Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Embarrassment and the New Atheism

I'd like to see an atheist come out and say that they are as embarrassed by some of Dawkins' antics as I am when I hear people like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson appearing as spokesmen for Christianity.
Of course, Gnus have a name for an atheist who does this: Accommodationist.

118 comments:

Doug Benscoter said...

Thomas Nagel has made some criticisms of the new atheism. Unfortunately, he's not getting much press. At least he's well respected in philosophical circles, though.

Thrasymachus said...

My hunch is the non-new atheists are a) not interested on engaged with whatever the nu-atheists have written and so aren't in a position to be outraged our embarassed, and b) don't really have any sort of ideological clannishness: there's no sense that nu-atheists 'let the team down' because you don't buy into team atheism in the first place.

What little I've read from Nu-atheists is generally a bit rubbish, and I've attacked them in print. But I haven't read enough by them to convince me they're really bad, and if they did, I wouldn't feel much motivation to censor them: I don't think what they say should reflect badly on me, and I'm indifferent to the fate of the atheist 'movement' (although, if I wasn't, I might hold my nose about their attitude given their popular success).

Kathen said...

Victor Reppert

I don't understand what it is that you want. Many atheists have criticised the attitudes and behaviour of the Gnus. For instance, Michael Ruse, Jeremy Stangroom, R.Joseph Hoffmann. The Gnus would hardly have a word for such atheists if none existed.

You surely do not expect every atheist other than Dawkins to condemn Dawkins.

Clayton Littlejohn said...

I agree with Thrasymachus' (b).

(One addendum: Would I go so far as to say that they are on par with Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson? Maybe you could identify some sin of Dawkins' that is of the same magnitude as, say, blaming natural disasters on gays or calling for the assassination of world leaders. Has Dawkins ever said anything as bad as this, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers ... AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals." Falwell has.)

B. Prokop said...

Falwell was being absolutely disgusting when he said that. And you can't deny that Christians worldwide condemned his nonsense in the strongest possible terms. So whatever he said was/is on his own head, and not on anyone else's.

But as to atheists saying things equally disgusting, how about comparing religious education to child abuse? Or saying that you'd rather your daughter be raped than go to Sunday School? Or how about saying "religion poisons everything"? (over and over again) Or blaming the Holocaust on Christianity? Etc., etc., etc...

Clayton Littlejohn said...

Bob,
I am genuinely curious about that sunday school line. Who said that?

B. Prokop said...

For brevity's sake, I was paraphrasing Dawkins. His actual quote was, "Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place."

Kathen said...

B.Prokop

I am curious too. That sounds like something in Falwell's territory. None of your other examples come even close.

Clayton Littlejohn said...

Thanks, Bob.

I looked up the passage from the God Delusion. It's interesting. Dawkins seems to admit that the line was inappropriate when he first offered it off the cuff, but then he points out that the line he threw out irresponsibly was one endorsed by someone who had suffered sexual abuse. Is your position that (a) he's lying or (b) that it is worse for him to say that he endorses the view that was endorsed by a victim of sexual abuse than it is, say, for someone to have said any of the things that Robertson has said or that Falwell has said?

Having read the passage in Dawkins' book now, I suppose I'd still say that it's not entirely appropriate but nowhere near as bad as the sorts of things that Falwell and Robertson have said about homosexuals over the years.

As for the child abuse bit, this is another case where context seems to matter. In the passages I just read, his argument seems to be this:
(1) Religious instruction can cause psychological damage.
(2) Causing this sort of psychological damage can constitute a form of abuse.
(C) Thus, religious instruction can constitute a form of abuse.

You might know better than I if he's argued for something stronger than (C), but the modest argument offered here strikes me as being sound. (It would be unsound if 'can' is replaced by 'typically does' or 'always does', but I haven't seen him offer _that_ argument (yet), but I'm going by the bits of God Delusion that google books will let me see (around 359).)

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

B. Prokop: can you provide the full citation for that Dawkins quotation.

His claim seems preposterous to me. I want to see his argument for it.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor -- I have an idea. I think it would be very useful to have a generic summary of the kinds of rhetoric that are hateful, bigoted, or otherwise inappropriate, something that could be used to evaluate writings about religion just as much as it could be used to evaluate writings on anything else. If we could develop a list of 'neutral' criteria which people buy into, we could then objectively evaluate various writings against those criteria.

Any interest in developing such a list?

cl said...

In my opinion, Falwell's remarks are nothing compared to Sam Harris who says stuff like, "Some beliefs are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them," (The End of Faith, pp.52-53), or endorses nuking Islamists.

First off, a very CLEAR disclaimer for those prone to hearing what they want: I don't agree with Falwell...

...but he's just making a bigoted judgment regarding the causality of certain things. Harris, on the other hand, goes way past that line. I think Falwell's remarks are perceived as "worse" than Harris' because of the politically sensitive climate we find ourselves in WRT homosexuality.

It's really odd to me. Just even hint at the idea that homosexuality is a sin that brings punishments and you're the scum of the Earth, but attempt to justify the claim that some people should be killed not for what they do but for what they believe, and that's okay? Advocate a nuclear attack on Islamist countries and that's okay? C'mon people.

B. Prokop said...

"but the modest argument offered here strikes me as being sound"

If you really do think that, then you are indeed a True Gnu.

Karl Grant said...

What Cl said, Harris advocates starting World War III and killing people simply because they hold different beliefs. Show me one qoute were Falwell or Robertson advocate something similiar.

Clayton Littlejohn said...

Nice, Bob, you've resorted to name calling. If you think that the argument is unsound, why don't you identify which premise is false? Enlighten me.

(Also, Sam Harris is in a league of his own. He's a bigot, far as I'm concerned.)

Kathen said...

"Or saying that you'd rather your daughter be raped than go to Sunday School?"

When you said this did you really have in mind what Dawkins said in 'The God Delusion'? That is not paraphrasing, it is a complete distortion of Dawkins' words. If anyone has not read Dawkins' book, I would like to assure them that he does not say that he would rather his daughter be raped than go to Sunday school or anything remotely like that.

Matt DeStefano said...

I also agree with Thrasymachus's (b), and with Clayton's assessment that there is a gulf between the types of assertions that Falwell & Co. make versus those of Dawkins & Co.

I would add that Falwell's beliefs are tied to a fairly common reading of the Bible, a book that all Christians share in common as divine. Homosexuality is wrong, and God punishes sins. In the Bible, God punishes sins with natural disasters (the flood, the plagues, etc.), so it's not a gigantic stretch to suggest that God is punishing homosexuality with AIDs.

Jim S. said...

Keith Burgess-Jackson is an atheist who regularly lambasts the likes of Dawkins on his blog. For example, he writes, "I'm an atheist, but I have no hesitation in saying that the world is a much better place with religion in it than it would be without religion. Christianity in particular has done a world of good. I, for one, am grateful."

BenYachov said...

The remark attributed to Falwell is wrong from a Christian perspective since it is presumptuous for him to claim barring some Public Divine Revelation granted him(which by definition all such revelations ended with the last Apostle) to say any such particular disaster is a direct punishment sent by God.

One need only read the Book of Job to see God takes a negative view of Job's friends who pull the same stunt with Job.

Dawkins is an extremist and anyone who agrees with him on teaching children religion vs sexually assaulting them is one too.

BenYachov said...

>Dawkins seems to admit that the line was inappropriate when he first offered it off the cuff, but then he points out that the line he threw out irresponsibly was one endorsed by someone who had suffered sexual abuse.

I've read psychological surveys accounts back in college that stated a very, very, very, very, small number of women who are forcibly raped experience involuntary sexual arousal & or mild orgasm.

Does that make is right for someone who is in this hyper small minority to claim rape is not as bad as raising someone Catholic?

The rationalizations to justify what any sane man should condemn makes Victor's point.

You Gnus and Gnu wannabes need to get a clue.

B. Prokop said...

"Nice, Bob, you've resorted to name calling."

Really? And here I was assuming you'd take it as a compliment.

"it is a complete distortion of Dawkins' words"

How? I replaced "abuse" with rape". No distortion there. I replaced "bringing the child up Catholic" with "Sunday school". No distortion there. And the only reason I didn't quote him exactly in the first posting was that I was typing stream of consciousness and didn't bother looking up the exact wording. But I maintain that I got the essential meaning dead on. No distortion whatsoever. Please tell me what has been distorted.

BenYachov said...

BTW people if anyone here is going to attempt to rationalize someone's bad behavior on their side let me say up front.

STOP NOW!!! BEFORE YOU BORE THE SHIT OUT OF ME!

This game of "Our extremists are not as bad as your extremists" is f**king stupid!

Cut it out or I will be bored & when I get board I get cranky.

So watch people.

rank sophist said...

Clayton is pulling some truly disgusting damage control above. I'd be ashamed to be an atheist after reading that tripe. Let me offer a similarly idiotic argument.

1. Atheism can cause nihilism and amoral, even violent behavior.
2. Causing these things can constitute a form of abuse.
3. Thus, atheism can constitute a form of abuse.

Obviously, no one can argue with 1 after seeing the results of state atheism--and the actions of people like the Columbine shooters. Unless, of course, they deny that it was atheism that caused those things--in which case, they leave the door wide open to religious believers to make the exact same claim.

Also,

so it's not a gigantic stretch to suggest that God is punishing homosexuality with AIDs.

Spoken like a true ex-fundamentalist.

cl said...

Jim S,

From what I've gleaned thus far, KBJ is my new favorite atheist. The post you linked to, that's exactly what I expect from any atheist who truly does eschew party lines. As opposed to, well... the atheists who visit this place and generally seek to excuse, minimize or otherwise perform damage control. Which brings me to...

Littlejohn / DeStefano,

By what reasonable metric can we say that a man publicly stating his belief that God punishes homosexuals is worse or more dangerous (or what have you) than a man who advocates a nuclear attack against his ideological enemies?

cl said...

