Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The downside of ridicule

This is a quote from Carrier that Loftus sometimes quotes.

By and large the minds of the ridiculous can't be changed. It's their flock we're talking to. But even the ridiculous change under ridicule some respond by getting more ridiculous (and those are the ones who could never be swayed even by the politest methods), but others accumulate shame until they see the error of their ways (I've met many ex-evangelicals who have told me exactly that). Thus, ridicule converts the convertible and marginalizes the untouchable. There is no more effective strategy in a culture war

Even if you accept Carrier's arguments for ridicule, it has the downside that the presence of ridicule is inductive evidence that the person doing the ridiculing isn't going to work very hard to get anything right about what his opponents have said. If you found someone who ridiculed their opponents while at the same time tried very hard to understand those same opponents, that would be remarkable.

Where there is a lot of intellectual distance between parties, it's hard work just to clear away the misinterpretations and get down to figuring out just what the real disagreements are. The temptation is to throw out a clever put-down when you should be trying to get the opponents position right. The defense of the ridiculed against the ridiculer is typically, 'You don't understand what you're ridiculing." So long as I have that defense, ridicule is not going to be very effective.
What ridicule is effective at is rallying the already converted. Listen to Rush Limbaugh for an hour and see if it doesn't help you get the point. (Or, find some less torturous way of doing it, if you find that painful).
or Cancel

51 comments:

Bilbo said...

"Bilbo, you have the choice of being drawn and quartered or listening to Rush Limabaugh for an hour....Well?"

"I'm thinking! I'm thinking!"

Crude said...

Considering that Carrier is lately receiving a whole lot of ridicule regarding a slew of his stupid claims, I suppose we should expect that he be either marginalized or converted by this point.

Honest to God, talk about a man who apparently lives in an echo chamber. Let's be blunt: look at how he writes. Look at the positions he takes. Hell, look at his ****ing picture. Did he ever, for even one moment, think to himself "Maybe this whole 'ridicule' thing can whirl around and bite me in the ass"?

All the same, Victor, I think you're being too charitable. Your reply seems to be, "Yes, well, the problem is that if you engage in ridicule, you run risk of not understanding what your opponents are truly saying, not grasping their arguments, not presenting their positions right." But that assumes - and here's the too-charitable part - that the people in question are concerned with 'getting their opponents right' as opposed to 'getting the result they want.'

Think of it in another way. Carrier speaks in terms of culture war. Imagine that Carrier, lo and behold, found that his opponents' positions were reasonable. Perhaps it's the case that he finds that rational people could disagree on a number of key areas, while still ultimately being rational. That wouldn't be an encouraging result for a culture warrior. In fact, it would be pretty mortifying: it's a finding they would want suppressed, because it's going to be hard to win converts to your side under the rallying cry "Yours is a reasonable and defensible idea that I nevertheless disagree with!"

No, once you're in that mindset, 'getting your opponents right' can actually be somewhat dangerous, and something you'd want to discourage. Which is why these entreaties just seem to miss the mark. You're imploring charity and fair readings from a group of people who have concluded that charity and fairness would only harm their cause.

rank sophist said...

If anyone can be characterized as "ridiculous" here, it's Carrier himself. He uses his Ph.D. in ancient history as a smokescreen for Biblical scholarship that professionals in the field consider to be a joke. Likewise, his philosophical arguments against Christianity have been torn to shreds both live (by Craig) and in written form (by Victor and others). The ones I've seen have contained blatant logical fallacies that the average college student in philosophy would be able to identify. (A particularly grievous one dealt with the universe being created ex nihilo, in which he "refuted" a laughable strawman.)

Also, I find his "culture war" rhetoric very disturbing. It seems that Gnu icons really can't avoid helping themselves to Maoist slogans.

Steven Carr said...

'The defense of the ridiculed against the ridiculer is typically, 'You don't understand what you're ridiculing."'

This is a very valid point.

I simply do not understand how the resurrected Jesus flew into the sky and managed to end up in Heaven.

I just have no idea how that is supposed to work.

Another ignorant atheist.

Any even half-informed Christian understands perfectly well how Jesus flew into the sky after he was resurrected.

So ridiculing the ascension is counter-productive, merely demonstrating that you can't understand why the apostles were looking into the sky after Jesus disappeared.

