Wednesday, May 30, 2012

By way of clarification--atheism and hate

The previous post was not stated with enough precision. The comparison with the KKK was not to say that the people at the reason rally had done the kind of acts of violence that the KKK has done, although, I suspect not all KKK rallies involved the use of violence. What I am claiming is that the rally involved expressions of hatred toward religious people, and that hatred of this type is no more respectable because it is in the name of "reason" and "science" than if it occurs for any other reason.

The equivalency is not between the Reason Rally and a Klan rally per se, but is rather between  expressions of hatred there expressed, and the expressions of hatred at a KKK rally. Hatred is hatred, and always carries with it the potential for violence.

The closest thing to the kind of hatred expressed at the Reason Rally that I find within today's Christian community is the hatred that is sometimes expressed toward homosexuals. There have been examples in the media of pastors from North Carolina expressing hate towards gay people. This is profoundly un-Christian and shameful. But these pastors are hardly the public face of Christianity, or even the public face of evangelicalism.  But Dawkins is, like it or not, the public face of atheism.

If someone, from the pulpit, were to say "keep mocking homosexuals, ask them if they really have sex with people of the same sex" would they be condemned as homophobes fomenting hatred?

Does anyone remember the history of the French Revolution, when the "enlightened" leaders started chopping the heads off of first the aristocrats and then other leaders of the revolution?

I am not a Catholic and don't believe in transubstantiation. But if I did, Dawkins' "do you really believe that" would not provide any reason whatsoever to reject it. God, being omnipotent, could, so far as I can tell, cause the bread and wine to become the body and blood of Jesus. The point is, ridicule is not, never was, and never will be an argument.

I am someone who opposes bringing the long arm of the law down on "hate speech." But we can express hate with our speech, and it can cause real harm. All I am asking people to do is to imagine equivalent kinds of statements and actions directed at someone else besides Christians. What if someone were to sing an obscenity-filled song about Jews, or African-Americans, or homosexuals? I've heard Christians ridicule evolution, and they can make it sound awfully silly. Is that an argument against evolution? Would Dawkins take this seriously for two seconds?

93 comments:

Mr Veale said...

Your comments seemed perfectly reasonable to me Dr Reppert.
(We deal with the reason rally from a slightly different perspective here)

In Northern Ireland, such a speech would have been regarded as sectarian. There really was very little excuse for it.

GV

rank sophist said...

Exactly. People in the other combox misconstrued the point, intentionally or not.

Victor Reppert said...

But being clear is important, because people who are resistant to your point will find every opportunity to get the wrong message. It's human nature.

cl said...

Victor,

I thought your original was sufficiently clear, but that you took the time to clarify even further should certainly leave your accusers empty-handed. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for a single one of them to accept the challenge (contrasting a list of similarities to differences). That right there is the proof of the pudding.

In my opinion, the sentiments expressed at the "reason" rally are identical to sentiments expressed by the atheistic, science-worshipping regimes in the Soviet Union. That's a much closer fit, I think.

B. Prokop said...

I personally don't know which I find more offensive - the hate-filled irrational venom spilled at the event, or the absolute gall of the organizers and attendees to claim the word (and concept) "reason" as somehow belonging to them.

I dare one of them to call a person like Homer, Dante, Andrej Rublev, Hildegard of Bingen, Copernicus, Newton, Solzhenitsyn, Gandhi, Lady Julian of Norwich, C.S. Lewis, Chaucer, Giotto, Dorothy Day, or St. Augustine "unreasonable" or "anti-reason".

B.L.T. said...

I was honestly disappoint to see Adam Savage there;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1nSuWztIrY

Whats interesting to me is that everyone there is getting very emotional about the claims they are making about religion. Religion is evil and corrupt and leads to nothing but hate and destruction. Its interesting that so many atheists don't generally enjoy being challenged on their beliefs about religion. Just look at how they insult WLC or any Christian apologist, but praise men like Christopher Hitchens without questioning a word they say.

cl said...

B.L.T.,

"Just look at how they insult WLC or any Christian apologist, but praise men like Christopher Hitchens without questioning a word they say."

Exactly. More than that, look how they defend polemics and outright insults when people like Hitchens or Dawkins are the source. But then, show up on your average internet atheist's blog and act like Hitchens are Dawkins, and they'll often ban you for "trolling" or some other such nonsense.

The message? Some atheists are all for polemics and insults against Christians, but change their tune when the polemics and insults are against atheists.

BenYachov said...

Adam savages speech was good because it was positive.

Speaking from experience at the risk of generalizing. Mormonism is more doctrinally incorrect when compared to Catholicism(in this Catholic's humble opinion) vs let's say Jehovah's Witnesses.

But in my experience most of the JW missionaries who come to my door are very unpleasant. They attack Catholicism (which I can forgive) but they do it stupidly. I spend most of my time correcting their mistakes. I have yet to meet a JW who gives me an accurate exposition of the Trinity & then gives me reasons to disbelieve it.

Too many Gnus on this very blog suffer the same affliction.

Mormon Missionaries OTOH I like. Why? They don't at least in my experience spend much time attacking my faith as they do promoting theirs.

Adam Savages speech is like the Mormons. He tells me what he is for and not so much what he is against. Plus I take him at his word he wants to learn about beliefs different from his even if he does not agree with them.

If only to understand. Sadly putting him in a program with Dawkins is like oh (I will pay Savage a high compliment here) put Fulton J. Sheen in the same program as Jimmy Swaggart.

Sad really.

Johnny Boy said...

My dad gets confused between Adam Savage and Dan Savage.

Dad: "So who was the one from 'Wonder Years'"?

lol.

Papalinton said...

You want to see Christian hatred from the pulpit?
Watch this if you have the fortitude.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2839yEazcs&feature=player_embedded

Papalinton said...

How about a bit of institutional Catholic homophobia?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6em7Yy-MjEc

The context of this video is important - please read this.

On the 11th March 2012, every Roman Catholic parish priest in the UK was obliged to read out a letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith. You can read the full text of the letter here.... http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/2012/03/roman-catholic-bishops-letter-....

The letter is a response to the current coalition government's plan to legalise same-sex marriage in the UK within the next few years. We already have Civil Partnerships, which are marriage in everything but name. But the government (which is one I am not particularly in step with on most matters) is determined to allow full equality to gay couples. It's basically just a change of word. Religious organisations will not be obliged to recognise or celebrate such marriages. Yet the letter attempts to make out that there is some kind of unchangeable, inviolable definition of marriage which neither church nor state can alter. In doing so its implicit message is that same-sex marriages simply cannot exist and are evidently invalid. This attitude is one still prevalent in our society and one that needs challenging, in my opinion.

I only decided to attend the service less than an hour before it started. By the time I was sat in the pew, my intention was simply to video the priest reading out the letter, then post the video on YouTube to stimulate discussion. I stood up to start the video because I didn't want it to seem like a secret action - I wanted people to know what I was doing. Once the letter had been read, I then planned to walk out of the church, possibly inviting anyone who felt the letter was an inappropriate thing for a church service to join me outside and discuss the matter.

The preacher rather cleverly took the wind out of my sails by choosing not read the letter, but inviting people to pick up a copy at the door as they left. I salute him for that move. You can hear that I was nonplussed by that and not sure what to do. Whether what followed was wise on my part I'm not sure. I felt that I had to make clear to the congregation why I was there and what I was doing. I never for a moment intended to upset or offend anyone, but in the heat of the moment, I may have done so. If I did, that's a matter of regret. Those who know me, know that I am a gentle, courteous, caring person.

I have never before taken direct action, never been on a march or demo or taken part in any public protest. But the idea that an institution currently notorious for covering up the abuse of thousands and thousands of children by its representatives over many generations should condemn the public declaration of love and commitment between two people just because they happen to have similar genitalia was just too much for me. No doubt many people in this congregation are good, kind, generous, liberal people. But they need to take responsibility for supporting a corrupt and hypocritical organisation. That's why I spoke out on this occasion. It was a very untypical action for me.

Papalinton said...

Here is another incident of institutional Catholic action fomenting xenophobic, prejudiced and bigoted intolerance of fine upstanding members in our community.

http://www.news.com.au/national/catholic-church-marshalls-anti-gay-marriage-army/story-e6frfkvr-1226314176079
Catholic Church marshals anti-gay marriage army
Save this story to read later
by: By AAP
From: AAP
March 30, 2012 12:39PM
Church sends anti-gay letters to 80,000 parishioners 
Bishop claims it will lead to polygamy
Rights advocates horrified by dramatic letter
Download the letter here
See the survey here


Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/catholic-church-marshalls-anti-gay-marriage-army/story-e6frfkvr-1226314176079#ixzz1wQ4JqIEk

Papalinton said...

