of prisoners to be Christian.

      If Christianity does have an influence on moral behavior, there are two possibilities:
      1. Christians are more moral than non-Christians. In this case, you will expect to a lower percentage of Christian in the prison population than there are in the general population.

      2. Christians are less moral than non-Christians. In this case, you will expect a higher percentage of Christians in the prison population than there are in the general population.

      The actual numbers support the second hypothesis: Embracing Christianity leads to more criminal behavior.

  • Bill

    Why do chritians seem to have such a hard time with comment nesting? Is there something in Leviticus that commands against it?

    • tsstevens

      Ah, the Christian accusation. Apparently because I do not believe religious beliefs are so dangerous it would be ethical to kill those who have them, I must be a Christian.

      I’m actually disappointed. Usually it’s the concern troll or strawman comments that are used as an opening gambit in the war against those who do not share your views. The accusation of being with the enemy is usually reserved for well into the campaign. So tell me, using scientific values what evidence do you have to support the claim I am a Christian? Perhaps I am merely an atheist much like you, only I oppose fanaticism regerdless of what belief is attached to it. Please, state your case or withdraw the accusation.

      • Bill

        Apologies for my false assumption if you are not a christian. Indeed it is the most foul of false accusations.

        Am I also incorrect in assuming you are a “believer” of some type?

        • tsstevens

          Indeed I am a believer. I believe that the root cause of evil is fanaticism, it is no less true of those who believe homosexuals are to be put to death than it is for those who believe those who follow religion are to be put to death. It’s merely the same shit, different channel no matter what cause is claimed the killing is for.

          • Kodie

            If you don’t want to be presumed Christian unless otherwise stated, you might stop using the intellectually ignorant arguments that Christians use to introduce yourself.

          • Bill

            Yeah – you know damn well I meant “religious believer,” but I’m happy to play semantic word games with you.

            Nobody here is proposing fanaticism or the killing of religious people. Keep burning that straw man though.

          • http://fugodeus.com Nox

            Except that “those who believe homosexuals are to be put to death” is an actual group of people that exists and threatens actual people that exist, whereas “those who believe those who follow religion are to be put to death” is an imaginary group of people you made up based on a bad understanding of a Sam Harris quote, a bad understanding of Russian history, and a desire to believe your side’s atrocities aren’t that bad.

      • Kodie

        But you’re making leaps of logic. That anyone would want to put to death someone for having a belief is an illogical exaggeration on your part. When those beliefs are evidently dangerous, it’s wise to stop them, and not necessarily stop them by precautionary murder. Why do you keep going there?

        • UrsaMinor

          What Kodie said.

          • tsstevens

            Because Sam Harris has claimed; and there is no evidence to support he was misconstrued, that some beliefs are so dangerous that it would be ethical to kill those who hold such beliefs. If Sam Harris is to be lauded as a great mind; as I’m sure you do, then such fanaticism should also be addressed.

            • Kodie

              You might want to read more before you say such stupid things:

              http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2007/05/misquoting-sam-harris-culture-of.html

            • dmantis

              @tsstevens,
              Shove it. No one here has said what you are attributing to them. Neither is Harris.

              He was describing a situation in which millions of innocent people would die based on a group of people’s faith in the afterlife. It was a stupid description.

              Either your being overly dense to create your strawman, or you really are that stupid.

              Besides, I think Harris is a pompous douchebag who often does more harm than good to the atheist community.

              Go sell your crazy elsewhere, we’re all good here.

  • tsstevens

    Gee whiz you only make your fellow atheists look bad with that sort of behavior. If Sam Harris did not in fact state that some beliefs are so dangerous it would be ethical to kill those who have them, then it is my mistake. There is absolutely no need to lower yourself to the level of a fanatical jerkass.

    • Kodie

      Yeah, you must have just pooped a pile of ‘zings’. Since you again didn’t know how to use the reply button, nobody knows what you’re talking about.

      • tsstevens

        U Mad?

        • Kodie

          No. Are you mad?

          • tsstevens

            No, I just pity the fanatics who revel in upsetting those who have different beliefs.

            • Nzo

              Lookit Lookit Lookit, an image that makes religion look bad. Let’s all laugh at how bad this image makes religion look ah ha ha ha ha ha ha.

              to

              No, I just pity the fanatics who revel in upsetting those who have different beliefs.

              Congratulations, hypocrite, on your new status as the classroom projector.

            • Kodie

              Well, you sound mad, like delusional mad.

            • tsstevens

              Well is that not what you do? Dig up anything you can poke fun at religion for? Every. Single. Day?

            • Kodie

              So your hobby is going to blogs where you don’t like the topics and troll because someone insulted your inability to argue intelligently? Did your mom take away your video games? Go jerk off or something. I think 8th graders are still into that. Unless your mom took that too.

              YER MOM! LOLZ.

              We speaking the same language now?

            • tsstevens

              Not even close. I don’t speak troll.

              Troll as in someone doing their level best to upset others, not someone I disagree with.

            • Nzo

              Well is that not what you do? Dig up anything you can poke fun at religion for? Every. Single. Day?

              Who needs to dig? Having to dig to make fun of people with imaginary friends, holding books they’ve never read? Yeah, we’re kinda playing the role of Captain Obvious to those that would pretend to not see the elephant in the room.

            • tsstevens

              Oh I get it. It’s so obvious now. You post troll bait in the hopes that someone will get upset and respond, so you can show off the replies and make a case against something you are clearly intolerant of.

            • Nzo

              We post the silly/stupid things religious people do. We laugh at them, or facepalm about them. We discuss how disgusting religion is, and how it contributes to people doing things that are evil.

              Intolerant? We’d be fine with religion if religious people didn’t try to force their beliefs onto others.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Troll bait? What the f*ck does that even mean. It’s not like it was that great of a cartoon anyway, but if you see something and your immediate response is to start trolling…

  • tsstevens

    You mean like you do when you find something to poke fun of? That is your right of course, same as it is my right to question these topics. Sadly you lack the maturity to handle such questioning, so I’ll leave.

    • Custador

      Look at all the fucks we give:

  • the real ts stevens

    It has been brought to my attention that someone had been using my name to post on this site, trying to express their views as my own.

    Let it be said that whoever this sock puppet is these are not the views I express. The views I hold and the beliefs I hold is simply that the mission against religion is not mine. For someone to try and portray me otherwise is both cowardly and shameful.

    I will say, however, that despite not wishing to pick a fight with religion I wish every success in exposing the problems that stem from religion.


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