Crude said...

And Carr shows up to prove Victor's point, without an inkling of realization that he actually did it.

Granted, he dashed this off fast in all likelihood. Very happening social life for Carr. Dates pretty much every week. Right Steven? ;)

Steven Carr said...

Indeed I did confirm Victor's point.

If you ridicule something, it is probably because you don't understand it.

People don't understand how the Earth can be flat and so ridicule flat-earthers.

People don't understand how the bread and wine turn physically into the blood and bones of Jesus and so ridicule it.

People don't understand how a loving god kills children because their father committed adultery (see 2 Samuel 12) and so ridicule it.

Crude said...

Indeed I did confirm Victor's point.

You sure did. But like I said, excusable - I mean, how can you expect to keep up with even the most basic Sunday School theodicy responses or explanations of transubstantiation with that wild social life of yours?

I mean, I bet you get this often: "Wow! Steven Carr? That guy who angrily comments on all those blogs on the internet, and has to quote people by typing their name in BOLD because he never learned another way? So awesome! Let's go on a date!"

How many times a week, Steven? 2x? 3x? I'm gonna play it safe here and say 3x. ;)

Papalinton said...

Victor
"The defense of the ridiculed against the ridiculer is typically, 'You don't understand what you're ridiculing." So long as I have that defense, ridicule is not going to be very effective."

The trouble is, Victor, we understand only too well what is being ridiculed. Remember most atheists were at one time, for many years if not most of their lives, believers. Why else would one ridicule something that is patently a cultural artifice attempting to rationalize the superstition of imagining supernaturalism as a somehow a perfectly natural part of human existence? There is really no downside to ridiculing the ridiculous, regardless of whether it be New-Age spiritualism, wikkans, bible crazies, apocalyptors, jesus aficionados or those morbidly longing to touch base with 72 virgins as a testament of their faith.

To ridicule, one holds up the ridiculous against the bright penetrating light of reason and, just as if scrutinizing an fMRI or X-ray scan, knowing full well that no formed substrate or skeletal framework will be in evidence to substantiate it.

And you are probably right. So long as you have that defense [the trope of 'not understanding what you are ridiculing'], I guess one could always add to it by trotting out the old 'persecuted for my religious beliefs' or 'victim' card.

In regard to your Limbaugh reference, not only does he tout himself as a friend of Christians, a defender of christian morality from a Republican perspective, but Rush Limbaugh is a professing Christian. Whatever others might think of him, he is through and through a Christian.

Here is a small snippet of interest on what Limbaugh claims is none other than a war on christianity:
http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2011/11/04/the_war_on_christianity.

Papalinton said...

Bilbo
"Bilbo, you have the choice of being drawn and quartered or listening to Rush Limabaugh for an hour....Well?"

"I'm thinking! I'm thinking!"


Now that is really funny.

rank sophist said...

And Carr shows up to prove Victor's point, without an inkling of realization that he actually did it.

Carr lost every shred of credibility when he made that dig regarding Victor's Jewish girlfriend in a past combox. He's a hollow shell now. But, from the start, his bag of tricks contained only arguments ad hominem and from incredulity. I have never seen him use any others. It's kind of sad, really.

cl said...

Other downsides to ridicule include the transition from frothing-at-the-mouth hater to libelous defamer of character. He who has ears, let him hear.

"Thus, ridicule converts the convertible and marginalizes the untouchable. There is no more effective strategy in a culture war"

Wow, talk about pure poison to genuine intellectual discourse. Carrier deserves mockery... but I'd say don't waste your time because he seems pretty clearly in the "untouchable" group. What he advocates is nothing less than gaining converts via emotional bullying. He ought to be ashamed of himself. It pisses me off that people like this have power and influence in society, small as Carrier's may be. Carrier's quote proves, unequivocally, that this isn't about reason or truth for him, but gaining converts any way possible. He even freely admits to being an agent of the culture war.

This Gnu crap is dangerous.

rank sophist,

"If anyone can be characterized as "ridiculous" here, it's Carrier himself. He uses his Ph.D. in ancient history as a smokescreen for Biblical scholarship that professionals in the field consider to be a joke. Likewise, his philosophical arguments against Christianity have been torn to shreds both live (by Craig) and in written form (by Victor and others). The ones I've seen have contained blatant logical fallacies that the average college student in philosophy would be able to identify."

