Thursday, May 02, 2013

There. Somebody said it!

Exactly what people swear up and down that Dawkins never said. 

Somehow—and this will never happen, of course—it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief.- Jerry Coyne

263 comments:

1 – 200 of 263   Newer›   Newest»
B. Prokop said...

Far scarier than the actual article are many of the reader comments that follow. North Korea, here we come!

Samwell Barnes said...

At least Coyne recognizes that child abuse should be made illegal. Dawkins, by contrast, so far hasn't been able to make the connection:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT3d5RFNATA

BenYachov said...

The God Coyne doesn't believe in help him if that SOB touches my kids!

David B Marshall said...

Kids say the darndest things.

Zach said...

Why the first sentence of the post...It seems like you actually want someone to say this, have been yearning or waiting. Note the obvious escape hatch is the word "indoctrinate" he would just say that not all religious instruction is indoctrination, but that indoctrination is a particular type of abuse.

At any rate I can't really defend him just sad that this site so consistently trolls for the dumbest of the dumb rather than engage with the best of the best.

I guess it's just there for laughs.

Victor Reppert said...

I've been saying that if you go down this road, then then this is where you end up. If Dawkins didn't say it, one of his followers will think it, and if they happen to get political power, they will carry it out.

Hitler would have just been some antisemitic nut, until he took over Germany.

Zach said...

So basically this is a massive exercise in confirmation bias. :O

Papalinton said...

"We'll all be rooned", the mantra of doomsaying believers. And here they are:
1. "North Korea, here we come!"
2. God help him "if that SOB touches my kids!"
3. " ...and if they happen to get political power .."
4. "Hitler would have just been some antisemitic nut, until he took over Germany."

The apocalypse of John is immanent. The armageddon is nigh.
These fanciful appeals fomenting existential anxiety, loaded conspiratorial feelings of urgency, nervousness or unease, typically around a contrived imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome, simply don't have the kind of traction within today's educated and sophisticated community, as was once so convenient in village theism.

It seems believers have not understood and appreciated the rising groundswell is really about transiting from the traditional theological foundation of society to a more rigorous, evidential, and empirical basis for making decisions that influence people's lives and communities. In general, believers seem not to understand and appreciate the apocalyptic armageddon that is trumpeted is not about the immanent demise of the world, but the gradual, inexorable and natural atrophying of religion based as it is on primitive superstitious folly. The trend is an inherent and properly basic process through which religions are de-emphasized to an eventual vestigial remnant, proportionate with its predominantly mythological underpinnings.

A responsible and prudent review of history clearly delineates this phenomenon in numerous examples since the beginning of recorded history. History is littered with the former glories and power of religions from Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Egypt, the Roman and Greek worlds, the supplanting of New World traditional religions with Western christianity, all of them now long receded into the historical backdrop. Over time all religions wane as they become less responsive and even less relevant to the societies they once served.

New Atheism is no more and no less an element reflecting the broader trend away from religion as the centre-piece of community standard and governance. New Atheism along with old atheism, advocates and promotes the universality of secular humanism, a contemporary transiting process that began in Europe and is increasingly gathering pace in innumerable other countries right around the world. Christians like to point to Africa as a countering argument. But the lessons of history, particularly modern history since the Enlightenment, demonstrate this to be wave currently in flow and yet to reach its ineluctable ebb.

Crude said...

Victor,

I think groundwork was set for this kind of thinking in part by the 'raising a child to be Catholic / teaching then about hell is as bad as or worse than sexual abuse' bit. It's hard to say that yet dial it back to 'But, you know, I don't think it should be against the law to raise a child so'.

Coyne now and then gets articles in USA Today and isn't exactly some kind of obscure pariah. I'd rather things like this be discussed now rather than when it becomes even more of a threat.

Mum Blr said...

Hi Papalinton,

Good to see an ex-bureaucrat from Canberra interacting on something noteworthy for a change. Royalla is a lovely place.

Considering your penchant for the humanist ideology, what makes you think that the swell of this secularism won’t also result in the same fate as Baal worship, Zoroastrianism, or even Christianity (as you see it)?
It seems to me that prolepsis on cultural matters is as open to embellishment as it would be on socio-religious grounds, and that futurist arguments based upon contemporary Western trends cannot be fully acceded to since they lack a realised empirical grounding.

I see hope within the humanist camp that a change is coming and I see hope within the Christian community that a change is coming. The former believe this change will come through men, the latter believe this change will come through a man. Either way, we all hope in something.

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Crude said...

Victor,

An interesting article you may find noteworthy: Dawkins has lost.

im-skeptical said...

"An interesting article you may find noteworthy:"

That's the tripe the religious right-wing punditry (who are very afraid of Dawkins) would have you believe.

Here's another perspective:

http://www.skepticink.com/azatheist/2013/05/02/richard-dawkins-and-child-abuse/

Crude said...

That's the tripe the religious right-wing punditry (who are very afraid of Dawkins) would have you believe.

Enemy thought detected! Enemy thought detected!

Engage skep maneuver 001: Lash out! Lash out!

Crude said...

As for your link, skep... are you ever, and I mean ever, skeptical of skeptical websites? I notice your comment there cheering everything in that post on.

Did you even read the link I wrote? You really think that an article praising a bunch of atheists and secular humanists is 'right-wing religious punditry'?

B. Prokop said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Crude. I don't believe "im-skeptical" even read the article, or he would have realized it had been written by atheists!!! Religious right-wing punditry, indeed!

And no, it's long been obvious that his true moniker is "im-gullible".

im-skeptical said...

" I don't believe "im-skeptical" even read the article, or he would have realized it had been written by atheists!!! Religious right-wing punditry, indeed!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theo_Hobson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spectator

im-skeptical said...

Oooh - silence!

Here's a suggestion. Why don't you go on the site I linked and leave a comment. Tell them how wrong they are about Dawkins and how you are so much better informed about what he is saying.

B. Prokop said...

Silence?... I'm sorry, did you say something?

I've been away from my computer for the last several hours. Some of us have lives. What, do you sit in your mother's basement all day in front of your screen?

Hal said...

Zach,
"At any rate I can't really defend him just sad that this site so consistently trolls for the dumbest of the dumb rather than engage with the best of the best."

Couldn't agree more. There seems to be a fixation on 3 or 4 atheistic philosophers whom many atheists don't even consider to be very good.

Victor is very generous to keep the site open to just about everybody so that ideas can be freely exchanged and there are some very knowledgeable posters here. But when the OP so often deals with an idiotic rant by some atheist it is near impossible to have an intelligent discussion follow on from that.:-(


Victor Reppert said...

I've tried very hard to read Dawkins in a charitable way, but logically, he makes a distinction between mild abuse and severe abuse in the sexual case, and so he should distinguish the two in the religious case also. If you try to set up that model then on the religious side you would have a fire-and-brimstone upbringing corresponding to having intercourse with the child, and "mild" fondling being compared to raising a what? Sending kids to Sunday School or CCD? I've tried to be fair on this stuff, but you can't spin it to sound OK.

Not to mention that in making these charges Dawkins is a science denier, because research has been done on the effects of religious upbringing on children, and the effects of sexual abuse on children. Anyone care to guess which on comes out less damaging?

Oh, but I forgot, only religious people are science deniers.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

"I've tried very hard to read Dawkins in a charitable way"

With all due respect, you haven't. Please read the article I linked to, or better yet, read The God delusion. Never does he say "Sending kids to Sunday School or CCD" is equivalent to child abuse.

Victor Reppert said...

I did read both of them. The logic of his position leads where I say it does.

Crude said...

Oooh - silence!

You linked a wikipedia entry calling the guardian 'conservative'. Bob was wrong on calling the author an atheist.

Do you really think you refuted the article by your frantic reaction and those links? Please, skep. For once, be skeptical of the skeptics you praise.

Why don't you go on the site I linked and leave a comment.

Why? Because it's something other than a Cult of Gnu backwater blog, a bare step above someone's livejournal?

Regarding the Dawkins child abuse quote, someone better tell Herb Silverman he misheard his friend:

I asked Dawkins if he agreed with the quote from Nobel prize winning physicist, Steven Weinberg, that “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” Before Dawkins had a chance to answer, most of the audience broke into applause. Dawkins just smiled in assent. More applause erupted when Dawkins said that teaching children that a God can send them to hell is child abuse.

Crude said...

Hal,

Couldn't agree more. There seems to be a fixation on 3 or 4 atheistic philosophers whom many atheists don't even consider to be very good.

Dawkins isn't a philosopher. Sam Harris is barely one. Not sure who the others are. Loftahaha. Nope, couldn't even suggest that name seriously. Still, I appreciate your point of view. And I encounter your kind of criticism a lot, which strikes me as sincere. But there's a problem with it that often goes unaddressed.

Richard Dawkins is not an atheist nobody. If you look up his wikipedia entry, you are going to see a whole lot of awards and recognition coming from pretty well the most prominent atheist and humanist groups around. Same for PZ Myers, for that matter. Jerry Coyne, I don't think he's won many awards, but he's prominent.

So, here's the puzzle. If Dawkins isn't taken seriously by very many atheists - if he's not considered one of the intellectual standard bearers for a sizable army o' atheists - then what's with these awards?

If a sizable number of atheists disagree with Dawkins, they've done a very good job of keeping their views to themselves. Even the atheists mentioned in my article, I strongly suspect many of them would reject Dawkins' rhetoric and approach, but would be supremely hesitant to actually pan him in the fashion you suggest many (most?) atheists do.

In fact, insofar as that's the case - shouldn't you be encouraging criticisms of Dawkins? Wouldn't you like him to be regarded as a crappy thinker who shouldn't be taken seriously, as opposed to various other atheists who likely should be? I certainly feel that way about Westboro Baptist. Pillory those guys intellectually for all I care. I'd like them gone.

Victor Reppert said...

It's a difficult issue. I know some people would like to talk about better thinkers. But people like Dawkins have an enormous following, and he does influence people. Apparently the influence is strong enough that he got names the most influential thinker. And I keep running in to atheists that I can't even have a worthwhile discussion with because they have been influenced by this hogwash. Loftus used to provide interesting dialogue.

Liberals sometimes ask whether they should pay any attention to Rush Limbaugh. The issue is similar with Dawkins.

Victor Reppert said...

But I certainly think it has not helped my blog to deal with this. I know, for example, that Blue Devil Knight got very disappointed with me, and this is why we don't hear from him anymore.

The child abuse claim makes me very angry because I did took my children to church, and they are now dedicated Christians, and that did matter a great deal to me.

im-skeptical said...

"I did read both of them. The logic of his position leads where I say it does."

But his words don't. And he has made it abundantly clear. There's not much room for open interpretation of his logic. It's hard to believe you could read what he wrote and come away with such a different message. A charitable reading of Dawkins would not put words in his mouth that he has repeatedly denied.

ingx24 said...

im-skeptical,

The logical consequences of a person's position are not always what the person thinks they are. Just saying.

im-skeptical said...

"The logical consequences of a person's position are not always what the person thinks they are. Just saying."

Guess you should read it for yourself. Just sayin'.

Crude said...

Guess you should read it for yourself. Just sayin'.

Just sayin' - I provided you with a quote from Herb Silverman. Do I have to repeat it?

I asked Dawkins if he agreed with the quote from Nobel prize winning physicist, Steven Weinberg, that “With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” Before Dawkins had a chance to answer, most of the audience broke into applause. Dawkins just smiled in assent. More applause erupted when Dawkins said that teaching children that a God can send them to hell is child abuse.

"Oooh - silence!" indeed, skep.

And once you're done explaining how either Herb Silverman is dishonest or clearly didn't hear Dawkins right, I'll provide yet more quotes for you.

Before you push too far, too fast on this topic, a word to the wise: Dawkins has wrote and said more than he did in The God Delusion. That was neither the first nor the last time he connected a religious upbringing with child abuse.

Crude said...

And so long as we're citing biased sources, I'll bring out two to counter skep's one on this topic:

Is Dawkins a charlatan? and a defining moment for Dawkins and the atheists.

So, skep - it looks like your 'go read ArizonaCultistOfGnu20017's latest blog post, it shows Dawkins doesn't equate a religious upbringing with child abuse' claim is dead in the water.

Will you now be more skeptical of skeptical articles in the future?

Crude said...

And one more, just to put another nail in this particular coffin - right here.

Professor Dawkins said at the festival that children should be taught religion but scorn should be poured on its claims.
'What a child should be taught is that religion exists; that some people believe this and some people believe that,' the Daily Telegraph reported he had said.

'What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That's child abuse.'


[...]

In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘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.’
Interviewer Mehdi Hasan asked: ‘You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?’.
Professor Dawkins replied: ‘There are shades of being abused by a priest, and I quoted an example of a woman in America who wrote to me saying that when she was seven years old she was sexually abused by a priest in his car.
‘At the same time a friend of hers, also seven, who was of a Protestant family, died, and she was told that because her friend was Protestant she had gone to Hell and will be roasting in Hell forever.
‘She told me of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse; it was yucky but she got over it.
‘But the mental abuse of being told about Hell, she took years to get over.’


Gotta love that extrapolation. A scientific mind at work!

BeingItself said...

Vic,

Did you teach your children that if they did not believe a certain thing then they will be tortured forever?

If you did, then you abused your children.

Papalinton said...

Mumblr
There is no aspect of your commentary that I would disagree with. You ask, "Considering your penchant for the humanist ideology, what makes you think that the swell of this secularism won’t also result in the same fate as Baal worship, Zoroastrianism, or even Christianity (as you see it)?"

