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Goughfather
23-01-2004, 04:40 PM
A short time ago, we had a discussion regarding wherein CL's accused antichrist of espousing views which were deliberately inflammatory. While I understood CL's consternation, I suggested that sometimes, we have to take these things tongue in cheek, and to accept them for what they were meant to be - humour. In the spirit of this, I've decided to forward the following list, which I thought to be rather amusing, entitled "You may be a fundamentalist atheist if ...". In the interests of brevity, I've selected those critiques I thought to be the more thought-provoking and/or humourous. You may find the complete list at http://www.tektonics.org/fundyath.html.

You may be a fundamentalist atheist if ...

You became an atheist when you were 10 years old, based on ideas of God that you learned in Sunday School. Your ideas about God haven't changed since.

Although you've memorized a half a dozen proofs that He doesn't exist, you still think you're God's gift to the ignorant masses.

You think questions like, "Can God create a rock so big that He cannot lift it?" and, "Can God will Himself out of existence?" are perfect examples of how to disprove God's omnipotence and ultimately how to disprove God. When someone proves to you the false logic behind the questions (i.e. pitting God's omnipotence against itself), you desperately try to defend the questions, but then give up and go to a different Christian site to ask them.

You spend hours arguing that a-theism actually means "without a belief in God " and not just " belief that there is no god" as if this is a meaningful distinction in real life.

You consistently deny the existence of God because you personally have never seen him but you reject out of hand personal testimony from theists who claim to have experienced God as a reality in their lives.

You adamantly believe that the "God of the gaps" idea is an essential tenet of orthodox Christian faith espoused by all the great Christian thinkers throughout history.

As a member of the Skeptic's Society you pride yourself on being skeptical of extraordinary claims. You also pride yourself on silencing everyone who is skeptical of the extraordinary claims of evolution.

When you're discussing the origin of the world, the phrase "uncaused cause(God)" is a stupid, meaningless thing to say. You will, however, settle for "uncaused effect(the world without God)".

You think that some guy named "Dr Dino" with no scientific credentials represents mainstream Evangelical thinking and scholarship about evolution and creation, and thus by spending inordinate amounts of time attacking him you are somehow dismantling the arguments of scholarly dissenters from evolution, creationists with earned Ph. D.s in science, and of advocates of intelligent design.

You insist that science is completely partial to all ideas, is not dogmatic and researches all possibilities -- except creationism and/or intelligent design.

Engaging the "slippery slope" fallacy, you think you can invalidate the whole bible by discrediting Genesis, since 'the whole bible either stands together or falls apart'. However, when a Creationist tries to invalidate the whole doctrine of naturalistic evolution by exposing the sheer improbability and lack of evidence of abiogenesis, you note this point as 'irrelevant'.

Any scholar who believes in a historical Jesus must be a theist. If they are an atheist, then they must secretly want to be a theist.

You not only spell "God" with a lower case "g," but you also add an "E" to "B.C.," and replace the word "Christ" with an "x." Yet, when asked to name the planets you have no problem with spouting out the appropriate list of Roman Gods. Heck, you'll even spell them with capital letters! Not only that, you can even spell and pronounce the name of the 800-mile-diameter Trans-Neptunian Object ‘Quaoar’, and are delighted that it comes from the creation mythology of the Tongva people (aka the San Gabrielino Native Americans).

You think if a Christian won't address your arguments, they are too frightened to do so, or know they can't answer them; but if they do address your arguments, you think it is because they are "threatened" by them.

You think that John Shelby Spong is a reputable theologian but that Ben Witherington is merely an ignorant biblicist.

You assert that there is no absolute categories of good and evil, that all morals are merely personal, social and evolutionary constructs but then you can still describe Christians and Christianity as absolutely immoral, repugnant and evil and a danger to humanity and not feel even a twinge of hypocrisy at the monumental illogic of your position.

You think that Josh McDowell represents the apex of Christian scholarly apologetical thinking.

You lump all Christians in with whatever religious fruitcake is the flavour of the month, while living with the delusion that there are no atheistic weirdos out there.

You think Christians are narrow-minded for believing in only one religion, but atheists are open-minded for believing in absolutely none.

You feel that Christians who go into atheist chat rooms are "shoving their beliefs down people's throats", and that atheists who go into Christian chat rooms are only trying to educate.

You are disgusted with Doctor Paul Vitz’s book “Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism” because an educated person with a degree has linked atheism as a psychological condition. Yet, you have no remorse when you tell believers that they are a product of brainwashing, psycho conditioning and wishful thinking.

You're convinced that all Christians are idiots. But when you meet the "rare" Christian who's clearly intelligent, you can only conclude that he was fooled into believing...by the idiots.

You can't remember if she was Mother or Sister Teresa, but you can name every pedophile priest listed in the media over the last seven years.

You feel that the separation of church and state is a much more important issue than abortion, euthanasia, or infanticide.

You think God was cruel for killing all of those innocent babies in the flood, and that Christians are cruel for opposing a woman's right to abort her baby.

You become upset when a Christian says that not everything in the Bible should be taken literally.

You can quote from the bible better than most missionaries...at least the parts where someone dies.

You label all scholars that actually believe the Bible as "biased fundies" while those who don't believe it are known as "honest" and "accepted scholarship."

You dismiss any attempt to harmonize the resurrection accounts by saying "one says A, the other says B, but none say A+B", then go on to offer your own elaborate conspiracy theory of what happened to the Jesus' body, describing A+B+C+D, none of which are said ANYWHERE let alone together.

You use one,or more,of the following alternate spellings: GOD-"gawd" JESUS-"jeeezus" "jayzus" "jebus" "jeebers" BIBLE-"bibble" "babble" "wholly babble" "buy-bull"

You adamantly believe that "the Bible says pi equals 3" in 1 Kings 7:23 even though: (1) the verse does not make the slightest reference to the calculation of pi, (2) there are more measurements of the bowl from that verse in subsequent verses, (3) the bowl in question could very likely not have been a "perfect" circle with "perfect" measurements, (4) it's not unusual for ancient peoples using ancient tools (or even modern peoples using modern tools) to use round, easy to remember numbers, (5) asking an online math forum results in a refutation of your belief but you ignore what professional mathematicians plainly say (including that the Bible is not in error in this place) and twist their words to make it appear as if they are backing your assertion in order to continue to justify your belief (not that you ever had any intention of doing otherwise in the first place).

You consistently appear on discussion lists demanding that Christians accept your literal interpretation of various scriptural passages just so you can then launch into the usual "argument by outrage" - despite being told over and over that no Bible scholar or school of Christianity shares your particular bizarre literal interpretation.

You pontificate about the Bible as if you are an expert in theology, textual criticism, ancient languages & cultures and much more besides, when your knowledge of the Bible is just cut and paste from atheist discussion lists which cut and paste it from atheist websites which cut and paste it from embarrassingly unscholarly rantings by the likes of Messer's Freke & Gandy and Acharya S., etc.

You decry Christian missionaries for denying cultural relativism; denouncing their efforts to reform cannibalism, slavery and fear of animist spirits as judgmental intolerance. But your attacks on the Bible merely comprise anguished cries of "how barbaric" rather than reasoned arguments; and ignore all considerations of ritual cleanness, the evils of the Canaanites and the fact that ancient society was always one step from anarchy.

You claim to hold no Dogma. Yet, you’re just as rigid and stubborn with your beliefs as any Dogmatists.

Archaeology continually frustrates your attempts to find errors and contradictions in the Bible, but you continually use the same outdated accusations anyway since you're running out of material.

When you go to bookstores, you move all the Bibles to the "fiction" section.

You take the lack of evidence for the Jesus story being a hoax as evidence that Christians got rid of all the evidence.

You claim that there is no way a book thousands of years old can be relevant today, but refuse to do the necessary homework to see how it could apply in modern situations, preferring instead to argue that God should have provided an updated version.

You believe that priests are only in it for the money, despite the fact that they make less than almost anyone else with their level of education.

'Thinking for yourself' means adopting an atheist viewpoint.

When you say "I don't know" you are being brave and honest. When a theist says "I don't know" they are being dishonest and are trying to dodge the question.

You think that Christianity is a 'virulent memeplex' and that atheism is the 'cure.'

You're infuriated by the term "village atheist." You prefer "right-thinking urban humanist."

You can gladly believe any number of conflicting philosophical positions, as long as they're atheistic!

You get a big kick out of either spamming online Christian forums with offensive material or posing as a grossly over-the-top parody of a Christian on such websites.

You don't realize that Landmark Baptist Church's website is a parody.

You call God "she" in the presence of Christians simply out of sheer spite.

You are part of a non-belief organization such as American Atheists, Church of Freethought, Humanist Association of Canada, Student Freethought Alliance and/or the Council of Secular Humanism. You claim these organizations have absolutely no creeds and that the people involved independently think of different things from one another. Yet of course, on your organization's website they define the commonalities that all non-believers follow. Is that not the definition of creed?

You have never pondered the question: why did a really smart guy like Bertrand Russell write such a pathetically limp, uninformed and adolescent critique of Christianity in "Why I Am Not A Christian"?

You assert that "faith is believing things which you know aren't true".

You really "believe" that many human beings actually believe things they know aren't true.

You believe the movie Dogma gives the most accurate portrayal of Christian theology.

You find the term 'fundy atheist' meaningless, baffling, illogical and just plain oxymoronic/self-contradictory even though the two terms are not exclusive of each other (except in the minds of fundy atheists, of course).

You deny that someone can possibly know they know the truth ('It's just belief, not knowledge,") while at the same time claiming to know the truth.

You get apoplectic about being called a Fundy Atheist for believing all those self-evidently true propositions above. And you label all theists as "fundies".

chesslover
23-01-2004, 04:57 PM
good post. about time the radical extremist atheists had some fun poked at them for their belief.

Wonder how they would like a taste of their own medicine ;)

Rincewind
23-01-2004, 05:31 PM
Very good though given it's size a link to the site might have been more appropriate.

But one bit did strike a chord...


You dismiss any attempt to harmonize the resurrection accounts by saying "one says A, the other says B, but none say A+B", then go on to offer your own elaborate conspiracy theory of what happened to the Jesus' body, describing A+B+C+D, none of which are said ANYWHERE let alone together.

I'm still waiting for the attempt to harmonise the resurrection accounts. Scott, macca, gough or whatever you call yourself now.

It's pretty easy to dismiss the non-existent.

I guess that's what makes athiesm so appealing. :D

Cat
23-01-2004, 07:33 PM
Nice try, but a little unfair. I'd say I've defended the value of religious belief in the majority of my posts, I've been called a Christian, a Christian apologist on this BB, and the only time I've crossed swords with you 'Goughfather' was relating to the corroborative historical evidence for a single person who could reasonably be described as 'Jesus'. So trying to caricature atheists as evangelists in their own right maybe comforting to you, but entirely unfair.

As it happens, I'll probably go to church on Sunday with my family and my Christian wife, mix and talk with my Christian friends, enjoy the dulcet tones of the Christian choir, and you know, I couldn't care less what their beliefs are as long as they offer friendship, community, display a sense of decency and are considerate.

I don't believe in any sort of God, other than the material 'false Gods' that the populace worship with such vigor, I don't care whether you think of me as an atheist, agnostic, Christian or Buddhist, you are free to catorgorise me as anything you like if it makes you feel better.

The only danger I see in espousing these kinds of arguments is that you are deliberately attempting to blur the distinction between belief and truth. As I have said, no truth is absolute, truth is always relative, and proper scientific enquiry (or historical enquiry) always questions truth, tries to dismantle truth and find a more robust understanding based on observable evidence.

Belief is a personal thing, for each of us to find our own and as long as we threaten no-one and we find our beliefs personally sustaining, then it can be good thing. But each of us, being the frail vulnerable humans we are, seek ways to defend our belief, find succour in the most tenuous supporting evidence, and we tend only to question our beliefs when it brings us repeatedly into conflict with the world in which we exist.

So use your caricature if you like, but recognise that it's value is in the sustainance you and CL recieve from the parody, not in the logic of its argument.

Rincewind
23-01-2004, 09:55 PM
Well spoken David. On a personal level it is not important what a person believes provided that it stays on the personal level. Both me and my wife come from strong catholic backgrounds although we rarely see the inside of a church these days (the occasional wedding or funeral).

GF's post seems to indicate you might be an athiest if you don't think there is a world wide conspiracy to suppress creation "science" and promote the obviously flawed alternatives/versions of geology and evolution.

When people with these views get into the ears of those designing school science syllabuses it is no longer a personal issue. That's why the false science of creationism cannot be allowed to be presented unchallenged. To do so may lend it an iota of respect when it does not deserve any.

I don't know you too well but for what it's worth you sound like you might be a religious humanist to me. ;)

Goughfather
23-01-2004, 10:56 PM
I think that the general thrust of my post was somewhat misunderstood. At no point did I claim that all atheists, or even a majority, exhibited the kind of pathological tendencies indicated in my post. There are many atheists who identify the flaws in the above arguments, and will therefore castigate those of their brethren who try to employ them. Some will even have the humility and intellectual honesty to identify the particularly weak arguments that they had at one point used themselves. Sadly, however, there are some atheists who try to defend the validity of some of the above arguments, despite their seemingly obvious illogic. At times, to my dismay, such arguments (and if you wish, I shall try to rummage around the old site to prove my claim) have been used by otherwise intelligent posters on this board.

My point is that the most constructive discourse will only occur when we (myself included) have the humility to acknowledge the limits of our perception. When we feel that we cannot possibly be wrong, then there is no possibility that we can learn from others. Even if much of what they say seems wrong, there remains the possibility that something that they say has the potential to teach us.


GF's post seems to indicate you might be an athiest if you don't think there is a world wide conspiracy to suppress creation "science" and promote the obviously flawed alternatives/versions of geology and evolution.

I've never said anything about a so-called "conspiracy theory" - where exactly in the post did I say that? (Perhaps: "It's Mabo, it's the vibe of the thing) It seems to have been manufactured from your keyboard. It's simply another strawperson proposal.


and the only time I've crossed swords with you 'Goughfather' was relating to the corroborative historical evidence for a single person who could reasonably be described as 'Jesus'.

Sorry, could you clarify what exactly was the content of our discussion? It's been a little while.


The only danger I see in espousing these kinds of arguments is that you are deliberately attempting to blur the distinction between belief and truth.

I don't understand. Doesn't your stance blur the distinction by providing a Kierkegaardian "Subjectivy is Truth" kind of position?


As I have said, no truth is absolute, truth is always relative

Except of course this truth. I don't believe that all truth is objective, but I do believe that there are hard and soft truths.


But each of us, being the frail vulnerable humans we are, seek ways to defend our belief, find succour in the most tenuous supporting evidence, and we tend only to question our beliefs when it brings us repeatedly into conflict with the world in which we exist.

My point exactly. A tendency to do this is neither a Christian phenomenon, nor an atheist phenomenon - it's a universally human phenomenon. I struggle with it, you struggle with it. Only through acknowledging this is there any potential for progress.


So use your caricature if you like

I really don't think it's a charicature unless I am stating that this is indicative of all, or at least the "typical" atheist.


I'm still waiting for the attempt to harmonise the resurrection accounts. Scott, macca, gough or whatever you call yourself now.