How is this for a classic example of misogyny?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/06/us-pope-idUSBRE83500U20120406

"(Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Thursday restated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings."

This is the Cosa Nostra in action, the 'enforcer' as he is described in the article.

rank sophist said...

Papalinton,

What that's supposed to prove is anyone's guess.

BenYachov said...

>How is this for a classic example of misogyny?

>"(Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Thursday restated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings."

So let me get this straight Paps? You are complaining that women are not allowed to be Priests for a "god" you don't believe exists & equate belief in with belief in faeries and Pink unicorns?

And because this the church is practicing misogyny?

Dude! Lay off the drugs!

Wow you can't make this shit up........

BenYachov said...

>But the idea that an institution currently notorious for covering up the abuse of thousands and thousands of children...

You mean like Public Schools?

Forgotten Study: Abuse in School 100 Times Worse than by Priests

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2010/apr/10040101


What was your former Job again Paps?

Nah just kidding.

Steven Carr said...

'I am not a Catholic and don't believe in transubstantiation.'

Why don't you believe in it?

Can you produce any argument other than 'I don't believe my god does that miracle, and Catholics believe their god does do that miracle.'

That is not an argument.

That is simply a declaration that your parents were not Catholic so you were not brought up to believe that.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Lovell said...

Of course nothing in this thread is an argument (at least not a good argument) against atheism, and nor are the numerous responses of the form "well look at what happens in the name of Christ" (good) arguments against Christianity. But it doesn't follow from that these things do not need to be said.

I'm all for exposing the failures of the church, and I find them all the more shameful for being the failures of something to which I have some allegience.

The Christian should probably not be surprised to find such failings outside of the church, but a lack of surprise certainly shouldn't translate into a lack of opposition. The excesses of the "Reason Rally" need to be opposed, especially because ring leaders such as Dawkins seem to have a level of access to the media which is simply frightening. At least the terrible things that occur in the name of Christ are called for what they are in the press.

Papalinton said...

Here is a personal response to catholic gay-bashing:

"What the Catholic Church Really Thinks About Marriages Like Mine" at:
http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/05/25227/

It is simply unimaginable that anyone, anyone, in this day and age, particularly the pope, should be such a homophobe in today's modern society. Why is there so much intolerance, animosity, and acrimony against a section of the community which through the unfortunate happenstance of evolution, through no fault of their own, as so reviled under the aegis of Christian theism? Why is the pope so intransigent? Why so much catholic bile?

It is unfathomable to any reasonable and fair-minded person that such a neanderthalic and perverse stance should still even be considered as worthy of support. It is anathema to a just and fair society.

Papalinton said...

Victor
Ridicule, satire, parody are all wonderful devices by which the ridiculous and superstitious underpinnings of christian theism lends itself so readily. The Reason Rally, was precisely what it purported to be, a reason rally. Ridiculing the faith, or parodying it, is a universe away from the kind of link you are so assiduously attempting to contrive.

You know as well as I do that the KKK was the brainchild gestated from within the pews of Southern Protestant Christendom. You know full well the driving impetus and fundamental principles of the KKK have a far closer pedigree with the catholic Inquisitions than any word-fest at the Reason Rally. You know full well that the KKK's belief in jesus as the foundation clan member is antithetical to the whole notion of the Reason Rally. That's why it was called the Reason Rally. There were no mythical, imaginary, fictitious, make-believe, fantastical, invented, made-up, nonexistent being overlooking the proceedings.

Steve Lovell, what are " ...[t]he excesses of the "Reason Rally" [that] need to be opposed ......" ?

Bob Prokop, in relation to St Augustine, I do say he was unreasonable and anti-reason. In fact he was the architect for the protection of pedophile priests. You might wish to read through this christian site on the historical aspect of catholic doctrine on the church's position on pedophile priests:

Augustine and the Pedophile Priest Scandal
http://www.twelvetribes.com/articles/augustine-pedophile-priests

I bet they didn't teach you this at Sunday School.

Papalinton said...

Here is some wonderful christian charity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7nehgKtJqg&feature=player_embedded

Karl Grant said...

Paps,

Exactly how do your examples relate to the topic? Yes, some Christians are assholes but that does not excuse or somehow lessen the fact that the ''Reason'' Rally was a group exercise in hatemongering nor does it contradict any of what Dr. Reppert said. The only thing it is a sad and predictable attempt by you to change the subject and indulge in your victim complex.

Papalinton said...

Here is a real pearl of catholic obduracy and windbagging:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/28/opinion/the-politics-of-religion.html?_r=3&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

ASs the article declares; " It was a dramatic stunt, full of indignation but built on air."

Religion is built on air, and catholics are right up there, with their Baptist compatriots, at the forefront of depraved misogyny, striking down women according to a 2,000 year-old edict of christian bastardry against women's health.

Anthony Fleming said...

Paps, there is a simple point being made here. We can all admit that there are Christians that do bad, hate filled, and stupid stuff. Is it a result of Christian belief or perhaps their own eisegesis practice?

So....there are atheists that do stupid stuff too, like the subject of the post. Is that what their "reasonable" beliefs are all about? Reasoning about religion will lead us ridicule and fallacies like horse laughs? Come on Paps.

BenYachov said...

Paps,

Public School teachers are a 100 times more likely to sexually abuse children then Priests.

Science has shown it to be true. Live with it.

I know you are in full panic mode since it is obvious now that Atheism isn't all sweetness and light and clearly has a dark side.

You can't accept this so you are scouring the internet randomly collecting every anti-Catholic link you can find from whatever silly source or fringe cult. As if that would undo this brute fact.

I meanwhile am laughing at ya.

BTW

This one aroused my curiosity.


>Augustine and the Pedophile Priest Scandal
http://www.twelvetribes.com/articles/augustine-pedophile-priests

Did you even read your own link Paps? Or did you just scan the title and hope for the best.

It cites quotes from Augustine that the sacraments given by a wicked Priest are still valid and convey saving grace. Which of course is settled Catholic dogma.

How this is related to the sex scandals with the clergy the "article" is not clear?

Paps you got nothing.

That includes both rational arguments for Atheism and what is in fact between your ears.

Nothing.

B. Prokop said...

First of all, Papalinton, I applaud you for feeling strongly about what you regard as injustice.

But... (You knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?) I cannot applaud how you acted on those feelings. A ceremony of worship is no time or place for a political demonstration! It is not right when a pastor (or a priest or even bishop) does so. It is equally wrong for you to use such for your own private exhibitionism. This is exactly the slippery slope I was alluding to in the threads below this one, when I asked how long would it be before we saw a Western version of the League of the Godless disrupting Masses and funerals, spitting on religious imagery, and confiscating educational materials.

You were wrong, wrong, wrong to use the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a platform for your personal agenda. I can see no difference (except possibly in degree) between your actions and those of the self-styled Westboro Baptist Church, intruding on private rituals.

Shame on you!

BenYachov said...

Bob,

Paps live in Australia this video he links too was shot in the UK. Same Queen but two different countries.

He didn't shoot the video he doesn't have the balls for it.

Thought I am glad the Priest showed dignity in not preforming for the sad Orwellian git who did shoot this video.

Like I said Paps is panicking. He can't accept that Atheism isn't all sweetness and light. So he is randomly collecting mud that he can throw to see what will stick.

C'mon this is Paps we are talking about.

Cheers brother.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Was that video shot by you, or someone else, as Ben says? Your posting makes it sound like it's yours.

Either way, it was a shameful, shameful act. There is no excusing it.

BenYachov said...

If I barged into a meeting of the Ethical Humanist Society uninvited with a video camera & nobody knew me from Adam they would legally & morally within their rights to ask me to leave or call the police and have me arrested if I don't.

That anyone could think this is a good thing to do is just plain crazy.

Keith Rozumalski said...

Papa,

Thanks for the textbook example of the Tu Quoque fallacy. You are no different from the boy who cries, “But, mom, Timmy did it first!” You’re being irrational. If you were consistent you would denounce hateful speech from atheists just like I denounce bigoted and hatful speech from Christians. Somehow I think that you will never criticize the horrible things that atheists say because as a New Atheist you have the mistaken belief that Christian belief is incoherent, and therefore Christians should be mocked.

