Monday, June 17, 2013

Some further points on ridicule in response to Loftus


John, I knew you would fall for this.
You are obviously deliberately missing my point. What I mean by ridiculous is that it can be made to appear silly from some perspective. I can, for example, ridicule the claim that if my my younger daughter stayed on earth and my older daughter went up in a spaceship that approached the speed of light, and came back after 50 years, that my younger daughter would be and look 78, while my older daughter would in fact be 80 but would not have aged at all. Now, that's absurd. How much you age can't possibly be affected by how fast you go, otherwise I would age less in an airplane than I would on earth. Hardy Har Har.
Man came from monkeys? Then why are there still monkeys around? Wouldn't they have all become humans? Hardy Har Har.
Light is a particle, but it's also a wave? That's about as crazy as saying, well, that Jesus was both God and man. Hardy Har Har.
Ridicule can exist without refutation. Something can be made to appear while being at the same time perfectly rational to believe in.

124 comments:

B.L.T. said...

excellent points, our society and culture greatly influence what we deem “absurd”.

John W. Loftus said...

Hardy Har Har, Vic!

ingx24 said...

I posted this in the other thread, but it seems it was neglected and got lost in the crossfires. So let's try again:

Now, I am not a Christian. I don't really buy into things like the Resurrection, Ascension, Transubstantiation, the truth of the Bible, or anything like that, although I can see why a rational person would. But let's assume, for a second, that Christianity (Catholicism in particular) is true: that God exists and has divinely revealed himself, that Jesus was the son of God, that He founded the Catholic Church through his disciples, that He was crucified and resurrected three days later, and that the New Testament more or less accurately depicts the founding of Christianity. What follows? Surely, there were eyewitnesses who saw this happen - people who saw Jesus alive after his alleged death, and who literally walked up and touched him. Surely, this was evidence enough back then: you had the testimony of people who were still alive who saw it happen. This got passed down through the generations by the Church so that others in later times could know about it as well. And Christianity was not considered an extraordinary claim at all, because we had eyewitness testimony passed down through the Church to back it up.

Nowadays, trust in the doctrines of Christianity and the authority of the Church has diminished with the rise of Protestantism, secularism, and the scientific method. With Protestantism, many learned to view the Catholic Church as power-hungry, abusive, and untrustworthy. With secularism and the rise of modern science, religion became less and less of an influence on everyday life and the way we gain knowledge. The findings of modern science seemed, at face value, to contradict some of the claims made by Scripture, leading some to conclude that the whole religious behemoth was primitive and filled with falsehoods. In such a climate, the claim that Jesus rose from the dead is going to seem extraordinary: the testimony that preserved it as historical fact for centuries was essentially lost as the sources from which it came began to lose the trust of the people.

In other words, the claims of Christianity are only considered extraordinary because of our culture: in a culture which accepted the claims of the Church and Scripture without any reason for skepticism, things like the Resurrection were taken as historical fact and not seen as extraordinary in the least. Our culture, on the other hand, has been conditioned to be skeptical of religion in general due to perceived abuses and apparent contradictions between religion and science. This is true regardless of whether the Resurrection and related events actually happened or not.

Sam Calvin said...

Vic, you accidentally left a key word out of your last sentence.

John Mitchell said...

Victor, why you talking to John "the hack" Loftus ??

B. Prokop said...

To be perfectly honest, I have to admit that ridicule doesn't really bother me in the slightest. I mostly feel sad for the ridiculer, and note that they are usually quite inadvertently telling the truth even while ridiculing it. For example, when one or another gnu tries to make the Resurrection sound silly by referring to "putrescent corpses walking away", all they are really doing is emphasizing the truly miraculous nature of this Greatest of All Events. 'Cause, yes - He was "stone dead" in the tomb, and yes, He did walk away alive. Thanks for pointing that out!

So what I say is "bring it on" - just remember that I'll cheerfully use your ridicule to show how true what you're making fun of really is.

Papalinton said...

"For example, when one or another gnu tries to make the Resurrection sound silly by referring to "putrescent corpses walking away", all they are really doing is emphasizing the truly miraculous nature of this Greatest of All Events. 'Cause, yes - He was "stone dead" in the tomb, and yes, He did walk away alive. Thanks for pointing that out!".

Blind faith. A fool and his foolish thoughts are never parted.

Two hundred years ago, one of the greatest Americans that ever lived, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"The day will come when the mystical generation of jesus ... in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

How prophetic? The groundshift of the second half of the 20thC in the US is inexorably moving at increasing pace into the 21st C, following the lead of Europe and many other countries of the world. As was living through the 60s, experiencing the cataclysmic social change that swept through, so it is today with great excitement one is experiencing the second momentous wave of social change, in the courts, on the internet, through communications and media, in philosophy, in the schools, in the public square, in the sciences.

What is being played out, here on Dangerous Idea, are the remnant strands of unbridled counteraction in response to this changing social paradigm. Wendy Kaminer, American Law Professor University of Boston and feminist writer, summed it up ever so adroitly:
"If I were to mock religious belief as childish .... I'd be excoriated as an example of the cynical, liberal elite responsible for America's moral decline .... I'd receive hate mail. Atheists generate about as much sympathy as pedophiles."

Now ain't that the truth.

im-skeptical said...

"bring it on" - just remember that I'll cheerfully use your ridicule to show how true what you're making fun of really is."

It's interesting to see what passes for "evidence" among folks who believe whatever the church tells them.

B. Prokop said...

"The day will come when the mystical generation of jesus ... in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

But it is, Mr. Wilson, it is (classed as such). The myth of Minerva was fulfilled in Very Truth in the Incarnation. I've told you this at least a hundred times already. The existence of pre-Christian, post-Christian, and extra-Christian myths that resemble the Incarnation are wonderful evidence of the truthfulness of said doctrine. So great an intervention in human affairs would be expected to have repercussions and reflections across the whole of time and space.

Why, the very fact that the Earth's axis of rotation is tilted 23.4 degrees from the ecliptic (thus causing the seasons) is a reflection of Christ's death and Resurrection, manifesting itself in the "death" of life in the winter and its rebirth each spring. As St. Paul wrote, "Invisibilia enim ipsius, a creatura mundi, per ea quae facta sunt, intellecta, conspiciuntur: sempiterna quoque ejus virtus, et divinitas." So we should not be surprised when we see His life everywhere visible.

Another swing and a miss, Linton. Don't you get tired of always being so wrong?

SteveK said...

Blind faith. A fool and his foolish thoughts are never parted.

Enough commentary about you. What do you think of Victor's post?

im-skeptical said...

"Enough commentary about you. What do you think of Victor's post?"

Of all the examples of "ridiculous" things mentioned by Victor, only one is not based on real, observable evidence: "that Jesus was both God and man". To ridicule scientific facts implies that you a real fool. To ridicule that for which there is no observable evidence implies that you are realistic.

Crude said...

The funniest part about Loftus' call for ridicule is that he has a habit of freaking the hell out when he receives relatively tame criticism.

Read through the comments to see what I mean.

im-skeptical said...

Sounds like he knows all about crude.

Crude said...

Sounds like, when faced with criticism and light ridicule, he freaks out hilariously.

I imagine you learn at his knee, Skep. ;)

Ilíon said...

VR: "I can, for example, ridicule the claim that if my my younger daughter stayed on earth and my older daughter went up in a spaceship that approached the speed of light, and came back after 50 years, that my younger daughter would be and look 78, while my older daughter would in fact be 80 but would not have aged at all. Now, that's absurd. How much you age can't possibly be affected by how fast you go, otherwise I would age less in an airplane than I would on earth. Hardy Har Har."

Off Topic (or the OP), but ...

