Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Atheism and Communism

This is the best attempt I have seen to argue for a disconnection between these, while using the history of religious violence against religion.

Without a doubt, the crimes of professed communist regimes were terrible. But it is important not to lose sight of what caused them. This is the first major misconception: that the communists attempted to understand the world through reason and science rather than faith, and that this was the error that caused the crimes they committed. Communism was categorically not a reason- or evidence-based view of the world. Quite the contrary, it was a dogmatic, anti-rational ideology every bit the equal of fundamentalist religion, where certain propositions were taken on faith and were not allowed to be debated or questioned. Although the communists congratulated themselves for their liberation from superstitious thinking, in reality they had not escaped dogma; they had merely transferred their dogmatic beliefs from the tenets of religion to an equally rigid and inflexible set of political beliefs.

Read more:

But doesn't this presuppose that if you remain evidence-based, you will always be able to persuade others. But what if you can't, and you think it's really important that people accept the results of you reasoning if they don't reason their way into it themselves. And you have the power of the sword in your hands.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Are all religious arguments a bad basis for laws?

It seems to me that the expression "religious argument" can mean one of two things. It can mean that the argument is based in its entirety on the specific teachings of a particular religion, such as the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses that blood transfusions are wrong, or of Catholics that birth control should not be used. These make bad laws, to be sure. But it could only imply that human beings have a purpose for their existence which is not of their own making. Would an argument that implied that "religious" in the negative sense and therefore an inadequate basis for law? This would be affirmed, it seems to me, by most any theistic religion, and rejected only by atheists or materialists (the doctrine that everything is matter). Is it necessary for a claim to be acceptable from the standpoint of materialism in order to be acceptable basis for law? 

Dawkins' TED talk that started New Atheism: the case for militant atheism in 2002


Monday, April 27, 2015

Crude on whether atheists are as moral as theists


One 'trick' I'm particularly tired of is this: "Atheists are just as moral as theists, so you theists better say this if you want any dialogue with atheists." Except A) Who wants dialogue with atheists, particularly New Atheists who are bound by politics more than anything? And B) On what grounds do I say atheists are as moral as theists? My stock reply is, oh, so atheists are typically against abortion, gay marriage, premarital sex, and other things I view as immoral? And that usually seems to shut down that move, if only for that particular moment. 

This raises an interesting issue-when you compare atheists and theists morally, how can this be done when the parties don't agree on what morality amounts to.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Catholic Encyclopedia on Fideism

As against these views, it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


I am going to have to ask two people, whose names I don't think I need to mention, to stop posting here. I do this with great reluctance. The reasons are two. One, I think your positions are better represented by other people who agree with you for the most part. Second, your contributions always make discussion more inflammatory than they need to be, and you don't bring out the best in the rest of us.

I love the idea of a "free speech zone" but you end up dominating the conversation here. And even when I want to address a position like yours, I think other representatives of your views better represent them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Eternal accountability

I don't think atheists appreciate the force of the doctrine of eternal accountability in restraining evil. Unless there is eternal accountability, either of the Hindu karma-birth-rebirth kind, or accountability before a monotheistic God, if we get away with it on earth, we get away with it period.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Vallicella on Dennett's Dilemma


Lenin on the suppression of religion

"Religion is the opium of the people: this saying of Marx is the cornerstone of the entire ideology of Marxism about religion. All modern religions and churches, all and of every kind of religious organizations are always considered by Marxism as the organs of bourgeois reaction, used for the protection of the exploitation and the stupefaction of the working class."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The difference between atheism and religion with respect to violence

 Is that while religions like Christianity offer the answer to the major questions of life, atheism on the other hand is a claim concerning what the answers are not. An atheist who wants to use force to suppress religious belief wouldn’t be doing so to make people accept the true meaning of life, but rather to prevent people from getting a certain kind of wrong answer to those questions. But neither theism nor atheism actually answers those questions, since bare theism also does not tell us who God is or what God expects from us.

