Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Loftus on bin Laden

I hesitated somewhat before doing another post on JWL. But these statements strike me as bizarre:

Osama Bin Laden was probably a good man; sincere, devout and God fearing. But all it takes to make good people do evil is religion. Keep that in mind. That is the lesson of his life. He was deluded in the same way as other believers. Some delusions cause more harm than others though, and he caused a great deal of it. The problem is he will never know he was deluded. Neither will any of the rest of them. What a waste of a life.


So all that is needed to make good people do evil is religion? So, is that how we explain Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Gandhi. Is that why they did so much evil? And how did Stalin manage to do so much harm, since he didn't suffer from and God delusion? 


I realize how crazy Christians sometimes appear to atheists. But this looks to me like out-of-control atheist 
groupthink.


I hope this doesn't touch off a new round of irrelevant Loftus-bashing. 

86 comments:

BenYachov said...

Loftus is not a logical person. He has replaced his narrow religious fundamentalism with a New Atheist fundamentalism that is just as tedious and anti-intellectual.

Once he no doubt used to bag on non-believers & called them "unsaved".

Now he had dropped the "unsaved" but bashes believers instead by replacing "unsaved" with "deluded".

Weird.

Anonymous said...

Christianity...Islam...Scientology...it's all essentially the same thing: "religion!"

But what the hell is "religion"? Of course there's this little problem of how we go about defining it so as to render the term practically useful, seeing as there are a myriad number of atheistic and secularist ideologies whose adherents conspicuously display fanatical behavior.

To use a Wittgensteinian example, saying that "religion" causes evil is about as hopelessly vacuous as saying that "games" are dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Some of us believe that MLK and Gandhi were, in fact, evil.

Walter said...

I hope this doesn't touch off a new round of irrelevant Loftus-bashing.

Good luck with that. It seems like every other comment on this blog is about either Loftus or the OTF.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's kinda fun reading this stuff.

Morrison said...

Since Loftus has been brought up, anybody notice that he has a post today about how he is a diehard FEMINIST and that it is ONE OF THE MAIN MOTIVATIONS OF HIS WORK?

(The loser seems to forget that a few posts back he was using porn to highlight his blog.)

And this is the guy who not only cheated on his wife and had sex with an employee but trashed them both IN HIS BOOK.

I wonder how his kids felt about dad for blaming mom for "lacking passion". (Yep, he suggests that is why he cheated, because she "lacked passon" and, anyway, that stripper "had it in for him...and look, this is all stuff he wrote in his book to justify himself, for it reflects on his methodology.)

Morrison said...

And why is it that all the greatest mass murderers in the last century were atheists?

Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and thousands of their enforcers?

Atheists will cry that it had nothing to do with their atheism, but at the very least it is a strange conincidence...and ignores that fact the Solzhenitsyn proved in The Gulag Archipelgo that the atheists imprisoned, tortured, and killed believers because of the atheist's hatred of religion and frequently stated desire to eliminate it.

This is such a demonstrably proven fact that those who deny it a either delusional or lying outright.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I hope this doesn't touch off a new round of irrelevant Loftus-bashing.

Maybe you are deluded after all...

mattghg said...

What about relevant Loftus-bashing?

Anonymous said...

I wish they'd come forward and say straight out what they really mean when they disparage "religion," because the rest of us are well-aware of their real meaning:

"Conditions in the world of print have never before been so propitious for sanctimonious tirades against religion, or (more narrowly) monotheism, or (more specifically) Christianity, or (more precisely) Roman Catholicism."

-David B. Hart

Anonymous said...

Lofty is currently trading punches with Jim West. Two fundies going at each other . . .

John W. Loftus said...

Let's say a good person is one who really cares for other people, not a egomaniac nor a sociopath or narcissist or sex fiend or greedy corporation giant, and others like them.

Then what else would cause these otherwise good people to harm others?

Religion.

I said, "Some delusions cause more harm than others..."

Where exactly is your disagreement?

No more non-sequiturs about religion doing good for others. My claim was not that religion doesn't do good. It does. Only that it can and does cause good people to do harm.

Sheesh.

You sink your boat almost every time you write about me.

B. Prokop said...

C.S. Lewis wrote, "It is not out of bad mice or bad fleas that you make demons, but out of bad archangels."

Anonymous said...

As the previous anon suggested, and as these debates keep demonstrating, "religion" is a useless description. Everyone in this life bows before some sort of "god."


"There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship -- be it JC or Allah, bet it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles -- is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness."
— David Foster Wallace

Victor Reppert said...

A person could have an ideology that they consider to be worth killing for. It could be a religion, it could be something political, it could even be atheism. It's hard to imagine your having as much zeal for God that you now have for atheism.

Yes, people can be crusaders for an ideology, but why in the world assume that believers in the existence of God are the only people who can engage in crusades.

There's a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity in that Islam is a system of governance, while Christianity was founded at a time when the government was run by Caesar. That hasn't stopped Christians from uniting church and state, but after the 17th century Christian Europe has moved in the direction of secular government. It's going to be tougher to interpret Islam in such a way that they can accept something like separation of church and state, which was how Christianity got (for the most part) beyond religiously motivated slaughter.

But there are plenty of causes that can lead someone to kill on behalf of them. Communism, and officially secularist ideology, is a good example. But atheism itself can be just such an ideology. Belief in God is delusional, religion is standing in the way of the advance of civilization, so if we put Christians into camps and keep them from breeding, the end justifies the means.

