Monday, February 23, 2015

Atheism and violence again

Exactly. In the past, an atheist debate will very often assert that they have no intention of convincing anyone to be an atheist. It doesn't matter to them. Or so they said back then. 

But now it does. We can rate people with respect to how much they care whether people believe as they did with respect to religion. Some Christians really care about the beliefs of others, because they think their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. This leads to something I used to call hyper-evangelicalism. 

Some Christians don't care at all what others believe. I am somewhere in the middle; as a believer I hate seeing people intimidated out of their religious beliefs. 

But atheists, and least under the influence of New Atheism, seem to be more and more evangelistic. The idea seems to be that the world is on a cusp, between falling back into a new dark age through religion, or getting beyond this by embracing science, and therefore scientific materialism. 

This has been coupled with what I consider to be a hate message toward religious belief. There is even a slur-word, faith-head, which is used against religious believers. We are told that nothing short of naked contempt is deserved for people who believe in God, that their position merits ridicule and nothing but ridicule. 

One can, I suppose, try to escape the charge of hate by accepting some version "hate the belief, love the believer." But these are the same people who will respond to "hate the sin, love the sinner" with respect to homosexuality as proof of blatant bigotry. Why this is not blatant intellectual dishonesty is beyond my comprehension. 

Why could we possibly believe that, sooner or later, this whole mind-set will not erupt in violence on the part of somebody. Whether Hicks is that somebody or not is not the main thing I am bringing up for consideration. The step from viewing an idea as genuinely detestable to killing those who advocate the idea is not that big of a step, is it really?

Atheists might reply that since they've got evidence on their side, they won't need violence. But they are the same people who say that religious believers just won't listen to reason. So, what is to be done with them?

Just put "a new dark age" in for "hell" and you can see why someone might use force on behalf of atheism.
The more atheists insist that they are immune from the kind of temptation that leads to religious violence, the more concern I have. If you really think atheism leaves you with "nothing to kill or die for,"
then all I can give you is the Strait answer

I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
From my front porch you can see the sea.
I got some ocean front property in Arizona.
If you'll buy that, I'll throw the golden gate in free.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNlMzNUDM8s

162 comments:

Ilíon said...

"Why could we possibly believe that, sooner or later, this whole mind-set will not erupt in violence on the part of somebody."

The past two-and-a-quarter centuries of history inform us that every time 'atheists' have got their hands on the levers of government violence -- *every* damned time -- the result has been windrows of human corpses.

DJC said...

Victor,

" The step from viewing an idea as genuinely detestable to killing those who advocate the idea is not that big of a step, is it really?

Atheists might reply that since they've got evidence on their side, they won't need violence. But they are the same people who say that religious believers just won't listen to reason. So, what is to be done with them?
"

Let me help put your mind at ease :-) You might be familiar with Jonathan Haidt's Moral Foundations theory and his identification of the 6 dimensions of moral values/intuitions. You might recall that his research shows that liberals tend to emphasize the first 3 and de-emphasize the rest while conservatives emphasize all 6.

If Haidt's work is correct, the growth of secularism and liberalism in society over time (and corresponding shrinking of religion and conservatism) is directly reflected in a corresponding emphasis on care/harm, fairness/cheating, liberty/oppression and a de-emphasis on loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, sanctity/degradation as social moral concerns.

Let's look at each with respect to the question of killing for an idea.

1. Care/harm: cherishing and protecting others. I see no support here.
2. Fairness/cheating: rendering justice according to shared rules (proportionality). Killing for an idea seems highly disproportionate without relying on other moral intuitions (below) for justification, so I see no support here.
3. Liberty/oppression: the loathing of tyranny. I do see support of killing for the idea that tyranny must be thrown off. However, this does not seem to apply to any 1st-world societies today.
4. Loyalty/betrayal: standing with your group, family, nation (ingroup). I see support of killing for the idea that one's group is right and must be defended at all costs.
5. Authority/subversion: obeying tradition and legitimate authority (respect). I see support for killing for the idea that one's tradition and (religious) authority must be followed.
6. Sanctity/degradation: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions (purity). I see support of killing for the idea that certain persons are impure or worthless.

So if Haidt's definitions are correct, I would see no risk that atheism will lead to wide-spread violence, so long as moral intuitions 1-3 continue to be emphasized in society and 4-6 continue to be de-emphasized or de-prioritized. Likewise, religions that emphasize 1-3 and de-emphasize 4-6 I would expect to show steady decreases in all forms of violence. I think these trends are self-evident (note for example how gay-marriage in society has proceeded in spite of 4-6).

(As a hypothetical, if moral intuitions 4-6 for some reason did become stronger and more wide-spread in a society and, paradoxically, that society also became more anti-theistic at the same time, I agree that we could have killings in the name of anti-theism.)

Dustin Crummett said...

DJC,

You don't see how if, like Sam Harris, you think religion is worse for the world than rape, or if, like Richard Dawkins, you think raising your child in your religion is child abuse, you could justify anti-religious violence by appeal to 1-3? For that matter, you don't see how if, like Sam Harris, you believe that "some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them," you might believe that some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them?

im-skeptical said...

Dustin Crummett,

Why don't you take your thumb out of your mouth and make an honest effort to understand what Harris and Dawkins are actually saying, rather than just tossing around sound bites you read on atheist-hating website?

Victor, you should do the same.

Chris said...

ims,

Would you say that atheism, because it's not an ideology, can't be a negative influence on a individual or society?

im-skeptical said...

Chris,

I hesitate to make categorical statements. I do know that in western countries, religiosity is negatively correlated with general societal happiness and prosperity. But perhaps you can give me a specific example of what kind of negative influenct you are referring to.

Papalinton said...

Grubby and insincere with the object of peddling one's own petty prejudices from someone who should now better.

Victor Reppert said...

This is from the head of the Center for Naturalism.

http://www.naturalism.org/Against_contempt.htm

Dustin Crummett said...

ims,

Why don't you tell me what's incorrect in my earlier comment?

Benjamin Thompson said...

I would argue that modern atheism has become more agressive by appealing to moral intuition 6, not 1-3. That is to say atheists believe that the irrationality of religion is abhorrent, even going so far as to say that certain forms of religious teachings (i.e. creationism) are forms of child abuse. Clearly this combined with intuitions 1-3 has the potential to cause widespread violence. The only reason it probably won't is because the ideology of atheism has not been radicalized in the U.S. to the degree it would need to be. But to suggest this can't happen is absurd.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

Yes, of course. These people are accommodationists. I'll note a few things about this article.

First, while I do not object in principle to accommodationists' approach to dialog with theists, I can't help but notice that they are generally quick to chastise atheists for their contemptuous rhetoric, and at the same time totally oblivious to any and all equally contemptuous (if not downright hateful) rhetoric from theists directed at atheists and atheism. Hatred of atheists is prevalent, and we see it expressed every day.

Second (and this is particularly pertinent to your own accusations of "hate messages"), read the passage from Dawkins again. He is talking about rhetoric that expresses ridicule, even to the point of being somewhat hurtful. He is not talking about hate. He is not advocating any kind of violence or use of force. He compares this rhetoric to that of Ann Coulter. I would never characterize her rhetoric as "hate speech", or something that would foment violence, but it is contemptuous and even hurtful, in much the same way Dawkins advocates. Dawkins wants to direct this rhetoric at fence-sitters, in order to sway them.

This is a far cry from the kind of "hateful atheist ideology" you claim that would lead people like Hicks to violence.

I implore you once again - if you want to make accusations like that, bring forth your evidence. Show me who is making this kind of hateful speech, and who is moved to violence by it.

Dan Gillson said...

"This has been coupled with what I consider to be a hate message toward religious belief. There is even a slur-word, faith-head, which is used against religious believers. We are told that nothing short of naked contempt is deserved for people who believe in God, that their position merits ridicule and nothing but ridicule."

Ignore them, and pick better company. Pick atheists and Christians who are actually willing to discuss interesting stuff together, instead of arguing the same points ad nauseum. Some of us, Christians and atheists, just want a better world, regardless of what we believe about God.

Dustin Crummett said...

ims,

Why don't you tell me what's incorrect in my earlier comment?

im-skeptical said...

Dustin Crummett,

I already did.

Dustin Crummett said...

ims,

I pointed out three awful statements by New Atheists. You responded by posting an article addressing just one of them, in which Harris clarifies that he was only advocating killing *some* people because of their religious beliefs (forgetting, conveniently, the fact that people with Harris' foreign policy views have killed far more people than Al-Zawahiri ever will). What a thorough refutation!

I could keep posting quotes if you like: "I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance-born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God-is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss." --Sam Harris

No way anybody could ever interpret that so as to justify anti-religious violence.

im-skeptical said...

Dustin Crummett,

Sure, you can interpret that statement so as to justify anti-religious violence if you insist on taking it out of context and putting your own spin on what he is trying to say. The same is true of every such statement from people like Dawkins or whoever you like to vilify by refusing to listen to what they're saying. It's a shame that you won't take the advice I offered. Statements like that don't stand alone. They mean something that is quite different from the way people like you and Victor present them. This is indicative of your abysmal intellectual dishonesty, and it shows your deep hatred of atheists. Don't go blaming it on them.

Legion of Logic said...

I just read the full context of the Sam Harris quote and must agree that it can easily be construed as a call to aggressively attack religion, to someone who actually buys into Sam Harris' drivel and takes it to its logical conclusion.

Of course, defenders of Sam Harris can either say "Nope you're wrong" and offer no counter-interpretation - which will impress exactly zero people - or they can actually offer a counter-interpretation.

im-skeptical said...

Legion of Logic,

Harris makes it absolutely clear that he's talking about the existential threat posed by violent religious fanatics (particularly Muslim extremists), that are beyond any kind of rational negotiation, and who can't be captured, which would be preferred. In this circumstance, killing them in self-defense would be justified.

