Monday, December 05, 2011

Fundy atheists

This is an oldie but a goodie, from Tektonics. It is certainly possible to change your brand of fundamentalism.

33 comments:

B. Prokop said...

Funny, but all too true!

Loved Number 102 under the "History" subheading. Papalinton is a past master at that one. Just use the word "Catholic" in a posting, and then sit back and count the (nonexistent) keystrokes before he fires back with "pedophiles"!

Thanks for the comic relief, Victor.

Papalinton said...

Yeah! I like #102 as well. Whenever religion is shown in a +ve light one must always be aware of the context. I recall the useful aphorism:

"Religion is not always wrong.
It just has no better chance of being correct than guessing."

:o)

Anonymous said...

Hahaha. This list f***ing TELLS Papalinton.

You got schooled, Jack!

BenYachov said...

#426 Last of all -- you write this website a letter which includes a rebuttal to the above listing!

I can imagine quite a few Paps like persons doing this.

BenYachov said...

Pedophila rampant in Hollywood.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2011/12/05/recent-charges-sexual-abuse-children-in-hollywood-just-tip-iceberg-experts-say/

Gee if only women where allowed to be actors and actors allowed to marry & if only they where less sexually repressed in Hollywood none of this would happen.

Wait a minute...............

Walter said...

Holding's list is pretty funny, but on the flip side these are pretty good too:

You might be a fundamentalist if...

10 - You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

9 - You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

8 - You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in the Trinity.

7 - Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" -- including women, and children.

6 - You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life, and then ascended into the sky.

5 - You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a couple of generations old.

4 - You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs -- though excluding those in all rival sects -- will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

3 - While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

2 - You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of God.

1 - You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history -- but still call yourself a Christian.

BenYachov said...

Walter

The list does mock many fundamentalisms but it also equivocates between fundamentalism & religious doctrine in general too. Which is it's flaw.

Some examples:

#8 The Trinity is simply not the same as Tri-Theism.

#6Anthopomorphic pagan godlings having sex with mortals is not the same as the Incarnation by the Holy Spirit since the HS didn't have sex with Mary.

OTOH

Granted a fundamentalist would likely have an anthopomorphic unsophisticated view of God and believe in a young Earth. Those are funny.

still yet again OTOH

I did once use something like #9 to mock a Fundamentalist Radical Traditionalist "Catholic" over at Feser's blog who was indignant over the possibility Adam's body was born in the womb of an hominid animal(then later ensouled) if Theistic Evolution is true.

In the Thomistic scheme Living things are a higher order of being then non-living. Thus a Body from an Animal womb is greater then one directly from dust IMHO.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

As for #1 that is simply not my experience. Most Atheists and Agnostics at best have a fundamentalist view of the Bible or they are just plain ignorant.

They don't know much about Christian history at all. OTOH what separates a Gnu from a reasonable Atheist is the reasonable Atheist when call out will admit rather humbly. "Yeah I don't really know that much about this stuff. Maybe you can inform me though I doubt it will change my belief."

The Gnu OTOH will pretend his is the expert in all things religion.

Tedious.

Walter said...

#8 The Trinity is simply not the same as Tri-Theism.

It's not the same thing as *pure* monotheism either (but that is an argument for another day).

BenYachov said...

>It's not the same thing as *pure* monotheism either (but that is an argument for another day).

No it is pure monotheism I'm afraid. I see no logical reason to define Unitarianism as more "pure" then Multi-tarian monotheistic Faiths.

Even Unitarian faiths are not all that Unitarian.

For example Judaism believes 10 Seferot emanate from the Eyn Sof & they are not plausibly Deka-Theists.

Muslims believe the 99 names of God plus the 100th unknowable name all possess God's nature.

They also believe the Koran is the written manifestation of THE MOTHER OF THE BOOK which is
God's uncreated Word and an Attribute of Allah. Given their classic Theistic beliefs in the Divine Simplicity they would have to say the MOTHER OF THE BOOK is Allah.

Thought this is different from Christianity in that it's an Attribute not a Hypostasis.

So forgive me Walter if I respectfully disagree.

Ilíon said...

"11. You can make the existence of pink unicorns the center-piece of a philosophical critique."

I'm pretty sure it's invisible pink unicorns.

01010101 said...

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

A bit superior to the usual religious brainfart (and applies to...all the sons of Abraham---jew, christian, muslim)

Walter said...

