Pharyngula

Oh, no! Now Dinesh D’Souza is after me!

I quiver in fear that my number is up, now that Dinesh has caught on. With great trepidation, I read his screed, certain that such a brilliant mind would demolish my godless ways with his deep insight.

Well, no. He’s indignant, but he’s got nothing to say. Oh, well, I’m sure there might be someone out there with greater wit than him who will teach me a lesson.

Comments

  1. #1 Michelle
    September 10, 2008

    How many weeks has it been again? I guess he was too busy following another dead cow.

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    September 10, 2008

    Yeah, I saw that.

    Dinesh seems to write as if you’re surprised that you upset people, rather than recognizing that upsetting people with silly ideas was the point. Hm, D’Souza missing the point, what were the odds?

    Hint to D’Souza: the mere fact that a person says that he ‘doesn’t understand why people are upset’ is no indication that he doesn’t really know why. He may just be saying that there’s no good reason to be upset, and the actual reason happens to be a poor one.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 Matt
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza wrote: This would be like someone burning a cross and then saying, “I cannot understand why all those black people are upset? All I did was set fire to a piece of wood.”

    No no no no no. Racism is real. God is not.

  4. #4 J Myers
    September 10, 2008

    He’s indignant, but he’s got nothing to say.

    So he’s Sarah Palin?

  5. #5 Markus
    September 10, 2008

    Who actually reads Dinesh’s articles? OK, maybe the headline just popped on a news thread and that someone just had to follow it….

  6. #6 Darth Wader
    September 10, 2008

    Things must be pretty good in the world to complain about desecration of a snack food. There must be no war, famine, plagues, natural disasters, political strife.
    Things must be pretty good.

  7. #7 Tiki Idyll
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh writes “the problem with people like Myers and Dawkins is not that they are complete morons. It is that they are biologists who know something about one thing but pretend that they know a lot about other things.”

    He simultaneously notes that PZ knows a lot about biology and has thus implied that PZ stands on solid ground discussing evolution (which he may or may not agree with) while assuming that someone can only know a lot about a single topic. Apparently, Dinesh’s single topic is crackers.

  8. #8 Roger
    September 10, 2008

    Oh, teh noes! Dinesh D’Souza picks up on the one thing older than John McCain and acts like it’s an outrage. An OUTRAGE, I tells ya! His comparison of cross-burning to PZ’s desecration of the crackers and books is not only wrong, but utterly offensive and ignorant of history. What a moron.

  9. #9 Travis
    September 10, 2008

    I notice that Minsinformed Fatwah Envy only took a handful of posts to come up in the comments over there.

  10. #10 Svan
    September 10, 2008

    you’re a wimp. anybody can pick on catholics, they turn the other cheek. show us you’re a man – desecrate a koran.

    or are you just too afraid?

  11. #11 Darth Wader
    September 10, 2008

    What gets me is they act like they are being persecuted. They are the largest cultural group in the US, and they act like everyone is out to get them. The media is attacking them I think one post said.

  12. #12 Benjamin Geiger
    September 10, 2008

    Svan: Please, please, please tell me you’re joking.

  13. #13 Brian
    September 10, 2008

    “Oh, well, I’m sure there might be someone out there with greater wit than him who will teach me a lesson.”

    Yup. They’re called the commenters on his blog.

    Brian

  14. #14 Jason
    September 10, 2008

    Heh, they didn’t even make it three comments before fatwa envy.
    And only 10 over here…

  15. #15 Quiet_Desperation
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh!

    Gesundheit!

    That’s all I got. Sorry. :)

  16. #16 Emmet Caulfield
    September 10, 2008

    This would be like someone burning a cross and then saying, “I cannot understand why all those black people are upset? All I did was set fire to a piece of wood.”

    Personally, I find that analogy sickening and I’m not even African-American. To advance as analogous the throwing of an inanimate object in the trash, and an act of gross physical intimidation — a prelude to murder — is obscene and depraved.

    Shame on D’Fucktard for parroting such a malignant analogy.

  17. #17 David D.G.
    September 10, 2008

    Svan,

    HE DID, nailing a page from the Koran and The God Delusion with the same nail as went through the stupid cracker — proximity to which probably defiled the Koran more than the nail did.

    Funny thing, though — while Catholics have foamed at the mouth and threatened PZ with everything ranging from firing to violence to DEATH, Muslims have had no problem with him. And neither have atheists for him “desecrating” a copy of Dawkins’ book.

    ~David D.G.

  18. #18 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    Oh! Goodie, goodie! *bouncing in chair* Fresh trolls, fresh trolls!

    Thanks PZ!

  19. #19 Alex
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza wrote: This would be like someone burning a cross and then saying, “I cannot understand why all those black people are upset? All I did was set fire to a piece of wood.”

    Uh no.

    What PZ did would be like putting a rusty nail in and throw into a trash can, the person who burns crosses.

  20. #20 SC
    September 10, 2008

    Webster Cook who stole the eucharist from a church and held it hostage.

    Yup. Still funny.

  21. #21 craig
    September 10, 2008

    Whereas D’Souza is a person who knows nothing but thinks he knows everything.

  22. #22 Luke
    September 10, 2008

    Anyone who uses the “but look at the good things that religion has done” argument should be honest and preface this with “OK, I concede religion isn’t true, but…”

    Instead they ommit this crucial point and hope that nobody notices.

  23. #23 Alex
    September 10, 2008

    Except that the person who burns crosses is a real person AND NOT A CRACKER!

  24. #24 reverted
    September 10, 2008

    you’re a wimp. anybody can pick on catholics, they turn the other cheek. show us you’re a man – desecrate a koran.

    or are you just too afraid?

    ROFL! Svan, you seriously are retarded. Got eyes? (Actually LOOK at that photograph, moron.)

  25. #25 Hap
    September 10, 2008

    DdS keeps forgetting the difference between the Cracker Sonata and burning crosses – the people who burnt the crosses, also burnt (and lynched, and raped, etc.) black people, thus making the burning cross a fairly explicit threat with at least some credibility. I don’t really remember that thing with Prof. Myers leading a crack team of killers into churches, desecrating their Communion wafers, and then slaughtering everyone present, but I’m sure that if that were the case, the desecration of a Communion wafer would constitute an explicit threat sinilar to the burning cross. Or maybe they just came into churches and secretly impaled their Communion wafers (and loaves of bread), sending DVDs of their evil acts afterwards to the churches. That might be a threat as well. Oh wait, those things never happened. Oops. So what is the equivalence, exactly?

    I think he also forgot that when threats came around, it was those who claimed to hold beliefs in sanctity of life and love for people who were quick to threaten death over the desecration (threatened desecreation) who sent them. Members of a group who, once upon a time, had killed people for similar reasons. It would seem that the symbolic threat doesn’t exactly work the way DdS thinks it does. Consistency or historical awareness isn’t really his style, anyway.

  26. #26 Sigmund
    September 10, 2008

    I thought this one had died a death weeks ago.
    One serious piece of advice to PZ in case he’s interviewed again on this matter is to approach it in a more prepared manner to the Irish interview where you didn’t bother to explain the context.

  27. #27 SC
    September 10, 2008

    These people seem to consider outrage and indignation to be content.

  28. #28 negentropyeater
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza writes:

    No, Myers, the two are not even comparable. Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories and setting up institutions like Harvard and the Red Cross. Christianity was a powerful motivating force in why people did those things.

    First, I have to say, this smallpox strawman is particularly dumb.

    Second, even without entering into a discussion about whether it s correct that Christianity was a powerful force in the past behind those achevements, why would one consider that it is the case nowadays or will be in the future ?

    What has Christianity to do with the LHC ? Or the human genome project ? Or the first man on the moon ? Or the establishment of the European Union ? Or the Olympic games ? Or recent architectural wonders ?

    Absolutely nothing !

    Does Mr D’Souza think before he writes ?

  29. #29 Sigmund
    September 10, 2008

    #17
    “HE DID, nailing a page from the Koran and The God Delusion with the same nail as went through the stupid cracker ”

    Wait a second.
    He defiled ‘The God Delusion’????

    Damn you Myers.
    Damn you all to …..errrr…….actually nowhere.

  30. #30 CJO
    September 10, 2008

    Not to provide comfort to fatwa enviers, but…

    I think it should be noted that PZ did not, in fact, desecrate an item sacred to Islam. Technically, a translated copy of the Quran is not “The Quran.” Only in Arabic is it actually sacred.

    Fatwa envy is still the height of hypocritical stupidity, but the answer is not “he did!” because he really didn’t.

  31. #31 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    Svan – You moron, get on your winged horse and fly off. Idiot, you’re not even trying.

    Quiet Desperation – Funny! ;o)

  32. #32 Santoki
    September 10, 2008

    “And neither have atheists for him “desecrating” a copy of Dawkins’ book.”

    Wait, PZ desecrated Dawkins’ book?

    ALRIGHT THAT DOES IT, NOW HE’S GONE TOO FAR.

  33. #33 R.C. Moore
    September 10, 2008

    Here is my experience with D’Souza:

    He debated Michael Shermer in public at my local university. Very polite, very careful in what he said. The next day, he lectured at a local church symposium. I was in the audience, because I was the token atheist on a debate panel the church put together. Gone was the polite, reasoned response for this new audience. It was now all straw men atheists to tear apart, claims that atheists like Dawkins wanted your civil rights taken away, and your children forcefully indoctrinated into godlessness.

    When I later mentioned what D’Souza said, and that I wanted a copy of the DVD of his talk they made, suddenly it was not available (this church burns DVD’s during services and hands them to you on the way out, they have such good multimedia resources).

    My point is that D’Souza tries to keep a public profile for credibility, in private, he panders for pay.

  34. #34 Hap
    September 10, 2008

    The “burning cross” analogy is even better – in that cases people (Christians) desecrated their own symbol to intimidate and threaten black people who had the temerity to live. On the other hand, a cracker is desecrated after some more Christians harrass (and threaten with death) someone who did not treat their symbol appropriately – and that act is a much more credible threat (and a more harmful one) than the explicit threats made by those around Mr. Scott, or those made by people employing burning crosses.

    Analogies, Mr. deSouza – you’re doing them wrong.

  35. #35 Steven Carr
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza really got you when he compared your throwing a piece of bread in the bin with the Klu Klux Klan burning crosses as a threat to black people.

    Hang on! That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    I threw some bread in the rubbish bin yesterday. I guess I am also a moron , just like D’ Souza said….

  36. #36 senecasam
    September 10, 2008

    Amazing! D’Snooza is weeks late to this party, and manages to write two complete paragraphs before launching into the ad hominem attack.

    “Semi-fame” and “undistinguished scholarship”? Got caught looking into the mirror again.

  37. #37 John Knight
    September 10, 2008

    He’s indignant, but he’s got nothing to say.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  38. #38 AtheistAcolyte
    September 10, 2008

    PZ, then D’Souza:

    “That’s like saying that because for so many years people got smallpox, smallpox is to be credited for all the virtue men have done.”

    Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories and setting up institutions like Harvard and the Red Cross. Christianity was a powerful motivating force in why people did those things.

    I think the better analogy would be “smallpox is to be credited with all the lives saved by eliminating smallpox.”

    Religion certainly didn’t build Gothic spires; human hands and the knowledge of mathematics and architecture did. Certainly, the Church may have funded such creative endeavours with their massive treasuries (vow of poverty, anyone?), but I’m equally certain no monks untrained in the construction sciences of the time were able to build such things.

  39. #39 Bride of Shrek OM
    September 10, 2008

    “Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories ..

    Oh but I had images of tiny little smallpoxes, climbing up on ladders, hammers and nails in hand, perhaps showing a litle bit of the obligatory builder’s arse-crack and building cathedrals and stuff.

    Seriously that smallpox analogy was probably the single most fucking dumb thing I have read on the intertoobs this year. Of course I have to keep in mind its only September and we haven’t heard from Ben Stein in a while…

  40. #40 Corgihound
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh seems to infer in his diatribe that scientific endeavors as seen in building Gothic cathedrals and astronomical observatories owe their existence primarily to Religion. “Patronage” certainly helped finance such projects, but the emerging technology developed in spite of the Church, not because of it. I think Mark Twain said it best over a hundred years ago:

    “”The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive…but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.”

    Amen!

  41. #41 bostjan
    September 10, 2008

    [b]Asked whether Christianity deserves credit for founding the first Western hospitals, universities and even scientific breakthroughs, Myers said, “No. People made those contributions to Western civilization.”[/b]

    Didn’t greek’s, Egyptian’s, Roman’s and others culturas made this kinde of things if not even biger. Greeks have even known how big is earth. Europeans have just stolen all knowlage from muslim, greek’s, chines and than cenzurized it, that fited to their idea of god.

    Sorry because of my english, I try it as much as I could.

  42. #42 Randy
    September 10, 2008

    After the asinine cross burning analogy, perhaps he should change his name to Dinesh D’Singenuous.

  43. #43 bernard quatermass
    September 10, 2008

    “He’s indignant, but he’s got nothing to say.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.”

    See a kettle. See John Knight. See John Knight intellectually outclassed by a kettle.

    Blackout.

  44. #44 frog
    September 10, 2008

    It’s always entertaining to peruse such threads – the Christian trolls have this tendency to reveal their true beliefs sooo clearly.

    On DD’s thread, there several threats to rape atheists (and one counter-threat), several statements that we must believe in fairy tales, for otherwise the unwashed masses would rise up, and of course the numerous “you must respect our madness — but don’t expect the same in return”.

    I always find the tendency to rape and rape fantasies particularly interesting – it really reveals the fascist impulse behind the whole fantasy, the whole Freudian basis for this game. Push any troll hard enough, and sooner or later it will show up.

  45. #45 Alan Chapman
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh’s article and the reader comments consist of page after page of logical fallacies. So many people are utterly bereft of even the most rudimentary critical thinking ability.

  46. #46 Jared
    September 10, 2008

    Why are these blathering idiots not locked up in an asylum? Oh, right, because thousands of people believe it, it’s “true.” I LOVE the idea of truth by democratic vote.

  47. #47 frog
    September 10, 2008

    “Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories ..

    And it appears that DD’s education is deficient. In Africa and India, the worship of smallpox was fairly common, with temples and such built to worship the terrible goddess.

    Not Gothic and not astronomical (as far as I’ve read), but definitely architectural and liturgical.

  48. #48 Reginald Selkirk
    September 10, 2008

    Perhaps the great scientist Pascal Wager can teach you the lesson you need:

    Scientist Pascal Wager recommended a solution: His consequences of non-belief are bleak and unchangeable; better to err on the side of belief.