Regardless of how sound the science is, it seems to be that this common "explanation" of the temporal effects of relativistic movement ignores one of the key points of relativity, namely that there is no privileged frame of reference. Taking this point seriously means that one could as equally, and as truthfully, say that the daughter in the spaceship has remained stationary while the entire universe has moved around her.

B. Prokop said...

"one could as equally, and as truthfully, say that the daughter in the spaceship has remained stationary while the entire universe has moved around her."

As the father of two grown daughters, I can attest that all daughters believe the universe revolves about them (and that all fathers second their opinion).

Papalinton said...

"As the father of two grown daughters, I can attest that all daughters believe the universe revolves about them (and that all fathers second their opinion)."

Now ain't that the truth.

Papalinton said...

"The existence of pre-Christian, post-Christian, and extra-Christian myths that resemble the Incarnation are wonderful evidence of the truthfulness of said doctrine.


Quite some conflation in that story. That one thing that has any semblance of 'true' is your belief in the myth. And such conflation is a recently manifesting phenomenon that (1) simply does not reflect the reality of past views held, and (2) attempts to deflect the forensic nature of the on-going research into and verification of the literary architecture around which the biblical legend is founded. And your acknowledgement of the common heritage of all historical myths is a first positive change.

Good work. Recognizing this is a small step...but an important one. Next, work out that there was no talking snake in Eden and that no god advocated slaughtering livestock and Canaanites. Then move on to realizing one cannot redeem one's self by believing a god sacrificed himself to himself in some sort of primitive substitutionary sacrifice ritual where someone else pays for wrongs committed against one's fellow man. Then you're free. {Borrowed from R.Rizdeck in a comment at DC].

B. Prokop said...

"your acknowledgement of the common heritage of all historical myths is a first positive change"

Although many of my views do indeed change from time to time as I learn new things, this is not one of them. Nothing new here, and no change. I've been saying this for years and years. I believe I first thought up my "stone in the pond" analogy back in the 1970s!

A common misconception among nonbelievers is that Christians' views are set in stone and do not progress to deeper levels of understanding as time goes on. Not the case at all, as with any thoughtful person. About the only people this charge can be legitimately leveled against would be the most wooden of fundamentalists and the most fanatical of atheists.

But as to my embracing the essential truth of world mythology, that goes wa-a-a-ay back.

Rasmus Møller said...

I think this article echoes so many of the themes of this blog:

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2013/06/17/im-a-direct-descendant-of-darwin-but-i-have-discovered-the-beauty-of-the-catholic-faith/

Ilíon said...

Prokip: "A common misconception among nonbelievers is that Christians' views are set in stone and do not progress to deeper levels of understanding as time goes on."

I'd say it's not so much as misconception as an accusation -- AND AT THE SAME TIME, the same people, often the very same precise individuals, accuse us of "changing" (i.e. denying) our beliefs as our understanding of them deepens, individually and culturally.

B. Prokop said...

I assume "Prokip" was just a typo, 'cause I can't seem to turn it into an acronym for "apologist for mass murderers"!

im-skeptical said...

"I think this article echoes so many of the themes of this blog:"

Like other stories I have read of conversion from "agnosticism" to theism, this is a tale of emotion rather than reason. Note the complete lack of any rational basis given for making the decision. Contrast that with stories about conversion to atheism. The difference is stark.

She was indoctrinated from early childhood. "Mum converted to Catholicism shortly after I was born, having been Anglican prior to that." Yet she insists she wasn't brainwashed. She called herself an agnostic, but never discussed what she believed or her reasons for holding that belief. But she says she was raised to know the evidence, in the vein of her ancestor Darwin. "Darwin and I share an identical mole on the upper left side of our noses, the exact same spot. Did this mean I had to be, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “dancing to the music of my DNA”?" Seriously? It wasn't Darwin's gift for critical thinking that made her agnostic. "I read central texts on both sides of the debate and found more to convince me in the thoughtful and measured responses of Alister McGrath and John Cornwell, among others, than in the impassioned prose of Hitchens et al."

Note the contempt for "New Atheists" so evident throughout the story of her life. "my great-great-great grandfather’s theory of natural selection by evolution was being used to support New Atheism." Those bastards.

This is the story of someone who was indoctrinated as a child, believes for emotional and psychological reasons, experienced a bit of doubt perhaps, and was searching for any excuse to justify that belief. Very typical.

joesmarts said...

@ingx24,

I appreciate your comment. I find much of it highly agreeable.

@all,

We were discussing the "starting point" for discussion a few posts ago. I think that starting point needs to be humility. I am finding the biggest hurdle to discussion is getting past one's own ego and internally accepting that you could be wrong. I think too many of us simply give lip service to the idea.

B. Prokop said...

"The difference is stark."

It indeed is. Whenever we hear of or personally encounter a "conversion" from Christianity to atheism, it is usually based on either a single-minded adherence to a quite sterile rationality at the complete expense of everything else that makes us human (love, emotion, experience, community, history, art, sense of wonder, testimony, etc, etc.), or it is completely emotional with no reason involved whatsoever. (My own brother is a good example of the latter. He dismisses faith airily and flippantly, and on the exceedingly rare occasions that we actually discuss religion, can offer no coherent reason for his rejection of Christianity other than "I don't like it.")

In contrast, in those cases where we do come across a convert from atheism to Faith, we usually note that is is a "whole body experience", involving every facet of our humanity (to include those I listed above).

Yes, the difference is indeed stark, and wholly to the advantage of Faith. Skep, you have a whole toolbox at your disposal - why do you insist on using only a hammer when a socket wrench might on occasion be more appropriate?

Rasmus Møller said...

im-skeptical, I didn't get the same impression of her conversion as you did.

Honestly I don't understand your reactions. Not that it matters much if I do or don't. So let's just leave it at that :)

im-skeptical said...

Rasmus Møller,

Sure, people see things differently. No reason we can't talk about it. That's the whole idea of having this blog (I think).

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"at the complete expense of everything else that makes us human (love, emotion, experience, community, history, art, sense of wonder, testimony, etc, etc.),"

I think that's a false impression you have. If we're talking about reasons for converting, then reason should prevail. But to say (as many theists do) that atheists are devoid of other human qualities is to deny that atheists are human. That's a common misconception.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

One thing I find in some atheist conversion stories (I have read many of them) is that after they make their decision based on reason, they discover that they are still human, but with the shackles released. They haven't lost their morality, their capacity to love, appreciation of beauty, etc. In fact, it is the fear of leaving those things behind that keeps many people from becoming an atheist. That fear is unfounded.

B. Prokop said...

"If we're talking about reasons for converting, then reason should prevail."

I could not disagree with that statement more strongly. Reason is a valuable tool, but not the only one we possess. And it is often not the appropriate one. Reason does not always trump everything else ("prevail"). It should never be ignored, but it does not automatically get the deciding vote (and is even sometimes quite irrelevant to a decision).

As a matter of fact, my reason very much tells me I should be a Catholic Christian. But so does my life experience, my exposure to art and music, my senses during (for instance) the Mass, my very body during prayer, my interaction with other people, and a thousand other things.

I did not say that atheists are "devoid of other human qualities", but even you yourself are saying (you just did) that they do not take them into account when deciding whether or not to "convert". I'm saying quite emphatically that they should.

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "I assume "Prokip" was just a typo, 'cause I can't seem to turn it into an acronym for "apologist for mass murderers"!"

Wow! What I'm hearing is that not only is the leftist, B.Prokop, by virtue of his strident leftism (*), which he falsely conflates with Christianity, an apologist for, and advocate of, mass-murder -- for that is the *only* path to the compulsory "social justice" he demands be imposed upon others by violent force and threat of violence-unto-death (***) -- but that he intentionally chose a screen-name that somehow reflects that fact (but how is an English-speaker to know that?) ... and that he becomes annoyed when someone accidentally refers to him by some other moniker.