I thought that this was a project that you gave to Scott Colliver, so I decided to let him deal with it. In order to argue for the validity of the Resurrection - I don't resort to a harmonization, at least in as much as it is commonly understood. Nor am I what one would call a "Biblical Inerrantist" in the true sense of the term, though I do believe in "Biblical Inspiration", and am still very open to the idea of Biblical Inerrancy. If you'd like for me to go through it with you, I would be more than happy to, but discourse would probably be most constructive in person when I next travel down to Wollongong for a tournament.

Kevin Bonham
24-01-2004, 12:16 AM
Yes, I think I recall you posting this one under your former alias on the old BB at some stage too.

A mixed bag, even having been through your "sifter". And I fail to see the relevance of the reference to free speech, though there is some humour value and some of the points are effective rejoinders to a certain kind of "atheism". However I find myself laughing at these lines as well as with them, so let's sort a few jokes from the, ... um ... jokes. :D


You spend hours arguing that a-theism actually means "without a belief in God " and not just " belief that there is no god" as if this is a meaningful distinction in real life.

Only someone with the most black-and-white with-us-or-against-us-stance could fail to see the difference. The first category includes those who have no view either way on the issue, the second doesn't.


You consistently deny the existence of God because you personally have never seen him but you reject out of hand personal testimony from theists who claim to have experienced God as a reality in their lives.

Substitute "aliens" in above. :P


You adamantly believe that the "God of the gaps" idea is an essential tenet of orthodox Christian faith espoused by all the great Christian thinkers throughout history.

Indeed, that would be foolish - too complimentary to several.


You insist that science is completely partial to all ideas, is not dogmatic and researches all possibilities -- except creationism and/or intelligent design.

Such a lame whopper that it is not even funny as a caricature since both these "theories" have been the subject of very lengthy consideration by scientists (not that creationism is a scientific theory, it is a disjointed body of critique of all scientific facts inconvenient to a particular interpretation of the Bible).


Engaging the "slippery slope" fallacy, you think you can invalidate the whole bible by discrediting Genesis, since 'the whole bible either stands together or falls apart'. However, when a Creationist tries to invalidate the whole doctrine of naturalistic evolution by exposing the sheer improbability and lack of evidence of abiogenesis, you note this point as 'irrelevant'.

Indeed I pity any atheist who fits this stereotype - with respect to improbability, the word "wrong" is so much shorter!


You are disgusted with Doctor Paul Vitz’s book “Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism” because an educated person with a degree has linked atheism as a psychological condition.

Hmmm, I've just looked up some summaries of Vitz's work and this appears to be an extremely unfactual summary of his views. In particular the irregular propaganda style usage "linked ... as" (trying to turn a supposed corellation into a 100% reliable causation) should set alarm bells ringing.


You don't realize that Landmark Baptist Church's website is a parody.

Actually many people who fail to realise this are Christians. And it's Landover, not Landmark, twits. #-o


You call God "she" in the presence of Christians simply out of sheer spite.

Incidentally, I do this often - not out of spite, but out of a deep conviction that denying the difficulties in establishing the gender of any God that may "exist" is rather silly. I don't mind saying that the offence it causes to certain kinds of Christians is a handy bonus, but that's not why I do it - it's something I take very sincerely and seriously.


You assert that "faith is believing things which you know aren't true".

I preferred Nietzsche's claim that faith was simply not wanting to know what was true, for sheer entertainment value at least. :P

I am setting a little trap with this reply, I shall be impressed if Goughfather attempts a serious reply to this post without walking into it.

Rincewind
24-01-2004, 01:16 AM
GF's post seems to indicate you might be an athiest if you don't think there is a world wide conspiracy to suppress creation "science" and promote the obviously flawed alternatives/versions of geology and evolution.

I've never said anything about a so-called "conspiracy theory" - where exactly in the post did I say that? (Perhaps: "It's Mabo, it's the vibe of the thing) It seems to have been manufactured from your keyboard. It's simply another strawperson proposal.

Did I read too much into the following?


As a member of the Skeptic's Society you pride yourself on being skeptical of extraordinary claims. You also pride yourself on silencing everyone who is skeptical of the extraordinary claims of evolution.

You insist that science is completely partial to all ideas, is not dogmatic and researches all possibilities -- except creationism and/or intelligent design.

The first claims evolution is foundationless when the entire scientific community disagree. The second infers a world wide cover up.

If that's what you believe then that's fine. But just say so instead of dancing around your imperfect epistological posturing.

Rincewind
24-01-2004, 01:23 AM
You call God "she" in the presence of Christians simply out of sheer spite.

Incidentally, I do this often - not out of spite, but out of a deep conviction that denying the difficulties in establishing the gender of any God that may "exist" is rather silly. I don't mind saying that the offence it causes to certain kinds of Christians is a handy bonus, but that's not why I do it - it's something I take very sincerely and seriously.

Also, it's not just athiests who do this. It is a common nonsecular joke. Also it has been proposed seriously by several Christians. One notable was Lois Roden, prophet of the Branch Dividian sect of the 7th Day Adventists.

Her one (and perhaps only) claim to fame was a revelation that the Holy Spirit is the feminine aspect of the trinity. ;)

Rincewind
24-01-2004, 01:30 AM
I'm still waiting for the attempt to harmonise the resurrection accounts. Scott, macca, gough or whatever you call yourself now.

I thought that this was a project that you gave to Scott Colliver, so I decided to let him deal with it. In order to argue for the validity of the Resurrection - I don't resort to a harmonization, at least in as much as it is commonly understood. Nor am I what one would call a "Biblical Inerrantist" in the true sense of the term, though I do believe in "Biblical Inspiration", and am still very open to the idea of Biblical Inerrancy. If you'd like for me to go through it with you, I would be more than happy to, but discourse would probably be most constructive in person when I next travel down to Wollongong for a tournament.

OK but if you have a consistent interpretation of the 4 gospels for Easter morning, just post it. The next Wollongong tournament is likely to be an rapid so I could well not play.

Not wanting to out your identity, perhaps you could tell me: are your first and last initials adjacent letters of the alphabet but in decending order? Reply by PM if you like.

Goughfather
24-01-2004, 03:26 AM
Goughfather wrote:
You spend hours arguing that a-theism actually means "without a belief in God " and not just " belief that there is no god" as if this is a meaningful distinction in real life.


Only someone with the most black-and-white with-us-or-against-us-stance could fail to see the difference. The first category includes those who have no view either way on the issue, the second doesn't.

An interesting argument, but I don't really buy it. In what meaningful sense can you have "no view either way on (an) issue", unless of course you are oblivious that such an issue exists? Even the great (?) skepticist David Hume talked of holding a provisional stance. One may not have committed to a decision solidly, but it by no means suggests that they have no view on the matter either way. For a critique of this notion, read http://www.carm.org/atheism/lackbelief.htm



You consistently deny the existence of God because you personally have never seen him but you reject out of hand personal testimony from theists who claim to have experienced God as a reality in their lives.


Substitute "aliens" in above.

Why not? On what basis would you reject their claim a priori?

Incidently, I was once informed by a lecturer that the average person who claims to have had a close encounter with an alien typically has a higher IQ than the rest of the population.



You insist that science is completely partial to all ideas, is not dogmatic and researches all possibilities -- except creationism and/or intelligent design.


Such a lame whopper that it is not even funny as a caricature since both these "theories" have been the subject of very lengthy consideration by scientists (not that creationism is a scientific theory, it is a disjointed body of critique of all scientific facts inconvenient to a particular interpretation of the Bible).

Until I have more research to back myself up, I'll stay out of the whole argument about the scientific fraternity being inherently opposed to intelligent design - though I do think that such views are not ignored, at least. On the other consideration, that of partially, I think it is rather naive to suggest that scientists as individuals are immune from the partiality that we show every day. If one wants a conclusion to be correct badly enough, whether it is in an argument, or in scientific process, then one only need to reinterpret the results in favour of their stance.


Hmmm, I've just looked up some summaries of Vitz's work and this appears to be an extremely unfactual summary of his views. In particular the irregular propaganda style usage "linked ... as" (trying to turn a supposed corellation into a 100% reliable causation) should set alarm bells ringing.

I must admit that I am unfamiliar with his writings. Could you please enlighten me? Were you aware of his work beforehand?


Incidentally, I do this often - not out of spite, but out of a deep conviction that denying the difficulties in establishing the gender of any God that may "exist" is rather silly. I don't mind saying that the offence it causes to certain kinds of Christians is a handy bonus, but that's not why I do it - it's something I take very sincerely and seriously.

When I (hopefully) get around to responding to Barry's posts, I'll elaborate upon this further. But in short, you're right - it's rather absurd talking about an "anatomically correct" God. From my understanding, Morling College lecturer Michael Frost wrote an extensive critique upon the barriers that gender specific language have upon our capacity to adequately understand our God. The language of God as "He" must be rooted in its historical and sociological context. Most theologians would understand reference to God as "He" to illustrate his character as a father figure and as a disciplinarian, among other character traits.


I preferred Nietzsche's claim that faith was simply not wanting to know what was true, for sheer entertainment value at least.

I am setting a little trap with this reply, I shall be impressed if Goughfather attempts a serious reply to this post without walking into it.

You never fail to impress me Kevin. I've been looking for the two-move cheapo, and aren't completely sure whether I've seen it or not. Do you want we to suggest the flip side of Freudian wish-fulfillment - that atheists don't want God to exist, so they have faith that he doesn't? I'm unsure, but this novelty, while still thematic has thrown me off guard.

Interestingly enough, I've been studying New Testament Greek lately. I've discovered that the word translated "faith" is "pistis", which refers to a conviction based upon evidence, or forensic proof. In this sense, the Bible never calls for a faith without logical basis, but instead expects that one's faith will rest upon rational grounds.

Cat
24-01-2004, 12:55 PM
I don't know you too well but for what it's worth you sound like you might be a religious humanist to me.

I don't have any religious belief, BJC, but attend church out of respect for my wife's beliefs and because there is good scientific evidence that teenagers with belief structures have lower rates of pyschological illness, including depression and suicide. Roman catholics fair particularly well apparently.

The inhumanity, the track record of religious belief speaks for itself, but religious belief has aslo been a cornerstone of social development. It's helped to maintain social order in the face of appalling inequality and as abhorrent as this seems the alternative (historically speaking) was increasing social disintegration and warfare. Despite the belief that religion has been responsible for most warfare through history, in fact societies which lacked organised religious beliefs relied more on organised militia to maintain order. A prime example were the Steppe Raiders, who relied heavily on the sword until eventually converting to Islam. Hinduism was particularly successful at preventing conflict because it was flexible enough to incorporate parochial beliefs.

Whereas religion has clearly had an enormous effect on social development, interestingly according to the lingists, no language carries any social advantage, that languages are generally comparable in their degree of sophistication and where a language lacks sophistication in one area, it compensates with greater sophistication in another. Personally, I can't help feeling that English offers competitive advantages beyond recent history, but this would not be the accepted view.




You call God "she" in the presence of Christians simply out of sheer spite.



My younger children's school have a habit of using a girl to play Jesus in the school plays. Having 3 boys, I was particularly sensitive to this, as Jesus is the quintissential male role-model within christian societies. There is a striking lack of good male role models in our society and to deprive boys of their last bastion of 'maleness' - well it only leaves the 'Croc Hunter'. I raised the issue with the priest and the religious director in the school without success. Apparently a female Jesus was not a clerical issue.

Kevin Bonham
24-01-2004, 01:32 PM
An interesting argument, but I don't really buy it. In what meaningful sense can you have "no view either way on (an) issue", unless of course you are oblivious that such an issue exists?

You could simply say that you don't have a leaning either way. A person doesn't have to have a provisional belief on something - if they have examined the arguments advanced by both sides but feel the debate is very finely balanced, then they may not have any real feeling either way. I find myself without a view or even a leaning either way on all kinds of issues that I haven't considered closely and even on some that I have. The God question isn't one of those for me, but it could be for other people.


Even the great (?) skepticist David Hume talked of holding a provisional stance. One may not have committed to a decision solidly, but it by no means suggests that they have no view on the matter either way. For a critique of this notion, read http://www.carm.org/atheism/lackbelief.htm

Indeed. This says, in part: "Let’s pick a baby that has no awareness of the concept of invisible, pink unicorns. Later in life, when the baby is mature and is introduced to the concept, he either accepts the existence of invisible pink unicorns, rejects them as a ridiculous notion, chuckles about it and dismisses it, becomes unsure about them, holds off judgment until later, etc. Either way, he develops a position on the concept of invisible pink unicorns."

But "becomes unsure about them, holds off judgement until later" are "positions" that are compatible with "I do not believe in X" but incompatible with "I believe there is no X". The site you linked to says that the former should not be construed as "atheism" and is probably a position many "atheists" claim to hold while not actually sincerely holding. I agree with this - my point is simply that the two are, contrary to the caricature's assertion, very different.



Substitute "aliens" in above.

Why not? On what basis would you reject their claim a priori?

I wouldn't. However, a reverse caricature could easily point out how many Christians expect their personal testimony from experience to be accepted as evidence, but reject out of hand other personal testimonies from experience that don't fit in with their belief structure.


Incidently, I was once informed by a lecturer that the average person who claims to have had a close encounter with an alien typically has a higher IQ than the rest of the population.

I don't doubt it for a moment. The average IQs of those who died in the Heavens Gates mass suicide were also way above average.


On the other consideration, that of partially, I think it is rather naive to suggest that scientists as individuals are immune from the partiality that we show every day. If one wants a conclusion to be correct badly enough, whether it is in an argument, or in scientific process, then one only need to reinterpret the results in favour of their stance.

Oh, I'm sure that many of the scientists engaged in debunking creationism and intelligent design are incredibly biased against both. However, being biased against a belief doesn't necessarily prevent you from constructing a devastating rebuttal of it.

{Vitz}

I must admit that I am unfamiliar with his writings. Could you please enlighten me? Were you aware of his work beforehand?

I can't remember ever hearing of him except in this caricature. His argument seems to run as follows: famous atheists of history typically came from families where the father was an absent, weak or unimpressive figure, whereas famous theists were more likely to come from intact family units. Therefore the atheist's rejection of God as "father" can be often psychoanalysed as linked to their lack of faith in their own father, and hence to family disfunction. But (from what I can tell) he only raises this as a tendency not as a universal, and not having a daddy wasn't listed as a recognised disorder in the DSM-IV the last time I looked.

This is rather amusing in my own case because my own parents split up and my father left when I was in my early teens, however the issues that led to them splitting up never became apparent to me until I was at least ten, by which stage I had already been some kind of disbeliever for several years.


You never fail to impress me Kevin. I've been looking for the two-move cheapo, and aren't completely sure whether I've seen it or not. Do you want we to suggest the flip side of Freudian wish-fulfillment - that atheists don't want God to exist, so they have faith that he doesn't? I'm unsure, but this novelty, while still thematic has thrown me off guard.

No, you haven't fallen for my little trap yet, you're doing very well so far. :)

Kevin Bonham
24-01-2004, 01:42 PM
I don't have any religious belief, BJC, but attend church out of respect for my wife's beliefs and because there is good scientific evidence that teenagers with belief structures have lower rates of pyschological illness, including depression and suicide.

Correllation isn't causation. How do those claiming this know that it isn't the other way around, ie that people in circumstances leading to lower rates of mental illness, depression and suicide are, as a result of those circumstances, more likely to be believers?