Karl,

"What Cl said, Harris advocates starting World War III and killing people simply because they hold different beliefs."

In all fairness, Harris clarified. This only applies when those beliefs have a non-trivial chance of leading to violent behavior. Of course, we both know that hardly changes the game and I suspect it may have just been damage control on Harris' part. For every person who has belief A and kills people, I'm willing to bet there are probably hundreds, thousands or more who also have belief A and live harmless, respectable lives.

rank sophist said...

This only applies when those beliefs have a non-trivial chance of leading to violent behavior.

Wait--doesn't that apply to the state atheism that Dawkins could be said to endorse? Is Harris proposing the assassination of Dawkins? Hasn't Harris himself advocated something akin to universal atheism? Is he recommending that he be killed as well?

Gnus.

cl said...

rank,

I know, I facepalmed and LOL'd at the proffered rationalization myself. I only mentioned it as a pre-emptive strike against those who would accuse me of omitting the fact that a clarification was attempted.

His clarification of the "first strike" business deserves a read. He at least acknowledges such would be a major crime against humanity, and in fact this is the same situation our leaders found themselves in re Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I dunno. At the end of the day you'll have both religious people and atheists saying reprehensible things, for, to say reprehensible things is a human condition, not related to (a)theism at all.

Mike Darus said...

(1) Kindergarten can cause psychological damage.
(2) Causing this sort of psychological damage can constitute a form of abuse.
(C) Thus, Kindergarten can constitute a form of abuse

Anything placed in this equation requires further clarification. There is something about the religious education, or atheism, or Kindergarten that makes it a form of abuse. It is likely "abusive Kindergarten", etc.

There is no proof of anything here.

Matt DeStefano said...

By what reasonable metric can we say that a man publicly stating his belief that God punishes homosexuals is worse or more dangerous (or what have you) than a man who advocates a nuclear attack against his ideological enemies?

cl, re-read the quote from Clayton's post. It's not merely saying that God punishes homosexuals, he's saying that opposing AIDs is akin to "an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers".

I'm not sure who you are referring to in the second post, but obviously context is important here. Why do they advocate a nuclear strike? Ideological differences? Safety? Ending a bloody conflict decisively? Genocide? I don't know that I would ever support a nuclear attack, but some of those reasons are a far cry from saying that opposing AIDs is opposing God's will.

Spoken like a true ex-fundamentalist.

I'm tickled pink that you think you know so much about my life. I already know that you have all sorts of neat, dismissive, psychological labels for me. If you have anything substantive to offer towards what I wrote, let me know.

Victor Reppert said...

I went through the whole child abuse claim a few years back as well as recently, and I do think that he goes beyond the sensible thing he might have said, and ends up actually making the unhinged claims that I consider to present serious problems.

Consider:

"It is evil to describe a child as a Muslim child or a Christian child. I think labelling children is child abuse and I think there is a very heavy issue, for example, about teaching about hell and torturing their minds with hell.
"It's a form of child abuse, even worse than physical child abuse. I wouldn't want to teach a young child, a terrifyingly young child, about hell when he dies, as it's as bad as many forms of physical abuse."

Now there are certainly different ways in which the doctrine of everlasting punishment can be understood and explained. The vision of hell that emerges from, say, Lewis's The Great Divorce, is very different from what you might read in Jonathan Edwards. But further, on all views of hell, we don't find, on the whole, children being damaged emotionally on anywhere near the scale we find them damaged by being sexually abused. We have scientific evidence on this, and it is troubling that Dawkins preaches the importance of evidence until he thinks his ideology will be served by ignoring it, in which case this is precisely what he does.

Further, he calls it "evil" to identify a child with religion, period, full stop. No distinction is made between more reasonable and moderate religious views, and fire-and-brimstone fundies of various religions on the other.

And it is true that the "New Atheists" have received criticism from other atheists.

Fanaticism is dangerous, and whether it's religious or anti-religious fanaticism doesn't matter. If you combine fanaticism with political power, people start dying.

rank sophist said...

Matt,

Whether or not you ever have been a fundamentalist--or religious at all--is wholly irrelevant to my point. I, personally, know nothing about your life and make no claim to such knowledge. Rather, your theological understanding here and in past debates has reeked of theistic personalism, Biblical literalism and a belief in both sola scriptura and the perspicuity of scripture. These are the hallmarks of Christian fundamentalism. Only from such a position could one state that AIDs-as-divine-punishment is not a "gigantic stretch". To the average Christian--that is, most in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and High Church Protestant traditions--, this would be an absurd and arguably blasphemous idea. The (largely white, largely uneducated, largely bigoted, largely American) group that would support such a claim is laughably small.

cl said...

Matt,

So, implying that opposing AIDS interferes with God's punishments is worse than implying one might approve of a nuclear pre-emptive strike that would kill, in Harris' own words, "tens of millions of innocents?"

How do you make this make sense in your mind?

BenYachov said...

>re-read the quote from Clayton's post. It's not merely saying that God punishes homosexuals, he's saying that opposing AIDs is akin to "an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers".

Fun Traditional Religious Fact.

According to Jewish Midrash when the Angels wanted to Sing over the Egyptians drowning in the Sea, God said "My creatures are drowning in the sea and you sing songs?".

Like I said assuming this is an accurate statement of Jerry Falwell then he is presumptuous to credit it with God's will.

>I'm tickled pink that you think you know so much about my life. I already know that you have all sorts of neat, dismissive, psychological labels for me. If you have anything substantive to offer towards what I wrote, let me know.

You are by your own statements a young man raised by a nominally Jewish single mother.

Yet to date your understanding of religion is pure fundamentalism and or Theistic Personalism.

I wouldn't so much mind but to date you seemed determined to not wanting to break out of that mold.

BenYachov said...

>But further, on all views of hell, we don't find, on the whole, children being damaged emotionally on anywhere near the scale we find them damaged by being sexually abused.

I of course will again bring up from memory that case of the testimony of some ex-Atheist women who told how horrified and scared she was when she asked her mother what happens when you die and her mother told her we cease to exist.

For some, the impending fear of non-being and or the complete loss of Self is as horrible as any version Hell.

Otherwise why would we rage against the dying of the light?

OTOH you can make a reasonable Epicurean philosophical argument on why one should not fear non-being(not that I find it convincing but some may).

Dawkins is and let us be kind to him, a total f***ing idiot!

You can either explain what you believe are the ultimate truths of life and existence to your kids as gently and as soberly as possible.

Or you can be an idiot about it.

But Dawkins isn't interested in truth. He is a fundamentalist without god belief.

Silly man.

Victor Reppert said...

I heard a "quad preacher" once say
"Back in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, God had the homosexuals in one place. So he sent fire and brimstone. Now, they're all over the world. So he sent AIDS."

I consider it horrendously unbiblical to pick out one particular sin, such as homosexuality, as especiallyl deserving of divine destructive wrath. I find such statements nauseating.

But saying we should kill people for what they believe, or saying that people who teach their children religious beliefs are abusing them. If he had stopped with the statement that sometimes people can mess a child up by scaring them with hell right left and center, as a way of controlling their behavior, that modest argument would certainly be reasonable. The trouble is, he doesn't stop there---he goes on and calls all religious upbringing abusive. I know what we all wish he had said, but the problem is he didn't stop there. And what he did say reeks of fanaticism, and implies, whether he said so or not, that the state has an interest in preventing people from teaching their children religion. I would consider that an embarrassing statement if it came from someone believed as I did in other respects.

Matt DeStefano said...

So, implying that opposing AIDS interferes with God's punishments is worse than implying one might approve of a nuclear pre-emptive strike that would kill, in Harris' own words, "tens of millions of innocents?"

It's "worse" because the former (oppose AIDs because homosexuals deserve to die and God is doing it through AIDs) isn't rationally defensible, while the latter (potentially, at least) is depending upon circumstance.

. I, personally, know nothing about your life and make no claim to such knowledge.

You've consistently engaged in labeling games without addressing what I've written. It's become par for the course with you.

To the average Christian--that is, most in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and High Church Protestant traditions--, this would be an absurd and arguably blasphemous idea.

Did God punish humanity through the Flood? Did God punish the Egyptians by sending the plagues? Did God strike down Ananias and Sapphire for lying to the Spirit? Did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?

According to Catholic.com, "So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the "abominable thing" that set off God’s wrath. "

So, tell me, why it is a leap that God would be punishing homosexual behavior today?

Matt DeStefano said...

You are by your own statements a young man raised by a nominally Jewish single mother.\

and other psycho-analysis


This is all completely irrelevant, but I wanted to correct this in particular. I'm not sure where you are getting this, but my mother is certainly not Jewish.

Matt DeStefano said...

I consider it horrendously unbiblical to pick out one particular sin, such as homosexuality, as especiallyl deserving of divine destructive wrath. I find such statements nauseating.

Saying that God is punishing one sin (through fire, or AIDs, or whatever other instrument of choice) is not the same as saying that God only punishes one sin, or that one such sin is more deserving.

B. Prokop said...

Did God punish humanity through the Flood?
No.

Did God punish the Egyptians by sending the plagues?
No.

Did God strike down Ananias and Sapphire for lying to the Spirit?
Maybe. We don't know. All we do know is that Peter thought He did.

Did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?
No.

Your wooden Biblical literalism is showing through.

cl said...

Matt,

So, "we should risk starting a nuclear war and kill tens of millions of innocent people because a few of the extremist in their countries might attack us" ... that's rationally defensible to you?

Victor Reppert said...

The idea that some natural disaster is God's wrath on Sin X, as opposed to some other, without any support from revelation, is ridiculous.

The Bible doesn't say that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of homosexuality. It is only popular eisegesis that suggests that it was.

cl said...

Matt,

"You've consistently engaged in labeling games without addressing what I've written. It's become par for the course with you."