(*) in contrast, "liberals" frequently imagine that they are opposed to leftism (**), when, in fact, they are puppets of the leftists, and *always* end up dancing to whatever tune the leftists are currently playing.

(**) while at the same time they generally recognize that they are even more opposed to anti-leftism than they imagine themselves to be opposed to leftism, and imagine that opposition to anti-leftism to be a good, wise, and moral stance. But then, "liberals" do tend to worship intellectual incoherency as a virtue.

==========
(***) And, even aside from the inevitable logic demonstrating that any assertion of ownership over the fruit of another's labor is simultaneously an assertion of ownership over his very livelihood -- and of his life -- history, lived common experience, demonstrates to us that every damned time leftists gain control over the implements of state bureaucratic violence, the result is windrows of human corpses. Every damned time!

To advocate for leftism *just is* to advocate for mass-murder. Such advocation may also be indicative of stupidity, but one thing B.Prokop isn't is stupid; so, it's not stupidity that explains his constant failure to acknowledge that the logic itself of leftism *must* result in industrial scale mass-murder, nor of his constant equating of opposition to leftism with the demonic. Nor is it ignorance that explains his failure to admit the truth and to cease asserting the falsehood. But, the only category left is disinclination, which in this context is willful refusal, which is to say, intellectual dishonesty.

im-skeptical said...

"Reason does not always trump everything else ("prevail"). It should never be ignored, but it does not automatically get the deciding vote (and is even sometimes quite irrelevant to a decision)."

I do things that make me feel good. I guess you marry someone for love, which is an emotion. But when it comes to belief, I think I should have reason for believing what I do. Ultimately, I can't decide what to believe, because reason makes that choice for me. I can try to provide myself with the rational underpinnings to justify it.

B. Prokop said...

That's OK, Ilion, because I've figured out that your own moniker translates (from the language of ancient Eridu) to "He that yet refuses to repudiate Hell's Own Constitution". But I will say this in your favor - your politics may be all screwed up and your internet tone may leave a lot to be desired, but no one (and I do mean no one) can accuse you of "intellectual dishonesty"!

B. Prokop said...

(cont.) ... unlike many others who "contribute" to this website.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"Reason is a valuable tool, but not the only one we possess. And it is often not the appropriate one. Reason does not always trump everything else ("prevail"). It should never be ignored, but it does not automatically get the deciding vote (and is even sometimes quite irrelevant to a decision)."

I agree with the sentiment, but I think it is prone to misreading and could use some refinement. To use those other tools, to borrow your expression, just *is* to be rational. It is not like the use of reason demands that we put aside the other domains of human experience; it is not like there is some sort of divide in the human soul, with reason on one side pitted against the "other" side where everything else (unreason?) is stuffed. In fact, the exact opposite is the truth. It is the truly rational man, the truly *wise* man, that takes into account the *whole* of human experience, including such things as imagination, aesthetic experience, the personal subjective religious experience, etc. while the irrational, thoroughly unwise man, constrains himself to an ad-hoc, arbitrary corner of human existence, declares by fiat that it is the only corner that counts, and then encloses himself in such a petty, boring, dull and self-immolating world, and finally, bolts the door from the inside. In other words, consigns himself to Hell.

B. Prokop said...

Not bad, grodigues. You say it much better than I did.

Ilíon said...

"I agree with the sentiment, but I think it is prone to misreading and could use some refinement. To use those other tools, to borrow your expression, just *is* to be rational ..."

Moreover, rationality can't even get off the ground without a firm foundation of the non-rational -- ALL rational argument stands upon one or more "self-evident truth", claims or propositions that by their nature cannot be established via logical reasoning. Thus, the man who claims to restrict what he knows or believes to what can be rationally proven is the man who claims to know and believe nothing.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

Go read Feser's conversion from atheism. It's entirely rational from beginning to end.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

Yes, Feser's story is different from most Christian conversion stories I have seen. Still, it is kind of striking that he admits essentially that his atheism was due all along to having the wrongs conception of what god is. Had he learned about the classical model instead of personal theism from the start, he never would have thought of himself as an atheist in the first place. Fair enough - that's reasoning rather than emotion, but let's face it, he was a theist all along. He never really believed the arguments for atheism in general (like the argument from evil), he just found the arguments against the personal form of god to be valid.

Note that my comment here is not intended to refute what Feser believes. It only refutes that he was a real atheist converted to Christianity.

William said...

im:

" Ultimately, I can't decide what to believe, because reason makes that choice for me.
"
Your reason is what makes that choice? Really?

I think this is somewaht naive, and ignores the will and other pre-conscious and non-nonrational motives for belief. See for example

this book.

Consider also Henry James' classic on belief, here.

im-skeptical said...

William,

I agree we all have beliefs that are not rationally based. I was talking about beliefs that ARE based on a rational process. For example, my belief in evolution is rational, not emotional. I understand certain things about the science, and based on what (I think) I know, I can't possibly decide to change my mind about it. That would require learning something different that changes my understanding of it. Until that happens, I have no choice but to believe it. Does that make sense?

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"It only refutes that he was a real atheist converted to Christianity."

What is puzzling here is why exactly do you feel the *need* to say that Feser was really a "theist all along", explicitly *contrary* to what he states. After all, he "never really believed the arguments for atheism in general", in spite of him saying exactly the contrary. After all, you know soooo much better than Feser himself what he believed all along, and your "refutation" -- your term for what is otherwise known as bullshit arm-chair psychologizing -- just proves it beyond a doubt. After all, if Feser were a *real* atheist, he would have stayed an atheist, since that is what *real* atheists do; since he did not remain an atheist, ergo he was never a *real* atheist to begin with. And if there is one thing im-skeptical has, is an unfailing nose for smelling *fake* atheists. Once an atheist, once converted, always an atheist. *Real* atheists, never come to see that the positive arguments for atheism do not work, contrary to what they believed before. *Real* atheists, I mean the likes of im-skeptical, not fakes like the former Feser, are *real* skeptics.

Is it really so threatening to your world view that someone sincerely and on rational grounds has a change of opinion from Atheism to Christianity? Stupid me, of course it is. Really amazing. Now *this* is a phenomena calling for a psychological explanation. I will content myself in suggesting that maybe you need medical, professional help.

im-skeptical said...

grodrigues,

Don't take it personally. Maybe I just didn't read it carefully enough. The impression I got from that article is as I said. I certainly didn't say he was faking it - just that I thought he was a theist and didn't know it. Here's what gave me that impression:

"Those were, I think, the main components of my mature atheism: the conviction that theists could neither meet nor evade the evidentialist challenge; and the view that there could be, in any event, no coherent notion of a cause of the world with the relevant humanlike attributes. What is remarkable is how much of the basis I then had for these judgments I still find compelling. As I would come to realize only years later, the conception of God I then found so implausible was essentially a modern, parochial, and overly anthropomorphic “theistic personalist” conception, and not the classical theism to which the greatest theistic philosophers had always been committed."

I didn't see where he had ever challenged the basic tenets of classic theism.

Ilíon said...

some foolish-and-wicked leftist "... He that yet refuses to repudiate Hell's Own Constitution. ..."

God created Hell -- though leftists regularly create hell-on-earth (*) -- thus, God is the Author of "Hell's Own Constitution"

Why should anyone repudiate anything God has created?


(*) no doubt, just wanting to feel at home in the meantime until they get there.

joesmarts said...