Cat
24-01-2004, 07:27 PM
Correllation isn't causation. How do those claiming this know that it isn't the other way around, ie that people in circumstances leading to lower rates of mental illness, depression and suicide are, as a result of those circumstances, more likely to be believers?

The studies that have been done are retrospective studies and these studies are always vulnerable to bias.The best kind of study is the double-blind prospective study. The HRT debate is a classic example when numerous retrospective studies and large scale meta-analysis gave results that appeared to suggest one thing (such as cardioprotection), only for the Women's Health Initiative, a large prospective study of over 10 000 women, to suggest another. Even this study was flawed and biased.

These studies are controlled for other factors such as socio-economic status, etc. The problem is human studies are expensive, extremely difficult to do, prone to bias and really can only be considered to be anywhere near reliable when the results have been consistantly demonstrated. The problem with the HRT studies is that extraneous factors that aren't being properly controlled are probably exerting a much greater effect than that observable from HRT.

Obviously one cannot do double blind trials on religious belief and this kind of data is extremely susceptible to bias. All I can say is there is a widespread professional acceptance of the data. This is not to say that it is necessarily correct - the medical profession has on occassions been wrong before! Psychiatric illness in juveniles is a major concern however - social conditions are changing extremely rapidly and I would not certainly discourage anyone from pursuing a belief that may be to their benefit, even if that belief is based on a falsehood.

All I can say is that it's the best information we have.

Kevin Bonham
24-01-2004, 07:37 PM
Obviously one cannot do double blind trials on religious belief and this kind of data is extremely susceptible to bias. All I can say is there is a widespread professional acceptance of the data.

It's not the data I'm asking about - it's the interpretation.


Psychiatric illness in juveniles is a major concern however - social conditions are changing extremely rapidly and I would not certainly discourage anyone from pursuing a belief that may be to their benefit, even if that belief is based on a falsehood.

But we need to know whether even the causative benefit is actually likely to be real.

Also, another issue with this - once you start encouraging people to believe for health reasons you're introducing a new kind of believers not necessarily measured in the original study (those who have been encouraged to believe for health reasons). Perhaps their health response will differ from the other believers, given that their social circumstances will probably be different in turn.

Rincewind
25-01-2004, 12:34 AM
Correllation isn't causation. How do those claiming this know that it isn't the other way around, ie that people in circumstances leading to lower rates of mental illness, depression and suicide are, as a result of those circumstances, more likely to be believers?

The studies that have been done are retrospective studies and these studies are always vulnerable to bias.The best kind of study is the double-blind prospective study. The HRT debate is a classic example when numerous retrospective studies and large scale meta-analysis gave results that appeared to suggest one thing (such as cardioprotection), only for the Women's Health Initiative, a large prospective study of over 10 000 women, to suggest another. Even this study was flawed and biased.

These studies are controlled for other factors such as socio-economic status, etc. The problem is human studies are expensive, extremely difficult to do, prone to bias and really can only be considered to be anywhere near reliable when the results have been consistantly demonstrated. The problem with the HRT studies is that extraneous factors that aren't being properly controlled are probably exerting a much greater effect than that observable from HRT.

Obviously one cannot do double blind trials on religious belief and this kind of data is extremely susceptible to bias. All I can say is there is a widespread professional acceptance of the data. This is not to say that it is necessarily correct - the medical profession has on occassions been wrong before! Psychiatric illness in juveniles is a major concern however - social conditions are changing extremely rapidly and I would not certainly discourage anyone from pursuing a belief that may be to their benefit, even if that belief is based on a falsehood.

All I can say is that it's the best information we have.

So the truth really does hurt.

This raises all sort of interesting issues regarding religions as memes and soliciting behaviours and responses which are favourable for the spread of the meme.

The point on depression is one example. It would also be interesting to see the number on pairing and parenting for religious vs non-religious. The catholic faith, for example, have certain policies which have the effect of keeping the birth rate of new catholics up there with the best - the annoying side effect is it doesn't help with the HIV infection problems in the 3rd world.

My personal view is it is better to die young and eyes open then live a long self-deluded life. Sure exposing someone to the truth may have the statistical result of increasing their risk to depression, but life is a dangerous exercise.

BTW Have you read my sig?

Cat
25-01-2004, 12:43 AM
There is a difference between 'encourage' and 'not discourage'

To determine causation one has to theorise about possible mechanism. A number of social and behavioural theories have been suggested. Religious belief exists within a cultural and social framework. The tradition and authority of organised religion provides an ordered framework, which boys in particular find beneficial. Note that the type of belief structure seems not to be so important, excepting for the reduced suicide rates in Roman Catholics.

Vivid and bizarre religious imagery is often a feature of psychotic illess such as schizophrenia and hypomania, but this represents only a small fraction of psychological illness; depression, anxiety-nuerosis and drug abuse being far more common.

Children do best in a loving but strict environment, but do worse of all in an authoritarian environment devoid of love.

A particularly concerning development is that in the void left from the decline in orthodox religion, all kinds of crazy belief systems have arisen under the term 'New Age' but what really represents a return to superstition and ancient practices formed from a number of cultural influences. This hotch-potch of belief lacks the rigor and tradition of organised religion and represents the worse elements of fadism and cultist behaviour. I would swear many of the adherents arrived on this planet before the Sumarians. Their understanding of the human body is beyond anything known to medical science, perform acts of S&M such as colonic irrigation, which they brazenly claim to be in the interests of their health, and blame all their ills on mysterious 'toxins' which must be exorcised in bizarre rituals involving a candle, a dark room and something very, very smelly.

These individuals dwell at the edges of human existence. They cannot blame any social or environmental influences for their situation, they are simply a product of their own stupidity. But I would not even discourage these individuals if they found happiness in their beliefs.

Cat
25-01-2004, 12:56 AM
My personal view is it is better to die young and eyes open then live a long self-deluded life.

I had a patient who suffered terribly from depression and was constantly complaining about his physical infirmity following an extensive and delibitating MI.

Then he had a stroke, whereafter suffered the unusual delusion of being able to visualise young ladies in a state of undress (like Superman). His depression lifted and I was able to stop his anti-depressants!

Rincewind
25-01-2004, 01:03 AM
A particularly concerning development is that in the void left from the decline in orthodox religion, all kinds of crazy belief systems have arisen under the term 'New Age' but what really represents a return to superstition and ancient practices formed from a number of cultural influences. This hotch-potch of belief lacks the rigor and tradition of organised religion and represents the worse elements of fadism and cultist behaviour. I would swear many of the adherents arrived on this planet before the Sumarians. Their understanding of the human body is beyond anything known to medical science, perform acts of S&M such as colonic irrigation, which they brazenly claim to be in the interests of their health, and blame all their ills on mysterious 'toxins' which must be exorcised in bizarre rituals involving a candle, a dark room and something very, very smelly.

These individuals dwell at the edges of human existence. They cannot blame any social or environmental influences for their situation, they are simply a product of their own stupidity. But I would not even discourage these individuals if they found happiness in their beliefs.

I think there has always been a lunatic fringe, both within organised religion and beyond it. Unlike gf's parody, I freely accept that atheism too has its lunatic fringe.

Of particular concern with the NA types is those that think they are a valid supplement/replacement for medical treatment. At best they are peddling false hope, at worse they are endangering the lives of the gullible or worse still the children of the gullible! There have been some tragic cases in this regard here in Australia. Absolutely shocking.

Meanwhile the altmed lobby groups greasy the wheels of democracy with their blood money. Makes me sick. They should introduce an effacy guidelines to force these charlatans out of business.

(That's not too libellous, is it?)

Kevin Bonham
25-01-2004, 01:10 AM
To determine causation one has to theorise about possible mechanism.

Yes, but you also have to find tests for them, which in this case is extremely difficult.


A particularly concerning development is that in the void left from the decline in orthodox religion, all kinds of crazy belief systems have arisen under the term 'New Age' but what really represents a return to superstition and ancient practices formed from a number of cultural influences.

In discussing this it is also important to note this irony: paganism is one of the belief systems making a massive comeback. Some Christians keen to put down the pagan resurgence like to point to its roots in superstition and rites - but the Christians were all too happy to appropriate and transform these festivities to make their own faith more acceptable to the people when it suited them.

Kevin Bonham
25-01-2004, 01:12 AM
Meanwhile the altmed lobby groups greasy the wheels of democracy with their blood money. Makes me sick. They should introduce an effacy guidelines to force these charlatans out of business.

(That's not too libellous, is it?)

Groups can't be defamed. :)

antichrist
25-01-2004, 10:20 AM
A particularly concerning development is that in the void left from the decline in orthodox religion, all kinds of crazy belief systems have arisen under the term 'New Age' but what really represents a return to superstition and ancient practices formed from a number of cultural influences. This hotch-potch of belief lacks the rigor and tradition of organised religion and represents the worse elements of fadism and cultist behaviour. I would swear many of the adherents arrived on this planet before the Sumarians. Their understanding of the human body is beyond anything known to medical science, perform acts of S&M such as colonic irrigation, which they brazenly claim to be in the interests of their health, and blame all their ills on mysterious 'toxins' which must be exorcised in bizarre rituals involving a candle, a dark room and something very, very smelly.

I once had a very funny experience with early new-agers (1975), those boards where put a few glasses on, spin it around and then speak to their deceased ancesters, Prince Charles stuff. But it is of highly erotic nature so can't elaborate publicly in case AR sues me for his therapy sessions.

Cat
25-01-2004, 10:22 AM
Yes, but you also have to find tests for them, which in this case is extremely difficult.

That's right.


In discussing this it is also important to note this irony: paganism is one of the belief systems making a massive comeback. Some Christians keen to put down the pagan resurgence like to point to its roots in superstition and rites - but the Christians were all too happy to appropriate and transform these festivities to make their own faith more acceptable to the people when it suited them.

Most of the Christian calendar can trace its root back to a more ancient heritage (pagan, jewish or before) based on seasons and natural events which had particular significance to these early farming and urban communities. Many of the biblical stories are based on recurring themes and narrative.




Of particular concern with the NA types is those that think they are a valid supplement/replacement for medical treatment. At best they are peddling false hope, at worse they are endangering the lives of the gullible or worse still the children of the gullible! There have been some tragic cases in this regard here in Australia. Absolutely shocking

The medical profession must bear some responisibilty for this. Many medical interventions are lacking for critical evidence either because these treatments have existed for so long that their origin predates the modern approach critical enquiry, or alternatively conducting a proper study is simply too difficult or expensive to perform.

Acknowledging the power of the placebo effect and recognising that this affect was widely utilised by medical practitioners, the profession restricted its criticism of alternative therapies to unethical practices. However, this approach is a slippery slope and as commercial considerations have muddied the issues, an unacceptable tolerance has emerged.

chesslover
26-01-2004, 10:33 AM
people attack christians for killings and the violent episodes of our past - the crusades and the protestant/catholic wars. But christianity now is peaceful, and converts not by violence, but rather by compassion and reason

But what about the satanists? they have killed people in the dark ages, and they still kill people now

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/01/25/1074965436749.html

Why dont the fanatic atheists condemn and attack satanists, as what they do is pure evil?

Why attack christians and our believes, and not the satanists - shows that there is one rule for attacking us who worship God, and another for those who worship Satan. :x

Makes you wonder does it not, as to what the true inspiration for atheism and agnotism comes from ? :idea:

Kevin Bonham
26-01-2004, 02:18 PM
people attack christians for killings and the violent episodes of our past - the crusades and the protestant/catholic wars. But christianity now is peaceful, and converts not by violence, but rather by compassion and reason

Dream on.

In terms of evangelical style conversions -

Compassion = a form of love in which the person loved is loved not for who they are but as an empty shell to be filled with Christianity so that it doesn't go to Hell, with the money of unbelievers stolen from them through the State to be used against their will in propaganda for this process.

Reason = psychological intimidation of children too young to comprehend all the issues, or else sweet promises made to those traumatised enough to believe more or less anything so long as it is not true. Very few adult atheists are converted to fundamentalism by reasoned argument alone, but there is plenty of traffic in the other direction.

I shall grant that actual direct violence by Christians to convert others is comparatively rare these days.


Why dont the fanatic atheists condemn and attack satanists, as what they do is pure evil?

Why attack christians and our believes, and not the satanists - shows that there is one rule for attacking us who worship God, and another for those who worship Satan. :x

There are a lot more Christians than Satanists. What to do about Christian beliefs is a publicly divisive issue that is constantly being debated. Satanism is not a significant public doctrine. Christians and atheists alike would generally agree that these Satanic cults (which are in any case very rare) are products of insanity or extreme social disfunction, best left to the police and the mental health professionals.


Makes you wonder does it not, as to what the true inspiration for atheism and agnotism comes from ? :idea:

Yawn. Whatever. :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Goughfather
27-01-2004, 11:33 PM
Welcome, once again ...

My apologies for the slow response. While as you all understand, I have a deep sense of affection for my BB brethren, I had commitments that took precedence over even this.

Did I read too much into the following?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goughfather
As a member of the Skeptic's Society you pride yourself on being skeptical of extraordinary claims. You also pride yourself on silencing everyone who is skeptical of the extraordinary claims of evolution.

You insist that science is completely partial to all ideas, is not dogmatic and researches all possibilities -- except creationism and/or intelligent design.


The first claims evolution is foundationless when the entire scientific community disagree. The second infers a world wide cover up.

If that's what you believe then that's fine. But just say so instead of dancing around your imperfect epistological posturing.

A few things bear remembering:

Firstly, this parody is the work of J.P. Holding from www.tektonics.org (http://), and not my my own (though the parody entitled "We welcome you to the 1st Macquarie University Atheistic Church" came directly from my keyboard). My selection critique has been based upon those "arguments" I have heard from villiage atheists I have conversed with, not simply on this board, but elsewhere and in person. I guess this is what I found amusing about the particular criteria for being a "fundamental atheist" - while there are some who have denounced the above criteria of being a charicature, the use of these arguments is far too real among mainstream atheism, and more often than not, are used with a straight face.

Secondly, to the substance of the objection - I believe evolution is the source of some kind of "world-wide conspiracy". Again, a few things need to be considered.

1) What do we talk about when we use the term "evolution"? I would be surprised if there are many Christians who reject all tenets of the doctrine of evolution. There needs to be a distinction drawn about whether we are talking about micro or macro evolution.

2) To suggest that there is consensus in the scientific community about all aspects of evolution is demonstrably naive. The theories undergirding macro-evolution vary greatly, and the scientific fraternity experiences great disunity on the subject.

3) "Intelligent design" refers to what is more commonly known as "Theistic Evolution". This approach does not seek to undermine evolution, but instead recognises that God has a place within its framework.

4) I have no expertise in science, nor do I claim to. My areas of speciality are primarily philosophy, and to a lesser extent, history. My objections are never based upon a flat-out denial of macro-evolution, but merely that one should be more reserved in speaking so emphatically about the truthhood of macro-evolution (and which model are we speaking of?) and the concept that it is mutually exclusive of a Judeo-Christian God. One may feel that they have a good reason to believe (have faith) in the above principles, but they are by no means what could be considered indisputable truth. Far too often, I am confronted with the lay perspective that macro-evolution without God if a verifiable fact. When I ask them why they believe this to be the case, they will tell me something to the effect of "everyone believes this, so it must be true". Apart from the fact that this reasoning is on its own insufficient, it is also demonstrably untrue.