  49. #49 AJ Milne
    September 10, 2008

    Umm… that stuff at the link… that wasn’t supposed to be an actual essay, was it? Are we sure that wasn’t just some sorta space-filling semi-coherent autowhine? Lorem ipsum for some still-in-production webzine with a weird sense of humour? Mebbe kicked out by a Markov generator preloaded with below publishing grade letters to the editor?

  50. #50 Tracy Walker
    September 10, 2008

    bostjan : Your English is fine, and your points well made.

  51. #51 Doug
    September 10, 2008

    If I hold logic and common sense sacred then can I get upset with D’nesh for desecrating it?

  52. #52 Snark7
    September 10, 2008

    “Have pity on them.”
    Well…that’s about the whole point of christians:
    Pitying people that they are in no position at all to pity.
    This smug little dumbfuck has to be among the most stupid people I’ve ever had to read.

  53. #53 Warren
    September 10, 2008

    This would be like someone burning a cross and then saying, “I cannot understand why all those black people are upset? All I did was set fire to a piece of wood.”

    Even from the “poor little me” victim stance, this “argument” doesn’t make sense.

    Black people are born black and don’t deserve persecution. Religious people are ignorant by choice, and damned well deserve to be mocked into silence.

  54. #54 Kel
    September 10, 2008

    I read it, I wish I hadn’t. After Shermer sang D’Souza’s praises, I expected something at least tangible and poignant. Instead it’s just a rehash of the same asinine points made by catholics all through this.

    *sigh* at least he didn’t compare it to the holocaust, though making it about race was pretty bad.

  55. #55 Zar
    September 10, 2008

    bostjan, # 41:

    Not to mention that the Sumerians, a bunch of polytheists who considered prostitution a sacrament, invented frickin’ civilization. They invented writing and the wheel, founded schools, built magnificent ziggurats, set law and order (contrary to popular belief, Hammurabi was not the first to do this), standardized measurements (a tricky task in those days), and were incredibly talented farmers. They also did a fair amount of math, including square roots. Should we praise Inanna/Ishtar for the crafts of writing and poetry? Should we praise Ninazu for medicine, or Nanna for standardized weights and measures?

    The fact that the adherents of a religion managed to do some pretty neat things doesn’t prove the existence of their god(s). Yes, the Sumerians kicked off civilization. That doesn’t mean that Gilgamesh was really 2/3 god. The Egyptians created magnificent works of architecture. Doesn’t mean Ra or Osiris is real. The Greeks created science. Doesn’t mean Zeus is real.

  56. #56 rob
    September 10, 2008

    i think you may actually have to give credit to religion for building all those hospitals and stuff. after all, by fleecing the people for hundreds of years, they have a lot of money to spend on such things. kinda like mobsters that build community centers to ingratiate themselves to the neighborhood.

    hey, ain’t i cynical today!

  57. #57 Hugo
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza’s comments reminded me of this, from Snopes:

    http://www.snopes.com/legal/desalvo.asp

    Basically, in ’71 Texas rep. Tom Moore Jr. sponsored a bill honoring Albert de Salvo (a.k.a. “The Boston Strangler”) and his contributions to society.

    And D’Souza is right. Christianity has supported scientific research…but only when it falls in line with their ancient dogmas.

    And as good as that support was, science isn’t about kowtowing to someone’s silly book; it’s about facts and evidence (sorry if I’m shortchanging science here with my cruddy explanation).

  58. #58 ChrisGose
    September 10, 2008

    What a surprise, fatwa envy in the comments section of the article.

  59. #59 windy, OM
    September 10, 2008

    Seriously that smallpox analogy was probably the single most fucking dumb thing I have read on the intertoobs this year.

    The smallpox analogy was originally PZ’s, not Dinesh’s.

  60. #60 Cerberus
    September 10, 2008

    #48

    No…wait…seriously. Really? You really…wow. That’s it, all the other trolls can go home, I think I’ve finally found the dumbest one.

    And here we see the fruits of the glorious successful experiment in banning all forms of knowledge in defense of conservatism.

    Hint: It’s Blaise Pascal

  61. #61 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    #13 – Brian – “commenter’s on his blog.” Bingo! That’s exactly what Dinesh wants.
    Tough crackers. Let the cowardly little weasel show up here.

  62. #62 GMA
    September 10, 2008

    1. The Florida student did not hold ANYONE hostage. What a deceptive distortion of reality.

    2. I can easily invent a religion whose followers’ beliefs are deeply insulted whenever Dinesh D’Souza says or writes anything and then call my followers to arms whenever he does.

    3. Bottom-line: Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

  63. #63 Holbach
    September 10, 2008

    Ah, Dinesh D’Crapa is back on the lunatic express again! I loathe this creep, (no, not because he is brown, to dispel this bullshit that may arise) but because he represents uppermost what religion can do to a person considered to be very smart. But there is the crux of the matter. PZ mentioned him as a “brilliant mind”, but any mind that can encompass irrational ideas does not deserve being called brilliant. Would he be considered brilliant if he espoused the spiritual qualities of the Tooth Fairy? So transpose that to what we consider the irrational ideas of imaginary gods and the transfer has to be taken on merit and fact. And he mentions that “here we see Myers thought in all its glorious idiocy”, having used the qualifier “glorious” in a manner that rendered his smirk moot. This bug-eyed cretin has the false sense and demeanor that he is smart and more than willing and able to debate rational minds. There is a method to waylay this insufferable lizard and that is to debate him in public with the condition that there will be no debate unless his god is present at the debate. No god, no debate. And if he counters with that you must have the great Charles Darwin present for your side, you just have to say that this is impossible, because he once was alive, but now he is dead, and we cannot return the dead for a live debate. Er, your response, Mr D’Crapa?

  64. #64 CJO
    September 10, 2008

    I can easily invent a religion whose followers’ beliefs are deeply insulted whenever Dinesh D’Souza says or writes anything…

    No religion, or invention, needed. It’s called “intelligence.”

  65. #65 Clemens
    September 10, 2008

    You don’t need to be a professor in theology or philosophy to say that the believe in god is unfounded exactly in the same way as you don’t need a degree in fashion design and textile technique to point at the emperor and say: He’s naked.

    Thanks to Dawkins for this nice analogy.

  66. #66 negentropyeater
    September 10, 2008

    That Christanity has influenced our past, especially western civilization, is self evident. What would have happened if Europeans had not believed in the myths of the bible, I really don’t know.

    How does this imply that civilization requires Christanity or religion in the future in order to further its progression and help to improve people’s lives ?

    I only see evidence of the contrary, ie that Christianty and other religions exacerbate violent tribal behaviors, by promissing a better afterlife gets people to rationalize inequalities and teaches them to be less critical of those in positions of authority, it helps them to feel artificially happier and less willing to demand progress.

    Also I see absolutely no benefit from religion when it comes to overcoming the most critical issues of the 21st century for mankind, overpopulation, diminishing resources, and AGW. By making people believe that there is a God who cares for us and who can intervene when needed, humans are just more likely to escape their responsibilites.

  67. #67 Bride of Shrek OM
    September 10, 2008

    Windy OM @ #59

    I meant Dinesh’s the response to the smallpox analogy. Sorry, apologies if anyone took it to mean the original analogy by PZ. Typing this mornign with a cranky teething 15 month old sitting on my lap and its not coming out real well.

  68. #68 John Robie
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza is an absolute idiot. If you were in any doubt on the matter PZ, earning his enmity is proof that you’re on the right track.

    Does this mean his knuckle-dragging readers are going to start showing up here?

  69. #69 ennui
    September 10, 2008

    This was so dumb, even AOL should be embarrassed.

  70. #70 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    I just felt a wobble in The Farce.

  71. #71 Cris
    September 10, 2008

    I have a certain fondness for any mention of D’Souza on this site, since he was the spark for PZ’s coinage of the xkcd-inspired acronym SIWOTI.

  72. #72 Holbach
    September 10, 2008

    Svan @ 10

    No, we are not afraid, and certainly not of your imaginary god. How can we be afraid of nothing that does not exist? Can you get this ghost god of your to come down and beat the crap out of us? Whether your phony god is of catholic origin or of insane origin, it is one and the same, and so we have nothing to fear from make believe crap. We are not afraid of your imaginary god, and yet you tremble with fear at the mere thought and mention of this same god. Are you completely blind and insane to the realities that I just described in the most sarcastic terms? Let’s see your god.

  73. #73 Peter Mc
    September 10, 2008

    BE AFRAID!

    Hang on, I just read it.

    Oh go on then, piss yourself laughing.

  74. #74 Newfie
    September 10, 2008

    *feeds Dinesh a peanut*

  75. #75 Sven DIMilo
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh sez:

    Myers rose to semi-fame, or perhaps I should say notoriety, when he praised University of Central Florida student Webster Cook who stole the eucharist from a church and held it hostage.

    Where “praise” = “opined that the guy shouldn’t be assaulted, expelled, or persecuted,” “stole” = “was handed directly,” and “holding hostage” = “put some baked wheat-paste in a Baggie.”
    what a moroon.

  76. #76 info_dump
    September 10, 2008

    What a D’Ouchebag!

  77. #77 Ick of the East
    September 10, 2008

    You don’t need to be a professor in theology or philosophy to say that the believe in god is unfounded..

    You do if you want to hide your conclusion in 300 pages of crap.
    .

  78. #78 Danio
    September 10, 2008

    Thanks to Dawkins for this nice analogy.

    The Courtier’s Reply is home-grown.

  79. #79 The 502
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza is tiresome. After reading two of his articles a while back, I was done with him. Not only does he lie to make his point, he has no understanding of logic.

    He wrote an article called, “What Atheists Kant Refute”. It is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Also, I wrote a refutation to it on my blog. (see link above)

  80. #80 Zeno
    September 10, 2008

    Hoo, boy! You’re in trouble now, PZ! If it weren’t for his gigantic modesty, D’Souza would admit that he is the greatest scholar and theoretician in the ranks of today’s conservative movement. Even sadder: He’s right!

    It’s like being assaulted by a teacup poodle: noisy and unpleasant but danger-free. Socks may need darning afterward.

  81. #81 Michael
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh – proof of evolution:

    Ronald Reagan -> George W. Bush -> Sarah Palin

  82. #82 amphiox
    September 10, 2008

    I think one must be fair and concede that there is in fact more to religion that just belief in a deity, and that, over the course of its history, religion has accomplish a great deal, both good and bad.

    What is striking to me is that for all the good things religion has contributed to, the belief in a deity aspect does not appear to have been required, but for most of the bad things, the belief in a deity is required.

  83. #83 Escuerd
    September 10, 2008

    It’s interesting how many angry people like to disparage the quality of PZ’s academic credentials while having none of their own. D’Souza’s not the first I’ve seen doing this. I’m amazed that people with no academic background at all feel so comfortable in deriding the accomplishments of professors who do real science.

    Ironically, I’ve noticed significant depth of thought in many things that PZ has written, while I’ve never seen anything written by D’Souza that goes beyond the most superficial level of thought.

  84. #84 El Herring
    September 10, 2008

    Warren #53:

    Black people are born black and don’t deserve persecution. Religious people are ignorant by choice, and damned well deserve to be mocked into silence.

    Excellent point, worthy of being quoted. Mind if I make a note of that?

  85. #85 Escuerd
    September 10, 2008

    Actually, the points about Fatwah envy are interesting. I’m surprised that D’Souza didn’t mention the desecration of the Qur’an too, since he seems to have a special place in his heart for “mainstream Muslims” (read: the social equivalent of the really conservative Christians). After all, they hate gays and atheists too.

    Can’t we all just get along and kill our common enemies: people who don’t believe in magic?

  86. #86 nicknick bobick
    September 10, 2008

    I first became aware of Distort D’Newsa in 1995 when his book, “The End of Racism” was published. If anyone can be accused of burning crosses it is this sorry excuse for a man. He could be the poster boy for every fundamentalist conservative cause of the last 50 years.

  87. #87 SASnSA
    September 10, 2008

    You don’t need to be a professor in theology or philosophy to say that the believe in god is unfounded exactly in the same way as you don’t need a degree in fashion design and textile technique to point at the emperor and say: He’s naked.

    Thanks to Dawkins for this nice analogy.

    Actually if I remember right, it was PZ that gave Dawkins that analogy.

  88. #88 Alan Kellogg
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh once asked me to join him as a partner in pontification a few years back. Something I wrote apparently. Rejected the idea, as can be proved by my continuing poverty and sobriety.

    Mendacity is a Dinesh best served to slime molds.

    If you meet d’Souza on the road, point and laugh. Wincing and hugging your ribs tight as you guffaw is a not infrequent consequence of this.

  89. #89 El Herring
    September 10, 2008

    Amphiox #82:

    for all the good things religion has contributed to, the belief in a deity aspect does not appear to have been required, but for most of the bad things, the belief in a deity is required.

    That’s a good one too.

  90. #90 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    This is a typical pastor ploy. Back when I was a good church lady, I had to read a book called Antagonists in the Church, by Kenneth C. Haugk to learn how to help defend against just such a move as Dinesh is playing.
    He must be seething with rage over Dumbass Donahue getting all the donations and attention.

  91. #91 Buck Mulligan
    September 10, 2008

    “Oh, well, I’m sure there might be someone out there with greater wit than him who will teach me a lesson.

    Indeed….

  92. #92 Rob
    September 10, 2008

    @48:
    Let’s add some morals and ethics to Pascal’s wager, shall we?

    A) God exists and pays attention to actions, not words. Belief means nothing, therefore, there is no need to believe.

    B) God exists, and belief is paramount over actions. God is an egotistical bastard and does not deserve support. I for one can not support an entity like this. Belief is anathema to my morality. Therefore, I must not believe.

    Slightly different conclusion than Pascal.

  93. #93 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    Oh, no you don’t Alan.
    You owe frog an apology for your vile posts last night.

  94. #94 Nancy
    September 10, 2008

    While I consider myself an atheist and admirer of PZ, I strongly feel that his actions (desecrating the “cracker”) were unnecessary.

    In this instance he acted like a petulant child sticking his tongue out at those whose beliefs are different from his own. He’s better than that.

    And now, he really should just let it go. He made his point.

    ENOUGH!

  95. #95 valor
    September 10, 2008

    Actually, in a way, Christianity is responsible for the modern conception of Hospitals and healthcare. As the great heretic (read, excommunicated Catholic priest, now deceased) Ivan Illich, will(would have) tell you, the sacrilegious nature of modern healthcare (yes, the hospital, technically sacrilegious) is teh fault of Christians who were unable to live up to Jesus’ mandate that they minister the sick themselves, so they gathered all the sick in one place, so that a designated group of people could care for them, rather than every single Christian ministering to their own sick.
    So, the failure of Christians to be good Christians is the root of Hospitals, and therefore, Christianity is indirectly responsible for the hospital. But then, smallpox is indirectly responsible for vaccines, too.