I can't. But one thing I am pretty certain about is that humans will always be humans and humanism seems to be closest we can go in deriving what it is to be human. It is the one universal that binds us as a species. While cultural, social, religious, geographic/regional etc mores are highly influential, they are in the main products of isolationism of one form or another. With access to far greater and enormously closer communications ties [satellite, telephony, messaging, video, conferencing, news reporting, skyping, you name it], modes of rapid transportation, and other forms of contact among peoples all over the world, more than ever before many of these isolating imperatives are becoming less intractable. They are indeed in many ways impediments to an understanding of a global community with collective sponsorship and responsibility for this blue dot that we live on.

While I encourage and advocate diversity, multiculturalism and personal identity and acknowledge them as very important features of the human condition, there is a deeper existential meaning that humanity must look to developing and understanding. These must play a secondary role because that understanding will not come from religion or culture or social membership, but from understanding that we are all, as one, humans. And the one element that universally binds us is humanism. While many humanist universals are expressed through each and every culture, religion, society etc, it is the interpretation of these universals through religious, cultural and social differences that define us rather than the common similarities that we share. Catholics only see the world through catholic eyes. The Southern Baptist Convention can only make sense of the world though Protestant eyes and generally eschew Catholicism.

It is only our shared humanism, through the vehicle of secularism, that provides us the means of reaching this higher plateau of understanding.

The role of parochial, segregative religions is passed. They will not and can not form the basis for this transition. To imagine Catholicism as the universal vehicle for social progress [or Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, Protestant Christianity, Wiccan, Rosicrucianism, Scientology, or Mormonism, for that matter] is simply naive in the extreme.

Atheism dispenses with the parochiality of all religions in search of this deeper understanding of our shared common universal humanism. Pie in the sky? Probably. But more particularly an improvement on catholic and protestant sectarianism by which Christianity is differentiated. Cultural and religious diversity are wonderful mechanisms for establishing personal identity. They are inadequate and dysfunctional qualifications as drivers of good governance, civility and the rule of law. While much of good governance, civility and the rule of law are inscribed within cultures and religions their realization and achievement will remain ever captive to the exigencies of internecine squabbles and conflicts between cultures, societies and most particularly religions. Despite the diatribe on secularism, almost solely the product of theism, it is secular humanism that provides the best opportunity for humanity going forward.

im-skeptical said...

Hey, Crude.

Congratulations on finding a few articles by Dawkins haters. Why are you unwilling to let him speak for himself? Why don't you cite the interviews where he explains his position, doesn't take his own words out of context, and denies the things you and others keep saying about him?

Even the quotes in your last post don't agree with the claims being made about him. You have to put on your thinking cap, read carefully, and understand what he's telling you. He's not saying a religious upbringing is child abuse. He's talking about specific things that are harmful to children.

Crude said...

im-skeptical,

Congratulations on finding a few articles by Dawkins haters.

Still not reading links, Skep?

I suggest you actually read them and focus real, real hard on the words there written. You're going to find out Herb Silverman is not a 'Dawkins hater'. And the Daily Mail is not a religious website.

Why are you unwilling to let him speak for himself?

I am. That's precisely how I know you're wrong.

He's not saying a religious upbringing is child abuse. He's talking about specific things that are harmful to children.

First off - he's talking about things that he thinks are harmful, based entirely off anecdotes and his guessing. That it's harmful for a child to be taught about hell, or God's view of sinners, etc, is utter speculation - and if we're speculating, I'll say it's likely false.

Second, those things happen to be 'teaching children about hell' and related topics (a view of God's attitude towards unrepentant sinners, etc.)

Don't you think lying for Dawkins is a bit desperate, when his words are so easily available?

Crude said...

Also - Herb Silverman.

Is he a liar, or is he merely inept? Did Dawkins find it necessary to correct Herb Silverman's story?

Crude said...

Keep in mind, not only does Dawkins defend the claim that teaching children about hell, etc, is child abuse - he calls it worse than some child sexual abuse.

So tell me, Skep. Teaching a child that unrepentant sinners are damned - worse than fondling or fingering a child? Surely you have data backing this up. After all, Dawkins is saying this, and he'd never make a baseless claim without scientific data, eh?

im-skeptical said...

"After all, Dawkins is saying this"

Lying for Jesus is still lying.

Crude said...

Lying for Jesus is still lying.

And lying for Dawkins is still lying. ;)

You were caught, Skep. You credulously believed yet another dumb skeptical website. But here we have Herb Silverman straight out reporting Dawkins as saying that teaching a child that God can send them to hell is child abuse. Dawkins, meanwhile - because I apparently have to repeat it again:

In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘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.’
Interviewer Mehdi Hasan asked: ‘You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?’.
Professor Dawkins replied: ‘There are shades of being abused by a priest, and I quoted an example of a woman in America who wrote to me saying that when she was seven years old she was sexually abused by a priest in his car.
‘At the same time a friend of hers, also seven, who was of a Protestant family, died, and she was told that because her friend was Protestant she had gone to Hell and will be roasting in Hell forever.
‘She told me of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse; it was yucky but she got over it.
‘But the mental abuse of being told about Hell, she took years to get over.’


To highlight this: In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘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.’

You were suckered again, Skep. You bought into a Skeptic's website without checking the data, bandied it around as facts and truth - and someone who's actually read up on this proved you not just likely wrong, but demonstrably wrong.

Why, it's almost as if you shouldn't believe something just because a skeptic says it, eh?

im-skeptical said...

"You were suckered again, Skep. You bought into a Skeptic's website without checking the data"

No, I've done what you have refused to do. I read what Dawkins wrote for myself. I understood what he was saying. I didn't get suckered in by sound bites, the way you have.

Crude said...

No, I've done what you have refused to do. I read what Dawkins wrote for myself.

I've read Dawkins plenty. Enough to know he's an ignorant ex-scientist prone to saying and doing embarrassing things - and in this case, the skeptical site you read was utterly full of it.

But he's your idol and your prophet, so you can't bring yourself to admit it. So you try to bluff and lie - but you're a bad liar so THAT goes nowhere.

There's a lesson here about credulously swallowing religious apologetics spouted by atheist websites, Skep. You'd do well to learn it.

In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘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.’

im-skeptical said...

"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."

Do you even know what he was referring to in that quote? You say you read his it, so why don't you tell us what he was saying?

David Marshall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crude said...

Keep in mind, I'm not even dismantling all the claims on that skeptical website. Notice that they don't quote from the piece that Humphrey wrote, and which Dawkins wrote approvingly of:

In short, children have a right not to have their minds addled by nonsense. And we as a society have a duty to protect them from it. So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children's teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.

Crude said...

I see David's showed up just as I quoted the portion of that site that referred to him. Hey there.

skep,

Do you even know what he was referring to in that quote? You say you read his it, so why don't you tell us what he was saying?

Sure, he's saying that as horrible as the sexual abuse in question 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.

That was easy. ;)

The fact that he goes on to back it up with an anecdote does not bolster his case, Skep. If I went around telling people that raising a child to be an atheist or a materialist was tantamount to knocking their teeth out, and I pulled an anecdotal story as evidence when called on it, you'd go ballistic.

You made a mistake, Skep. Face the facts: being credulous towards skeptical websites as betrayed you. Again.

Try being skeptical in the future.

im-skeptical said...

"Sure, he's saying that as horrible as the sexual abuse in question 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."

You didn't read what he wrote. You're a liar.

Crude said...

You didn't read what he wrote. You're a liar.

Yes, I did.

Skep, do you realize the quote that I'm providing to you is a quote from Al-Jazeera? Not from TGD?

Do you realize that if Dawkins says "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." in another venue than TGD, it still freaking qualifies as him having said it?

I know, it pains you to grapple with this, but it's the case. You've already been exposed as having been suckered by a skeptical website. Do you really want to dig this hole needlessly deeper?

Papalinton said...

The running news commentary that is coming out of the current Royal Commission [The Australian equivalent to the American federal Grand Jury] into Child Sex Abuse within primarily Catholic institutions, schools, boarding houses, missions, and children's homes etc is horrific. So horrific that much of it has been held in camera, to protect the victims and victims relatives. So the information that has been come to light through the various national media sources simply skips at the tip of this social iceberg.

Whatever credibility that might reasonably be accorded in the interest of fairness and civility has largely been compromised by the intransigence of the Catholic hierarchy, both Clerical and Lay. It is interesting to note that the enactment of the Royal Commission was as a result of a Detective Chief Inspector of the State of New Siuth Wales Police Service became a whistleblower. IIRC he has since been protected under the whistleblower legislation in the national interest against prosecution. See the story on the National ABC news HERE.

This is a tellingly sorry indictment of the Catholic church as a feral organisation within the Australian community.
As Morris R. Cohen, American philosopher, observed:

"If religion cannot restrain evil, it cannot claim effective power for good."

Dawkins makes immeasurable sense when read within the context of this aberrant and dysfunctional behaviour of religious institutions, the protection of the perpetrators and the demonizing of victims over many decades if not centuries, that the community is now witnessing for the first time not only in this country but right across the world.

Mum Blr said...

Papalinton,

Interesting take, Papalinton. It seems we both agree on many of the fundamentals of this discourse, yet I'm far more inclined to think that the notion of humans being humans eschews any chance of eliminating religious impulses – save perhaps by virtue of punitive oligarchical dictates (and even then it would only appear so). Furthermore, I see no good reason for erecting a shared humanity as some kind of surrogate transcendental credo that ought to obligate its adherents to action. Why? Because even if shared values grow vis-à-vis the global economy, nothing in such a situation would seem to warrant a nomological transition from religious behavioural precepts to secular ones. If anything, a fast-forwarded humanism would only deepen the mystery to which many people seek answers.

To be sure, shared humanistic ideals are encouraging and praiseworthy, but by themselves they would appear to lack the teeth necessary to take a significant (and permanent) bite out of the religious qualia in the heart of man.

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Papalinton said...

Mum Blr
" ... yet I'm far more inclined to think that the notion of humans being humans eschews any chance of eliminating religious impulses .."

Only if one continues to function at the lowest common base of misguided intuition and the somewhat over-reliance on misperceived clairvoyance of the supernatural; a consequence of capitulating reasoning and thinking competence to our most primitive and inherited genetic proclivity to project agency and intentionality. Religious impulses are indeed inordinately powerful primal urges at the subconscious level of the human species' evolutionary survival mechanisms. Religious impulses are both a concession to and an expression of the basest of our emotional and psychological desires.

" ... save perhaps by virtue of punitive oligarchical dictates (and even then it would only appear so)."

No, religions and political ideology are pretty much the two elements of human activity that engages in that form of proscription. Secular humanism is about establishing human reason, ethics, social justice and philosophical naturalism, as a basis for informed decision-making. Secular humanism also expresses religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience and/or superstition are limited and deficient as the basis of morality and decision making.


"Because even if shared values grow vis-à-vis the global economy, nothing in such a situation would seem to warrant a nomological transition from religious behavioural precepts to secular ones."

All the more reason that the transition must of necessity be evidence-based, empirical, heuristic. It must be devoid of the theological absolutism of 'religious behavioural precepts'. There is much to commend in the argument that religious morality is largely an expression of contrived theological dictates attributed no less to a supernatural realm.

In essence the transition from the religious frame of reference to secular humanism is not about substituting one for a similar but different standard. It is about superseding an older and increasingly irrelevant model with one that is both formative, formidable and adroit.

"To be sure, shared humanistic ideals are encouraging and praiseworthy, but by themselves they would appear to lack the teeth necessary to take a significant (and permanent) bite out of the religious qualia in the heart of man."

Not for one minute is this transition deemed a pushover. Our almost lascivious fascination with and obsessive predilection for supernaturalism will be a hard nut to crack. But the lessons of Europe and other nations, such as Japan, do demonstrate that communities eventually tire of religious inspired self-abasement and the humiliating and embarrassing gauche intoning of oneself as inherently morally deficient and little more than unworthy sinners. Such negativity is demeaning and ignominious and has no place in contemporary society.


B. Prokop said...

I think we're all missing the point here, as to what Dawkins said or didn't say, or what he meant or didn't mean. Ultimately, that is far less important that what his followers are saying, and that is frightening indeed. Allow me to quote just a sampling of some of the comments to the link Victor provided us:

"it should be illegal to indoctrinate children with religious belief."

"outlaw all non-public schools and especially home schooling"

"I believe religious indoctrination (at least certainly in extreme forms, if not always) causes grave harm. Why are children who are subjected to this not deserving of society’s protection?" (Translation: State Indoctrination)

"I emphatically denounce indoctrination of children"

"All child indoctrination should be criminalised."

And remember "indoctrination" is atheist codeword for "upbringing".

Even the most hardened atheist ought to be horrified by the civil liberties implications to such policies ever being carried out in reality. Recipe for a police state with a totalitarian reach into the most private spheres of our lives. Ever hear of Pavlik Morozov? Look him up! We ought to learn from the past - not repeat it.

Zach said...

This thread is a great example of how the internet is making people stupid on every side of every issue. There is a polarizing effect that people think they are not subject to even in the midst of instantiating it. You end up with bottom-feeding trolls feeding delusions and paranoia of intelligent oversensitive idiots who take them too seriously, who then actually influence more even-tempered souls by saying "This is not hypothetical, there are people who actually believe this."

Just a lot of stupid bouncing around, escalating.

Zach said...

Why does stupid become amplified on the interwebs, while the even-tempered and sane makes but a ripple. Look at the most popular blogs. From the Christians, it is people who are dogmatic pedantic jerks like Feser and Valicella. From the atheists it is idiotic knee-jerk know-nothings like Loftus or PZ Myers.

Does this not concern people? ARe you simply happy to be part of this phenomenon? Do you think you are not guilty?

Zach said...

Even Victor's blog used to be less full of stupid, now it is just part of the stupid factory, quoting people like Coyne, because he wishes Dawkins had said it, and people are in a stupid frenzy because of other stupid frenzies. Really I am embarrassed by humanity right now.