This doesn't require any creative interpretation. It is just what he says. It also happens to be in agreement with what most theists would accept in a non-religious context, such as defense against violent criminals.

Go ahead and call it "drivel". It makes a lot more sense than you do.

Legion of Logic said...

I'm not surprised you'd be impressed by his drivel, since you consider him profound. I consider him an easily-refuted joke.

DJC said...

Dustin Crummet,

"You don't see how if, like Sam Harris, you think religion is worse for the world than rape, or if, like Richard Dawkins, you think raising your child in your religion is child abuse, you could justify anti-religious violence by appeal to 1-3? For that matter, you don't see how if, like Sam Harris, you believe that "some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them," you might believe that some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them?"

Note that Harris is using utilitarian moral calculations which is very different from the moral intuitions I'm referring to. I'm arguing that the trends in moral intuitions in society continue to point favorably to no anti-religious violence. That assumes that people use moral intuitions, not utilitarianism, to decide first and foremost how to be moral and that this won't change much in the future.

A strict utilitarian I think would argue moral intuitions get in the way of moral decisions and that we should restructure morality around the ends we desire. I disagree but mainly because I think it might be impossible to disregard moral intuitions; they're too primal, basic, too much a part of our genetic code. Second, the utilitarian has the difficult task of proving that his or her utilitarian calculation is the right one and that no mistakes were made. This latter part is an even larger obstacle, I feel, if we are to confidently override our moral intuitions. So I see no risk that utilitarian morality will take over atheism in the future; moral intuitions will continue to rule the day for quite some time.

In the absence of widespread utilitarianism and an air-tight calculation that religion must be stopped at all costs, anti-religious violence can only rely on another moral intuition such as loyalty or authority: i.e. imagine the "High Priests of Atheism" decree that all good atheists must fight the Christians. But that wouldn't get off the ground, the moral instinct and willingness to blindly follow leadership for its own sake seems to be fading in modern society and atheists in particular seem more willing than most to question leaders and spokesmen (if the term even makes sense for such a loose coalition as "atheism").

Now, yes, I can see a form of anti-religious violence occurring due to the moral instincts of care/harm as a direct emotional response to specific instances of religious-mandated harm, such as a spanking children, withholding necessary medication (Christian Scientist), or genital mutation (Islam), but this is quite different from behaving violently towards general religious behavior.

Finally I see no legislation introduced by Dawkins or Harris to punish or outlaw religion the way child abuse and rape are punished or outlawed so I'm certain their views are more nuanced than you let on. Harris' arguments specifically eschew moral intuition so talk of using moral intuitions 1-3 in response to a Harris argument simply doesn't apply here at all. Utilitarian calculations are used for the ends Harris deems important to humanity and either succeed or fail by the accuracy of the data and his calculations, neither of which I can speak confidently on.

DJC said...

Benjamin Thompson,

"I would argue that modern atheism has become more agressive by appealing to moral intuition 6, not 1-3. That is to say atheists believe that the irrationality of religion is abhorrent, even going so far as to say that certain forms of religious teachings (i.e. creationism) are forms of child abuse. Clearly this combined with intuitions 1-3 has the potential to cause widespread violence. The only reason it probably won't is because the ideology of atheism has not been radicalized in the U.S. to the degree it would need to be. But to suggest this can't happen is absurd."

What percentage of atheists feel religion is similar to physical or emotional child abuse and should be stopped with violence if needed? Just wondering where you are getting your data.

If liberalism/secularism worldside is trending steadily upward (this seems trivially true), and if liberalism/secularism is recognized crucially as a de-emphasis of certain moral intuitions associated with conservativism including 6 (Haidt's research seems to bear this out), and if violence is disproportionately justified with appeals to loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion and sanctity/degradation, then it stands to reason liberal/secular violence will decline.

im-skeptical said...

Milgram's esearch bears it out.

oozzielionel said...

It seemed more important in that study if people are "agreeable." Everyone here fails the niceness test whether conservative or liberal.

oops, look like I just failed too...

Dustin Crummett said...

ims,

You're telling me that if a prominent religious leader claimed that "the idea that everyone should be free not to believe in God is driving us into the abyss" (while simultaneously calling atheism a "virus,") or that raising your children as atheists is child abuse, you would have the slightest tolerance for my telling you to look at context, etc.? At *best*, statements like these are something like Motte-and-Bailey doctrines (http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/).

DJC,

My question wasn't about anybody's actual ethical views, it was about what inferences people might make based on things the New Atheists say. Consider again, for instance, from Richard Dawkins: '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.' Note--not hitting the kid, not cutting on them, not withholding medicine, just raising them in your religion is child abuse. My moral intuitions certainly suggest that using violence to prevent child abuse is justified, as do yours. So...

And obviously these people don't follow through on the implications of their views. Harris and Dawkins are both idiot blowhards who probably don't really believe what they say and who wouldn't have the courage to follow through on them if they did. But all it takes is one person who imagines they really mean what they say.

im-skeptical said...

Dustin Crummett,

I'm telling you that if you insist on taking statements out of context, you are missing the meaning, and you are being intellectually dishonest. I already gave you a more complete context for one of these sound bites you cited, and it turns out to be a very reasonable statement. I'm telling you that these guys you love to hate so much are more reasonable than you want to admit, but you are too dishonest to represent their statements in the manner that was intended.

Papalinton said...

DJC: "But that wouldn't get off the ground, the moral instinct and willingness to blindly follow leadership for its own sake seems to be fading in modern society and atheists in particular seem more willing than most to question leaders and spokesmen (if the term even makes sense for such a loose coalition as "atheism")."

Yes. That is the trending pattern of modern society. The loose coalition of atheism as you call it, makes it interminably difficult to get a group of atheists together because the only common thread [their agreement that the existence of gods and other things that go bump in the night is unabridged primitive superstitious nonsense], is simply not big enough of an issue to get people out of the homes and comfy zone to RALLY! RALLY! RALLY! FOR THE CAUSE! Unlike the substantial historical record of religious zealotry, atheism is a perspective that just simply ain't worth dying over or bombing a women's clinic or shooting dead a doctor because he performed an abortion that saved a mother's life. In fact it is commonly remarked that attempting to get atheists together is akin to herding cats, almost impossible. No atheist I know, not one, least of all me, would die for the cause of atheism. Ever. It's just not big enough a deal to go into battle over. We do it through words, through ideas, through science. It is in the main about winning the Culture Wars in the marketplace of ideas where the faith-based, culture-laden, culture-dependent religious narrative, is exposed for what it is, a failed, incomplete, ambiguous and fundamentally flawed explanatory tool about us, about the human condition, about our relationship to the environment, our world and about the universe. I'm only to happy to help, and contribute towards, reason and logic and scientifically-informed philosophy to eventually succeed over antediluvian religious mumbo-jumbo via the internet.

DJC said...

Dustin Crummett,

"Consider again, for instance, from Richard Dawkins: '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.' Note--not hitting the kid, not cutting on them, not withholding medicine, just raising them in your religion is child abuse. My moral intuitions certainly suggest that using violence to prevent child abuse is justified, as do yours. So..."

Let's take morality out of it for the moment. Both Harris and Dawkins are making testable, falsifable statements. Dawkins says that being forced to believe a religion has similar negative outcomes to child abuse. Harris seems to say the total negative effects of religion over all time is possibly worse than the total negative effects of rape over all time. Harris also seems to say the certainty of negative outcome for proven strongly-believed propositions (i.e. "I have killed unbelievers for Allah and I will kill again.") is so high as to treat the proposition itself as identical to any crime that would be prevented by deadly force if necessary. These are statements that can be demonstrated true or false with data, argument, there's no necessary moral judgement being made.

Further, I don't see Dawkins claiming forcing religion on children is the same moral act as forcing abuse on children, I don't see Harris claiming religious belief is the same moral act as rape, and I don't see Harris claiming holding a proposition is the same moral act as killing someone. These moral claims must be made before we should think Dawkins or Harris are making moral equivalency judgements. Otherwise it's a similar fallacy as saying ambulance drivers are more immoral than kids who shoot up schools because ambulance accidents kill more people than school shooters.

Is it possible to misunderstand Dawkins and Harris as making moral equivalency statements and is it possible Dawkins and Harris are stoking controversy and feeding secular/religious tension? Sure. But as long as atheists care more about the facts than they do about loyalty and allegiance to some "atheist cause" (moral intuitions 4 and 5), I don't expect violence to be much of a risk.

B. Prokop said...

All of the debate on this thread is irrelevant in the face of one simple and undeniable fact: every last time (repeat: EVERY LAST TIME) that atheists have managed to take the reins of societal control (e.g., French Revolution, the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea), the consequence has been an ocean of blood and mountains of corpses. Who cares what armchair theorists claim on this (or any other) website, when the record is there for all to see?

im-skeptical said...

Hey Victor !! You want to hear some hate speech? Listen to Bob.

Ilíon said...

B.HateFacter: "All of the debate on this thread is irrelevant in the face of one simple and undeniable fact: every last time (repeat: EVERY LAST TIME) that atheists have managed to take the reins of societal control (e.g., French Revolution, the Soviet Union, Maoist China, North Korea), the consequence has been an ocean of blood and mountains of corpses. Who cares what armchair theorists claim on this (or any other) website, when the record is there for all to see?"

H8ter! Hatey Hate Hater!

Don't you know that the people who are always banging on about "facts" or "evidence" get to define what is and is not a fact or an evidence? It the hate the fact/evidence, then it's not a fact/evidence, and anyone who mentions it is a H8ter!

B. Prokop said...

Well, as Dave Skylark said: "Haters gonna hate, and ain'ters gonna ain't!"

Truth hurts, don't it, Skep?

Papalinton said...

Oh Ooh! Skep. Bob's into BOLD CAPS now. You've really pissed him off.