I feel your pain. This, after all, is what you did to me WRT to "Creationism" and my "anti-science" writing. Worse, you never apologized or even gave any indication whatsoever that you were considering you may have unfairly labelled me. Hell, at least rank's labeling didn't put an abrupt end to an otherwise fruitful debate, ya know what I mean?

cl said...

With all due respect to the brethren, I'd like to distance myself from the denials that "God didn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah." From Genesis:

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city! ” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

Unless there's something I'm missing, it seems to me some of y'all are directly denying clear Scripture with no good reason.

Matt DeStefano said...

Prokop,

Cute quip, but you've got some explaining to do:

24 And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth. (Gen 19: 24-25)

5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes (2 Peter 2:6-7)

And Jude said, "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7)

Here's Jesus on Sodom:

"But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city." (Luke 10: 10-12)

Were Moses, Jude, Peter, and Jesus all mistaken about not only what happened to Sodom but to who carried it out?

Catholics believe it was God who destroyed it: "For the unnatural sins of their inhabitants Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama, and Seboin were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" (Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:24, 29; Hosea 11:8). Since then, their names are synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall with a proverbial manifestation of God's just wrath (Deuteronomy 29:23; 32:32; Isaiah 1:10 sqq.; Ezekiel 16:49; Matthew 11:23 sq.; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7)" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14130a.htm)

Matt DeStefano said...

Victor,

The Bible doesn't say that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of homosexuality. It is only popular eisegesis that suggests that it was.


Here's Jude 1:7

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

It seems to me that "going after strange [different] flesh" clearly refers to homosexuality in this verse. After all, consider Genesis 19:4-5:

4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

I feel your pain. This, after all, is what you did to me WRT to "Creationism" and my "anti-science" writing. Worse, you never apologized or even gave any indication whatsoever that you were considering you may have unfairly labelled me. Hell, at least rank's labeling didn't put an abrupt end to an otherwise fruitful debate, ya know what I mean?


I'm sorry that you felt I unfairly labeled you as a Creationist and "anti-science" (although I only remember saying you went on "anti-science diatribes", but it amounts to the same thing perhaps). From our e-mails and the PoE debate, I came to conclusions about what you believed based on what was said.

I was under the impression that you took Genesis literally and denied the narrative of evolution. If that misrepresents your views, you can always tell me what it is you do believe.

Victor Reppert said...

I believe that there was a sexual dimension to the sin of Sodom. However, the unwarranted assumption is that they wanted to have gay sex with the visitors because they enjoyed it so much amongst themselves. I think that the gay sex was a means of domination and way of exercising power over less powerful persons. In other words, sex was a weapon of domination.

http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2010/05/more-on-sodom-and-sodomy.html

cl said...

Matt,

Though I am on your side against those who deny that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, I think you are stretching when you try to make Jude 1:7 into an exclusive indictment on homosexuality. Personally, I don't think "going after strange flesh" is a reference to homosexuality, or, at least not to homosexuality exclusively. I think it has more to do with bestiality and/or sex with angels, demons and/or other oddities. Though I agree with Victor in the sense that the Bible doesn't list homosexuality and homosexuality only as the cause of the punishment, I could not agree with Victor if he means to claim that homosexuality played no part in God's decision. I don't know whether he's making the former claim, or the latter.

"I'm sorry that you felt I unfairly labeled you as a Creationist and "anti-science""

See? You still deny responsibility. You're sorry that I felt unfairly labeled, not sorry that you unfairly labeled me, nor do you seem the least bit sorry that your disdain for creationism was the primary contributor that ruined the debate between Peter and I. I find this highly annoying and irresponsible.

"From our e-mails and the PoE debate, I came to conclusions about what you believed based on what was said."

Well, kind of. You came to conclusions based on what you believed I said, and you did so without a single request to clarify. So I can only empathize with you so far when I hear you whining about others who label you. Like I said, at least their labeling isn't ruining genuine intellectual pursuits between yourself and others.

"If that misrepresents your views, you can always tell me what it is you do believe."

I suppose there's nothing I can do but try to make these things even clearer for those who tend to see what they want to see, eh? I told you then, and I've stated it countless times in various comments around my own blog. I am agnostic WRT how many calendar years have passed since Earth and/or the universe were created. I accept that small-scale or (micro)evolution occurs. I am skeptical—very skeptical—of the "evolutionary narrative," i.e. the claim that "natural selection" and "mutations" can account for all life. In my opinion, the evidence we have favors special creation of some kind (e.g. the Cambrian explosion among many other pieces of evidence).

Make a note this time will ya?

cl said...

Victor,

I see that you clarified while I was posting my last comment. I think the post you linked to does a MUCH better job of presenting your position than the single line, "The Bible doesn't say that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of homosexuality." It seems too easy to walk away with the wrong impression if all one reads is that single line in isolation.

Thanks for clarifying. I suppose now I only disagree with Prokop's claim that God didn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Matt,

Can you explain how your position is rational, as I was asking July 19, 2012 7:09 PM?

B.L.T. said...

I think that one thing that is unquestionable is that both the 4 horsemen and televangelists like Pat Robertson make extremely oversimplified claims with little to no justification. And they do so with great conviction. Honestly, I think its largely because they don't know when to shut up. Dawkins has made a fool of himself over and over again, new atheists on yt are constantly making sophomoric and down right offensive videos.

rank sophist said...

Did God punish humanity through the Flood? Did God punish the Egyptians by sending the plagues? Did God strike down Ananias and Sapphire for lying to the Spirit? Did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?

Going to defer to B. Prokop on these points, partly because they're irrelevant to what I said. How are these events in scripture connected to the contemporary formation of beliefs with regard to AIDS? Should we also use the massacre of the Canaanites as a guide to war? Should we start sacrificing animals again? Only a sola scriptura literalist like yourself would find this move interesting.

The fundamentalist idea of calling current natural phenomena a manifestation of God's wrath is, quite simply, superstition. You see it from a lot of the American fundies--people like Michelle Bachmann and John Hagee. You might also see it from a Calvinist. But it simply is not the majority view, and it isn't present in the doctrines of most Christian denominations. The Catholic church, for instance, officially endorses the theology of Thomas Aquinas, which leads directly to the conclusion that things like diseases and earthquakes are the results of natural causes colliding. God allows this stuff to happen, but he doesn't cause it as a result of some kind of anger. You would likely get similar answers from the doctrines of most Christian denominations, and from believers in general. Of course, your modus operandi is to go straight for a literalist interpretation of scripture while ignoring the rest of Christian tradition--a purely fundamentalist move.

rank sophist said...

I should add that my comment about it being "arguably blasphemous" is related to the idea of envisioning God as a human-like agent who possesses emotional states and rules tyrannically over the human race. Even a hardened fundie might get squeamish over that one.

cl said...

rank,

So, I suppose you view Genesis' account of Sodom and Gomorrah as hyperbole? I must say, I don't know what to make of your comments. I'm not a fundie, nor am I a Calvinist. At the same time, I'm not closed to the whole "natural causes" thing, in fact the idea of God sitting above the Earth saying, "I'll send an earthquake here and there" has always struck me funny. Now, "it strikes me funny" isn't a valid objection, don't get me wrong.

I just wonder how you can read something like Genesis and write it off as hyperbole. Where do you draw the line? Why is that hyperbole, as opposed to, say, Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations, or to get baptized? I guess my question is, once we trot out the "oh that part is just hyperbole" response, when can we make a principled objection to the next person who trots it out?

cl said...

Prokop,

Can you help me understand your position? Is it like rank's? IOW, you believe the Sodomites sin was the direct causal factor of the fire storm? Or, asked differently, would you say God did not directly cause the fire storm? Are you proposing sin as some sort of mechanism that triggers horrific punishments once enough has accumulated? If so, why don't we see more firestorms today, especially since there are many more people and presumably much more sin?

If not, what are you saying? I'm interested.

Matt DeStefano said...

Going to defer to B. Prokop on these points, partly because they're irrelevant to what I said.

Well, Catholicism seems to disagree with you: "For the unnatural sins of their inhabitants Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama, and Seboin were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14130a.htm)

Or do they have it wrong too? Are they also "fundies" who hold to a "Sola Scriptura" account?

How are these events in scripture connected to the contemporary formation of beliefs with regard to AIDS?

If God punished sinful people in the past with floods, firestorms, and other natural occurring phenomena, it could also be the case that God uses AIDs to punish homosexuals.

Should we also use the massacre of the Canaanites as a guide to war? Should we start sacrificing animals again? Only a sola scriptura literalist like yourself would find this move interesting.

Infantile psychological jibes aside, I can't see how these questions are relevant to what I've said. After all, Catholics do believe that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. (See also: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality)


The Catholic church, for instance, officially endorses the theology of Thomas Aquinas, which leads directly to the conclusion that things like diseases and earthquakes are the results of natural causes colliding. God allows this stuff to happen, but he doesn't cause it as a result of some kind of anger.

Who said anything about God being angry? You keep reading this gloss onto my posts which simply isn't there.

rank sophist said...

Matt,

Why are you bringing scripture back into this? I already informed you that it's completely irrelevant to my point. Most Christian traditions don't believe that contemporary natural phenomena like AIDS and earthquakes are a form of divine punishment. The people who do also tend to be believers in Biblical literalism and sola scriptura (which, by the way, means "scripture alone"--since you seemed to take it as some kind of insult). In all but Protestantism, scripture is understood to be part of a long, long tradition. Ignoring that tradition in favor of a straight reading of the Bible is, at best, a Protestant move that would be unpopular with the majority of Christians (who are Catholic and Eastern Orthodox). At worst, it's a literalist fundie move.

That is the entire point of my original comment: your statement that AIDS-as-punishment isn't a "gigantic stretch" is something with which only a small minority of Christians--most of them outside mainline traditions--would agree. By and large, those people happen to be fundamentalists. That you think it believable theology puts you in that group.

cl,

I just wonder how you can read something like Genesis and write it off as hyperbole. Where do you draw the line? Why is that hyperbole, as opposed to, say, Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations, or to get baptized? I guess my question is, once we trot out the "oh that part is just hyperbole" response, when can we make a principled objection to the next person who trots it out?