OK but if you have a consistent interpretation of the 4 gospels for Easter morning, just post it. The next Wollongong tournament is likely to be an rapid so I could well not play.

From experience, I have found that it more constructive if I discuss these issues in person, seeing that an understanding of the Resurrection doesn't simply involve a harmonisation process, but an understanding of the 1st Century Judean mind set, literary techniques of the era and of course, New Testament Greek among other considerations. It really is a complicated process, and one which is never given justice through the medium of BB chat.

Btw, it's only about four months to the "Tournament for the Common Man", is it not? It's quite likely that I shall see you there.


Not wanting to out your identity, perhaps you could tell me: are your first and last initials adjacent letters of the alphabet but in decending order? Reply by PM if you like.

You may very well be on the right track. Without outing me, how do you know?


You could simply say that you don't have a leaning either way. A person doesn't have to have a provisional belief on something - if they have examined the arguments advanced by both sides but feel the debate is very finely balanced, then they may not have any real feeling either way. I find myself without a view or even a leaning either way on all kinds of issues that I haven't considered closely and even on some that I have. The God question isn't one of those for me, but it could be for other people.

Barry has on a few occasions claimed to "lack belief", rather than not believing (as if there is a meaningful difference). Does this mean that Barry finds the argument finely balanced?


Quote:
Quote:
Substitute "aliens" in above.


Why not? On what basis would you reject their claim a priori?


I wouldn't. However, a reverse caricature could easily point out how many Christians expect their personal testimony from experience to be accepted as evidence, but reject out of hand other personal testimonies from experience that don't fit in with their belief structure.

A few things: "I wouldn't" - Does this mean that you don't reject Christians personal testimony a priori?

Secondly, I never claim that personal experience is evidence to other people - If they have not experienced what I have experienced, then how do they know what I am talking about. Furthermore, such personal experience does not make up the substance of my belief - it complements the objective evidence. Personal experience is rarely the source of one's faith - this experience is a result of the already regenerated believer who has come to his/her belief on a weighing of the evidence, rather than of the person who is yet to believe.


Oh, I'm sure that many of the scientists engaged in debunking creationism and intelligent design are incredibly biased against both. However, being biased against a belief doesn't necessarily prevent you from constructing a devastating rebuttal of it.

You're right - that's why one's arguments must be judged upon the strength of the argument itself, not their belief. However, considering our tendencies towards bias, and the way in which this affects our capacity to argue impartiality, one must examine the claims made by these fallible human beings with increased scrutiny and skepticism, rather than simply accepting them as "gospel".


This is rather amusing in my own case because my own parents split up and my father left when I was in my early teens, however the issues that led to them splitting up never became apparent to me until I was at least ten, by which stage I had already been some kind of disbeliever for several years.

Firstly, my guess is that Vitz' critique is often selected pioneers of atheism, and not necessarily indicative of atheism in general. Secondly, there will always be "outriggers" - well adjusted atheists and pretty screwed up Christians. Thirdly, are you saying that you became an atheist no later than age eight? I don't want to presume that you fall into Holding's first symptom of "fundamentalist atheist", but what were you original reasons for disbelieving, what was your understanding of God then, and what is it now?


I think there has always been a lunatic fringe, both within organised religion and beyond it. Unlike gf's parody, I freely accept that atheism too has its lunatic fringe.

This is not (or Holding's) point. I'm simply saying that this so-call "lunatic fringe" is closer to home than most atheists would like to admit.


Dream on.

In terms of evangelical style conversions -

Compassion = a form of love in which the person loved is loved not for who they are but as an empty shell to be filled with Christianity so that it doesn't go to Hell

I'm presuming that Kevin, whose comments are generally intelligent, even if I disagree with some of them, is simply trying to humour us all by pretending to believe in such a clearly manufactured charicature.


with the money of unbelievers stolen from them through the State to be used against their will in propaganda for this process.

We've already been through the "Separation of Church and State" debate too many times to count. Kevin's perception does not correspond to anything that could be regarded as a historical and legal understanding of the principle. I adamently believe in separation of church and state, but not in Kevin's model, which finds no precedent outside of the Canons of Fundamentalist Atheism.


Reason = psychological intimidation of children too young to comprehend all the issues,

I know I don't make a point of proseltysing minors, and I know of no Christian organisations would who condone this method of evangelism.


or else sweet promises made to those traumatised enough to believe more or less anything so long as it is not true.

Could this view be a symptom of "Fundamentalist Atheist" Doctrine?


Very few adult atheists are converted to fundamentalism by reasoned argument alone, but there is plenty of traffic in the other direction.

Perhaps it may be good for you to define what you mean when you use the term "fundamentalism".

Rincewind
28-01-2004, 12:47 AM
Firstly, this parody is the work of J.P. Holding from www.tektonics.org (http://), and not my my own (though the parody entitled "We welcome you to the 1st Macquarie University Atheistic Church" came directly from my keyboard). My selection critique has been based upon those "arguments" I have heard from villiage atheists I have conversed with, not simply on this board, but elsewhere and in person. I guess this is what I found amusing about the particular criteria for being a "fundamental atheist" - while there are some who have denounced the above criteria of being a charicature, the use of these arguments is far too real among mainstream atheism, and more often than not, are used with a straight face.

Fair enough, I never claimed to be the most original poster on the board. But you have to stand by what you post if you are going to be fair dinkum. You have to say what you believe, not just what you don't believe. You can't run to the defense of all knowledge being tainted by the senses preventing us from ever knowing anything for certain.

My favoured model at the moment is anything could be true or false it is all a matter of probability. Basically all knowledge is built up inductively and eventually your mind will accept some things as effectively deductively true.

I'm not saying macro evolution is deductively proven but it is much closer to the threshold than any competing theories.


Secondly, to the substance of the objection - I believe evolution is the source of some kind of "world-wide conspiracy". Again, a few things need to be considered.

1) What do we talk about when we use the term "evolution"? I would be surprised if there are many Christians who reject all tenets of the doctrine of evolution. There needs to be a distinction drawn about whether we are talking about micro or macro evolution.


I believe this distinction is purely one that has been invented creationists. You have natural selection driving evolution and you have this evolution eventually causing specation between two populations which were prevously the same species.

Please define macro-evolution if your definition includes the phrase "kinds of animals", please define what you mean by kinds of animals


2) To suggest that there is consensus in the scientific community about all aspects of evolution is demonstrably naive. The theories undergirding macro-evolution vary greatly, and the scientific fraternity experiences great disunity on the subject.

There are different theories on how it happened. They all agree that it happened and was driven by natural selection.

How fast it occured whether mutations happen at a constant rate and to what degree random mutation had an effect are still being debated.

"Macro-evolution" vs "micro-evolution" is not a topic of debate as the distinction is not made. As requested above, please provide a definition of these terms.


3) "Intelligent design" refers to what is more commonly known as "Theistic Evolution". This approach does not seek to undermine evolution, but instead recognises that God has a place within its framework.

It is more commonly known as "Creationism" in the circles I move in, although that is a general term. I believe there are probably Intelligent Designists out there who deny any evolution, macro-, micro-, or nano-.


4) I have no expertise in science, nor do I claim to. My areas of speciality are primarily philosophy, and to a lesser extent, history. My objections are never based upon a flat-out denial of macro-evolution, but merely that one should be more reserved in speaking so emphatically about the truthhood of macro-evolution (and which model are we speaking of?) and the concept that it is mutually exclusive of a Judeo-Christian God.

I don't think all theists deny evolution. The catholic church for example have come around on the topic. They believe god was guiding the evolution down certain path-ways and that cannot be disproved (it also can't be proved) but that's fine. They (and most mainstream christian churches) are able to resolve theological issues with a non-literal reading of genesis.

What annoys me are fundamentalists who regurgitate long discredited arguments which "prove" the scientific community have it all wrong and evolution between kinds (for example), is not only against God's law, but there is also no evidence to back it up. So far you haven't regurgitated anything but you have started to hint at it here with the use of terms which are consistent with the run of the mill, Answers in Genesis, sort of chaff.


One may feel that they have a good reason to believe (have faith) in the above principles, but they are by no means what could be considered indisputable truth. Far too often, I am confronted with the lay perspective that macro-evolution without God if a verifiable fact. When I ask them why they believe this to be the case, they will tell me something to the effect of "everyone believes this, so it must be true". Apart from the fact that this reasoning is on its own insufficient, it is also demonstrably untrue.

I disagree that the scientific community is as divided on the issue as you represent here. As I said the disagreements you will here among scientists are not about IF evolution happened, but HOW it happened.


From experience, I have found that it more constructive if I discuss these issues in person, seeing that an understanding of the Resurrection doesn't simply involve a harmonisation process, but an understanding of the 1st Century Judean mind set, literary techniques of the era and of course, New Testament Greek among other considerations. It really is a complicated process, and one which is never given justice through the medium of BB chat.

I disagree and the BB forum is an excellent medium to hold this sort of discussion, especially between multiple interested parties from geographically isolated locales.


Btw, it's only about four months to the "Tournament for the Common Man", is it not? It's quite likely that I shall see you there.

It is possible. However, you could turn up and just as likely not see me.


You may very well be on the right track. Without outing me, how do you know?

I'll send you a PM you can confirm, deny or ignore. ;)


Barry has on a few occasions claimed to "lack belief", rather than not believing (as if there is a meaningful difference). Does this mean that Barry finds the argument finely balanced?

You have a background in philosophy, what is wrong with this syllogism?

All New Zealanders enjoys Rugby.
Barry enjoys Rugy.
Therefore Barry is a New Zealander.

The atheism is a not a faith because a faith is the acceptance of a system of beliefs for which there is essentially no objective reason to accept. If you say I will not accept a belief system without there being good reason for doing so, you examine all the world religions and they basicaly all come down to accepting them "on faith".

Atheism is the realisation that ALL religions are much more likely to be false than true. It's like that quote I had in my sig for a while. To paraphrase: You reject all religions except one. When you realise why you reject all other religions than you will know why I reject yours.

The short answer is "no, I don't believe the argument to be finely balanced".


This is not (or Holding's) point. I'm simply saying that this so-call "lunatic fringe" is closer to home than most atheists would like to admit.

What creationist need to realise is that even lunatic fringes have a lunatic fringe. It's like a Mandelbrot set. ;)

Fundamentalism is a woolly term but is basically a movement which involves a very literal interpretation of the scriptures as the inerrant message from God. If there is disagreement between a literal interpretation of scripture and conventional science, or history, then the latter is always reinterpreted as best as is possible to fit the scripture generated world-view.

Christian fundamentalism indicators are beliefs in

* seven actual 24 hour day creation of existence
* young earth (usually (and laughably) less than 10,000 years old)
* actual garden of Eden, one Adam, one Eve
* no death or desease before the Fall of Man
* no evolution between "kinds"
* an actual, world-wide, Noachian flood
* all animal are decendants of those that were "saved" on one great big wooden boat.

They also seem to have believe in a patriarchal model of society, they are anti-abortion, anti-gay and are less interested in issues of inter-faith harmony than the mainstream churchs.

Don't laugh there are people who actually believe all these views. A lot more believe just some of them. Some of these are even chess masters.

Of course fundamentalism isn't just a movement in christianity it is something all the faiths share.

Kevin Bonham
28-01-2004, 02:51 AM
My apologies for the slow response.

No worries. But first:


Could this view be a symptom of "Fundamentalist Atheist" Doctrine?
You're getting close to my little trap there. Maybe if chesslover was to write some more tripe on the subject of what inspires atheism, and I could react with a few suitably provocative statements, you might try psychologising my reaction to the original parody and fall in altogether? :D

Now, I should ask you this: what to you constitutes a "village atheist"?


while there are some who have denounced the above criteria of being a charicature, the use of these arguments is far too real among mainstream atheism, and more often than not, are used with a straight face.

So? Are Christians on average any better, let alone only equally bad? When you have so many people taking a stand one way or the other on an issue despite having no relevant qualifications or understanding of the arguments to be involved, it's to be expected that most people on both sides will spout nonsense.


2) The theories undergirding macro-evolution vary greatly, and the scientific fraternity experiences great disunity on the subject.

That is making rather a lot out of the differences between gradualism and punctuated equilibria, and other arguments about exactly how it happens and over what precise time scales. Within the relevant scientific fraternity I am not aware of significant dissent on the following:

* All known life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor.
* This happened over a period of many hundreds of millions of years.
* This evolution started with very small and simple lifeforms, proceeding later to more complex ones.
* This happened through a mechanism or mechanisms in which some similar lineages would be favoured over others because of greater success in their environment, leading over time to species and higher level differences.


3) "Intelligent design" refers to what is more commonly known as "Theistic Evolution". This approach does not seek to undermine evolution, but instead recognises that God has a place within its framework.

There is an attempted formal information theory argument often called "intelligent design". I'm not aware of it requiring commitment to evolution.


4)My objections are never based upon a flat-out denial of macro-evolution, but merely that one should be more reserved in speaking so emphatically about the truthhood of macro-evolution (and which model are we speaking of?) and the concept that it is mutually exclusive of a Judeo-Christian God.

It is not mutually exclusive with a "Judeo-Christian God" considered broadly but it is mutually exclusive with many prevalent interpretations of the Bible within Christianity. If you see any reason for reservation about any of the items marked * above, please let me know. But you may want to first gohere (http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html) to save me a lot of effort. :p


Far too often, I am confronted with the lay perspective that macro-evolution without God if a verifiable fact.

There is no known evidence even pointing to significant intervention by God. Indeed most of the "missing links" those with reservations about "macro-evolution" used to point to with glee have now been found. If you're asking how I can prove that God (assuming there is one) didn't knock the odd fish on the head back in the Silurian because its pink fins clashed with the decor or something, I can't - but such a claim is unfalsifiable, as is a God who does nothing.


Barry has on a few occasions claimed to "lack belief", rather than not believing (as if there is a meaningful difference). Does this mean that Barry finds the argument finely balanced?

Not necessarily. But even if he means the same thing, that doesn't mean that everybody else claiming to "lack belief" means the same thing.


A few things: "I wouldn't" - Does this mean that you don't reject Christians personal testimony a priori?

Correct. I am sceptical about them empirically because there are such a wide range of already known states, in some cases known to be linked to brain chemistry, in which people believe they are experiencing things that are not actually real (voices in the head due to mental illness, hallucinations due to drug use or sensory deprivation, dreams during sleep etc).


Personal experience is rarely the source of one's faith - this experience is a result of the already regenerated believer who has come to his/her belief on a weighing of the evidence, rather than of the person who is yet to believe.

Many of the Christians I talk to are young campus evangelical types from the Fellowship of Christian University Students (FOCUS) and this sad lot (who seek me out and try to convert me) must skew my personal sample - but nearly all of them have told me of their faith commencing with personal experience, as with one of them who recently told me the Holy Spirit had descended upon him at Alexandra Battery on a specific date (causing me to ask what on earth it was doing hanging around such a place :rolleyes: ). I'm sure they're not representative.


However, considering our tendencies towards bias, and the way in which this affects our capacity to argue impartiality, one must examine the claims made by these fallible human beings with increased scrutiny and skepticism, rather than simply accepting them as "gospel".

Sure, do that, and see where it gets you. The onus is still on you to refute them if you wish to do so and are able to. Saying "you've got a vested interest" is not an argument.


Thirdly, are you saying that you became an atheist no later than age eight?