Don't forget about how the McGrews essentially just laughed him off regarding the Bayes thing.

cl said...

Off-topic, but I think that Limbaugh article was spot-on. Along similar lines, Snoop Dogg also mocked Tebow after throwing the first pitch of the White Sox game.

What do you surmise might have been the reaction from the whiny little atheist community had Snoop chose to piss on a Scarlet A t-shirt? There would be a calling for his head.

Steven Carr said...

'Ridicule' means, of course, quoting Christian beliefs accurately.

Christians believe their Jesus will send Jews to Hell for rejecting him as Messiah, hence they want to teach their children that they too will burn in Hell if they reject Jesus as the true Jewish Messiah (regardless of what Jews think on the subject)

But if you stoop to accurately reporting Christian beliefs you will be accused of 'ridicule', 'bigotry', 'hatred'...

Isfs said...

I find the claim that ridicule causes someone to change position because they think about an issue far fetched, or at least, a weak point. Ridicule relies on thinking about an issue in a shallow way. Using ridicule to win people over to your side is thus implicitly declaring, "Ours is the position for people who don't think very hard!" You may have the numbers, but you don't have the intellect.

Steven Carr said...

Ridicule, in atheist terms, consists of pointing out that many Christians believe bread and wine turn into the physical flesh and bones of a Jew who lived 2000 years ago.

As pointed out, we don't understand how this is possible, and so merely point out what some people claim they believe without them ever producing a shred of evidence that they are eating the body of a Jew who lived 2000 years ago.

It is a bit like people who can't understand why the world is flat asking flat-earthers, 'Do you really believe the world is flat?'

rank sophist said...

Wait, I forgot: Carr uses strawmen, too.

Steven Carr said...

In other words, many Christians really do believe that Jews will burn in Hell for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, and Victor ( a committed Christian) could see how this could cause problems if he had decided to marry a Jewish woman, as he would have wanted to tell his children to accept Jesus as their Saviour.

Cale B.T. said...

"In other words, many Christians really do believe that Jews will burn in Hell for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, and Victor ( a committed Christian) could see how this could cause problems if he had decided to marry a Jewish woman, as he would have wanted to tell his children to accept Jesus as their Saviour."

Mr Carr, do you think you may have gotten carried away in your rhetoric when you said, "He wanted to be able to tell his children that they would burn in Hell if they rejected Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, and realised that that would upset their mother."

How much do you know about Mr Reppert's parenting techniques? And, as I pointed out to you on another thread, Mr Reppert has, in the past, voiced sympathy with universalism.

Are you confident enough to voice the above sentiments to Mr Reppert's face and be sure that you wouldn't be misrepresenting him?

Steven Carr said...

My apologies.

I didn't realise Victor was one of those people who believed that rejecting Jesus was one way to Heaven.

So what was the problem with him wanting to raise his children as Christians - problems so insurmountable he tells us he would not have been happy marrying a Jewish woman?

Steven Carr said...

And I also apologise unreservedly to Victor for insinuating that he does not think it is child abuse to bring up children in a fundamentalist atmosphere, where they are told about Hell fire.

Sorry , Mr. Reppert.

grodrigues said...

Carrier is a hack. If you have the misfortune to read anything by him that involves mathematics in some form, the safe bet is that he will mess the thing and he simply does not know what he is talking about.

rank sophist said...

You're a joke, Carr. And I don't say that lightly. I have no idea of your age, but your actions here are similar to those that a fifteen-year-old Internet troll might perform if he was craving attention. You aren't interested in argument; you merely want to bait others into a mudslinging contest. In terms of eloquence and philosophical depth, nothing you've said here has risen above the level of a schoolyard taunt. You're like the overweight bully who, afraid of serious fights, insults those he fears and then runs. If you presented some kind of argument that lacked an obvious fallacy, then I'd take you seriously and debate you. Unfortunately, you have completely failed to use or to even consider such arguments. You clearly haven't the interest--nor possibly the ability--to do so.

If you are a teenager or twenty-something, I suggest that you grow up. If you're an adult, then you have my pity. In either case, I have absolutely no idea why Victor--even taking into account his charity toward hostile opponents--still puts up with your antics.