I have no comment on the contents of scripture. My point was the relevance of certain Biblical events to the contents of Christian tradition.

arthurcanfootnote said...

Dr. Reppert,

To Kathen's list, I would add Massimo Pigliucci. If you insist, I will find you 10 more prominent atheists hitherto unmentioned. Since the internet is the center of atheist community, I would also be happy to locate substantial atheist forums/groups which echo these criticisms. If you think that Dawkins-at-his-worst has not met with considerable opposition in the secular world, you have not been following closely. (Happy to agree that silly and pernicious ideas can always be criticized more.) On your first comment:

"Fanaticism is dangerous, and whether it's religious or anti-religious fanaticism doesn't matter. If you combine fanaticism with political power, people start dying."

Has there been or is there any likely prospect of there being a single death attributable to the political power of new atheists? Let's not allow the hyperbole of others to excuse our own. The comparisons to Robertson and Falwell are almost beneath discussion.

I think that before his self-explanation, Dawkins' invocation of child abuse is cheap and ugly. His explanation forces me to think he has lost proportion. No, the religious labeling of children is nowhere near so severe an ethical problem as physical or sexual abuse. I do not think that child abuse should be cheapened in such a manner.

That said: there are people who are seriously scarred by the fear of Hell. But this is rare. The larger issue on the net is the one whose instances are in no way comparable to child abuse. The religious labeling of children is illegitimate and creepy. That such labeling is for many a matter of dogma is disturbing. These points are not to be forgotten. They are also not limited to matters of religion; the point made by Hitchens and Dawkins is that usually such illegitimate labellings are accepted only in matters of religion, moderate or not: children are not typically defined into political or philosophical factions to the same degree that they are into religion.

Sure, there are "we've always voted Democrat in this family" types common from where I come, but that doesn't involve weekly services or party membership. Nor does American society automatically grant political inheritance the legitimacy it grants religious inheritance.

The quibbles aside, I enjoyed your comments on Sodom and Gomorrah very much.

arthurcanfootnote said...

On `accommodationism':

In my admittedly limited but long-running experience, mere criticism of Dawkins, Hitchens, or any other prominent atheist does not result in one being labeled as an accommodationist.

As a label, `accommodationist' is usually employed as it sounds. Usually it is employed in the context of strategy concerning the popularization of evolutionary theory. It refers to secular people who ask that atheists stop attacking religion generally in order to make an alliance with or prevent the scaring away of theistic evolutionists and other moderates. Following e.g. PZ Myers, `accommodationist' would not apply to an atheist seeking to make common cause with theistic evolutionists unless that same atheist simultaneously told the anti-theists to shut up.

The primary complaint against `accommodationists' amongst new atheists is the (rather well-supported) belief that their primary goal is to silence critics of religion. My impression is that new atheists typically accept a "different strategies by different groups" approach, even if they feel that the alliance-with-moderates approach is ineffective.

The label can be applied outside of this context, but this is the major usage. So an atheist who drew moral equivalences between Dawkins and Falwell in order to advance his or her standing with religious people may be considered an accommodationist. The operating definition of the label - though not always applied - is something like `atheist willing to not voice the (in his view) correct criticisms of religion in order to accommodate the feelings of the religious.'

It's a curse word, mostly since its meaning approximates `liar' and `sycophant.' The term has grown stronger with time since many `accommodationists' have repeatedly shown themselves willing to throw other atheists under the bus in pursuit of their own interests. Again, I can track down examples for the interested.

arthurcanfootnote said...

Edit: `atheist willing to not voice the (in his view) correct criticisms of religion in order to accommodate the feelings of the religious.' should be `atheist neither wanting to voice nor have voiced by others the (in his view) correct criticisms of religion in order to accommodate the feelings of the religious.'

B. Prokop said...

cl (and others),

There's no mystery about my own views on the historicity of the Old Testament. Ben and I have had discussions previously on this topic on this website.

I know this is getting off the topic of this particular thread, but just so there's no misunderstanding, I'm far from being a Biblical literatist. I regard the majority of the OT as having an historical foundation analogous to the Arthurian legends. For the most part, I could not care less whether or not there was ever an historical Abraham, Moses, or even David. (I happen to believe there were, but the question of their historicity does not cause me to lose any sleep.) I feel one can glean the same Truths from the OT narratives whether you regard them as court histories or pious storytelling.

Now as for the New Testament, that's a whole different kettle of fish. The Gospels and Acts are about as historically accurate as it comes. And it is essential that they be so.

The bottom line is this: If I were to learn tomorrow that Moses and Abraham were complete and total myth, it wouldn't affect my faith in the slightest. Alternatively, were to to learn there was an actual Tower of Babel or a Noah, neither would that make any difference. What is critical is Jesus. I challenged Papalinton some months back to name something that would cause him to abandon his atheism, and took the first step by identifying what would destroy my faith - which was proof that the Resurrection did not occur. Because unlike Hinduism or most other religions, Christianity is bedrock founded on verifiable historical events.

Fortunately for the Faith, the New Testament narrative has been decisively confirmed historically time and time and time again. In fact, it's rather amusing how regularly the alternative narratives of the deniers and skeptics get absolutely shredded by the facts as they come out - archaeologically, historically, geographically, logically, linguistically, on textual grounds, etc., etc.

BenYachov said...

@Matt

>This is all completely irrelevant, but I wanted to correct this in particular. I'm not sure where you are getting this, but my mother is certainly not Jewish.

I seem to remember you mentioning that you came from a Jewish back round?

Fine then. It's your bio. Your that expert on your own life.

>Did God punish humanity through the Flood? Did God punish the Egyptians by sending the plagues? Did God strike down Ananias and Sapphire for lying to the Spirit? Did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?

Bait and switch bullshit. I never said God couldn't punish particular individuals or groups by inflicting natural disasters on them. I never said God couldn't reveal via Public Revelation that He was doing just that to a particular group of people. Nor have I said He has never done that.

I said if you could read the Queen's English, that it was presumption on the part of Falwell to state apart from a Public Revelation(which can't happen since the death of the last Apostle) that any particular disaster was God afflicting a punishment.

Job's friends still got into trouble for that.

According to the Public Revelation found in Scripture, Sodom and Gomorrah where destroyed for the following crimes, sexual perversion, idol worship, oppressing the poor and defrauding workers of their wages etc....

But if an Earthquake destroys San Francisco tomorrow, without a public revelation it is the sin of presumption to say God blew up the city by the bay for it's colorful and "fabulous" denizens.

>So, tell me, why it is a leap that God would be punishing homosexual behavior today?

I don't know for certain any tragic natural affliction on any individuals isn't a punishment from God but I know it is presumptuous and wicked to speak as if it where one or make that judgment.

When I went to the Options Institute years ago to help my Autistic Daughter I met a lovely couple from Great Britain. Jane & Michael they had an Autistic son named George. Jane & Michael where not religious and Michael told me so. Am I too say they having an Autistic Son was God punishing them for the sin of non-belief? But then what about me? In the end I acquired three Autistic Children yet I have believed in God all my life?

Christians are not suppose to sit around trying to figure out which natural evils that afflict them or others are punishments from God. They are obligated to get right with God threw Faith and repentance.

My my original points stand.

Also Bob is a bit of a liberal when it comes to the Old Testament and it's historical character.

His views are a mixture of truth and some, I believe, innocent error. But I am neither his Pastor nor His Bishop.

But as far as I can tell he has no intention of going against the Church Authority. I think (& I hope he doesn't think I am talking down to him) he could benefit from some more theological education.

But God did wipe out Sodom for it's sins.

toddes said...

@Matt DeStefano,

If it helps, B. Prokop has stated it previous comments that he views the Old Testament stories as. IIRC, little more than Religious Fiction. Theological truth can e gleaned from it but the events are not historical.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

You and I have a wonderful, friendly disagreement over what I regard as a minor theological point. On the Big Issues, we're singing off the same sheet of music.

BenYachov said...

Peace be with you Brother Bob.

cl said...

B. Prokop,

I appreciate your willingness to explain. So, basically it sounds like your saying one can interpret pretty much anything in the OT as hyperbole, but nothing (or very little?) that has to do with Jesus? Is that a fair paraphrase of your position?

Also, what about the firestorm to come? Surely that's in the NT, so it escapes the OT loophole. Do you believe that God is going to cause the Earth to melt and all that? Or, do you believe God is essentially a deist God that doesn't "push the destruct button" and that once a certain amount of sin and/or time has accumulated, the coming destruction will be the result of natural causes?

Thanks again, I'm not trying to falsify or attack your view or anything like that. I'm trying to understand.

cl said...

rank,

"I have no comment on the contents of scripture. My point was the relevance of certain Biblical events to the contents of Christian tradition."

So you refuse to answer a genuine question of why you consider the pertinent verses from Genesis to be hyperbole, as opposed to other verses? Well, okay. I'll be sure not to ask you to help me understand your position in the future, but I hope you can empathize with the frustration of trying to engage with somebody who won't even explain themselves.

cl said...

Matt,

"Well, Catholicism seems to disagree with you: "For the unnatural sins of their inhabitants Sodom, Gomorrha, Adama, and Seboin were destroyed by "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven"..."

It's things like this that tend to merit the jibes, in my opinion. Rank already clarified what was meant by the verses which allude to God destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, yet, here you are still beating your chest and totally ignoring it. Why don't you at least listen and move on to the next logical question? I tried, but rank wouldn't explain. Maybe rank will explain if you try?