One response to this that I have heard is that since Christians and Muslims think that they are saving people from hell through their crusades, they have a reason to commit violence on behalf of their religion that nonbelievers lack in the pursuit of their ideologies. But this doesn't seem to be the way it works out. Saving civilization from people who are caught up in a religious delusion can motivate fanaticism also. On what basis could you possibly deny this?

Tony Hoffman said...

I agree that saying that "religion" made bin Laden do what he did is painting with too broad a brush. I think one needs to specify the religion, for starters. For instance, I would accept that bin Laden was strongly influenced by Islamic Extremism, and without that influence it's unlikely that he would have advocated and effected the death of thousands of people. If bin Laden had been raised to believe as Quakers do, then I don't doubt he would have caused no real harm.

I think it's a live question whether or not the world would be less violent with or without theistic beliefs of any kind. Clearly, some people are led to advocate murder as a result of their religious beliefs, and clearly some people are led to renounce violence as a result of their religious beliefs. I am certainly amenable to the argument that, on balance, belief in a theistic god prevents more violence than it promotes. For instance, it may be that sociopaths (Stalin, Mao, etc.) would indeed not have unleashed such unimaginable violence had they come to believe that they would face eternal torment for doing so.

Regarding atheism leading to mass murder I have yet to find a theist who grasps how truly bizarre this argument sounds to one who doesn't believe in any gods. If an atheist were motivated to murder the religious, it is likely because the atheist thinks that the religious ought to be killed -- indifference to consequence is not of itself motivation to action. There are many good reasons why it can (and should be) objectively morally wrong for an atheist to kill the religious (just as there are many interpretations of many religions that stipulate the same), but the impetus to kill the religious is not in atheism per se, but motivated by an additional hatred or fear of the religious. There is a difference, and one that should be easy to comprehend, as so many wars have been fought with fear of being compelled to worship another religion used as a component of enlistment.

Victor Reppert said...

Tony, I'm not sure you are too far from my position. It isn't atheism that leads to violence, any more than religion leads to violence. The idea that leads to violence is that one's ideology is something we should kill for.

I think the history of religious persecution does provide an argument for separation of church and state. There should be no state-sponsored Catholicism, or Protestantism, or Islam, or atheism. That's how you put a stop to ideological violence.

But as an argument that religion has bad consequences, it fails, because religion can be replaced by a lot of other things, including atheism, with the same result.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: " It isn't atheism that leads to violence, any more than religion leads to violence. The idea that leads to violence is that one's ideology is something we should kill for."

Agreed.

VR: " I think the history of religious persecution does provide an argument for separation of church and state. There should be no state-sponsored Catholicism, or Protestantism, or Islam, or atheism. That's how you put a stop to ideological violence."

Agreed in that I think you mean that it would stop state-sponsored religious violence. Religiously inspired violence, and state-sponsored ideological violence, would still almost certainly continue to exist.

VR: " But as an argument that religion has bad consequences, it fails, because religion can be replaced by a lot of other things, including atheism, with the same result."

If the atheism is of an ideological sort that insisted that violence against the religious was required, then I agree.

Btw, I think the real point of contention in these sort of debates is not that atheists and the religious do good and bad things (I think we can all agree that they do), but that the atheist finds it particularly reprehensible that bad things are done by the religious for imaginary reasons. For instance, as a Christian, I am certain that you understand that bin Laden's assassins killed those people, and themselves, for imaginary reasons.

I think of this difference: I feel like I could argue with one of Stalin's killers that his murder of a theist was wrong, and objectively so. I feel like I am deprived of that ability with the murderously religious. And that is a real point of difference that I think gets lost in all these body counts and debates over ideology and dogmatism, etc.

B. Prokop said...

Tony Hoffman writes: "I feel like I could argue with one of Stalin's killers that his murder of a theist was wrong".

No, tony, you would not have been able to do so. He would have beaten you senseless, deprived you of sleep for 8-10 days, tormented you with round-the-clock interrogation, and ultimately forced you to sign denunciations against everyone you ever knew and loved. All this before killing you. Believe me, you would never have gotten the chance to argue with him.

Eric said...

"It isn't atheism that leads to violence, any more than religion leads to violence. The idea that leads to violence is that one's ideology is something we should kill for."

I agree, and I think the point is well put. My only quibble would be, it seems that it's easier to find the idea, "one's ideology is something we should kill for" in some religions than it is in others. For example, arguably, it's easier to find justification for that notion -- and justification for the notion that it's a part of a particular religion -- in, say, Islam than it is in Christianity.

Eric said...

"I feel like I could argue with one of Stalin's killers that his murder of a theist was wrong, and objectively so. I feel like I am deprived of that ability with the murderously religious."

Wow, I don't think you could be more wrong. Bob's excellent comments aside, on what possible grounds could you persuade someone committed to Marxism that the murder of a theist is 'objectively wrong'? You wouldn't have any common ground to stand upon, for Marxists believe (generally) that morality is part of the superstructure determined by economic conditions. If we're talking about a Christian theist, however, you could at least appeal to, say, Jesus' teachings, the ten commandments, etc. Sure, in both cases you'd almost certainly fail, but that's not the point -- the point is that it's only the theist, not the atheist in this case, who would even accept the notion that there is an objective moral law, and that it includes prohibitions on murder.

Tony Hoffman said...

BobP: "Believe me, you would never have gotten the chance to argue with him."