Oh, by the way, Skep, because you and I are atheists we are also communists in disguise, no doubt about it according to Bob, darned guilty by association. So when an atheist becomes one of the next Presidents of the United States, and it will happen, it stands to reason, well Bob's reason that is, that that President will be all but a god-hating COMMUNIST. LoL

Gotta love the pathological disturbance behind his kind of thought patterns. But then what kind of pathological psychology can one expect from faith-heads? When you believe in all kinds of made up stuff you can believe in anything, even a droll and and time-weary jesusgod, just like a child with a favourite rag doll, not just any old rag doll, but the one that REALLY speaks to and interacts with her.

Soviet Union? China? Nth Korea? I say, "Raspberry .................." [makes sound with tongue and lips to express properly targeted derision and contempt



im-skeptical said...

Yes, I know. Bob can't contain his anger. But you'd better be careful. You used the word 'faith-head', which has been characterized as slur. It just might rouse Bob's hostility to the point where he commits some heinous crime. He certainly has the ideological motivation for it.

Papalinton said...

"You used the word 'faith-head', which has been characterized as slur."

Dang! I should remember that. I mean, it's not like being called a 'Cult of Gnu' which is absolutely kosher on this site. [Ooops! kosher = Jewboy language. I shouldn't mix my metaphors, neither.]

It's an unedifying and distasteful slur to be branded a Communist just because of my atheism. But then, observing christian values, christian morality and christian ethics simply don't count when they can freely label others who don't share their superstitious nonsense. It's a no-holds-barred free-for-all that they can justify just by simply appealing to the hurt feelings of their omni-max all-powerful jesusgod who can't protect himself from such name calling and needs his minions to attack the atheist hoards, to bomb abortion clinic, to shoot doctors who rightly and properly protect women's health and their rights under the law of the land.

No, if you believe a 3-day old putrescent corpse revivified and levitated into the air as if a helium-filled balloon, you are literally and psychologically primed to believe anything. Period. There is no getting away from this fact.

Legion of Logic said...

"No, if you believe a 3-day old putrescent corpse revivified and levitated into the air as if a helium-filled balloon, you are literally and psychologically primed to believe anything. Period. There is no getting away from this fact."

No one believes this that I am aware of. So what are you talking about?

The resurrection of Christ by the power of God is absolutely nothing like your ridiculous and childish terminology. There's another fact that can't be escaped.

Dave Duffy said...

I'm not sure why there is so much defensiveness when linking Marxism to atheism. Marxism appears to be a pretty straightforward way to change a political and economic system steeped in Christian culture. I had to endure a number of Marxist in the CSU system while I was trying to get a degree so I could provide for Mrs. Duffy and little ones we seemed to have a gift of producing.

The professors seemed to think it pretty cool to rip Reagan, love Gorbachev, and take a few swipes at Christian culture all the while thinking themselves subversive (while living off the of the people's taxes, no less).

Atheists aren't really so bad as long as they have adapted to Christian culture and not try too hard to make the world in their image.

Papalinton said...

We should all be striving for a secular humanist society not a christian or a muslim culture. Both have had their day in the sun, and humanity must grow and mature from its infantile age.

Papalinton said...

"There's another fact that can't be escaped."

Which fact is that?

B. Prokop said...

"You've really pissed him off."

Nah, not at all. When I get really pissed off, I use BOLD ITALICS CAPS.

"The resurrection of Christ by the power of God is absolutely nothing like [Linton's] ridiculous and childish terminology."

I've informed Linton of this numerous times before now, yet for some inexplicable reason, he still thinks it's cute to use infantile language at the adults' table. It's beyond me just what he thinks he's accomplishing by such pathetic behavior. 'Cause in reality, all he's doing is showing up his inability to read, think, or productively participate in a conversation.

Papalinton said...

"The resurrection of Christ by the power of God is absolutely nothing like [Linton's] ridiculous and childish terminology."

What's the problem? All I've done is change a few words by selecting their synonyms to express a different literary tradition. My tradition. And remember I have not changed the 'facts' of the story in the bible.

So what you are saying with: "The resurrection of Christ by the power of God ...." is that this three day old dead putrescent carcass [because we know for a fact without cold storage, putrefaction in cadavers in lower middle east climate advances extremely quickly] was revivified by the father, no wait, the son ... no, no, it was the father, no that's not right, the father and the son are one and the same, that is the son revivified the son ... no the father revivified the son .... , well anyway.....

It's all a bit of fun. I was looking at this story as perhaps an irreverent Muslim would look at it, because I'm pretty sure they don't subscribe to the notion of jesus and Allah being the one and the same. To them, as to me, it is a bit of a taaaaalll story.

Dave Duffy said...

"We should all be striving for a secular humanist society not a christian or a muslim culture. Both have had their day in the sun, and humanity must grow and mature from its infantile age."

Forgive me Papalinton, but this sounds very close to the Marxists stuff I used to have to listen to (Hell, I even had to pay good money to listen to it). Maybe the terms have changed since I used to pay attention to these things, but Marxism was the striving for a secular humanist culture without the residual guilt of being a secular humanist parasite off a Christian culture.

I'm sure things have changed and there is some version of a secular humanism version that doesn't want to remake society without some respect toward our Christian inheritance.

Chris said...

If atheism entails no particular ideology and/or ethos, how can it be "better" or "worse" for humanity than any other worldview?

Ilíon said...

"If atheism entails no particular ideology and/or ethos, how can it be "better" or "worse" for humanity than any other worldview?"

Moreover, where did that "we should" -- where did that moral(istic) assertion -- come from? Where/how is it grounded? What follows, and does not follow, from it? Why should anyone believe that that assertion has priority over, "I am the Lord, your God; (you shall have) no other gods before my face (*)"


(*) I just this week read that that is how the Hebrew translates literally.

Papalinton said...

No Dave Duffy. You paid money to listen to Marxist stuff. It sounds like secular humanism but it is couched in Marxist ideology. What I subscribe to is secular humanism within the ideology of Democracy and all that that word entails and embraces.

This is where people like Bob get it all so abysmally wrong, and their mental capacity goes all awry. They think because I am an atheist I must also be a communist, because to them, communism = atheism. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. It's just another magico-religious inspired brain fart of his.

What you characterise as parasites living off a Christian culture is precisely what the present Culture Wars is not about. It's about growing up, maturing as a society, shedding ourselves of the primitive and moribund Christian worldview, sloughing off our infantile reliance and dependency on supernatural superstition as an explanatory tool, transiting to an exponentially more robust and epistemically sound explanatory model, one based on fact, proofs, evidence, verifiability and a model that is testable in terms of determining its efficacy and received benefits.

Papalinton said...

Chris: "If atheism entails no particular ideology and/or ethos, how can it be "better" or "worse" for humanity than any other worldview?"

Atheism doesn't assume to be 'better' or 'worse'. It is not a worldview. It is the simple proposition that putatively live, ineffable, disembodied, omni-max non-human agents that inhabit a netherworld that can not only socialise with us across the supernatural/natural divide and intervene or interfere with the laws of Physics in the natural world, but to whom we extend our sociability and engage in conversation and by supplication, does not exist. This omni-max Christian conjuration is believed by the atheist to exist, in just about the same way you believe that Ganesha, the Sacred elephant-headed God of the Hindus, actually exists, right?

Atheism is a more honest and truthful stance than pretending there is this non-human entity at the other end [of who knows where?] to whom you are praying.

Atheism is sensible. It just makes more sense.

Chris said...

"Atheism is sensible. It makes more sense"

So it's better then, right?

Victor Reppert said...

I suppose if there is a maximized multiverse, Ganesha might very well exist.

Victor Reppert said...

As does the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Ockham's Razor goodbye.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I suppose if there is a maximized multiverse, Ganesha might very well exist.
"

VJ Torley: Why atheists can’t show that Ken Ham is wrong

Ilíon said...

let'e try the link again --

Why atheists can’t show that Ken Ham is wrong

Dave Duffy said...

Well Papalinton, I'm not much for the culture wars. I have few illusions about how fallen the world is. But, since I've spent some time in a few places in the world, I'm thankful the society around me has been built by at least nominally Christian people and this is where I get my idea of Christian culture.

I'm glad that some (hopefully most) atheists are moving beyond Marxism. Marxism was supposed to be their great big splash in the world. As atheist mature beyond their Marxist contribution to us, let's hope they continue to mature into Christianity.

im-skeptical said...

"Why atheists can’t show that Ken Ham is wrong"

Ham is profoundly scientifically ignorant. It's hard to believe anyone who finished elementary school would buy his load of bullshit. The fact that Illion buys it is quite telling.

im-skeptical said...

"Marxism was supposed to be their great big splash in the world"

More ignorance. Marxism was the big splash of Marxists, not of atheists. If you can't distinguish between them, you obviously don't know much about either of them. You would be well advised to keep your ignorance to yourself.

Kathen said...

Dave Duffy

Some atheists moving beyond Marxism?

Atheism has been around for hundreds, even thousands, of years before Marxism ever showed up. Most atheists are not Marxists. And not all Marxists are atheists. There used to be quite a few people who identified themselves as Christian Marxists. Nowadays Marxism is all but finished but atheism grows and grows.

But perhaps when you talk about Marxism you mean something most people do not mean. When I was young I heard a lot of Marxists, although, unlike you, I did not have to pay for the privilege. They did not talk about a secular, humanist society. They talked about the evil of Western imperialism, the coming death of capitalism, the necessity for violent revolution, the execution of all enemies of the state. They did not talk much about religion, it was really a political movement.

Chris said...

Why do communist countries feature state-sponsored atheism?

Expediency only?

im-skeptical said...

It's to remove the competing ideology of Chtistianity so that it can be replaced by communism.

Dave Duffy said...