@im-skeptical

If a person is a real atheist then they will never become a theist. Do you agree with that statement?

William said...

im:
"my belief in evolution is rational, not emotional"

I understand and agree with what you mean here.

However, we usually don't express simple factual knowledge, like knowing what our age is, in terms like that unless there is something that calls the fact into question. it's that questionableness that invites some to ridicule.

Papalinton said...

"A common misconception among nonbelievers is that Christians' views are set in stone and do not progress to deeper levels of understanding as time goes on. Not the case at all, as with any thoughtful person."

Thanks for this, it appears I did hold a misconception that Christians' views were set in stone which is not the case. That explains a lot. It explains why slavery is no longer an accepted social norm despite its legitimacy as a practice spelled out in the Bible. It explains why interracial marriage is now acceptable despite the innumerable Bible messages, although the traditional scriptural view persistently lingers on in the Christian tent. SEE HERE IN 'CHRISTIANITY TODAY' Interestingly the article noted:
"Bob Jones University removed its rule against interracial dating in 2000; the university apologized for this and other racist policies in 2005." The final chapter of Christians against interracial marriage only ended just a couple of years ago.

It also explains the massive change in relationship [pardon the pun] of homosexual marriages, with each State, like dominoes, are enacting legislation to allow single-sex marriages, although you personally continue to religiously hold to the Catholic line against the rights of homosexuals.

And so many other changes in dogma and doctrine.

It also explains why you can accept and appreciate the great and deeper level of understanding that Bishop Dr John Shelby Spong brings to his Twelve Points which seeks to reconcile the knowledge and understanding of the world and the universe we have today, with the level of knowledge of the world and universe as was understood by the authors of the Bible at the time of its writing.

I now understand and appreciate the extent to which Christians have progressed to deeper levels of understanding. I just wish they would speed up the process a little quicker. That way we will all sooner come to the agreement that the Christian narrative is based on mythology, and get on fixing the not so savoury aspects of that particular belief system.


Papalinton said...

A reminder of Bishop Spong's 12 Points. Dr Spong is an ardent and avowed Christian and follower of Jesus. His faith in Jesus is not compromised or diminished by his twelve points. Rather they have resulted from a deeper philosophical and theological understanding of the Christian narrative, properly seen and accounting for the knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world, a world significantly changed from that which inspired the Bible at the time of its writing:

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.

im-skeptical said...

joesmarts,

"If a person is a real atheist then they will never become a theist. Do you agree with that statement?"

No, I don't believe that. I think it is possible for a person to change his mind as a result of rational consideration. I don't think it happens very often.

Let's consider what it means to me when I speak of a "real atheist". Maybe a better term would be rational atheist. I generally mean someone who consciously considered questions relating to the existence of god and come to the belief through a rational process that there is no god. I know there are other atheists, some of whom just grew up with that belief, and others whose belief is not rationally based, and I'm not talking about them.

The rational atheist has already considered both sides of the issue and found that atheism is more reasonable than theism. Can that change as he acquires more information? Of course. But the reasons for being an atheist are really quite good. (I know... snicker snicker.) You have to actually examine both sides. Many theists have not done that. Do you ever question the basic logical underpinnings of Thomism? From reading Feser's article, I saw no hint that he ever did. But if you do, a whole new world of rational thought is open to you, and a whole universe of of logical possibility. I think few people will close that off again (for rational reasons) once they've seen it. Just my opinion.

Now let the firestorm begin.

Crude said...

Do you ever question the basic logical underpinnings of Thomism? From reading Feser's article, I saw no hint that he ever did.

Wonderful. Please describe for us what would be involved with questioning the basic logical underpinnings of Thomism, such that Feser didn't do it. Also, please explain how Feser never questioned them given that...

A) He learned about and later accepted Thomism late even into his academic life.

B) Part of this process involved him questioning the 'basic logical underpinnings' of metaphysics generally, including naturalism and materialism, and reasoning his way to Thomism.

Dan Gillson said...

im-skeptical,

I have a beef with the way you define rationality, which you define vis-à-vis its outcomes, and not just any ol' outcomes, but the outcomes that already have been prejudged to be more rational. You're just proving what you're assuming, viz., that atheistic beliefs are more rational than theistic ones. My question for is: what makes the reasons for being an atheist "quite good", as you put it, or as I'd like to put it, more rational? (I'm asking not as a devil's advocate, but as an irrationalist, or rather as someone who recoils from a superlative form of rationalism.)

im-skeptical said...

William,

"it's that questionableness that invites some to ridicule."

I guess I don't understand the point you're making.

Some beliefs are not based on rational consideration, but on other factors. They may be valid reasons or not. If I hurt myself, sensory input can make me believe that I'm in pain. That's not a rational-based belief, but it's perfectly reasonable. So that's hardly subject to ridicule. It seems to me that if any belief is seen to be ridiculous, it a purported rational-based belief where the underlying logic appears to be unsound.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

In other words, Feser only converted because he was never a True Atheist (tm).

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I didn't say "more rational" because that's not what I think. My use of the term was intended to mean nothing more than that a logical thought process is involved, whether or not the logic is actually valid or well reasoned. I recognize that not all beliefs are rational in nature. I also recognize that it is natural for people to be more confident in their own basis for belief than others'. I did say in my earlier comment that it was my opinion. Others may disagree. How many theists here would admit anything less than supreme confidence in their own beliefs?

B. Prokop said...

"How many theists here would admit anything less than supreme confidence in their own beliefs?"

I would - look at the second quotation in my profile.

Papalinton said...

No atheist becomes a theist on the basis of reason, evidence or logic. Such a conversion would be anathema to reason, evidence and logic. By far the greatest reason is the psychological and psychiatric need for comfort and consolation against the stark reality of the awareness and understanding, the moment of Die Gestalt, of our own tenuous grip on life, our own mortality, and that we were born to die and decompose after a brief interlude of consciousness.

Research over the last decade or so has provided excellent insight into why this is so. Scott Atran, Uni Michigan, Ann Arbor, suggests a clue that the fact that trauma is so often responsible for why adults find it so difficult to jettison their innate belief in gods is what he calls ‘the tragedy of cognition’. Humans can anticipate future events, remember the past and conceive of how things could go wrong - including their own death, which is hard to deal with. Atran says, “You’ve got to figure out a solution, otherwise you’re overwhelmed. When natural brain processes gives us a get-out-of-jail card, we take it.”

Researchers generally now think that the religion-as-adaptation argument is not mutually exclusive of the idea that religion-co-opts-brain-circuits that evolved for something else, and that both are working theories.

Based on current research and experiments, Dr Jesse Bering, Queen University, Belfast, considers a belief in some form of life apart from that experienced in the body to be the default setting of the human brain. Prof Pascal Boyer, Washington Uni, St Louis, Mo, says "from here there is only a short step to conceptualising spirits, dead ancestors and gods". Boyer points out that people expect their gods’ minds to work very much like human minds, suggesting they spring from the same brain system that enables people to think about absent or non-existent people.

More importantly, "education and experience teaches us to override it, but it never truly leaves us. Religious belief is the ‘path of least resistance’ while disbelief requires effort."

For information, an article by Michael Brooks in the Feb 7th 2009 issue of New Scientist provides some of the latest background to this rather interesting research.

B. Prokop said...

"a get-out-of-jail card

But Mr. Wilson, even in this world people do get out of jail. That Faith in God frees you is no argument whatsoever against its truthfulness.

Yer gonna have to do better than that.

ingx24 said...