Right, I didn't say I'd win the argument. But I could form an argument, and one that I think would be the better argument. With one of bin Laden's killers, I don't even know where to start.

Tony Hoffman said...

Eric: "- the point is that it's only the theist, not the atheist in this case, who would even accept the notion that there is an objective moral law, and that it includes prohibitions on murder."

Yeah, I don't want to get into an argument over morality. I'll simply say that I don't believe that Christian morality is not objective because a) it is subject to God, which makes it subjective, and b) Christian morality has clearly evolved in the Bible and over time, which doesn't make sense for a morality that is subject to a being that is eternal and omniscient.

Also, it's easy to imagine an objective morality from a society of atheists -- there are lots of moral theories for this. The easiest is to propose rules governing behavior that everyone would be willing to accept no matter what their role in that society. This may be virtually impossible to effect, but the notion would certainly be acceptable to atheists, and the rules of behavior would then be a kind of objective morality.

Eric said...

"Also, it's easy to imagine an objective morality from a society of atheists -- there are lots of moral theories for this."

Whether that's possible or not, you weren't talking about a 'society of atheists' as such, but about presenting an argument for objective morality to a specific kind of atheist, viz. a Marxist under Stalin.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that Marxists, as part of their materialistic theory, deny the reality of human free will.

No free will = no objective morality. There are extremely strong intuitions and arguments in this vicinity (e.g., Human beings are, at bottom, biological machines that unfold according to the laws of physics, and "oughts" make little sense in a world of machines).

Good luck arguing with someone like that, Tony.

Papalinton said...

Victor
"But there are plenty of causes that can lead someone to kill on behalf of them. Communism, and officially secularist ideology, is a good example. But atheism itself can be just such an ideology. Belief in God is delusional, religion is standing in the way of the advance of civilization, so if we put Christians into camps and keep them from breeding, the end justifies the means."

You know in your deepest of reasoning that this statement is just 'lashing out' at feeling impotent on your part to land the 'killer blow'.
Communists did over Russian orthodox christians because it was an ideological competitor to communism. The russian church was a powerful structure competing for the hearts and minds of Russians. Nobody dies for 'atheism'. Hell, even I wouldn't die for atheism; as an ideology it is next to useless.

Face the facts, Victor, atheism per se is not worth dying over. Let's take the most recent creation of a new sovereign state, Southern Sudan. With Darfur, the greatest tragedy was the rape, torture and murder of people along sectarian lines, the Muslim north killing the dominant southern christians of Sudan. Now we have two independent countries, Sudan and Southern Sudan, divided almost exclusively along religious lines. Two countries that have yet to agree on where their common border is to be drawn.

Good people do good things; but it takes religion for good people to do bad things.

Proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Victor, you say earlier in your piece, "That hasn't stopped Christians from uniting church and state, but after the 17th century Christian Europe has moved in the direction of secular government. "

It wasn't christianity that instituted the 17thC move to secularism. It was the many right-minded people who said, 'Enough is enough, already! No more religious meddling in the affairs of state." People generally had a gutfull of christian sanctioned sharia in the affairs of state. Little by little, religion has been booted out of the affairs of state governance.
It is now the turn of the US to follow Europe's lead.

JS Allen said...

@BDK - That was my first thought, as well. Entertaining, though.

Anonymous said...

Lookey, the Atheit Troll PapaLiton is back.

Did you know he was over on Amazon trolling comments as Linton Wilson.

I am making some inquiries as to whether that is hie real name, and will get back to you soon

Papa, you funny.

Papalinton said...

Yes Anonymous
That is my real name and Papalinton is my dear alter ego.

Unlike your cowardly avataric pseudonym.

Anonymous said...

That is not PapaL's real name.

He is yanking your chain.

Anonymous said...

I could stand all this if Loftus would just get rid of his hat.

Or at least change the liner.

It must be smelling like a baby's behind in a dirty diaper by now.

Hey, wouldn't it be funny if they built GULAGS for ATHEISTS?

Put all in their before they get control and do the same to us like they always do when they get power.


Note: This is labeld under "humour".

Anonymous said...

I could stand all this if Loftus would just get rid of his hat.

Or at least change the liner.

It must be smelling like a baby's behind in a dirty diaper by now.

Hey, wouldn't it be funny if they built GULAGS for ATHEISTS?

Put all in them in them before they get control and do the same to us like they always do when they get power.


Note: This is labeld under "humour".

Papalinton said...

Anonymous says: "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if they built GULAGS for ATHEISTS?"

It seems such thinking from christians comes ever so effortlessly as a result of their indoctrination into the christian faith. Gulags etc.
Anonymous continues: " Put all in them in them before they get control and do the same to us ..."

It seems christian thinking is quite happy to incarcerate humans for thought crimes. And this is not an isolated incident.

Dr Jim West at Bibliotheca says, "My ‘modest proposal’ for dealing with heretics: public drownings in the summer (so the spray cools us) and burnings in the winter (so we can warm ourselves on the boiling blistering flesh of the godless)."

http://bibliobloglibrary.com/p/32267

It seems good people can do good things. But it takes religion for good people to do bad things.

I rest my case.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

I'm glad you've rested your case, because the jury's just come back in the room and ruled against you. "It takes religion for good people to do bad things"? No, it takes fanaticism, and that (sadly) does indeed include religion, but it also includes politics, nationalism, economic theory (e.g., Marxism or the contemporary U.S. Republican Party), or any other "cause" that a deluded individual deems more valuable than his fellow human being.