B. Prokop said...

Zach,

No one's in a frenzy here (well, maybe im-gullible is). Yes, I purposely cherry-picked my quotes, but with excellent and defendable (?defensible?) reason.

The gnu premise is that none of these pro-totalitarian sentiments are worth worrying about, and in any case nobody really has them in the first place. I just wanted to point out that there is indeed a subset of atheists who would gladly impose their beliefs on society by force of law, and in the most intrusive manner imaginable. I think we call that theocracy. It wasn't good when John Calvin did it, or Oliver Cromwell, or the Mormons, or the Taliban. And it would be no better were the gnu to do the same.

It's not a "frenzy" to warn someone to not touch a hot stove.

Zach said...

Yes, Bob, you are part of the problem but cannot see it because you are not one of the first-order trolls.

Zach said...

This bears repeating: There is a polarizing effect that people think they are not subject to even in the midst of instantiating it.

im-skeptical said...

"Yes, I purposely cherry-picked my quotes, but with excellent and defendable (?defensible?) reason. "

And Dawkins cherry-picked his examples of egregious religious child abuse, but with excellent and defensible reason.

Call me frantic, call me gullible, or whatever you like. My only point has been that people like you are distorting his message and arguing against a straw-man. If others go too far (as in advocating outlawing indoctrination of children), you should be arguing against them, not Dawkins, because he never said that.

B. Prokop said...

im-s,

I don't particularly care who said it, as long as it's being said. I agree with you that it's the sentiment that needs to be combated, and not any particular person. But why are you so defensive about Dawkins? "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Ideas have consequences, and if Dawkins indeed does not approve of his words being spun to advocate the criminalization of religious upbringing, then he should be in the forefront of those condemning the idea. I know I don't like it when people twist my words (as you say is being done to his), so why isn't he calling on these people to stop "misquoting" him?

Crude said...

Call me frantic, call me gullible, or whatever you like. My only point has been that people like you are distorting his message and arguing against a straw-man.

We're not. We have quotes on hand, multiple instances of them, that show the problem with him and prove our case. And you know what? You say 'don't hit Dawkins, hit whoever REALLY says things like that' - but, as with Dawkins, anyone saying what Dawkins did would be defended by you if they were a 'high-value target'. Your defense of Dawkins has very little to do with what he actually said, and quite a lot to do with who he happens to be. He's too important to take certain kinds of criticism for you.

Be more skeptical of skeptical posts.

im-skeptical said...

"But why are you so defensive about Dawkins?"

"why isn't he calling on these people to stop "misquoting" him?"

I am defensive because I keep seeing these distortions again and again. It's an injustice. I have spoken up about this numerous times. And Dawkins has spoken out, too. He has clarified his position repeatedly. Only to be ignored by those who refuse to listen.

If you want to speak against anyone who advocates restrictions on human rights or freedom, or suppression of knowledge, or who pushes a message of hatred, I will applaud you. But you're going after the wrong guy.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

Get a clue.

Crude said...

Skep,

I am defensive because I keep seeing these distortions again and again. It's an injustice. I have spoken up about this numerous times. And Dawkins has spoken out, too. He has clarified his position repeatedly. Only to be ignored by those who refuse to listen.

His clarification of his position was to say: "In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘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.’
Interviewer Mehdi Hasan asked: ‘You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?’.
Professor Dawkins replied: ‘There are shades of being abused by a priest, and I quoted an example of a woman in America who wrote to me saying that when she was seven years old she was sexually abused by a priest in his car.
‘At the same time a friend of hers, also seven, who was of a Protestant family, died, and she was told that because her friend was Protestant she had gone to Hell and will be roasting in Hell forever.
‘She told me of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse; it was yucky but she got over it.
‘But the mental abuse of being told about Hell, she took years to get over.’"

See, I have all the clues I need, Skep. Anyone competent could see what they add up to: Dawkins is guilty of what he's being accused of.

I am defensive because I keep seeing these distortions again and again. It's an injustice.

You are defensive because he's someone very important to you emotionally. Which is why, when the skeptic site you link in his defense doesn't even make reference to any of the numerous things Dawkins has said or cited that would bolster the charge, you turn a blind eye.

Cherry-picking, indeed.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

You keep quoting all this stuff. You don't have a clue what he's saying.

Crude said...

Skep,

Sure I do. You, meanwhile, don't seem to understand the significance.

Here's a few clues for you.

* The charge is not 'Dawkins thinks no child should be aware of the existence of religion', so talking about teaching children about 'comparative religion' or 'the Bible as literature' is meaningless here.

* Nor is it 'Dawkins has stated explicitly that parents who raise their children Catholic (for example) should be charged with a crime.'

* What Dawkins has done is equated raising a child Catholic, teaching a child about hell, etc, with child abuse. Indeed, he's argued it can be worse than sexual abuse.

* He's endorsed an article which said, among other things, that parents no more have the right to teach their children the bible is literally true than they do to knock their teeth out.

We've all read what he wrote on this, Skep - which is precisely why your attempt at apologetics is failing so hard. Yes, we are well aware that Dawkins, while repeatedly stating that raising a child Catholic or teaching them about hell can be more damaging than child abuse, hasn't explicitly called for such things to be illegal at the moment.

From there, it can go two ways: Dawkins thinks that some forms of child abuse should be entirely legal. Or, Dawkins thinks all forms of child abuse should be punishable - in which case, consistency is going to demand that raising a child Catholic or teaching them about hell or otherwise is a punishable offense.

You seem to defend the former. Many of us suspect the latter.

But, to understand this is to understand why Dawkins is pretty reprehensible on this subject, so hey, cover those eyes and repeatedly insist that Your Hero couldn't possibly be saying anything rotten.

WMF said...

Yes, i'm-illiterate, that's probably it.

im-skeptical said...

"What Dawkins has done is equated raising a child Catholic, teaching a child about hell, etc, with child abuse. Indeed, he's argued it can be worse than sexual abuse."

No, he didn't.

"Dawkins thinks that some forms of child abuse should be entirely legal. Or, Dawkins thinks all forms of child abuse should be punishable - in which case, consistency is going to demand that raising a child Catholic or teaching them about hell or otherwise is a punishable offense."

Not even close.

In that last quote you included, he was talking about two cases of child abuse. Neither of them was good, but one was worse than the other. One was more easily recoverable than the other. One inflicted psychological damage that lasted many years. It wasn't merely raising the child as a Catholic, as Dawkins has made very clear. But you continue to ignore what he says and read your own meaning into it.

Crude said...

Skep,

No, he didn't.

Wow, WMF may well be right about you.

Not even close.

Totally on-target, it just short-circuits your mind before you can accept it.

In that last quote you included, he was talking about two cases of child abuse. Neither of them was good, but one was worse than the other.

"The mental abuse of being told about Hell"? So... you're saying that teaching a child about hell is child abuse, Skep?

im-skeptical said...

"The mental abuse of being told about Hell"? So... you're saying that teaching a child about hell is child abuse, Skep?"

I pleaded with you to read his book for yourself, before making all these ignorant claims about it. You said you did but that was a lie. Clearly, a lie.

Crude said...

Skep,

I read his book, Skep. Pity for you, I also read most else of what he's written. Which is exactly why you're doing so poorly here.

Now, Skep... let's focus again. You said that the last quote I gave about Dawkins had him talking about - in your own words - "two cases of child abuse".

But, those "cases" were A) sexual abuse, and B) "the mental abuse of being told about hell".

Put up or shut up, Skep: is telling a child about hell 'child abuse'? Is teaching them the standard doctrine of hell - that God damns unrepentant sinners - child abuse?

If so, well, you won't have only been proven wrong here (that's already been done). You will have been forced to admit it.

Which is why I suspect you won't be answering the question.

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

"I read his book, Skep. Pity for you, I also read most else of what he's written. Which is exactly why you're doing so poorly here"

Then you're incredibly dense, because you didn't understand a word of it.

Crude said...

Skep,

I understood it far more than you. Actually, no. You understand it too, you're just BSing right now.

Poorly, as usual.

Shall I take your refusal to answer my question as your acknowledging the dilemma you just placed yourself in? Do you think it becomes less obvious by your refusal to answer? ;)

im-skeptical said...

"So... you're saying that teaching a child about hell is child abuse, Skep?"

Is that your question? I tried to explain that that isn't what anyone was claiming - not Dawkins, not me. You are a moron. It's that simple.

Crude said...

Skep,

Is that your question? I tried to explain that that isn't what anyone was claiming - not Dawkins, not me.

That's funny. You said: In that last quote you included, he was talking about two cases of child abuse. Neither of them was good, but one was worse than the other.

Now, one of the 'abuses' was sexual abuse. The other one was the child being told about hell.

Forgetting for a moment that the second-hand story isn't even an accurate depiction of Catholic teaching: it was entirely about a child being told about hell. Indeed, this was supposed to be worse than the sex abuse.

You called it abuse. Dawkins called it abuse.

But somehow, Dawkins A) said it was abuse, but B) didn't mean that it was abuse. Also, you called it abuse, but you didn't mean it was abuse.

Keep squirming, Skep. ;)

im-skeptical said...

Sorry,

I should correct what I just said. I am indeed a moron, as this whole discussion shows. I should have known better.

HyperEntity111 said...

I don't get it. I read the link im skeptical posted. This is what I found: ''I have said that LABELLING children with the religion of their parents is child abuse.''

Your own link has Dawkins claiming that teaching religion to children is child abuse. And we've already seen plenty of quotes from Dawkins here where he repeats this claim again and again.


Now the same link also has Dawkins saying that he doesn't want to outlaw religion. So basically Dawkins believes that calling a child a Jewish child is akin to or worse than worse than sexually abusing them but the abusers should not go to jail.

Coyne recognises how insane (or dishonest)this reasoning is so he takes Dawkins' premises to their logical conclusion.

So I don't understand what this disagreement about. I don't think anyone here has claimed that Dawkins believes that teaching religion to children should be a criminal offence. People have observed that Coyne seems to believe this and that these are the logical consequences of Dawkins' beliefs. If im skeptical denies that these are logical consequences of Dawkins' beliefs he has yet to give an argument for this. If im skeptical expects us to deny the evidence of our own eyes when confronted with quotations from Dawkins repeatedly stating that religious upbringing is like sexual abuse he needs to give us an argument. But all I've seen so far is a link in which Dawkins says that calling a child a Muslim is child abuse but that the abusers shouldn't go to prison and that it's ok to keep this form of abuse legal.

im-skeptical said...

HyperEntity111,

Here's the problem. You haven't read his book or you haven't understood it. One of the two. You can quote soundbites all day like Crude, but they are not in the context of the original statements, so you miss an important part what he is saying - the part that identifies his examples as extreme cases of abuse that result from religion.

I really think many people here want to believe the worst about someone they feel is "the enemy", so they read meaning into his words that distorts what he said - they are unwilling to give him the benefit of the doubt if they are not quite sure what his meaning is. They insist that they know what he was saying when clearly they don't.

The statement Coyne made in the OP is more extreme than anything Dawkins has ever said, yet you hold Dawkins more responsible than Coyne? That doesn't make sense.

B. Prokop said...

im-s,

You continually accuse absolutely everybody on this website (except your skeptical self, of course) of not understanding anything. So how about this from HyperEntity? "People have observed that Coyne seems to [take Dawkins at his word] and that these are the logical consequences of Dawkins' beliefs. If im skeptical denies that these are logical consequences of Dawkins' beliefs he has yet to give an argument for this."

So let's hear it. Are these the logical consequences of Dawkins's beliefs? If not, why not? I agree with Hyper - we have yet to see an answer on this.

Papalinton said...

There is no problem with Dawkins.
There is no problem with im-skeptical.
Both offer reasoned and reasonable objections to the superstitious nonsense that collectively falls under the rubric of Christianity.
Dawkins and im-skeptical are exposing Christianity for what it really is, a mythological fable interwoven through a light fabric of history. Those that prescribe to an alternate netherworld replete with ghosts, spirits, nephilim, seraphim, angels, devils and gods, feel affronted that the more grounded members of the community are rigorously challenging this unfounded and contrived image-world. And they don't like it. Why? Because to robustly question the folly of what can simply be described as shamanic, [particularly the self-professed access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits typically through ritualized practice of the primitive eucharistic blood sacrifice], together with imagined acts of divination and healing, most commonly observed as a function of the pantomime of intercessory and group prayer, is to seriously question the efficacy, stability and integrity of the process by which they arrived at this conclusion.

One can only mask this superstitious nonsense to a point through philosophy, after which the religious philosophical explanations become trite.

The vehemence of the responses towards Dawkins and im-skeptical are symptomatic of the deep-seated effects that these challenges wrought on both the viability and sustainability of the christian mythos going forward.

That is to be expected. Change can be unsettling at the best of times.



im-skeptical said...

"Are these the logical consequences of Dawkins's beliefs?"

NO! Dawkins never said or implied that religion should be restricted or religious teaching should be illegal. He has clearly stated that. There is no such logical conclusion to anything I have ever heard or read from him. If you think there is, you have read that into his words.

He has discussed harm that sometimes results from religion. He is building a case of reason, and the idea that religion can have negative consequences is one plank of his case, and it is up to the reader to decide whether he should continue to follow religion. That's his message.

B. Prokop said...

Amazing - I didn't hear anyone say, "Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!" Yet he appeared anyway.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

I think I just came to a realization about why this is so confusing for you. I've heard comments here before about how atheists would impose their beliefs by law if they had a chance. Actually, very few of us feel that way. You think we do because that's the way you think. It has been a constant battle for us to keep religion out of the law, to keep religion from being imposed on everyone. It's what many religious people want. So naturally, you project that desire onto us. You think you have to defend against atheists outlawing religion. Relax. Even if we did want to do that, it could never happen.

Victor Reppert said...

Atheists outlawing religion would never happen? That was the other thing I was going to mention. Apparently it is an article of faith for New Atheists that the Union of Socialist Republics never existed.