Kathleen,

Most of the Marxists (their title for themselves) I met were pretty mild mannered, John Lennon Imagine types, teaching in the Humanities. They knew they had a good thing going in the capitalist economy and weren't much for violent revolution and killing the enemies of the State. I think they mostly believed in that claptrap because it was hip to be an atheist, anti-imperialist, revolutionary. But, most of them were smarter than I was and could speak for themselves better than I can. I enjoyed playing my military veteran (O the awesome missions I had a chance to go on!), bible-thumbing Christian, science major persona as best I could. Good times.

I did meet some Latin American student Marxists as you describe. I found them fascinating, other-worldly, and mostly non atheists (difficult to describe their religious belief), but mostly having an impotent anger. Not fun to have a beer with.

I'm good with "an atheist is someone who disbelieves in a god or gods." Fine. I don't want to get anyone's gulag instincts going.

Papalinton said...

"It's to remove the competing ideology of Chtistianity so that it can be replaced by communism."

Precisely. Christianity in not feared in China because it might pose a threat to its atheistic stance. It is because christianity poses a dire existential threat, a clear and present danger to the predominant and most fundamental organising mechanism of the Chinese state, Communism.

Victor Reppert said...

Ilion isn't buying Ken Ham's views. He is referencing Torley's claim that atheists can't prove Ham wrong. There's a difference.

Ilíon said...

"Ilion isn't buying Ken Ham's views. He is referencing Torley's claim that atheists can't prove Ham wrong. There's a difference."

Well, sur. But it's a difference far too subtle for your average villiage atheist with an ethernet cable.

Torley's article is great expansion-on-the-theme of my own little post pointing out the hypocritical nature of the 'Science!' fetishists denegration of miracles.

im-skeptical said...

Dave Duffy,

Either those "Marxists" you met were hopelessly confused, or you are. "John Lennon Imagine types"??? Did you ever hear a song of his called "Revolution"? You should listen to the words.

im-skeptical said...

"And, sometimes, iron axeheads which have flown off their handles and fallen into a pond or river float to the surface. [This is a reference to a miracle of the prophet Elisha, as recorded in II Kings 6:1-7] And, sometimes, the dead bodies of persons who really and truly are dead, rise back to life. [This is a reference to a number of resurrections recorded in both Old and New Testaments, including that of Jesus the Christ.]"

Illion shows again that he has absolutely no idea what kind of physical laws are entailed by relativity and quantum mechanics. There actually IS a difference between "science" and feats of "magic" that have never, and will never occur. These things are not entailed by any physical law. They are nothing more than stories concocted by people like you who don't have a clue, but just want to justify an imaginary God.

B. Prokop said...

"because to them, communism = atheism"

Not to me, Linton. Atheism and communism are in no way synonymous. However, communism is 100% dependent upon a prior acceptance of an atheistic worldview, and cannot exist without it. Communism simply happens to be atheism's most spectacular end product to date (others include the bloody "Cult of Reason" in revolutionary France and North Korea's Juche regime).

So yes, atheism can be fairly credited with the slaughter in the Vendee (160,000 corpses), the Stalinist reign of terror in the Soviet Union (60-70 million corpses), the Maoist regime in China (100 million plus corpses), and the empty, sterile, dead-end consumerist society in today's "developed" world (billions of spiritual corpses and uncountable millions of aborted babies)... just as Christianity may be fairly credited with the establishment of hospitals, universities, charitable institutions, the scientific method, and the recognition of the universal dignity of Mankind regardless of social status or wealth.

"By their fruits ye shall know them."

im-skeptical said...

Give it up, Bob. Your lame attempts to saddle atheistic non-belief with atrocities resulting from communist ideology are just as tiresome and dishonest as your denial of the equally horrendous atrocities committed by the church. You keep harping about truth. You need to face it.

Dave Duffy said...

Don't give it up Bob. The comments of Bob and Ilion and a few others are the reason I keep reading the comment part of this blog. I'll also admit to some weakness for enjoying reading Papalintion.

Mr. Skeptical, yes I've listened to Revolution. I prefer the early Beatles. I Want to Hold Your Hand. That first walk with the future Mrs.Duffy, taking the risk to reach out to hold her hand. Lord help me, now that is something to sing about.

Dave Duffy said...

I also wish Legion of Logic, BDK, and Crude would show up more often. Those guys are interesting. I hope guys like me aren't dragging things down too much.

im-skeptical said...

"yes I've listened to Revolution"

Then you should be well aware that Lennon eschewed communism. The same is true of most modern atheists. You share Bob's dishonesty. That's pretty lame.

Dave Duffy said...

"You share Bob's dishonesty."

I'm fine being in the company of Bob.

Papalinton said...

"I'm fine being in the company of Bob."

Honour among thieves?

im-skeptical said...

"communism is 100% dependent upon a prior acceptance of an atheistic worldview, and cannot exist without it."

Except, of course, for the Christian communists. Bob, you're so full of shit.

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

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/29/us-pope-communism-idUSKBN0F40L020140629

Chris said...

Christian communists are a confused yet interesting breed. Ims, how do you account for them?

After all, atheism, which is an absolutely unrelated component to communism, is brought in to "remove the competing ideology of Christianity."

B. Prokop said...

Communism is a logical extension of atheism's penchant for claiming that Mankind is perfectible by his own efforts (Tower of Babel, anyone? Funny how much Truth there is in them ol' "myths".) Once you believe that the source of morality is not exterior to Man, then quite literally anything is permissible.

Solzhenitsyn noted this in a most telling passage in his Gulag Archipelago, where he pointed out that whereas Shakespeare's villains would shudder at the sight of a dozen corpses, the 20th Centuries engineers of the Golden Future (just read through a random sampling of Linton's postings) felt no unease at the prospect of a dozen million victims. After all, they considered themselves to be the arbiters of what was moral and what wasn't.

(And to show that I am on record as not necessarily equating Communism with atheism, I've pointed out in the past the tight connection between atheism and Ayn Randianism, the very opposite of communism. Both "isms" are mirror-image products of denying an objective morality.)

im-skeptical said...

"atheism's penchant for claiming that Mankind is perfectible by his own effort"

Bob, you're full of shit. Atheism isn't an ideology, and it doesn't have a penchant for anything. The fact that atheism can be compatible with both communism and Randianism should tell you that atheism is absolutely neutral with respect to ideologies in general.

Although many Christians who believe that communism is incompatible with Christianity, there are many who feel that communism is compatible with Christianity, and many believe that the earliest Christians practiced a pure form of communism. The pope thinks that many modern communists are "closet Christians". (see my second link above).

Chris said...

ims,

Do you think Christianity and communism are compatible?

im-skeptical said...

I don't see why Christianity should be inherently incompatible with communism. Obviously, there are Christians who agree. In its purest form (ie. non-state-sponsored collective resource sharing) is eminently compatible with the teachings of Jesus. Furthermore, capitalism (especially Randian type selfish economics) is not compatible with the teachings of Jesus.

Chris said...

ims,

I appreciate the honest answer. It sounds like you're inclined to think that Christianity and communism are not only compatible, but could even be regarded as complimentary. Nevertheless, most if not all, communist regimes have featured state sponsored atheism. How do you account for that?

Especially since communism is "eminently compatible with the teachings of Jesus."

Papalinton said...

For Chris and Bob:
HERE and

HERE

Chris said...

Papalinton,

Thanks for the links- it brings out my question even more. Why do most, if not all, communist regimes feature state-sponsored atheism?

Ims answered to "remove the competing ideology of Christianity so that it can be replaced by communism". That comment doesn't seem to square up with your links.

B. Prokop said...

"I don't see why Christianity should be inherently incompatible with communism."

For a long time, I didn't see why either. In fact, for decades (from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s), one of the greatest riddles of history (at least, to me) was how one of the noblest and most ambitious endeavors of all time, steeped in the highest imaginable ideals (I'm speaking of Communism as a concept), could result in practice in the Hell on Earth that we know of as the Stalinist state. It utterly baffled me. Until...

Until I made the connection between Communism and its prerequisite atheism. "Christian Communism" is an oxymoron, because Communism is predicated upon a belief that Humanity can achieve perfection under its own steam, a belief that can make sense only to an atheist. I meant what I said in my last posting. It's the Tower of Babel all over again. We've seen this before repeatedly in history, going back at least as far as the successor states to the Alexandrian Empire. This civilization was the the most enlightened the world had seen to that time, embodying the highest ideals of Classical Greece alongside the organizational genius of Alexander's successors. There was every reason to expect the realization of an ideal state and society in the 3rd Century B.C. But what did we get instead? The unspeakable terror of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the worst monsters unleashed upon a hapless population the world has ever seen - a true rival to Stalin himself.

This appears to be almost a Law of Nature - it's the third temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:8-9). Any attempt to make Man the final arbiter of good and evil will end badly - very badly. There's no need to argue this point. A simple review of the record shows this to be the case - from Adam in the Garden to Pol Pot in Cambodia to my own self, every time I put my own will ahead of God's. (We all do it, and I'm certainly no exception.)

" [Atheism] doesn't have a penchant for anything."

Oh, yes it does. Read the countless predictions of the Bright Future that Awaits Us All that Linton is constantly predicting our godless children will live to see. We ought to have heard that sorry story all too often by now to fall for its siren song yet again.

im-skeptical said...

Bob,

Do you understand the difference between various different economic systems and totalitarian states? I was speaking about pure forms of communistic economic systems, as opposed to totalitarian states, which use various ideologies as tools for manipulating the populace. There are all kinds of totalitarian regimes. Some are communist, many are not. Your beloved church ruled with an iron fist for centuries. These days, there are Islamic totalitarian states.

There have been various communist societies that were not totalitarian. They had no need to eliminate religion and establish their own ideology in its place in order to control the populace. In particular, the early Christians were communistic.

Your insistence on linking modern atheists with 20th century totalitarian regimes is misguided, simplistic, and dishonest. I don't have any affinity or favorable attitude toward any totalitarian regime. But if you want to keep lying about it, you are only appealing to those who are equally ignorant or equally dishonest.