  96. #96 valor
    September 10, 2008

    also, Dinesh D’Souza is a “newsblogger”? WTH? I guess AOL has a broad definition of what is news. I, for instance, do not consider medieval philosophies news. But perhaps I fail to consider the vast expanse of time.

  97. #97 Holbach
    September 10, 2008

    Warren @ 53

    Yes, an apt and worthy comment and one which I have expressed ever since being an ardent atheist. When these same religious adults have all the means at hand to ponder the many logical reasons against religion,and consciously choose to maintain that stance, then as you say, they should be mocked, but not only into silence, but ridiculed into self-debasing. There is just no excuse for maintaining a life of irrational ideas, when that very life has absolutely no need for those ideas. When I reached adulthood I had no difficulty in sloughing off the pox of religion, and there is no excuse why others cannot.

  98. #98 young european
    September 10, 2008

    So how much credit does the Christian religion deserve for the Red Cross?

  99. #99 Neural T
    September 10, 2008

    I wish you had said, “Oh noes!”

  100. #100 reverted
    September 10, 2008

    @ 98: Exactly.

    Clara Barton, founder of The Red Cross, wavered between freethought and deism. She was NOT a Christian.

  101. #101 Benjamin Franklin
    September 10, 2008

    See that.

    I always felt that reading Ann Coulters books, you loose brain cells.

    But this proves that if you fuck Ann Coulter, your brain turns to shit.

  102. #102 Lluraa
    September 10, 2008

    While I consider myself an atheist and admirer of PZ, I strongly feel that his actions (desecrating the “cracker”) were unnecessary.

    In this instance he acted like a petulant child sticking his tongue out at those whose beliefs are different from his own. He’s better than that.

    And now, he really should just let it go. He made his point.

    ENOUGH!
    THANK YOU NANCY, MY SENTIMENTS EXACTLY.

  103. #103 Holbach
    September 10, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin @ 101

    Which begs the question; if Ann Coulter was a pile of shit, would she still have a brain?

  104. #104 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    On the other hand reverted – the corrupt jackals of the Red Cross charged my father for everything they gave out during the Korean War. That sounds pretty christian.

  105. #105 Bob Vogel
    September 10, 2008

    #33 – Yes, I totally agree with you. D’Sousa writes only to create controversy – this is his entire “schtick”. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t believe what he writes.

    Sometimes, tho, I wonder about PZ. At times he comes across more than willing to stir the pot just to get hits. But most all of what he writes turns out real when you check up a bit. Can’t say that for D’Sousa. He makes up stuff, and ignores more important stuff, along the way of making his point – for a paycheck.

  106. #106 Michael X
    September 10, 2008

    But werent’ those people Christians acting on their religious convictions?

    The responsible answer to this Dinesh is: “we’ll never know and it would intellectually dishonest to assume so.” It should be remembered though that at the time, nearly ALL western civ was christian. If a category includes everyone, then it doesn’t really help us understand the behavior of anyone.

    Also, such an assumption makes those who did do good things out to be naturally shoddy people who were only good because of their religion. And that’s a pretty low view of your fellow man.

    Further, it’s also a random claim. How come it wasn’t their nationality that made them good people? Or their favorite pass-time? Does Dinesh write stupid things because he’s republican? Or because he’s dishonest to begin with, does that make him prone to be a republican?

    All sorts of questions that any honest scholar and social critic should ask. The absence of such subtly doesn’t bode well…

  107. #107 Danio
    September 10, 2008

    In this instance he acted like a petulant child sticking his tongue out at those whose beliefs are different from his own. He’s better than that.
    And now, he really should just let it go. He made his point.

    Well, Golly, Concern Troll Nancy, I’m sure he’ll take this under advisement. If you’re even halfway paying attention, the majority of the Crackergate posts clearly reveal that it is in fact the Catholics and their allies, including concerned non-believers like yourself, who are having difficulty ‘letting it go’. This isn’t PZ continuing to goad them, this is PZ updating the readership as to the chronic hysteria over ‘blasphemy crimes’ for which he himself was, at best, a one-off catalyst.

    By the way, would you consider PZ’s behavior more ‘petulant’ than, say, a mailbox crammed full of death threats that range from hilarious to downright disturbing? Or the relentless harassment of Webster Cook? Just curious. Unless you are contemplating PZ’s actions in a vacuum, any negativity associated with his limited and specific actions is spectacularly dwarfed by the corresponding actions and reactions of the Christians and their apologists.

  108. #108 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    DOH! Gave out -to him – in the Korean War.
    headdesk

  109. #109 Peter
    September 10, 2008

    I think Julia Sweeney nailed it in ‘Letting go of god’ when she said “Dinesh D’Souza is full of shit!”

  110. #110 Danio
    September 10, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin & Holbach.

    Uh Oh! Someone mentioned Ann Coulter!

    (This is usually Ichthyic’s bit, but as I haven’t seen him today I thought I’d do the honors.)

  111. #111 Holbach
    September 10, 2008

    Rob @ 56

    Yeah, and then they have the freaking gall to staff those same hospitals with doctors, nurses, medical equipment, medicines and modern medical practice, instead of just a cot with a horse blanket and prayers as the sole avenue of healing. Reality always gives way to senseless nonsense.

  112. #112 Kel
    September 10, 2008

    You don’t need to be a professor in theology or philosophy to say that the believe in god is unfounded

    I always find that funny. Why doesn’t the likes of D’Souza chastise theists who don’t have degrees in philosophy or theology? Does he extend this analogy to other mythical creatures? Is it even possible to say that elves and unicorns don’t exist without a degree in cryptozoology (I hope such a degree doesn’t exist)?

    What does D’Souza even hold a degree in anyway?

  113. #113 reverted
    September 10, 2008

    @109:

    I think Julia Sweeney nailed it in ‘Letting go of god’ when she said “Dinesh D’Souza is full of shit!”

    Actually, that was with regards to Deepak Chopra. But, it could just as easily have been Dinesh d’Sousa. heh

  114. #114 Ryan F Stello
    September 10, 2008

    Kel asked,

    What does D’Souza even hold a degree in anyway?

    English, and that’s all.
    The prick is full of ironic assholery.

  115. #115 Kel
    September 10, 2008

    So he holds a degree in English, yet he’s written books on politics & culture (sociology), debates with a passion the existence of God (theology), tries to discuss 9/11 (history), and talks about minority struggles (psychology), yet he complains that biologists aren’t qualified to talk on theism?!? The word hypocrite comes to mind.

  116. #116 Steve_C
    September 10, 2008

    How does that goof have a column anywhere?

    What a godbot.

  117. #117 Caveat
    September 10, 2008

    What a wanker. That’s the first thing I’ve read by him and it was a waste of 30 seconds.

    I guess the thought hasn’t occurred to him that people achieved things in spite of the iron grip of the religious mafia, not because of it.

    Sigh…about those observatories….

  118. #118 Ryan F Stello
    September 10, 2008

    The word hypocrite comes to mind.

    Yep, and an wanton self-promoter.

    I recall him declaring victory after a debate with Hitchens in 2007, one where all the audience were believers and he frequently had the final word.

    Mighty huge, his pomposity is.

  119. #119 Qwerty
    September 10, 2008

    Dinesh D’Souza wrote “The End of Racism”; so, if he thinks racism is over, why is he harping on it?

  120. #120 Steven Dunlap
    September 10, 2008

    First off, the small pox analogy is a bit weak. I prefer to go with the wife beater analogy. Every wife beater buys her flowers now and then. Such is the interaction between religion and scientific developments. And not just science. In the immediate aftermath of Emperor Constantine’s decree making Christianity the state religion Christians set about a massive book burning project (along with looting pagans’ homes and temples, something that Constantine had to reverse, ordering the newly empowered Christians to give back the loot). They attempted to eradicate as much pagan scholarship as possible. Then there’s the burning of the library at Alexandria (twice, once by the Christians and the coup de grace by the Moslems about century later). My personal favorite was the outlawing of geometry in the 15th century.

    I do feel a bit sick every time someone tries the “Christianity promoted science” line. That they choose not to burn books, execute people as heretics, or outlaw study of something during the rare period of relative sanity constitutes a new use of the word “support” with which I am up to now not familiar. I do realize that the people who toe that line truly believe their alternate reality, as historical records remain as meaningless to them as any other form of evidence.

  121. #121 Nerd of Redhead
    September 10, 2008

    X on a cracker. Go and run some errands and 100 posts magically appear. Just reading PZ’s synopsis gives me no desire to read the posting. I need all my brain cells for work.

    The whole crackergate affair will be off the map as soon as the catlicks let it drop. It isn’t PZ’s call on stopping things. At least some concerned trolls showed up for Patricia’s sake.

  122. #122 William
    September 10, 2008

    You know, this cross-burning analogy has been made pretty consistently by those protesting Crackergate. Here’s a thought about how we might again illustrate the point they’re missing…

    …is anyone here, or anyone you know, an African-American atheist with a lawn and a few bucks to buy a couple of two-by-fours and some gasoline?

    Maybe we could try explaining once again the difference between a meaningful, vile act of threat and harm, and an act that treats a mere thing as a mere thing.

    What a statement it would make: “I am an atheist. I refuse to be frightened by ghosts and shadows. Men are real; men can threaten me. Weapons are real; weapons can harm me. Words and symbols, no matter how historically weighted, cannot. I am black, and I am atheist, and I seize this symbol from those who would use it to terrorize by and for religion.” And light it up.

  123. #123 PZ Myers
    September 10, 2008

    People don’t seem to be getting the point of my smallpox comparison. I’m not saying that smallpox caused cathedrals to be built — I’m pointing out that it too was ubiquitous, like religion, and we wouldn’t pin architecture on it. In the case of religion, everyone was religious. You can neither say it enabled or disabled progress.

    I’d also say that the actual beliefs of the religious were irrelevant: we see that people built cathedrals, not angels.

  124. #124 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 10, 2008

    the sacrilegious nature of modern healthcare (yes, the hospital, technically sacrilegious) is teh fault of Christians who were unable to live up to Jesus’ mandate that they minister the sick themselves, so they gathered all the sick in one place, so that a designated group of people could care for them, rather than every single Christian ministering to their own sick.

    Nope. Hospitals existed in the Arab world before that. (And so did universities.)

    Whoever has the most liberal faith leads in science and in social policy. Been that way throughout the last 3000 years, at least.

  125. #125 Steven Dunlap
    September 10, 2008

    Someone on salon.com deconstructed Dinesh D’Souza’s over his book The Enemy at Home. Essentially D’Souza tries to blame the “cultural left” (that would be us, I guess) for provoking the 911 attacks. Alex Koppelman read Bin-Laden’s fatwah which D’Souza used as a basis for his conclusion. It’s delightful to read as Koppelman quotes sections of the fatwah to D’Souza and you get to watch D’Souza squirm and backpedal. By the end of the interview it’s obvious that D’Souza did not even read it but just used the fatwah as a source to give a scholarly appearance to his own opinions and factoids pulled out of his ass.

    D’Souza’s degree of intellectual dishonesty is actually larger than it appears in your rear-view mirror. Here’s a link to the D’Souza interview for those interested.

  126. #126 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 10, 2008

    I forgot to explain that the Muslim world had a more liberal faith than the Christian one till 1200 or 1300 or so. Then the fundies took over, and progress stopped. A few hundred years later the Enlightenment started in Europe, and that led directly to where we are now.

    My personal favorite was the outlawing of geometry in the 15th century.

    Where?

  127. #127 sara
    September 10, 2008

    Ugh! This again? This is not just ejaculation; this is seriously a masturbation addiction. Next!

  128. #128 Doctorb
    September 10, 2008

    Cathedrals are great. Castles are also great. Without feudalism and warfare, we wouldn’t have castles. Without ancient Egyptian theocratic despotism we wouldn’t have pyramids.

    Heck, without organized crime we probably wouldn’t have the Annenberg Foundation. I guess I never gave enough credit to gangsters.

  129. #129 Kel
    September 10, 2008

    Also, without organised crime, prohibition may never have ended in the United States. They also helped bring alcohol to those in need in the 20s.

    “To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems”

  130. #130 Max verret
    September 10, 2008

    Ah, come on fellows:

    “D’Souza is an idiot”
    “D’Souza is a moron”

    Disliking a fellow is one thing but disconnecting from reality to diss him is something else

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa. He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list, and he dusted off the likes of Hitchens in a public disputation.

    I think some of you are just a little green around the gills.

  131. #131 CJO
    September 10, 2008

    Well, Golly, Concern Troll Nancy, I’m sure he’ll take this under advisement. If you’re even halfway paying attention, the majority of the Crackergate posts clearly reveal that it is in fact the Catholics and their allies, including concerned non-believers like yourself, who are having difficulty ‘letting it go’. This isn’t PZ continuing to goad them, this is PZ updating the readership as to the chronic hysteria over ‘blasphemy crimes’ for which he himself was, at best, a one-off catalyst.

    By the way, would you consider PZ’s behavior more ‘petulant’ than, say, a mailbox crammed full of death threats that range from hilarious to downright disturbing? Or the relentless harassment of Webster Cook? Just curious. Unless you are contemplating PZ’s actions in a vacuum, any negativity associated with his limited and specific actions is spectacularly dwarfed by the corresponding actions and reactions of the Christians and their apologists.

    Best respone to a crackergate concern troll Evar.

  132. #132 Owlmirror
    September 10, 2008

    Disliking a fellow is one thing but disconnecting from reality to diss him is something else

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa. He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list,

    If he’s really all that intelligent, then he really should know better. Which would mean that he’s being stupid on purpose.

    Which means that he’s a mendacious deceitful dishonest lying sack of shit.

  133. #133 CalGeorge
    September 10, 2008

    Until PZ starts lynching Catholics, I will continue to read this blog.

  134. #134 frog
    September 10, 2008

    PZ: #123 People don’t seem to be getting the point of my smallpox comparison. I’m not saying that smallpox caused cathedrals to be built — I’m pointing out that it too was ubiquitous, like religion, and we wouldn’t pin architecture on it. In the case of religion, everyone was religious. You can neither say it enabled or disabled progress.