B. Prokop said...

"because that's the way you think"

Nope, not me. I LOVE living in the USA with no established religion. Wouldn't trade it for anything. You could not be more wrong! So much for your "realization" (which is anything but - more like an "unreal-ization").

Crude said...

Skep,

You can quote soundbites all day like Crude, but they are not in the context of the original statements,

No, I quoted the original statements in full, complete with the context.

Your problem here is that you have an imaginary reading of Dawkins, and you turn a blind eye to inconsistency. Hence, you let yourself mentally hang out in an unbalanced world where Dawkins can both say that teaching a child about hell can not only be child abuse but abuse worse than sexual abuse, where he can make similar links about abuse and raising a child to be religious, where he can approvingly quote Humphrey saying that we should no more have a right to teach a child that the bible is literally true than we should be able to knock their teeth out... but you'll sit there and either fail to notice the inconsistency, or notice what must follow if the inconsistency is removed.

I've heard comments here before about how atheists would impose their beliefs by law if they had a chance.

As has happened in the recent past.

Actually, very few of us feel that way. You think we do because that's the way you think.

And on what evidence do you base these claims on? Your most prominent leader openly links a religious upbringing and teaching children about hell, etc, with child abuse. You get Coyne's rhetoric, Myers' rhetoric and other such thrown into the mix - with no great outcry from atheists, noticeably.

The only reason anyone is 'safe' from the Cult of Gnu is because the Cult of Gnu's numbers are so low - they are a subset of atheists. If Dawkins said tomorrow 'March on Washington, my minions!' the result would be a sudden, dramatic decrease in the Cult of Gnu population. It is not for lack of desire, it is for lack of immediate capability, that they are not a threat.

The KKK is of no particular danger to my existence right now. It's not because the KKK is peaceful, it's because they're currently a joke.

Crude said...

Victor,

Atheists outlawing religion would never happen? That was the other thing I was going to mention. Apparently it is an article of faith for New Atheists that the Union of Socialist Republics never existed.

What always happens is people plea that that wasn't atheism, but atheism + some other beliefs (communism) - inevitably with the claim that those other beliefs amounted to a religion or a pseudo-religion.

Except, even if that's granted, then it starts to become clear that on those terms it's an open question whether the Cult of Gnu itself qualifies as a religion or pseudo-religion anyway.

B. Prokop said...

It's earlier than the USSR, Victor. Read up on the history of the French Revolution, during which tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Catholics were murdered (excuse me, re-educated) by the Cult of Reason in the 1790s. Yes, you got that right: the Cult of Reason. Sound familiar?

Oh, and guess what? They made it a capital crime to bring one's own child up in the Faith.

Crude said...

The Cult of Reason can never be brought up enough. It just goes to show that the people who scream about the power and use of 'Reason' - people who literally pretty well deified it - were still, at the end of the day, pretty goddamn nuts.

im-skeptical said...

"it is an article of faith for New Atheists that the Union of Socialist Republics never existed"

Here we go again. We are not communists.

im-skeptical said...

"No, I quoted the original statements in full, complete with the context."

Read the book, moron.

Crude said...

Read the book, moron.

I read the book. It only backs up what I've said here, Skep.

Your defense of Dawkins is extraordinarily lacking. Quite a lot of effort to defend an ex-scientist.

Papalinton said...

And true to form, bereft of substantive and sustainable argument, the woo-meisters resort to gratuitous and spurious invoking of Godwin's Law. It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."[2][3] In other words, Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.

This thread is now mired with the apologists invoking the Spamer Corollary of Godwin's Law:
"As the probability of Godwin's Law being invoked approaches one the probability that 'Commie' will replace 'Nazi' also tend towards one."
-- MartinSpamer

Equally interesting are the religious abominations invoked as comparisons of atheism. As one reads through this and previous threads, The Westboro Baptist Church, Creationists, the KKK, etc etc [all sole creatures of Christian fundamentalism] are likened to atheism. Clearly reason and logic has been squandered when theists attempt to tarnish the standing of atheism with the crassest and flotsam and jetsam of their very own making. Westboro Baptist Church is the malignant tumour of Christian thought. Creationism is a wholly-derived Christian polemic against science. And the KKK is the lovechild of Christian white supremacist fundamentalists:

"The second Klan adopted a burning Latin cross primarily as a symbol of intimidation.[97] No such crosses had been used by the first Klan. It was also used as a symbol of Christian fellowship, and its lighting during meetings was steeped in Christian prayer, the singing of hymns, and other overtly religious symbolism.[14]" Wiki.

In reality Atheism rejects all these forms of Christian claptrap. The comparison tendentious and egregious.

Mum Blr said...

Hi Papalinton

Thanks for your feedback. I think I understand your position better now, but I'm wanting to probe deeper – to something more foundational and less polemical. We both agree that a transition to shared values should ideally be evidence based, but can such a change be evinced without resorting to subjective discourse? I'm inclined to think that it can't. The concept of a shared value is still a value and formalising such a position through yet another intellectual endeavour would seem to do nothing to ground our shared values as either being true or truly egalitarian throughout time and culture. Humanism, like other frameworks, represents a manufactured overlay of an ideality of the "some" upon the base of reality for the "all"; that is to say, it can't escape being an imposition of our own construction that is acutely subject to subjectivity constraints.

Unless Humanism can be extended to encompass people's deeper existential concerns, it seems to me that despite having a degree of epistemic clout, Humanism ostensibly lacks the functional command needed to impact humanity at the grass-roots level. Of course, religion would seem to suffer from some of the same constraints, but it stakes its claim at more while stoking membership with less.

The throne hasn't been abdicated yet, and religion is still king (for now).

Mumblr

Victor Reppert said...

We are NOT comparing these things to atheism. Richard Dawkins and atheism are not identical entities. I am just making the claim that just as religious zeal can produce horrible ill effects in society, antireligious zeal can do exactly the same thing. Whereas religious people might have done terrible things to prevent people from going to hell, anti-religious people can do bad things to save scientific progress, etc. If you really think that the progress of the human species depends upon a "victory" over religion, then there is nothing on earth stopping you from forcing that victory on others if you have the political power to do so. People like Dawkins are looked upon as leaders in the atheist movement, and from what I've seen on this site, he has a lot of influence amongst them.

HyperEntity111 said...

im skeptical posted: ''Here's the problem. You haven't read his book or you haven't understood it.''

I have read his book and I think I've understood it. If you think we haven't understood it why don't you explain it to us? If you think Crude's quotes are 'out of context' why don't you supply the context?

My impression is that we have two different interpretations of what Dawkins is saying. As I read you read (correct me if I'm wrong) you're saying that when Dawkins claims teaching children religion is child abuse he only means extreme cases of religious upbringing such as teaching your daughter that she must be sacrificed so that the sun can shine. And it's true that Dawkins regards that kind of religious upbringing as child abuse (and quite rightly in my opinion).

However, I interpret Dawkins much literally. When he says that raising a child Catholic is worse than sexually abusing them I take him at his word. He seems to be saying quite literally that teaching Catholic doctrine to your child is worse than sexually abusing them. When Dawkins writes that labelling (in block capitals too) children with the religion of their parents is child abuse I interpret him as straightforwardly as possible. The man is saying that if you call a child a Muslim or a Christian you have committed child abuse. I don't really see how else to interpret statements like this.

My impression is that Dawkins considers virtually all forms of religious upbringing to be abusive. When asked to clarify his position on this issue Dawkins explicitly says that he thinks referring to a child as Christian is child abuse. He explicitly says that teaching children that hell is real is child abuse. He explicitly says that raising your child Catholic is worse than sexually abusing them. He does not simply select extreme or grotesque examples. He picks examples which most people would consider uncontroversial.

I could be wrong in my interpretation of what he says but you'll have to show me why. Merely asserting that I'm wrong isn't good enough. Nor is it enough to show that a more charitable reading of Dawkins' statements can be given. You have to give a reason why your more positive interpretation is the correct one and why mine is false.

'' Dawkins never said or implied that religion should be restricted or religious teaching should be illegal. He has clearly stated that. There is no such logical conclusion to anything I have ever heard or read from him.''

Nobody is claiming that Dawkins believes religious upbringing should be illegal. What is claimed is that given what Dawkins believes about religion and child abuse, his position logically entails that the religious upbringing of children should be illegal. Remember, what is logically entailed by a set of premises in an argument is quite independent of a person's beliefs. A person can believe things without being aware of their logical entailment.

For example, 'All men are mortal. John is a man. Therefore John is mortal'. is a valid argument. If you come across a person who believes in the first two premises but denies the conclusion, this does not change the fact that the argument is valid. Similarly, 'Paedophilia must be made illegal. Religious upbringing of children causes harm equivalent to or worse than paedophilia. Therefore, religious upbringing of children must be made illegal.' This argument seems quite valid to me (though of course it is unsound). If you come across a person who believes in the first two premises but not the conclusion then you have probably come across someone who is very confused (or dishonest). I claim Dawkins subscribes to the first two premises but fails to draw the logical conclusion of the argument. I suspect you think Dawkins does not subscribe to premise two. If you do, you owe us an explanation.

HyperEntity111 said...

There is one final point I wish to make, It seems to me that all this 'teaching hell/religion=child abuse' stuff is transparent bullshit. If the complaint is that you're teaching children stuff before they're old enough to think about it then this plainly insane. We teach children all sorts things before they're old enough to think about them for themselves. Do you commit child abuse by teaching children that water is H2O before they've had a chance to prove this for themselves? Obviously not. Is the complaint that you're teaching children ideas which are very controversial as opposed to uncontroversially true ideas? Well we do that all the time as well. Suppose you teach your children that rape is wrong and someone comes along and says 'This claim presupposes that there are moral facts and that we have moral obligations/responsibilities to each other. But whether there are moral facts, whether we have any responsibilities to each other is a matter of intense philosophical dispute. Indeed whether we have the capacity for free will, the capacity to freely choose one action over an other, is in dispute. Many smart people believe statements like rape is wrong are about as meaningful as blurrggh'. All of this is quite true. Does it follow that you shouldn't teach children that rape is wrong and that doing so is child abuse?' Only a lunatic would think so.

If the doctrine of hell is true you're doing children a service by teaching it to them. Dawkins' claim that it is child abuse seems predicated on the assumption that it is false. Well suppose he's right (unless you think Dawkins knows what happens after we die I see no reason to suppose this but whatever). Does this mean every time a sincerely held false belief is imparted to a child an instance of child abuse has occurred? I think the consequences of taking a view like this are too absurd to take seriously.

So where exactly is the child abuse? I suppose Dawkins would say that teaching your children the doctrine of hell is abusive because the psychological harm that it causes is terrible.

But if teaching your children that hell is real causes psychological damage of the sort that is suffered by those who were raped as children we should see evidence of this (given the vast number of people who believe in hell). To my knowledge Dawkins has never provided evidence to suggest that this is the case except for a) his intuition and b) one anecdote. Neither is sufficient to justify this claim.

There are also other reasons why I'm skeptical of the whole 'teaching your kids hell=child abuse'' thing. Scientifically, there is a great deal of evidence that religious people are very psychologically healthy. On a more personal note, I myself was taught the doctrine of hell as a child and I know many people who were. I have not suffered any adverse psychological effects from this nor do I know anybody who has. So when I see somebody describing this as child abuse comparable to paedophilia my bullshit detector goes into overdrive. And the suggestion it would have been better for me to have been raped as a child than undergo a religious upbringing, that somehow it's worse than being attacked by a paedophile, is both completely ridiculous and unbelievably wicked. People who sincerely believe nonsense like this are incredibly disgusting and pose a serious danger to society. They are lunatics who are simply not fit to raise children.

ingx24 said...

While humanism seems like a good idea on the face of it, I question its ability to ground ANY kind of morality at all given the materialistic assumptions most prominent atheists make. How can you ground any kind of ethical system if your metaphysical worldview sees humans as nothing more than "moist robots" and mental states as really nothing more than complex electrochemical reactions? How do you make sense of the idea of morality when you're implicitly committed to the idea that feelings of happiness, sadness, pleasure, and pain aren't really "real"? How can you ground moral responsibility when everything we say and do is completely determined by the laws of physics? In other words, how can you have an ethical system (especially one called "humanism"!) that implicitly denies the very qualities that ethically distinguish human beings from rocks? Doesn't a truly consistent materialist, scientistic view of reality have to be morally nihilistic pretty much by definition?

HyperEntity111 said...

''As I read you (correct me if I'm wrong),...''

''However, I interpret Dawkins much more literally.''

Sigh...Victor should really enable an edit button on this blog.

ingx24 said...

On a more personal note, I myself was taught the doctrine of hell as a child and I know many people who were. I have not suffered any adverse psychological effects from this nor do I know anybody who has.

While I haven't suffered any adverse psychological effects from being taught about hell as a child, I adamently believe that any God who would create something like hell (in the sense of everlasting torment with no hope of escape) is a complete monster. No one deserves to be tormented forever with no hope of escape unless they have subjected someone else to the same fate, and the fact that so many Christians can sincerely believe in hell without having any moral reservations about it is, to be quite honest, disturbing in my eyes. I know some Christians will say that my moral intuitions are "fallen" and that I'm sympathizing with sinners because of it, but that reply only raises further red flags for me.

HyperEntity111 said...

I agree that unending punishment for the crime of having false beliefs (assuming Christianity is true) is immoral and I do not believe in this. However, given the materialism that so many of the New Atheists believe in they hardly have the resources to judge something like that as immoral. Actually, they don't have the resources to condemn anything as being right or wrong-including paedophilia. This is what makes Dawkins' moral indignation so ridiculous. And although I do not believe in unending torment after death, I would happily choose to be raised by a good family who happened to believe that than to spend my childhood being attacked paedophiles.

Martin said...