What would it take for you to condemn atheist actions? Would you denounce future acts of vandalism? Would you deplore future acts of violence against religious people? Because I think that if you permit hatful speech it is only a matter of time before the kinds of vandalism and violence that were committed against believers in communist regimes will rise once again. The next Columbine shooting, where gunmen hunt for Christians, is around the corner.

Mr Veale said...

If you are accused of exhibiting the very intolerance that you profess to despise in the religious "so's your old man" isn't much of a response!

Still, it is interesting to how the logic of the Courtier's Reply plays out in New Atheist rhetoric. PZ Myers’ infamous argument can be summarised thus:

1) Theistic belief is exactly like the Emperor’s belief that he was wearing new clothes – that is to say, theism is obviously false, absurd and dangerous.

2) Of course theists have arguments that this isn’t the case – that in fact theism is not obviously false, absurd and dangerous.

3) But we don’t need to engage those arguments as theism is obviously false, absurd and dangerous.

To which we can now add:

4) Because theism is false, absurd and dangerous we can have a duty to cajole and ridicule - that is to say, intimidate - anyone who might be attracted to theism.

Matt said...

I have re-read the transcript of Dawkins speech, and I could not find any hatred in there. Perhaps you guys can point it out.

I *was* informed of some highly objectionable signs, T-shirts and tattoos however, involving Christians and lions for example. Those I do not agree with, although I do believe that it is merely an inappropriate and hugely misplaced attempt at humour rather than a threat.

That said: those guys went beyond what is acceptable in my opinion, and they displayed bigotry.

I still stand by my point that comparing the rally with a KKK meeting is shrill hyperbole, and I find it laughable coming from the most privileged group of people in the USA.

There was no call for harming religious people, no call for reducing their rights, no call for considering them less worthy, and no encouragement of hatred.

Such things are not the doctrine of the organization. The KKK DOES have these things as their doctrine.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Matt -- Can you post the link to the transcript you read? I haven't seen the transcript and would like to read it myself.

cl said...

Jeffrey Jay Lowder,

As for transcripts, take your pick.

Matt,

No call for considering them less worthy? No encouragement of hatred? I disagree:

""I despise what [religious people] stand for... Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! ...with contempt.""

...I guess we just have different meanings for words like "contempt" and "despise."

cl said...

Matt,

"Such things are not the doctrine of the organization. The KKK DOES have these things as their doctrine."

True, but irrelevant, because Vic didn't compare the groups. He didn't ask people to splain the difference between the KKK and atheists, he asked people to explain the difference between the "reason" rally and a KKK meeting.

To contrast the differences between the groups is to attack a strawman.

cl said...

Or better yet, in Vic's own words: "The equivalency is not between the Reason Rally and a Klan rally per se, but is rather between expressions of hatred there expressed, and the expressions of hatred at a KKK rally."

SteveK said...

Paps tries to refute Victor's point by offering a Tu quoque. Not going to work.

Matt DeStefano said...

Wow, I should have known better to read Dawkin's transcript in full rather than just accept the snippets from news sites. This shows just how dishonest cl and Victor are being. Here's the full transcript:

So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!

Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits.

Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.


It's not about hating the person, it's about ridiculing and mocking the specific claims [if necessary] that religion makes about the universe. Look how artfully and deceitfully cl quoted - leaving off the part that clearly delineates between mocking and ridiculing religious people vs. mocking and ridiculing religious beliefs.

While I don't personally find it necessary (in all cases) to mock or ridicule beliefs, it's not always an inherently bad thing either. Satirists and comedians do this regularly, and it's an effective way of getting people to think about their position from an outside perspective (rank's favorite example is Swift's satirical piece on utilitarianism, I'm partial to South Park's episode on Mormonism - to each be their own!).

Of course, as Victor's post shows, he's not interested in making rational comparisons, just ones that paint atheists like this:

"Does anyone remember the history of the French Revolution, when the "enlightened" leaders started chopping the heads off of first the aristocrats and then other leaders of the revolution?"

B. Prokop said...

So, Matt. Allow me to repeat here what I posted on another thread below:

I realize you're an atheist. But bear with me for one moment. For the sake of argument assume that God exists for the remainder of this paragraph. Why, once one believes in a being powerful enough to create planets, stars, and galaxies, who exists both in time and in eternity, who is capable of Himself becoming a little child and living amongst His creation, why is it also so hard to believe that He can transform bread and wine into His own Body and Blood? If this particular belief invites scorn, then every other clause in the Creed should do so as well. Why do you balk at this "specific example"?

Papalinton said...

Bob
I cannot applaud how you acted on those feelings. A ceremony of worship is no time or place for a political demonstration! It is not right when a pastor (or a priest or even bishop) does so. It is equally wrong for you to use such for your own private exhibitionism.

You opprobrium shouldn't be directed at me or the person taking the video. The point is the priest was using the pulpit as a political stump the moment he was going to read the homophobic message directed from the Arch Bishops. Some hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of copies of the letter to parishioners clearly demonstrates the unethical nature of clergy to foment social discord from the pulpit. And the priest did not have the fortitude, nor the courage of his convictions, to read out the letter to the congregation. The same occurred here in Australia; over 80,000 letters sent out. And yet no sanction from any christian on this site? No even Reppert

Mr Veale said...

There is a wider context to Dawkins remarks, as I pointed out. Dawkins wants atheists to “go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt…Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.” Dawkins was only thinking aloud at this stage.

But his antics at the Reason Rally suggest that he is flirting with an unhelpful strategy. Given PZ Myers' antics, I think New Atheists have to ask themselves if they are interested in rational debate.

BenYachov said...

My response to Dawkins and Matt S.


>So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!

I really do believe the substance of the bread changes while the accidence of the bread remain unchanged.

Now do you even understand enough Aristotelian metaphysics to make the case as to why this would be impossible? Or do you believe a change in substance sans a change in accidents is something that can be empirically detected? Do you know any philosophy at all Prof Dawkins or is your skill set limited to defending lame anti-evolution arguments by YEC's?

>Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits.

But it is disrespectful and hateful to challenge those beliefs when you clearly don't know what you are talking about & you just want a quick sophistical rhetorical victory at the expense of a reasoned one.

>Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.

Do we verify that by Science alone or with Science & philosophy? If science alone then prove the truth of that claim(i.e. science alone is the sole means of truth) using science alone sans philosophy without begging the question or contradiction? Yeh good luck with that! AG Flew abandoned Positivism at the height of his Atheism.

Now on to Matt.

>It's not about hating the person, it's about ridiculing and mocking the specific claims [if necessary] that religion makes about the universe.

No it's about easy rhetorical victories vs reasoned argument. It's hateful since it shows a very hypocritical contempt for the power of reason the Dawk claims to uphold.

>Look how artfully and deceitfully cl quoted - leaving off the part that clearly delineates between mocking and ridiculing religious people vs. mocking and ridiculing religious beliefs.

I see a distinction without a difference. If Dawkins knew philosophy maybe he could argue for a non-Aristotelian metaphysics & thus make a case against Transubstantiation? Or he could actually make the philosophical case against God. Or a positive philosophical case for reductionist materialism?

But he is to full of hostility to believers to learn how.

For the Dawk arguing religion is no different than arguing politics.

>While I don't personally find it necessary (in all cases) to mock or ridicule beliefs, it's not always an inherently bad thing either. Satirists and comedians do this regularly, and it's an effective way of getting people to think about their position from an outside perspective (rank's favorite example is Swift's satirical piece on utilitarianism, I'm partial to South Park's episode on Mormonism - to each be their own!).

Because I care enough about Mormons to learn what they believe & why & I've learned that pointing to failed prophecies in their Holy Texts doesn't phase them. They believe their Anthropomorphic god can change His mind. Those sort of arguments only work on a Transcendent Immutable God.

I would forgive the ridicule if it was delivered with intelligent argument. But ridicule without intelligent argument is merely being contemptuous.

Nice try Matt.

B. Prokop said...

"Your opprobrium shouldn't be directed at me or the person taking the video."

No. I stand by what I wrote. To disrupt a worship service for any reason is despicable. The person taking that video (I thought it was you. Your posting did not make that clear.) is no different from members of the "Westboro Baptist Church" demonstrating at funerals.

If you are defending such actions, then you are equally guilty of this inexcusably shameful behavior. Please. I am trying to retain some ragged edge of respect for you. Please tell me you unreservedly condemn such actions.

Matt DeStefano said...