The fallacy in the "people only believe in God so they can deny their own mortality" argument is that belief in God is not required to believe in life after death. Atheists sometimes act as if it's always been just obvious that death is the end, even in ancient times, and that people invented gods and souls in order to try to deny their own mortality. I've even heard it implied that ancient people were originally analytic functionalists (i.e. they "knew" that there was really nothing more to a person than their physical composition and their abilities to react in certain ways to the environment), and that the whole idea of a "mind" or "soul" was a figurative concept that was made literal so that people could claim that this "soul" remained in existence when the body died.

B. Prokop said...

Whoa! Two "comment deleted"s in a row. Get ready for a lo-o-o-o-ng one from Mr. Wilson.

Papalinton said...

"The fallacy in the "people only believe in God so they can deny their own mortality" argument"

Who said it was the only reason? People mostly believe in god because doing so is a claim to eternal life. One need only read the myriad of religious fables, and most pertinently the Christian fable, to appreciate the inextricable relationship between belief in an amorphous supernatural entity and the chance at immortality. To imagine otherwise is a journey into gratuitous abstruseness.

"I've even heard it implied that ancient people were originally analytic functionalists (i.e. they "knew" that there was really nothing more to a person than their physical composition ..."

Now THAT is a supremely funny Saturday Night Live moment. Superb. 'Analytic functionalists'!!! Pull. The. Other. Leg. It dispenses indulgences.

And here is the other howler - How does a figurative concept become a literal concept? Ka-Zammm! A miracle.

Perhaps Victor is right. One need not ridicule the ridiculous. It does a perfectly good job of doing that by itself. Is it any wonder that god peddlers really have their work cut out trying to stem the tide away from supernatural superstition in today's world.

B. Prokop said...

"How does a figurative concept become a literal concept? Ka-Zammm! A miracle."

Wow, Linton is 100% correct for once. That's precisely how it happens! I'm glad we agree on this.

ingx24 said...

I've even heard it implied that ancient people were originally analytic functionalists (i.e. they "knew" that there was really nothing more to a person than their physical composition and their abilities to react in certain ways to the environment), and that the whole idea of a "mind" or "soul" was a figurative concept that was made literal so that people could claim that this "soul" remained in existence when the body died.

Keep in mind that this was my (possibly uncharitable) interpretation of a comment made by a Youtube atheist a while back in a video on death. He was talking about how people have always known that death is the end, and how ancient people, with the evolution of figurative thinking, conflated a person's "figurative self" with their "literal self" to create the concept of a soul that departs the body at death. This, to me, implied he was claiming that 1) ancient people "knew" that the end of bodily functioning was, by definition, the end of consciousness, and 2) they conflated a figurative concept of consciousness (phenomenal consciousness) with the literal concept (functional consciousness) in order to deny their own mortality.

Papalinton said...

All I can do Bob, is to provide as much of the latest and most up-to-date research, studies and experiments that I come across and pass it over, so that one can assess it, read further on it, so that they can account for it in their on-going development and personal growth, a formative process that seeks to incorporate the considerable, significant and most compelling information and evidence as it is published and substantiated. A more well-read, educated and enlightened person reading across the breadth of human knowledge makes for greater and more informed understanding about the human condition.

You recall the old adage, you can bring a horse to water but ....

Papalinton said...

Ing

Thanks for citing source.
I don't much look for, care about nor interested in anecdotal, personal or second-hand stuff. The primary source stuff, the closest I can get to the author's/researcher's findings is my focus. In that way, I am able to resist the urge to add my own fallible interpretation and can pass it on in as pristine a condition as is possible without my compromising or soiling it with 'personalisms', for want of a word.

B. Prokop said...

"You recall the old adage, you can bring a horse to water but ...."

Yet another thing we agree on! We've been trying to lead you to water for quite some time now, but...

Dan Gillson said...

im-skeptical,

You may not have said "more rational", but you certainly implied it when you said "[t]he rational atheist has already considered both sides of the issue and found that atheism is more reasonable than theism." Now I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with thinking that a certain set of beliefs is more rational than another set, but I want to know how we've gotten there.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

"found that atheism is more reasonable than theism" That's a statement about someone's judgement. I prefer not to use the term "more rational", because it seems to imply (to me) that more reasoning is involved (which may or may not be valid reasoning), whereas "more reasonable" implies something about the validity of the reasoning. So both theistic beliefs and atheistic beliefs can be either rational or irrational (depending on the process used to arrive at those beliefs), but if someone uses an invalid thought process to arrive at his rational belief, you can say that that belief is unreasonable (or ridiculous).

I said that in my opinion, rational atheistic beliefs are generally more reasonable than rational theistic beliefs. There are several major reasons for that. The single biggest one is that theists ignore objective evidence in making their case for god.

I believe that science is an offshoot of philosophy (a specialized area of it), and it has logical foundations that are every bit as strong as any other area of philosophy. The scientific method has been extremely successful in helping humanity understand truths about our world. To some degree, it can be employed as a tool in other philosophical investigations as well. Take the question of the existence of god, for example. Is it better to start with the 'answer' and then work your way back to establish the reasoning that leads to that answer, or is it better to gather together all the information you have and then formulate a hypothesis that explains what you know? Theists always use the former approach [foot-stomping... no we don't], while atheists tend to use the latter. At least for my part, that's (at least partially) "how we've gotten there".

B. Prokop said...

"[T]heists ignore objective evidence in making their case for [G]od."

Wh-a-a-a-a-t !?!?!? How so? I need some objective evidence of this charge here.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"I need some objective evidence of this charge here"

I'm well aware that it's a controversial and provocative statement. But think about it. let's say a theist and an atheist watch a beautiful sunset. Both acknowledge that it's beautiful.

Atheist: "Particles in the air give the sun a red tinge, and clouds scatter the light across the horizon."

Theist: "Goddidit."

ingx24 said...

When will this "God as a scientific hypothesis" bullshit end?

Ilíon said...

one fool, concerning other fools: "When will this "God as a scientific hypothesis" bullshit end?"

About the same time that everyone, including fools, realizes that 'Science!' is just a toy for little boys, and that *men* do theology.

toddes said...

Again and again, I read this trope that religious belief is just a way to avoid the difficulty of the unknown 'reality' of death and that life after death, especially a belief in some sort of idyllic existence based on how one lived, is a way of 'softening' the blow of that unknown.

Can someone please explain how oblivion at death is NOT atheism's ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card?

No judgement, no Hell, no regrets, no punishment, just...nothing.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

>Theist: "Goddidit."

ure, fundies and evangelicals frame it something like that, but why don't you try digging, deep, into classical theism. A lot of these things make more sense, and you will be a lot less glib.

For example, if you see a brilliant field of snow that is beautiful, you can know that the thing making it beautiful, the sun, is even more brilliant and powerful than the snow itself. Why? Because you know that the snow is not itself a source of illumination; that the illumination is coming from something external; and that that source is just as, or even more, beautiful/powerful/amazing/etc as the snow, because it is the very source of light that makes the snow so wonderful.

So now step into classical theism. Forget "god". There is no such thing as "god", or "the bible". Think the same as above, but with existence as the "sunlight". To head off a protest I just know is coming: I'm not arguing that this is correct; yes, perhaps objects don't need to get their existence from an outside source. Fine. Let it fail if you like. For the sake of argument, be charitable and forget the fundies and "god" and "goddidit", and just think in terms of how an object (on this view) is getting its continual sustained existence from an external source, and that that source, existence itself, is even more amazing/beautiful/powerful/etc than the object which has existence only partially.

No "god". Just objects that exist, and the source of existence.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

" that source, existence itself, is even more amazing/beautiful/powerful/etc than the object which has existence only partially. "

How very Thomistic. Tell me, exactly what is "existence itself?"

Martin said...

>How very Thomistic. Tell me, exactly what is "existence itself?"