>This is what makes Dawkins' moral indignation so ridiculous.

Indeed. It seems even that Dawkins confirms both premises of the moral argument. On one hand, he says that the universe is Creator-less: there is at bottom no good, no evil, etc. Thus confirming that "if God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist."

He also believes in objective moral values, as indicated by his outrage at Islamic female circumcision, indoctrinating children into religion, and so on. Thus agreeing that "objective moral values exist."

And so he agrees with the premises:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist
2. Objective moral values exist

Yet denies the conclusion which follows deductively from those two premises:

3. Therefore God exists

A perfect example of irrationality: affirming both premises of modus tollens and yet denying the conclusion.

Fascinating behavior. Absolutely fascinating.

ingx24 said...

However, given the materialism that so many of the New Atheists believe in they hardly have the resources to judge something like that as immoral. Actually, they don't have the resources to condemn anything as being right or wrong-including paedophilia.

Yep. Like I said, if we're ultimately nothing more than bags of chemicals, the very notion of morality makes no sense. For morality to make sense you need actual people who can think, feel, and perceive - and whose actions are based on choices rather than on the laws of physics. If our mental states are ultimately nothing more than electrochemical reactions in our heads and all of our actions are determined by mindless physical laws, then the entire concept of morality becomes incoherent.

Mum Blr said...

ingx24,

I appreciate your input.

I am equally sceptical of romanticising ethical dependencies within Humanism's embrace. It seems to me that the most obvious corollary of such an endeavour would be moral Nihilism. However, I am curious to hear if there could be more fundamental provenances to which Humanism might grant an escape from such an (un)intended void.

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B. Prokop said...

"[The] Westboro Baptist Church is the malignant tumour of Christian thought."

I'm surprised at you, Papalinton, I really am. Why are you maligning the very people whose tactics and methods you so highly praise when practiced by persons with whom you happen to agree? The self-styled WBC is your soulmate, and model of civic behavior. Try and show a little gratitude!

RD Miksa said...

Good Day to All,

I think that there is an interesting twist to this discussion that we are all potentially missing. Namely, if—as per Coyne and Dawkins—it is being argued that raising one’s children in a religious environment with strong religious beliefs is child abuse due to the potential psychological harm that this would cause them, then could it not simultaneously be argued that it is potentially child abuse to raise one’s children to in a materialistic worldview, for example, if that could cause potential psychological harm, or to raise one’s children to believe in Blind-Watchmaker style neo-Darwinian evolution, for a further example, if doing so could cause potential psychological harm to those children. And after all, a very good argument could be made that raising one’s children in a materialistic/Blind Watchmaker evolutionary (BWE) worldview is harmful to them.

First, I think it would be obviously psychologically harmful to tell a child the actual truths of materialism or BWE. For example: “Well Sweetheart, Mommy doesn’t really love you or care about or even like you, she just has a chemical reaction happen in her brain that makes her feel like she loves you and cares about you, but Mommy can’t control this…plus, Mommy doesn’t even know if she really exists or not (see Alex Rosenberg for details).” Or: “Well Sweetheart, you’re nothing but an accident and the universe does not care one bit what happens to you, plus, when you die, you’re nothing more than a sack of meat that’s going to be worm food.” Or: “Well Sweetheart, Mommy loves you and she would never do this, but if she really was looking out for her genes, she would have thrown you out into the woods the minute she learned that you have a disease that destroys your reproductive fitness and that will likely cost Mommy a great deal of pointless energy, time, and resources given that you will likely die before reaching reproductive age.”

Second, there is tons of evidence that shows that a religious upbringing has objectively positive effects on children, thereby showing that a non-religious upbringing is not as positive as a religious one, which may be due to the non-religious worldview that such children are subject to and believe.

And thus, the question that should be posed to those claiming that children should not be allowed to be brought up in a religious environment with religious beliefs and with a religious identification, is the following: if it could be shown that bringing up a child in a atheistic/materialistic/BWE worldview is psychological harmful to children (and potentially to society), then, given your stance against the instruction of children in religious matters due to the psychological harm that it causes them, should it also be the case that children should be protected from any instruction in atheistic/materialistic/BWE worldviews? And if not, then why the double-standard. And furthermore, if it could be empirically shown that religious instruction is psychologically beneficial to children while non-religious instruction is harmful, then should religious instruction be actively supported and non-religious instruction be actively suppressed? And if not, then again, why the strange double-standard.

Anyway, just a thought.

RD Miksa

PS – No time to proof-read. Sorry in advance for any errors.

im-skeptical said...

HyperEntity111,

"My impression is that Dawkins considers virtually all forms of religious upbringing to be abusive."

I vehemently disagree. Can you find any cases where he has said that? I know there are sound bites that can be construed to make it sound that way if you ignore the context, but that is not Dawkins' position, and I doubt you can find any solid evidence for it. Again, he was talking about extreme cases, not religious upbringing in general. So that kills the chain of logic that you say follows from it.

"I could be wrong in my interpretation of what he says but you'll have to show me why."

I explained what he was saying in his book. If you want to read it a different way, ok, but the fact reamins that he NEVER said the things you claim about him. If you think he did, why don't you show me?

Crude said...

RD Miksa,

And after all, a very good argument could be made that raising one’s children in a materialistic/Blind Watchmaker evolutionary (BWE) worldview is harmful to them.

Thanks for raising this. If we want to play the 'intuition counts as evidence' game, then it's going to be trivial to argue that other aspects of the materialist-atheist worldview - that even various M-As openly admit are unpalatable - can be equally or more traumatizing.

But I bet talking about how raising a child to believe in atheism/materialism (or specific claims that follow from such) 'can be as bad or worse than sexual abuse' would make various atheists react poorly.

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

Bob
"I'm surprised at you, Papalinton, I really am. Why are you maligning the very people whose tactics and methods you so highly praise when practiced by persons with whom you happen to agree? The self-styled WBC is your soulmate, and model of civic behavior."

I am puzzled at how this urban myth started. My supposed support of the WBC is anathema to everything I hold. You need to demonstrate where it is that I support the WBC. I suspect the legendising begins with your feigned abhorrence of the gay parishioner who was about to be so abominably maligned and debased by a Catholic priest, on the explicit instruction of the Catholic hierarchy, in the pious sanctity of the church of which this gay parishioner is a member, with his filming of the event for posterity.

In the heat haze of your intemperance you have likened the filming action by this gay parishioner as a testament to my supporting the actions of the WBC. Guilty by attribution! is the Prokop verdict. Rampant unbridled homophobia practiced within a Catholic church is still rampant unbridled homophobia. Such practice is unwarranted, unnecessary and unforgivable. It seems the level and extent of depraved indifference toward the welfare and personhood of homosexual parishioners of one's own church shows no bounds in the level of incivility or even a modicum of concession towards civic decency. As Protestantism declares the catholic Church it is indeed the whore of Babylon. Though I for one think that much of the Christian enterprise, be it of a Catholic or Protestant persuasion, is sheer shamanic superstitious lunacy.

Papalinton said...

"First, I think it would be obviously psychologically harmful to tell a child the actual truths of materialism or BWE. For example: “Well Sweetheart, Mommy doesn’t really love you or care about or even like you, she just has a chemical reaction happen in her brain that makes her feel like she loves you and cares about you, but Mommy can’t control this…plus, Mommy doesn’t even know if she really exists or not .... "

This is the level of lunacy that one stoops to when the whatever supposed substantive claims for superstitious supernaturalism are demonstrably and rapidly defused by a-theological reasoning and logic. The cupboard of religious sustenance runs bare. This is best exemplified by the following:

"Thanks for raising this. If we want to play the 'intuition counts as evidence' game, then it's going to be trivial to argue that other aspects of the materialist-atheist worldview - that even various M-As openly admit are unpalatable - can be equally or more traumatizing."

It is none other than a concession that a religious upbringing is little more than an 'intuition counts as evidence' game, apparently of a value equal to that of the M-A worldview. Supposedly, M-As can be "equally or more traumatizing" than a religious upbringing. Apparently, according to crude, the M-A worldview must be brought down to the same level as religious upbringing to demonstrate its ineffectiveness in preventing trauma. Not what I would call a ringing endorsement of religious upbringing, viv-à-vis the N-A worldview.

The particular aspect that believers cannot abide is the robustness and character of the M-A worldview and that it is making significant inroads into what was once the exclusive preserve of Christian ethereality. Strong, evidential and empirical standards are replacing the flimsy, insubstantial and characterless nature of supernaturalist thought.

The trend continues.

Sojourner Man said...

Papalinton,

You have used words like "unforgivable", "depraved", "incivility", and "decency".

Yet, any attempt to justify your own moral outrage on the basis of human ideals must first assume that human ideals justify morality. But why think that this is so?

At any rate, despite the hoopla and bluster on all sides of this discussion, unless you are capable of erecting a rational and justifiable basis for your aphoristic dandering then everything that you have said amounts to mere noise (and by that I mean sounds waves propagated through muscle contraction and two flaps of nerve-bundled meat all connected by electro-chemical impulses).

Why should your noise be any more or less audible, metaphorically speaking, than that of a bellowing and bigoted religious scalper?

Sojourner

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

Dawkins said:
Second (and this is the point with which I began) the mental abuse constituted by an unsubstantiated threat of violence and terrible pain, if sincerely believed by the child, could easily be more damaging than the physical actuality of sexual abuse. An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is.
...
The threat of eternal hell is an extreme example of mental abuse, just as violent sodomy is an extreme example of physical abuse. Most physical abuse is milder, and so is most of the mental abuse inherent in a typical religious education.


What do you make of this?

Papalinton said...

Sojourner man:
"Yet, any attempt to justify your own moral outrage on the basis of human ideals must first assume that human ideals justify morality. "

What outrage? All what I write is about challenging the indelicacy and inanity of the Christian basis for absolutist morality. And that the source of this morality does not lie within humanity and social order, but are accorded and adjudicated by a supernatural entity.
What good can be said of a belief system that intones a newborn to be little more than a bag of sinfulness, so starkly reflected in the trite and egregious Christian mantra at Psalm 51:5, "We are born sinful":

New International Version (©2011)
"Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."

New Living Translation (©2007)
"For I was born a sinner--yes, from the moment my mother conceived me."

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me."

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)

"Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me."

And to add a few cross references to indicate the extent to which immorality comprehensively pervades the base standard of Christian thought:

Psalm 58:3
"Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies."

Job 15:14
"What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous?"

Genesis 8:21
"The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done."

Job 14:4
"Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!"

You can read the rest of the apologetical tripe HERE.

So much for the basis of Christian morality when the newborn are branded sinful through no fault of theirs. To even suggest all are born evil, simply on the expedience of 'original sin' is a spurious and asinine principle around which Christian morality is defined. The Christian interpretation is an indiscriminate blunderbuss model underlying the principles of morality in which sinfulness is determined, a priori, by supernatural fiat.

Sojourner man:
" ... unless you are capable of erecting a rational and justifiable basis for your aphoristic dandering then everything that you have said amounts to mere noise ..."

What's your rationale for propping up Christian bunkum?

B. Prokop said...

I am exceedingly glad that Papalinton is reading the scriptures. Interesting that all the passages he quoted are among those that can actually be proven by empirical evidence alone and accepted as true without the least drop of faith. I've long held (Victor may recall me saying this back in the 70's) that the Fall of Man is the one point of Christian doctrine that can actually be proven by the scientific method.

So when he concludes by asking, "What's your rationale for propping up Christian bunkum?" (side point: It's nice to see that he's capitalized "Christian" contrary to his usual practice. He must either be slipping, or we're finally getting to him.), a good answer would be, "Look around!"

Papalinton said...

"Interesting that all the passages he quoted are among those that can actually be proven by empirical evidence alone and accepted as true without the least drop of faith. "

You might be on a winner here, Bob. How so? Empirical evidence please. You have my undivided attention. How does one contrive empirical evidence from a hatful of religious crock?

Sojourner Man said...

Papalinton,

In all that you still did not answer the question...

That you perceive a position as asinine and spurious does nothing to undermine the veridicality of the position in question. Revealing autobiographical facts about yourself and how you feel about a matter can surely never challenge even a weak argument. As such, quoting your challengers thusly with such obdurate dismay is a mere remonstration, not an argument. Far better be it if you divided your angst to engaging the serious criticisms undermining your position in addition to those that you believe have occasioned the other.

If anything, banal and subversive language on your part merely echoes that which you speak against in the Scriptures. What really has raised your ire so? That the literature believed in by many labels you as sinful? Are you not labelling these believers as inane and egregious yourself? Have you not levelled their talk as an affront to your own character – just as you have levelled an affront against them?

You say you have no anger, but your language tells a different tale. Consider, please, dialoguing in such a way as to prove instead of reprove and exhibit to your readers the dispute that requires a sound argument instead of simply sounding an argument out.

Sojourner

B. Prokop said...

"How does one contrive empirical evidence from a hatful of religious crock?"

Good grief! You don't derive empirical evidence from something, you collect it for something. Do you even know what "empirical" means?

As to where one gets empirical evidence from, I'll quote your own favorite Font of Wisdom (trademark), Wikipedia: "The senses are the primary source of empirical evidence."

So, to repeat myself form my previous posting, "Look around!"

Mum Blr said...

I am very interested to learn how Humanism adequately grounds moral conviction and certitude. It seems to be quite paradoxical to argue for something with heartfelt fervour without knowing why, or even if, there can be an "in principle" foundation for such a rigorous ethic.

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ingx24 said...

“Well Sweetheart, Mommy doesn’t really love you or care about or even like you, she just has a chemical reaction happen in her brain that makes her feel like she loves you and cares about you, but Mommy can’t control this…plus, Mommy doesn’t even know if she really exists or not (see Alex Rosenberg for details).”