Here's the bottom line, Matt: you're telling us that a bigoted metaphor is "worse" than an endorsement of a nuclear strike that would kill tens of millions of *INNOCENT* people, simply because you say that latter is "rationally defensible." This seems to imply that rational defensibility is a reliable measure of normative prescriptivity but you've given no justification for such a claim. Do you have any idea how much sicker that makes you sound than Falwell? Since you give no justification or explanation, I'm left to provisionally conclude it's all because of an irrational irreligious bent. Keeping that bent in check would do wonders for the philosophy career you are embarking upon. Failing to keep that irreligious bent in check is going to turn you into even more of a New Atheist type.

Think about it: you got so up-in-arms over what you thought was an endorsement of YEC that you crapped on a legitimate debate. I've thought about this quite a bit. If you'd asked me to preside over a debate between you and somebody else, and you were going to argue the Myther hypothesis, I wouldn't get all pissy, judge you as an idiot and crap on your debate. I'd say to myself, "Well, I think the Myther hypothesis is pure hubris, but out of *RESPECT* for Matt and his intellectual endeavors I'll maintain my commitments."

But, whatever. Last from me about here, I just want you to explain the original topic of Falwell vs. Harris.

B. Prokop said...

cl,

The word hyperbole has a distinct negative connotation, and is not one I would use. I see God's revelation of Himself to the world in the OT era as a "work in progress", with mankind's understanding of it as partial and not always getting it. Note the first line of Hebrews: "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets". But this is contrasted to the NT era: "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son". Through the manifestation of the Word, we have absolute clarity and fullness of Truth.

But I'm confused as to where you got the impression that I thought the OT had "nothing (or very little?) that has to do with Jesus". Heck, it's all about Jesus.

Note to any atheists or skeptics reading this: I'm emphatically not making any arguments here. CL has asked me to clarify my position, and I am simply letting him know where I stand.

cl said...

"But I'm confused as to where you got the impression that I thought the OT had "nothing (or very little?) that has to do with Jesus"."

I'm confused as to where you got *THAT* impression! That's not at all what I said. I said you seem to endorse an exegesis that allows one to freely interpret any (all? most?) of the OT as "hyperbole" (or metaphor or fiction or myth-with-truth or what have you), but does not permit one to do the same with the NT. It sounds like you believe we can just arbitrarily declare parts of the OT as "not literal truth" but we can't do that with the NT. I don't see where the principled distinction is.

" I see God's revelation of Himself to the world in the OT era as a "work in progress", with mankind's understanding of it as partial and not always getting it."

Okay, so then do you believe that the NT verse, "5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes (2 Peter 2:6-7)" ... is that also metaphor? A work in progress? I ask because when I read it, the straight-forward, inescapable conclusion seems to be that God was the causal agent behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But you explicitly denied that above, and I'm wondering why. I'm not saying you're wrong. I just want to know, what makes that denial "click" in your mind?

B. Prokop said...

When a New Testament writer is commenting on the Old Testament, he is doing so using the exegetical tools of the time. The passage you quoted does not become "false", or something that cannot be believed, simply because it refers to a-historical events.

There is a colossal difference in kind between the NT narratives and the letters. 2 Peter is basically a sermon, and should be read as such. Asking one to take every reference in it in a wooden literalist fashion would be equivalent to insisting that John of Patmos intended for us to believe that at some future point in time, a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns was going to literally appear on the Earth.

All people are going to get from me by bringing up NT references to OT characters like Adam, Jonah, Noah, Job, etc. as evidence of their historicity is a gigantic yawn.

cl said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure how to avoid this feeling more like an "argument" because it's not.

Again, my question: if you are able to just write off any event from the OT as fictional, why do you take the NT as truth? And, when is it okay to write one OT event off as fictional but not another?

You said you believe David existed. So, you clearly believe at least some of the OT is literal truth. What methodology do you employ here, and how do you employ it in the NT?

Zach said...

This post is evidence more of parochial reading habits than informed opinion. Go beyond the internet for your atheism Victor. Heck I'm a Christian, but know most atheists are critical of new atheists.

Plus, you insinuate that Dawkins is as bad as Falwell. This is preposterous. People with intellectual standards should cringe much more at Falwell and such than Dawkins. Yes, Dawkins can be superficial and cringe-worthy at times, but Falwell is in a different league.

Perhaps Loftus is the Falwell of the atheists.

B. Prokop said...

No methodology. I actually "believe" in the historicity of most OT figures, but I give no weight to that fact. If someone were to come forth with case-closed evidence that (for example) Moses never existed, it wouldn't change my faith in the least, because it's not dependent on his literal existence.

Off to a much-needed haircut. I'll (hopefully) answer your question about why I believe in the NT's historical reliability later today.

BenYachov said...

cl,

Makes the point why I find Bob's approach to be flawed.

Now granted there are two potential extremist views. The hyper-literal vs the hyper allegorical but the Catholic takes the middle road.

I certainly believe in the Exodus but I very very much doubt literally 2 million people mass migrated from ancient Egypt. The archeology doesn't bare that out.

But the Hebrew word eleph can mean literally "a thousand" or "military unit" or "chief" "officer" etc.

So 600,000 fighting men can merely mean 600 military units.

There is no logical reason to deny the existence of Adam, Jonah, Noah, Job, etc...

It is also the normative tradition of the Church to accept them as historical persons.

rank sophist said...

So you refuse to answer a genuine question of why you consider the pertinent verses from Genesis to be hyperbole, as opposed to other verses? Well, okay. I'll be sure not to ask you to help me understand your position in the future, but I hope you can empathize with the frustration of trying to engage with somebody who won't even explain themselves.

I don't know why I need to explain myself on this matter when, as I have said repeatedly, it isn't relevant to my point. If you really want to know, I am no expert on Biblical scholarship; and so I defer judgment on points like these to people who know what they're talking about.

Again, though: Biblical exegesis was never part of my argument. I was basing my complaint on doctrine. Matt, in keeping with his Protestant (and fundie) tendencies, decided to call upon scripture to argue against me. Because, of course, scripture would be the only available option to someone like that. By doing this, he merely proved my initial point: that literalists who base their entire theology on scripture would be among the only people to think that the statement "AIDS is divine punishment" is not a "gigantic stretch".

In other words, Matt has the religious understanding of a fundie or ex-fundie. If he was going to argue his point, he would first have to attack the beliefs of the major churches and show how their traditions are untrue to "real Christianity". (As an aside, I'm in agreement with Ben on the matter of attributing current natural phenomena to God's will. Without direct revelation, we shouldn't even consider it. God could, of course, destroy a city or send a plague or what have you--he could annihilate the entire universe in an instant. But rationalizing every event of life as part of a "divine plan"--a plan that we can legitimately try to understand--leads directly to superstition.)

B. Prokop said...

I guess you can boil down my position to one of sufficiency. what is required by way of belief to legitimately call one's self a Christian. I've said this previously on this website, but my position is if you can recite every word of the Nicene Creed and mean it, you're a Christian (at least, by belief). If you acknowledge the True Presence in the Eucharist, you're an Orthodox/Catholic/High Church Anglican. If you recognize the authority of the Magisterium in matters of faith and morals, then you're a member in good standing of the One, Holy, [Roman] Catholic, and Apostolic Church. All else is window dressing.

(It's analogous to a favorite saying of my late father-in-law, an engineer: "Architecture is what falls off during an earthquake. Engineering is what's left standing")

Acknowledging the historicity of the New Testament narratives is fundamental to believing the Creed. You can't have one without the other.

Note that this is in no way an argument for the faith, and I'm not asking anyone to accept it as such. But I have been asked where I stand on these things, and here I stand. As to why I believe these things, no single blog post could ever contain all the multitudinous good and sufficient reasons for doing so.

Matt DeStefano said...

In other words, Matt has the religious understanding of a fundie or ex-fundie. If he was going to argue his point, he would first have to attack the beliefs of the major churches and show how their traditions are untrue to "real Christianity". (As an aside, I'm in agreement with Ben on the matter of attributing current natural phenomena to God's will. Without direct revelation, we shouldn't even consider it. God could, of course, destroy a city or send a plague or what have you--he could annihilate the entire universe in an instant. But rationalizing every event of life as part of a "divine plan"--a plan that we can legitimately try to understand--leads directly to superstition.)

What point do you think I was trying to make, rank? Seriously, I don't think you've bothered to interact with what I actually wrote, only your caricature of it. It's hilarious to me that you feel as though you can continue to judge my knowledge of religion based on our fleeting combox discussion. It's so preposterously arrogant that I can't help but laugh.

Matt DeStefano said...

Plus, you insinuate that Dawkins is as bad as Falwell. This is preposterous. People with intellectual standards should cringe much more at Falwell and such than Dawkins. Yes, Dawkins can be superficial and cringe-worthy at times, but Falwell is in a different league.

Zach, you should hang around here more often.

rank sophist said...

Matt,

Well, there's a dodge if I've ever seen one. You take a fundamentalist position ("Let's quote the Bible while ignoring tradition and doctrine!") and assume that it's relevant to all of Christianity; I call you on said position, demonstrating that it doesn't apply to most denominations; and then you suggest that I have somehow misrepresented your statements. You then claim that my analysis of your (demonstrably fundamentalist) theological notions is "preposterously arrogant".

Matt, your ideas about technical matters like classical theism, the relationship between scripture and tradition, the DDS and the Christian view of evil have proven, in debate after debate, to be hopelessly out of touch with most of Christianity. Your understanding is limited to the newest and most Protestantized versions of the religion, ranging from fundamentalism to the work of theistic personalists like Platinga and Swinburne. Perhaps you don't mind. I can understand that you, as an atheist, might not feel that it's necessary to learn a ton about a religion that you consider false. Totally fair. But, in that case, you can't go around making ignorant, sweeping claims about Christianity (like the ones you gave us in this thread) and expect to avoid criticism.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt DeStefano said...

Well, there's a dodge if I've ever seen one. You take a fundamentalist position ("Let's quote the Bible while ignoring tradition and doctrine!") and assume that it's relevant to all of Christianity; I call you on said position, demonstrating that it doesn't apply to most denominations; and then you suggest that I have somehow misrepresented your statements. You then claim that my analysis of your (demonstrably fundamentalist) theological notions is "preposterously arrogant".