I realize you're an atheist. But bear with me for one moment. For the sake of argument assume that God exists for the remainder of this paragraph. Why, once one believes in a being powerful enough to create planets, stars, and galaxies, who exists both in time and in eternity, who is capable of Himself becoming a little child and living amongst His creation, why is it also so hard to believe that He can transform bread and wine into His own Body and Blood? If this particular belief invites scorn, then every other clause in the Creed should do so as well. Why do you balk at this "specific example"?

I'm not sure what bearing this has, but I'll go ahead and answer. I have some more general concerns about miracles (that I'll address below), but I find transubstantiation to be a particularly disturbing ritual. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, the Catholics are telling me that one of the ways in which he communes with us is to turn bread and wine into body and blood literally? This is supposed to be endearing/awe-inspiring/miraculous to me? I understand the value of the ritual symbolically, but to take it literally is, quite frankly, disgusting.

But, I only took issue with this one because it was the one mentioned. I think miracles, in general, are piss poor evidence for God. I think that miracles vastly under-determine the case for an omni God, and specifically - even if we take the Bible to be literally true in all of its miraculous accounts - underdetermines the case for Jesus Christ being God. Jesus could have been a less-than Omni God who had the power to walk on water, raise the dead, and turn water into wine. His miracles don't suggest the omni-God that most theists want to defend. That's not a warranted conclusion based off of the miraculous experiences.

Interestingly (leaving aside for the moment Hume's criticism of miracles), I think that the theist treatment of miracles wants to have its cake and eat it too. You can't on the one hand say that the uniformity of physical laws shows God's existence while at the same time claiming unlawful events (miracles) also show God's existence. This type of argument makes God's existence indefeasible: if we could somehow show miracles didn't occur (it was a sleight of hand, a psychological delusion, etc.) - theists would say "Well, yeah, but still - the uniformity and lawfulness of the universe shows God's existence." OTOH, if we could show a genuine miracle happened, the theist simply says "Yep, that's God intervening in the laws of nature. See!"

As usual, the SEP has a great article summarizing some of the more compelling arguments against miracles: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/miracles/#GenArg

cl said...

Matt DeStefano,

"This shows just how dishonest cl and Victor are being."

Excuse me? Now you've really crossed the line. In my book, disagreement != dishonesty. If you're going to sit there and slander me because I disagree with you, that's some pretty low-level pathetic Gnu BS. Not to mention, you still haven't risen to the simple challenge I asked of you. If you're so right, why not list the differences like I asked you? Why not confront the questions I asked you? Might it be because doing so would tend to take the bite out of your vapid accusations?

So, we're "dishonest" because we think the sentiments expressed at the "reason" rally are practically identical to the sentiments expressed at a KKK rally? This suggests you aren't thinking clearly or critically, because I know you know what the word "dishonest" means. It means to present one thing as fact when you know another thing is true. For example, isn't it "dishonest" to go around the internet saying I'm a "creationist" or "anti-science," without any links or evidence, especially after I've publicly confronted these claims and told you that I am neither? You have some real hypocritical nerve to be calling me dishonest when quite frankly, you owe me an apology and a few retractions.

"Look how artfully and deceitfully cl quoted - leaving off the part that clearly delineates between mocking and ridiculing religious people vs. mocking and ridiculing religious beliefs."

And look how amazingly pathetic your reading skills are, presumably because you have your nose too far up your fellow Gnu Atheist's ass to see that there was no such point. Sure, earlier in the transcript, Dawkins included a disclaimer saying that he didn't despise religious *PEOPLE* but religious *IDEAS*, presumably because it was politically expedient to do so. However, he told his faithful to mock religious *PEOPLE* and to use *CONTEMPT* if necessary:

"So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!"

You see those instances of "them" there? They refer to the aforementioned "somebody." Dawkins is telling his congregation to mock religious *PEOPLE* in public, and he adds words like "contempt," aka "hatred." That, you cannot deny, else you are either, well... stupid, wicked, deluded or insane.

You briefly restored my faith when you admitted it was lame to compare Dawkins to Feser, but now... well, it's probably best for us to part ways here.

Best of luck saving the world from the poisonous irrationality of belief in a Creator. Hopefully one day I'll be as smart and educated and rational as you.

BenYachov said...

>I find transubstantiation to be a particularly disturbing ritual.

The Mass is a ritual. Transubstantiation is the belief a substance can be changed while leaving it's accidents/properties intact.

Lame!

>God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, the Catholics are telling me that one of the ways in which he communes with us is to turn bread and wine into body and blood literally?

He changes the substance not the accidents. Wow you are thick & a fundamentalist since this is their line of thinking.

>I understand the value of the ritual symbolically, but to take it literally is, quite frankly, disgusting.

What's disgusting about consuming a substance with the accidents/properties of bread? Now if you had to eat his un-resurrected body substance and accidents that would be cannibalism. Of course the substance of the Eucharist is his resurrected body which is impassible and can't be digested or even contact your body.

Where did you learn about the Eucharist Matt? Chick Comics?

Pathetic!!!!

rank sophist said...

Matt,

Dawkins regularly claims to be attacking the beliefs alone, but few buy it. Even that section you quoted is clearly aimed at believers themselves. The NPR article from before brought this up.

As for your miracles post, I don't think anyone was presenting such an argument. In addition, your criticism doesn't apply to Catholics or to anyone else who believes in classical theism. The CT God sustains everything, and is capable of suspending physical "laws" at any time--since He is already their root cause at any moment. (As a side note, Hume's verificationism is out-dated and self-refuting.)

Matt DeStefano said...

No it's about easy rhetorical victories vs reasoned argument. It's hateful since it shows a very hypocritical contempt for the power of reason the Dawk claims to uphold.

Two things:

(1) Did Dawkins ever say that ridicule and mocking were a valid substitute for reasoned discourse? No, of course not. We both know that there are people on both sides of the fence who are beyond the discourse of reason. Sometimes, people need to be shock-and-awed from their position by satire, ridicule, and mockery.

This doesn't apply generally, and is why Dawkins put the clause "if necessary" in there. Victor, cl and others are being massively uncharitable when they misquote out of context and act as if Dawkins is condoning hate speech against Christians as people rather than mocking a belief that they hold.

It's really saddening to see that you keep digging in your heels on this one.

(2) Are the KKK hate speech rallys merely "hypocritical"? Did the "enlightened" French leaders begin by ridiculing the beliefs of others? Did that ridicule of beliefs turn to chopping off heads?

Come on, now.

"I see a distinction without a difference. If Dawkins knew philosophy maybe he could argue for a non-Aristotelian metaphysics & thus make a case against Transubstantiation? Or he could actually make the philosophical case against God. Or a positive philosophical case for reductionist materialism?"

That's all irrelevant. We're talking about his particular speech at a particular Rally, not his other actions and what you think he could have or should have done. If you seriously don't see a difference between what cl quoted and the entirety taken in context... boy, I don't know what to say.

"For the Dawk arguing religion is no different than arguing politics."

Why is it? Both political and religious claims make descriptive and normative claims about the universe, people, and human society. Both deserve to be evaluated, scrutinized, and debated.

"Because I care enough about Mormons to learn what they believe & why & I've learned that pointing to failed prophecies in their Holy Texts doesn't phase them. They believe their Anthropomorphic god can change His mind. Those sort of arguments only work on a Transcendent Immutable God.

I would forgive the ridicule if it was delivered with intelligent argument. But ridicule without intelligent argument is merely being contemptuous."


I disagree. I find satire, mockery, and ridicule to be a useful and effective tool in certain situations. Again, it shouldn't be universally prescribed (but Dawkins didn't even do that), but useful nonetheless. You can think of The Daily Show, A Modest Proposal, South Park, etc.. these are all social tools which people use to mock and ridicule. Stewart doesn't "present a philosophical argument" when he makes a point, but clever mockery and ridicule definitely allow people to change their minds and see things from a new perspective.

Matt DeStefano said...

No it's about easy rhetorical victories vs reasoned argument. It's hateful since it shows a very hypocritical contempt for the power of reason the Dawk claims to uphold.

Two things:

(1) Did Dawkins ever say that ridicule and mocking were a valid substitute for reasoned discourse? No, of course not. We both know that there are people on both sides of the fence who are beyond the discourse of reason. Sometimes, people need to be shock-and-awed from their position by satire, ridicule, and mockery.