I said this is for the sake of the argument. Allow the argument to ultimately fail. Unsound. No good.

Nonetheless, you hopefully can see how the arguments work, and it isn't "goddidit."

im-skeptical said...

"Nonetheless, you hopefully can see how the arguments work, and it isn't "goddidit.""

Yes, I can see how the arguments work. You have to buy into a set of fundamental assumptions. For example, "an object (on this view) is getting its continual sustained existence from an external source". If you buy those assumptions, it leads inevitably to the logical conclusion that goddidit. However, you don't need to swallow that kool-aid. If you think that things need a source of sustained existence, what is your basis for believing that? Do you have any evidence? Is it something we can verify?

I'm not saying it's wrong, but I am saying that I have no reason for accepting assumptions like that. Whoever first postulated that things require a source for their sustained existence in all probability did so as a way of creating a logical framework to explain and justify the existence of god. There is nothing else in our own experience that gives us reason to believe such a thing.

Martin said...

I was trying to illustrate a point.

You had this imbalance between the two, with the atheist being reasonable and logical, and the theist jumping the gun to his favorite theory.

But another way to look at it is:

Atheist: I do not think the distinction between essence and existence is correct, because of argument ABC.

Theist: I think the distinction between essence and existence IS correct, because of argument XYZ.

>did so as a way of creating a logical framework to explain and justify the existence of god.

Absolutely not. The Platonic and Aristotelian philosophical conception came long before any "religious" conception. What thinkers like Aquinas tried to do was assimilate the philosophical God with the god of their particular scriptures. If Aquinas had set out to try to prove the existence of Yahweh, he would probably end up with something quite different, as I don't see very many similarities between an all-perfect, immaterial god and the Cannaanite storm deity of Yahweh.

Dan Gillson said...

No doubt that Ilíon means to lump himself in with the men, but as someone who has done theology at both the academic and parish levels, I have to wonder how much theology Ilíon has really done. Fill me in, Ilíon: do you actually do theology, or are you merely a parasite, feeding off of the work that other men do?

William said...

im-skeptical:

To explain, I was talking about when we say that "I believe that P" we are generally NOT (unless we are a Cartesian doubt practitioner doing radical skepticism) talking about our simple body pains, or whether 2+2=4. Rather we are talking about beliefs where some of the grounds are not 100% certain to us.

Once we are talking about a "reasonably dubitable" belief, it is those types of beliefs (whether or not they have a basis in reason, since even very well reasoned beliefs would need premises) where ridicule may find traction.

So ridicule-ability has not to do with whether the belief is rational, but whether it is in some way doubt-able.

B. Prokop said...

"Atheist: "Particles in the air give the sun a red tinge, and clouds scatter the light across the horizon."

Theist: "Goddidit."
"

B. Prokop: "Bullshit, Skep."

Sorry, but I can't put it any kinder than that. Your comment is so completely bullshit on so many levels that it qualifies as "breathtaking bullshit".

Number one: the "scientific" scenario you described is not at all what happens at a sunset. Your words only confirm the fact that most atheists love to spout the term "SCIENCE" like some magic incantation, but haven't got the foggiest notion of what they're talking about. "Particles in the air" do not "give the sun a red tinge." The atmosphere refracts the incoming sunlight off at various angles, and those rays slanting down toward our eyes at sunset happen to be at the red end of the spectrum. All the other colors are still there - they're just heading off in directions to which our eyes are not located (i.e., several miles above the Earth's surface). You can see a beautiful image of this here: http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2010/12/21/5685569-the-year-in-space-sunrise-sunset?lite

And clouds have nothing to do with the phenomenon.

Number two: No educated theist would ever be satisfied with "Goddidit" - never. He's more likely say something like, "Look at that beautiful sunset. God ordained the physical laws that allow for the diffraction of sunlight in that manner, and He created the elements necessary to behave in the required manner to produce such an effect. But most importantly, the reason we call it "beautiful" is because we are conscious beings endowed with a soul that can perceive and appreciate beauty, which otherwise wouldn't exist."

Oh, and by the way, the principle of refraction, and the laws and mathematics that govern the phenomenon were discovered by (gasp!) theists - Christians, even!!! (Kepler, Huygens, Newton)

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

You beat me to the punch: pure, unmitigated bullshit.

im-skeptical said...

"unmitigated bullshit"

"Particles in the air" do not "give the sun a red tinge."

Here's something any astronomer should know about:

http://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/education/astronomy/tapping/2006/2006-08-16.html

"When a ray of light from a distant object on its way to your eye passes through a cloud of very small particles, some of the light is scattered off in other directions, so that you don't get to see it. What is interesting is that all wavelengths of light are not scattered equally. The short wavelengths (blue) are scattered about 16 times more strongly than the longer wavelengths (red). The preferential scattering of blue light from a beam of white light leaves light that is predominantly red."

And anyone who thinks clouds have nothing to do with a beautiful sunset, is just plain ignorant.

B. Prokop said...

Skep,

You've been caught again, and here we once again see the backpedaling in full force. The quote you just cited says the very same thing I did in my posting in slightly different words, but does not at all resemble your original comment. Yet you quote it as though refuting me, despite its total agreement with what I wrote.

But far, far more important is the utterly ridiculous strawman you created (out of thin air, apparently) back at 8:48 AM. I asked you for some objective evidence of "Theists ignoring objective evidence in making their case for God" and all you can come up with is a STUPID faux-scenario of some some super-scientific atheist (giving a completely misleading explanation of a sunset, showing he doesn't know what he's talking about) accompanied by an unbelievably stupid (and apparently non-native speaker of English) theist muttering incoherent nonsense. And we're supposed to be impressed by this inanity?

As Barry Shalowitz says in City Slickers, "Scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla. Don't waste my time."

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

"You've been caught again, and here we once again see the backpedaling in full force. The quote you just cited says the very same thing I did in my posting in slightly different words, but does not at all resemble your original comment. Yet you quote it as though refuting me, despite its total agreement with what I wrote."

The only one backpedaling is you. I was talking about scattering due to particles in the air (which makes the SUN to appear red), and you were talking about refraction from the atmosphere, a completely separate phenomenon (which causes the AIR to appear red). I call bullshit on you. So there.

B. Prokop said...

How about answering my original question? Let's see some objective evidence that theists reject objective evidence. A made-up anecdote with inane dialog does not comprise objective evidence.

(Crickets...)

And I'm now off to a Howard Astronomical League meeting, where we'll probably be discussing (among other things) optics.

im-skeptical said...

"How about answering my original question? Let's see some objective evidence that theists reject objective evidence. A made-up anecdote with inane dialog does not comprise objective evidence."

http://pinterest.com/jennyadb/beautiful-sunsets-and-sunrise-only-god-could-desig/

Papalinton said...

Ing
"When will this "God as a scientific hypothesis" bullshit end?"

At the instant "God actually exists" bullshit ends.

Papalinton said...

Bob
'"Look at that beautiful sunset. God ordained the physical laws that allow for the diffraction of sunlight in that manner, and He created the elements necessary to behave in the required manner to produce such an effect. But most importantly, the reason we call it "beautiful" is because we are conscious beings endowed with a soul that can perceive and appreciate beauty, which otherwise wouldn't exist.""

Bullshit, on both counts.
To invoke the 'God ordained' and the 'created the elements' bits are unsubstantiated teleology, ignorance personified. They are nothing more than an uncultured appeal to anthropocentric intentionality gone feral.
Beauty has nothing to do with soul-endowment. That is theological nonsense. The ability to perceive and appreciate beauty is an emotional response, an expression of emotion, not soul-power generated in the pineal gland. Sheesh!

Papalinton said...