Oh, yes. I did use the word "deluded". On purpose. Because ANY person can be deluded, be he Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, or Atheist. Delusion is a state of mind that occurs independently of one's belief system. One can be "mistaken" (as I believe all atheists are), while not being deluded.

By the way, since you've rested your case, can we safely assume that we'll hear no more from you on this subject?

Anonymous said...

Papalinton, here's a suggestion:

If you plan on changing anyone's mind at this blog, you'd do well to alter your tone and replace the interminable spewing of confused, dogmatic assertions with actual argumentation. Only atheists like Blue Devil Knight and perhaps Tony Hoffman have the capacity to make Christians like myself rethink my position, because, you know, they actually argue, and in a well-mannered, respectful way. When I start to read your excessively long rant-posts, on the other hand, I find that right off the bat they seem to consist of little more than dogmatic assertions and begged questions coupled with copious amounts of sarcasm. In the end, you come across as an irrational, gratuitously nasty windbag, and the preponderance of posters here simply scroll past your posts.

You might want to model yourself after BDK and Tony if you plan on letting anyone to take you seriously in the future.

Mike Darus said...

The interesting issue in this discussion for me is the relationship between "worth dying for" and "reason to kill." The first defauls as a virtue but is losing ground. The second requires greater justification.

Both of these circumstances are becoming less defenseable in our popular culture. Both have been important for Christians from time to time in the past (but the first more, the second only as notable exceptions).

It is simplistic to say that religion is the primary motivation for these thoughts. Accumulation of wealth and power seem much more common. In these cases, moral justification was sought in religion. Sometimes religion was the stated reason to gain legitimacy but the real motive was likely money and power. Insightful study of history reveals that there are no simplistic reasons for wars and killing.

However, we should admit that religion contains the conviction, moral justification, and strong motivation that these two thoughts require. I find it interesting that Papalinton finds no motivation in Atheism for either thought.

If we strip religion of "worth dying for", does it then become anemic? If we add "worth killing for", do we then fall into criminal fanaticism?

I hope I have some beliefs that are worth dying for. There are a few things that are at least theoretically worth killing for but they tend to be more about defending my family than imposing beliefs or punishing those who differ. The temptation here is to rid the world of dangerous people with dangerous beliefs but I am not willing to go there. I am far from the "worth killing for" thought.

John W. Loftus said...

So Victor, you've changed your point. Okay then.

Where does ideology mainly come from?

Fanaticism is rooted in faith of some kind. Faith is endemic of religion.

B. Prokop said...

No, John, Fanaticism comes from ANY belief system, theist or atheist, that believes "the end justifies the means". Once a person, be he an Islamic militant, radical anti-abortionist, or Marxist-Leninist dialectical materialist, decides that some future good (e.g., the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, or a revived Caliphate, or whatever, excuses present evil (suicide bombings, murdering doctors, the Gulag), then he is a fanatic.

But in no way is it necessary for religion to be the motivating force behind his behavior (although it can be, of course). The Stalinists murdered millions in the name of World Socialism, an atheist creed. The current Republican Party is willing to cut the social safety net out from under millions of working class and poor Americans in the name of Ayn Randian libertarianism (another atheist creed).

And the most interesting point of all is that, when a fanatic commits evil supposedly in the name of Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism, he must first completely pervert the belief system he claims to be acting in, distorting its core tenets unrecognizably. But the atheist Marxist or libertarian has no such problem. Suppression of the bourgeoisie in Russia, or kicking the less well off under the bus in America are part and parcel of the essential creeds of the evildoers in each case.

Bottom Line: When a religious creed is actually followed (as it too seldom is), then a better world results. When an atheist creed is actually followed (as it all too often is), mass murder and the destruction of millions of lives is the inevitable result.

Anonymous said...

John Loftus is an admitted liar.

Why are you people paying so much attention to him.

Jeremy Mancuso, MU at Columbian

Tony Hoffman said...

BobP: “The Stalinists murdered millions in the name of World Socialism, an atheist creed.”

World socialism is a creed of atheism? Can you briefly explain what you mean by that?

The Stalinists conducted a terror campaign, as totalitarian regimes are wont do to. But if atheism helps explain why the Stalinists were murderous, how do you explain all the atheists they killed, from Trotsky on down?

BobP: “The current Republican Party is willing to cut the social safety net out from under millions of working class and poor Americans in the name of Ayn Randian libertarianism (another atheist creed).”

Now you’re talking. I actually like Ayn Rand’s feistiness regarding atheism, but I have found her novels to be unreadable, and am stunned at the influence she has on the remanants of what used to be the Grand Old Party. It’s embarrassing how many well-educated people value her social “insights” as if it were a kind of gospel.

BobP: “Suppression of the bourgeoisie in Russia, or kicking the less well off under the bus in America are part and parcel of the essential creeds of the evildoers in each case.”

I agree that there is a kind of latent fascism in the work of Ayn Rand that is well represented in her disdain for the vast majority of humanity. And I agree that the revolutionary edges of Marxism evoke passions that result in a kind of class hatred that easily leads to violence against whole segments of societies. I would like to see you flesh out how Marxism could not be comfortable within a religious, and particularly Christian, context. Because I believe that much of what Christ preached seems similar to the tenets of Marxism and communism, and I can just as easily imagine a holy Marxism as I could an atheistic one.