    But it is particularly funny that smallpox “inspired” temples in the same way that cookie-Zombie did: Google found me this (since my senility is so advanced) – http://books.google.com/books?id=r-OYL6Khg0UC&pg=PA194&lpg=PA194&dq=smallpox+temple&source=web&ots=BzcV0t2cSU&sig=umFBolYjIE9ryIfMPF2ouDs6Rt4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result
    and this http://gotindia.blogspot.com/2008/05/offerings-to-goddess-of-smallpox.html
    and this http://www.stanford.edu/~siegelr/india/shitalamata.html
    and this
    http://www.spinybabbler.org/art_complex/kathmandu.htm

    The latter is part of a world heritage site! Right up there with Gothic cathedrals, ain’t it?

    DD needs to learn to google (and you could use it too…)

  135. #135 frog
    September 10, 2008

    Max: D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa. He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list, and he dusted off the likes of Hitchens in a public disputation.

    You’re right. He’s not an idiot. He’s a liar – an intellectually dishonest shill for the worst in the human spirit. He sells out the truth for a few shekels – maybe he’ll even kiss it on the cheek! He’s a scumbag who has the long-range vision of the German industrialists of the 30s who sold out their neighbors for a few bucks, before finding themselves stripped by their erstwhile allies.

    But he is “smart”.

  136. #136 frog
    September 10, 2008

    DM: I forgot to explain that the Muslim world had a more liberal faith than the Christian one till 1200 or 1300 or so. Then the fundies took over, and progress stopped. A few hundred years later the Enlightenment started in Europe, and that led directly to where we are now.

    And if you look into the history of the period (1200-1500), there often appear a lot of characters shifting back and forth between the Christian and Muslim worlds through the Byzantine and Hispanic interfaces — and later through the Turks. A hell of a lot of folks with a great deal of knowledge who transferred that knowledge to where it would be safer, at the time.

    A lesson for us in the US to learn. When you shut the doors of the mind down, it will migrate, with massive historical effects.

  137. #137 Michael X
    September 10, 2008

    Oh Max, reading you tell people not to act green around the gills has made my night.

    And do keep these small facts in mind:
    Graduating from Dartmouth is no claim on truth.
    Writing a number of books, at any age, is no claim on truth.
    And your opinion of his debating skills against another person is no claim on truth.

    Lets be realistic. In this thread alone, Dinesh’s claims have been shattered. That is the only fact worth observing in the present context.

  138. #138 Nerd of Redhead
    September 10, 2008

    Michael X, you forgot the most important conclusion. Supporting liars means you are one. Max Verret bears false witness.

  139. #139 extatyzoma
    September 10, 2008

    DDS really likes whining, i imagine he was an especially whiney little boy.

  140. #140 Sui Generis
    September 10, 2008

    I think some of you are just a little green around the gills.

    We’re feeling seasick?
    This phrase isn’t a metaphoric equivalent for envy despite the green reference. You’re obviously no D’Souza or Myers for that matter, Shakespeare.

  141. #141 theinquisitor
    September 10, 2008

    Yeah the atheists in the dark ages didn’t do anything to benefit society, because they were too busy being tortured to death. Good point Dinesh.

  142. #142 Michael X
    September 10, 2008

    Good point NoR. As it stands, I believe “Max Verret” and “false witness” are fast becoming synonyms.

  143. #143 R.C. Moore
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa.

    Berkeley awarded a doctorate to Jonathan Wells. Antonin Scalia graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown, and thinks creationists made a better argument than the scientists before the court.
    And most of the people who got us into Iraq and Vietnam went to Yale and Princeton.

  144. #144 Max Verret
    September 10, 2008

    “He’s a mendacious deceitful, dishonest lying sack of shit”
    “He’s a scumbag and a shill”

    D’Souza noted that atheists have stopped referring to themselves as “the brites”. With a vocabulary like the above is there any wonder why.

  145. #145 Rey Fox
    September 10, 2008

    “With a vocabulary like the above is there any wonder why.”

    Are any of those words untrue?

  146. #146 Max Verret
    September 10, 2008

    Moore at 143

    “Antonin Scalia graduated Summa at Georgetown”. I studied at Georgetown but I think he was there before my time.

    Do you know if he is Phi Beta Kappa. If so, I’m going to have to upgrade my opinion of him.

  147. #147 Nancy
    September 10, 2008

    #107 Danio.

    HIS actions, THEIR actions….Tsk,tsk,task…Didn’t you ever learn that “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Ever hear of taking the high road?

    I expect MORE of PZ. I think he stooped to their level when he did what he did. He didn’t have to get involved at all. WHAT WAS THE POINT?

    And, did you call me a “troll”? LMAO.

  148. #148 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    Dammit frog & Nerd! You’ve hooked a good one this time.
    Sure, I go to supper and look what happens. Wheee!

  149. #149 The Cheerful Nihilist
    September 10, 2008

    @ Svan #10

    “show us you’re a man – burn a koran.”

    New lyrics to “Barbar-ann”?

    @Alex #23

    The person who burns a cross usually is a CRACKER.

  150. #150 Max Verret
    September 10, 2008

    Fox at 145

    “Are any of those words untrue”.

    Some of them are, I assume, meant to be metaphors. In that sense I don’t know if they’re true or not. Literally, of course, they’re not true. He’s not a sack of shit and he’s not a scumbag. What I do know is that that level of vocabulary is one that would not ordinarily be associated with “the brites”.

  151. #151 Patricia
    September 10, 2008

    Exodus 20:16 – Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    Can’t find thou shalt not be a complete idiot and believe that Dinesh could EVER out debate Hitchens. I’ve watched Dinesh, he’s a frother.

  152. #152 mikeg
    September 10, 2008

    … ” who know something about one thing but pretend that they know a lot about other things”… wtf?

  153. #153 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 10, 2008

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa. He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list, and he dusted off the likes of Hitchens in a public disputation.

    All of which makes it even worse when you listen to the idiocy he spews.

    “The American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well.” (from D’Souza’s book, The End of Racism)

    “If America as a nation owes blacks as a group reparations for slavery, what do blacks as a group owe America for the abolition of slavery?” (from The End of Racism)

    “Am I calling for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Actually, yes.” (from The End of Racism)

    “…within the United States, black males have (you may be surprised to discover) the highest self-esteem of any group. Yet on academic measures black males score the lowest. The reason is that self-esteem in these cases is generated by factors unrelated to studies, such as the ability to beat up other students or a high estimation of one’s sexual prowess.” (from D’Souza’s book Letters to a Young Conservative)

    “[f]or many whites the criminal and irresponsible black underclass represents a revival of barbarism in the midst of Western civilization.” (from D’Souza’s book The End of Racism)

    “What impact did the abortionists, the feminists, the homosexual activists, and the secularists have on the Islamic radicals who conspired to blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Unfortunately, this crucial question got buried, and virtually no one has raised it publicly.” (from The Enemy at Home)

    “What disgusts [Muslims] is not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing one another and taking marriage vows. The person that horrifies them the most is not John Locke but Hillary Clinton.” (from The Enemy at Home)

    “In reality, the left already has a foreign policy and a strategy, and it’s called working in tandem with bin Laden to defeat Bush.” (from The Enemy at Home)

    Those are the words of a full class douchebag who’s ideology has so clouded his mind that he can only speak as someone who is so sheltered from reality that he repeatedly regurgitates some of the most myopic views of the current state of the word.

    What I do know is that that level of vocabulary is one that would not ordinarily be associated with “the brites”.

    Other than one very annoyingly repetitive commenter here, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone here who likes the term “Brites”.

  154. #154 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    D’Souza noted that atheists have stopped referring to themselves as “the brites”. With a vocabulary like the above is there any wonder why.

    “Brights”, Max. B-R-I-G-H-T-S. (and remember, please, to end rhetorical questions with question marks.) It is also fallacious to claim that “atheists” call themselves anything, because we are not one united entity. So it would follow that anyone claiming that we’ve stopped calling themselves something is false on its very face.

    And if I followed your logic, and took you to be an an example for why all christians were logically inept, I too would fall to the fallacy of making glittering generalizations. Even though you are apparently incapable of following a logical argument.

  155. #155 The Cheerful Nihilist
    September 11, 2008

    PZ #123

    “I’d also say that the actual beliefs of the religious were irrelevant: we see that people built cathedrals, not angels.”

    Hold on there, professor. I’m pretty sure that people did “buil[d]” angels. . . .

  156. #156 R.C. Moore
    September 11, 2008

    #153

    …he repeatedly regurgitates some of the most myopic views of the current state of the word.

    Not just the current state of the (world). His history is just as myopic. According to D’Souza, the whole Catholic Church/Galileo affair was a minor misunderstanding, and Galileo gladly renounced his views after a polite request…from the man who burned Bruno alive after years of torture, of which Galileo was well aware.

  157. #157 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    We tried the high road.
    Socrates got to drink poison. That was the last merciful death for not worshipping the right gawds. After that it was burning, hanging, torturing, pressing, murder, rape and genocide.
    Yep, by golly, that ol’ high road looks real down home friendly.
    Suffering in silence has been ever so helpful too!
    PZ is a beacon in a shitfesterd morass of idiocy. Don’t like it, well, take the advice of Don Quixote, another woo soaked ‘character’ – clap heels to thine Ass and hence!

  158. #158 H.H.
    September 11, 2008

    What I do know is that that level of vocabulary is one that would not ordinarily be associated with “the brites”.

    You don’t think that level of vocabulary is normally associated with people who don’t believe in the supernatural? Why the fuck would you make that dumbass assumption? Oh, fuck face that you are, you probably thought “brites” picked that name because they wanted to imply they were “brighter” or more intelligent than other people. Not true, of course, but when have dishonest shits like yourself ever cared for truth? No, they just wanted a positive name. God forbid the Christian majority let any other group pick a name with positive connotations. The paranoid freaks were sooo worried it was a secret dig against them. And look, you fell into the same trap! Guess your secret fears of inadequacy may be true after all.

    But to answer your main point, some very, very intelligent people are more than comfortable using “bad” words. It’s the stupid who need to get up on their soapbox and moralize in order to feel superior. Asshat.

  159. #159 Max Verret
    September 11, 2008

    Big Dumb at 153

    Sorry Big Dumb, I didn’t mean to personally send you ballistic. However, you did miss my point in your angst to expiate your venom at D’Souza.

    The point of my original post was in response to references on this thread to D’Souza as an idiot or a moron. I simply wanted to point out that a Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth who had written about a dozen books, many on the New Youk Times bestseller list was not an idiot or a moron. He may be a lot of other things but obviously not an idiot or a moron. Hopefully, the “brites” could raise their level of vocabulary, but then all I got was “sack of shit” and “scumbag.

  160. #160 Travis
    September 11, 2008

    “What I do know is that that level of vocabulary is one that would not ordinarily be associated with “the brites”.”

    Clumsy mass ad hominem, Max?

    The POINT being raised, leaving aside vocabulary (which you should favour doing as it means I’ll ignore your hilarious misuse of “green around the gills”) is that Dinesh D’Souza is a proven liar.

    Care to address the point, or would you prefer to keep dancing around whether we call ourselves “Brights” or not?

  161. #161 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    “we’ve stopped calling themselves”
    Is actually be read as:
    “we’ve stopped calling ourselves”
    Oy, the errors…
    Though I must say, “Casillero del Diablo” Cabernet Sauvignon is a really good reason to make typos.

  162. #162 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Dammit BigDumbChimp, now I’m gonna have to buy that frothers book. Had no idea where he stood on slavery. Thanks!

  163. #163 Rey Fox
    September 11, 2008

    “What I do know is that that level of vocabulary is one that would not ordinarily be associated with “the brites”.”

    And this is a totally superficial and useless argument.

    “Hopefully, the “brites” could raise their level of vocabulary, but then all I got was “sack of shit” and “scumbag.”

    You also got a thorough demonstration of Dinesh’s idiocy, but of course, you didn’t read it. No, you’d rather whine pitifully about our language. Maybe Kseniya will come by later on and unleash her Shakespearian assault on you, and then our overall vocabulary level would go up, but I don’t think you’re worth the bother.

  164. #164 LanceR
    September 11, 2008

    *sigh*

    Anyone else miss Kenny?

    *ducks*

  165. #165 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    He may be a lot of other things but obviously not an idiot or a moron. Hopefully, the “brites” could raise their level of vocabulary, but then all I got was “sack of shit” and “scumbag.

    Max, the terms ‘Idiot”, “Scumbag” and “Moron” are value judgements based upon the actions of any particular human being. They are not determined or influenced by what school one has gone to or how many books one has written.

    To decide the truth of an argument based upon the history of an individual or their upbringing or their schooling is what we call an “argument from authority” and it is a classic fallacy.

    Thus, your arguments are classic examples of not knowing what you’re talking about.

  166. #166 ANSEO
    September 11, 2008

    Christianity took guys with names like Thorfinn Skullcrusher and Eric Bloodaxe and put a bit of polish on them. Too bad. I don,t think P.Z Myers had a consecrated host in his possession. So no need for anyone to be upset.

  167. #167 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    Maybe Kseniya will come by later on and unleash her Shakespearian assault on you

    Here Ray, let me lend my favorite from Macbeth: “All that is within him does condemn itself for being there.”

  168. #168 Hal
    September 11, 2008

    You know, there’s a category for DDS (and Coulter, Goldberg, Krauthammer, O’Reilly, Hannity, etc., etc.) which needs a vigorous, recognisable name. Personally, I refer to them as Right Wing Attention Whores, or RWAHs, which doesn’t scan. There are so many of them, and they are so loud (and lunatic), that for years now they have constituted a distinct species.

    It’s obvious that spouting their beliefs (or what they pretend to be their beliefs) pays lavishly. It’s equally obvious that they will assume any position that their clients pay them to assume. Watching them tiptoe the line between libertarian and ‘conservative’ fantasies is particularly entertaining.

    Nail the perfect title for these wankers and ridicule will become much easier. Suggestions?

  169. #169 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Rey – Is not Cervantes of Spain worthy of at least a nod? ;o)

  170. #170 Max Verret
    September 11, 2008

    Re: HH at 158

    Sorry again, the point I was making was that D’Souza is not a moron or idiot. Those are well defined words and he does not qualify. Is he a “sack of shit”, a “scumbag” or a “douchbag” as he was called. As I noted earlier, I’m not sure what these presumed metaphors mean. So, I’m not sure if they’re appropriate or not. With regard to the “brites”, I was simple implying that this is not the level of language that one would ordinarliy associate with Mensa members.

  171. #171 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    ANSEO, do you have any reason to believe that? Or are you just assuming without looking up whether or not PZ had reason to believe he did?

  172. #172 R.C. Moore
    September 11, 2008

    #168

    Nail the perfect title for these wankers and ridicule will become much easier. Suggestions?

    DIMS? Deistic Ignorant Misanthropes?