I think it's worse than that: "Well Sweetheart, it seems like you have thoughts and feelings, but really all it is is electrical impulses and chemical reactions in your head that are making you behave in certain ways in response to the environment."

B. Prokop said...

ingx24,

It's actually far worse than even your variant. what they'd really like for everyone to say to their children is something like:

"Well, Sweetheart. I know that our feelings for each other are nothing more than electrical impulses that we have no control over, but as long as we unskeptically adhere to every word of the prophets Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, all will be well. But whatever you do, avoid questioning their wisdom with all your might, because that would be just surrendering you reason and open mind to ignorant anti-science illiterates like Copernicus, Louis Pasteur, Enrico Fermi, or Gregor Mendel!"

Walter said...

I've long held (Victor may recall me saying this back in the 70's) that the Fall of Man is the one point of Christian doctrine that can actually be proven by the scientific method.

I don't see how. It's not enough to point out that we all have a dark side, you would have to show that we once existed in a utopian state of sinless perfection. Maybe God wanted us to have a dark side and designed us that way from the outset?

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

What I was referring to was our present state, not to how we got here. But you make a good point.

In any case, it is empirically obvious that human beings do not behave in the manner in which they should (i.e., they are "sinful", or whatever word you wish to use), unlike absolutely everything else in existence. Now why is that?

Hal said...

Bob,
"In any case, it is empirically obvious that human beings do not behave in the manner in which they should (i.e., they are "sinful", or whatever word you wish to use), unlike absolutely everything else in existence."

That is an empirically false statement.
Other primates are capable of violating the rules of the society they live in. When they do, they are not behaving as they should within the context of that social group.

Zach said...

My dog doesn't behave in the manner in which he should. :O

Dan Gillson said...

Bob

I don't think it is empirically obvious that human beings don't behave in the manner that they should, or rather, I think that such a thing can only be obvious if what one observes about human behavior doesn't match up with an ideal type for it. And anyways, comparing human behavior to everything else is a category confusion: you're comparing ethics to functions.

Dan Gillson said...

... late to the party, again.

Zach said...

How many people here have looked at the original piece by Coyne? He was responding to this awful picture, and had a specific target in mind when talking about religious indoctrination. This thread, again, is a perfect example of stupid feeding dumb exacerbating idiocy. Ignore the more interesting issues, pull one rather overstated quote out of context, and react to the overreactions to that quote as if you were talking about something representative of a real threat.

Dan Gillson said...

Cute pic, Zach. Plus, I mostly agree with you. These threads end up devolving into the same silly shouting matches over and over again.

HyperEntity111 said...

im skeptical posted: ''If you want to read it a different way, ok, but the fact reamins that he NEVER said the things you claim about him. If you think he did, why don't you show me?''

I claim Dawkins believes that teaching your the doctrine of hell is child abuse. You've already seen the quotes to establish this. I claim that Dawkins believes labelling a child a Muslim or a Christian (i.e. merely referring to a child as being of a particular religion) is child abuse. You've already seen the quotes establishing this. I've also said that Dawkins thinks teaching children Catholicism is worse than sexual abuse and we've all seen the quote establishing that.

You claim that when Dawkins says these these things he does not mean what he says. Apparently because he also believes that there are more extreme cases of religious child abuse. That would be an acceptable interpretation if all Dawkins said was 'Religious upbringing can be child abuse. Just look at these terrible cases.' But that is not all he said.

What actually said was 'Religious upbringing is child abuse. Teaching hell to your kids? Child abuse. Referring to a child as belonging to a particular religion? Child abuse. Teaching your kids Catholicism? Worse than paedophilia.' He gave a very specific list of what sort of religious upbringing he considered to be abusive and we've all seen the quotes.

So your interpretation of him as referring only to extreme cases actually strikes me as unreasonable. I mean, how on earth do you get from the assertion 'Dawkins believes sacrificing your kids to the sun is child abuse' to the assertion 'When Dawkins said labelling children as Christian was child abuse and teaching Catholicism to kids was worse than child rape...he didn't really mean that labelling children Christian and teaching them Catholicism was child abuse.' Like, WTF?

You keep claiming that these quotes are somehow taken out of context. The guy said teaching Catholicism to children was worse than paedophilia!! What possible context could justify that?! How else are you supposed to interpret that?! If you think he's been quoted of context then please, by all means, supply the context! Stop telling people to go and read the book because we have!

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

"What do you make of this?"

If you read what Dawkins says without reading additional meaning into it, it says: threatening children with violence and pain is bad, and that most religious upbringing isn't as bad as the extreme cases he cited in his discussion.

im-skeptical said...

Zach,

Coyne obviously overreacted. I think if he thinks about it, he would agree that outlawing religious indoctrination doesn't make much sense.

im-skeptical said...

HyperEntity111,

"I claim Dawkins believes that teaching your the doctrine of hell is child abuse"

He believes that threatening a child with violence and pain is child abuse, and it can range from quite mild to severe, but we were talking about religious upbringing. He doesn't claim that religious upbringing in general is equivalent to child abuse.

He also makes a case that the labeling of children with religion or ideology of their parents is wrong or abusive. It's wrong because a child has not made rational decisions of his own, and this is a way of forcing religion upon them.

"What actually said was 'Religious upbringing is child abuse." FALSE

"Teaching hell to your kids? Child abuse." NO, but threatening then with hell is.

"Referring to a child as belonging to a particular religion? Child abuse." No, but forcing them into a religion by placing that label on them is.

"Teaching your kids Catholicism? Worse than paedophilia." FALSE

Of course, as I said, if you're not interested in understanding his viewpoint, you can interpret his words in an uncharitable way, and then you can draw conclusions from it that don't agree with his actual beliefs.

ingx24 said...

im-skeptical,

While there is such a thing as the principle of charity, there is such a thing as being overly charitable. The principle of charity does not allow or require you to interpret someone in a charitable way when it clearly contradicts what they're actually saying.

im-skeptical said...

ingx24,

I'm only repeating what I have read from Dawkins, without adding any meaning of my own to it.

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps we can settle this entire issue by forgetting whatever Dawkins said/wrote, and put our own cards on the table. So, im-skeptical, what is your opinion (not Dawkins's)?

Is giving a child a religious upbringing child abuse? (yes or no)

Is "labeling" a child a Christian or a Hindu or whatever abusive? (yes or no)

Is teaching a child the doctrines of one's faith child abuse? (yes or no)

Is raising a child as a Catholic child abuse? (yes or no)

Is infant baptism child abuse? (yes or no)

Is the Jewish rite of circumcision child abuse? (yes or no)

I'll even go first. Here are my answers: no, no, no, no, no, and no. Now what are yours? Remember, I'm not asking you what you think Dawkins said or meant - I'm asking you what you think. Let's have 'em, and then maybe we could move on to something more profitable.

B. Prokop said...

I invite anyone else who feels like it to chime in with their answers as well.

im-skeptical said...

My own opinion: yes to the last, no to the rest.

B. Prokop said...

Thanks. I think we can now move on.

ingx24 said...

Is giving a child a religious upbringing child abuse? no

Is "labeling" a child a Christian or a Hindu or whatever abusive? no

Is teaching a child the doctrines of one's faith child abuse? depends on whether you present things like hell in an intentionally terrifying manner, otherwise no

Is raising a child as a Catholic child abuse? see above

Is infant baptism child abuse? no, why would it be

Is the Jewish rite of circumcision child abuse? ehhh, depends on whether anesthesia is used imo

im-skeptical said...

"Thanks. I think we can now move on."

Where are we moving to?

B. Prokop said...

"Where are we moving to?"

Well, I guess that all depends on what Victor posts next.

I'd love to see a thread where everyone names their favorite author with whom they disagree totally concerning the Big Questions. No fair picking someone who shares your views. I'd pick H.G. Wells, probably the greatest atheist literary figure ever.

Walter said...


I'd love to see a thread where everyone names their favorite author with whom they disagree totally concerning the Big Questions.


C.S. Lewis.

(you had to see that one coming)

B. Prokop said...

Not a bad choice!

Crude said...

I'd be hesitant to say I disagree completely with any author who actually had content to their writings. If someone raises a valid point which nevertheless can be answered differently than they did, hey, it's still a valid point.

Probably Alex Rosenberg for me. Of course he's one of those atheists/naturalists who even other atheists/naturalists try to run the hell away from.

B. Prokop said...

Never heard of Alex Rosenberg, but I just read the Wikipedia article on him. I note that his Atheist's Guide to Reality was labeled "the worst book of the year" in 2011 by The New Republic. That can either mean he's really bad, or really interesting.

ingx24 said...

B. Prokop,

Alex Rosenberg's The Atheist's Guide to Reality is a very... interesting book. He basically assumes atheism right off the bat, champions scientism (even calling it such, and proudly), and takes scientism to its logical conclusions that most materialists aren't willing to accept - that no one has ever thought, felt, or experienced anything, that intentionality does not exist, that there is no such thing as a "self", that morality (even of the subjective kind) is incoherent, etc.

Edward Feser did a 10-part review on Rosenberg's book on his blog. I've never read the book myself (and I'm not sure I want to), but Feser's review on his blog was pretty entertaining at least and seem to give a pretty good idea of what the book is about.

Papalinton said...

"I'd love to see a thread where everyone names their favorite author with whom they disagree totally concerning the Big Questions."

Aquinas. For appropriating and plagiarizing the seminal works of perhaps the greatest philosopher that ever lived. And then egregiously retrojecting and harmonizing the muddied christian mythos into the fabric of pristine Aristotelian thought, some one thousand five hundred years after the great words were penned, a time when the christian mythos wasn't even on the horizon let alone being engineered into a story.

Talk about a parasitic memeplex in search of a host to sustain its malignancy.

im-skeptical said...

"and takes scientism to its logical conclusions that most materialists aren't willing to accept"

Because most atheists are not nihilists like Rosenberg. Nihilism is NOT the logical conclusion of materialism.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Your follow-up didn't make it sound like Aquinas was your favorite writer with whom you disagreed. You're not playing by the rules! Now who do you really enjoy reading, despite the fact he may have a worldview 180 degrees from yours?

C'mon now... this wasn't intended as a further exercise in polarization, but as an effort to show that people can genuinely like something they disagree with.

B. Prokop said...

You too, im-skeptical,

Put your cards on the table. Who do you really like reading (i.e., feel like he's got something important to say, or else maybe says it beautifully) despite not agreeing at all with your worldview?

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

If you read what Dawkins says without reading additional meaning into it, it says: threatening children with violence and pain is bad, and that most religious upbringing isn't as bad as the extreme cases he cited in his discussion.

Let's focus in a little closer.

An extreme threat of violence and pain is precisely what the doctrine of hell is.

What does the word "doctrine" mean?

Further, there is another piece of the article which needs reckoning with.

Dawkins said:
Odious as the physical abuse of children by priests undoubtedly is, I suspect that it may do them less lasting damage than the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place.

Please explain to us what context is being missed when Dawkins writes, "the mental abuse of bringing them up Catholic in the first place." Thanks.

Crude said...

Because most atheists are not nihilists like Rosenberg. Nihilism is NOT the logical conclusion of materialism.

Atheism != materialism, regarding the first half. Regarding the second, Alex Rosenberg - and a considerable number of other materialists and atheists - disagree. They would contend that an atheist-materialist who is not a nihilist is being inconsistent.

The point of that isn't to just give you an opportunity to go 'They're wrong!!!' It's to point out that disagreeing isn't enough. If person A argues that atheism and materialism together entail nihilism, and person B is an atheist-materialism who says they are not a nihilist, you haven't refuted A. Not unless B can successfully refute charges of inconsistency, among other things.

Papalinton said...

Sojourner Man
"In all that you still did not answer the question..."

Simply because you do not like the answers does not mean the answer has been left unattended.

"That you perceive a position as asinine and spurious does nothing to undermine the veridicality of the position in question."

I gave you substantive information that fatally undermines any veridicality 'of the position in question'. The question of the absolutism of morality and its supposed supernatural origins are predicated solely on the spurious and unverifiably intractable claim that all newborns are sin bags from which their only salvation is to supplicate before a specific imagined bogey-man in the sky. This is the stuff of asininity, a fable gone feral.

For the very reason that this debate is now as vigorous today, perhaps even more than at any time in history, well into the 21st C since the fable was first promulgated, is a testament to the highly tenuous nature of whatever it is that is imagined to be veridical. Religions are not creations of fact and proofs. Fact and proofs and evidence are anathema to the creation of religions. Religions are a wholly-derived cultural artifice, nothing more nothing less. There is absolutely no evidence that dictates that christianity is the one, sole and only true religion, while countering very other religion as simply misplaced mythology. To creatively imagine christianity as such is the grand-daddy of supreme arrogance and ignorance.

Again, I ask; the question which has been squarely left unattended What's your rationale for propping up Christian bunkum?

B. Prokop said...

Hey, joesmarts,

We're over that discussion! We're on to letting everyone know how you can disagree with someone but still enjoy reading him.

im-skeptical said...

"You too, im-skeptical"

I've been thinking about it. My reading in relevant material has been limited. I don't think I've had enough exposure enough to answer. I might say Lewis, for example, but I haven't read enough of his stuff.

B. Prokop said...

"There is absolutely no evidence that dictates that christianity is the one, sole and only true religion, while countering very other religion as simply misplaced mythology."

Sorry, but yes there is - the Resurrection.

B. Prokop said...

"but I haven't read enough of his stuff"

If you indeed haven't, might I suggest a few works. If you prefer non-fiction, go straight to God in the Dock. If fiction is more your style, then head over to Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. The latter three will someday without any doubt be classics of World Literature, and the first listed is a cracking good read by any standards.

Papalinton said...

Ah! but Bob I have grown to really enjoy reading Aquinas. It is a hard read but enjoyable. I have even just completed Dr Feser's book TLS, and very much enjoyed it. I certainly do not agree with the rationale he proposes, but the style and manner of writing was engaging to say the least. And I do love a good polemic.