BobP: “When a religious creed is actually followed (as it too seldom is), then a better world results.”

Whoa, whoa. I think you will need to amend this, or probably re-think it. Sharia under the Taliban is an example of a religious creed that is actually followed, for instance.

BobP: “When an atheist creed is actually followed (as it all too often is), mass murder and the destruction of millions of lives is the inevitable result.”

Yeah, I suppose I need you to define what you mean by an atheist creed in your comments here.

Tony Hoffman said...

BobP: “The current Republican Party is willing to cut the social safety net out from under millions of working class and poor Americans in the name of Ayn Randian libertarianism (another atheist creed).”

Btw, I'd wager that a lot more members of the Republican party go to church than have read any Ayn Rand. Why does Rand take the hit, and not the Republicans' Christian beliefs?

Papalinton said...

@ B Prokop
"No, John, Fanaticism comes from ANY belief system, theist or atheist, that believes "the end justifies the means". "

Let me spell it out one more time, atheism is not a belief system.
With atheism there is no doctrine, no 'good' book, no dogma, no catechism, no organised tradition, no institutional body or theological administrative organisation underpinning the ritual and  ceremony; there is no  procedural observance; no service, no sacrament, no liturgy, no organised and regular worship; no custom or atheistic tradition, and there is no formalised convention, procedure or established protocol. There are no 'church' officers, no hierarchy of promotion of clergy/ministers, no administrators or CEOs of centralized management arrangements, there is no career service in atheism as is called for in theistic belief systems. 

All these are emblematic characteristics of a belief 'system'.  Atheism is not, in and of itself, a systematized process through which direct support of, and the administration of, such a belief system is either appropriate or required.  There is no requirement for specific infrastructure support to maintain, co-ordinate and administer the various elements of a belief system as is clearly evident in the Roman Catholic organisation, or the Southern Baptist Convention, or any of the myriad mega-church industries. 
 
Atheism is not an industry.  By contrast all religions are in the 'eternal insurance' industry through which customers buy insurance to cover travel and entry visas into the next world [putatively heaven], following their demise in this one.  The clergy are ostensibly insurance salesman.  [Benny Hinn is a religious insurance hawker/insurance loan shark of a particular stripe. The pope model is another variant of insurance hawker. ]

I am reminded of Joseph Lewis, American author, writer, who noted:  "Religion is all profit.  They have no merchandise to buy, no commissions to pay, and no refunds to make for unsatisfactory service or results  .... Their commodity is fear;  their inventories are lies ..... their deferred tax assets are guilt and self-abasement."

So Bob, please try to keep in mind the facts:

1. Belief systems are ideologies.
2. Ideologies are inextricably prone to fanaticism
3. Communism is an ideology - note North Korea
4. Religion is a belief system, therefore christianity is an ideology
5. Religions are inextricably prone to fanaticism - not Westboro, note Pat Robertson, note 9/11
6. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is homeostasis, that is, it is a property, either open or closed, that regulates its internal environment and tends to maintain a stable, constant condition.

Ryan Anderson said...

So, is that how we explain Mother Teresa...

Christopher Hitchen's does explain Mother Teresa's "evil".

MLK and Gandhi's "evil" is covered elsewhere and is easy to find if you look.

Karl Grant said...

Tony,

Whither more rank-and-file members of the Republican party go to church or read Ayn Rand is irrelevant. What matters is who crafts the policy and what ideology they follow (the majority of Russians remained Christian throughout the reign of the Soviet Union, did that make the the Soviet Union a Christian Nation policy wise?).

And Ayn Rand forms the basis for the current GOP economic policy. Paul Ryan proudly states that Rand's books is the reason he got involved in public service. Father and son team Rand Paul (guess who he is named after) and Ron Paul have both declared themselves devotees of her writing. Glenn Beck praises her. So does Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, John Stossel and Andrew Napolitano. Hell, Justice Clarence Thomas makes his law clerks watch the Fountainhead.

Meanwhile, several religious leaders have condemned the Republican budget plan.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Perhaps I should have written, "World Socialism, [which under the Bolsheviks was] an atheist creed". Would that make my meaning clearer?

As to my comments on the GOP, I had two motives. First, I didn't want to get people spun up once again on whether or not the Soviets or the Nazis are representative atheists (a tiresome debate), so I included political a belief system from the opposite end of the spectrum. Secondly, I must confess to giving in to a probably not very virtuous impulse and release my inner troll, purely to get a rise out of one or two of the right wing posters on this website. (Just goes to show we're all sinners.)

As to republicans being churchgoers - utterly irrelevant. We all know what kind words Jesus had for the religious establishment of His day, who scrupulously kept to all the outward trappings of religion while inwardly maintaining completely different priorities. I strongly suspect He would speak in the same manner to the "religious right" of contemporary America.

Taliban Sharia Law "an example of a religious creed that is actually followed" ? I couldn't disagree more. What's going on in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, etc., has nothing to do with Islam (and I'm no fan of Islam!), and everything to do with indigenous culture. Were it otherwise, we'd see places like Malaysia, Indonesia, or turkey acting similarly. But they don't share the same local culture, so that nonsense hasn't taken root there.

Papalinton: Atheism not a belief system? Give it up. I won't even waste my time responding to such bunkum. That idea has been so thoroughly and comprehensively demolished so many, many times in the past that it literally pains me to see it rear its ludicrous head yet again.

Anonymous said...

Of course atheism has beliefs.