No, I'm not ignoring tradition or doctrine, nor am I making a claim that it applies to most denominations (although I think God intervening in the universe actively applies to more than you are letting on). I was making a point about Falwell's beliefs being consistent with (at least some versions of) Christianity.

There are many variations of Christianity, and every post is not going to be universally applicable to everyone's beliefs. Why you keep insisting that my comments need to be relevant to all strands, especially your own, is beyond me.

Papalinton said...

"Acknowledging the historicity of the New Testament narratives is fundamental to believing the Creed. You can't have one without the other."

Shelby-Spong and others tell us it is fine to be a true believing christian without reference to the historicity of the gospels.

Being a catholic does not a christian make.

Indeed Shelby-Spong's main thesis is that such a connection will see the demise of christian theism as we understand it today, because it is misguidedly competing directly with the greatest of the explanatory methodologies, the scientific method, and will most definitely result in coming off a very distant second-best. He, as do many others, also suggest that strained reliance on such a perspective will ultimately compromise and cruel the essence of divine inspiration, the fundamental spiritual driver of christian theism. He believes it is the congruence of ideas that is the strength of christian theism, not its historicity.

The thrust of establishing the historicity of christian theism was a reaction to the sciences breaking away as a very separate and distinct discipline, from philosophy, based on empirical evidence as the true measure of fact. The various waves in search of the historical jesus in particular, and the historicity of the gospels more generally, only really took off and reached full swing following the Enlightenment period. And as the period of the 18th -20th century demonstrated, at the height in the pursuit of the historical account of the gospels, and now entering into the 21st century, this matter has been a very mixed and irresolute bag.

However, genuine historical inquiry, without the baggage of Apologetics, seems to be energetically challenging the tradition of consensus and making significant inroads. And that is to be expected.

Papalinton said...

"Why you keep insisting that my comments need to be relevant to all strands, especially your own, is beyond me."

Because that is how he defends his little patch of inviolable territory. Christians practice random eclecticism par excellence, dropping in or pulling out beliefs as needs require.

rank sophist said...

No, I'm not ignoring tradition or doctrine, nor am I making a claim that it applies to most denominations (although I think God intervening in the universe actively applies to more than you are letting on). I was making a point about Falwell's beliefs being consistent with (at least some versions of) Christianity.

Your original claim:

I would add that Falwell's beliefs are tied to a fairly common reading of the Bible, a book that all Christians share in common as divine. Homosexuality is wrong, and God punishes sins. In the Bible, God punishes sins with natural disasters (the flood, the plagues, etc.), so it's not a gigantic stretch to suggest that God is punishing homosexuality with AIDs.

As I have said over and over again, although all Christians do indeed consider the Bible divine, that does not get us to your desired conclusion: that they can and do use straight readings of it as a main guide in their formation of beliefs. The Catholic church (a denomination bordering 1.2 billion adherents--the vast majority of Christians) officially follows Aquinas in attributing such things as disease to natural ("secondary") causes by default. This means that it is a "gigantic stretch" for a Catholic to cite as God's punishment something like AIDS or Hurricane Katrina. Topping it off is Ben's statement that it's a sin of presumption (considered mortal by Catholics) to make such claims without revelation.

In fact, one of the only interpretations of Christianity in which it is not a "gigantic stretch" would be fundamentalism. The kind espoused by Falwell. This is why I repeatedly accuse you of fundamentalist leanings: at every turn, you base your theological comments on their ideas.

There are many variations of Christianity, and every post is not going to be universally applicable to everyone's beliefs.

1.2 billion adherents, Matt. 1.2 billion.

Matt DeStefano said...

As I have said over and over again, although all Christians do indeed consider the Bible divine, that does not get us to your desired conclusion: that they can and do use straight readings of it as a main guide in their formation of beliefs. The Catholic church (a denomination bordering 1.2 billion adherents--the vast majority of Christians) officially follows Aquinas in attributing such things as disease to natural ("secondary") causes by default. This means that it is a "gigantic stretch" for a Catholic to cite as God's punishment something like AIDS or Hurricane Katrina. Topping it off is Ben's statement that it's a sin of presumption (considered mortal by Catholics) to make such claims without revelation.

Even after quoting me, you somehow manage to read into what I said things that just aren't there. Seriously... go back and re-read what you just quoted me saying.

My "desired conclusion" is NOT that all Christians used a straightforward and literal reading of the Bible to get to their beliefs, nor is it that Falwell is representative of Christianity in a general or universal sense.

I only made the claim that his beliefs were consistent with a "fairly common" reading of the Bible. Not that it would square with every flavor of Christianity.

Topping it off is Ben's statement that it's a sin of presumption (considered mortal by Catholics) to make such claims without revelation.

I was under the impression that presumption referred to a hope from a sinful person to receive salvation without repenting or doing anything to deserve it. New Advent agrees:"It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God's mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them."

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

"1.2 billion adherents, Matt. 1.2 billion."

By baptismal record. Probably only half or less that number may be adherents of varying stickiness. The other half would generally be classified as 'cultural catholics' if one factored in attendance rates as a guide.

It would be interesting if the possibility of assessing the level of contraceptive use among catholics could be determined. Not that I'm suggesting pill popping would be a gauge for 'cultural catholicism'. Just thinking out loud.

BenYachov said...

>I was under the impression that presumption referred to a hope from a sinful person to receive salvation without repenting or doing anything to deserve it. New Advent agrees:"It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God's mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them."

Matt you have got that Sola Scriptura mentality from hanging out with the Protestants.
RS & myself will beat it out of you before we are threw. Ready your knuckles I’ll get the ruler from Sister.

Why should we conclude the above is the only type of sinful presumption a Christian may be guilty of? What we believe is Sola Encylopedia Catholica now?

You are equivocating between the sin of misusing repentance as a means to continue sinning. The old “I do whatever bad thing I want & go to confession later” demonic meme vs persons who presume to interpret God’s Will without revelation.

>I only made the claim that his beliefs were consistent with a "fairly common" reading of the Bible. Not that it would square with every flavor of Christianity.

Rather you are backtracking because you really do need to shed the “One size fits all” mentality you got from the Gnus.

Matt DeStefano said...

Why should we conclude the above is the only type of sinful presumption a Christian may be guilty of? What we believe is Sola Encylopedia Catholica now?

No, I'm using a Catholic encyclopedia, and a quick google search of the definition shows that you guys are using the term in the wrong way. Of course, neither you or rank are likely to admit you made a mistake, but I thought I'd point it out in case someone becomes confused about what it means.

Matt DeStefano said...

It would be interesting if the possibility of assessing the level of contraceptive use among catholics could be determined. Not that I'm suggesting pill popping would be a gauge for 'cultural catholicism'. Just thinking out loud.

It seems that 82% of Catholics find birth control morally acceptable. (http://www.livescience.com/20509-catholics-birth-control-moral.html) The site also cites the Guttmacher study that 98% of Catholic women use it, but there were methodological problems with that study so it's largely irrelevant.

rank sophist said...

I only made the claim that his beliefs were consistent with a "fairly common" reading of the Bible. Not that it would square with every flavor of Christianity.

So, what your statement actually said was something like the following.

"Falwell's beliefs are not at all relevant to the vast majority of Christianity--that is, to the church with ~1.2 billion members. His views don't fit with Eastern Orthodoxy (~300 million), either. However, despite the fact that ~1.5 of the roughly 2.2 billion Christians belong to churches that officially reject his theology, it's still worth mentioning that a certain minority of churches might support it. For this minority, it's potentially not a 'gigantic stretch' to say that AIDS is divine punishment."

Is that the meaning you've determined for your initial post? If it is, then we're agreed. But, if you're just going to handwave about the "many variations of Christianity" again, then you concede what everyone already knew: that you made an amateurish mistake in your first post, and that you've been damage controlling for it ever since.

I was under the impression that presumption referred to a hope from a sinful person to receive salvation without repenting or doing anything to deserve it. New Advent agrees:"It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God's mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them."

My personal knowledge on this matter is limited--hence my deferral to Ben's comment. If he was mistaken, then feel free to ignore that section of my post. However, the rest still stands.

Matt DeStefano said...

rank,

You might just try reading what I wrote (it's not that difficult, I promise!). It's also absurd to think that the 1.2 billion adherents to Catholicism and the ~300 million to Greek Orthodoxy actually toe the line with regard to all interpretations of Scripture. Consider, after all, that well over 3/4 of those adherents use contraception.

You'd also be interested to know that 40% of Americans believe that Earthquakes and floods are a sign from God, while 30% believe that God punishes entire nations for the sins of its citizens. According to a Pew Survey, 1/3 of Catholics believe that natural disasters are a sign from God. So, you can opine all you want about it not fitting in with Catholic Dogma, but when push comes to shove, a not insignificant minority of Catholics actually believe it. (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/24/most-americans-think-god-is-in-control-for-better-or-worse/)

Matt DeStefano said...

My personal knowledge on this matter is limited--hence my deferral to Ben's comment. If he was mistaken, then feel free to ignore that section of my post. However, the rest still stands.


It was wrong, not just "limited".

BenYachov said...
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BenYachov said...

@Matt

>No, I'm using a Catholic encyclopedia, and a quick google search of the definition shows that you guys are using the term in the wrong way.

Matt you can’t read English & your memory is worst than mine which is bad for a young man like yourself. Pay attention.

I originally said “The remark attributed to Falwell is wrong from a Christian perspective since it is presumptuous for him to claim barring some Public Divine Revelation granted him(which by definition all such revelations ended with the last Apostle) to say any such particular disaster is a direct punishment sent by God.”

That is how I used the term son.