Papalinton said...

"Carrier is a hack. If you have the misfortune to read anything by him that involves mathematics in some form, the safe bet is that he will mess the thing and he simply does not know what he is talking about."

The 25 Most Influential Living Atheists
"Trained as a historian, Richard Carrier is the dominant presence on the so-called “secular web.” He is known especially for his writings at Internet Infidels. Besides critiquing theism on philosophical grounds, he also challenges Christianity head-on, considering it “very probable Jesus never actually existed as a historical person.”

http://www.superscholar.org/features/influential-atheists/

Some hack, eh?

Cale B.T. said...

Surely being an influential atheist is not incompatible with being a hack, papalinton?

Jonathan MS Pearce said...

I always think people who accuse Carrier of being a hack haven't really read any of his stuff.

grodrigues, what of his have you read? I would really like to know. Not the Impossible Faith was a good piece of research that showed, rather well, that Holding is indeed a massive hack.

Sense and Goodness Without God is an excellent exposition of metaphysical naturalism. Have you read them both? The Dating of Luke is a constantly updated superb essay showing very good scholastics. I am yet to read Proving History, though have it and look forward to it. I have personally corresponded with Carrier over research into my last book (The Nativity: A Critical Examination) and Carrier was at pains to show excellent methodology, insisting at all times that no straw men were built in the exposition of Christian thought. He is superb at playing devil's advocate and producing evidence that can support both sides of the argument. His Greek lexical work, in my experience, has been better than one trained exclusively in Greek (I sent him work from a theologian friend who referred to his Greek teacher about a certain point which Carrier showed to be incorrect in a detailed and scholarly manner).

In sum, people love to slag him off, and he can get narky himself in some exchanges, but he has some really good work out there.

I hate it when people throw out such general accusations without backing it up. Please do so. How is he a hack (and what do you mean by hack). I am no mythicist myself, but find some of his work on the matter incredibly important. His speech at Skepticon 2, for eg, raised a whole raft of crucial points showing a really in depth analysis of the subject.

I sometimes wonder that by slagging someone off too easily, it just shows that they are close to the bone and have touched a nerve - defensive talk.

Steven Carr said...

I see RankSophist has mastered the art of Christian abuse.

The trouble with atheist ridicule is that atheists are mere amateurs at abuse, insult and vitriol compared to Christians.

Atheists confine their ridicule to explaining what Christians believe.

BenYachov said...

I am all for the ridicule of bad logic, bad argument & giving said ridicule alongside rational critique of the former and later.

But the Gnu just gives ridicule for it's own sake sans rational critique.

(Case in point the general blather of Paps and Carr)

What they are conceptionally incapable of understanding is someone could be right ultimately about their stated core truth but still employ bad arguments to get there.

Like true Fundies they might cling to bad arguments for Atheism or bad polemics against Christianity(i.e. Jesus Mytherism) at the expense of their Atheism.

Or they might take bad arguments for Theism or Christianity or a specific version of it to be universal and ignore stronger arguments.

Or they might waste their time on minor issues where they have no common ground with their opponent.

If I accept the existence of God in the Classical Sense. Accept the resurrection of Christ. Accept Jesus founded the Catholic Church, Accept the universal testimony of the Fathers on the Real Presence. Then Transubstantiation is a no-brainier.

But the idiot Atheist who mocks Transubstantiation because he can't verify it empirically makes about as much sense as the microbiologist who doubt the existence of the Andromeda galaxy because he can't see it under his microscope.

If I deny God tomorow my contempt for this brand of Gnu for these reasons remain.

BenYachov said...

>So what was the problem with him wanting to raise his children as Christians - problems so insurmountable he tells us he would not have been happy marrying a Jewish woman?

So Carr does not see a problem with the potential marriage between an Atheist who believes teaching children religion is a form of child abuse with a Christian parent who believes they have a moral obligation before God to teach them the Gospel?

Seriously?

The Bible wisely councils us against being unequally yoked.

Even a Christian who believes non- believers by negation(i.e. invincibly ignorant) can be saved by extra-ordinary grace still has a moral obligation to raise their children Christian.