B. Prokop said...

"Your beloved church ruled with an iron fist for centuries."

Really? And just what centuries would those be? And in which countries?

Please, please don't just knee-jerk spout dumb-ass ignorance like that with no foundation whatsoever. Inevitably, whenever one digs into such accusations, you find that the ignorant spouter hasn't the least clue of what he's talking about, but has just repeated something he's been told (by someone) but never investigated for himself. My "beloved church" has never, ever ruled any significant portion of the Earth (with the notable exception of the tiny Papal States (about the size of Maryland) and the contemporary Vatican City (110 acres - big whoop!), and there with hardly an "iron fist". Indeed, the Papal States were one of the freest states in the world while they existed (a.d. 754 to 1870) - far, far more enlightened and infinitely more desirable to live in than the feudal kingdoms and petty Italian city states that surrounded them.

Ya know, Skep... considering your consistent batting average of 000, I can't understand why you haven't hung up your bat long, long ago. You haven't connected even once over all the months and years you've been posting here. Not once. Don't you ever get tired of being so jawdroppingly wrong all the time?

Papalinton said...

Bob, this is the greatest load of horse shit I have ever read. Not only what you write is a delusion but you have no idea whatsoever of what's happening outside the Cathosphere. You catholic vision of the world no longer holds any credibility. Indeed it is compromising itself every time the pope or some bishop or cardinal or Bill Donohoe of the Catholic League gets up, opens his mouth and makes an utter fool of himself. People in the US are turning away in droves:

SEE HERE. And the link referred to can be ACCESSED HERE. Catholics now come in third behind the Protestants and the Nones.

Sheesh! Keep up with the game.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"Ya know, Skep... considering your consistent batting average of 000, I can't understand why you haven't hung up your bat long, long ago. You haven't connected even once over all the months and years you've been posting here. Not once. Don't you ever get tired of being so jawdroppingly wrong all the time?"

I suspect that im-skeptical would be quite an interesting subject for psychologists.

Ilíon said...

"I suspect that im-skeptical would be quite an interesting subject for psychologists."

[puts self in old psych-mindset(*) ]
Im-skeptical, you ask? The technical term is 'kook'.
[/end psych-mindset]


(*) I started out in college as a psychology-and-sociology major ... and decided that, as most of my profs were nuts, I do well to switch to something that made logical sense.

B. Prokop said...

Alles,

Please note that Linton, like Skep, can cite neither when nor where this supposed "iron fist" existed. They are alike in loving to spout unsupported statements, and then rapidly changing the subject when called out on it.

im-skeptical said...

Here is a quotation taken from Wikipedia:

"... For a thousand years Europe was ruled by an order of guardians considerably like that which was visioned by our philosopher. During the Middle Ages it was customary to classify the population of Christendom into laboratores (workers), bellatores (soldiers), and oratores (clergy). The last group, though small in number, monopolized the instruments and opportunities of culture, and ruled with almost unlimited sway half of the most powerful continent on the globe. The clergy, like Plato's guardians, were placed in authority... by their talent as shown in ecclesiastical studies and administration, by their disposition to a life of meditation and simplicity, and ... by the influence of their relatives with the powers of state and church. In the latter half of the period in which they ruled [800 AD onwards], the clergy were as free from family cares as even Plato could desire [for such guardians]... [Clerical] Celibacy was part of the psychological structure of the power of the clergy; for on the one hand they were unimpeded by the narrowing egoism of the family, and on the other their apparent superiority to the call of the flesh added to the awe in which lay sinners held them....[11] In the latter half of the period in which they ruled, the clergy were as free from family cares as even Plato could desire.[11]"

11 Durant, Will (2005). Story of Philosophy. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-69500-2. Retrieved 10 December 2013.

B. Prokop said...

Ahh, the inevitable reference to Wikipedia, fount of all wisdom.

But even that aside, Skep, how does the quotation support your accusation of "ruling with an iron fist"? The passage you copy/pasted is rather blandly neutral, placing no particular value judgement on the state of affairs* it describes. You have an amazing ability to read into things your own preconceived conclusions. Tsk, tsk. Not very "skeptical" of you.

* For the record, a very inaccurate description of how things actually were. For a better account, might I refer you to the excellent volume The Holy Roman Empire, by James Bryce (no friend of the Catholic Church). Best account of the complex relationship between Medieval church and state that I have ever read. You can find it on Amazon.

Ilíon said...

Im-irrational...and-you-should-be-too: "Your beloved church ruled with an iron fist for centuries."

Surely *no one* here is so ignorant as to contend that the RCC is *my* "beloved church", or that I am apt to whitewash the sins of the RCC. That out of the way, bullshit: the RCC "ruled" by persuasion, by logical argument, by appeal to the moral understanding of normal human beings.

Except late in the game, in the Papal States of Italy, the RCC had no armies and had no means, in any event, to "rule with an iron fist", much less for centuries.

The RCC's secular influence (or authority, in one insists upon that word) rested solely upon the belief of Christians in western Europe that its claim to speak for God was true ... and when its collective immoral actions, over a number of generations, so violated the moral understanding of millions of Christians throughout western Europe that those immoralities could no longer be ascribed to "a few bad apples", but could only be explained as systemic, then the claim was seen as hollow and the secular influence of the RCC went *poof*

The RCC is presently a quaint anachronism not because of anything the God-haters said or did, but because the God-lovers love God more than they love bureaucracies.

And, if the RCC ever becomes dangerous to the lives and well-being of human beings, as so many Protestants have believed for centuries that it will, that will be because God-haters have finally fully taken it over, seeing it (as that sort always does) as a means -- a tool - to exercise power over the lives, and fortunes, of other persons.

im-skeptical said...

"RCC "ruled" by persuasion, by logical argument, by appeal to the moral understanding of normal human beings."

Bullshit. The church ruled by allying itself with the monarchies, keeping the people ignorant and poor, and making them virtual slaves. The brand of "persuasion" they practiced was much like the radical Islamic states of modern times. People had no choice but too bend to their will.

B. Prokop said...

" People had no choice but too [sic] bend to their will."

Hmm... Please tell me when people (as a whole) have ever had any choice other than to bend to the will of their societal structure. Even so-called revolutionaries are seldom more than the embodiment of large scale currents within the system (i.e., products of their time). In our own country, adherents of the 1960s Counter Culture were merely "going with the flow" of popular culture, and hardly the Free Spirits they liked to imagine they were.

And anyways, I think if you bothered to actually learn anything about the Middle Ages, Skep, you'd find that from top to bottom the populace of Europe not only supported the governing system, they were its source of legitimacy. From Beowulf to The Divine Comedy to Canterbury Tales, we see societal structures into which all the members were fully integrated.

And by the way, no one was "keeping" people poor and ignorant during the Middle Ages - they simply were. No "keeping" required. And as for being "virtual slaves", that is sadly the common lot of 99% of Humanity throughout history, regardless of who's in power or what they believe. It's still the case in most of the world today. And I seriously doubt that will ever change.

im-skeptical said...

"adherents of the 1960s Counter Culture were merely "going with the flow" of popular culture, and hardly the Free Spirits they liked to imagine they were."
- They weren't being forced under threat of torture and death, the way the church forced people to bent to their will.

"you'd find that from top to bottom the populace of Europe not only supported the governing system, they were its source of legitimacy."
- Sure, in much the same way as Muslim women support being made to wear the burka.

"no one was "keeping" people poor and ignorant during the Middle Ages - they simply were"
- Funny how the clergy was exempt from simply being poor and ignorant. It seems the church managed to take care of them. And where did the church get its vast wealth?

Papalinton said...

Where Islam is now, is where Catholicism was a couple of centuries ago. What one witnesses today in the Islamic world is largely a retrospect of what catholic dominance was at its most influential. Since the French Revolution the catholic church has largely been defanged. Today though, the remnants of a couple of decaying incisors still need to be extracted to mitigate any further infection.

B. Prokop said...

The French Revolution was one of the greatest disasters ever to befall the human race. My own idiosyncratic list of the 10 worst things ever to happen in history (in chronological order):

Attila the Hun (mid 5th Century)

Mohammed and the spread of Islam (7th-11th Centuries)

The Mongol Invasions (1227-1405)

The Fall of Constantinople to the Turks (1453)

The Protestant Revolt (15th Century - today)

The French Revolution (1789-1815)

Mass Production of the Automobile (20th Century)

World War I (1914-1918)

The Totalitarian Regimes, to include Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Japanese Militarism (20th Century)

The Digital Age (ongoing)

im-skeptical said...

#1 through #10:

religion
religion
religion
religion
religion
religion
religion
religion
religion
religion

Papalinton said...

"The French Revolution (French: Révolution française) was an influential period of social and political upheaval in France that lasted from 1789 until 1799. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of theocracies and absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history."[1] My bolding. Wiki

So Bob, which historians were you citing that claim the French Revolution as 'one of great disasters ever to befall the human race'?

grodrigues said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"So Bob, which historians were you citing ...?"

Just for starters, let's go with Michael Burleigh. I highly recommend his magisterial Earthly Powers, Religion and Politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War.

B. Prokop said...

And by the way, as to the two bolded sections of your Wikipedia quotation:

the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of theocracies and absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and democracies

Bull. What it did was pave the way for the 20th Century totalitarian regimes. The French Revolution was the prelude to and harbinger of Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin and Stalin. The Napoleonic Wars were in many ways Act One of the First World War (in British parlance, the Great War).

Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Absolutely. No quarrel there. They also regard the Holocaust, the Black Plague, and the Mongol invasions of Europe and Central Asia as among "the most important events in human history". Being important does not make something desirable. My own fall off an Austrian glacier in 1985 with its consequent shattering of my right arm and shoulder was certainly one of the most important events in my own life. but I would never rank it amongst the best.