PapaLinton (who claims to be Linton Wilson but isn't) is just yanking your chain.

If you keep feeding the Atheist Troll, that's what you get.

Anonymous said...

"Materialism is the religion of our time." - John Searle

Tony Hoffman said...

BobP: "Perhaps I should have written, "World Socialism, [which under the Bolsheviks was] an atheist creed". Would that make my meaning clearer?"

No, unfortunately. I want to know how you define creed, and atheist creed as well.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Fair enough. I define "creed" as a defined way of looking at and relating to the world; the lens, as it were, through which we, either as individuals or collectively, process and interpret the information we receive. It is our way of making sense out of what would otherwise be an unintelligible mass of raw, unprocessable data.

All sane, rational people have a creed. Some of them are written down (e.g., the Catholic
Church's Nicene Creed, Calvin's Institutes of the Cristian Religion, the Soviet Union's Collected Works of Vladimir Lenin, Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, or even "Atlas Shrugged" for Libertarians). Others might not be, but their function is exactly the same. The only persons without a creed reside in mental institutions.

B. Prokop said...

I should have included the adjective "systematic" in my first sentence.

Dave Duffy said...

Islam became largely radicalized after Nasser’s secular-socialist government failed to bring military victory and a united Arab people. After the failure of the secular many people became more radicalized in their religion as the answer to Arab failure and humiliation. Islam was just a different motivator for the same goals as the secular government and it is untrue that the violence done in achieving these goals can solely be attributed to the religion.

Had Sodom Hussein not been stopped by the West in his own secular-socialist goals of uniting the Arab people he too would have had to face the radical Islamist who wanted the Arabs united under a different ideal—Islam. Does anyone doubt that if Hussein had to battle with al-Qaida he would have been less violent and less fanatical because he was operating under a secular framework?

I am not sure the term “radicalized” is to be feared as the problem with religion. Many anonymous Christians who have given up the comfortable middleclass to slog it out in the inner-city, in soup kitchens, and in prisons with little reward (either financial or publicity) for their service to the least consider themselves “radical Christians.”

Papalinton said...

@ B Prokop
"All sane, rational people have a creed. Some of them are written down (e.g., the Catholic
Church's Nicene Creed, Calvin's Institutes of the Cristian Religion, the Soviet Union's Collected Works of Vladimir Lenin, Chairman Mao's Little Red Book, or even "Atlas Shrugged" for Libertarians). Others might not be, but their function is exactly the same. The only persons without a creed reside in mental institutions."

And don't forget Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' [My Struggle], prominently based on Catholic teachings as he was a catholic, and his declared hero, [one of three that Hitler notes in his book] Martin Luther. Indeed Hitler's plan for ridding the Jews is identical to the 7-point plan that Luther enumerated on how to deal with the killers of christ.

It is all there in the history books.


Your statement, "The only persons without a creed reside in mental institutions."
I challenge you to produce the evidence for this abysmal declaration [Apologetical contortions do not count as evidence. Apologetical scholarship has been so bastardized to have rendered it useless in any academic sense.] I suggest another classic case of 'lying for jesus'. There really is no end to how low christians can stoop to push their 'jesus-faery and friends at the bottom of the garden' mythos, is there?

By the way, atheism is the only avenue that the virus of segregational religion can be transcended by right-thinking people with no sectarian agenda to push.

Papalinton said...

@ B Prokop
Bob says, "Papalinton: Atheism not a belief system? Give it up. I won't even waste my time responding to such bunkum. That idea has been so thoroughly and comprehensively demolished so many, many times in the past that it literally pains me to see it rear its ludicrous head yet again."

You're the one that initially raised the issue in this thread, Bob.
"No, John, Fanaticism comes from ANY belief system, theist or atheist, that believes "the end justifies the means". "

I am simply correcting your egregious christian-motivated misconstrual of 'atheism' as a 'belief system', which it patently isn't.

You see, christians, after 2,000 years of lying, propped up by adulterated Apologetics, are now being rightfully brought to task and to account for the nonsense that they spawned.
No more will there again ever be 'free range' for christian thought, free from rigorous challenge, when science and reason finds facts that refute religious claims - about man, about society, about the universe, or about god[s].
So it is that the trend to agnosticism/atheism, is a telling indicator that society is maturing into adulthood, and that we slowly leaving our superstitious predilections in the past. It was to be expected.

Anonymous said...

Hitler was no Catholic.

He committed suicide by blowing his own brains out.

Which is a one way tickett to Hell for Catholics.

Papalinton said...

@ Anonymous
"Hitler was no Catholic.
He committed suicide by blowing his own brains out.
Which is a one way tickett to Hell for Catholics."

Lying for jesus, again, Anon?
This is utter balderdash.

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/religion_theseeker/2009/09/chris-kelly-catholic-funeral.html

To quote:
"Gone are the days when Roman Catholic leaders denied church burial rites to members of the flock who took their own lives, left their marriages or failed to uphold other church teachings.

After all, funerals are occasions to pray for the deceased and console the survivors, church leaders have concluded. The eternal fate of Christopher Kelly, a former chief fundraiser for Illinois’ ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Catholics believe, is in God’s hands."


Further:
Chapter 2, Canons 1184 and 1185 of the Code of Canon Law state that if there is any doubt as to whether a person is eligible for a Church funeral, the local Ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment followed.

I might add nobody is denied a catholic funeral because of suicide.