A religious Jew believes it is the sin of idolatry for any Jew to confess the Trinity or Deity of Christ. They also believe the children of a Jewish mother must by Divine Law be raised in the Jewish Faith because they are Jews.

Thus in the case of Jewish & Christian intermarriage unless one or both are nominal in their belief or one or the other consents to convert, it is a bad idea to unequally yoke such people.

In Catholicism such marriages are not absolutely forbidden otherwise a bishop could not grant a dispensation for a member of the faithful to marry a non-Catholic.

But still it is not a good idea.

I don't see why idiots like Carr have a problem with this? It's just common sense?

Mike Darus said...

Ridicule is the death of reason. We are no longer in the age of Jeopardy where contestants are rewarded for the correct answer. We are in the age of Family Feud where popularity determines what is right. Ridicule only works if you are willing to change your conviction based on what others think of you.

Crude said...

No one here said that Carrier didn't have a following - it's that he's a hack and a joke. And considering he just finished making an ass of himself in a public way, the charges stands. (If "slagging off" easily on others is a sign that you've gotten "too close to the bone", then Carrier is giving off all the signs of being full of hot air.)

This isn't going to get cured by saying 'Well I read his stuff and personally I find him to be quite great'. He's gotten his ass kicked too many times in too many conversations by too many people, but authorities and amateurs. The fact that he's a name of note in that exciting community summed up as "online angry atheists" reflects poorly on that community, ever bit as much as it does for having (effectively ex-)scientist PZ Myers blubbering about his 'hunters eyes'.

PatrickH said...

Carrier was pretty put out by not getting anywhere near a tenure-track position, something not exactly easy for anybody these days in history. He decided to throw his lot in with the new atheist crowd and be a big fish in a tiny brackish pond. Mistake, maybe.

Because now, given his record of preposterous and abusive behavior, given a pixel/paper trail that would embarrass a fifteen-year old in its vituperation, abuse, incompetence and irrationality, Carrier has ingratiated himself only with the kind of folk who attended the reason rally, who clog up internet sinkholes, and such. But in doing so, he has permanently scotched any possibility of a serious academic career. That's why you find him hawking his wares at skeptic conferences next to Myther cranks and Bigfoot-debunkers or appearing in lying manipulative junk like quasi-reformed fundie Brian Flemming's The God Who Wasn't There. He's probably not even a true Myther. He's just trying to score some sales.

But once you hitch your wagon to such a falling meteor-let as the rapidly sinking, marginalized self-isolated New Atheist/Skeptic go-nowhere-fast "movement", you don't get unhitched. He's going to be dragged down into the crank/curmudgeon abyss with the lot of them. Imagine GNUs at seventy! Imagine Carrier at seventy! No one will listen to him, not one bit, not even the nursing home attendants.

And no one now or ever will take him seriously who is connected to mainstream scholarship in any of the areas in he's made of himself such a phudnik (phudnik = nudnik with a phd. nudnik = pest.)

Carrier made a short term career compromise to get some attention. Mistake. He's slumming with the GNUs,and he's beginning to sound and smell like the intellectual low-rent demographic they've become. But he's not moving out of that echo chamber of a neighbourhood. He's in for the long haul.

Couln't happen to an unnicer potential squandering guy.

William said...

Such vituperativeness. You guys deserve Carrier to match your style :).

Teaching positions in ancient Western civilization history are so rare, how do you know that the course he took was not better for him than the alternatives (working as a sales rep or bank teller, moonlighting teaching at the community college level)?

cl said...

Steven Carr,

"I see RankSophist has mastered the art of Christian abuse."

It's not that you blathering (fill in the blank), it's that you expose yourself as worthy of ridicule when you make preposterous claims despite clear scientific evidence to the contrary. Scientific evidence testifies the children brought up religious fare better, across a multiplicity of criteria, than the non-religious. Victor just posted this link last week.

"This study sorted its 3,290 participants into levels of religious involvement: the Devoted, the Regulars, the Sporadic, and the Disengaged. Because America’s predominant religious groupings are Christian, the “Devoted” and “Regulars” were predominantly Christian—Protestant and Catholic. Therefore these results can fairly be taken as relating specifically to Christianity. (Results for other religions are hard to determine from the data.)