This doesn't apply generally, and is why Dawkins put the clause "if necessary" in there. Victor, cl and others are being massively uncharitable when they misquote out of context and act as if Dawkins is condoning hate speech against Christians as people rather than mocking a belief that they hold.

It's really saddening to see that you keep digging in your heels on this one.

(2) Are the KKK hate speech rallys merely "hypocritical"? Did the "enlightened" French leaders begin by ridiculing the beliefs of others? Did that ridicule of beliefs turn to chopping off heads?

Come on, now.

"I see a distinction without a difference. If Dawkins knew philosophy maybe he could argue for a non-Aristotelian metaphysics & thus make a case against Transubstantiation? Or he could actually make the philosophical case against God. Or a positive philosophical case for reductionist materialism?"

That's all irrelevant. We're talking about his particular speech at a particular Rally, not his other actions and what you think he could have or should have done. If you seriously don't see a difference between what cl quoted and the entirety taken in context... boy, I don't know what to say.

"For the Dawk arguing religion is no different than arguing politics."

Why is it? Both political and religious claims make descriptive and normative claims about the universe, people, and human society. Both deserve to be evaluated, scrutinized, and debated.

"Because I care enough about Mormons to learn what they believe & why & I've learned that pointing to failed prophecies in their Holy Texts doesn't phase them. They believe their Anthropomorphic god can change His mind. Those sort of arguments only work on a Transcendent Immutable God.

I would forgive the ridicule if it was delivered with intelligent argument. But ridicule without intelligent argument is merely being contemptuous."


I disagree. I find satire, mockery, and ridicule to be a useful and effective tool in certain situations. Again, it shouldn't be universally prescribed (but Dawkins didn't even do that), but useful nonetheless. You can think of The Daily Show, A Modest Proposal, South Park, etc.. these are all social tools which people use to mock and ridicule. Stewart doesn't "present a philosophical argument" when he makes a point, but clever mockery and ridicule definitely allow people to change their minds and see things from a new perspective.

Karl Grant said...

DeStefano,

Look how artfully and deceitfully cl quoted - leaving off the part that clearly delineates between mocking and ridiculing religious people vs. mocking and ridiculing religious beliefs.

When a person mocks or ridicules someone else's beliefs they usually mock and ridicule the person holding those beliefs at the same time. And Dawkins makes it clear he wants his followers to mock and ridicule people. The use of the words somebody and them indicate his targets are people. If he was going to just target ideas he would have used the pronouns it and those. Basic English 101 here.

And if the Reason Rally is really different than a KKK rally then why don't you do as asked and list the differences? If they are really different than it should be easy. And note saying atheists haven't lynched anybody at the Reason Rally won't work. doing a little research should tell you the majority of the KKK rallies were/are non-violent.

BenYachov said...

>But, I only took issue with this one because it was the one mentioned. I think miracles, in general, are piss poor evidence for God.

Miracles as defined by Hume(violating the Laws of nature or some such bullshit) or miracles as defined by Aquinas (God actualizing a potency directly instead of threw secondary agents)?

Do you even know the difference or are you going to bore the shit out of me attacking a mechanistic, neo-paleyist Theistic Personalist God I am a strong Atheist toward believing in?

> You can't on the one hand say that the uniformity of physical laws shows God's existence while at the same time claiming unlawful events (miracles) also show God's existence.

Physical Laws are a post Newtonian concept. Laws of physics are merely regularities. God commutes essences & natures to thing that act in a regular manner given their natures and essence and actualize potencies accordingly.

You should really observe the debate between Feser and Oerter & get a clue.

Matt you don't even speak our philosophic or theological language.

I'm not even going to correct the rest of your nonsense.


At least for now.

BenYachov said...

>>I would forgive the ridicule if it was delivered with intelligent argument. But ridicule without intelligent argument is merely being contemptuous."

>I disagree.

Then you have nothing intelligent to say.

It's that simple.

Matt DeStefano said...

"Dawkins regularly claims to be attacking the beliefs alone, but few buy it. Even that section you quoted is clearly aimed at believers themselves. The NPR article from before brought this up."

The quote is obviously about beliefs, and the part I quoted shows that. "Them" is referring to "religious claims about the universe", not "religious people".

Immediately following the "Mock them!" "Ridicule them!" bit was this: "Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits."

It's not "we're all too polite to [insult each other]", but "we're not too polite to talk [about religion]." If he was talking about "them" as religious people, what follows is a non-sequitur. Put in the proper context, it makes sense.

"As for your miracles post, I don't think anyone was presenting such an argument."

You need to read things before jumping into them, rank. It's a bad habit to just go in blindly on the offensive. Prokop asked me why I denied God could have performed transubstantiation[I don't, by the way], and I gave him my reasons for both (1) singling out that particular miracle and (2) denying miracles more generally as any sort of proof for God.

"In addition, your criticism doesn't apply to Catholics or to anyone else who believes in classical theism. The CT God sustains everything, and is capable of suspending physical "laws" at any time--since He is already their root cause at any moment. "

This kills me. You don't even bother to read what I'm writing, do you? Here's what I just wrote:

"You can't on the one hand say that the uniformity of physical laws shows God's existence while at the same time claiming unlawful events (miracles) also show God's existence. This type of argument makes God's existence indefeasible: if we could somehow show miracles didn't occur (it was a sleight of hand, a psychological delusion, etc.) - theists would say "Well, yeah, but still - the uniformity and lawfulness of the universe shows God's existence." OTOH, if we could show a genuine miracle happened, the theist simply says "Yep, that's God intervening in the laws of nature. See!"

Your response: Yeah, but this doesn't apply to me because God both sustains the laws and can intervene whenever he chooses.

*facepalm*

rank sophist said...

It's worth mentioning that there really is no difference between the hatespeech at the Reason Rally (and by Gnus in general) and the hatespeech directed at religion by communist dictators. Same rhetoric, same phrasing, same intent. Neither Matt nor anyone else can argue against that. Only difference was what happened afterwards--and who's to say that our time's anti-religious hatecrime isn't just around the corner?

Matt DeStefano said...

"When a person mocks or ridicules someone else's beliefs they usually mock and ridicule the person holding those beliefs at the same time. And Dawkins makes it clear he wants his followers to mock and ridicule people. The use of the words somebody and them indicate his targets are people. If he was going to just target ideas he would have used the pronouns it and those. Basic English 101 here. "

Here's a dictionary definition of them for you, Karl, since you are obviously hurting for one:

them/T͟Hem/
Pronoun:
Used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified.

I bolded the important part for you. "Do you have those books that I ordered last night? Yes, I have them and I'll bring them to you tomorrow. "

Have you studied philosophy of language and English grammar? Yes, I've studied them but I find them confusing and difficult to parse.

Karl Grant said...

No, of course not. We both know that there are people on both sides of the fence who are beyond the discourse of reason. Sometimes, people need to be shock-and-awed from their position by satire, ridicule, and mockery.

Matt, satire, ridicule, and mockery more often than not cause a person to become more entrenched in their beliefs. Going Wow, you believe in a god? What are you, a stone age dumbass!?! Only little children believe in such nonesense! is not going to shock-and-awe me into critically examining my beliefs. It would make me want to punch you in the face though.

Also, don't you find it just a little ironic that someone who claims to value reason and attends a Reason Rally is busy advocating a strategy based solely upon emotional bullying and blackmail?

Both deserve to be evaluated, scrutinized, and debated.

Agreed, but someone could at least attempt some mutually respectfully civil discourse as opposed to relying mainly on emotional bullying and blackmail?

The Daily Show, A Modest Proposal, South Park, etc.. these are all social tools which people use to mock and ridicule. Stewart doesn't "present a philosophical argument" when he makes a point, but clever mockery and ridicule definitely allow people to change their minds and see things from a new perspective.

And how many people has Stewart or South Park gotten to change their minds or alter their attitude? Not many at all. For example, Dawkins and his followers haven't changed tactics or critically examined their beliefs after South Park mocked Dawkins and his belief that science and atheism will create a better world hard.

BenYachov said...

So Matt go re-read what you wrote.

Did you really mean to disagree with the idea ridicule without intelligent argument is merely being contemptuous.

You really think ridicule without intelligence is good?

Seriously?

Because so far your ridicule of Transubstantiation following Dawkins advice has been one long ignorant argument I can literally find in Chick Comics.

Then you move the goal posts and actually defend mocking the Eucharist from a position of ignorance.

Matt it is you who have your heels dug in defending the indefensible.

Matt DeStefano said...