Hitler is still a catholic. He is till baptized a catholic. He remains a catholic. He has never been excommunicated by the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

"In Hitler's eyes Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; it ethics he detested, and he mocked all talk of life after death. Death was the end: such immortality as man could achieve was in the race and history. From political considerations he restrained his anti-clericalism, seeing clearly the dangers of strengthening the Church by persecution. Once the war was over, he promised himself, he would root out and destroy the influence of the Christian Churches in Germany, but until then he was a good deal more cautious than some of his followers, like Rosenberg and Borman, in attacking the Church publicly....The truth is that Hitler was a complete materialist..."

-Alan Bullock, "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny," 1953, rev. ed., 1960. p. 340. Bantam Books.


Whatever he said in public (almost entirely before 1934), Hitler hated Christianity. In the Goebbels' dairies 1939-1941, p. 77 we read, "The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. It is a branch of the Jewish race." p. 304: "The Fuhrer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity." These and other statements were written by Goebbels after talking with Hitler.


A Christian who hates Christianity? Pretty odd "Christian," I'd say.



Try to know a bit about what you're talking about, Papalinton, before you accuse others of being liars. And do try to cite scholarly works next time, not news blogs or cheap atheist websites.



-another Anon

B. Prokop said...

Isn't there an internet rule that says the first person to use the name Hitler automatically loses the argument?

But in any case, Papalinton, as for atheism being a belief system, all's I can say is, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... it's a duck!"

Tony Hoffman said...

BobP, you wrote “I define "creed" as a defined way of looking at and relating to the world; the lens, as it were, through which we, either as individuals or collectively, process and interpret the information we receive. It is our way of making sense out of what would otherwise be an unintelligible mass of raw, unprocessable data.”

And earlier you wrote, “The Stalinists murdered millions in the name of World Socialism, an atheist creed.”

How do you then reconcile the above with the fact that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are atheists? If two of the most successful capitalists in history (and most generous philanthropists), what is the relationship between atheism and its creed of Stalinism?

Also, how is it that Ayn Rand has influenced Republicans to behave as they have, but their Christianity has not? Do you think that the Republicans who behave in ways you condemn are now atheists because they have been influenced by Any Rand? Also, doesn’t Calvinism permit the same disparity of social outcome that Ayn Rand’s followers pursue?

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Atheism has as many different creeds as does religion. Just as you can't reasonably expect St. Thomas Aquinas to agree theologically on every point with Siddhartha Gautama, nor should one look for a lockstep correspondence in the beliefs of Bill Gates and Iosef Vissarionich Djugashvili. (Although I personally know quite a few Mac owners who would gleefully make the Bill Gates - Stalin comparison!)

But seriously, there's no need to reconcile anything.

Anonymous said...

Papalinton, does being a Catholic by birth mean one acually believes it or lives by it?

I have seen no evidence of that.

A Catholic who kills Millions of Catholics is going to go to Hell without repentance.

Hitler was not busy repenting...before he Blew His Own Brains Out.

B. Prokop said...

I'm going to break one of my own rules here, and respond to an anonymous commenter.

Arguing about whether or not Herr Hitler was a Catholic is a stupid, pointless debate. Everything depends on what the word means to you, and you can't get three people in a room to agree to a single definition of "Catholic".

I have listened to serious people tell me that the Sacrament of Baptism is eternal and immutable, and therefore that any person baptized into the Church is a Catholic forever, no matter what that person says or does later in life. At the other extreme, I have heard sincere people inform me that I am not worthy of the label "Catholic" because I am a registered Democrat.

A more profitable discussion might center around whether or not Der Fuhrer's actions and beliefs were in accord with the Catholic faith. All intellectually honest people will agree that they were most emphatically not.

Papalinton said...

@ B Prokop
Love your politics.
Don't think much of your christian worldview.

Cheers

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Love your politics, too.
Don't think much of your atheism (but do like your picture, though).

Oh, well...

Anonymous said...

"Hey, wouldn't it be funny if they built GULAGS for ATHEISTS?"

How did Jim West get in here?

Dave Duffy said...

Has anyone here actually met John Loftus? You know, had a beer with him and traded a few stories?

I think he might be an interesting guy.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: “Atheism has as many different creeds as does religion. Just as you can't reasonably expect St. Thomas Aquinas to agree theologically on every point with Siddhartha Gautama, nor should one look for a lockstep correspondence in the beliefs of Bill Gates and Iosef Vissarionich Djugashvili.”

So I guess I’m confused about the relationship you appear to be drawing between Stalinism and atheism. If atheism is a creed of atheism, and Warren Buffet’s capitalism and philanthropy are a creed of atheism, what does it mean to be “of atheism?”

Tony Hoffman said...

DaveD: "Has anyone here actually met John Loftus? You know, had a beer with him and traded a few stories?"

No. I'd love to. I'm sure he'd be interesting to meet. I'm also fascinated by the social divide that I think is exaggerated in discussions like these.

I'd love to see an annual Culture Wars Expo once a year, where bloggers and commenters from both sides of the divide talk and meet. It might come to rolls getting chucked at each other at lunch and butter knife fights in the halls, but I doubt it. As long as there are some on both sides who can drink at the end of the evening, I'll bet it would be a hoot.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Would you rather I regard all atheists as clones of each other? Think of it like you would about a term like "American Music". That category would include everything from Benny Goodman to Aaron Copeland to rap, blues, jazz, rock and roll, and Negro Spirituals. Vastly different from each other, but they're all still "American Music".