The closer teenagers were to “Devoted” rather than “Disengaged,” the less they engaged in these negative behaviors:

Habits: Smoking, drinking, marijuana use, TV watching, pornography use, “action” video game use, R-rated movies;

At school: Poor grades, cutting classes, getting suspended or expelled;

Attitude: Bad temper, rebellious toward parents;

Sex: Early physical involvement, including number of partners and age of first sexual contact.

Those more “Devoted” on the scale showed more of these positive outcomes:

Emotional well-being: Satisfaction with physical appearance, planning for the future, thinking about the meaning of life, feeling cared for, freedom from depression, not feeling alone and misunderstood, not feeling “invisible,” not often feeling guilty, having a sense of meaning to life, getting along well with siblings;

Relationships with adults: Closeness with parents, number of adults connected to, feeling understood by parents, sensing that parents pay attention, feeling they get the “right amount of freedom” from parents;

Moral reasoning and honesty: Belief in stable, absolute morality; not pursuing a “get-ahead” mentality; not just pleasure-seeking; less lying to parents and cheating in school;

Compassion: Caring about the needs of the poor, caring about the elderly, caring about racial justice;

Community: Participation in groups, financial giving, volunteer work (including with people of different races and cultures), helping homeless people, taking leadership in organizations.

The findings are overwhelming. On page after page, chart after chart, on every one of the ninety-one variables studied, the closer teens were to the “Devoted” end of the scale, the healthier their lives were. These are the results of Dawkins’ “child abuse.” This is what he complains is so bad for children."


**************

QED.

Take your Dawkins-loving anti-scientific screeds elsewhere, you're only going to get exposed as the anti-Christian bigot you are if you bring that crap here.

Victor Reppert said...

I think Carrier is one of those people who thinks he has competence in areas where he doesn't know what he's talking about. He wrote the critique of my paper, and he managed to explain intentionality "naturalistically" by defining it in terms of about 10 other intentional concepts.

cl said...

PatrickH,

"Imagine GNUs at seventy! Imagine Carrier at seventy! No one will listen to him, not one bit, not even the nursing home attendants.

And no one now or ever will take him seriously who is connected to mainstream scholarship in any of the areas in he's made of himself such a phudnik (phudnik = nudnik with a phd. nudnik = pest.)"


LOL! That's one of the funniest comments I've read in 2012. Maybe even the funniest. Cheers to you.

PatrickH said...

William said, "Teaching positions in ancient Western civilization history are so rare, how do you know that the course he took was not better for him than the alternatives (working as a sales rep or bank teller, moonlighting teaching at the community college level)?"

Pretty much the basis of my point, wasn't it? I still think Carrier isn't a sincere Myther...it's a career move. Too bad it's not one with a bigger future.

PatrickH said...

cl, thanks but I've got to give credit to that for Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish, where I read that definition many many years ago. It's a classic. Yiddish insults are the best ever.

cl said...

Mike Darus,

"Ridicule is the death of reason. We are no longer in the age of Jeopardy where contestants are rewarded for the correct answer. We are in the age of Family Feud where popularity determines what is right. Ridicule only works if you are willing to change your conviction based on what others think of you."

Wow, big applause over here. So well said. That deserves to be quoted, I hope you don't mind.

Allow me to ask: would you consider my last comment to Stephen Carr ridicule, or just brash? I used to pretty much condemn all forms of mockery and ridicule. Then, years of combox argumentation went by, and I found myself embracing both. These days, I'm starting to think a return to the early years might be better.

What do you think? How do you define ridicule?

Mike Darus said...

cl:
Your post is stronger if you start at, "Scientific evidence...". There is no need to talk about "blathering." Ridicule is when you demean the person to criticize their idea. Your facts are great. The personal attacts detract from the strength of your argument. Otherwise, you risk becoming what you ridicule.

Crude said...

William,

Such vituperativeness. You guys deserve Carrier to match your style :)

That's pretty much the point, believe it or not. At least from my view.

Carrier is the last guy who should be justifying the use of mockery and ridicule in these discussions, because he happens to be an easy target.

Mike Darus said...

sorry , "attacks". We used to be able to edit after posting.

Mike Darus said...

cl:
I changed my mind. Your post is fine the way it is. I will now be the ridicule police.

cl said...