I never "became" an "atheist". I simply never believed. I remember my cousin being christened when I was four or so, and I remember being aware that this was a ceremony to something I didn't believe in. I don't know who first told me about the God myth, it may have been in connection with that very event.


I don't want to presume that you fall into Holding's first symptom of "fundamentalist atheist", but what were you original reasons for disbelieving, what was your understanding of God then, and what is it now?

I'd been told that God was the creator of the world or the universe (how much distinction I drew there I'm not sure), and my earliest scepticism was simply the tried and true "If God made everything who made God" type.

Nowadays, I can't have a single understanding of something that doesn't appear to "exist" (whatever that, in this context, could possibly mean). I have a range of understandings of different concepts of God/ess/es that have been advanced by a range of different people and cultures, plus other possible conceptions that have never been advanced by anyone except as a joke, but that I have considered for the sake of argument. Many of these are so much more credible and interesting than any version of the Christian God I've yet seen proposed that I have to remind myself not to believe in Them. :eek:


I'm presuming that Kevin, whose comments are generally intelligent, even if I disagree with some of them, is simply trying to humour us all by pretending to believe in such a clearly manufactured charicature.

Yes and no, I just overgeneralised. I have come to know the FOCUS types and their like's views very well and I believe that what I wrote is a pretty fair call on the assaults on the English language they inflict with their use of words like "love" and "compassion".


Kevin's perception does not correspond to anything that could be regarded as a historical and legal understanding of the principle.

So? It corresponds to a fact. State money is used for purposes that are at least partly or indirectly religion-promoting in nature and some unbelievers would not consent to this if they had the option of saying no.


I adamently believe in separation of church and state, but not in Kevin's model, which finds no precedent outside of the Canons of Fundamentalist Atheism.

I wouldn't care less if the only precedent for it was in the lyrics of Britney Spears - in general, I see no defensible reason for allowing any form of coercion requiring any individual to financially support another individual's exercise or transmission of their religion. I don't care who historically has agreed with my position and who has not - this is the particular form of seperation of church and state that I support. I am however happy for the state to fund neutrally oriented and inclusive teaching and debate on these issues - indeed I encourage this. (This rules me out of your fundamentalist Canon, because the most extreme position won't even allow for that.)


I know I don't make a point of proseltysing minors, and I know of no Christian organisations would who condone this method of evangelism.

We've been through the advocative nature of (at least some) school scripture before. And I have never come across a Christian organisation believing in the reality of Hell that makes any attempt whatsoever to convince parents to shield their children from what the Bible (supposedly) says about Hell and who might go there until a less potentially delicate age.


Perhaps it may be good for you to define what you mean when you use the term "fundamentalism".

In the context of Christianity, I'll take it as simply the view that the Bible is literally true in every significant point (typically in its entirity) and using an interpretation (whichever one) that isn't especially eccentric.

Goughfather
28-01-2004, 03:46 AM
Many thanks Barry for your speedy and detailed reply ...


Fair enough, I never claimed to be the most original poster on the board. But you have to stand by what you post if you are going to be fair dinkum. You have to say what you believe, not just what you don't believe. You can't run to the defense of all knowledge being tainted by the senses preventing us from ever knowing anything for certain.

Well, I do think that this is true, though. I know truths with different levels of certainty. My conviction that the sun will rise tomorrow is close enough to 100%. My convictions about other things are less stable.


My favoured model at the moment is anything could be true or false it is all a matter of probability. Basically all knowledge is built up inductively and eventually your mind will accept some things as effectively deductively true.

My problem is that one's criteria for determining probability is subjective (which is one of the reasons I find the Humean model less than satisfactory), and therefore unstable. If your criteria is flawed, then your conclusions will inevitably be flawed. What then occurs is that your worldview is founded upon mistakes upon mistakes upon mistakes. If one then accepts something as "deductively true", then it is unlikely that they will change their stance later.


I'm not saying macro evolution is deductively proven but it is much closer to the threshold than any competing theories.

My issue here is that competing theories don't really exist. Macro evolution then becomes a "default position" in the absence of any viable alternatives.


I believe this distinction is purely one that has been invented creationists. You have natural selection driving evolution and you have this evolution eventually causing specation between two populations which were prevously the same species.

Please define macro-evolution if your definition includes the phrase "kinds of animals", please define what you mean by kinds of animals

As I understand it, the distinction between micro and macro evolution involves a distinction between adaption and selection inside species, and adaption and selection between species. As I said, I'm not a scientist, and don't really hold a definitive position myself, so it is unlikely that I can bring much valuable into the discussion.

When I was a strapping lad, I did 4 unit mathematics. Most of my friends, many of whom were atheists were among this community. When we parted ways and commenced tertiary studies, the logical decision for most of these people was to study the sciences. Oddly enough, I decided that I wished to study Arts/Law, even though my natural aptitudes were not in humanities. Accordingly, when discussing the issue of origins, I gladly admit that I am unable to hold a candle up to these people. If I wished to debate these people, they would surely grind me into the ground, because I am not trained in this field.


There are different theories on how it happened. They all agree that it happened and was driven by natural selection.

How fast it occured whether mutations happen at a constant rate and to what degree random mutation had an effect are still being debated.

"Macro-evolution" vs "micro-evolution" is not a topic of debate as the distinction is not made. As requested above, please provide a definition of these terms.

See my brief and largely inadequate response above.


What annoys me are fundamentalists who regurgitate long discredited arguments which "prove" the scientific community have it all wrong and evolution between kinds (for example), is not only against God's law, but there is also no evidence to back it up. So far you haven't regurgitated anything but you have started to hint at it here with the use of terms which are consistent with the run of the mill, Answers in Genesis, sort of chaff.

To be completely honest and transparent, I have no definitively solid stance on the issue, because my knowledge in the area is appallingly weak. I would like to know more, and am always interested in discussing the issue with my scientifically trained, atheist friends, wanting them to explain what they believe and why they believe it.

I think I've mentioned this on the board before, but my apologetic technique rests upon the historicity of the Resurrection. It's one of those "if this, then all else follows" type of equation (By the way, I'm not saying "if this, then a literalist reading of Genesis follows"). And of course, there is the flip side: "if this does not follow, then the rest does not follow". For me to conduct a system of apologetics with regard to scientific principles would be a hopeless pretence, since I am in no way qualified to do so.


I disagree that the scientific community is as divided on the issue as you represent here. As I said the disagreements you will here among scientists are not about IF evolution happened, but HOW it happened.

To some extent, I agree with what you are saying. I'm simply saying that there is no real room for IF, if HOW is resolved. The fact that HOW is not resolved leaves a plethora of questions and legitimates the IF. If not saying that macro-evolution is untrue - I'm simply saying that is it foolish to accept it as immutable fact and to use it as a truism in intellectual discussion.


It is more commonly known as "Creationism" in the circles I move in, although that is a general term. I believe there are probably Intelligent Designists out there who deny any evolution, macro-, micro-, or nano-.

Large "C" Creationism is a vast category, representing a variety of views, including "Intelligent Design". From my understanding Intelligent Designists fit with a framework of those who believe that God was the driving force behind evolution. Perhaps the best known exponent of such a view is William Lane Craig (of whom some of you may remember debated Phillip Adams last year at Sydney Town Hall), a vigorous defender of the Cosmological Argument who suggest that the principles of Evolution not only suggest, but assert that there is a God at wheel.


It is possible. However, you could turn up and just as likely not see me.

Well, that would be a pity, since I would like to catch up again. If you're not playing and are available, it would be nice if you drop in, if only momentarily.


You have a background in philosophy, what is wrong with this syllogism?

All New Zealanders enjoys Rugby.
Barry enjoys Rugy.
Therefore Barry is a New Zealander.

Of course, the problem is that not all those that enjoy Rugby are with respect to the premises, (necessarily) New Zealanders.

The issue is, however, that you mixed up the necessary and sufficient conditions. What I mean is to say that the argument should read:

1) All people who "lack theistic belief" do so because they regard the issue as finely balanced.
2) Barry "lacks theistic belief"
Conclusion) Barry regards the issue as finely balanced.

Of course, the conclusion is erroneous, but it is an internally consistent argument. My point was that Kevin's critique was erroneous and that a perception that a position is finely balanced is not a sufficient condition of "lacking theistic belief".


The atheism is a not a faith because a faith is the acceptance of a system of beliefs for which there is essentially no objective reason to accept. If you say I will not accept a belief system without there being good reason for doing so, you examine all the world religions and they basically all come down to accepting them "on faith".

This definition of faith does not correspond with either the historical understanding of the phrase throughout Judeo-Christian thought, nor to rendering of the word "pistis" in New Testament Greek. In that sense, one could say that you're understanding of the word "faith" is distinctively un-Biblical, and distinctly un-Christian. Accordingly, you've presented a strawperson charicature that has no place within the context of this discussion.


Atheism is the realisation that ALL religions are much more likely to be false than true. It's like that quote I had in my sig for a while. To paraphrase: You reject all religions except one. When you realise why you reject all other religions than you will know why I reject yours.

I don't agree with your definition of religion, working from the Greek, but I'm not particularly sure that's relevant. I tend to typify that belief structure with agnosticism, but all labels are essentially meaningless, unless you wish to skew an argument.


The short answer is "no, I don't believe the argument to be finely balanced".

I knew as much. Simply a rhetorical question.

Goughfather
28-01-2004, 03:49 AM
I'm getting sick of being told that I am only allowed to make posts a maximum of 10,000 characters. Don't they know that people like me frequent these boards?!


Fundamentalism is a woolly term but is basically a movement which involves a very literal interpretation of the scriptures as the inerrant message from God. If there is disagreement between a literal interpretation of scripture and conventional science, or history, then the latter is always reinterpreted as best as is possible to fit the scripture generated world-view.

Christian fundamentalism indicators are beliefs in

* seven actual 24 hour day creation of existence
* young earth (usually (and laughably) less than 10,000 years old)
* actual garden of Eden, one Adam, one Eve
* no death or desease before the Fall of Man
* no evolution between "kinds"
* an actual, world-wide, Noachian flood
* all animal are decendants of those that were "saved" on one great big wooden boat.

They also seem to have believe in a patriarchal model of society, they are anti-abortion, anti-gay and are less interested in issues of inter-faith harmony than the mainstream churchs.

In the sense of requiring a literal rendering for the whole Bible, I could not in any sense be regarded as an fundamentalist. With regard to the indicators illustrated above, I do not necessarily hold them to be true, while allowing for the possibility that they may be true, and I cannot reject them a priori, if that makes sense.


Don't laugh there are people who actually believe all these views. A lot more believe just some of them. Some of these are even chess masters.

I take it you speak of FM Sarfarti?


Of course fundamentalism isn't just a movement in christianity it is something all the faiths share.

Shall I be so bold as to include atheism into that category?

skip to my lou
28-01-2004, 04:21 AM
I'm getting sick of being told that I am only allowed to make posts a maximum of 10,000 characters.

That was the default setting, I have increased it now. :)

Goughfather
28-01-2004, 04:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goughfather
I'm getting sick of being told that I am only allowed to make posts a maximum of 10,000 characters.


That was the default setting, I have increased it now.

Oops! I'm sorry if that sounded like I was complaining about you Jeo. I think that you've done an excellent job in setting up this board, and while I feel a bizarre sense of attachment to the old board, I feel that this board is far superior.

I'm simply having a tongue in cheek shot at myself. Any normal person should be able to state what he or she wishes to say in less than 10,000 characters. Of course, I face the reality that I am abnormal every day ...

Rincewind
28-01-2004, 10:31 AM
Well, I do think that this is true, though. I know truths with different levels of certainty. My conviction that the sun will rise tomorrow is close enough to 100%. My convictions about other things are less stable.

My problem is that one's criteria for determining probability is subjective (which is one of the reasons I find the Humean model less than satisfactory), and therefore unstable. If your criteria is flawed, then your conclusions will inevitably be flawed. What then occurs is that your worldview is founded upon mistakes upon mistakes upon mistakes. If one then accepts something as "deductively true", then it is unlikely that they will change their stance later.

This is a minor philosophical point but flawed criteria don't necessarily lead to flawed conclusions. However the conclusions are far from reliable.


My issue here is that competing theories don't really exist. Macro evolution then becomes a "default position" in the absence of any viable alternatives.

The reason why there are no competing theories in mainstream science (any more) is because the evolution has shown to be superior. There are bit and pieces being added, small details rendered with greater accuracy but evolution by natural selection is the architectural masterpiece and most of the work is interior decorating.

Again your painting of evolution as a "default position" grossly underrates the importance and widespread acceptance of evolution as a major scientific achievement.


As I understand it, the distinction between micro and macro evolution involves a distinction between adaption and selection inside species, and adaption and selection between species. As I said, I'm not a scientist, and don't really hold a definitive position myself, so it is unlikely that I can bring much valuable into the discussion.

Adaptation eventually leads to new species. Just look at closely related species that are spread over a wide geographic area but where the individual species are non-migratory (so you don't have wide interpreding between individuals from widely disparite locales).

If you wish to resolve the question of the veracity or otherwise of evolution perhaps you should critically read some popular science literature on the subject. It would at least inform you on one side of the argument. There are also books which are specifically geared to debunking the arguments of either side but I would recommend the more general science popularisation type as the first port of call.


When I was a strapping lad, I did 4 unit mathematics. Most of my friends, many of whom were atheists were among this community. When we parted ways and commenced tertiary studies, the logical decision for most of these people was to study the sciences. Oddly enough, I decided that I wished to study Arts/Law, even though my natural aptitudes were not in humanities. Accordingly, when discussing the issue of origins, I gladly admit that I am unable to hold a candle up to these people. If I wished to debate these people, they would surely grind me into the ground, because I am not trained in this field.

Hopefully some also went on to study Mathematics. ;)


I think I've mentioned this on the board before, but my apologetic technique rests upon the historicity of the Resurrection. It's one of those "if this, then all else follows" type of equation (By the way, I'm not saying "if this, then a literalist reading of Genesis follows"). And of course, there is the flip side: "if this does not follow, then the rest does not follow". For me to conduct a system of apologetics with regard to scientific principles would be a hopeless pretence, since I am in no way qualified to do so.

I think the historicity of the resurrection is questionable at best. Certainly mainstream history doesn't accept it as an established historical event.


To some extent, I agree with what you are saying. I'm simply saying that there is no real room for IF, if HOW is resolved. The fact that HOW is not resolved leaves a plethora of questions and legitimates the IF. If not saying that macro-evolution is untrue - I'm simply saying that is it foolish to accept it as immutable fact and to use it as a truism in intellectual discussion.

Questions on the "how" do not illegitimise the "if". The fact that there is no other serious contender to the "if" is actually symtomatic of its general acceptance. As stated previously the how questions are relatively minor points when compared to the overall question of "if".


Large "C" Creationism is a vast category, representing a variety of views, including "Intelligent Design". From my understanding Intelligent Designists fit with a framework of those who believe that God was the driving force behind evolution. Perhaps the best known exponent of such a view is William Lane Craig (of whom some of you may remember debated Phillip Adams last year at Sydney Town Hall), a vigorous defender of the Cosmological Argument who suggest that the principles of Evolution not only suggest, but assert that there is a God at wheel.

The "god is at the wheel" argument usually relies heavily on the argument that certains organs are complex and partial evolution of these organs would not be selectively advantageous. The usual example being the eye. I'm not familiar with the debate, was this a part of Craig's argument?