  173. #173 Kel
    September 11, 2008

    I don,t think P.Z Myers had a consecrated host in his possession.

    What makes you think that?

  174. #174 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    I was simple implying that this is not the level of language that one would ordinarliy associate with Mensa members.

    My advice would be to change your expectations. All of humanity is capable of getting irritated at reading willful inanity. To assume that vulgarity is only for the lowest among us is to detach oneself from reality, and to also set nonsensical restrictions on what qualifies as a reasonable argument. 2 plus fuckin’ 2 = 4 is still a truthful, accurate sentence. Even if you wouldn’t “ordinarliy associate with Mensa members”.

  175. #175 Steven Dunlap
    September 11, 2008

    @126 re: outlawing geometry.

    The Catholic church briefly outlawed the teaching of geometry. I recall a James Burke documentary series called The Day the Universe Changed in which he explained that as Europeans acquired knowledge from the Islamic world through the Moors in Spain that the concept of the triangle bothered the church leaders. You see, there are 180 degrees in a triangle. Period. Not 179, not 181. Even God could not add or subtract a single degree. Placing limits on God did not sit well with the church leaders. (Heresy, I think. That’s a belief that the church considers wrong enough to kill you for. Blasphemy is when you say something they can kill you for). Eventually, they relented, possibly having realized that making such a stink over triangles is only going to make naughty children want to play with them anyway.

    BTW the conquest of Spain by Christians was a gradual one taking place over the 1400s, with peaceful coexistence punctuating war. Much of the scientific knowledge of the early renaissance originated in the Islamic part of the world and came to Europeans from the Moors. The Europeans having had their dark ages did not even have words for some of the concepts, hence the Arabic words entering English such as acme, zenith, azimuth, alcohol, magazine, and so on.

  176. #176 Wowbagger
    September 11, 2008

    Max Verret,

    I guess there’s some value in being able to call something a multifunctional leverage-intensive organo-compound ferro-metal combination device – but why bother? We have a word for it: spade.

    Just like ‘sack of shit’ and ‘scumbag’ are appropriate to describe a disingenuous turd like D’souza. But you’re right about him not being stupid – which actually makes him worse as far as I’m concerned, since it means he can choose to be otherwise but doesn’t.

  177. #177 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    #164 – LanceR – Actually, yes.

  178. #178 Blake Stacey
    September 11, 2008

    You want Shakespearean? I gots yer Shakespearean right here.

  179. #179 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    I simply wanted to point out that a Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth who had written about a dozen books, many on the New Youk Times bestseller list was not an idiot or a moron.

    And I merely wanted to point out that despite all that education and authorship that D’Sousa still says a great many things that one would expect to only come from the mouth (or hand) or a total idiot.

  180. #180 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    should be

    “of a total idiot.”

    and of course should be D’Souza…

    Sorry it’s getting late.

  181. #181 Ben Brulotte
    September 11, 2008

    >>>>>Here we see Myers’ thought in all its glorious idiocy. No, Myers, the two are not even comparable. Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories and setting up institutions like Harvard and the Red Cross. Christianity was a powerful motivating force in why people did those things. You can find all this out by opening up a history book.<<<<<<<<

    If Mr. D’Souza actually had read a history book or two he might have understood that the worldwide dommination of Christian societies has everything to do with Smallpox and NOTHING to do with Christianity. Gothic spires? So what! Ever heard of Machu Picchu?! Chichen Itza?! This guy needs to read “Guns Germs and Steel” before he makes a complete ass out of himself…I guess its too late though…

  182. #182 Ben Brulotte
    September 11, 2008

    Sorry there is supposed to be a better separation between the quote from D’Souza’s article and my actual opinion there…

    I suppose someone’s going to tear into me mistakenly now.

  183. #183 R.C. Moore
    September 11, 2008

    I suppose someone’s going to tear into me mistakenly now.

    Ben Burlotte you complete idio… Oh sorry, I see, bad formatting.

    Another flaw I see in D’Souza’s Theory of All Goods Things Come from Christians is the same flaw I see when people claim all the Founding Fathers were Christian. If you kill/deport/intimidate everyone who is not Christian or destroy anything not made by Christians, I guess it makes it easy to claim everything left is Christian in origin.

  184. #184 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    He didn’t have a consecrated host… of all the sour owl shit to come across this thread, that is one of the stupidest remarks yet.
    Fool, the whole thing revolved on the cracker being consecrated.
    Or, if you want to get even dirtier – I have FAITH that PZ would only desecrate a truly sacred body of christ.

  185. #185 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    September 11, 2008

    Could I get a thesaurus check on Max in #159?

    The way he uses those words in his first paragraph seems a little off to me. Not quite Mrs. Malaprop, but getting there.

  186. #186 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Ah, Nancy’s back, and she’s packing some CAPS LOCK heat.

    HIS actions, THEIR actions….Tsk,tsk,task…Didn’t you ever learn that “two wrongs don’t make a right”? Ever hear of taking the high road?

    Easy there, schoolmarm. Leaving aside the fact that the number of wrongs in this scenario exceeds ’2′ by many orders of magnitude, and passing over the assumption that what PZ did is universally accepted to be ‘wrong’ in the first place, the fact that you are equating ‘actions’ with ‘wrongs’ at all is, frankly, a tad disconcerting.

    I expect MORE of PZ.

    And by ‘more’, you mean what, exactly? A respectfully worded letter to Bill Donohue pleading for understanding and unity? A stern rebuke of Webster Cook for acting like a dick in a house of worship? Judging by the rest of your comment, I grok that ‘more’ actually means ‘less’.

    He didn’t have to get involved at all. WHAT WAS THE POINT?

    He chose to get involved, and made some splendidly lucid, harder-to-miss-than-the-broad-side-of-a-dayglo-barn points in the bargain; to wit, that (a)nothing is sacred, and (b)that people who feel their nutty beliefs deserve universal respect are deluded. The ‘Great Desecration’ was a justifiably frustrated response to a bunch of whiny Christians claiming persecution for the umpteenth time without cause. You clearly disagree with his methods, but all the querulous reproofs in the world won’t change the intent or the impact of PZ’s actions.

    And, did you call me a “troll”? LMAO.

    Well, to be accurate, I called you a ‘concern troll’. Look it up if you aren’t aware of the distinction. However, if you wish to broaden the term to just plain ‘troll’, that’s fine too. Trolls of lore are notoriously dimwitted and combative. Just sayin’.

  187. #187 R.C. Moore
    September 11, 2008

    Per request at #185

    However, you did miss my point in your angst to expiate your venom at D’Souza.

    However, you did miss my point in your gloomy, neurotic feeling of atonement of your poisonous hatred of D’Souza.

    Or something like that.

  188. #188 Kel
    September 11, 2008

    Fool, the whole thing revolved on the cracker being consecrated.

    If it wasn’t consecreated, then PZ Myer’s actions would be symbolic. And thus the outrage of the Catholics is not at the act of desecration, but the act of defiance. Maybe there is something to learn out of this…

  189. #189 Alan Kellogg
    September 11, 2008

    Patricia, #93

    Your behavior in the matter gives me no assurance you would not seek to gain some sort of triumphalist advantage over yours truly. I have cause to disagree with you, and your continued vindictive behavior gives me cause to distrust you in this matter. You have let your rage dictate to your reason, and so you become unreliable on this subject. I cannot trust you.

    I trust Myers because he deals honestly with people. I do not trust d’Souza because he does not deal honestly with people. I cannot trust you to deal honestly with me, and that is why I will not do as you demand.

  190. #190 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Huzzah Danio!
    Two sane people in Oregon.
    Sheesh. :(

  191. #191 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Alan – Your behavior to frog last night was vile. You owe frog an apology.
    Pointing that out is not a demand, it is a recognition of simple courtesy.
    You stated that you have problems, OK, I accept that as true on your word.
    But that sexist, pelvis cracker scene is inappropriate and frog did not deserve one word of it.

  192. #192 Alan Kellogg
    September 11, 2008

    Steven, #175

    A triangle only adds up to 180 degrees on a flat plain. Curve the surface and you can get triangles with greater or lesser degrees. Thus God becomes impossible according to your reasoning only in an ideal — that is, perfect — universe. Therefor God can only exist in an imperfect universe.

    Remember, the sleep of reason produces monsters because reason is sleeping.

  193. #193 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Two sane people in Oregon.
    Sheesh. :(

    Ack! Is one of them Scott??
    *ducks to avoid a face full of Sangria*

  194. #194 Kel
    September 11, 2008

    I’d assume one is Linus Torvalds, the other is Chuck Palahniuk.

  195. #195 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Danio – Yup! *grin*

  196. #196 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Ahh, time for us ol’ gals to toddle off to bed.
    In the immortal words of Leon Redbone – Please don’t talk about me when I’m gone, sweet darlin. ;o)
    Good night Sweethearts!

  197. #197 Alan Kellogg
    September 11, 2008

    Patricia, #191

    Now first, Frog can speak for himself. Unless he’s younger than we think — and the way he speaks he just might be — we should hope he’s capable of engaging in a mature conversation.

    Was I vile? I had cause. When Frog writes in opposition to someone he is hateful and nasty. He does more to damage the causes and people he supports through his writing than he does to hurt the causes and people he opposes. People hate negativity by and large. Give them a reason to support your cause and you’ll do a lot better than when you speak ill of that which you oppose. Offer solutions, not constant rounds of condemnation.

    If you can think of nothing substantially positive to say about your favored cause, maybe your cause has not earned your favor.

  198. #198 Dreadneck
    September 11, 2008

    “Oh, well, I’m sure there might be someone out there with greater wit than him who will teach me a lesson.”

    But will they do it pro bono? :) lol

  199. #199 Dreadneck
    September 11, 2008

    I only ask because we godless liberals just hate having to pay for anything~

  200. #200 Pikemann Urge
    September 11, 2008

    bostjan: “Didn’t greek’s, Egyptian’s, Roman’s and others culturas made this kinde of things if not even biger.”

    Boom. You answered better than Myers did!

  201. #201 Ichthyic
    September 11, 2008

    Dinesh – proof of evolution:

    Ronald Reagan -> George W. Bush -> Sarah Palin -> Box of Hammers

  202. #202 H.H.
    September 11, 2008

    With regard to the “brites”, I was simple implying that this is not the level of language that one would ordinarliy associate with Mensa members.

    Actually, Mensa members curse like fucking sailors.

  203. #203 Owlmirror
    September 11, 2008

    Poor Max, so utterly flummoxed by the admittedly common and vulgar idiomatic expression “lying sack of shit”.

    Very well.

    Just to appease Max’s inability to cope with hyperbolic metaphor, invective, and logomachy, I will amend my sentence to:

    Which means that Dinesh D’Souza is a mendacious deceitful dishonest lying malicious manipulative arrogant rabble-rousing fraud.

    There.

    PS: By the way Max, unless you literally do have something wrong with the language processing portions of your brain, it sure looks like you are also being stupid on purpose

  204. #204 shonny
    September 11, 2008

    That Dinesh critter should go into politics (or become a preacher).
    He is the grand master of uttering thousands of words without saying anything worthwhile.

  205. #205 FlameDuck
    September 11, 2008

    Well in the defense of Smallpox it had little do do with the Spanish Inquisition, or silent acceptance of the Holocaust either. A little bit of a one sided arguement there. How can you possibly say “Religion caused all these great things” (which is demonstrably wrong, but I digress) and at the same time ignore all the atrocities committed in its name?

  206. #206 JC
    September 11, 2008

    They need to leave the dead horse alone. It’s been mangled enough already.

  207. #207 Dale Austin
    September 11, 2008

    Re #104

    Patricia:

    “The Red Cross sold coffee and doughnuts instead of giving them away to military personnel during World War II at the request by the U.S. Secretary of War. This caused bad feelings at the time and has spawned myths ever since, including accusations that the Red Cross sold other items such as sweaters and cigarettes (false) and that the Red Cross sold coffee and doughnuts in other conflicts (false).”

    That’s the executive summary. Hindsight is always 20/20, and if I’d been running the organization at the time I’d have told Secretary Stimson to get stuffed. The agreement with the government was renegotiated in 1946. I think the confusion for your father and a great many other Korea vets is that there appear to have been canteens provided and stocked by the military-and for which the military charged-that had Red Cross personnel attached to them. If you are interested, I can provide some pdf’s with more information.

  208. #208 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    While I consider myself an atheist and admirer of PZ, I strongly feel that his actions (desecrating the “cracker”) were unnecessary.

    In this instance he acted like a petulant child sticking his tongue out at those whose beliefs are different from his own. He’s better than that.

    And now, he really should just let it go. He made his point.

    He should let it go? Are PZ’s alter egos Willy Donohue and Dinesh D’Souza?

  209. #209 Moses
    September 11, 2008

    I really like the comments on the piece. The usual “he wouldn’t do that to a muslim object…”

  210. #210 Ian
    September 11, 2008

    Dense & Deluded is “indignant, but he’s got nothing to say”?

    So what’s new?!

  211. #211 Nancy
    September 11, 2008

    #186 Danio

    I wish we could have breakfast today. It’s 9/11……..I’m sure we could find much to talk about. Maybe I could find out why you are so combative and find it necessary to insult me. We could talk about PZ and his intelligence and how he can influence public opinion w/out resorting to callous and immature “tactics” such as the one in question.

    It’s 8:40 am in NYC and my heart is elsewhere. I hope you have a good day. Enough.

    Namaste

  212. #212 Moses
    September 11, 2008

    Posted by: Max verret | September 10, 2008 9:08 PM

    Ah, come on fellows:

    “D’Souza is an idiot”
    “D’Souza is a moron”

    Disliking a fellow is one thing but disconnecting from reality to diss him is something else

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa.

    Which means he was a liberal arts major. I graduated from my Alma Matter, which happened to be one of the Top-5 in the country for Accounting Summa Cum Laude and with Distinction in Accountancy. I was a Becker CPA Review scholarship recipient (given to the top graduating senior). I was in Beta Gamma Sigma, Golden Key and Beta Alpha Psi, all national honor societies.

    I changed majors multiple times – Accounting to Math (computer science) to Engineering (mechanical) and back to Accounting. I started minors in Philosophy, Economics and English but did not complete any of them.

    None of this is proof that I know what the hell I’m talking about. Or that I’m HONEST in what I’m talking about.

    Nor does it prove I’m particularly smart. There were many people in my major that did almost as well. They would just grind 70+ hours a week. For all you know, I could have been one of them.