So what you are saying is because the sin of misusing repentance as a backdoor way to keep on sinning is called the “Sin of Presumption” by the Catholic Encyclopedia (it is also called that in the Baltimore Catechism BTW) I am thereafter prohibited from making any adjectival use of the term “presumption” or the actual adjective “presumptuous” when describing morally dubious behavior?

Son, listen to you old uncle Yachov! Listen carefully. Lay off the drugs(or at least don’t be a dick and let the rest of us know where to score some too. Because that must be some premo Shit to make you write this stuff)!


>Of course, neither you or rank are likely to admit you made a mistake, but I thought I'd point it out in case someone becomes confused about what it means.

I never used the word “sin” so how can you think I was talking about the “Sin of presumption”?

That is quite presumptuous on your part lad.

Matt DeStefano said...

I never used the word “sin” so how can you think I was talking about the “Sin of presumption”?

rank (mistakenly) attributed it to you and I was responding to his attribution.

BenYachov said...

You just implied I made a mistake Matt & would not own up to it if I did?

So Matt do you want to maybe have a serious conversation? Maybe learn something?

Or do we continue with this hair spiting petty shit?

Because my Spider Sense(BTW side note: the New Spiderman movie sucks!) tell me you are finding it tiresome as well.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Here is a most interesting piece. It discusses the recent Catholic Bishop's conference and the inner workings of the RC that I suspect even Prokop and Yachov would be unaware.

In part it discusses the context of membership and the Church's possible strategy to get back to basics.

"At a conference in San Francisco a few years back, a priest-theologian assured me that there are only five million real Catholics in the United States."

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/guest_bloggers/5956/only_5_million_%22real%22_catholics_in_the_u.s./

Have a read. Embarrassment and the New Atheism? Hardly.

rank sophist said...

Matt,

The "many variations of Christianity" handwaving it is, then.

Matt, are you aware that, in England, the decline in religious belief corresponds with a rise in belief in an afterlife? (source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/andrewbrown/2012/apr/26/persistence-superstition-irreligious-britain) As a note, a recent study suggests that two thirds of UK teenagers are non-believers in God.

Atheists who believe in life after death, then? Are these people "real atheists", whose opinions are to be considered equally valid as those of, say, atheist philosophers? Or are they sloppy atheists who hold ideas contrary to their stated beliefs?

Further, Dawkins supports a militant form of atheism. Many Gnus agree with his ideas. Are these "real atheists", or a fringe group? Or, perhaps their militancy is a separate element--something smuggled in from their pre-atheist days?

You can probably see where I'm going with this. Why should I acknowledge the relevance of heterodox superstitions--held by inconsistent thinkers--to the Catholic and EO churches? People who belong to these churches are expected to believe in and follow certain doctrines. Likewise, contemporary atheists are expected to hold a set of non-religious beliefs. Does the existence of inconsistent atheists undermine atheism's "doctrines", so to speak? Do atheist fundies like Dawkins reflect upon atheism at large? Or does the fault lie with the sloppy thinkers who want to have their cake and eat it too?

1.2 billion people identify as Catholic. Fundamentalists represent a group that falls well below even the 300 million-strong EO church. Certainly, someone might disagree with a doctrine and remain part of a mainline church. But that says nothing about the churches or their ability to represent Christianity. Unless, of course, you want to invalidate every statistic regarding atheism.

rank sophist said...

Regarding my misreading of Ben's comment: have to apologize there.

Victor Reppert said...

OK, let's take stock. About the worst thing people have come up with about Falwell is that he said that AIDS was God's punishment on gay people, and that opposing it was wrong. Now, that's pretty insane. He has no basis for knowing this. Even on the assumption that homosexuality is a sin, and that homosexuality is one of a long list of offenses against God that Sodom was guilty of, (that's the most conservative reading that can plausibly be given for the Sodom and Gomorrah passage), the idea that AIDS is punishment for homosexuality is still irrational. It's certainly cringe-worthy. Of course, not all AIDS victims, even back when Falwell said what he did, were gay. What makes it worse is that it seems to be grounds for opposing anti-AIDS efforts. If this ever became public policy, it would cause terrible harm.

But what about Dawkins, or Harris. Dawkins says that bringing a child up as part of a religious community is abusive, comparing it unfavorably with sexual abuse. Yes, he does say that, and he doesn't limit it to people who preach hell-fire to their kids as a means of controlling their conduct. His claims fly in the face of considerable scientific evidence about the effects of religion on children. Since we all agree that the state has an interest in stopping child abuse, and has the right to remove children from abusive parents, this means that he is committed, at least implicitly, to the idea of preventing parents from raising children within their own faith. As I see it, if implemented at the level of public policy, that would bring down the curtain on religious freedom, and on the separation of church and state. In the Soviet Union, they attempted to eliminate religion not by stopping adults from practicing it, but by stopping parents from transmitting it to their children. If this were implemented at the level of public policy it would be disastrous, and sensible atheists should, well, cringe when they hear such a thing.

My point is that whether you are a theist or an atheist, ideology can get control of your thinking and wipe out your common sense, if you let it. The fact that you are saying it in the name of "reason" or "science" doesn't immunize you from this possibility. If you care about a cause enough, you can die for it, and you can also kill for it. The idea that "religion" is somehow liable to this, while anti-religion is somehow immune, strikes me as preposterous.

B. Prokop said...

The nice thing about Truth is that it always wins in the end. I recall watching a live broadcast of the state funeral of Leonid Brezhnev in 1982. As his coffin was being lowered into the grave outside the Kremlin walls, I was amused to see several onlookers in the immediate area making the Sign of the Cross. Anyone standing close enough to that event would have had to be close to the inner circle of the Soviet state apparatus. So much for the victory of atheist education over Orthodoxy!

Matt DeStefano said...

The "many variations of Christianity" handwaving it is, then.

You said it wasn't relevant to the 1.2 billion adherents in Catholicism, despite ONE IN EVERY THREE believing in it.

Talk about handwaving.

Atheists who believe in life after death, then? Are these people "real atheists", whose opinions are to be considered equally valid as those of, say, atheist philosophers? Or are they sloppy atheists who hold ideas contrary to their stated beliefs?

Yes, they are "real atheists" - a nonbelief in an afterlife is not a prerequisite for being an atheist. (See: Buddhism.) Nor is believing in a certain type of public relations approach to atheism. No need to engage in the "No True Scotsman" fallacy because these individuals believe differently on other topics.

Why should I acknowledge the relevance of heterodox superstitions--held by inconsistent thinkers--to the Catholic and EO churches?

*facepalm*

Because your entire argument relied upon the idea that this idea doesn't apply to the vast majority of Christians! It doesn't apply to Catholics and the Greek Orthodox, is what you said. You claimed it was a fringe minority. Now that I've shown you proof that a not-insignificant minority (40% of Christians in America + 1/3 of Catholics) believe in it, you're pulling the "well, they are just inconsistent / Not True Catholics."

So what? I'm not claiming they are being consistent within their own tradition, I'm arguing that a lot of people believe it.

Papalinton said...

Matt
I smile as you venture into the theologic puddle of the bottom feeders. Your dialogue, engaging as it is, with the mud shovelers here, is a world away from the lucidity and reasoned argument at Secular Post. Certainly not from want of trying, I add. But the change in your argument style and approach is an imposed response that one must of necessity default to, to counter and combat the form of discussion here that masquerades as 'informed'.

Much of the conversation one must deal with here is personally subjective and highly interpretive. And it plays very much to the advantage of the religiose simply on the basis of the Apologetical tradition. Centuries of contrived exegetical synthesis, harmonization of disparate and often conflicting accounts, the ubiquity of selective 'cherry picking' from the sole source of the mythos, all significantly contribute to the entanglement that constitutes christian theism. Christian theism is predicated on construal.

"Construal is a ... term used to describe how a person perceives, comprehends, and interprets the world around him or her, particularly the behavior or action of others towards him or her." [All References Library]

There is both self-construal, a perception of the self, and construal in a social atmosphere, a perception of one’s surroundings. The quote continues, " Construal plays a crucial role in situations 'whenever people are obliged to venture beyond the information immediately provided by the direct observation or secondhand report of a stimulus event, in particular whenever they are obliged to infer additional details of content, context, or meaning in the actions and outcomes that unfold around them.' In other words, a person is most likely to use construal when he or she lacks the knowledge to correctly deal with a given situation."

Does this definition reflect a closer alliance and affinity to christian theism or the empiricism of science and analytical philosophy, to you?

The myriad of imagined states of religious 'trooths' are a symptom of construal, vis-à-vis
, “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said 
in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean, 
nothing less, and nothing more.” Lewis Carroll

BenYachov said...

>Here is a most interesting piece. It discusses the recent Catholic Bishop's conference and the inner workings of the RC that I suspect even Prokop and Yachov would be unaware.

Paps I've been complaining about the wide spread nominal & mere cultural Catholicism back when you still believed the world was created in 6 literal days.

It's all orthodox Catholics complain about.

You are so out of touch. What you are only now catching up to where I was back when I was 24?

God you suck at this.

Papalinton said...

"God you suck at this."

Is that a reflection of displeasure with me or with god? If it's with me then I think your displeasure is misdirected.

BenYachov said...

@Matt


>You said it wasn't relevant to the 1.2 billion adherents in Catholicism, despite ONE IN EVERY THREE believing in it.

You are full of shit Matt. What proof have you offered that shows your survey of nominal American Catholics applies to all Catholics across the globe?

Didn't you learn anything about statistics or sampling?

>Yes, they are "real atheists" - a nonbelief in an afterlife is not a prerequisite for being an atheist. (See: Buddhism.) Nor is believing in a certain type of public relations approach to atheism. No need to engage in the "No True Scotsman" fallacy because these individuals believe differently on other topics.

Matt you need not preach to us about not using a "one size fits all polemic" against Atheists & Atheism in general. We respect rational non-Gnu Atheists.

We get it. But Gnus are fundies without god-belief. Dawkins being premiere among them.