In the same way, Joseph Stalin, Carl Sagan, Ayn Rand, Kim il Sung, Warren Buffet, and Pol Pot were/are all atheists, living by an atheist creed.

I don't see anything to be confused about here.

Anonymous said...

Stalin was a militant atheist, and made various attempts to eliminate religion.

Just google "The League of Militant Godless" or check wikipedia for the same.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is referencing it as "The Society of the Godless"

Dave Duffy said...

Tony,

I’m with you on the Expo until Bob and Pappy descend on me with butter knifes after I announce I’m a conservative and (with some reservation) Republican: “Bob put down the knife and give me a chance to explain.” Or better yet, “Here guys try one of the Butterfield brews. They started brewing beer when the stagecoaches first came through this part of California.”

Papalinton said...

Bob
Your telescope looks awesome. I am dripping with green stuff.

Papalinton said...

Anon: "Stalin was a militant atheist, and made various attempts to eliminate religion."

But more importantly, he was a god, with all the trappings of power and idol worship and mauseleum

Papalinton said...

@ Dave Duffy
Fear not. I am totally against gun ownership. For me anyone who believes gun ownership is OK is perverse. Guns are dangerous. If you want to shoot a gun then go to a gun club and leave the bloody thing there. The American obsession for carrying a concealed weapon for protection is an indictment on each and every person in that community. I don't need a gun, my neighbors don't have guns. we leave our doors open throughout day. A gun can never buy the level of security I enjoy and treasure so much, although I live on the outskirts of a major city.

And the idea of carrying knives or even imagining the use of a knife as a weapon is viscerally abhorrent to me.

Dave Duffy said...

Papalinton,

Security and self defense are one of the topics in our community. Thanks for your input.

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Dave, for thinking I might be interesting. I think everyone is interesting though.

Cheers

Papalinton said...

So Yuck, you have guns? Do that make you feel powerful and manly?

What a dickhead.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

Is there any way to remove "Yuck's" totally innapropriate and utterly offensive comments from your website?

Papalinton,

You and I may agree on practically nothing, but we have at least managed to remain civil in our discourse. That is one of the things I appreciate about Victor's website. Unlike most of the internet cesspool, and despite the occasional infantile outburst, most posters to this site have managed to behave like civilized persons.

"Yuck",

You have self-identified yourself as not being worthy of our attention.

I appeal to everyone on this site. Please do not respond to his completely out of line comments! If you do, it will only encourage him, and drag this website down to his level. Just ignore him.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: “Just as you can't reasonably expect St. Thomas Aquinas to agree theologically on every point with Siddhartha Gautama, nor should one look for a lockstep correspondence in the beliefs of Bill Gates and Iosef Vissarionich Djugashvili.”

I think I began here by agreeing that to say that religion was at fault for bin Laden’s directed atrocities was to paint with too broad a brush. A violent, fundamentalist sect of a religion that is part of theism certainly influenced bin Laden to act as he did. Along that line, I think it would stretch language to the breaking point to say that bin Laden’s fundamentalism, that which led him to order the destruction of thousands of innocent people a half world away, is a creed of theism.

Do you agree?

Ilíon said...

"I hope this doesn't touch off a new round of irrelevant Loftus-bashing."

Is "Loftus-bashing" ever irrelevant?

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

At the risk of being accused of violating the "No True Scotsman" rule, I agree that it most certainly was not any recognizable form of Islam that motivated Bin Laden, just as I do not consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be Christian.

Hmmm... This causes me to wonder whether the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is itself a fallacy, and that one can legitimately say something like "no true (fill in the black) would ever do (second blank)", and be justified in doing so? I'll have to give this some serious thought!

Papalinton said...

@ B Prokop
"... just as I do not consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be Christian."

Then why is it they continue to dip their snouts into the public trough through tax dispensation?

Ilíon said...

"Hmmm... This causes me to wonder whether the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is itself a fallacy, and that one can legitimately say something like "no true (fill in the black) would ever do (second blank)", and be justified in doing so?"

Yes, it's a fallacy ... like most things belovéd of God-haters.

====
"... I agree that it most certainly was not any recognizable form of Islam that motivated Bin Laden ..."

Ah! Proof of the "multiverse" ... 'cause you sure ain't livin' in the realy one.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Wow, we have to stop doing this. Yet another point of agreement between us! I also have long argued for the elimination of the tax free status for churches in the US.

You know, if we keep this up, you're going to have to convert!

Ilíon said...

Do you also advocate the elimination of the "tax-free status" for universities and hospitals? How about the United Way, the Red Cross, and Planned Parenthood? How about "the poor"?

Certainly, life would be simpler, and more fair -- and you're all humg up on "fairness," aren't you -- if not individual or organization received any tax break not freely available to all other individuals and organizations. But that will never happen, and you "liberals" would certainly freak-out if it ever looked like we were seriously about to move to such a tax regime.

B. Prokop said...

"Do you also advocate the elimination of the "tax-free status" for universities and hospitals? How about the United Way, the Red Cross, and Planned Parenthood? How about "the poor"?"

Universities - yes.
Hospitals - no opinion.
United Way - no.
Red Cross - no.
Planned Parenthood - yes.
"the poor" - no.

Papalinton said...

Universities - yes.
United Way - no.
Red Cross - no.
Planned Parenthood - yes.
"the poor" - no.


Ditto

Hospitals - public/non-profit - no
Hospitals - private/profit institution - yes