Nonetheless, someone could certainly use violence to prevent someone from getting the wrong answer just as easily as one could use it to make sure someone gets the right answer. 


Friday, April 17, 2015

What's so great about rejecting Christianity? The moral standards are lower!

LoftusToday I am pretty much guilt free. That is, I have no guilt in 

regards to the Christian duties mentioned above. I am free of the 

need to do most of the things I felt I had to do because I was

 expressing my gratitude for what God had done. And yet, I am still

 grateful for my present life, even more so in many ways. I love

 life. I’m living life to the hilt, pretty much guilt free, primarily 

because my ethical standards aren’t as high. In fact, I believe the 

Christian ethical standards are simply impossible for anyone to

 measure up to. Think about it, according to Jesus I should feel

 guilty for not just what I do, but for what I think about, lusting, 

hating, coveting, etc. I’d like every person who reads this book to 

experience the freedom I have found. It is to you that I dedicate 

this book.

There are no ordinary people

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” 
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Creation in the image of God and the limits of Christian homophobia

It seems to me as if when we see people as created by God, and as being whom God has an interest in making happy for an eternity, then we will be more, rather than less likely to take their interests seriously here on earth. "Endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. "Endowed by evolution with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" makes no sense whatsoever.

Christian homophobia, for example, has to be limited by the fact that, given Christianity, homosexuals are human beings created in the image of God for the purpose of eternal salvation. That are not just biological accidents doomed to drop out of the gene pool since they can't reproduce. 

Religious Freedom Laws

For the record, I am not a fan of religious freedom laws, simply because they would be too easy to abuse. Anyone who wanted to do something could just say "It's my religion" and get away with just about anything. I think they are based on legitimate concerns, but the devil is in the details in writing these laws. 

Is there a way to get these laws to work so the floodgates won't open? 

The lessons of history

Secular societies are happier are they? Like the USSR and the People's Republic of China? 

Or in Denmark, the child pornography capital of the world? 

Although many atheists maintain their moral sense, the moral pit of "everything is permitted" thinking should not be underestimated. 

Communism began, I believe, with Marx's secularism combined with a genuine concern about economic injustice and the intent to do something about it. And the results are now in the history books. If you really think that secularism can make life better, the first thing I want to see is that you have figured out what the lessons were from this massive failure and have learned those lessons.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It would be paradise on earth

Atheists don't believe in the secular paradise? Really?

Sheahen: You've said that baptizing a child or saying "this is a Jewish child"—that is, pasting a religious label on a child—is child abuse. In your letter to daughter, you ask her to examine what she's told based on evidence. What do you hope the world would be like if all children were raised without religion, according to your theories?

Dawkins: It would be paradise on earth. What I hope for is a world ruled by enlightened rationality, which does not mean something dull, but something of high artistic value. I just wish there were the slightest chance of it ever happening. 

Francis Beckwith on excluding religion from legal reasoning


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The (Under) Population Bomb


Is Empiricism Self-Refuting

Bill Vallicella thinks that Bertrand Russell has a good argument to this effect.

Why would you WANT and SSM opponent photographing your same-sex wedding???

You have to wonder about people who sue a photographer who doesn't want to do a same-sex ceremony. I mean, there are plenty of photographers out there, and why would you WANT an opponent of your same-sex wedding photographing it? Wouldn't it hurt the quality of their work?

If I were a gay couple, I would avoid photographers who had a Christian fish in their advertising, because they wouldn't be as good as a non-evangelical photographer. 

If I were a photographer opposed to SSM, and someone asked me to do one, I would begin by unrecommending myself on just these grounds. But I think I would do it if they insisted. 

Imagine the secular paradise? That really worries me!