Well, that would be a pity, since I would like to catch up again. If you're not playing and are available, it would be nice if you drop in, if only momentarily.

I'll see what I can do.


Of course, the problem is that not all those that enjoy Rugby are with respect to the premises, (necessarily) New Zealanders.

The issue is, however, that you mixed up the necessary and sufficient conditions. What I mean is to say that the argument should read:

1) All people who "lack theistic belief" do so because they regard the issue as finely balanced.
2) Barry "lacks theistic belief"
Conclusion) Barry regards the issue as finely balanced.

Of course, the conclusion is erroneous, but it is an internally consistent argument. My point was that Kevin's critique was erroneous and that a perception that a position is finely balanced is not a sufficient condition of "lacking theistic belief".

My reading of Kevin's passage is that he was saying people who make the distinct COULD be doing so because they have not made up their mind either way. Not all those who make the distinction do so BECAUSE they have not made up their mind.


This definition of faith does not correspond with either the historical understanding of the phrase throughout Judeo-Christian thought, nor to rendering of the word "pistis" in New Testament Greek. In that sense, one could say that you're understanding of the word "faith" is distinctively un-Biblical, and distinctly un-Christian. Accordingly, you've presented a strawperson charicature that has no place within the context of this discussion.

Sorry I was using it in the every-day English sense. Every religion has its scriptures and they are not reconcilable so at best all but one of them are necessarily unhistorical. Why do you believe that Christianity is winning this competition?


I don't agree with your definition of religion, working from the Greek, but I'm not particularly sure that's relevant. I tend to typify that belief structure with agnosticism, but all labels are essentially meaningless, unless you wish to skew an argument.

See above, in general if you work from the English you might have less trouble following my argument.


In the sense of requiring a literal rendering for the whole Bible, I could not in any sense be regarded as an fundamentalist. With regard to the indicators illustrated above, I do not necessarily hold them to be true, while allowing for the possibility that they may be true, and I cannot reject them a priori, if that makes sense.

I recommend rejecting little if anything at all a priori, but do some reading and see if the arguments of science make sense when compared to creationism on these points. It may give a different perspective to your biblical studies.


I take it you speak of FM Sarfarti?

I didn't say that but his association with AiG does make him a strong candidate.


Shall I be so bold as to include atheism into that category?

I thought I'd throw you that bone to see if you would bite.

I guess you could have fundamentalist aethists but since atheism as a whole have no canonical texts, I don't see how you could truely have a broad fundamentalist movement in the same way the theists do. (Sorry for not including this in my original post).

Cat
28-01-2004, 02:54 PM
Goughfather, perhaps the criticism of the 10 000 + characters you used came about because of your extravagant, wanton and carefree abuse of the English language. Your distortion of meaning stretches tolerance to its limits and tortures truth.

Let me help you with some words you've misused;

faith - a personal belief or convinction (held without objective evidence of truth).

science - an attempt to understand the natural world through critical examination.

fundamentalism - a term used to describe a religious belief based on an uncritical acceptance of scripture.

bigotry ( a word you should have perhaps tried) - an ignorant belief that a differing belief, social system, class, race, etc. is inferior.

I would suggest that when you use the term 'fundamental atheist' what you really mean is that some atheists are bigoted. And what you should say is that bigotry exists everywhere, through all societies, cultures, etc and a jolly bad thing it is too. Now if you had said this (and it wouldn't have taken too many words), we'd all have been happy!

Your faith exists because it makes you happy. That's great, I'm really pleased for you. But science does not exist to make anyone happy, it exists to explore, to question, to find the closest approximation possible to the truth. When Newton described his Laws of Motion, they didn't prove to be ultimately correct. But they were and still are a darn good approximation. His ideas did not stop criticism and persistent, critical testing. When Darwin and Mendel wrote their theories, no-one knew about DNA and genes, but their insights were so accurate, produced so critically and rigorously that they widthstood exposure to new discovery.

The tragedy is that some can only sustain faith by denying truth. Isn't that the reason why Capernicus and Gallilleo were imprisoned? And why Darwin was villified and still is? Isn't faith weak when it has to rely on bigotry for support?

antichrist
28-01-2004, 04:49 PM
Where science ends -- superstitution begins. R.G. Ingersoll

Goughfather
28-01-2004, 08:14 PM
Goughfather, perhaps the criticism of the 10 000 + characters you used came about because of your extravagant, wanton and carefree abuse of the English language. Your distortion of meaning stretches tolerance to its limits and tortures truth.

And whose truth is this? Is this truth objective or subjective? And the question we all want to know - Is truth only objective when it corresponds with what you believe?


Let me help you with some words you've misused;

How can one misuse a construct? Or is this one of your exclusively "objective truths"?


faith - a personal belief or convinction (held without objective evidence of truth).

You're most welcome to fashion your concept of "faith", even if it is merely an exercise in expedience. All I can tell you then is that I don't have faith in that sense of word. I've argued from Judeo-Christian history, and even from the New Testament Greek. I've explained that nowhere does the Bible call for the faith that you are speaking of, but rather a "pistis" faith, which requires forensic evidence. What else do I have to do?

Just a point, arguing with reference to the English, rather than the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic is one of the classic hallmarks of "villiage atheism" (Don't worry Kevin, I shall address this concept of the "villiage atheist" in more detail when I reply to your post).


science - an attempt to understand the natural world through critical examination.

What's your point? I've merely against science being conductedin an unscientific manner (A view I'm sure Kevin and Barry will agree with). Though the definition you've provided is a little simplistic and needs more elaboration, I have no real disagreement with it.


fundamentalism - a term used to describe a religious belief based on an uncritical acceptance of scripture.

Value judgments are rarely helpful in definitions - they only uncover an opaque agenda. Barry gave his definition of "fundamentalism" before, which I felt was most reasonable.


bigotry ( a word you should have perhaps tried) - an ignorant belief that a differing belief, social system, class, race, etc. is inferior.

You believe that my belief is inferior to your belief. Does that make you a bigot, or at least, bigoted?


I would suggest that when you use the term 'fundamental atheist' what you really mean is that some atheists are bigoted.

No, I refer to a methodology, the hallmarks of which include trailer park scholarship, charicature and dogmatic adherence to their atheistic framework of faith. Kind of like the post that I am responding to.


And what you should say is that bigotry exists everywhere, through all societies, cultures, etc and a jolly bad thing it is too. Now if you had said this (and it wouldn't have taken too many words), we'd all have been happy!

Indeed - its a human phenomenon, not an exclusively atheist or Christian phenomenon.


Your faith exists because it makes you happy.

My faith exists because based upon the evidence presented before me, I believe it to be true.


That's great, I'm really pleased for you.

Really? You don't sound as though you are.


But science does not exist to make anyone happy, it exists to explore, to question, to find the closest approximation possible to the truth.

Again, what's your point? Besides, I find it all too common for some (though, not all, or necessarily most) atheists with no credentials in a given field to accept "scientific" conclusions blindly, without scrutiny in order to explain away the existence of God. This is, of course, the flip-side of Freud's "wish fulfillment" - I'll leave you to work out what that might mean.


The tragedy is that some can only sustain faith by denying truth.

Again, an extremely dogmatic statement. And whose truth is this? That of David Richards, keeper of the keys of all knowledge and wisdom (while still, of course, maintaining a straight face)?


Isn't that the reason why Capernicus and Gallilleo were imprisoned? And why Darwin was villified and still is? Isn't faith weak when it has to rely on bigotry for support?

Well, yes. And again, what's your point?

Kevin Bonham
28-01-2004, 11:22 PM
As I understand it, the distinction between micro and macro evolution involves a distinction between adaption and selection inside species, and adaption and selection between species. As I said, I'm not a scientist, and don't really hold a definitive position myself, so it is unlikely that I can bring much valuable into the discussion.

Usually when I'm debating this with Christians they take a very limited position and call it "micro-evolution". Typically it is that evolution occurs below the species level only. Once you stretch that to allow for evolution causing speciation that is all you need. The idea of evolution "between species" (eg that natural selection promotes some species and eliminates others) is not a necessary part of evolution theory. In a trivial sense it is true, because some species become extinct and others don't, but the philosophical problem is that "survival of the fittest" in a species sense is only really measurable by whether a species survives or doesn't, which becomes a bit tautological. Many Christians like to set up this kind of "evolution between different species" as a straw man but it's actually not relevant.


Of course, the conclusion is erroneous, but it is an internally consistent argument. My point was that Kevin's critique was erroneous and that a perception that a position is finely balanced is not a sufficient condition of "lacking theistic belief".

:wall:

Did I ever say it was? No, I said that "without a belief in God " may include belief that the debate is finely balanced, whereas "belief that there is no god" clearly excludes sitting on the fence. Hence the former class includes more people provided that at least one person believes the debate is finely balanced. There is no error in my reasoning on this whatsoever.

antichrist
29-01-2004, 09:38 AM
It could be deduced that you are arguing over nothing.

Rincewind
29-01-2004, 01:17 PM
Usually when I'm debating this with Christians they take a very limited position and call it "micro-evolution". Typically it is that evolution occurs below the species level only. Once you stretch that to allow for evolution causing speciation that is all you need. The idea of evolution "between species" (eg that natural selection promotes some species and eliminates others) is not a necessary part of evolution theory. In a trivial sense it is true, because some species become extinct and others don't, but the philosophical problem is that "survival of the fittest" in a species sense is only really measurable by whether a species survives or doesn't, which becomes a bit tautological. Many Christians like to set up this kind of "evolution between different species" as a straw man but it's actually not relevant.

There are many example of one species causing the extinction of another. Especially when your first species is H sapien. But it the adaption to the point of speciation that is the sticking point I think. Although again either it happens or Noah had a very big boat indeed (not to mention other logisitical issues). :wink:

Cat
29-01-2004, 01:45 PM
I've explained that nowhere does the Bible call for the faith that you are speaking of, but rather a "pistis" faith, which requires forensic evidence. What else do I have to do?

It's neither forensic, scientific or convincing to rely on scriptural text for historical record. The fact you cannot see this suggests indeed that your faith is blind.


Just a point, arguing with reference to the English, rather than the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic is one of the classic hallmarks of "villiage atheism" (Don't worry Kevin, I shall address this concept of the "villiage atheist" in more detail when I reply to your post).


This is not reasoned argument but plain bigotry. It doesn't really deserve any sort of reply, but out of kindness I'm responding so that you may refrain from such abuse in future.


What's your point? I've merely against science being conductedin an unscientific manner (A view I'm sure Kevin and Barry will agree with). Though the definition you've provided is a little simplistic and needs more elaboration, I have no real disagreement with it.

That individuals lack rigor in their scientific approach in no way undermines the validity of the approach. What I object to is your insinuations that because the science process has the potential to be corrupted, that theology and science are susceptible to subjective opinion to similar degrees. There is no such comparison possible.

A belief in God/a faith, and scientific enquiry are two completely different things. Faith is entirely personal, what happens in the scientific arena, only affects faith on a personal level. Religious belief should have no affect on scientific enquiry.


Value judgments are rarely helpful in definitions - they only uncover an opaque agenda. Barry gave his definition of "fundamentalism" before, which I felt was most reasonable.

Your entire argument is based on value judgements!!! Nevertheless, lets explore the word, 'fundamental'. It implies some underlying precept from which all else flows. I know of no atheist 'dogma' , the is no atheist bible, as far as I can see BJC, KB,MS & myself all have individual views, there are no creeds, other than the one you imagine.


You believe that my belief is inferior to your belief. Does that make you a bigot, or at least, bigoted?

When have I ever suggested that? Your knowledge may be inferior in the scientific arena, as you have already said yourself, but your belief is yours and I respect that.


No, I refer to a methodology, the hallmarks of which include trailer park scholarship, charicature and dogmatic adherence to their atheistic framework of faith. Kind of like the post that I am responding to.

What methodology? Being an atheist is simply holding an opinion, it doesn't have to be justified or defended.


Again, what's your point? Besides, I find it all too common for some (though, not all, or necessarily most) atheists with no credentials in a given field to accept "scientific" conclusions blindly, without scrutiny in order to explain away the existence of God.

Again, another example of your bigotry. Why should atheists blindly accept scientific conclusion any more than anyone else? Do you have evidence for this? If you have evidence then please present it. If not it is a statement that simply says something about your ability to hold prejudices.


Again, an extremely dogmatic statement. And whose truth is this? That of David Richards, keeper of the keys of all knowledge and wisdom

What should it matter to you whether I believe in God or not? Isn't your atheist carcicature simply a way of not facing up to the obvious (and painful to you) truth that atheists can be comfortable and functional people who do not share your obvious need to affect the belief of others.

Kevin Bonham
29-01-2004, 03:55 PM
There are many example of one species causing the extinction of another. Especially when your first species is H sapien. But it the adaption to the point of speciation that is the sticking point I think. Although again either it happens or Noah had a very big boat indeed (not to mention other logisitical issues). :wink:

And not to mention that one of my own fields, biogeography, makes Young Earth Creationism look monumentally dumb irrespective of the size of Noah's boat.

Yes, species causing the extinction of others happens, humans do this quite a lot (although probably nowhere near as much as some green extremists will try to claim). Generalising this into a kind of species-selection model where a process akin to natural selection promotes the "fittest" species and discards the rest is all a little bit tricky though. Typically a species is wiped out by an "unanticipated" environmental pressure too fast for a lineage that would avoid that pressure to evolve in response to it. There is a lot more stochastic chaos in the mix in which species survive than in which individuals within a species survive.

Goughfather
29-01-2004, 05:13 PM
It's neither forensic, scientific or convincing to rely on scriptural text for historical record. The fact you cannot see this suggests indeed that your faith is blind.

Is this merely what you wish to believe, David? With a blind faith, seeing as though you don't know me? While a component of this belief involves the Synoptic and Johannine tradition (and hence, an exploration into the archeological and textual accuracy, among other considerations, of these writings), there are many sources which I use that are non-Canonical, and others which are explicitly non-Christian.


This is not reasoned argument but plain bigotry. It doesn't really deserve any sort of reply, but out of kindness I'm responding so that you may refrain from such abuse in future.

Firstly, this respond is no reasoned argument. Secondly, your response isn't kind, not only in its emotional content, but in the fact that is intellectually unedifying for anyone who is unfortunate enough to find themselves reading this trailer park scholarship. I only think that its reasonable for you to tell me why atheists should not use the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic to accurately portray the true sense of the word (in this case "faith", or in Greek "pistis"), rather than fashioning it as they wish. You must also tell me why such a stance is bigoted, rather than merely saying that it is. Such logic simply does not fly.


That individuals lack rigor in their scientific approach in no way undermines the validity of the approach.

How can you say this with a straight face? Lack of rigor in any approach, scientic, philosophic or theosophic is the quick route to providing answered that are invalid, and hence flawed.


What I object to is your insinuations that because the science process has the potential to be corrupted, that theology and science are susceptible to subjective opinion to similar degrees. There is no such comparison possible.

At this point, let me remind you that we are speaking of the interpretation of the data, and not the data itself. But let us continue ...


A belief in God/a faith, and scientific enquiry are two completely different things. Faith is entirely personal, what happens in the scientific arena, only affects faith on a personal level.

You've said at length that faith is personal. This is true in the sense of Luther's "priesthood of all believers". However, you neglect the fact that faith is also a corporate phenomenon.