Do you even know the difference or are you going to bore the shit out of me attacking a mechanistic, neo-paleyist Theistic Personalist God I am a strong Atheist toward believing in?

You've seen my arguments. Engage them and tell me why the concept doesn't work as I've expressed it and get back to me. Although I'm using the actual events here, so the definition is largely irrelevant for both arguments I'm discussing.

"Physical Laws are a post Newtonian concept. Laws of physics are merely regularities. God commutes essences & natures to thing that act in a regular manner given their natures and essence and actualize potencies accordingly."

This doesn't really have a bearing on what I'm arguing, as I'm not arguing that miracles are by definition impossible nor am I even arguing for Hume's "last recourse" type of argument.

I'm arguing that miracles (as events) underdetermine the case for God, and don't count as evidence for the type of God that theists endorse.

Karl Grant said...

Here's a dictionary definition of them for you, Karl, since you are obviously hurting for one:

them/T͟Hem/
Pronoun:
Used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to two or more people or things previously mentioned or easily identified.


And what is the dictionary definition of someone the other pronoun that Dawkins used and you have conveniently ignored?

*Hint: that pronoun can't be used to describe items and when used in conjunction with them makes it clear that them refers to people not items.

Any other doomed-to-fail attempts at cherry-picking and mockery you wish to attempt to day? Because I am growing bored.

rank sophist said...

Matt,

I read everything you said. I still have no idea of why you argued against miracles-as-evidence, since no one presented such an argument. Was that just a tangent, then? A bit of muscle-flexing? Good for you.

As for my other point, I was saying that the quasi-deistic God that your argument is against (by suggesting that the anthropic principle and miracles are contradictory) is nothing at all like the CT God. There is no fine-tuning argument (and no laws, as Ben said)--no argument from miracles. Your argument is irrelevant to the CT God.

BenYachov said...

Matt since you are thick let me make it simple for you.

>"You can't on the one hand say that the uniformity of physical laws shows God's existence while at the same time claiming unlawful events (miracles) also show God's existence.

I would never say that since it contradicts Thomism.

Non-starter.

>This type of argument makes God's existence indefeasible:

I agree no Paley type mechanistic "God" this is trying to prove exists.

>if we could somehow show miracles didn't occur (it was a sleight of hand, a psychological delusion, etc.) - theists would say "Well, yeah, but still - the uniformity and lawfulness of the universe shows God's existence." OTOH, if we could show a genuine miracle happened, the theist simply says "Yep, that's God intervening in the laws of nature. See!"

Accept all of this presupposes a metaphysics I reject in the first place.

>Your response: Yeah, but this doesn't apply to me because God both sustains the laws and can intervene whenever he chooses.

There are no "Laws" that is what I am trying to say.

Do you even listen?

Matt DeStefano said...

And what is the dictionary definition of someone the other pronoun that Dawkins used and you have conveniently ignored?

*Hint: that pronoun can't be used to describe items and when used in conjunction with them makes it clear that them refers to people not items.


The some[body] here refers to "somebody who claims to be religious". Dawkins doesn't say "ridicule some[body]! Mock some[body]". Again, we can see him reiterate his point here:

"Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt."

The fact that you misused/misread the term "them" tells me that you'll want to read what you want to read, no matter what I explain. So, keep on keeping on!

cl said...

Matt DeStefano,

Please don't even bother responding to my claims, unless it's for the sake of restoring your plunging reputation amongst the other commenters. I'm no longer even remotely interested in conversing with you and I won't be returning to this thread. That might change in the future, but if and only if you stop spreading lies and slander about me, and retract said lies and slander.


sincerely,
--ANNOYED--

BenYachov said...

@MAtt
>You've seen my arguments. Engage them and tell me why the concept doesn't work as I've expressed it and get back to me. Although I'm using the actual events here, so the definition is largely irrelevant for both arguments I'm discussing.

So you have chosen to bore the shit out of me attacking a mechanistic, neo-paleyist Theistic Personalist God I am a strong Atheist toward believing in!

Yea good luck with that!

BenYachov said...

A "Natural Law" is an observed regularity in nature. Things have natures or substances that have powers and regularities.

You seem to think a natural law is some Platonic enity that causes things with no real essences to behave a certain way.

We aren't even speaking the same language.

Karl Grant said...

The fact that you misused/misread the term "them" tells me that you'll want to read what you want to read, no matter what I explain.

As opposed to you, ye who clearly want to paint the Great Prophet of Atheism in a positive light no matter what the evidence to the contrary?

Not to mention you still haven't answered the following questions:

1. How is mocking a belief someone holds different from mocking the person themselves?

2. Can you actually list the differences between the Reason Rally and a KKK or equivalent hate group rally?

BenYachov said...

Matt you can parcel Dawkins words all you want.

But in the end he is the nutjob who said raising a child Catholic is worst than sexually abusing them.

rank sophist said...

The some[body] here refers to "somebody who claims to be religious". Dawkins doesn't say "ridicule some[body]! Mock some[body]". Again, we can see him reiterate his point here:

"Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt."

The fact that you misused/misread the term "them" tells me that you'll want to read what you want to read, no matter what I explain. So, keep on keeping on!


http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2012/03/26/149310560/atheist-firebrand-richard-dawkins-unrepentant-for-harsh-words-targeting-faith

On his blog last year, Dawkins called a person named Minor Vidal a "fool" for his expression of thanks to God after surviving a deadly plane crash. (To be fair, Dawkins called "billions" of other people fools, too, in the same post.)

Dawkins told me that if he insulted any person, he regrets it. But this example shows how hard it is, in practice rather than theory, to aim harsh language only at a person's belief, and not at the person.

Another example comes from Saturday's rally. There, Dawkins noted his incredulity when meeting people who believe a Communion wafer turns into the body of Christ during the Eucharist. He then urged his followers to "mock" and "ridicule" that. (He says this 13 minutes into the video, though it's best to watch the whole thing.) His exact words after describing the Catholic ritual, were "Mock them. Ridicule them." So by "them" did he intend to refer to Catholic beliefs, not Catholic people? In context, it doesn't seem so to me.


So, yes; clearly, we're all intellectual dishonest people who are putting words in Dawkins's mouth.

Matt DeStefano said...

"A "Natural Law" is an observed regularity in nature. Things have natures or substances that have powers and regularities."

While I don't understand how you attribute "powers" to things, this is roughly the idea I am operating under as well. I would probably state it thus: "natural[physical] law is a theoeretical principle derived from particular facts or observations" (a rough quote of the Wiki entry).

I don't think it's some "platonic" entity, and I'm operating under the idea that God has either (a) created these laws or (b) is actively suspending those laws. Every Christian has a different story, but my argument holds water for each view.

I'm saying that individual instances of non-uniformity (Jesus walking on water, raising the dead, etc.) are vastly underdetermining for the theist, and shouldn't be regarded as proof of God in any way.

BenYachov said...

>While I don't understand how you attribute "powers" to things, this is roughly the idea I am operating under as well.

Most likely because you never studied Essentialist philosophy.

>I'm saying that individual instances of non-uniformity (Jesus walking on water, raising the dead, etc.) are vastly underdetermining for the theist, and shouldn't be regarded as proof of God in any way.

I would have to presuppose God to consider if these things are true.

I wouldn't use them as Arguments for God.

The is not how we Thomist roll.

BenYachov said...

Now I have to go home.

Mass Effect 3 awaits!

Karl Grant said...

Ben,

How is Mass Effect 3? I have Mass Effect one and two but I am torn between buying ME3 and Diablo 3 first.

Papalinton said...

Bob
For the sake of argument assume that God exists for the remainder of this paragraph. Why, once one believes in a being powerful enough to create planets, stars, and galaxies, who exists both in time and in eternity, who is capable of Himself becoming a little child and living amongst His creation, why is it also so hard to believe that He can transform bread and wine into His own Body and Blood? If this particular belief invites scorn, then every other clause in the Creed should do so as well. Why do you balk at this "specific example"?

For the very same reason that you would baulk at the belief, that suppose for argument's sake, notwithstanding that almost a billion people believe it so, why Ganesha the god with one tusk 'is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles' [wiki]. Indeed Ganesha is omni-powerful that he can make and remove anything imaginable.

Atheism generally places the anthropocentric omni-max god in the same logic basket as with Ganesha; on the basis there is no evidence to even consider the development of a possible hypothesis. No biblical claim of any significance on the causes for the universe has yet been translated into a working hypothesis that one could pursue.