Mike Darus,

Fair enough, that's about what I expected you'd say. I'm still trying to figure out where I stand on this. Like I said, I think I've become jaded from years of combox argumentation with people who mock and ridicule.

Although, I have to ask: What do you think about Jesus calling the Pharisees "vipers" and whatnot? Or children of the devil? How does that tie into things, in your opinion? Clearly the Lord saw a place for strong language, but, then again, the Lord also retains that right and I'm perfectly fine with accepting that such a right might be too risky of a responsibility for fallible human beings. Especially a natural born hothead like myself.

Also, your comment testifies to the strength and truth of your previous comment I cited. Because you spoke politely but honestly and forcefully, with respect, I was much more open to what you had to say. Had you fired back something like, "Your comment was obvious ridicule you moron," that probably would have built a bigger wall and decreased the chance of your message falling on fertile soil... very interesting, to say the least.

cl said...

@ Mike:

LOL! I posted before I saw your changed mind comment.

Karl Grant said...

Ridicule is the death of reason. We are no longer in the age of Jeopardy where contestants are rewarded for the correct answer. We are in the age of Family Feud where popularity determines what is right. Ridicule only works if you are willing to change your conviction based on what others think of you."

Well said, Mike.

By the way, does anybody else find it ironic that for a movement that claims to be a bastion of logic and rationality, the current crop of atheists seem blissfully unaware that appeal to ridicule is a logical fallacy?

cl said...

Karl Grant,

"By the way, does anybody else find it ironic that for a movement that claims to be a bastion of logic and rationality, the current crop of atheists seem blissfully unaware that appeal to ridicule is a logical fallacy?"

Well, yeah, but... I've noticed it's only a logical fallacy when it's aimed at them. If you ridicule them, they'll often kick you off their blog, or make some retort along the lines of, "Oh, what's the matter Christian, can't come up with a good argument so you have to call us names?" But then you'll find them out there mocking and insulting Christians, or applauding people like Snoop Dogg for mocking Tebow, demanding that we take *THEIR* mockery seriously because they're some oppressed minority or something.

oeigh;shiha

Sorry, that last line came out wrong because I just puked.

grodrigues said...

@Jonathan MS Pearce:

After using the qualifier "hack", I explained it. Maybe I should have been more explicit.

My field not being history, I am not competent to judge his work. With this caveat, and having read the rebuttals, I would say in a charitable spirit that he is not convincing.

"grodrigues, what of his have you read?"

"Not the impossible faith", "Why I am not a Christian", his articles in J. Loftus' "The end of Christianity" and various other bits and pieces. In other words, more than my stomach can handle.

Papalinton said...

""This study sorted its 3,290 participants into levels of religious involvement: the Devoted, the Regulars, the Sporadic, and the Disengaged. Because America’s predominant religious groupings are Christian, the “Devoted” and “Regulars” were predominantly Christian—Protestant and Catholic. ............... On page after page, chart after chart, on every one of the ninety-one variables studied, the closer teens were to the “Devoted” end of the scale, the healthier their lives were.."

Christian Smith,researcher; "Smith's larger theoretical agenda has been to move culture, morality, and identity to the center of sociological theorizing generally and the sociology of religion specifically."

http://www.nd.edu/~csmith22/

About his agenda? Nuff said?


A most interesting review of the study here [by Albert Mohler, no less]:
http://www.christianpost.com/news/moralistic-therapeutic-deism-the-new-american-religion-6266/

"When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism."
As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth." 2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions." 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself." 4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem." 5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and "whatever."

cl said...

Thanks for confirming the point, Paps. Even if we accept your research uncritically, 4 of 5 criteria of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism are wholly incompatible with atheism. Furthermore, a devout Christian will, by default, fulfill all 5 criteria.

So, the net result remains: according to this scientific evidence, children brought up with faith fare better than children brought up without faith. In other words, Dawkins' rant about "child abuse" is just unfounded, unscientific bigotry.

Papalinton said...

So, a devout christian is now defined as one that believes in a Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

Shrugs. "Whatever"

cl said...

Paps,

Nope. I can you see you READ what I said. Now, try to UNDERSTAND it. I'm willing to make an exception to my general rule of ignoring you here.