    Additionally, once you’re in (meeting the minimum requirements), you’re in. It doesn’t mean that you were able to continue at that high level of academic performance. I saw that a lot in Beta Alpha Psi. Somebody marginal got an A- in Intermediate Accounting by the skin of her/his teeth and was in. Yet they regressed back to their individual mean as a ‘B’ student because they couldn’t handle the harder accounting classes.

    So, all-in-all, Phi Beta Kappa only means, to me, that at one time the little English major had decent-enough grades (at a grade inflated university, which mine wasn’t) to get in the society, and that is all. It doesn’t mean that he was particularly bright, especially in light of English is a “bullshit” (that is, you feed bullshit to your professors) major.

    Maybe if he was in a technical major, like engineering, biology, math, astronomy, etc. I might take his whole Phi Beta Kappa thing seriously. In those majors, you’ve got to know your stuff. You just can’t bullshit your way through.

    He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list,

    I’ve read some of them. He first book was ok. They rapidly declined in scholarship, intellectual rigor and, frankly, sense as he’s continued. I think it is obvious that at this point he’s simply pandering to a segment of society that is suffering from emotional retardation and is in search of confirmation bias.

    The books themselves are horrid. But so are romance novels and they sell like gangbusters. Getting me to the point that even horrible books sell to their target market.

    and he dusted off the likes of Hitchens in a public disputation.

    That’s simply delusional. You watched that debate, you couldn’t pierce D’Sousa’s lies (which were probably confirming the bullshit in your head) and you declared him winner. We see this all the time at church-sponsored “evolution” debates. Some liar, like Ham or Hovind gets up there and throws the most outrageous lies and falsities up against the wall, and he “wins” the debate against the actual science because the AUDIENCE IS TOO STUPID, BIASED and IGNORANT to evaluate the audience.

    I think some of you are just a little green around the gills.

    Do you realize that, if it weren’t for being a moral person, I would try to start my own mega-church? The religious proles are morons and I know how to manipulate them with religious bull-shit. I could crank down MILLIONS every year, like Benny Hinn, Pat Robertson, Creflo Dollar, et. al.

    It’d be so easy… Give them the fire. Give them the show. They’ll give you their money.

  213. #213 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    I wish we could have breakfast today. It’s 9/11……..I’m sure we could find much to talk about. Maybe I could find out why you are so combative and find it necessary to insult me. We could talk about PZ and his intelligence and how he can influence public opinion w/out resorting to callous and immature “tactics” such as the one in question.

    It’s 8:40 am in NYC and my heart is elsewhere. I hope you have a good day. Enough.

    Namaste

    That was disgusting. Nancy wtf.

    Seriously. The fact you just used the anniversary of 9/11 as some sort of defense on a blog as to why you can’t comment is frankly, horrid.

    If you are truly feeling as bad as you want us to think you are, then you wouldn’t have just done that. Instead you come off like some asshole using that to protect yourself.

    What a sick fuck you are.

  214. #214 Moses
    September 11, 2008

    Ooops… Some liar, like Ham or Hovind gets up there and throws the most outrageous lies and falsities up against the wall, and he “wins” the debate against the actual science because the AUDIENCE IS TOO STUPID, BIASED and IGNORANT to evaluate the audience.

    I meant “evidence.” Need more coffee.

  215. #215 Bruce Perry
    September 11, 2008

    It’s almost a tradition for me to drop the following observation into Dinesh threads.

    At Dartmouth, we often referred to him as Distort D’Newsa.

  216. #216 Reginald Selkirk
    September 11, 2008

    #60: Hint: It’s Blaise Pascal

    Hint: I didn’t write it, I just reported it.

  217. #217 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    Danio @ #107

    “…this is PZ updating the readership…”.

    Yeah, and the McCain campaign is just making a big deal out of the ‘lipstick on a pig’ comment to ‘update the readership’. Couldn’t be to garner attention….

    PZ is full of himself. He soaks it all up everytime something new comes out from Donahue or whoever else…”Look at me! Look at me!” I’m not saying the hate mail from Catholics, death threats etc. are any better (and in fact are worse), but PZ is a nagging little prick who can’t stand it when the spotlight isn’t on him.

  218. #218 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    Rev. BDC #213 Amen Brother!

    Nancy seems to have some problems.

  219. #219 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, why does PZ have to the one to back down? He did not start the mess. The person who caused Crackergate in the first place, i.e. Bill Donohue, should be the one to back down. If Donohue would STFU about the situation, nobody would have anything to cite.

  220. #220 LongtimeLurker
    September 11, 2008

    Did anyone else notice that D’Souza wrote a typo into a direct quote from PZ?

    On his blog Pharyngula, Myers wrote “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker” and said that if someone would send him a eucharist he would “show you sacrelige, gladly and with much fanfare.”

    Is this a deliberate attempt to smear PZ’s credibility, or just an indication that D’Souza can’t even copy and paste competently?

  221. #221 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    .”Look at me! Look at me!” I’m not saying the hate mail from Catholics, death threats etc. are any better (and in fact are worse), but PZ is a nagging little prick who can’t stand it when the spotlight isn’t on him.

    Um, the spotlight IS on him. Both D’Souza and Fuckhead Donohue wrote about him. You expect him not to comment?

  222. #222 Steven Dunlap
    September 11, 2008

    @192 Allan Kellog:

    Ah, the old “curved lines, drawn on a saddle type triangle argument” (secret agent 86 stokes his chin) third time I fell for that one this week.

    But seriously, when the lines are curved it’s not a triangle anymore. Second, the 180 degrees in a triangle is not an argument against the existence of God ? but simply a statement that this is a physical law of the universe which a hypothetical God ? type person can not alter. Reality, what a concept!

    Attempting to argue that the number of degrees inside a triangle are mutable leads to some practical absurdities. GPS no longer works, you lose your depth perception and all manner of range finding devices no longer function once you start adding and removing degrees from a triangle. (Hint: they all use triangulation). Watch what you say about gravity – we could all be thrown off the world if you’re not careful.

  223. #223 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    NoR and Rev.:

    Yes, I do expect him not to comment, and I expect the same of D’Souza and Donohue. Just let it go. If Donohue or D’Souza had a blog that was half as entertaining as this one, I’d be there saying the same damn thing.

    Bill Donohue is a nutjob. PZ pandering to him just doesn’t make much sense to me.

  224. #224 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Ok you expect them not to yet they did. This is a blog. A place where science is discussed but also a place where good heated conversation / commenting is encouraged on other topics and yet you expect him to ignore those blatantly idiotic comments directed at him?

  225. #225 SC
    September 11, 2008

    That was disgusting. Nancy wtf.

    Seriously. The fact you just used the anniversary of 9/11 as some sort of defense on a blog as to why you can’t comment is frankly, horrid.

    And possibly the most pathetic, grasping attempt to exploit that tragedy for personal ends I’ve ever come across (apart from Giuliani, of course).

  226. #226 freelunch
    September 11, 2008

    “OK, I concede religion isn’t true, but look at the good things that religion has done.”

    You can do so well with a foundation of deceit.

  227. #227 Bunk
    September 11, 2008

    I read some of the comments at d’nothing’s site. Again, several times, in ignorance, Christians dare PZ to desecrate something Muslim. I get the distinct feeling that some Christians are quite jealous of their Muslim kin and their directives to kill anyone who dare disagree with them. I find it quite frightening actually.

  228. #228 Tony Sidaway
    September 11, 2008

    From the thread on d’Souza’s blog post: “Please do not try to force your religion ( your belief that there is no God) on me by making fun of what I believe.” qfcxmen at 9:42AM on Sep 11th 2008

    Where do they dig these idiots up?

  229. #229 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    They all keep commenting – they all need to get the last word on something that has been beat to death already anyway. Why shouldn’t it be PZ to end it? Again I ask, what is the point in responding to blatantly idiotic comments?

    Continuing to address it here surely isn’t accomplishing anything other than providing some sort of entertainment for those that still care for whatever reason. At what point to idiotic comments become so idiotic that they don’t justify a response? I don’t necessarily disagree with you, I just thing the topic has been covered – if Donohue want to keep blabbering about it, doesn’t that speak to his idiocy more than it does to anything else?

  230. #230 Tony Sidaway
    September 11, 2008

    Bunk | September 11, 2008 10:15 AM #227

    See Fatwa envy.

  231. #231 nobody
    September 11, 2008

    Well, I dunno. The idea that you are a moron who knows something about one thing but pretends that you know a lot about other things is pretty much spot on. When you talk about SCIENCE here, particularly biology, you come across as knowing, if not wise. But when it comes to just about anything else, politics, religion, public policy, kids, (except slasher movies. You’re right on that one as well) you come off as a complete moron.

    D’Souza has your number. But as you’ve been forever, based on your screeds, you’re in denial. Always will be.

    Oh well.

  232. #232 Matt Penfold
    September 11, 2008

    Ok you expect them not to yet they did. This is a blog. A place where science is discussed but also a place where good heated conversation / commenting is encouraged on other topics and yet you expect him to ignore those blatantly idiotic comments directed at him?

    Clearly QDA would rather people not speak out when they see people being treated badly, as Webster Cook was. I suspect QDA is a moral coward.

  233. #233 SC
    September 11, 2008

    Posted by: QDA | September 11, 2008 9:29 AM

    Posted by: QDA | September 11, 2008 10:02 AM

    Posted by: QDA | September 11, 2008 10:21 AM

    At what point to idiotic comments become so idiotic that they don’t justify a response?

    You reached that point with remarkable speed, QDA. Bug off.

  234. #234 Jesse
    September 11, 2008

    Weren’t there a few early astronomers who were persecuted and killed by Christians. God, who were they? I swear their “astronomical observations” challenged religious orthodoxy and they paid the price. Mallileo? Pocernicus? The fuck was that?!?!

    Dinesh has been balls deep in Ann Coulter, for whatever that’s worth.

  235. #235 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, Donohue started the mess. He needs to do the christian thing and forget it. Write him, not us. Your hypocritcal concern is noted.

  236. #236 Ryan F Stello
    September 11, 2008

    QDA (#229) intuited,

    Continuing to address it here surely isn’t accomplishing anything other than providing some sort of entertainment for those that still care for whatever reason.

    Exactly! It’s entertainment for most of us.
    Where does that fall in Ninny’s and your’s undefined high road?

  237. #237 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    Matt Penfold @ #232:

    I have never suggested PZ shouldn’t have spoken out in the first place – nor have a suggested Donohue shouldn’t have spoken out. Donohue’s response (i.e. – calling for Cook’s expulsion, etc.) was inappropriate but was not a blatant attack on the core beliefs of a group of people as was PZ’s response to Donohue. PZ could have made his point well enough without ‘the great desecration’, just as Donohue could have made his without suggesting Cook’s actions were anything more than a trivial, slightly-offensive act that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    My point at this point in time, is that this issue is well past being about ‘speaking out when people are being treated badly’. It is now about who can get the last word and who can grab the most attention, which is absurd.

    I still have yet to receive an answer to my question – “Why shouldn’t it be PZ to end it? Why do Donohue’s ridiculous comments still justify a response?

    And ‘he started it’ may have worked in Kindergarten, but if we’re being ‘rational’, I don’t buy it. I’m afraid I’m less ‘moral coward’ and more ‘don’t we have better things to discuss’. Sorry to disappoint you – you seem content to continue to beat a dead horse.

  238. #238 Matt Penfold
    September 11, 2008

    QDA,

    OK, so you think the talking about this should stop.

    Then why the fuck are you not stopping talking about it ?

  239. #239 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, please post a link to the letter you have sent to Bill Donohue asking him to step down from the argument.
    If you can’t do that, take your concern elsewhere. Your concern has been noted and rejected.

  240. #240 Ryan F Stello
    September 11, 2008

    Matt P asked,

    Then why the fuck are you not stopping talking about it?

    Don’t you recall?

    QDA thinks the burden is on you to ignore his/her/its idiotic comments.

    How dare you resist, it must be all your fault that QDA is forced to repeatedly say how much he/she/it doesn’t like this!

  241. #241 CrypticLife
    September 11, 2008

    Well, what I can say is that reading D’Souza’s writing is a lot funnier than reading yours. It’s such a laughably feckless whine.

  242. #242 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    SC @ #233

    “You reached that point with remarkable speed, QDA. Bug off.”

    Responding to a legitimate question with personal insults. Nice.

    You’re not interested in other opinions? Rather than arguing a point and/or agreeing with the majority of views expressed here, I should just ‘bug off’. Close-minded science. Oxymoron, no?

  243. #243 wŇÓkerist
    September 11, 2008

    (+)

  244. #244 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    Ryan F Stello @ #240 -

    Yes, I’m the one who should stop and the other 200+ posts on this thread are perfectly OK to continue. If you’re going to have a standard at least be fair enough to apply it to everyone equally.

  245. #245 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    You’re right, I haven’t sent a letter to Donohue – I haven’t sent a letter to PZ – I’m really not much of a letter sender. This whole pile of shit gets us nowhere. I guess I’ll ‘take my concerns elsewhere’ you hypocritical fucks. Thanks for nothing.

  246. #246 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, if you can talk about something other than “PZ must step down”, then do so. You have more than exhaused that topic.
    I still don’t see the link to the letter to Bill Donohue.

  247. #247 Epinephrine
    September 11, 2008

    Ah, the old “curved lines, drawn on a saddle type triangle argument” (secret agent 86 stokes his chin) third time I fell for that one this week.

    But seriously, when the lines are curved it’s not a triangle anymore. Second, the 180 degrees in a triangle is not an argument against the existence of God ? but simply a statement that this is a physical law of the universe which a hypothetical God ? type person can not alter. Reality, what a concept!

    Attempting to argue that the number of degrees inside a triangle are mutable leads to some practical absurdities. GPS no longer works, you lose your depth perception and all manner of range finding devices no longer function once you start adding and removing degrees from a triangle. (Hint: they all use triangulation). Watch what you say about gravity – we could all be thrown off the world if you’re not careful.

    Not to get drawn into whatever bizarre concept is being discussed, but I’ll argue that “triangle” does indeed apply to lines on curved surfaces, following various non-Euclidean geometries. Had a good course on axiomatic theories and the foundations of gemoettry in which we played with the 5th postulate, and under various replacement 5th postulates such triangles really do exist.

    Obviously, it depends on your definition of “triangle”, but I think since we know that space is indeed curved and that hyperbolic geometries do indeed exist, the argument that a triangle must have internal angles adding up to 180 degrees based on a fifth postulate that doesn’t actually model the world is a bit silly. Sure, they look like they add to 180 degrees, because of the relatively low curvature of space where we are.

  248. #248 Ryan F Stello
    September 11, 2008

    Yes, I’m the one who should stop and the other 200+ posts on this thread are perfectly OK to continue.