With regard to science's inherent objectivity, we seem to be forgetting about the distinction that exists between the actual data and the interpretation of the data. While the actual data is simply there, in its non-subjectified state, the actual interpretation of this data, is fashioned and moulded by the individual scientist's conceptual framework of the world, the conclusions they wish to find, and at times, even their theological stances and prejudices. At different times, the component of each aspect will differ, but they are all there, playing an implicit role.


Your entire argument is based on value judgements!!!

Perhaps if you wish to make claims like this, you should provide evidence to back it up ...


Nevertheless, lets explore the word, 'fundamental'. It implies some underlying precept from which all else flows. I know of no atheist 'dogma' , the is no atheist bible, as far as I can see BJC, KB,MS & myself all have individual views, there are no creeds, other than the one you imagine.

Let me refer you to my first post, where I gave Holding's critiques of a Fundamentalist Atheist:


You are part of a non-belief organization such as American Atheists, Church of Freethought, Humanist Association of Canada, Student Freethought Alliance and/or the Council of Secular Humanism. You claim these organizations have absolutely no creeds and that the people involved independently think of different things from one another. Yet of course, on your organization's website they define the commonalities that all non-believers follow. Is that not the definition of creed?

When I made this point originally in the controversial "We Welcome You to the First Macquarie University Church" I stated that the Atheist Canon included primarily the luminaries Nietzche, Freud and Darwin, though such names as Sartre and Hume could well their names among the original papacy. I'm not sure who is was, but someone told me that they didn't even know who Nietzche was. While this is true, much of what Nietzche wrote has reverberated around the empty halls of atheist worldview. They have become standard arguments, even by those who are unaware of the original inspiration.

Of course, one need not go to such poetic (albeit legitimate) lengths to suggest that such creeds exist. In 1933, the "Humanist Manifesto" was published. Forty years later, The "Humanist Manifesto II" was penned, an addendum and a revised version of the original Manifesto. Both required its members to sign the documents as a statement of belief and faith.


When have I ever suggested that? Your knowledge may be inferior in the scientific arena, as you have already said yourself, but your belief is yours and I respect that.

Really? It doesn't seem like that! I was never saying you were (nor that you weren't) bigoted - I was simply saying that the definition seems a little close-minded, and dare I say it, bigoted, ironically speaking.


What methodology?

We were discussing Fundamentalist Atheism, not atheism itself.


Being an atheist is simply holding an opinion, it doesn't have to be justified or defended.

Of course. It's never done so in the past, so why start now?


Again, another example of your bigotry.

Again, you need to provide evidence for your unsubstantiated statements. What's more, it's rather amusing, considering what follows ...


Why should atheists blindly accept scientific conclusion any more than anyone else? Do you have evidence for this? If you have evidence then please present it. If not it is a statement that simply says something about your ability to hold prejudices.

This simply wasn't my argument. Atheists don't hold any monopoly in this field either. Shock, horror, some Christians are even capable of being found within this field. I argue from my experience in encountering atheists in discussion forums, as well as those I meet in real life. Notice that I didn't generalise. I've found some atheists who have carefully considered viewpoints. And some Christian for whom it wouldn't hurt to be more vigourous in their research.


What should it matter to you whether I believe in God or not?

Well, on an intellectual level, it doesn't. I've been tempted to ask you the same question: Why it so offends you that I claim to be a Christian based upon the rigourous research that I had done prior to believing?


Isn't your atheist carcicature

I don't regard it as a charicature, as long as I don't generalise that this is true of all, or the typical atheist. You might not like this, but the original list was founded upon arguments that atheists had made to this author in the past.


that atheists can be comfortable and functional people

I've stated repeatedly that atheists can be "comfortable and functional" people, and that I know of many that fit neatly into this paradigm.


who do not share your obvious need to affect the belief of others.

Again, there are some that fit into this category, and others who don't. I'm afraid that one of the two of us is generalising, and it's not me. :hmm:

Cat
29-01-2004, 05:47 PM
That individuals lack rigor in their scientific approach in no way undermines the validity of the approach.

My apologies, this does sound ambiguous - it should have read 'the validity of science as an approach to discover truth.


Ok, you win, I'm was a red-neck, fundamental, village atheist. It use to hurt me to think that you were a free-thinking Christian, but now I admire your reasoning and intellect. My atheism was founded on a shallow discourse I overheard between 2 1st year philosophy students whilst I was serving them coffee in the University cafeteria. I've heard of Satre, but can't remember which band she sang in, and I've never forgiven Hume since he was sent off in that Argentina game.

I understand some of the errors of my ways. I am now a Christian, and am happier than I've ever been. Thank you Goughfather, you've saved me!

Rincewind
29-01-2004, 09:06 PM
And not to mention that one of my own fields, biogeography, makes Young Earth Creationism look monumentally dumb irrespective of the size of Noah's boat.

Yes, species causing the extinction of others happens, humans do this quite a lot (although probably nowhere near as much as some green extremists will try to claim). Generalising this into a kind of species-selection model where a process akin to natural selection promotes the "fittest" species and discards the rest is all a little bit tricky though. Typically a species is wiped out by an "unanticipated" environmental pressure too fast for a lineage that would avoid that pressure to evolve in response to it. There is a lot more stochastic chaos in the mix in which species survive than in which individuals within a species survive.

There is the straight forward hunting to extinction as happened with the dodo, moa, thylacine and other indigenous species when man first arrives at hitherto unpopulated regions. Then there is also the secondary extinction which has occurred and continues to occur due to the introduction of non-native flora and fauna. EG Foxes, rabbits, cane toads, lantana, etc.

As a general question, does anyone know if it is thought that some of the species of Australian mega-fauna were hunted to extinction by man ~50,000 BCE?

Cat
29-01-2004, 09:59 PM
BJC, I don't believe there is any evidence for homo-sapien arrival in Australia so long ago, I thought they arrived 10-20,000 years ago?

Kevin Bonham
29-01-2004, 10:34 PM
As a general question, does anyone know if it is thought that some of the species of Australian mega-fauna were hunted to extinction by man ~50,000 BCE?

This is a current theoretical hot potato. A difficulty is that there are so many other possible extinction causes through climate change that a definitive verdict is difficult to reach, but there certainly are those (eg Tim Flannery) who will argue that megafauna extinctions were caused by Aboriginal hunting.

Given what is known of the Maori's success in exterminating the entire moa family (about a dozen species covering a range of ecological niches) and a giant eagle from New Zealand, I would be very surprised if the Aboriginal people caused no significant extinctions in Australia (whether through hunting or otherwise). Indeed, rapid megafauna extinctions following the first human contact probably occurred in many places.

David: I believe that after a fair amount of argument about the age of the Lake Mungo evidence, this has now been more firmly dated at around 40,000 years old. Claims of much older material are sometimes made but I can't remember one which didn't end up being dodgy.

Kevin Bonham
29-01-2004, 11:03 PM
With regard to science's inherent objectivity, we seem to be forgetting about the distinction that exists between the actual data and the interpretation of the data.

True enough but tends only to matter when the evidence for a particular interpretation is less than overwhelming.


When I made this point originally in the controversial "We Welcome You to the First Macquarie University Church" I stated that the Atheist Canon included primarily the luminaries Nietzche, Freud and Darwin, though such names as Sartre and Hume could well their names among the original papacy. I'm not sure who is was, but someone told me that they didn't even know who Nietzche was. While this is true, much of what Nietzche wrote has reverberated around the empty halls of atheist worldview. They have become standard arguments, even by those who are unaware of the original inspiration.

Perhaps a lot of atheists use something akin to Nietzsche's style of psychologising the believer without being aware that that is where it comes from, but it is far commoner for atheists to have a problem with the claimed existence of God but no problem with what secular morality or ethics you can derive from the views of Jesus. Indeed, Nietzsche is frequently viewed with distaste by left-wing atheists because of his many inegalitarian stances.

I think your atheist canon is strongly skewed towards the reading interests of those atheists you would come across in university humanities departments. Outside those circles, atheists generally don't read a lot of Nietzsche, Freud and Sartre and aren't influenced by their work anywhere near as much as the more orthodox chasing-down-of-theistic-arguments of the Humes and Russells and so on.

As for doctrinal humanist "organisations" and the like, it's true that plenty exist, and I avoid them as they almost always seem to push moral goals that I don't agree with, and I don't think hitching morality to atheism is at all constructive given the track record of religious morality (and the lack of any logical reason to do so). However, it must be pointed out that some atheists feel driven to form or join such organisations as a practical way of challenging unfair advantages accorded to recognised religious-style belief systems by their governments, or simply as a way of making sure their views are recognised by censuses. In this sense, these groups are often more political than religious.

Goughfather
30-01-2004, 01:43 AM
Your point are quite well made and articulated, Kevin. It's true, many atheists are unlikely to use the arguments of Freud and Darwin to articulate their views. However, I think that each are important is observing the history and evolution of atheist worldview. What I should have also stated, was that when I speak of an atheist Canon, it's usually more applicable to those atheists with tertiary qualifications, as Kevin rightly pointed out. I should have also suggested that while most atheists share commonalities, atheism is by no means monolithic. In my experience, atheists are likely to fit into three quite broad categories, among which many subgroups can be identified. Each group tends to have different arguments which they claim legitimate their atheistic worldview:

Apathetic Atheists - These atheists are most likely to have never examined the claims for Christianity as adults, nor are likely to do so in the future. Quite often, these types of atheists are relatively respectful of Christians, thinking "I'm happy for you, but it's just not my thing". More often than not, these atheists have adopted an Epicurean/Hedonistic mentality and lifestyle, for which becoming a Christian would greatly inhibit, at least in their way of thinking.

Aggrieved/Alienated Atheists - These atheists typically come from a churched upbringing or background, and usually deserted their faith in their late teens or early twenties, though this category may include those without out church experience. The sources of their atheism are varied, including poor/inaccurate theological teaching from the clergy - "My dog Rover died, even when I prayed for him", or mistreatment from fellow Christians - "How can Christianity be true, when Christians are such hypocrites (a claim which, lamentably, is too often true). Of those that could be regarded as extremely ethical, the "Problem of Evil" is their greatest obstacle towards faith in the Christian God.

Active/Adversarial Atheists - When I speak about an Atheist Canon, it is probably these people for whom this Canon is most relevant. Quite often (though not always), these atheists have received tertiary education, in a diverse number of academic disciplines. A smaller number of these atheists will have been clergy who have become apostate. These atheists are more likely to have researched their views with more rigour than the other two categories, specifically making an effort to read "Freethought" literature, though far fewer will go to the trouble of reading "Apologetic" literature. Among these atheists, some argue their views impressively and cogently. Others merely think they do. Although there can be a tendency for many of these atheists to respond to Christians rudely and condescendingly (often through the sometimes legitimate perception that Christians act this way towards atheists), a significant proportion of these atheists tend to be open-minded and pleasant to converse with.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive look at atheist worldview. There is some degree to which those within some categories may exhibit tendencies towards other or all three of these categories.

Kevin Bonham
30-01-2004, 04:18 AM
Your point are quite well made and articulated, Kevin. It's true, many atheists are unlikely to use the arguments of Freud and Darwin to articulate their views. However, I think that each are important is observing the history and evolution of atheist worldview. What I should have also stated, was that when I speak of an atheist Canon, it's usually more applicable to those atheists with tertiary qualifications, as Kevin rightly pointed out.

Even there, not as a single canon read by all. Your typical tertiary-qualified atheist in the sciences and your typical tertiary-qualified atheist in the humanities can barely speak each other's language in terms of philosophical influences. Fortunately, I happen to be both. :)
(Assuming, that is, that I qualify for the "atheist" label at all).

I've got no issues with considering these and others as part of an atheist "canon", just as works can be part of the same literary canon even while contrasting with each other greatly. Nothing intrinsically wrong with having a canon. However the diversity of this "atheist canon" undermines - no, that's too mild, destroys - any attempt to establish a single "atheist fundamentalism" as a reality rather than a caricature. Christian fundamentalism, of course, is both a reality and a caricature. :owned:

All the three atheist types you talk about exist and are reasonably common, I've met quite a few who match one or more very well. However there's bound to be others out there too.


Although there can be a tendency for many of these atheists to respond to Christians rudely and condescendingly (often through the sometimes legitimate perception that Christians act this way towards atheists)

I try to give back something like what I get in most cases. However, if a person's doctrines are implacably impolite or disrespectful to me, I really don't care too much how polite they are - a bit like the case of the polite racist. This is mainly a problem I encounter with fundamentalists.

Rincewind
30-01-2004, 07:22 AM
BJC, I don't believe there is any evidence for homo-sapien arrival in Australia so long ago, I thought they arrived 10-20,000 years ago?

I've heard figures quoted of up to 50,000. It should have read "up to 50,000" not "~50,000". I was just being lazy, but was more interesting in the cause of the megafauna extinction, not the date so much.

Cat
30-01-2004, 10:59 AM
Apathetic Women - These women are most likely to have never examined the claims for Christianity as adults, nor are likely to do so in the future. Quite often, these types of women are relatively respectful of Christians, thinking "I'm happy for you, but it's just not my thing". More often than not, these women have adopted an Epicurean/Hedonistic mentality and lifestyle, for which becoming a Christian would greatly inhibit, at least in their way of thinking.

Aggrieved/Alienated Women - These women typically come from a churched upbringing or background, and usually deserted their faith in their late teens or early twenties, though this category may include those without out church experience. The sources of their femininity are varied, including poor/inaccurate theological teaching from the clergy - "My dog Rover died, even when I prayed for him", or mistreatment from fellow Christians - "How can Christianity be true, when Christians are such hypocrites (a claim which, lamentably, is too often true). Of those that could be regarded as extremely ethical, the "Problem of Evil" is their greatest obstacle towards faith in the Christian God.

Active/Adversarial Women - When I speak about an Female Canon, it is probably these people for whom this Canon is most relevant. Quite often (though not always), these women have received tertiary education, in a diverse number of academic disciplines. A smaller number of these women will have been clergy who have become apostate. These women are more likely to have researched their views with more rigour than the other two categories, specifically making an effort to read "Freethought" literature, though far fewer will go to the trouble of reading "Apologetic" literature. Among these women, some argue their views impressively and cogently. Others merely think they do. Although there can be a tendency for many of these women to respond to Christians rudely and condescendingly (often through the sometimes legitimate perception that Christians act this way towards atheists), a significant proportion of these women tend to be open-minded and pleasant to converse with.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive look at female worldview. There is some degree to which those within some categories may exhibit tendencies towards other or all three of these categories.
__________________

PHAT
30-01-2004, 12:01 PM
Apathetic Women...

This is a very effective technique for exposing "convergent evolution" in "social taxonomy".

What I like, is the way the adjectives used to classify athesits all start with "A" (apathetic, alientated, adversarial) and they are all carry negative connontations.

Goughfather, I am truely sick of reading your soft sell sales pitches for religion. Your posts have a structure that is transparently, nothing more than polished and slick properganda. The only thing here sadder than watching an intelligent man - you - defending the indefensable - faith - is watching other intelligant men waste their time kicking you to death.

Rincewind
30-01-2004, 01:16 PM
What I like, is the way the adjectives used to classify athesits all start with "A" (apathetic, alientated, adversarial) and they are all carry negative connontations.

That would make you an Alliterative Athiest. :wink:

I think DR should have made the effort to come up with roughly synonymous adjectives starting with W just to maintain this feature.