Chris said...

The Enlightenment and the revolutions that followed ushered in the modern age. If we're intellectually honest, it can be seen that modernity has been a mixed bag- a great dignity, yes, but also a disaster. The outcome of the Enlightenment project is still a question mark. I'm inclined to be skeptical of "progress" and much of the Promethean talk of the likes of a Papalinton.

B. Prokop said...

"The outcome of the Enlightenment project is still a question mark."

Hah! That sounds like the (perhaps apocryphal) answer that Chinese Premier Chou En-Lai (Zhou Enlei) gave when asked about the impact of the French Revolution. He (supposedly) answered "It's too soon to tell."

Papalinton said...

"... I'm inclined to be skeptical of "progress" and much of the Promethean talk of the likes of a Papalinton."

I would far prefer to live today as an atheist than when christianity was at its zenith at the time of Torquemada when religious zealotry was in full bloom. Your scepticism of progress is not born out by the facts. If anything it is inherent cynicism that might be in play, mindful of the fact your belief system is today under tremendous pressure to cough up the evidence for its relevance and legitimacy as a credible and methodological model of explanation that does not rely on supernatural superstition.

Chris said...

"I would far prefer to live today as an atheist...."

Tell that to those who ended up in the Gulag.

"You skepticism of progress is not born out by the facts."

Aiy, so much could be said. As I stated in my previous comment, modernity has been a mixed bag. The advances of the last few centuries are undeniably awesome and by no means would I wish to live in the pre-modern age. Nevertheless, there are not only antibiotics and anesthetics: there are also nuclear weapons and totalitarian oppressions. All are the products of modern science, and all are the results of "progress". Not even the most committed ideologist (Papalinton?) can separate the "good" effects from the "bad" and convince us that the former alone are progress , whereas the latter are not.

The advances of scientific progress are "advances" which simply do not take man's comforts, wishes- or deepest needs- into account. Medicine and bombs, optimism and angst, apparent freedom and real tyranny, are indissociable; the "good" and the "bad" aspects are thrown up together, willy-nilly. It is delusion to allege that man has it in his power to choose only the "good" effects and to reject the "bad" , and it is self deception to believe, against all probability, that the good effects will some day, somehow, outnumber the bad.

The problem is that "progress" is measured largely in terms of material and technological improvement. But what about moral progress. Again, a mixed bag. In spite of organized schemes for social betterment, never has there been less virtue, less self-abnegation, and less sanctity than today. - W. Stodart


I'm not a doomsday reactionary and my belief system is under no pressure because it's my own. I'm just calling it as I see it- an unjustified, and in some cases, fanatical faith in the gospel of progress.

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

"Tell that to those who ended up in the Gulag."
Only anti-communists, Jews, and gays ended up in Gulags. Do you know something about history that I don't know? Christians that were sent to the Gulag were not because they were christians but because they were Czarists, absolute monarchies with which they had such a close and incestuous relationship.

When one watches in despair at how the Russian Orthodox Christian church today has so gleefully jumped into Vlad 'the Imposter' Putin's bed, the man with the big Christian Cross splashed all across his big bare sweaty chest [you know, the Macho Christian] it speaks volumes of how the christianities will once again lead the world into a global catastrophe, the christianity of a Republican Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, or a Mike Huckabee against the christianity of a Vladimir Putin or an Dmitry Medvedev, is it any wonder that no one has any confidence at all that one of these brainless idiots, these peddlers of christian supernatural superstition, these frightening champions of christianity will refrain from pressing the nuclear button. As so often and rightly pointed out if religion cannot restrain evil, it cannot claim effective power for good.

B. Prokop said...

"Only anti-communists, Jews, and gays ended up in Gulags. Do you know something about history that I don't know?"

He obviously knows libraries-full more than you do, Linton. Try reading The Gulag Archipelago (the whole thing, all three volumes) to learn just exactly who ended up in the camps. Were you unaware of the hundreds of thousands * of loyal Communist Party members who were purged in the late thirties, to be arrested, imprisoned, and/or executed? Not an anti-Communist in the bunch!

"Christians that were sent to the Gulag were not because they were [C]hristians but because they were Czarists"

A more untrue statement could hardly be made. Christians were being arrested and thrown into Soviet camps as late as the Brezhnev era, long after any conceivable Czarists were dead and buried. And how does Linton explain the mass arrests of Catholics in the postwar satellite states of Eastern Europe? No Czarists among them!

* According to recently released NKVD documents, in just two years (1937-38) 1,548,366 persons were arrested, of whom 681,692 were executed. Most historians believe the true figures are at least twice that high.

Papalinton said...

To a communist, see a christian and you see a White Russian. The relationship between the absolute monarchies of the Czars and christianity is a very long, incestuous and clandestine one spanning centuries.

Incidentally, I read the Gulag Archipelago back in the early 70s. A great story and a wonderful account of the atrocities of communists.

The purges of communists against communists, reflect exactly what happens when a religion rips its own guts out, the Manicheans, Albighensians, the Marcionites, the Gnostic Christians, a plague of historical purges.
Look at catholics against the Eastern Orthodox [bloody schism] christians purging christians, look at Protestants and catholics [another massive schism] christians purging christians. Look at the Anabaptists, another great example of religion eating its own body.

Whatever you say Bob, is just apologetical crap. But it is of a particular smell, a smell of selective cherry-picking replete with christian intellectual dishonesty and unrestrained and ill-disciplined cognitive bias. It is a bias of Magisterial proportions.

Victor Reppert said...

Look, if you are going to look at anything a Christian says and say "consider the source," aren't you just wasting your time even talking? Your mind doesn't just seem to be closed, it's locked, bolted and barred.

Chris said...


Papalinton, the Western world and the nations that comprise it have been secularizing for quite a while. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that we've become more peaceful or are so much as one centimeter closer to a theoretical utopia.

The "just get rid of religion and everything will be better" bit is a simplification that borders on absurdity. It's an outworn point of view that was literally retired a hundred years ago or more.

And to think I promised myself that I wouldn't get sucked in to this nonsense.

B. Prokop said...

"To a communist, see a christian and you see a White Russian."

Hmm... Is that anything like, "To a Christian, see an atheist and you see a Communist"?

Whatever you say Linton, is just apologetical crap. But it is of a particular smell, a smell of selective cherry-picking replete with atheistic intellectual dishonesty and unrestrained and ill-disciplined cognitive bias.

Papalinton said...

It's interesting, Bob, how you trot out Solzhenitsyn to try and marry Communism = atheism.

Particularly when the man himself says this:

"Macbeth's self-justifications were feeble – and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb, too. The imagination and spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology. Ideology – that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes.... That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.... Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago."
—Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Chapter 4, p. 173

My bolding.
Atheism is not an ideology. It is the simple proposition that the existence of gods is highly improbable.
So I say, if intellectual honesty is too hard to abide by please keep your imaginings to yourself. It is not a good sight when one embarrasses oneself so badly in front of their peers.

B. Prokop said...

"to try and marry Communism = atheism"

Only in your imagination, Linton. Read my answer to Skep at March 06, 2015 8:54 AM over on the "Craig responds to Boghossian" thread. I do not maintain that atheism equals Communism*. However, atheism is very much a prerequisite to Communism.

* Else how explain the existence of Ayn Randian atheists? Communism and Ayn Randianism are the Shia and Sunni branches of atheism.

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

Victor, it's not me that's presenting a catholicized view of history and expecting everybody to swoon over it. Bob's version is not one that could be called the standard view of European history. I simply present the missing historical information and evidence to demonstrate his rather intellectually truncated, stylised and selective perspective.

My mind is certainly not closed, locked, bolted and barred. It's just that I don't subscribe to supernatural nonsense which naturally blights those that do. Those that imagine super-duper celestial agencies capable of venturing across the natural/supernatural divide, interfering or intervening with the laws of physics at will, devils, evil spirits, nephilim, and other darkly monsters under the bed filled with rampant teleological intent, are bound to seriously compromise the rational and logic circuits in their brains. It simply stands to reason.

Wasting my time? Certainly not. One has to contest nonsense wherever it surfaces. To let it go unchallenged and untested is to concede its legitimacy. No. For too long history has been replete with unjustified apologetics and unwarranted accommodationism. That has now stopped in the marketplace of ideas.

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

Chris: "Papalinton, the Western world and the nations that comprise it have been secularizing for quite a while. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that we've become more peaceful or are so much as one centimeter closer to a theoretical utopia."


SEE HERE for "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined", Professor Steven Pinker.

B. Prokop said...

Individual violence has declined in recent centuries primarily due the rise in state power and the spread of surveillance technology. Highwaymen were common prior to the 18th and 19th Centuries primarily due to the absence of an effective policing force in the countryside. Urban crime was more widespread because it was easier to "get away with it". What lowered individual violence was fingerprinting, forensic science, and the constabulary.

On the other hand, state violence has never been higher in human history. We've just survived (barely) the bloodiest century on record, and seem determined on breaking that record in the 21st.

Decline in violence? Hardly. All we've done is to squeeze the balloon in one area, only to see it bulge out in another.

Ilíon said...

Im-a-fool-and-don’t-you-forget-it! "Illion [sic] shows again that he has absolutely no idea what kind of physical laws are entailed by relativity and quantum mechanics. There actually IS a difference between "science" and feats of "magic" that have never, and will never occur. These things are not entailed by any physical law. They are nothing more than stories concocted by people like you who don't have a clue, but just want to justify an imaginary God."

From 'The Demon-Haunted World' by Carl Sagan

"Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow.
"

Ah!