    I didn’t ask you to stop. You seem a tad confused, dear.

    If you’re going to have a standard at least be fair enough to apply it to everyone equally.

    I do, and my standards includes this:

    Directive 9-b(1):
    direct challenges should be answered on a case-by-case basis (determined by factors such as generosity or douche-level of the other party), and ignored at your own peril.

    Incidentally, that’s also the answer why Myers shouldn’t automatically be the one to back away from D’Sucka’s stink-bomb.

    You’re welcome.

  249. #249 Epinephrine
    September 11, 2008

    Attempting to argue that the number of degrees inside a triangle are mutable leads to some practical absurdities. GPS no longer works, you lose your depth perception and all manner of range finding devices no longer function once you start adding and removing degrees from a triangle. (Hint: they all use triangulation). Watch what you say about gravity – we could all be thrown off the world if you’re not careful.

    You do know that GPS relies on relativity?

    “As surprising as it may be, general relativity already has practical applications which affect many people in their work and play. The U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS, used by military and civilians for navigation and other purposes, includes corrections for the effects of both special and general relativity. The portable GPS receiver determines position by passively receiving signals from several GPS satellites at one time, then determining the receiver’s location, altitude, and velocity with precision. This determination depends on the time signals transmitted from the GPS satellites, which carry atomic clocks. Since the satellites are moving, corrections for special relativity are required; since the satellites are at a distance from the Earth, corrections for general relativity are required. The system is precise enough for relativistic effects to make a difference.”

    From http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/relativity/einstein2.html

  250. #250 Christophe Thill
    September 11, 2008

    I didn’t know about this D’Souza guy. I read his column. Now I wonder if he’s as ignorant as he’s dumb? Or is it the reverse?

  251. #251 Elyse
    September 11, 2008

    “Apparently figuring that such antics were more likely to gain attention than his own relatively undistinguished scholarship, Myers decided to get into the act himself.”

    tee hee hee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  252. #252 Matt Penfold
    September 11, 2008

    Yes, I’m the one who should stop and the other 200+ posts on this thread are perfectly OK to continue. If you’re going to have a standard at least be fair enough to apply it to everyone equally.

    You are the only one who is telling everyone to stop. It seems it is you who cannot practice what they are telling others to do since you refuse to keep quiet.

  253. #253 SC
    September 11, 2008

    I still have yet to receive an answer to my question – “Why shouldn’t it be PZ to end it? Why do Donohue’s ridiculous comments still justify a response?

    Perhaps in part because people like you are still saying things like “Donohue’s response…was inappropriate but was not a blatant attack on the core beliefs of a group of people as was PZ’s response to Donohue” without recognizing how much of this has been about the right – and the need – to demonstrate that no beliefs are sacred and to challenge them, particularly when they are attached to an oppressive institution and worldview.

    If you’re annoyed by the continuing discussion of the incident here, imagine how tiresome others must find your stale meta-analysis thereof.

  254. #254 LotharLoo
    September 11, 2008

    Dinash is a fucking moron. After I watched the Dinash-Shermer debate I lost my respect for both; For Dinash because he was so unbelievably thick, arrogant, self-righteous and stupid and for Shermer because he softly let Dinash get away with so much loads of bullshit that the smell could have suffocated all the audience.

  255. #255 SC
    September 11, 2008

    Responding to a legitimate question with personal insults. Nice.

    Actually, “Bug off, idiot” is a perfectly legitimate response to “Shut up.”

    Close-minded science. Oxymoron, no?

    Depends. Close to what?

  256. #256 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    I guess I’ll ‘take my concerns elsewhere’ you hypocritical fucks. Thanks for nothing.

    But how are we going to continue to play now that you’ve taken the ball and gone home?

  257. #257 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Crap! The incendiary stupid from Nancy, QDA and nobody is sucking the Oxygen from the room.

    Posted by: Nancy | September 11, 2008 8:41 AM
    #186 Danio
    I wish we could have breakfast today. It’s 9/11……..I’m sure we could find much to talk about. Maybe I could find out why you are so combative and find it necessary to insult me. We could talk about PZ and his intelligence and how he can influence public opinion w/out resorting to callous and immature “tactics” such as the one in question…

    Nancy, this is truly one of the most vile and witless rejoinders I have ever seen. I have quite lost my appetite for breakfast. All evidence from your comments on this thread suggests that you might just deserve the life sentence you are currently serving inside the prison of your narrow world view.

    To avoid future combative engagements, as they obviously bring out the worst in you, I suggest you spend less time on this blog and more time over at Matt Nisbet’s place. If you do choose to come back another day, however, you can expect the SIWOTI hammer to continue to drop on you–at least until you stop the vapid concern trolling and make a cogent argument. I won’t get my hopes up.

  258. #258 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    I wonder if Nancy, Sara, and Lluraa (and I think there’s another one on occasion) are the same person. They exhibit the same concerns.

  259. #259 frog
    September 11, 2008

    Max: Those are well defined words and he does not qualify. Is he a “sack of shit”, a “scumbag” or a “douchbag” as he was called. As I noted earlier, I’m not sure what these presumed metaphors mean. So, I’m not sure if they’re appropriate or not.

    You don’t know what these metaphors mean???? You appear to read and write English fairly decently, so I find that difficult to believe.

    Sack of shit: clearly implies that he’s filled with shit, which references a level of misrepresentation that casts doubt on every word he says, including “the”.

    Scumbag: see sack of shit. Full of mendacity, a lack of principles beside self-interest. “A bag of scum”.

    Douchebag: see scumbag and sack of shit. A worthless item that should be immediately dumped after usage.

    Are you really saying that you don’t understand those metaphors? Is it a mental disorder, or has lying become so endemic to the Christian mindset that even the most obvious of lies don’t cause a moment of reflection?

  260. #260 R.C. Moore
    September 11, 2008

    You do know that GPS relies on relativity?

    Corrects for relativity actually. I think GPS would still work without it. Maybe. I don’t know if the universe would exist with out relativity, which would make the issue moot.

    Way out of my league here!

  261. #261 PZ Myers
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, there is a very simple concept you don’t get.

    This is MY blog. My personal blog. I write about whatever interests ME. It’s true — when some nationally known fruitcake criticizes me, I find that interesting, and I’m likely to write about it.

    That’s the way it works.

    Now if you want a blog that doesn’t give a good goddamn about PZ Myers or what PZ Myers thinks, there are eleventy billion of them out there. If you don’t want to hear at all about PZ Myers, this is exactly the wrong place to be.

    You’re welcome to continue to complain for at least a little while longer, but really — it makes you look like an idiot to voluntarily come on to PZ Myers’ blog and whine bitterly that there’s all this stuff written by and about PZ Myers littering up the joint.

  262. #262 IceFarmer
    September 11, 2008

    Well, D’Souza, like many other completely glosses over all the details, skips many of the facts, and tries to villify something he sees as wrong by presenting a skewed vision. Can anyone here be really suprised.

    Keep doing what your doing, PZ. It’s good to have a link minded voice out there that isn’t afraid to speak up and challenge BS.

    Btw, QDA, this is PZ’s personal blog. You sound like a jackass for criticizing PZ posting his opinions on his own personal blog. Keep up the good work, dumbass.

  263. #263 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    #197 – Alan Kellogg – “Was I vile? I had cause. Frog is hateful and nasty.”… Right, blame the victim. “Frog can speak for himself.” There, you are correct.

    #207 – Dale Austin – oh, wow. I have never heard the actual facts and names. Like most children, I had heard the war stories and simply believed my father and his veteran friends. Will be seeing my dad tomorrow, and I’ll ask him what exactly the Red Cross was charging for in Korea. Thanks for the info!
    (apologies to the punctuation police)

  264. #264 SC
    September 11, 2008

    I wonder if the name of Greg Laden’s blog makes QDA-style carping less likely there…

  265. #265 QDA
    September 11, 2008

    I strangely honored. I garnered a comment from the ‘Great One’ himself.

    “You’re welcome to continue to complain for at least a little while longer,…”

    I’ll take that as a threat of censorship – how “Palin” of you. Hell, you’re practically Catholic!

    “This is MY blog. My personal blog. I write about whatever interests ME.”

    “Btw, QDA, this is PZ’s personal blog.”

    So using your trains of thought, someone could build a cross made out of THEIR lumber, THEIR personal lumber ), and burn it on THEIR property, THEIR personal property (or mow a swastika into their lawn, etc.) and it’s ok, because those that it might offend can simply choose to drive another route or avert their eyes. Afterall, it’s just a frackin’ burning cross, it’s just a frackin’ swasticka – and as long as it’s on their personal property/blog/domain it OK.

    Btw, despite disagreeing with you on this, I can appreciate your thoughts on the evolution argument from your most recent post. Your common sense does seem to bode well for you at times.

  266. #266 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    So using your trains of thought, someone could build a cross made out of THEIR lumber, THEIR personal lumber ), and burn it on THEIR property, THEIR personal property (or mow a swastika into their lawn, etc.) and it’s ok, because those that it might offend can simply choose to drive another route or avert their eyes. Afterall, it’s just a frackin’ burning cross, it’s just a frackin’ swasticka – and as long as it’s on their personal property/blog/domain it OK.

    First. Yes. It’s called free speech.

    Second. Those are two of the worse analogies to the situation that have been expressed, and you aren’t the first one to do so but it shows a seriously myopic view of recent history and how those actions have been used.

  267. #267 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    Posted by: QDA | September 11, 2008 2:04 PM

    I strangely honored. I garnered a comment from the ‘Great One’ himself.

    “You’re welcome to continue to complain for at least a little while longer,…”

    I’ll take that as a threat of censorship – how “Palin” of you. Hell, you’re practically Catholic!

    You are mistaken about that. Not allowing you to post here is not censorship. You are not being denied the use of the internet. It is more a kin to a group of people getting up and moving away from a silly and stupid person. Or is a person no longer desiring to talk to you a form of censorship?

  268. #268 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, here are two questions; how is a person’s race, which a person does not get to decide anything like a person’s religion, which a person gets to decide? Also, where is the threat against you by PZ’s actions?

  269. #269 SC
    September 11, 2008

    I strangely honored. I garnered a comment from the ‘Great One’ himself.

    I’m never really surprised to see comments like this, reflecting an authoritarian mindset, from people like QDA.

    because those that it might offend can simply choose to drive another route

    Or, in the case of the internet, enter a different tube. But no – you’re stuck in the Pharyngula tube! How to escape?!

  270. #270 That Other Kid
    September 11, 2008

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I always thought “Fatwa Envy” referred to a catholic’s (secret?) desire to throw death threats at anyone who dissents. I thought the whole thing was that they wouldn’t DARE insult Islam cause those f***ers’ll kill ya.

  271. #271 Ryan F Stello
    September 11, 2008

    QDA, You’re back!
    Isn’t a bit hypocritical that you said you were taking your concerns elsewhere, tho?

    because those that it might offend can simply choose to drive another route

    The internet is a pretty wide road, you don’t have to drive through here if you don’t need to.

    In other words: your anologies need work.

    …frackin’…

    You’re not farkin’ worthy to use that frelling word.

  272. #272 SC
    September 11, 2008

    Isn’t a bit hypocritical that you said you were taking your concerns elsewhere, tho?

    A promise he concluded, amusingly in retrospect, with “you hypocritical fucks.”

  273. #273 Sili
    September 11, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT @ #153

    Wait. Hwut?

    Pardon me, but won’t most people (for whom it matters) consider D’S’o’u’s’a’, himself, black?

    He’s no Ghandi, but I’m pretty sure he’d still get thrown off the train for having the gall to sit in first class. Or does D’istort know his place and only ride third class like a good second-class citizen?

    Eurrghh! He’s worse than I ever suspected.

    On the plus side, though, I’ve made two notes for September Mollies in this thread already. It coulda been three, but it seems your Majesty is gonna get Mollified for August.

  274. #274 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Heh. Thanks!

    Yeah D’Souza’s idiocy goes beyond his whining about atheists.

  275. #275 Frost
    September 11, 2008

    reverted @ #100

    I’m late to the party, as usual, and somewhat off-topic, but…

    Just want to point out, that although Clara Barton was indeed the founder of the American Red Cross, the person behind the whole organisation was a Swiss man called Henri Dunant. He did profess to be a christian, but was critical of organised religion. He witnessed the horrific aftermath of the battle of Solferino (circa 40000 dead or left wounded on the field in a single day) and that became the inspiration for the creation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1863. The original mission of the Red Cross was to care for the wounded soldiers. The red cross symbol is actually a reversed flag of Swizerland, a neutral nation, and not a religious symbol per se.

  276. #276 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    Sorry, Frost, but I have to assume that most people are not familiar with The Battle Solferino.

  277. #277 SC
    September 11, 2008

    the person behind the whole organisation was a Swiss man called Henri Dunant

    Who had his own influences, by the way:

    By mobilizing British public opinion [Florence Nightingale] created a dramatic transformation in a sense of responsibility for rights of basic medical care, and by achieving innovative successes she served as a symbol of hope that inspired others to carry the cause of the wounded in war even further.

    One of those directly inspired by the early efforts of Florence Nightingale was a man from Geneva by the name of J. Henry Dunant…

    - The Evolution of International Human Rights: Visions Seen, Paul Gordon Lauren, 1998, p. 58

  278. #278 frog
    September 11, 2008

    Patricia: #263#197 – Alan Kellogg – “Was I vile? I had cause. Frog is hateful and nasty.”… Right, blame the victim. “Frog can speak for himself.” There, you are correct.

    Thanks, Patricia. I always get a kick out of watching the “oh-so-moral” Christian conservatives illustrate their mental disorders. I’ve seen it so many times – beneath that stiff, inflexible armor is a seething hatred of women (and therefore “liberals” and “Jews” who are so effeminate in their minds). Which probably means that under it all is a hatred of momma. I lose interest after they let the cat out of the bag; what is there to say to the insane?

    My pet theory is that you become a radical leftist because you hate your father for abusing your mother; and you become a radical rightist because you hate your mother for letting your father abuse her.

    Of course excepting those that take on a political ideology because they either were raised with decency, or to join a club. Allen clearly falls into the mother-haters categories.

    You know, if I understood his ranting correctly, what set him off was simply that I stated the fact that we had killed, as collateral damage, 100k to 1000k Iraqis – a completely objective and unassailable statement. Reality has a liberal bias, you know!

  279. #279 H.H.
    September 11, 2008

    Janine ID, interesting. Wiki reports that The Battle Solferino was the last major battle in world history where all the involved armies were under the personal command of their monarchs. Well, until Armageddon, of course.