I guess I am captured by what constitutes evidence and reasoning in their eyes and how different the definitions become. This is equally true of the bloggers on this site. I am fascinated by the breadth and depth of perspectives that each believes is the one, true, and only logical conclusion.

Reading Aquinas and Feser, together with Dennett, Harris, John Lennox, and Alistair McGrath, gives me a sense of the flow of the current debate. In many ways it is about the cultural wars. Dennett, Harris et al, are looking to make sense of the current research into science and society with a view to its relevance and impact on humanity. Lennox and Feser do the same and look at how these new findings will impact on the earlier dictates and understanding of humanity. Ultimately the combined process is about inching forward to accepting the new understandings while concurrently letting go the unsupported and unsustainable earlier premises.

Much as I would like, I would be happier to speed up the process. You seem happier to go at a slower pace. It seems to me much time is squandered in the argie-bargie of the culture wars. After all that is what our debate over the role of religion is, culture war, being as it is a wholly-derived cultural artifact.

Being resigned to the realisation of a slower pace than I would wish does not, however, lessen my eagerness to move forward. Ultimately it will be the community and when the community reaches the break-even point between believers and non-believers that will influence the rate of change.

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

I guess the discussion has been declared at an end. Let's wait for the next opportunity to explore this.

Papalinton said...

"Sorry, but yes there is - the Resurrection."

:o)
;o)
:oD :oD ;oD

"Apologists often throw the Red Herring of textual attestation found in antiquity as somehow making the gospels acceptable from a historical perspective. The best documentation of historical events comes from eyewitness testimony near the time of the event, with multiple independent corroborating stories that agree in details. Such is the standard historians use to evaluate ancient history’s attestation in consult with archaeology.

In contrast to historical reality, legends are expected to grow in extraneous detail over time, embellished as oral tradition invents new details. As the gospels are neither eyewitness documents, nor are the authors known, it provides a beautiful picture of a fabrication developing over time.

Keep in mind this does not explicitly disprove the resurrection; it merely shows that it is far more likely to be an orally-inspired legend rather than historical fact. It is impossible to prove something didn’t happen, but history is about reconstructing the most plausible explanation from the available data, and if you’re not willing to dismiss the resurrection as legend, it certainly displays belief despite evidence to the contrary."
Read the rest HERE, titled, "Lord, Liar, Lunatic, Literal 3: Let’s Make a Resurrection Legend".

We have come such a long way from the days when contrived harmonization and applied syncretism was the Apologetical response to biblical scholarship. Some people simply remain a silhouette of denial.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"I'd pick H.G. Wells, probably the greatest atheist literary figure ever."

??

From Lucretius to Beckett, there are (explicitly) atheist writers far better and more important than H. G. Wells.

B. Prokop said...

"In contrast to historical reality, legends are expected to grow in extraneous detail over time, embellished as oral tradition invents new details."

Which is precisely what did not happen with the Gospels. You are absolutely correct, Papalinton. Thank you for pointing this out. Legends do indeed "grow in extraneous detail over time". That's what happened to the Arthurian Legend, to the stories surrounding El Cid, Charlemagne, the Buddha... But amazingly, nothing of the sort occurred in Early Christianity. Indeed, a whole host of false "gospels" cropped up in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, full of ever more miraculous stories of the lives of the youthful Jesus, of Mary and Joseph, of Peter and the other apostles. And what happened to these "extraneous details"? They were resolutely rejected by the Church! You do not see them in the New Testament, you do not see them being taught in churches, you do not see them at all (unless you're a scholar with way too much time on his hands).

In every way, the New Testament narrative stands as a contrast to legends everywhere. It did not grow as they did, it did not get weighed down over time with fanciful detail and contradictory story lines, no new characters were introduced (as in the Arthurian legend), it did not adapt itself to the many new lands and cultures it was introduced to (as happened to the stories surrounding the Greek pantheon, for instance).

Indeed, it appears to have been transmitted carefully and faithfully as HISTORICAL REALITY. Again, thank you for pointing out to us this compelling evidence of the veracity of the Resurrection accounts in the New Testament!

joesmarts said...

@Papalinton

To anyone who has been around the debates surrounding Resurrection for even a minimal length of time, one would already be familiar with arguments such as those presented by the quoted blogger in your rejoinder. These arguments have been played out time and again. Yet, they still remain unconvincing. Why do you think we should be convinced by what Coffee Shop Atheist has to say this time?

B. Prokop said...

grodrigues,

I'm well-read in Beckett - not so much for Lucretius. I strongly suspect that Becket will only be read by people forced to do so (for instance, for a class) within the very near future. But as for H.G. Wells, I am quite confident that people will be willingly reading his novels long after we are dust. I'm not sure what you mean by "better", but no single human being more personified the spirit (both good and bad) of the previous century than Mr. H.G. Wells.

As for literary quality, by any objective analysis it's hard to improve on his First Men in the Moon.

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

"Why do you think we should be convinced by what Coffee Shop Atheist has to say this time?"

To amplify some of the things Papalinton pointed out, this is a highly regarded historian speaking on the topic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJE7cetkB4

Crude said...

To amplify some of the things Papalinton pointed out, this is a highly regarded historian speaking on the topic

Highly regarded? But Richard Carrier assures us that Ehrman is a joke. ;)

im-skeptical said...

Crude,

So you're a fan of Carrier? He believes the resurrection story is bullshit, too, by the way.

But here's the wiki page on Ehrman.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_D._Ehrman

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

Soap. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Again, why should I be convinced?

I want to know why you (plural) think we should find these arguments compelling and convincing.

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

But here's the wiki page on Ehrman.


You must be new to the discussion. ;)

Crude said...

So you're a fan of Carrier?

Why, I sure am. There hasn't been more of an anchor to atheism since Madelyn Murray O'Hair. ;)

I take it you think Carrier is full of shit in his estimation of Ehrman, eh? Ehrman certainly thinks little of Carrier's arguments.

Who will you pick, Skep?

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

"I want to know why you (plural) think we should find these arguments compelling and convincing."

Did I mention I was a moron? Sorry, I keep forgetting.

Papalinton said...

Reading Mark, followed by Matthew, Luke and finally, John, one can map with precise definition the legendising accretion and embellishments of the gospel fable. All biblical scholars have known of these since their fabrication. Apologists have sought to patch over, harmonize and syncretize the disparate and irreconcilable mythological accounts. Genuine biblical scholars have sought to correct the fantasy and place the mythical account on an historical footing, reviewing what scant evidence there is and providing the real historical framework, warts and all, without fear or favour. The outcome of the investigations of genuinely probability, evidence-based historical research of bona fide historians can not find the quantum of evidence that tips the balance in support of the apologetical disposition.

Of course the foundation of christianity is not found in the Gospels. Paul was the founder of the christian mythos and through his epistles, of which half in the NT are universally acknowledged by historians as pseudepigraphic, we know for a fact that his jesus was not of this earth but an ethereal character that never set physical foot on this planet. He never met jesus. He did not even know of the existence of the Gospels, says nothing of jesus's life on earth, his birth narrative nor anything about him.

But Bob, christianity as you know and understand it, being the wholly-owned derivative of culture that it is, is changing more rapidly today than at any time in the past. It is happening at two levels. Firstly, as communities makes decisions about its usefulness in meeting the challenges going forward it jettisons the useless dogma and doctrines that are considered impediments and antithetical to good governance and increased social and personal well-being. No better indication of this formative and indeed summative process are those that reflect the wide acceptance of homosexuality as a matter of social decency, and the courageous decision to uphold the philosophical principle underpinning Roe v Wade.
Secondly, as modern techniques and the skill of today's researchers reviews intensify into the historical corpus of religious 'truths', enormous holes are opening up in the conventionally accepted wisdom of apologetical biblical scholarship. The speed and power of the internet has enabled genuine scholars and readers in biblical history to combat and overturn the colossal inertia of the traditional religious paradigm and to confront it and challenge it at source. No more will might be right.

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
Devoted Christians such as the eminent John Shelby Spong clearly adduces the shift in community standards and sentiment and has called a spade a spade. As a committed christian, he is also a realist:

Dr Spong's Twelve Points
1. Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead. So most theological God-talk is today meaningless. A new way to speak of God must be found.
2. Since God can no longer be conceived in theistic terms, it becomes nonsensical to seek to understand Jesus as the incarnation of the theistic deity. So the Christology of the ages is bankrupt.
3. The Biblical story of the perfect and finished creation from which human beings fell into sin is pre-Darwinian mythology and post-Darwinian nonsense.
4. The virgin birth, understood as literal biology, makes Christ's divinity, as traditionally understood, impossible.
5. The miracle stories of the New Testament can no longer be interpreted in a post-Newtonian world as supernatural events performed by an incarnate deity.
6. The view of the cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world is a barbarian idea based on primitive concepts of God and must be dismissed.
7. Resurrection is an action of God. Jesus was raised into the meaning of God. It therefore cannot be a physical resuscitation occurring inside human history.
8. The story of the Ascension assumed a three-tiered universe and is therefore not capable of being translated into the concepts of a post-Copernican space age.
9. There is no external, objective, revealed standard written in scripture or on tablets of stone that will govern our ethical behavior for all time.
10. Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.
11. The hope for life after death must be separated forever from the behavior control mentality of reward and punishment. The Church must abandon, therefore, its reliance on guilt as a motivator of behavior.
12. All human beings bear God's image and must be respected for what each person is. Therefore, no external description of one's being, whether based on race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, can properly be used as the basis for either rejection or discrimination. [Source: Read iot HERE.

I am happy for you to maintain your silhouette of denial. But please don't trot it out as fact.

Sojourner Man said...

Papalinton,

I'm not sure whether you are being evasive or arrogant or both. But you certainly did not answer my original question. Proposing a new, but secondary, question to me as if your query takes precedence is deflective and discourteous. If you would rather not grapple with the question, then please just say so. However, at the moment most of what I'm reading from you is an escalating diatribe of garrulous language intermingled with scraps of substantive commentary.

So you don't like being labelled a sinner? Is that really a big deal? This is what I have been trying to put to you all along. My contention is that your worldview relegates ethical considerations to the conventional and therefore is subjective by definition. Consequently, regardless of how you personally feel about the tenets of Christianity, if you cannot proffer an objective grounding for your view then what you have said concerning the moral moorings of Christianity ipso facto amounts to "no big deal"... And for that matter, if you really are right, then neither would anyone else’s.

Sojourner

joesmarts said...

@Papalinton

I am skeptical of your claims. Why?

1. Your claims are partly dependent upon a questionable claim about mapping out the growing embellishments.

2. Your claims are partly dependent upon a false dichotomy between apologists and biblical scholars/historians.

3. Your claims are partly dependent upon a no true Scotsman-esque language (e.g., "genuine biblical scholars", "bona fide historians", and "real historical framework").

4. Your claims rest on unsubstantiated claims about what apologists have attempt to do.

5. Your claims incorporate well-poisoning language (e.g., fabrication, irreconcilable mythological accounts, fantasy, scant, fear or favor, etc.).

And this only accounts for the first paragraph. If the case for your perspective is as strong as you'd like Bob or any of us to believe, then why do you resort to such tactical approaches as those above?

Papalinton said...

joesmarts
I quote and refer articles, works and scholars for substantiation. Your 5 points do not. They are a litany of 'shoot the messenger' criticisms that have no basis in fact.

But then, no one is surprised that woo-meisters, experts in the ineffable, the unknowable and the unseen, are comfortable in presenting opinion without a scintilla of substantiation. After all that is the basis of unfounded belief.

Christianity is a smorgasbord which has spawned 41,000 different permutations, arrangements, versions, and configurations of sects, cults, groups, denominations, persuasions, religious orders, splinter groups, and factions. The spawning of the colossal number of derivatives clearly demonstrates the irresolvable nature of the christian memeplex.

"As there are reported to be approximately 41,000 Christian denominations,[2] many of which cannot be verified to be significant, only those denominations with Wikipedia articles will be listed in order to ensure that all entries on this list are notable and verifiable.
Between denominations, theologians, and comparative religionists there are considerable disagreements about which groups can be properly called Christian, disagreements arising primarily from doctrinal differences between groups. For the purpose of simplicity, this list is intended to reflect the self-understanding of each denomination. Explanations of different opinions concerning their status as Christian denominations can be found at their respective articles.
There is no official recognition in most parts of the world for religious bodies, and there is no official clearinghouse which could determine the status or respectability of religious bodies. Often there is considerable disagreement between various churches about whether other churches should be labeled with pejorative terms such as "cult", or about whether this or that group enjoys some measure of respectability. Such considerations often vary from place to place, where one religious group may enjoy majority status in one region, but be widely regarded as a "dangerous cult" in another part of the world."
Wiki

YOU WILL NOTE: "For the purpose of simplicity, this list is intended to reflect the self-understanding of each denomination."
NOTE: The one real, true, and only version of christianity is based solely by virtue of self-selection.
NOTE: "Explanations of different opinions concerning their status as Christian denominations can be found at their respective articles." Self-selection writ large.
NOTE: "There is no official recognition in most parts of the world for religious bodies, and there is no official clearinghouse which could determine the status or respectability of religious bodies."

Face it, joesmarts, religion is less about belief than it is about habit [ritual, incantations, regular church attendance, observation of cyclic events, group participation]. So atheism is not so much refuting a belief as breaking a habit. And belief is a habit too -a habit of mind. You know that. I know that. Everything else about religion is opinion.

Papalinton said...

Sojourner Man
You must bring something new to the table if you are to be taken seriously.
Tired and flaccid tropes from scripture simply no longer cut it.

Old gods don't get disproved. They get forgotten. History is littered with forgotten gods.

Sojourner Man said...