"and all you can come up with is a STUPID faux-scenario of some some super-scientific atheist (giving a completely misleading explanation of a sunset, showing he doesn't know what he's talking about) accompanied by an unbelievably stupid (and apparently non-native speaker of English) theist muttering incoherent nonsense."

Theists believe in objective evidence? This statement has all the hallmarks of a klaxon sound: HARDLY!
Objective evidence that doesn't squeeze through the theological funnel of religious exegesis is not objective enough. Rather it is the contrived product, a 'STUPID faux-scenario of some some [sic] super-scientific atheist"......

Case closed.

B. Prokop said...

Hey, what's an extra "some" amongst friends?

Papalinton said...

Opps! You're right. Pardon the nitpicking.

Ilíon said...

pathetic little fool: "No doubt that Ilíon means to lump himself in with the men, but as someone who has done theology at both the academic and parish levels, I have to wonder how much theology Ilíon has really done. Fill me in, Ilíon: do you actually do theology, or are you merely a parasite, feeding off of the work that other men do?"

Ah! not only does the pathetic little fool like to lie about me, not only does the pathetic little fool constantly display his girlishness (and on so many levels), but he's a damned credentialist to boot.

Anyone who isn't a fool recognizes that much of what I do is metaphysics and theology.

im-skeptical said...

"Anyone who isn't a fool recognizes that much of what I do is metaphysics and theology."

So nobody recognizes what you do.

Dan Gillson said...

1. Ilíon's penchant for calling people "girl" or "girlish" betrays his single, sexless life. Perhaps if he didn't display his male chauvinism so readily he'd find a suitably insular, irrational mate.

2. I'm not sure where exactly I lied, since Ilíon didn't point it out. Having had experience actually doing theology* at school and at a parish, I noticed that Ilíon's thinking isn't tinged with the experience of having ever done it. In fact, it seems that he doesn't actually want the experience of doing it. He just wants to sneer at me for having done the work he's too lazy to do. (I can think of no other reason for him calling me a "credentialist".) This is all speculation of course; Ilíon could in fact be a theologian. He could possess an impressive depth of theological knowledge. If that's the case, he'd owe it to us to explain why he doesn't ever display such knowledge.

3. It wouldn't justify Ilíon's use of "girl" or "girlish" as a pejorative, but I'd allow him to continue calling me a girl if he could merely survive my exercise routines. Or if he'd like, we can try something a little lighter and put him through my sister's exercise routines. The choice is his.

Dan Gillson said...

*By doing theology, I mean it in the sense outlined in Gerhard Forde's aptly titled book, Theology is for Proclamation. If Ilíon wants to learn something, he should purchase the book from his local discount book seller and read it.

B. Prokop said...

Dan,

I slammed Ilion, et.al., for their sexism nearly two years ago on this very website in one of my finest rants ever - a real classic:


"Papalinton and his fellow-travelers, who are forever going on about religion's so-called 'Bronze Age thinking' were aiming at the wrong target. They should have set their sights on the Stone Age thinking of the likes of Ilion, 'Gimli', et.al.

What nonsense! Worse, what slop, what filth! You people should crawl back under your rocks.

I'm sorry, but I can't muster up even a modicum of politeness here. These were the most insulting, degrading comments ever to grace this website - far worse than anything Loftus ever dreamed of spewing out. I felt sullied even reading them. I will not even try to engage with such idiots! What's the point when they have amply demonstrated that there's nothing to engage with?
"

Damn, but it makes me feel good just to re-read that tirade! (and that's just a sampling of the full posting) I don't often get to indulge in a justified bout of good ol' fashioned righteous anger.

B. Prokop said...

... and you know what's funny? I can't even find the original comments that led to that gem of an outburst (and I've looked). I believe it was early in 2011. I just remember that Ilion and company had crossed the line in their disparagement of women, and I couldn't sit still for it.

im-skeptical said...

"I just remember that Ilion and company had crossed the line in their disparagement of women, and I couldn't sit still for it."

My guess is he got it from reading the bible.

Crude said...

I just remember that Ilion and company had crossed the line in their disparagement of women, and I couldn't sit still for it.

Here you are.

My guess is he got it from reading the bible.

So sayeth Rebecca Watson:

When I first got involved with the skeptics, I thought I had found my people—a community that enjoyed educating the public about science and critical thinking. The sense of belonging I felt was akin, I imagine, to what other people feel at church. (I wouldn’t exactly know—like most skeptics, I’m an atheist.) I felt we were doing important work: making a better, more rational world and protecting people from being taken advantage of. At conventions, skeptic speakers and the audience were mostly male, but I figured that was something we could balance out with a bit of hard work and good PR.
Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events. And then I made the grave mistake of responding to a fellow skeptic’s YouTube video in which he stated that male circumcision was just as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM). I replied to say that while I personally am opposed to any non-medical genital mutilation, FGM is often much, much more damaging than male circumcision.
The response from male atheists was overwhelming. This is one example:

“honestly, and i mean HONESTLY.. you deserve to be raped and tortured and killed. swear id laugh if i could”

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.

Ilíon said...

"I just remember that Ilion and company had crossed the line in their disparagement of women ..."

Oh, you poor little hypocritical pussy.

To any rational persons out there -- if stating any truth about women is "disparagement" of them, then the problem is in women, not in the man (or woman) who states the truth about them.

Ilíon said...

"Tell me, exactly what is "existence itself?""

It's what Ayn Rand vainly imagined she had disposed of with "Existence exists."

Ilíon said...

"Ilíon's penchant for calling people "girl" or "girlish" betrays his single, sexless life. Perhaps if he didn't display his male chauvinism so readily he'd find a suitably insular, irrational mate."

That's *exactly* the sort of thing a girl would say!

I have called certain of the pathetic persons like to freak-out and/or lie about me 'girl' because they have the psyche of a junior-high girl.

Papalinton said...

""Papalinton and his fellow-travelers, who are forever going on about religion's so-called 'Bronze Age thinking' were aiming at the wrong target. They should have set their sights on the Stone Age thinking of the likes of Ilion, 'Gimli', et.al."
What nonsense! Worse, what slop, what filth! You people should crawl back under your rocks."


Bob your response to Dan seems to implicate me as a purveyor of the filth you say made you sick. In the thread crude links to, my one comment in the thread noted:

"Bob
I too cannot abide the form of attack that you have been subjected to. I am with you 100% even to the level of anger you are feeling. It is justified in this case, as it is measured and proportional and defensive in character.

Those that impugn the personal character of others must be brought to brook at each and every occasion to justify their egregious and poisonous intent.
August 26, 2011 3:22 PM "


I would appreciate if you could rightfully clear this matter.

Dan Gillson said...

PapaL,

I certainly didn't take Bob's comment to indict you of being a sexist pig. If it makes you feel any better, I don't think anyone who follows these threads would think that of you, even if Bob did portend to lump you in with the lot of misogynistic troglodytes; your morals are far too sensible. (Also, in addressing this issue yourself, you did a wonderful job at clearing up the matter.)

Bob,

Given the depth of stupidity apparent on that thread (thanks, Crude!), I'd say your response is still far too restrained. You succeed in being a gentleman where I could not. Good on you.

Crude

It's absolutely amazing how "skeptics" are eating each other over the "Elevatorgate scandal." Just witness all the unjustified abuse that Ophelia Benson--a person whose opinions I do not respect, by the way--receives on a weekly basis. It's embarrassing. I happily admit that I have nothing to do with the online community of skeptics.

Ilíon

Please point out to me which statements that I've made about you are provably false, and I'll retract them. Until you do that, you can't say that I've lied about you without being a liar yourself.