No it is pure monotheism I'm afraid. I see no logical reason to define Unitarianism as more "pure" then Multi-tarian monotheistic Faiths.

I do see a reason to say that trinitarianism is not pure monotheism. I was not contrasting orthodox Christian beliefs with Judaism and Islam. There are other pure monotheistic beliefs out there such as Deism and Christian Unitarianism to name but a couple. Anyway, this thread is all about humor, so let's just laugh a little and not turn it into a 200 comment purse fight over the Trinity.

B. Prokop said...

Who was it that said, "We laugh not because it is funny. We laugh because it is true."?

BenYachov said...

>I do see a reason to say that trinitarianism is not pure monotheism.

Pure monotheism is an oxymoron. You either believe in one God or many. There is no third choice. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You either are or you are not.

One God who is a multi-dimensional many aspects deity is still only one God, one deity.

Al Moritz said...

"36. You think you arrived at your position because you are a free-thinker who rationally weighed the evidence, and then freely chose atheism over theism. YET, you also believe that your thinking and actions are nothing more than the FIXED reactions of the atoms in your brain that are governed by the Laws of Chemistry and Physics."

That's a good one, directly relevant to the argument from reason.

BenYachov said...

>Anyway, this thread is all about humor, so let's just laugh a little and not turn it into a 200 comment purse fight over the Trinity.

Very well then.

Ilíon said...

The confused son: "Pure monotheism is an oxymoron. You either believe in one God or many. There is no third choice. You can't be a little bit pregnant. You either are or you are not."

'Oxymoron' is not the word you want -- what you literally said is "'Pure monotheism' is a self-contradiction".

shiningwhiffle said...

I thought it started off really funny, but ended up going off on too many loosely-related political tangents. The reference to Richard Carrier's infamous stuff-flying-out-of-his-butt argument was great, though. XD

@BenYachov:

According to my understanding of the Kabbalah and the Sephirot (and one of my friends has been into the Kabbalah for quite a while and is finishing up his conversion to Judaism this Saturday), the Sephirot are not quite like the Trinity. They aren't multiple persons, but just multiple aspects: power, wisdom, glory, etc.

So the difference is that where in the Trinity the Father is God and the Son is God but the Father is not the Son, in Judaism it's more like, Chokmah is God and Binah is God... full stop.

I've also seen in compared to the difference between the different roles someone takes... kind of like the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Ditto for the 99 Names of God in Islam as I understand it. Roles and aspects, not multiple persons.

So the Trinity does have an additional problem in that it's a multiplicity of persons within a single being, something even Catholic doctrine says we aren't capable of understanding. It's not merely a matter of faith that it is so, but that the idea is even somehow coherent in a way we don't understand.

Ilíon said...

shiningwhiffle: "So the Trinity does have an additional problem in that it's a multiplicity of persons within a single being, something even Catholic doctrine says we aren't capable of understanding. It's not merely a matter of faith that it is so, but that the idea is even somehow coherent in a way we don't understand."

Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity is difficult (or perhaps even impossible) for us to understand; a great mystery, if you will.

Yet, and nearly to a man, the folk who will assert that that mystery -- our inability to quite comprehend how it is that one immaterial being is nonetheless three persons, united/integrated yet distinct -- is reason to reject the doctrine as being incoherent somehow have no problem with believing that one human being can be a multiplicity of "personalities" or identities, non-united/non-integrated and distinct. It's a great mystery, is it not?

Is it that calling the one "religion" and the other "science" makes all the difference in their respective coherencies?

shiningwhiffle said...

My additions:

427. You consider yourself a free thinker and your hobbies include re-posting the latest quotes going 'round atheist circles.

428. You go on news sites to start arguments about religion even when religion isn't relevant to the article.

429. You post the "one God further" quote and don't get the humor when someone says, "So pagans are the only real theists?"

(I actually did that to an atheist. The way I see it, since few people, atheists or theists, seriously contemplate why they don't believe the pagan gods exist, I consider this an example of trying beat one prejudice over the head with another one.)

430. You think it's morally wrong to believe anything without evidence, and also that there's no evidence for the existence of moral values.

431. You rationalize that last point by saying morals are a matter of pragmatism, but think studies showing religion can be good for us are irrelevant.