Papalinton said...

Anthony Flemming
Paps, there is a simple point being made here. We can all admit that there are Christians that do bad, hate filled, and stupid stuff. Is it a result of Christian belief or perhaps their own eisegesis practice?

But the issue, Anthony, is not of individual parishioners that is of concern. Much that I have put forward are focussed on the institutionally derived hate stuff singled out to particular groups in the community through no fault of their own, against gays, against lesbians, against women [not only in terms of determining women's personal health issues but also their downright discrimination in their exclusion from attaining higher office in the church, simply on the basis of the longevity of male domination in those roles]. These are all abominably antithetical to the very notion of justice, civility and fairness and ethical behaviour. And not one parishioner should be a willing partner to such decisions that are counter to the communities wishes that the religious organisations supposedly serve.

What makes it OK for religious institutions to practice discrimination, inequity, partiality, bigotry and intolerance, all those things that no self-respecting citizen would countenance?

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

cl said

"As for transcripts, take your pick."

Fair enough. I chose this one.

Overall, if one does not get offended by atheists talking about atheism in general, I didn't find much in Dawkins's speech which I think might be categorized by people as offensive or hateful. The only thing I found was this:

"So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public!
Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits." (italics mine)

I agree with Dawkins that it is useful to clarify what people mean when they use words like "Christian." I also agree with Dawkins that religion should not be off the table, but it doesn't follow that mockery and ridicule is the way to discuss religion. I don't agree with Dawkins that publicly mocking or ridiculing religious beliefs is necessarily desirable.

For example, I probably would mock someone's belief in a flat earth, since I think that belief is irrational for most people (barring some very limited exceptions). As for the doctrine of the transsubstantion, I think it is false and even absurd and silly. (Yes, if God exists, He by definition could change food and wine into the body and blood of Christ; I just think that is highly improbable even on the assumption that theism is true.) Would I mock someone who believes in that doctrine? Probably not, unless they were in my face about it.

To get back to the original point: after reading the transcript of Dawkins's speech, I don't see how it supports the analogy between a KKK rally and a secular one. What am I missing?

BenYachov said...

@Kent

>How is Mass Effect 3?

I haven't played it yet. Tonight is the night.

>I have Mass Effect one and two but I am torn between buying ME3 and Diablo 3 firs

I played & finished ME2. I started Playing ME1 & am still in the middle of it. Of course I kinda know how it ends. That is what/who is behind the Geth attacks. I may get back to it.

We will see.

BenYachov said...

>To get back to the original point: after reading the transcript of Dawkins's speech, I don't see how it supports the analogy between a KKK rally and a secular one. What am I missing?

They actually formally invited the Westborow Baptist Church.

From an Atheist blog:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/13/why-was-the-westboro-baptist-church-invited-to-the-reason-rally/

And a Theist Blog:
http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2012/03/the-reason-rally-and-westboro-baptist-church/

They didn't invite any mainstream religious groups. They didn't invite any mainstream religious figures or Apologists for debate or dialog.

It would have been reasonable to not invite any religious groups and just concentrate on their own message.

But they invited a group, the Southern Poverty Legal Center and the ADL classified a hate group. Why?

Could it be because this is the message they want to send about religion?

These people are how they truly view religion.

Like the Klan inviting a minstrel group to one of their functions.

It's how they view black people.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Ben -- Thanks for your response.

you wrote:

They actually formally invited the Westborow Baptist Church.

From an Atheist blog:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/13/why-was-the-westboro-baptist-church-invited-to-the-reason-rally/

And a Theist Blog:
http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2012/03/the-reason-rally-and-westboro-baptist-church/

They didn't invite any mainstream religious groups. They didn't invite any mainstream religious figures or Apologists for debate or dialog.


So "they" appears to be the "National Atheist Party" or NAP. I'd never even heard of WAP before. What was NAP's role at the Rally? Were they the organizers of the rally? Sponsors? Or, for lack of a better term, merely "exhibitors" (a group who rented a booth)?

These distinctions seem relevant to me in order to determine if there is a legitimate analogy between a KKK rally and the Reason Rally.

It would have been reasonable to not invite any religious groups and just concentrate on their own message.

But they invited a group, the Southern Poverty Legal Center and the ADL classified a hate group. Why?

Could it be because this is the message they want to send about religion?

These people are how they truly view religion.

Like the Klan inviting a minstrel group to one of their functions.

It's how they view black people.


In my experience, most atheists recognize that Westboro Baptist Church is an extremist group, NOT representative of theists in general.

For what it is worth, here is NAP's explanation of their motivation for inviting WBC:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/14/national-atheist-party-responds-to-criticism-about-inviting-westboro-baptist-church-to-reason-rally/

Jeff

BenYachov said...

Matt wrote:

>I don't think it's some "platonic" entity, and I'm operating under the idea that God has either (a) created these laws or (b) is actively suspending those laws. Every Christian has a different story, but my argument holds water for each view.

QUOTE"Paley....... take[s] for granted a mechanistic conception of the natural order on which it is devoid of anything like Aristotelian substantial forms or final causes. While they argue that certain natural phenomena are teleological, the teleology in question is understood to be extrinsic or imposed from outside rather than immanent or “built in,”as Aristotelian natures and final causes are.END QUOTE
-Edward Feser-Existential Inertia and the Five Ways

My comments: Your argument is a non-starter because it presuposes "Laws of Nature" are extrinsic & imposed from the outside by either some gay Paley "god" or simply as mindless brute forces.

In the Thomistic view there are no "Laws" to suspend since things behave the way they do because of their intrinsic essences. It is the essence of fire to be hot thus actualize the potental in ice to melt instead of freezing it.

A miracle is nothing more then God actualizing a particular potency directly rather then threw a secondary cause.

So as I said we aren't even speaking the same language and merely mocking Transubstanciation instead of formulating a philosophical argument as to why it is absurd to have a substance change while leaving it's properties intact or why the essentalist metaphysics on which it rests are wrong or trying to equivocate between Hume and Paley's faulty anti-moderate realist metaphysical view of miracles with Thomism is f***ing lazy and stupid. Much like Dawkins.

Sorry but if I deny God tomorow I see no logical reason why given Aristotle's metaphysical modeling of being the idea of transubstanciation is absurd?

Quote"Einstein became extremely interested in the concept of transubstantiation, the changing of one substance into an­other. He asked Father Charlie to explain the conversion in the Eucharist, by the priest at Mass. Father Charlie eagerly explained transubstantiation to his host as analogous to Einstein's famous formula E=MC2: Just as matter can be broken into energy—God becomes present on earth in the Mass."

see here for the story of Fr. Charlie and Einstein
http://eucharist-emc2.blogspot.com/2007/08/afternoon-with-einstein.html

So even though he didn't believe in it Einstein took it seriously.

I can't take Dawkins seriously.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I'm still trying to sort out how others are making the distinction between, on the one hand, mockery and ridicule of religious beliefs, and, on the other hand, hatred of religious believers. Reppert, in his post, wrote: "What I am claiming is that the rally involved expressions of hatred toward religious people." Maybe I am being too literal, but I didn't read anything in the transcript of Dawkins's speech that is hate speech.

For contrast, consider that Wintery Knight has written, "Show me an atheist and I’ll show you a person who is unskilled AT LIFE." Is that hate speech against atheists?

BenYachov said...

@Jeff

>So "they" appears to be the "National Atheist Party" or NAP. I'd never even heard of WAP before. What was NAP's role at the Rally? Were they the organizers of the rally? Sponsors? Or, for lack of a better term, merely "exhibitors" (a group who rented a booth)?

>These distinctions seem relevant to me in order to determine if there is a legitimate analogy between a KKK rally and the Reason Rally.

Those are fair points. I readly concede their validity.

>In my experience, most atheists recognize that Westboro Baptist Church is an extremist group, NOT representative of theists in general.

I don't doubt this is true but Gnu'atheists OTOH. I very much doubt they see a difference otherwise they wouldn' be Gnus would they?

>For what it is worth, here is NAP's explanation of their motivation for inviting WBC:

>http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/14/national-atheist-party-responds-to-criticism-about-inviting-westboro-baptist-church-to-reason-rally/

People have a right to defend themselves when accused. but this stands out.

QUOTE"It is no big secret that atheists and freethinkers have a major image problem."

Yeh because you mocked believers and your chief spokesmen advocates ridicule in place of argument. So they did it as a joke?