B. Prokop said...

Absolutely, Linton! If you go back to the link that Crude provided, you'd see that I was in no way implicating you in the spread of any "filth", and if I inadvertently gave that impression, I humbly apologize. I perhaps with not the best literary style was riffing off of a phrase than used to be popular amongst atheist posters, referring to Christian beliefs as "Bronze Age" (which they couldn't be in any circumstances, since the Bronze Age in the Middle East was from approx 3600 BC to 1200 BC, or long, long before Christianity, or even (most of) Judaism.

But for the record, Mr. Linton Wilson ("Papalinton") was in no way or in the slightest degree guilty of the sort of comments I was condemning. And I repent in dust and ashes to have ever written anything that could be taken to mean that he was.

Crude said...

Dan,

I happily admit that I have nothing to do with the online community of skeptics.

Well, this is one major reason why the fact that you're an atheist/agnostic has never once to my knowledge led to any difficulty or even turbulence in our conversations, despite some serious disagreements. (I've probably come off as rammy at times, unintentionally, but I actively try to minimize it with yourself a few others.)

im-skeptical said...

"It's what Ayn Rand vainly imagined she had disposed of with "Existence exists.""

The question was for Martin (since he asserted it), and he hasn't answered.

I haven't read Ayn Rand. But don't imagine that I am automatically convinced by whatever another atheist says. (I have to keep repeating this to theists over and over.) She was a right-wing lunatic just like you. That is, until she decided to go on social security and medicare. Then she was the world's biggest hypocrite.

Dan Gillson said...

Crude,

Having disagreements is no cause to be disagreeable. I find you to be fair-minded, enjoyable person with whom I can disagree. (I think that you're too hard on im-skeptical; skep may be a philosophical novice, which he readily admits, but he's a good natured person looking for an honest discussion. Otherwise, I don't find you to be rammy at all.)

Ilíon said...

poor little hurt ingenue: "Please point out to me which statements that I've made about you are provably false, and I'll retract them. Until you do that, you can't say that I've lied about you without being a liar yourself."

It would be easier for this poor little hurt ingenue to point to a single thing he has said about me that isn't dishonest in some way. To make even that easier, here are two Googe searches: search 1 and search 2 The results have a great deal of crossover, but they're not identical (nor are they all-inclusive -- this very thread isn't in either list). To make it even easier, he could just limit his search to two recent threads: this very one and the prior one

Retracting some specific falsehood this p(r)issy little girl has posted about me will never solve the problem, for the problem is his attitude. I mean, even aside from having the mind-set of a junior-highschool girl; that's a life-sized problem. But, with respect to me, his problem is that be *needs* me to be wrong (about everything), and he *needs* me to be a wicked, evil monster -- but, of course he does, he's a girl -- and until he fixes that, he's going to keep lying about me.

Goodness! Danni is like Prokip in his *need* to see me wrong (and wicked evil) -- though, apparently, he's not so far gone as to seemingly keep a record on his PC of every "slam" he's made of me (while apparently being not-quite-bright enough to also record the URLs) -- I mean, really! this guy just can't keep his leftist-inspired spite bottled up: it *has* to come out

Dan Gillson said...

1. I honestly believe everything I've said about you, because you honestly manifest irrationality, insularity, incompetence, unsubtlety, … etc. So the problem isn't that I'm being dishonest, the problem is that you insulate yourself from the truth about you.

2. Vis-à-vis my attitude, trust me: it's peachy. I'm likable, funny, kind … you know, not a misanthropic loner.

3. I have the mind-set of a twenty-nine year old, physically active, working, married male. My wife wouldn't have married me if I had the mind-set of a junior high girl, nor would my boss employ me, nor would I have such a diverse, sophisticated group of friends. Trust me Ilíon: I've gotten what I deserve because I've worked for it.

4. I don't need you to be wrong. I just like it when you are because I can amuse myself at your expense.

Dan Gillson said...

If anyone is a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, here's a strip that adequately captures Ilíon's idea of what it's like to be a girl, and the consequences that would follow should he actually try to confirm his ideas:

http://imgur.com/j2SvK

Ilíon said...

^^ In which we learn that I am a 'misanthropic loner'

Dan Gillson said...

Oh my gosh! My weekend has been absolutely terrible! This just makes it all better; I haven't had a laugh like that in a while. I posted this to my facebook wall!

ingx24 said...

I've been watching Ilion for a while, and I'm becoming more and more convinced that he is clinically insane - he has some kind of chemical imbalance or something that's causing him to have a warped, paranoid, egocentric view of reality.

Ilíon said...

^^ *yawn* Another fool outs himself (well, he actually did that days ago).

Ilíon said...

In which we learn that I am a 'sexist' of that ilk

Dan Gillson said...

Ilíon apparently has never heard of the Streisand effect. In writing his lengthy smears of Bob and me, he's calling more attention to his blatant sexism, and proving more and more that he is unhinged. (By the way, I am an exemplar of manliness by Ilion's standards: I've actually done theology!)

Ilíon said...

^^ Apparently, the fool does not wish to comprehend that he and Prokop "smear" themselves.

I just publicize it.

Dan Gillson said...

If you're going to be my publicist, would you mind doing a more flattering piece? I really want to impress Gentle Reader.

Ilíon said...

Nuancey-boy,
It's no more my job to flatter you than it is to stroke your ego. And you're on your own with Gentle Reader ... hell! even your fellow bandwaggon members went, last week, to a nuance you seem unable fully to navigate.

Dan Gillson said...

I don't have a bandwagon. I have a caravan. Or a Ferris wheel.

Ilíon said...

^^ I can see where the Ferris wheel might apply -- a great deal of motion that takes you nowhere.

As for the other, he's definitely a bandwaggon type -- and it's an Umpah-Umpah band.

Dan Gillson said...

Re-posting this, in case Ilíon deletes it from his blog (or, in other words, follow the drama as it happens!):

1. It's strange that Ilíon doesn't find it self-parodying that he's calling me the kindergarten boy, when he's been throwing around the world "girl" like it's a pejorative, much like a kindergarten boy would.

2. What I meant is easily extracted from what I said. "I'd allow him [Ilíon] to continue calling me a girl if he could merely survive my exercise routines. Or if he'd like, we can try something a little lighter and put him through my sister's exercise routines." Surviving my (or my sister's) exercise routines is a sufficient condition, not a threat. If he could actually do so, then he can call me a girl. From this, he can infer that I don't think he can survive my, much less my sister's, routines; he can infer that I consider athleticism to be a virtue; he can infer that my sister is athletic; but he shouldn't infer that what I said constituted a threat.

3. If Ilíon won't accept the above, perhaps he'd allow me to explain something of the organization of my subjectivity. My experience is tinged with the knowledge that I've lost contests which I should've won, and I've won contests which I should've lost. I know that exogenous factors easily influence the outcomes of contests. (I know that endogenous factors do too, which is why people talk about having their heads in the game.) Given the nature of this knowledge, I would never think that the results of a contest, e.g., a fight, could be determined beforehand. I would never say that I could beat someone up, because I don't know that I could.

4. In order to prove that what I said didn't constitute a threat, I appealed to both objectivity (what the words themselves mean), and subjectivity (how I couldn't have meant what I said as a threat). In order to justify his reading of my words, Ilíon would have to appeal to some occult power he possess, viz., mind-reading. I highly doubt that Ilíon reads minds--he can't even seem to read words correctly.

Dan Gillson said...

And the latest!

Bu[t] anyways, you're right that you don't have any real critics. I certainly am not. I just snark at you when you drop by to say inane things, like theology being something that men do. (And yes: I snark, not shriek. That you think I shriek proves that you are tone deaf to the emotional pitch of writing, which a fortiori proves that you don't comprehend what you read.)