432. You know that arguments from authority are invalid because Richard Dawkins (etc.) says so.

433. You have no interest in epistemology because you're convinced science has made philosophy outdated, anyway.

And the case that actually lead me out of atheism:

434. You would rather a friend commit suicide than become a Christian, because you love him too much.

I can't find the video any more or I'd post a link to it, but there was seriously a video where an atheist talked about his friend threatening to commit suicide and said he loved his friend too much to suggest he go back to Christianity and live a lie rather than kill himself.

That was the brick to the face that finally got me to question the values I'd adopted as an atheist.

Ilíon said...

Shiningwhiffle,
Those are good additions ... and quite a bit better than some on the list.

shiningwhiffle said...

Ilíon:

One difference is that in the case of Dissociative Identity Disorder -- the existence of which is still hotly debated -- the extra personalities are generally considered false personalities. It isn't a case of a single being with multiple, full-blown personalities, all equally primary.

The second is that multiple personalities is not quite the same thing as multiple persons.

Ilíon said...

Nevertheless, my point stands, does it not? That is, that the very persons who claim that the doctrine of the Trinity is incoherent frequently have little or no difficulties with (let us call it) the "doctrine of Sybil".

shiningwhiffle said...

Ilíon:

So far as it goes, I guess. Though I think one thing going for DID (and I say this as someone who doubts its existence) is that we at least can formulate some plausible models for how it could work.

Authors often find that their characters take on a life of their own. So we have the ability to construct alternate, semi-independent personalities. We're also used to actors exhibiting such different personalities whenever they get into character. Put the two cognitive mechanisms together and ramp them up into psychosis and you might well get DID out the other end. I don't know, but it's plausible.

On the other hand, the doctrine of the Trinity rests on what is prima facie a contradiction, and for which we have no comprehensible explanation. (Mind you, that doesn't mean it is a contradiction: the wave-particle duality isn't that much more comprehensible but is well-confirmed.)

Bringing this back to the original topic, the problem for Trinitarianism is that someone who doesn't already have reason to think it's true is almost certainly not going to think it's coherent. So I think it's only natural for a non-Trinitarian to think that it's either a confused monotheism or a disguised polytheism. Imagine what you'd think of the doctrine if you didn't think it was true.

BTW, and I'm glad you enjoyed my additions. :-)

Anonymous said...

the Trinity is like the 3-headed dog from Greek Mythology or the 3-headed dragon from Gozilla.

logical problem solved.

shiningwhiffle said...

Anonymous:

Um... o_O

I'm really not sure if you mean that seriously or if you're being sarcastic. But what the hey, I'll bite.

The difference is that the three heads are parts of the beasts while the three person of the Trinity are each God Himself.

You can't say "The left head of Cerberus is Cerberus, the middle head is Cerberus, the right head is Cerberus and they're not each other, yet there's only one Cerberus," because actually the left head of Cerberus etc. are parts of Cerberus.

Whereas with the Trinity, you have to say, "The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, none are identical with each other, and yet there's only one God." You have to say that because that's what the doctrine of the Trinity just is.

Even if you don't subscribe to the doctrine of Divine Simplicity, you have to say each person is God and not just part of God in the way his hand would be just part of him if he really were a gray-bearded man in the sky.

Ilíon said...

shiningwhiffle: "On the other hand, the doctrine of the Trinity rests on what is prima facie a contradiction, and for which we have no comprehensible explanation. (Mind you, that doesn't mean it is a contradiction: the wave-particle duality isn't that much more comprehensible but is well-confirmed.)"

If the doctrine of the Trinity "is prima facie a contradiction", then it is not, and cannot be true. If it is true, then there can be no contradiction in it.

That there is a "scientific" "model" for Disassociative Identity Disorder, and yet we cannot "model" God's triune nature does not make the doctrine contradictory.

That we cannot "model" God's triune nature does not make the doctrine false; a thing can be true whether or not we ever understand it. We *also* cannot "model" how it is that a normally integrated human person is the same identity throughout his life, despite all the constant material changes to his body, yet he is the same person.

shiningwhiffle: "Bringing this back to the original topic, the problem for Trinitarianism is that someone who doesn't already have reason to think it's true is almost certainly not going to think it's coherent. So I think it's only natural for a non-Trinitarian to think that it's either a confused monotheism or a disguised polytheism."

The doctrine of the Trinity wasn't just pulled out of some Greco-Roman toga-draped ass; its formalization is the result of thinking carefully about what is known about God. And, in fact, the belief that the One God is three Persons was first promulgated not by gentile "Greeks", but by first-century Jews, the very people-group most psychologically predisposed to violently reject the faintest whif of polytheism.