So, if one were to assert that at any time my "car [might] spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of [the] garage and be found the next morning on the street", with the caveat that any actual occurrence of the assertedly possible event is so improbable as to be effectively a non-existent possibility ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed the Risen Christ to *intentionally* walk through a locked door, damaging neither door nor self, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

So, if one were to assert that at any time all the oxygen molecules in the auditorium might spontaneously gather themselves into the upper corners of the room (this was an example assertion by one of my professors as an illustration of what QM “tells us”), thus leaving all the humans in the room lacking for the oxygen necessary to sustain their lives, with the caveat that any actual occurrence of the assertedly possible event is so improbable as to be effectively a non-existent possibility ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed a certain usefully-shaped collection of (primarily) iron atoms rise to the surface of a body of water into which it had fallen, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

So, if one were to assert that, contrary to all experience, and contrary to all scientific and medical findings to date, non-living chemicals can spontaneously arrange themselves into living organisms ... well, that's 'Science!' On the other hand, if one were to assert (and record) that one had actually witnessed a collection of once-living molecules walking around, eating, breathing, and talking to other collections of ambulatory molecules well after one knew that collection of molecules to have been dead, and one attributed this socking-and-totally-unexpected development to the sovereign power of the Being who created molecules and living organisms in the first place, well, that's just superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

I think we all see how ‘Science!’ – and ‘I-pretend-to-be-rational’ -- operates.

Chris said...

Papalinton,

It would seem that you have a better grasp of faith than most of us.

Can one honestly look at the popular culture and say that the quality of our civilization is improving? And then charge others with wishful thinking?

I don't counsel doom and gloom, only truthfulness.

B. Prokop said...

Riffing off of Ilion's latest, I've often marveled that the atheist materialist lives in a far more miraculous universe than does the Christian *.

Orthodox Christianity regards an occurrence of the miraculous as the rarest of rare events, as a one of a kind, non-reproducible, extraordinary phenomenon, requiring stringent, impartial verification, which often takes many years before acceptance.

By contrast, the atheist lives quite literally surrounded by uncountable miracles, starting with his own existence. He swims in a sea of objective fact so utterly, mind-blowingly improbable as to require a "faith not found in Israel" to accept it.

B. Prokop said...

Hah! Forgot to include my footnote!

Here it is:

* I have no use for arguing for "theism", and am not even sure what is meant by the term. For here on, I will eschew its use on this forum, and stick with Christianity. Let the Muslim and the Hindu do his own arguing. I will speak only for what I believe.

Ilíon said...

"Orthodox Christianity regards an occurrence of the miraculous as the rarest of rare events, as a one of a kind, non-reproducible, extraordinary phenomenon, requiring stringent, impartial verification, which often takes many years before acceptance."

It's even worse: the famous Scientific Method (tm) that is supposedly the gold-standard for evaluating evidence -- for even recognizing what even counts as evidence in the first place -- can be directly traced right back to those horrible, terrible, superstitious medieval Christians and the methods they had devised to test miracle-claims.

Ilíon said...

"* I have no use for arguing for "theism", and am not even sure what is meant by the term. For here on, I will eschew its use on this forum, and stick with Christianity."

Welcome to the club. I long ago refused to be called a "theist" ... after realizing that the God-haters typically use the term "theism" to lump Judeo-Christianity in with Classical paganism (*), and then attack the Christian claims about the Divinity on the basis of Zeus.



(*) when, in fact, Classical paganism clusters with atheism/naturalism.

im-skeptical said...

Illion [sic],

Yes, quantum tunneling is real and magic is imaginary. I know quantum tunneling exists because its effects are observable, and we have electronic devices that depend on it. But the the idea of a whole car moving outside the garage intact, while theoretically possible, would be so unlikely that (as was pointed out) such an event would never occur in the lifetime of the universe. Your magical events were a dime a dozen in the days when early Christians were trying to fool the gullible masses. Even if a sword should spontaneously form itself from iron atoms, it still wouldn't float on water. That little trick is not explained by ANY physical law. NO, your world of magic is not science. The events you describe are supernatural. They are stories made up to fool people like you. And they never happened. Not on this planet, or any other.

im-skeptical said...

"Orthodox Christianity regards an occurrence of the miraculous as the rarest of rare events, as a one of a kind, non-reproducible, extraordinary phenomenon, requiring stringent, impartial verification, which often takes many years before acceptance."

More bullshit from Bob. The church conjures up miracles whenever it needs to. Look at the process of canonizing Pope John Paul 2. Performing miracles after he was dead? Give me a break.

B. Prokop said...

"That little trick is not explained by ANY physical law."

Of course it isn't. I agree with you 100% there. If it were explainable by "physical laws"*, it wouldn't be a miracle.

* Interesting term there, "physical law". In times past, people explained the motions of matter by saying the universe was imbued by Love (as in Dante speaking of "the Love which moves the Sun and the other stars"). "Modern" Man feels himself superior to his benighted ancestors, scoffing at the notion of such an anthropomorphic notion of a universe governed by Love... but here's the joke. Law is no less anthropomorphic a concept as Love.

So Skep's chronological snobbery here is quite laughable.

im-skeptical said...

Papalinton,

That was a great quote from Solzhenitsyn. Bob likes to use him to prove his points about linking communism to atheism. Unfortunately, Bob doesn't seem to have read as much as you. He is only looking for things that confirm his beliefs, while ignoring anything else. How limited is the existence of someone who is forced by his ideology to seek truth in the world of his imagination, while denying reality.

Dan Gillson said...

Uhhh ... Papalinton doesn't read. He just quote mines. Oh, and he plagiarizes.

Dan Gillson said...
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im-skeptical said...

Dan,

You are so convinced of your own intellectual superiority that you feel confident weighting in on topics of which you have little or no knowledge (usually to cast aspersions on people rather than to enhance the discussion in some meaningful way). You judge people based more on style than on the content of their statements. And having made your judgment, you don't hear anything they say.

Can you tell us why you think Bob's understanding of Solzhenitsyn is better than Papalinton's? Have you even read it?

B. Prokop said...

I would worry about Linton's interpretation of Solzhenitsyn once he's read him in the original Russian, as I have (more than once). Then I might take him seriously. And I have lost count of the number of times I've read The Gulag Archipelago. It's at least five by now, and I haven't read it for the last time.

I count it among my 10 favorite books (the other 9 being The Divine Comedy, Canterbury Tales, Le Morte D'Arthur, Four Quartets, The Lord of the Rings, That Hideous Strength, Charles Williams's Arthurian Poetry, Leaves of Grass, and Moby Dick).

Ilíon said...

Im-irony-deficient: "You are so convinced of your own intellectual superiority that you feel confident weighting in on topics of which you have little or no knowledge (usually to cast aspersions on people rather than to enhance the discussion in some meaningful way). You judge people based more on style than on the content of their statements. And having made your judgment, you don't hear anything they say."

The lolz just never stop, do they?

im-skeptical said...

"The lolz just never stop, do they?"

Not when you are speaking.

Dan Gillson said...

Skep,

"You are so convinced of your own intellectual superiority ... ... No. I'm convinced that you're an obnoxious turd who has a pathological need to exercise his insecurities vis-à-vis religion on Victor's blog.

" ... that you feel confident weighting in on topics of which you have little or no knowledge (usually to cast aspersions on people rather than to enhance the discussion in some meaningful way)." ... lolwut?

"You judge people based more on style than on the content of their statements." ... Nope. I make fun of Linton's verbosity, because he thinks we won't notice that he's dumb if he uses big words and needlessly complicated prose. I've also expressed frustration once with the way BenYachov writes, because having to extract the point from the grammatical mess that made up his argument was indeed frustrating. We have quickly came to an understanding about his spelling and grammar, and I felt no need to belabor the point after that. However, other than those two instances of criticizing style, and perhaps a smattering of other instances preserved by the internet, I tend focus on content.

" And having made your judgment, you don't hear anything they say." ... Uh-huh ... Uh-huh ... Yup. Sure. Yeah. YEAH! Wait ... hang on ... Were you saying something, Skep?

"Can you tell us why you think Bob's understanding of Solzhenitsyn is better than Papalinton's? Have you even read it?" ... Nope, haven't read it. But who has a better understanding of Solzhenistyn is irrelevant to the fact that Linton will plagiarize other's works and quote mine from things he hasn't even read in order to appear smarter and more sophisticated than he really is. This is apparent to everyone. Everyone.

Anything else?

im-skeptical said...

And so you prove me correct.

Papalinton said...

Yes Skep. The other Solzhenitsyn book that I own and treasure copies of, the first bought back in my callow youth is "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich". I also have a Willetts translation of One Day, picked up about 20 years ago.

Of course back in my Uni days in the early 70s Solzhenitsyn was all the rage.

The issue with Bob it seems, is he has significant difficulty in cognition and has to read books numerous times to grasp meaning, up to 5 times with Gulag he confesses.

But then it is hard to get a grip on reality when your head is interminably filled with ineffable, non-human, immaterial, putatively live netherworld entities cramming everyday of your working life in your noggin.

But I guess we all have our electric chair to bear. [Modern translation] :o)

B. Prokop said...

"and has to read"

Change that to "likes to read" and you're 100% correct. I've never understood why some people think a single reading of anything is desirable. After all, do you listen to a favorite piece of music only once? No, you return to it over and over again. There are symphonies which I have listened to hundreds of times. I've been to six live performances of Mahler's Second, and am always on the alert to find another within driving distance. I'd like to push that number up to a dozen before I die. I must have heard Vaughan Williams's Fifth Symphony not five, but at least 500 times by now.

So yes, I would enthusiastically recommend re-reading and re-re-reading worthwhile books as many times as you can manage. (Edmond Hamilton's City at World's End probably holds pride of place, with at least 18 readings over the years.)

Linton, you pay me a compliment by pointing out my reading habits. Far from being embarrassed or ashamed of reading things multiple times, I heartily endorse the practice.

im-skeptical said...

"Linton, you pay me a compliment by pointing out my reading habits."

Since you have failed to grasp the meaning of what he said, Bob, you might want to try re-reading it.