Papalinton,

Did you even read my post? My appeal wasn't to Scripture, but to a request for the Humanist justification for an objective frame of reference. I'm beginning to wonder whether you care to take your interlocutors seriously at all. Nevertheless, I will take your repeatedly dismissive parlance as a tacit acceptance that you can't argue objectively so as to answer the question posed.

In any case, despite the muddied discourse at least you have subsidized my understanding. Namely, that by establishing a moral authority under their own collar, Humanists end up choking any potential for growth outside of themselves...

Sojourner

Papalinton said...

" .. request for the Humanist justification for an objective frame of reference"

Do your own research. Lazy bugger.

Sojourner Man said...

Papalinton,

Oh, how I have tried. And then I end up getting stonewalled by the discordant discussions of its quasi-religious devotees! It's making me wonder if a new term isn't already on the horizon... Huministry? ;)

Sojourner

joesmarts said...

@Papalinton

You said:
I quote and refer articles, works and scholars for substantiation. Your 5 points do not. They are a litany of 'shoot the messenger' criticisms that have no basis in fact.
I do not need to "quote and refer [to] articles, works, and scholars" to substantiate my reasons for being skeptical of your claims. There is none more expert or qualified to comment on my reasons than myself. If you are scratching your head at this moment, it's because you failed to realize the five points were autobiographical. I was explaining why I am skeptical of your claims. I was not taking issue with Spong. I was taking issue with the claims you made in the first paragraph of the post to which I responded. Which claims are those? Let's review.

You said:
Reading Mark, followed by Matthew, Luke and finally, John, one can map with precise definition the legendising accretion and embellishments of the gospel fable.
How do you know this? Have you created such a map? If so, where can I review it?

Next:
All biblical scholars have known of these since their fabrication.
I would like an exhaustive list of biblical scholars and their statements regarding this matter.

Next:
Apologists have sought to patch over, harmonize and syncretize the disparate and irreconcilable mythological accounts.
Please demonstrate that all apologists, or at the very least a significant majority of apologists sufficient to make a generalization, engage in such behavior.

Next:
Genuine biblical scholars have sought to correct the fantasy and place the mythical account on an historical footing, reviewing what scant evidence there is and providing the real historical framework, warts and all, without fear or favour.
"Genuine biblical scholars" reeks of the No True Scotsman fallacy. That is, it certainly seems like you're establishing the groundwork here to dismiss biblical scholars whom disagree with you as being "not true biblical scholars."

Second, please demonstrate that apologists/genuine biblical scholars is a legitimate dichotomy.

Third, let's wash this statement of rhetorical language (e.g., "fantasy", "real historical framework", "without fear or favor", etc.).

Next:
The outcome of the investigations of genuinely probability, evidence-based historical research of bona fide historians can not find the quantum of evidence that tips the balance in support of the apologetical disposition.
Please demonstrate that the who of "genuine biblical scholars" is "genuinely probability, evidence-based historical research" and that the work of those with an "apologetical disposition" is not.

Second, "evidence-based" is one of those catchphrases. It sounds pretty and authoritative, but what does it really mean?

Third, I realize "probability" is en vogue amongst some atheist historians these days, but I am still in search for others who consider the approach to be valid. Got any pizza to go with the parmesan?

Fourth, it appears the "No True Scotsman" is rearing his head again with the "bona fide historians" quip. I suppose those of an "apologetical" bent are not bona fide, eh?

With all of that fleshed out, I am quite confident that my skepticism of your claims is quite justified. The citation of a single "devoted ... committed Christian" scholar does not warrant the removal of my skepticism either. Neither does calling me a woo-meister nor rolling in the old tired "thousands of denominations" bit. I have seen these tricks before. I have already sorted through them and rejected them. What has change? If nothing has changed, then why should I give them the time of day? I shouldn't.

Further, one citing Wikipedia articles actually makes me even more skeptical of their claims.

Papalinton said...

"Oh, how I have tried."
Thinking? or breathing?

No stonewalling Sojourner.

It must be difficult to sustain an argument when one has no argument to propose. I can appreciate what little you can contribute to the discussion. I know because I was a card-carrying bible-thumper for some 30 years of my life, only to find that the theological cupboard is indeed bare, save for tradition. I have experienced the void you feel right now, not being able to mount one argument on the substance of supernatural superstition. Why? Because I too at one time assumed the mantle of indignant believer you now wear when attempting to defend and deflect the challenges against the precious little that falls under the banner of christian nonsense.

Whatever it is that you think you have, you don't. Don't take my word for it. Just observe due diligence and study widely. Refrain from the arcane and primitive mindframe of theological thought. That only mires the mind into conjuring a realm in which the floating dust motes of the cavalcade of [putatively] live formless entities of the supernatural are rendered indistinguishable from the formless religious entities that inhabit the natural world, and putatively socialize with each other across the natural/supernatural event horizon each Sunday. The christian pantheon of ghosts, disembodied entities, nephilim, seraphim, cherubim, devils, gods, angels and demons is both ludicrous and infantile in the extreme.

My advice. Wise up and ditch the myth. Faery tales and fairy stories are the stuff of kids, not adults. Paul Henri Thiry, French philosopher and encyclopederiste astutely encapsulates the character of the christian mythos:

"Theology is but the ignorance of natural causes reduced to a system."

B. Prokop said...

joesmarts and sojourner Man,

I don't recall seeing either of you around this website before, so perhaps you're not as familiar with Papalinton as us "Old Hands" (in my case the "old" is well-deserved!). Papa is a tired, bitter old wheezebag caricature of today's rabid New Atheists. He has been spouting the identical incoherent nonsense for as long as I can recall. He has time and again demonstrated that he is incapable of learning a new fact, and is seemingly illiterate as well. Or at the least, he never bothers to actually read what anyone else posts. He just responds with his standard bag-o-tricks of Wikipedia quotations and gratuitous insults (which are inevitably so far off the mark and irrelevant that they never really hurt anybody).

He amuses himself by imagining that he is somehow "getting" to others, projecting all sorts of imaginary reactions upon those he is sparring with, such as "being threatened", "uncomfortable", "in denial", etc. All of these are most probably himself looking in the mirror.

Of extreme interest, as far as getting to the way Pap's mind works (doesn't work) is his initial response on this thread (May 05, 2013 4:00 PM) where, instead of identifying a writer he enjoys while disagreeing with, he uses the opportunity to spew more bile against Aquinas, an intellect one million times greater than his (at least). What that clearly shows is his utter inability to think outside of the self-made mental prison that he himself has erected, lest a challenging thought may make its way in.

If you stick around here long enough, you'll eventually realize there's no need to actually read his zillion column inch long postings - they're mostly word-for-word repeats of things he's said ten thousand times already. Amazingly predictable, with absolutely nothing new to offer the debate.

My advice: Don't frustrate yourself trying to elicit a rational response from him. You'd have better luck talking to a stone.

Papalinton said...

joesmarts
Your last response clearly demonstrates the paucity of knowledge on contemporary historical biblical research in your portfolio outside theological circles.

And there is neither the time nor an inclination on my part to school you adequately. Spoonfeeding adults is not a practice I endorse. That I'm afraid is something you must accomplish on your own volition.

What you have itemized is not skepticism. It is disbelief. Hardly surprising, entirely predictable.

joesmarts said...

@Papalinton

You said:
Your last response clearly demonstrates the paucity of knowledge of contemporary historical biblical research in your intellection.
That's an interesting belief you have.

And there is neither the time nor an inclination on my part to school you adequately. Spoonfeeding adults is not a practice I endorse. That I'm afraid is something you must accomplish on your own volition.
Translation: Defense system engaged. Execute diversionary tactic 293. Shift the burden of proof. Do not allow the infidel to see vacuity of the claims.

joesmarts said...

@B. Prokop

Thanks for the note. I have been around the debates elsewhere long enough to already be aware of his type. It's easy to scare them off, temporarily anyway, with questions and demands for support. :)

Papalinton said...

Soujouner and joesmarts
Don't take Bob too seriously. He still smarts from being repeatedly found wanting in his defense of supernatural superstition at which point he resorts to quoting from the bible as his sole authoritative text.

And yes he despises me, though he will profess something otherwise, like pity. He is largely incensed by my ridiculing and satirizing the very nonsense around which he has based his whole life and for having called it into question. His discomfort and ire is clearly visible as he self-appoints and assumes the mantle of town prattle to the newcomers on the site. He is a repeat offender.

Clearly as you read his comment on me please note the resort to character assassination and ad hominem as a means of gratifying his inability to carry argument. That is, after all, all he has left.

Papalinton said...

"Translation: Defense system engaged. Execute diversionary tactic 293. Shift the burden of proof. Do not allow the infidel to see vacuity of the claims."

Pot? kettle? black?
:o)
I see we have another expert on the ineffable, unknowable, unseen, among us. To borrow from Elbert Hubbard, American philosopher:

"A Christian is a person who is puzzled by the obvious, but who understands the nonexistent."

Dan Gillson said...

I've been trying to think of an author whom I like but also with whom I disagree. The trouble is, if I like an author, I'll generally try to find something agreeable in his or her writing. But I think that, for me, Nietzsche comes closest to meeting Bob's criteria.

Dan Gillson said...

Oh SHUT UP, Linton. Jesus Christ! Get over yourself and your past and move on from your thirty years as an idiot fundamentalist believer. You don't need to take your shame or guilt out on every Christian on the internet whom you meet.

joesmarts said...

@Papalinton

Pot? kettle? black?
To borrow from the atheist's bag of tricks, "Evidence please."

joesmarts said...

@Dan Gillson

Okay, my apologies. I'll stop feeding the troll.

B. Prokop said...

Just tryin' to help out here, Paps. I could sense their frustration, vainly trying to get you to see reason (a fool's errand).

And once again, note his painfully obvious projection: "he despises me", "largely incensed", "discomfort and ire", "inability to carry argument". Looking in the mirror again, Papalinton? Not one of those apply on this end. Please don't flatter yourself to think that anything you have ever said has caused me "discomfort"

Yes, you have angered me. You have in fact disgusted me with your despicable support of the self-styled Westboro Baptist Church's tactics of disrupting religious ceremonies for private political purposes. You continue to justify your praise and support for individuals who act from their play book, and apparently see nothing wrong in doing so. Why don't you join the civilized world and unqualifiedly condemn all such practices?

The one thing you got right is "pity". I do indeed pity someone so devoid of intellect, so wrapped up in his thought-proof security blanket of faux reason and pretended scientific knowledge, so demonstrably incapable of processing external data. I do pity someone who sees the wisdom in Wikipedia and fails to see it in the New Testament. And I really pity someone who has sacrificed so much of his time and energy to such a bankrupt cause as yours.

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

"Soap. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Again, why should I be convinced?

I want to know why you (plural) think we should find these arguments compelling and convincing."

"I do not need to "quote and refer [to] articles, works, and scholars" to substantiate my reasons for being skeptical of your claims. There is none more expert or qualified to comment on my reasons than myself"

So unbiased scholarly research is just so much pablum to you. You simply reject it for unstated reasons. You don't even give a single fact to refute it. And then you accuse Papalinton of shifting the burden of proof. That's one way of winning an 'argument'.

im-skeptical said...

Sojourner,

"So you don't like being labelled a sinner? Is that really a big deal? This is what I have been trying to put to you all along. My contention is that your worldview relegates ethical considerations to the conventional and therefore is subjective by definition. Consequently, regardless of how you personally feel about the tenets of Christianity, if you cannot proffer an objective grounding for your view then what you have said concerning the moral moorings of Christianity ipso facto amounts to "no big deal"... And for that matter, if you really are right, then neither would anyone else’s."

There's one for Dan. What a pompous, arrogant pile of crap. You think your morality is objective and 'grounded', but it is built on a fantasy. It's no better than saying "my morality is real because it is grounded in the tooth fairy".

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

I said:
I do not need to "quote and refer [to] articles, works, and scholars" to substantiate my reasons for being skeptical of your claims. There is none more expert or qualified to comment on my reasons than myself.

You said:
So unbiased scholarly research is just so much pablum to you. You simply reject it for unstated reasons. You don't even give a single fact to refute it.

What unbiased scholarly research exists on my thoughts about Papalinton's claims? Without ESP and the ability to see the future, I'm not sure how anyone could have penned such a work. I am the sole expert on my thought. Surely, you're not disputing that. Are you?

I don't suspect you are. I suspect you read into my statement other than what was intended. That is, you misread.

And then you accuse Papalinton of shifting the burden of proof. That's one way of winning an 'argument'.
He made claims. He has not supported his claims. He has attempted to pass the buck.

I realize passing the buck is not the same as shifting the burden. Though, it should be understood that my statements were humor. I was referring to him as a robot blindly executing orders. It seems the subtly of my humor passes by others, and I should remember that others are far more literal and less charitable in their readings than I am.

Dan Gillson said...

im-skeptical,

I'm a sucker for good prose, and what you've quoted is good prose. But yes, I find the nature of Sojourner's belief hubristic, if not because he doesn't indict himself as sinner in calling someone else one, then because his belief that he has gone beyond the bedrock of justifications to the grounds of morality claims more for our capacities than is warranted.

Zach said...

im-skeptical wrote:
It's no better than saying "my morality is real because it is grounded in the tooth fairy".

While funny, I hope you could write the response to this yourself from the average theist at this site. What would the average, halfway intelligent theist, say in response to this?

im-skeptical said...

Zach,

I think the average theist would say I'm full of shit because their god is real (no evidence needed, but there you have it). The thing is, these people claim that a theist has no grounding for any morality he might lay claim to, while ignoring the evidence of evolution - that people have a sense of morality because we have evolved that way, not because of some mysterious revelation or gift from god. So they maintain this arrogant attitude, this air of superiority, and they claim that an atheist doesn't have the right to make any kind of moral claims or judgements.

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