Gregory said...

Lossky makes a great contribution to understanding Trinitarianism in his "Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church".

I remember he made the observation that when Western theologians speak of a "person", they see it qua "individual". This goes for the "persons" of the Holy Trinity as well. Consequently, the issue of polytheism is then raised...and rightly so.

I forget how he deals with this, but I do remember that he had a valuable insight to make that seemed to me, at the time, to avoid the polytheism objection....and, at the same time, preserved a healthy and sane view of the Holy Trinity.

At the very least, Lossky's book is important to have if you want to understand Eastern Orthodox theology....especially coming from the perspective of a deeply philosophical Russian mind. Highly recommended to the fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist alike :)

shiningwhiffle said...

Ilíon:

When I say the doctrine of the Trinity is prima facie a contradiction, I'm not saying it is a contradiction, as I thought I made clear. I'm saying it looks like a contradiction at first glance. It still might not be, depending on the sense.

A good example is Proverbs 26:4-5:

26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.


On a purely syntactic level, this is a contradiction: feed it into a computer and it will look like you're trying to tell it "Don't do X," and "Do X."

It's even listed as a contradiction by Project Reason, and even annotated -- which suggests that whoever added it either has a severe case of Asperger's or is just that blinded by their prejudices.

So let me put it another way: from a Christian POV, the doctrine of the Trinity is a series of propositions ("The Father is God", "The Son is God", etc.) that are individually true and intelligible but which do not add up to anything intelligible to us because we're missing out on crucial nuances in those doctrines that are beyond our ability to comprehend.

The problem is that the only reasons to think those missing nuances actually exist are precisely the reasons to think the doctrine of the Trinity is actually true. A non-Christian unconvinced of the latter is hardly going to find the former compelling. Indeed, it seems somewhat irrational to believe the Trinity is coherent but not true, since the justifications of thinking it coherent will never be stronger than the justifications for thinking it is true.

Ilíon said...

Shiningwhiffle,
To say that something prima facie is a contradiction *just is* to say that it is a contradiction.

'Prima facie' doesn't mean something modest like "I can make sense of this only as X or in terms of X, but I acknowledge that my understanding may be lacking". Rather, it means something expansive like "looking at this thing itself, without any external considerations, is sufficient in itself to see that it *is* X … and anyone wishing to dispute that had better have a really strong counter-argument". Though, of course, the person asserting 'prima facie' has not actually made an argument; rather, he is asserting that no argument is necessary to establish that X is the case.

You know, kind of like BenYachov “argues” most of the time.

Ilíon said...

"So let me put it another way: from a Christian POV, the doctrine of the Trinity is a series of propositions ("The Father is God", "The Son is God", etc.) that are individually true and intelligible but which do not add up to anything intelligible to us because we're missing out on crucial nuances in those doctrines that are beyond our ability to comprehend."

Of course! That's another way of saying what I said above.

"The problem is that the only reasons to think those missing nuances actually exist are precisely the reasons to think the doctrine of the Trinity is actually true. A non-Christian unconvinced of the latter is hardly going to find the former compelling."

Not at all. We Christians do not think there are nuances we do not comprehend *because* we believe that the Trinitarian doctrine is true, but rather because reason allows no other rational explanation for our confusion at the resulting complex proposition.

Each of the individual propositions is intelligible, whether or not it is true. If all of the propositions are true, then the composite/complex proposition generated by the ANDing of them is also true, and cannot be not-true; for, True AND True is True.

So, if we have reasoned that all of the simple propositions are true and after ANDing them all, the complex proposition is such that it leaves us confused, then either:
1) we have mis-reasoned the truth-value of one or more of the simple propositions;
2) we have discovered a truth which seems to be false, yet is true.

So, we re-check our work, to see whether the conundrum is resolved by 1). But, if we still keep coming up with all the simple propositions being true, then 2) must be the case … which means that we have found a “place in the landscape of truth” where our reason seems to fail us, or is inadequate.

Ilíon said...

... and, wouldn't we expect some truths about God to be beyond our comprehension?

I five year old has only the most surface comprehension of his parents, and he is the same sort of being as they are. God is not the same sort of being as we are; surely there is at least one truth about him that is forever beyond our ability to "tame".