It might have been funny accept David Silverman of American Atheists abruptly declined, a Christian Minsitry called TRUE REASON an invitation to the rally.

Said David Silverman of American atheists.QUOTE "Make no mistake – you are not welcomed guests at the rally. We are not going to DC for ‘dialogue’ with people who believe ridiculous things – we are going to have fun with other like-minded people. Those who proselytize or interfere with our legal and well-deserved enjoyment will be escorted to the 1st Amendment pen by security, which will be plentiful, where you can stand with the Westborough [sic] Baptists and shout yourselves hoarse."END QUOTE

http://ichthus77.blogspot.com/2012/03/david-silverman-of-american-atheists.html

So forgive me Jeff. You seem a rational sort. But you can see under the circumstances why the REASON RALLY is failing in their mission to make Atheists look better. These guys are either the Klan light or the Keystone Cops.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MickRuggieri said...

Good evening Dr. Reppert,

I first want to thank you for sharing your blog.

I believe the main problem, and the obvious elephant in the room that Richard Dawkins seems to want to ignore is the fact that the imperfect human condition is responsible for what he defines as "evil".

While I must acknowledge that religion certainly can and has been used as an excuse to commit the most heinous of crimes, mankind has demonstrated, especially through the atheistic regimes of the 20th century, that man hardly needs "religion" to commit atrocities.

It is not religion that is responsible for evil, it is man, and until Professor Dawkins comes to realize this truth, which has been demonstrated, he will not understand that his argument is based on a faulty premise.

I further want to add, that according to his own philosophy, morality is subjective to the individual, and not dependent on something outside of himself, and as a result, he cannot call anything evil if he is in fact being true to his own beliefs. This given the fact that based on his own beliefs, one mans evil is another mans good, and his label is, by default, no better than the view of another.

BenYachov said...

>I'm still trying to sort out how others are making the distinction between, on the one hand, mockery and ridicule of religious beliefs, and, on the other hand, hatred of religious believers.

I have no problem with mocking bad logic that leads to a belief. Regardless if I agree with the belief or not. Or mocking a bad argument for it's own sake.
But you must really have a great deal of contempt for someone to tell them they are "wrong" ans not being able to articulate why in a rational manner outside of mindless ridicule. Like that David Silverman guy.

>For contrast, consider that Wintery Knight has written, "Show me an atheist and I’ll show you a person who is unskilled AT LIFE." Is that hate speech against atheists?

Could be,assuming I had good reason to believe he hated Atheists. Like him saying raising your kids Atheist was worst then molesting them.

Thought Wintery Knight is making personal comments about individual Atheists and then throws in a heasty generalization. It is no different then when Loftus shows up & starts ranting to everyone's face that they are "deluted" for being believers.

I would like to see it stop but I know Dawkins won't stop and too many Atheists will listen to him and become Gnus.

Now I got to make myself play ME3.

Or I will be here all night.

BenYachov said...

MickRuggieri is on to something.......

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Hi Ben -- Thanks again for your reply. I must be out of touch with Dawkins; I wasn't aware he said that raising your kids Catholic is worse than molestation. I disagree with that and am puzzled as to how he arrived at that conclusion.

I tend to focus on reading philosophers of religion, not the so-called "New Atheists," so it's not surprising to me I may have missed what Dawkins said.

Jeff

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Ben-- I just saw your earlier reply. You wrote:

So forgive me Jeff. You seem a rational sort. But you can see under the circumstances why the REASON RALLY is failing in their mission to make Atheists look better. These guys are either the Klan light or the Keystone Cops.

Well, it sounds like that is something we both agree upon, namely, that the REASON RALLY is failing in their mission to make atheists look better.

On another subject, I can empathize with theists who've complained about how the atheists who organized the Reason Rally appropriate the word "reason" for their side. Just as many atheists have tried to hijack the words "freethought" and "reason," many theists have tried to hijack the word "moral" in a way that implies theists are "more moral" than atheists. Atheists don't like being told, even if indirectly and by implication, that they are less moral than theists, any more than theists like being told that they are less rational than atheists.

Victor Reppert said...

Jeff: I think the New Atheists are doing things which are a fundamental betrayal of the basic rules which must underlie all discourse concerning matters so serious as religion. It affects people like John Loftus, who has some interesting ideas, but invariably ruins the possibility of serious discourse with him by propagandistic tactics. A kind of atheist fanaticism is brewing, which makes undermines the very process which makes atheist-theist dialogue at all rewarding.

Victor Reppert said...

Take this comment from Matt earlier in this thread:

(1) Did Dawkins ever say that ridicule and mocking were a valid substitute for reasoned discourse? No, of course not. We both know that there are people on both sides of the fence who are beyond the discourse of reason. Sometimes, people need to be shock-and-awed from their position by satire, ridicule, and mockery.

No, no, no, no, no, heavens no. This is a poison pill that is going to effectively wipe out serious and interesting exchange on religious subjects. It means that I can try to persuade you to believe as I do, and since my arguments are sooooo good, if you don't buy them, then we have to use ridicule tactics on you. Defenders of each side have to do their best to make their case, it may persuade some, but not everyone, but that's what argumentation is for. As Lewis says, argument has a life of its own, you follow the argument where it leads; there are aspects of the belief decision process that we may not be able to put on the table, and so we do our best and leave it at that. If we are Christians, we leave the rest in the hands of the Holy Spirit. If we engage in rational discourse concerning these matters of profound significance existentially, we make a commitment to the process of following the argument where it leads.

It is, for example, very easy to come up with a description of evolution that makes it look stupid. I've heard it a million times. If I do that, and then let out a horse laugh, have I made an argument against evolution? Of course not. Distinguishing real absurdity from the appearance of absurdity generated by a tendentious description is part of what we need to do to learn how to think. Dawkins and those that follow him are so opposed to religion that getting peopel to reject religion is more important than being faithful to the process of rational discourse. The end justifies the means, even if that means isn't really a rational process at all. Some of his statements make him sound like a schoolyard bully who will do anything to get what he wants, in this case, to turn people into atheists.

This seems to me to be caused by hatred. I understand the frustration he has experienced as an evolutionary biologist, (I've been told that all evolutionary biologists get a lot of hate mail from Christians), but that doesn't make his tactics acceptable.

Not only that, but when he calls raising a child in a religion child abuse and compares it to sexual abuse, he is implying that the government should have the right to interfere with this process, as the government does interfere when there is sexual abuse. This is something that undermines something that previous atheists have attempted to defend, and that is the separation of church and state.

I noticed that some people at SO, some of whom I respect greatly, think the quality of my blog has gone down of late. If so, I suspect it is because I have been reacting to this poisoned intellectual atmosphere, and have probably not found very constructive ways of doing so.

C. S. Lewis did a lot of things in his life, including Medieval and Renaissance scholarship (his "day job, as it were), children's literature, science fiction, devotional writing, and, of course Christian apologetics. But I wonder if one achievement is insufficiently noted, and that is his presiding over the Oxford Socratic Club. This activity resulted in the Anscombe critique of his AFR, and actually launched the career of Antony Flew as an atheist philosopher. But his effort to sustain an open environment where these issues can be discussed is, in my view, maybe one of his greatest achievements. I recommend reading the essay he wrote about the founding of the club.

Mr Veale said...

As I understand it, the strategy does not aim to challenge those who are beyond the reach of rational discourse. To quote Dawkins

"I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven't really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. "

Mr Veale said...

Presumably the fence sitters would be open to rational discourse. However, a different strategy was considered in 2009.

The "Reason Rally" was, perhaps, an experiment. However, to broaden the context, Dawkins has been on the sharp end of some nasty rhetoric in the British press recently. (See the Parris article that I linked to.)

So perhaps his temper snapped, or he felt he was losing the initiative in these "debates"?

BenYachov said...

Peace Jeff,

Reason is what it's all about.

>Well, it sounds like that is something we both agree upon, namely, that the REASON RALLY is failing in their mission to make atheists look better.

Pretty much.

For me it's isn't so much which side "looks better" if I believe in Divine Provence.

But at minimum we should all try to be rational beings.

Even if I believe(& I do BTW) Atheism is rationally or philosophically incoherent or just wrong. I know an Atheist can aspire to be rational and try to be philosophically coherent as possible.

I also know(speaking generally) eve if you have the ULTIMATE TRUTH you might still mix some irrationality in with it.

Example: Atheists or Theists could be right but personally have some bad arguments that do reflect their ultimate rightness.

Cheers.

PS Mass Effect # so far seems awesome!