And with regard to Solzhenitsyn, perhaps yet another re-reading might be in order. He seems to understand something about ideologies that has thus far eluded your understanding.

B. Prokop said...

"yet another re-reading might be in order"

When I get around to it. Right now my hands are full with reading (for the first time) the diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in my Soul. Right now I'm only 58 pages in out of 711 (started it yesterday), but I can tell you already I'll be reading this one more than once!

Very profound work - gold on every page.

Papalinton said...

Mahler? Wonderful but not so much for me.

BUT 'Fantasia para un Gentilhombre' by Rodrigo - truly heartstrumming [pardon the pun].

B. Prokop said...

Mahler's symphonies and his lieder say all that needs to be said about Man, God, the universe, and whatever else you can think about. If it's not found in Mahler, it ain't worth worrying about!

Papalinton said...
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Papalinton said...

This is a very interesting review of Mahler

If "Mahler's symphonies and his lieder say all that needs to be said about Man, God, the universe,...." then it is a truly problematic claim, particularly when Mahler notes the reasons why he couldn't write music or a score for a Catholic Mass.

Just saying.

B. Prokop said...

Hey, nobody's perfect. But... Mahler soul was directly touched by the Finger of God, and what he composed transcended what he himself could ever put words to (similar to Ralph Vaughan Williams, who struggled with doubt his entire life, all the while writing by far the most beautiful "Christian" music of the last Century).

Chris said...

If folks don't mind, I want to return to the communist subject one more time. If communism and Christianity are not conflictual, perhaps even complimentary as Ims and PL eluded to, why do communist countries have state-sponsored atheism?

im-skeptical said...

"why do communist countries have state-sponsored atheism? "

It's the best bet for a totalitarian. The church opposes communism, and many Christians do, too. For the totalitarian, the easiest path to ideological domination is to remove any competing ideologies. And, if you have been listening, you know what the totalitarian knows: atheism is not an ideology.

Papalinton said...

And Bob, one that to me is truly transcendent: 'Concierto de Aranjuez: II. Adagio'

Have a listen

Cheers

Chris said...

ims,

I'm not trying to give you the business, I just want understand your pov on this.

You say that totalitarian communism brings in state-sponsored atheism to counter Christianity which is a threat- because it is a competing ideology. But that doesn't line up with things that both you and PL have said on several occasions. For example...

"I don't see why Christianity should be incompatible with communism."

Communism "is eminently compatible with the teachings of Jesus."

PL provided links to sites that claim that Christianity IS communism.

If such things are true, why would communist regimes outlaw Christianity?

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
im-skeptical said...

Chris,

It's not as complicated as you make it out. There is nothing in Christianity that is fundamentally at odds with a communist form of economics. Nor is there anything in basic communistic economics that requires or prohibits a religious belief system. It's just an economic system. That's why many the earliest Christians lived a communistic lifestyle.

What is at odds is the ideology of the church versus the ideology of the totalitarians. They each want to control and dominate the lives of the populace. The church does it by religious indoctrination that includes the concept that people's lives are owned by God (as administered through the church), and the communist totalitarians do it by indoctrination of their communist ideology, which includes the concept that people's lives are owned by the state.

Note that the ideological domination of both of them contains elements that are not fundamental to the basic ideology. Christianity wants to dominate through the church, and that requires the expulsion of gnostic and other ideological concepts that were once part of the faith (or at least threatened the church's control of the populace). Communist totalitarians push atheism in order to remove the threat of ideological domination by the church, even though there is nothing in basic communistic economics that favors or disfavors any particular religious ideals.

These ideological conflicts arise not from the basic belief system, but from the needs of the controlling authorities.

B. Prokop said...

Ahh, now we're getting somewhere! Skep's posting actually sheds some light on why I maintain that atheism is a necessary prerequisite for Communism (note the upper case "C"). Any totalitarian ideology, by definition*, will not tolerate any organization, action, belief, or even thought which is not subservient to the governing regime. This is the primary reason why Communist regimes suppress religion. It represents an alternative object of loyalty, and may (most likely will) resist being controlled by the state. Of interest here is that the Soviet Union not only persecuted the Church, but also insisted that even such innocuous activities as chess, gymnastics, or bird watching be under Party control. (No kidding!)

* Merriam-Webster: "the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority". The Free Dictionary: "a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state".

Which is why you must first be an atheist before you can be a totalitarian. Otherwise your own religion will violate the principle of no competing power to the state.

So to repeat myself from previous postings: Atheism does not equal Communism, but is rather a prerequisite to it.

The communist (lower case "c") lifestyles referred to by Skep are not totalitarian, and have never been so.

Perhaps Skep and I can agree to a compromise in future discussions. I will refrain from writing "communism is predicated upon atheism", and will instead use the phraseology "totalitarian Communism is predicated upon atheism" - thus making my intent clearer.

Deal?

im-skeptical said...

"I will refrain from writing "communism is predicated upon atheism", and will instead use the phraseology "totalitarian Communism is predicated upon atheism" - thus making my intent clearer."

That's reasonable, with a few tings noted in addition: First, it does not follow that atheism, in its own right, in any way implies a communistic ideology. Second, there is a striking parallel between the totalitarian Communists and the church, particularly for the first millennium or so of its existence.

B. Prokop said...

"there is a striking parallel between the totalitarian Communists and the church"

Absolutely, totally, 100 percent false.

The very words of Christ, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" are utterly incompatible with the idea of totalitarianism, in which there can be only one power center, one object of loyalty.

In the first 17 centuries of Church history, there was an unwavering insistence on the mutual independence of the Holy Roman Emperor (theoretically, if not in practice, the liege lord of every European monarch) and the Papacy. For an in depth treatment of this theme, read James Bryce's The Holy Roman Empire. Two centers of power/loyalty most definitely do not constitute a "striking parallel" with any recognizable form of totalitarianism.

After the Peace of Westphalia (1648), things got quite a bit more complex, and it is difficult to discern any particular, consistent pattern to subsequent church-state relations. From that point on, things are (literally) all over the map. But from Day One (Pentecost, A.D. 33) the Church has been the foe of every sort of totalitarianism.

im-skeptical said...

"there was an unwavering insistence on the mutual independence of the Holy Roman Emperor (theoretically, if not in practice, the liege lord of every European monarch) and the Papacy."

Wow. That's pure revisionism. It is generally acknowledged that there was a power-sharing alliance between aristocracy and church in medieval Europe. The secular rulers actually appointed popes. The parallel with totalitarianism is obvious. The controlling authorities have all the wealth and power. The majority of the populace lacks both freedom and prosperity.

B. Prokop said...

"The secular rulers actually appointed popes.

Hmm... If that is indeed the way you see things, then the true "totalitarians" would have been the secular authorities (who in your stated view were the "power behind the throne") and not the Church. Perhaps you've been looking in the wrong place for your "striking parallel"?

(In any case, it is the grossest misuse of terminology to apply the idea of totalitarianism to any regime prior to the 20th Century. To do so makes one sound as stupid as the ignoramuses who accuse the current US administration of being totalitarian.)

im-skeptical said...

"In any case, it is the grossest misuse of terminology to apply the idea of totalitarianism to any regime prior to the 20th Century. To do so makes one sound as stupid as the ignoramuses who accuse the current US administration of being totalitarian."

I didn't misuse it. But if you think it fits, I can certainly see why. Feudal systems have much in common with totalitarian.

B. Prokop said...

"But if you think it fits"

I don't think it does - not in the least. Where did you get the crazy idea that I did?

At no prior to 1917 did any regime demand 100% allegiance to itself in every aspect of life - not just politics, but art, science, sports, labor, entertainment, hobbies, literature, philosophy... everything. That's where the "total" in totalitarianism comes from. Nothing prior to the last century comes even remotely close to filling the bill. Feudalism was almost a polar opposite of totalitarianism, since people had allegiance to their lord, their nationality, their culture, their faith, their town, their guild, their... well, you get the idea.

Papalinton said...

How about CHRISTIAN TOTALITARIANISM?

Papalinton said...

Intersetingly, The World Future Fund a registered IRS non-profit organisation, that factors in political, religious, social and scientific information into its assessment of world trends has THIS to report.





Ilíon said...

Chris: "If such things are true, why would communist regimes outlaw Christianity?"

Good luck with getting a rational response ... or even an acknowledgment that there appears to be a glaring contradiction.

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps I did not express myself clearly enough, when I referred to the "unwavering insistence" on the independence of the (Holy Roman) Empire and the Papacy prior to the Peace of Westphalia. I was referring to what today we would term ideology, not to how such political thought all too often was translated into action. (Just as in contemporary America, where politicians of various leanings on the liberal-conservative spectrum will frequently act in a manner opposite to their professed leanings.)

But despite the occasional figurehead Emperor or the odd "bad" Pope, the underlying theory of how the two offices were intended to relate to each other (i.e., as equals) did not significantly change between the 25th of December, A.D. 800 and the 24th of October, 1648.

And since then, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.

Chris said...

If the collectivist communities of the traditional per-modern past can be classified as "communist", then I think we must be using a much more liberal definition than is generally understood. Does modern communism which has its roots in the writings of Karl Marx have an intrinsic connection to atheism? Is Marxist communism merely an economic system or is it more, that of a comprehensive worldview?

If the answer to the latter is yes, can atheism be seen as merely as expediency to totalitarian communism , or is there more to it?

PL, the author of the post that you linked to is a mental case.

im-skeptical said...

I was careful to make a clear distinction between what is, on the one hand, simply an economic system, and what is, on the other hand, a political system whose objective is to obtain power and wealth and to control the populace. The economic system has nothing whatsoever to do with religious beliefs. The political system uses ideology as a tool to manipulate and dominate the people. Examples of the former include communistic economic practice as practiced by early Christians, Inca Indians, and some American communes of the 1960s. The latter is exemplified by the Soviets and by the medieval Catholic church, working in partnership with the European aristocracy.