I'm perfectly willing to see this is as a pretty idealistic song. But if someone is serious about trying to bring it to pass, then I get worried. I can understand someone being an atheist, believe me. What I find insane and dangerous is the idea that somehow the departure from religious belief will lead to some sort of secular paradise. With a religious paradise, it takes God to bring it into being. With a secular paradise we can, and are supposed to do it ourselves. If you take a vision of the secular paradise, and then you accept a combination of "everything is permitted" and "the end justifies the means," and you have a formula for bloodshed that will permit you to outstrip the body count of all the religious killings in the history of the human race.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Dark Ages Myth


Five Islamic Philosophers

Islamic philosophy, and even Islamic science, has a great past.  I hate to ask, but what happened?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dion DiMucci on Lennon's Imagine

John Lennon was a beautiful man, but Imagine represents a huge failure of imagination. In 1971 we didn’t need to imagine atheistic internationalism. Communism was living and active, in a least two forms, and it wasn’t producing peace.  . . . What made it possible for so many leaders to issue the orders for atrocities over the course of a half-century and more? They feared neither heaven nor hell. Imagine that.
— Dion

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Sexual behavior is not a choice, but religious belief is???

I-S: People are raised to be Christians, so to some degree, it is who they are. Yet it is possible to decide that you will no longer be a Christian. On the other hand, we don't get to choose our sexual orientation, and we can't just decide to change it. Most of us are heterosexual, and we never faced a decision to become heterosexual. It just happened that way, and we have no choice in the matter.

VR: I think there is a lot that is problematic about this statement. 

First of all, many atheists (Dawkins is an example, but there are others) deny the existence of free will, but this contrast won't float unless we do. 

Second, traditional Christians don't typically claim that homosexual orientation is a sin. They often claim that homosexual acts are sinful.  So, if your orientation inclines you toward members of the same sex, they may say you cannot engage in morally justified sex. Christians have also traditionally claimed that heterosexual acts by persons not married to one another are also sinful. Since not everyone is in a position to enter a marriage, that means that those persons are also barred from sexual activity. 

The critic of Christian opponents of homosexual activity, therefore, are assuming the view that persons have a moral right to fulfill their sexual desires in accordance with their orientation. But, thus stated, this argument comes into problems. We have to then get clear on what constitutes an "orientation." Richard Carrier has recently "come out" as polyamorous and has said that this is his orientation. And if we accept his claim, then what is next? Sadomasochism? Pedophilia? At the very least with the last category, I think most of us would be inclined to say that people with that orientation are obligated to remain celibate rather than act out this orientation. 

But we can surely choose what we do about our sexual orientation, whether to pursue sexual activity, or not. 

Atheists, often in response to Pascal's wager, tell us that they couldn't will themselves to be Christians if they wanted to. I don't think I could turn myself into an atheist by force of will, either. 

Hence, I don't think the contrast I-S wants to draw will work, at least not the way he wants to draw it. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

Is separation of church and state a myth?

This writer says that "The people did not want freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion."

Serve everybody?

Should A Print Shop Be Forced To Sell "God Hates Fags" Signs To Westboro Baptist Church?

This question was asked by Rick Santorum, but it is a good one. 

Being who they are

Does as person's sexual orientation constitute who they are? I am a lot of things. I am a Christian, I like the
Cardinals and the Suns, I teach at ASU West, I am a Democrat, etc.  And I happen to be a heterosexual. People who think there is something wrong with homosexual conduct say that disapproving of homosexual conduct isn't the same as hating homosexuals. In response, defenders of homosexuality will them say "You say you accept homosexuals as people, but you are opposed to them being who they are." But doesn't that assume that your sexual orientation is constitutive of who you are in ways your other activities are not. Is being gay or being straight an essential property of a person? 

It is interesting when conservative Christians say that they only oppose homosexual activity and not homosexuals, they are criticized. Sometimes this is a matter of Christians not living up to the "hate the sin, love the sinner" rhetoric. But sometimes it is suggested that this response doesn't make sense because being gay is "who they are."Yet the same people who say "this is who they are" will sometimes say that hate Christianity but not Christians. Why do these two things mix?