Apathetic Athiests -> Wooden Women
Aggrieved/Alienated Atheists -> Worried/Woeful Women
Active/Adversarial Atheists -> Wild/Wide-Awake Women

:lol:


The only thing here sadder than watching an intelligent man - you - defending the indefensable - faith - is watching other intelligant men waste their time kicking you to death.

Apart from the abusive home environment/abusive father, you've had a very sheltered life.

Rincewind
30-01-2004, 03:43 PM
Check out this site...

http://www.cummingfirst.com/organ.html

You won't be diappointed. :wink:

Goughfather
30-01-2004, 08:47 PM
Even there, not as a single canon read by all. Your typical tertiary-qualified atheist in the sciences and your typical tertiary-qualified atheist in the humanities can barely speak each other's language in terms of philosophical influences.

This is quite true, though I do think that there are commonalities which unite atheist thinking - the two most important of which are the principles of naturalism (and hence, an explicit rejection of supranaturalism), and that of the inherent goodness of humankind.


I've got no issues with considering these and others as part of an atheist "canon", just as works can be part of the same literary canon even while contrasting with each other greatly. Nothing intrinsically wrong with having a canon. However the diversity of this "atheist canon" undermines - no, that's too mild, destroys - any attempt to establish a single "atheist fundamentalism" as a reality rather than a caricature. Christian fundamentalism, of course, is both a reality and a caricature.

An interesting consideration, but remember that the Christian Canon is similarly varied. The Christian Canon includes the following genre:

1) Legal
2) Historical
3) Poetic
4) Prophetic
5) Biographical
6) Ethical
7) Apocalyptic

This is my dominant consideration in rejecting the Systematic Theology of Fundamentalism. Different genres need to be interpreted in different manners. That said, it does not negate the potential for Fundamentalism to exist within Christianity, nor within Atheism.

Interestingly enough, you mention that atheists trained in different fields will have differing philosophical influences, which is quite true. I actually thought about this concept with respect to the differing Christian sects. What I discovered was that the Catholics tend to focus up the Gospel (Synoptic and Johannine) traditions, Evangelicals tend to focus upon the Pauline Epistles, and Poetic Literature and the Charismatics tend to focus upon Acts, Apocalyptic and Prophetic Literature. Of course, this is not to say that other Scripture is ignored, its simply to say that some genres of Scriptures are more influential in forming the theological parameters of certain sects rather than others.

Cat
30-01-2004, 11:26 PM
Please, for all our sakes KB, just ignore him

Kevin Bonham
31-01-2004, 12:32 AM
This is quite true, though I do think that there are commonalities which unite atheist thinking - the two most important of which are the principles of naturalism (and hence, an explicit rejection of supranaturalism), and that of the inherent goodness of humankind.

Both probably generally true, but generalisations all the same. Non-naturalistic atheism (usually involving belief in ghosts, spirits, reincarnation, magic etc but not God) is common enough in the East and rapidly getting commoner in the West.

Schopenhauer (who is probably not that influential anymore but is still in the mix somewhere for some) didn't have too much good to say about anyone. Nietzsche can be seen as the great affirmer on one level, but on the whole believed so little in the inherent goodness of humankind that he didn't even believe in the inherent goodness of "good". :eek:


An interesting consideration, but remember that the Christian Canon is similarly varied.

But of course, and hardly relevant since neither of us believe that having a "canon" is a bad thing - although it is very important to remember that works being in such a "canon" does not protect them from being rubbish, it simply means they have been influential.


This is my dominant consideration in rejecting the Systematic Theology of Fundamentalism. Different genres need to be interpreted in different manners. That said, it does not negate the potential for Fundamentalism to exist within Christianity, nor within Atheism.

It is far more difficult within the latter because the former has a more or less specific text (give or take a translation issue here or there). A strong case can be made that there are political fundamentalisms that happen to be atheist (eg Marxists in Resistance, Randroid "objectivists" - these two crews deserve each other) but that doesn't mean that a genuine "fundie atheism" exists.

firegoat7
31-01-2004, 03:19 AM
Bonjour,

Time to put on the doc martens.

GF wrote:
but remember that the Christian Canon is similarly varied. The Christian Canon includes the following genre:

1) Legal
2) Historical
3) Poetic
4) Prophetic
5) Biographical
6) Ethical
7) Apocalyptic

As Matt suggested lets not take this to seriously. 7,000 societies almost all think they are the chosen people.
1) Legal- I fought the law and the law won (aka show me a society without laws)
2) Historical- I think the anti-pope dealt with that one quite convincingly but maybe you need the council of Nicae for more confirmation.
3) Poetic- hmmmm is this a canon? If it is Heidegger has a bit to answer for
4) Prophetic- Hey so was Nostradamus or my star signs, some canon
5)Biographical- The official or unofficial version? :owned:
6)Ethical- well this is a bit rich, traditionally religion has always been used as a cultural stormtrooper to destroy/enlighten "other" societies.
7) Apocalyptic- yeah a bit like Y2K- to quote Iron Maiden "Run to the hills, run for your life" :evil:

It is a wonder you don't use terms like biological,psychological,genalogical,hypocritical, existentianal,extra-terrestrial or possibly even irrational to define your canon categories. :wink: :wall:

chesslover
31-01-2004, 08:16 AM
The christian right which has taken power in the US state of georgia, has decided to ban the word "evolution" from all georgian school teaching

http://http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/01/30/georgia.evolution/index.html

Even though I am a christian, I see nothing incompatiable with evolution and God. I have an open mind on creation/ evolution, and as both will be apt reflection of God, it will not shake my faith either way.

However with the Bush landslide in 2002, and the gradual determination on Bush to exterminate democrats from all levers of power, this may be the start of US states banning evolution from all schools. Remember that when Bush got elected in 1994 as texas Governor, only one Governor in the history of Texas after the civil war was a republican, due to the southern hatred of Lincoln's party of Republicans that won the Civil war. However when Bush left in 2000 to become the President, Bush's "total victory" policy had seen EVERY single elected office (from school superintendent, to judges) won by republicans. Some conservative states in US, already insist that creationism be taught alongside evolution, as they are both equally acceptable theories on how life began

Goughfather
31-01-2004, 08:57 AM
For the benefit of "firegoat7", i shall clarify my rationale behind the seven categories I chose:

Law - The Jewish Torah, or Pentatuch, namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Historical - Primarily Jewish history, but may also include early Church history: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel (originally one text, as are all OT texts mentioned henceforth), 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Acts

Poetic - Also know as "Wisdom Literature", namely Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Eccesiastes, Song of Songs/Solomon

Prophetic - Typically speaking, that literature that is said to announce the coming of Christ, though it is also concerned with the Exile of Israel and Judah, namely Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Biographical - More commonly known as the "Gospels" - namely Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

Ethical - Includes both the Pauline, and Catholic (general) epistles, namely Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude

Apocalyptic - Speak of "eschatology", or the end of the world, namely Daniel, Revelation

Of course, among these categories, subcategories exist. As I stated, some of the prophetic literature refers to the Exile/Post-Exile Reconstruction, while other prophetic literature refers to the coming of Jesus. Some epistles are directed towards specific churches, others meant to be passed around all churches, some to individuals, and some rhetorical, or meant to be read aloud.

Cat
31-01-2004, 10:13 AM
The christian right which has taken power in the US state of georgia, has decided to ban the word "evolution" from all georgian school teaching

http://http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/01/30/georgia.evolution/index.html

Even though I am a christian, I see nothing incompatiable with evolution and God. I have an open mind on creation/ evolution, and as both will be apt reflection of God, it will not shake my faith either way.

However with the Bush landslide in 2002, and the gradual determination on Bush to exterminate democrats from all levers of power, this may be the start of US states banning evolution from all schools. Remember that when Bush got elected in 1994 as texas Governor, only one Governor in the history of Texas after the civil war was a republican, due to the southern hatred of Lincoln's party of Republicans that won the Civil war. However when Bush left in 2000 to become the President, Bush's "total victory" policy had seen EVERY single elected office (from school superintendent, to judges) won by republicans. Some conservative states in US, already insist that creationism be taught alongside evolution, as they are both equally acceptable theories on how life began

No, evolution is a theory and creationism is a cultural belief. There is nothing wrong with teaching creationism in school provided;

1. It is presented as a cultural belief.
2. No attempt is made to confuse science and belief.
3. One belief system is not enforced to the exclusion of all others, that the way to free will remains open.
4. Individuals are given the right, it they feel strongly enough, to opt out.

Kevin Bonham
31-01-2004, 03:52 PM
For the benefit of "firegoat7", i shall clarify my rationale behind the seven categories I chose:

Frankly I'm surprised that you base your "canon" solely in scripture. Surely for a non-fundamentalist all kinds of post-biblical works merit inclusion in a true "Christian Canon" that could be compared to, say, a literary "canon" (incidentally I am not a big fan of canonism in any form of art). If scripture is a "canon", then while different traditions will emphasise different bits within the canon, the true fundamentalists, who can crop up within a range of traditions, nonetheless believe that all the bits are true, including the ones they don't personally emphasise. Very different to atheism where such a "fundamentalism" is not really logically possible even for those rare individuals who read all the necessary thinkers - it would be the atheistic equivalent of being a Protestant, a Catholic, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, a goddess-worshipper and a Southern Baptist all at once. :eek:

Kevin Bonham
31-01-2004, 03:59 PM
The only thing here sadder than watching an intelligent man - you - defending the indefensable - faith - is watching other intelligant men waste their time kicking you to death.

You wasted at least as much time on Sarfati as I did, so what gives with this one? Doesn't speak your language really, does he? Tsk tsk. :eh:

Kevin Bonham
31-01-2004, 04:15 PM
The christian right which has taken power in the US state of georgia, has decided to ban the word "evolution" from all georgian school teaching

If the Bible said that 2+2 was 5, these goons would probably be banning arithmetic too.


Some conservative states in US, already insist that creationism be taught alongside evolution, as they are both equally acceptable theories on how life began

That's their excuse and they're sticking to it.

A few days ago I found an amusing Bible apologetics website geared to teaching Christians how to rebut Biblical arguments. It included a point about how evolutionists admit that fossil missing links have still to be found. The quote was from a book published in 1930. :rolleyes:

Cat
31-01-2004, 05:07 PM
If the Bible said that 2+2 was 5, these goons would probably be banning arithmetic too.



That's their excuse and they're sticking to it.

A few days ago I found an amusing Bible apologetics website geared to teaching Christians how to rebut Biblical arguments. It included a point about how evolutionists admit that fossil missing links have still to be found. The quote was from a book published in 1930. :rolleyes:

Unfortunately, these are the kind of foolish sentiments that do so much damage to credibility of the majority of liberal-democratic christians that really aren't such a bad bunch. It's the vocal minority, the fringe element. There's simply no mileage in representing religon as any sort of 'alternative science', it belongs in the bin with the astro-travellers, the crystal-healers and those wacko's who want to shove hose-pipes up your backside.

Capablanca-Fan
05-04-2007, 04:06 PM
That's their excuse and they're sticking to it.

My excuse is that I couldn't care what they teach in government schools, because I advocate home-schooling or biblically Christian schools.


A few days ago I found an amusing Bible apologetics website geared to teaching Christians how to rebut Biblical arguments. It included a point about how evolutionists admit that fossil missing links have still to be found. The quote was from a book published in 1930. :rolleyes:

Why would Christians want to rebut biblical arguments? And you can find all sorts of stuff on the internet. I recently saw a site that advocated the long discredited theory of ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, if you want to play "the worst reps of my side are better than the worst of yours" :P

Capablanca-Fan
05-04-2007, 04:26 PM
Even though I am a christian, I see nothing incompatiable with evolution and God.

There is no incompatibility between evolution and 'god', but a lot between evolution and the true God of the Bible. See for example Some questions for theistic evolutionists (and progressive creationists) (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/1018/). A big problem is that the finished creation was called "very good" (Gen. 1:31) and death is described as "the last enemy" and the result of Adam's sin (1 Cor. 15:21-22, 26). Yet according to Carl Sagan, the secret of evolution is time and death. It makes no sense that God would use what He calls "last enemy" to bring about what He called "very good" creation.

In any case, neo-Chamberlainite appeasement of atheists by Christians doesn't help anyway, e.g. the atheistic Nobel Laureate Jacques Monod said:


‘[Natural] selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving new species, and more and more complex and refined organisms … The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethics revolts. An ideal society is a non-selective society, one where the weak is protected; which is exactly the reverse of the so-called natural law. I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.’ [The Secret of Life, broadcast interview, ABC, 10 June 1978.]

And the misotheistic (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4980)eugenicist (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4783/)evolutionist Clinton R. Dawkins said in his TV diatribe against theistic religion called The root of all evil? (broadcast on Channel 4, UK, 16 January 2006), he said:


‘Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual. Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!’

Rincewind
05-04-2007, 06:20 PM
My excuse is that I couldn't care what they teach in government schools, because I advocate home-schooling or biblically Christian schools.

Mainly because you have been unsuccessful in your efforts to get the creationist propaganda into school sciences curricula. It's has been rightly excluded in almost every case due to it being unscientific.

Capablanca-Fan
05-04-2007, 06:43 PM
Mainly because you have been unsuccessful in your efforts to get the creationist propaganda into school sciences curricula. It's has been rightly excluded in almost every case due to it being unscientific.
I've never made any such efforts. So quit your false accusations. Why would I want to? I've already explained my attitude towards government schools. There is also the problem of misotheistic teachers who could distort it.

Rincewind
05-04-2007, 08:18 PM
I've never made any such efforts. So quit your false accusations. Why would I want to? I've already explained my attitude towards government schools. There is also the problem of misotheistic teachers who could distort it.

Have you ever been a member of the Answers in Genesis church?

Rincewind
06-04-2007, 10:32 AM
Have you ever been a member of the Answers in Genesis church?

???

Capablanca-Fan
06-04-2007, 12:24 PM
Have you ever been a member of the Answers in Genesis church?

I don't think there is such a thing, and I am not even a member of Answers in Genesis any more.

Rincewind
06-04-2007, 01:22 PM
I don't think there is such a thing, and I am not even a member of Answers in Genesis any more.

So you were a member of the Answers in Genesis "organisation" then?

Has that organisation ever advocated for the adoption of creationism in school science curricula?

Rincewind
08-04-2007, 11:59 AM
So you were a member of the Answers in Genesis "organisation" then?

Has that organisation ever advocated for the adoption of creationism in school science curricula?

???

Kevin Bonham
09-04-2007, 12:20 AM
My excuse is that I couldn't care what they teach in government schools, because I advocate home-schooling or biblically Christian schools.

Fine. However, if such schools at any stage attempt to threaten children with hellfire to intimidate them into compliance, they should be shut down. Also, such schools should not expect any state funding.


Why would Christians want to rebut biblical arguments?

Typo on my part, I meant evolutionist arguments of course. Sadly it has since got worse; I recently came across creationists still using 19th century "evolutionist" claims to support their assertions.

Rincewind
12-04-2007, 02:48 PM
So you were a member of the Answers in Genesis "organisation" then?

Has that organisation ever advocated for the adoption of creationism in school science curricula?

???

Also were you a member of this organisation when it went by the name of the Creation Science Foundation?

Basil
19-07-2009, 06:00 PM
oh, sorry wrong thread