>It doesn't apply to Catholics and the Greek Orthodox, is what you said. You claimed it was a fringe minority. Now that I've shown you proof that a not-insignificant minority (40% of Christians in America + 1/3 of Catholics) believe in it, you're pulling the "well, they are just inconsistent / Not True Catholics."

What you have shown means 100% nothing. Let's us even assume you can apply your 1 in 3 nonsense to every individual who was baptized either Catholic or eastern Orthodox on Earth.

Neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy are Democracies. What the uneducated rabble come to beleive because lazy bishops and pastors don't rock the boat & counter is not relevant (except in so much that at minimum said bishops and pastors might be punished for it in this life or the next).

The Moral and Theological dogmas of the Church are given too us by the Pope and the bishops who got them from the Apostles.

IF a majority of American Catholics use birth control that means only the American bishops have dropped the ball in teachign their flocks.

The official teaching is that it is still a sin to use artifical birth control.

I believe that with all my heart.

>So what? I'm not claiming they are being consistent within their own tradition, I'm arguing that a lot of people believe it.

Accept as orthodox Catholics that is alien to our mentality. Back in the 5th century it was said there where more Arian heretics than orthodox Trinitarians. So what?

Besides I bet I could find Baptists who thought Falwell was off his rocker on this view.

But the Baptist Church doesn't have a magestirum like we do. So it is religous democracy with them.

rank sophist said...

Yes, they are "real atheists" - a nonbelief in an afterlife is not a prerequisite for being an atheist. (See: Buddhism.)

You seem to have failed to read both my post and the linked article. It was a drop in religious belief being linked to a rise in belief in the afterlife. The Buddhism response doesn't work, because the atheists in question are irreligious.

Because your entire argument relied upon the idea that this idea doesn't apply to the vast majority of Christians!

I already knew about the natural disasters figures, Matt. I looked them up days ago to prepare for possible objections--and so I phrased my posts accordingly. My argument rests on denominational size and doctrine. Inconsistent Christians do not change the size or the doctrines of their denominations, just as inconsistent atheists don't change the size or "doctrines" of atheism. Technically, my argument might read something like this.

1. The Catholic church is the largest and most powerful denomination of Christianity.

2. The Catholic church officially rebukes Falwell-esque theology.

3. Therefore, Falwell-esque theology cannot be associated with the largest and most powerful denomination of Christianity.

Did you really think I was claiming that most Catholics were familiar with Aquinas? Of course not. 80% of them probably couldn't explain to you the definition of "secondary cause", let alone the DDS. Many of them hold heretical beliefs about contraception, as everyone knows. But Aquinas's thinking is official in the Catholic church on issues like the one Falwell was discussing--and so the sweeping fundamentalist claim in your initial post is patently false. It remains a "gigantic stretch" for anyone in the Catholic church (or EO church, etc.) to say without revelation that AIDS is divine punishment. It's almost as gigantic of a stretch as a Catholic endorsing abortion. They may do so anyway (and some do); but this is irrelevant to my point.

Also, my asides about most single believers rejecting Falwell-style theology remain true. The majority of believers do reject it, as is proven by the statistics that I read to prepare (and which you just posted). And acceptance of the specific claim that I was attacking--that is, it being believable that AIDS is punishment of homosexuals--would undoubtedly be far, far lower than the natural disasters figures.

rank sophist said...

What you have shown means 100% nothing. Let's us even assume you can apply your 1 in 3 nonsense to every individual who was baptized either Catholic or eastern Orthodox on Earth.

Neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy are Democracies. What the uneducated rabble come to beleive because lazy bishops and pastors don't rock the boat & counter is not relevant (except in so much that at minimum said bishops and pastors might be punished for it in this life or the next).

The Moral and Theological dogmas of the Church are given too us by the Pope and the bishops who got them from the Apostles.

IF a majority of American Catholics use birth control that means only the American bishops have dropped the ball in teachign their flocks.


Exactly. I don't think Matt understands this distinction.

Matt DeStefano said...

smile as you venture into the theologic puddle of the bottom feeders. Your dialogue, engaging as it is, with the mud shovelers here, is a world away from the lucidity and reasoned argument at Secular Post. Certainly not from want of trying, I add. But the change in your argument style and approach is an imposed response that one must of necessity default to, to counter and combat the form of discussion here that masquerades as 'informed'

Yeah, I'm a bit quick on the "publish your comment" trigger. I really, really need to stop it - that's the problem with not having anonymity - it would be a bad show if a potential future graduate school and/or employer were to see this nonsense.

I also probably need to be more careful about choosing my interlocutors. I've found that anonymous commenters on blogs tend to be worse at engaging in dialogue than those who publish their name and other personal information. Now that I'm at Secular Outpost, I ought to contain myself to responding to those figures (especially as an effort not to sully the quality of that blog). I've enjoyed my conversations with Neil Shenvi, and seen it work well for Lowder's conversation with Rauser. It rarely devolves into the sort of discussion where the religion of my mother or my previous religious affiliations are necessary involved.

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

"What you have shown means 100% nothing. Let's us even assume you can apply your 1 in 3 nonsense to every individual who was baptized either Catholic or eastern Orthodox on Earth.
Neither Catholicism nor Orthodoxy are Democracies. What the uneducated rabble come to beleive because lazy bishops and pastors don't rock the boat & counter is not relevant (except in so much that at minimum said bishops and pastors might be punished for it in this life or the next).
The Moral and Theological dogmas of the Church are given too us by the Pope and the bishops who got them from the Apostles.

IF a majority of American Catholics use birth control that means only the American bishops have dropped the ball in teachign their flocks.
Exactly. I don't think Matt understands this distinction."


What this is clearly demonstrating is that faith and belief in catholicism is only skin deep with no lasting positive effect even after the message has been pounded from the pulpit innumerable times. It is also a clear indicator of Rank living in a constant state of denial and perpetual refusal to appreciate that the basis of faith and belief are equally flimsy and fantastical at best; and seeks to externalise the problematic nature of catholic dogma onto lazy priests, uneducated rabble, and the notion of 'democracy' as antithetical to church governance and practice.

Both confusion and cognitive dissonance is ineluctably and deeply embedded in his catholic emotivism.

"Emotivism is also known colloquially as the hurrah/boo theory. This makes emotivism a form of non-cognitivism or expressivism." [All References Library]

BenYachov said...

>What this is clearly demonstrating is that faith and belief in catholicism is only skin deep with no lasting positive effect even after the message has been pounded from the pulpit innumerable times.

Paps can you ever make an intelligent informed argument just once before you die?

Paps you have never been Catholic & you can't speak to Catholic experience. Much less American Catholic experience. You are an ex-fundamentalist Christian from down under in Kangaroo land turned fundamentalist Atheist.

For those of us who have lived American Catholicism for 40 plus years.....The lack of belief in the sinfulness of Birth Control among the rabble comes from it not being taught from the pulpits at all.

I have never heard a sermon against Artificial birth control accept maybe once during an Eastern Rite Mass & another from a visiting Priest from EWTN(in both cases said priest preach to the converted. 99% of the Mass goers being orthodox convinced Catholics).

OTOH I know from reading THIS ROCK magazine Priests who instead of going for 5 to 7 minute sermons where they would preach the "gospel" of isn't it nice to be nice choose to go on for 25 minutes giving solid doctrinal teaching and defenses of basic moral principles have their Masses standing room only.

Indeed the first time at maybe 21 hearing a Tape by Scott Hahn explaining why contraception was wrong and why Natural Family Planning was better. I fell in love with the teaching. Indeed so did my then girlfriend future wife.

I know this is pearls before swine with a lowbrow like you but Bob's enthusiasm has been rubbing off on me.

Still channeling your inner Peggy Hill I see.

Papalinton said...

Have a look at this video and article, Ben:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/30/1095763/-Wow-Your-jaw-will-drop-The-Bishops-throw-the-gauntlet-down-Vote-the-way-we-tell-you-or

"The leadership of the American Catholic Clergy has decided to go to war on the issues of birth control and gay marriage.  Given that they've had some bad PR in the recent past (especially on the subject of abstinence) one might understand why they want to change the subject and get up on a new horse.  Trouble is the horse they are climbing on (contraception) is an old one, almost 50 years old as a matter of fact."

and this one from the National Catholic Reporter:

http://ncronline.org/news/politics/catholics-unite-opposition-contraception-mandate?page=2

BenYachov said...

@Matt chill.

Seriously.

>It rarely devolves into the sort of discussion where the religion of my mother or my previous religious affiliations are necessary involved.

You are the one who volunteered info on your family. Your the one who tossed the challenge "You don't know anything about me!".

So I mentioned in passing a few factoids you yourself put out there & I half remembered.

I didn't say anything bad about your mom. I didn't bring up your parenting situation to mock you. Heck I descend from a single mother who raised her only son back in 1791.

So chill.

Anyway along with RS I did note you have a lot more to learn about historic Christianity and Theism.

You do yourself no favors isolating yourself to one particular jonny come lately brand of it.

That is all.

BenYachov said...

Hey Paps have you looked at this article

How Many Kids Are Sexually Abused by Their Teachers?
Probably millions.

By Brian Palmer


http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/02/is_sexual_abuse_in_schools_very_common_.html

What was it you used to do for a living again?

Just saying....;-)

(You see Paps in terms of childish cheap shots I have a clear advantage because I have never been a Priest or Clergy so that is not gonna work for ya. Nice try thought.)

Anyway I shouldn't feed you but I was bored.

Side note.

New Red Dwarf Season XX trailer.

Enjoy.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151119706774359

Papalinton said...

Matt
"I ought to contain myself to responding to those figures (especially as an effort not to sully the quality of that blog)."

For you, well you are best to judge that which would accord an appropriate level of decorum. For me? It is rather fun.

And as one gave you advice earlier, be mindful of your elders, sonny! [persiflage, Matt, persiflage]