  280. #280 Tony Sidaway
    September 11, 2008

    QDA | September 11, 2008 10:45 AM #237

    PZ could have made his point well enough without ‘the great desecration’

    Yes but what would be the fun in that?

    I still have yet to receive an answer to my question – “Why shouldn’t it be PZ to end it? Why do Donohue’s ridiculous comments still justify a response?

    Well on this occasion it was a fellow called Dinesh d’Souza, who is usually slightly more sensible than Bill Donohue. I’d say personally that anything that can keep Bill frothing away impotently is a good thing. It really doesn’t take much to set him off as Bitch PhD discovered last month.

    The poor fellow seems to be on auto-baste.

  281. #281 August Berkshire
    September 11, 2008

    I just posted this on d’Souza’s blog:

    302. Not only did Myers desecrate a Eucharist, he also threw in the trash some pages from a Koran and some pages from “The God Delusion” by atheist Richard Dawkins, to prove, in Myers’ words, that NOTHING IS SACRED.

    As for Christians and hospitals, it seems to me that they are mopping up in embarrassment over the poor performance of their god (diseases, birth defects, and natural disasters).

    The reason some people have to do “the Lord’s work” is because “the Lord” isn’t doing it himself. And if we’re doing the work, then why shouldn’t we, as Myers says, take the credit?

  282. #282 Margaret
    September 11, 2008

    Zeno: “It’s like being assaulted by a teacup poodle: noisy and unpleasant but danger-free. Socks may need darning afterward.”

    Yeah, well, the poodle is rabid and thereby not danger-free to those who haven’t been vaccinated by the ability to think critically.

  283. #283 SC
    September 11, 2008

    Yeah D’Souza’s idiocy goes beyond his whining about atheists.

    That’s for sure. I, too, read his book years ago, so he’s been on my radar for some time. I read the interview that Steven Dunlap linked to @ #125 last night, and originally intended a point-by-point refutation. But it would have been too much work – almost every sentence he uttered was a fabrication. At one point he says:

    Well, that 9/11 has both a foreign-policy dimension and a cultural dimension that have not been recognized. For example, on the foreign-policy side for a moment, a crucial event leading up to 9/11 was the Islamic radicals gaining control of the state of Iran. So then the question, of course, is how did they get that state?

    Well, I think part of it is a horrendous blunder of American foreign policy, perhaps the most serious since World War II, which is that Jimmy Carter came to power, [and] he said, ‘I believe in human rights,’ and the left basically got around Carter and said, if you believe in human rights, then you can’t support the shah, the shah of Iran is a dictator, he has a secret police, and so Jimmy Carter was encouraged and pressured to withdraw American support for the shah, which he did … In trying to get rid of the lesser evil, we got the greater evil. That’s one small way in which the left sowed the seeds of 9/11.

    He really says this. Not the CIA’s coup to oust the democratically-elected Mossadeq or installing and maintaining a brutal dictator in power for two decades. The problem was not providing enough support to the dictator to keep him in power in the face of popular revolt. His argument about the “cultural dimension” is repugnant for different reasons. He’s a lying, distorting scumbag who will say anything if it suits his personal or political agenda.

  284. #284 frog
    September 11, 2008

    SC: He really says this. Not the CIA’s coup to oust the democratically-elected Mossadeq or installing and maintaining a brutal dictator in power for two decades

    What’s interesting about DD’s statement is the assumption that the US has so much power that it can indefinitely keep a selected tyrant in power; that the “people” are powerless in the face of Authority.

    Which goes to show you what democracy means to him and his ilk – a show to hide the gun behind the curtain. It’s patently untrue, historically speaking (how many examples — Cuba, Russia…); and it’s not just the right that makes this mistake. You often have folks on the left assuming that we put Pinochet in power, for example, rather than being just one more set of players primarily dominated by the internal players.

    Is DD too stupid to see this? I doubt it… Just one more con-man in that carnival of freaks that is the right.

  285. #285 reverted
    September 11, 2008

    Frost @ 275: Yes, thank-you. I somehow managed to omit “American” from that sentence, and it should, of course, be there. So… oops. And, thanks for pointing that out. :) (But, she was absolutely vital in establishing American “membership”; and, she was not a Christian.)

  286. #286 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Frog – I don’t have any training with mentally ill people, but he does seem to be a very troubled person. I noticed also that he was OK and then just snapped.
    One of the reasons I think PZ has so many female commenters is because he quashes that sort of thing before it gets out of hand if the other commenters don’t.

  287. #287 Aaron Baker
    September 11, 2008

    Good Lord, Myers,

    Even when you’ve been a complete boor and jerk, you force me to sympathize with you by letting me know what enemies you’ve made.

    I think, however, there may be a fallacious argument hiding here: Dinesh D’Souza is a monumental twit (and a lying sack of crap); he’s attacked me for my wafer stunt; ergo that stunt was AOK. Just because you make all the right enemies, it doesn’t NECESSARILY follow that you were doing the right thing.

  288. #288 Aaron Baker
    September 11, 2008

    BTW, I haven’t yet received a thank you for my letter of support to your Dean. I’m sure that was an oversight, and I’ll be hearing from you any day now.

  289. #289 Nancy
    September 11, 2008

    Danio – All that venom….it’s just breakfast. Yes, this atheist has a narrow mind. That’s why I “hang out” on this blog.

    I promise to agree w/ everything PZ does and says from this day forward. Is that better?

    Damn……..steaks on the grill…….gotta run. Life calling….you should try it sometime.

    Hugs – Nancy

  290. #290 Dan
    September 11, 2008

    “The fact that the adherents of a religion managed to do some pretty neat things doesn’t prove the existence of their god(s).”

    We humans have evolved with brains which allow us to derive much pleasure from being with and communicating with other humans. Whether this ability has survival value, or simply drifted in with something else, it’s there. We obtain comparable feelings from being out in and contemplating nature. All of these deep and deeply rewarding feelings which we share with other human beings have inspired art, music, poetry, etc. and continue to add a sense of the “sacred” to our daily lives. However, like having gum on our shoes, we have been unable to detach from the belief that our deepest feelings are coming to us from some supernatural entity or entities. For thousands of years we have been at the mercy of various people who claim to receive direct revelations from “beyond.” We are encouraged to feel elevated if we can believe these folks with absolutely no evidence other than their claims. Imagine a world in which everyone recognized that their deepest feelings and values were arising from within themselves, perhaps being modified by the experiences of others, and were shared by all of us. There just might not be anyone left to travel half-way around the world to kill!

  291. #291 Hank
    September 11, 2008

    “Myers rose to semi-fame, or perhaps I should say notoriety, when he praised University of Central Florida student Webster Cook who stole the eucharist from a church and held it hostage.”
    Sorry, but I couldn’t read beyond this sentence. Will someone tell me how you hold a CRACKER hostage? These people are nutz!

  292. #292 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Danio – All that venom….it’s just breakfast. Yes, this atheist has a narrow mind. That’s why I “hang out” on this blog.

    I promise to agree w/ everything PZ does and says from this day forward. Is that better?

    Pretty dumb frankly. No one asks commenters to agree with PZ. Just to be rational and support your opinion. You ran and hid using the most disgusting of aprons to hide behind.

    Damn……..steaks on the grill…….gotta run. Life calling….you should try it sometime.

    Hugs – Nancy

    yes run and hide again after your drive by. I see you blamed it on steaks instead of 9/11 this time. Good.

  293. #293 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    blockquote fail

  294. #294 eric
    September 11, 2008

    I would love to see Myers attempt to debate Dinesh. Of course, this would never happen, because Myers knows that Dinesh would destroy him. I’m confident that Dinesh is open to such a debate — after all, he’s debated *much* more distinguished scholars, such as Dennet and Singer, and much more polished debaters, such as Hitchens. He’s even repeatedly called out Dawkins, who has of course done everything to avoid meeting Dinesh in debate. So, Myers, why not go for it? (Actually, I’d rather see you debate William Lane Craig, but if you’re afraid of D’souza, there’s no way you’ll go anywhere near Craig.)

  295. #295 SC
    September 11, 2008

    I think, however, there may be a fallacious argument hiding here: Dinesh D’Souza is a monumental twit (and a lying sack of crap); he’s attacked me for my wafer stunt; ergo that stunt was AOK.

    Hiding so cunningly as to be seen only by Mr. Baker – a fallacy leprechaun.

  296. #296 eric
    September 11, 2008

    *Dennett

  297. #297 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    A face to face debate? Debate does nothing but show who can “win” the debate. It does nothing to show which has the most valid point.

    Kent Hovind is a prime example. The audience may think he wins, but in a point by point refutation he is shown for the fraud he is.

    Debates do not settle points of argument. They settle competitions.

  298. #298 SC
    September 11, 2008

    Hugs – Nancy

    *shudder*

  299. #299 eric
    September 11, 2008

    “Debate does nothing but show who can “win” the debate. It does nothing to show which has the most valid point.”

    Nonsense. Sure, some people will be distracted by cheap rhetorical tricks, but there will also be many who will see through them. What a debate does, when it’s properly structured, is require one to defend one’s position in the face of aggressive questioning. It’s easy to sit behind a computer and call people who disagree with you ‘stupid’ all day long (this seems to be PZ’s favorite argument); it’s a bit more difficult to answer difficult questions from them (which, while they can be ignored in a piece of writing, can’t be avoided very effectively in front of an audience), and to respond directly to their arguments.

  300. #300 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Nonsense. Sure, some people will be distracted by cheap rhetorical tricks, but there will also be many who will see through them. What a debate does, when it’s properly structured, is require one to defend one’s position in the face of aggressive questioning.

    Ok fine. But rarely are they set up this way. The thing you miss is that everything D’Souza said has been said innumerable times and answered. He’s late to the show with nothing new to say. Hence the short answer from PZ.

    it’s a bit more difficult to answer difficult questions from them (which, while they can be ignored in a piece of writing, can’t be avoided very effectively in front of an audience), and to respond directly to their arguments.

    You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger audience than the internet. If D’Souza or yourself have something new to add please we all encourage you to do so.

  301. #301 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Rev. BigDumbChimp – Thank you!

  302. #302 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Nancy: Still wrong. And projecting like crazy.

    If you are an atheist (and I have no reason to suspect that you are being deceitful about this) you are a prime example of how little this identification actually encompasses. Lack of god-belief does not, in and of itself, guarantee rationality, reason, or intelligence. Like your predecessor, Brenda von Ahsen, you amply demonstrate that ‘atheists’ can be as crashingly obtuse as anyone else.

    SC, you owe me a new keyboard, girlfriend :D

  303. #303 Owlmirror
    September 11, 2008

    It’s easy to sit behind a computer and call people who disagree with you ‘stupid’ all day long (this seems to be Dinesh D’Souza’s favorite argument);

    Fixed.

  304. #304 Steven Dunlap
    September 11, 2008

    Epinephrine @ 249 and Moore @ 260

    Thanks for the mention of relativity and its practical applications. GPS brings together a number of concepts from theoretical physics and mathematics.

    I have no idea how to address RC Moore’s question about whether the universe would exist without relativity. Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time is a good read, and Leonard Susskind’s The Cosmic Landscape indulges in some speculation about the origin of the universe and possible alternate universes. Susskind was a bit harder for me to slog through, but interesting. Good luck.

  305. #305 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, I have listened to Dinesh’s debates. It is merely a variation of the Gish Gallop.

    Gish uses a rapid-fire approach during a debate, presenting arguments and changing topics very quickly. The approach has been dubbed the “Gish Gallop” by Eugenie Scott and criticized for failing to answer objections raised by his opponents.

    Gish uses a standardized presentation during debates. While undertaking research for a debate with Gish, Michael Shermer noted that for several debates Gish’s opening, assumptions about his opponent, slides and even jokes remained identical. In the debate itself, Shermer stated he was not an atheist and willing to accept the existence of a divine creator, but Gish’s rebuttal concerned itself primarily with proving that Shermer was an atheist and therefore immoral.

    Massimo Pigliucci, who has debated Gish five times, noted that Gish ignores evidence contrary to his religious beliefs. Others have accused Gish of stonewalling arguments with fabricated facts or figures.

    Denesh, during his part of the debate, tosses out so much bad ideas and wrong ideas, his opponent is staggered by the amount of crap that must be refuted. And it takes more time and effort to beat back crap.

    Debating Denesh is a sucker’s bet. Better to point out everywhere where he is wrong. Your challenge means nothing and proves nothing.

  306. #306 eric
    September 11, 2008

    “The thing you miss is that everything D’Souza said has been said innumerable times and answered.”

    “You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger audience than the internet. If D’Souza or yourself have something new to add please we all encourage you to do so.”

    These two remarks exemplify the problem with internet debates (especially those that take place on blog posts). Look at your first remark: “Everything D’souza said has been said innumerable times and answered.” First, it’s not a question of ‘answering’ what Dinesh says, but of refuting it. Second, it’s also the case that those ‘answers’ you refer to have themselves been answered innumerable times. Third, I sincerely doubt that you’ve read everything Dinesh has ever written, yet you’re quite quick to claim that ‘everything’ he has said has been answered.

  307. #307 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, I think the Rev meant that everything D’Souza said (in this article, to which we are now responding) has been asked and answered ad nauseum, which is entirely true.

  308. #308 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    These two remarks exemplify the problem with internet debates (especially those that take place on blog posts).

    Agreed. Blogs are not places for structured debate unless that structure is set up ahead of time.

    Look at your first remark: “Everything D’souza said has been said innumerable times and answered.” First, it’s not a question of ‘answering’ what Dinesh says, but of refuting it.

    Well since this is in reference to “Crackergate” they have been both answered and refuted. Innumerable times. Many of us have gotten sick (I’ll assume PZ to be in this group) of the same repeated points over and over. He (D’Souza) hasn’t brought anything new to this subject. I’m sure PZ is tired of repeating himself. If you or D’Souza would like to peruse the 10-20 or so posts and all the comments on this subject and then find something new to bring up then fine. Please do. A debate on the points already refuted would seem like a waste of time. I don’t speak for PZ though. While i doubt he’ll answer this, my guess is he, like myself, would see this proposed debate as pointless.

    Second, it’s also the case that those ‘answers’ you refer to have themselves been answered innumerable times.

    By whom? I’ve yet to see an argument on Crackergate that holds up well unless you accept “my feelings are hurt” as an answer.

    Third, I sincerely doubt that you’ve read everything Dinesh has ever written, yet you’re quite quick to claim that ‘everything’ he has said has been answered.

    Granted, I have not read everything that D’Souza has written. I have however read the post he made that is the subject matter of this very post we are commenting on and my point stands.

  309. #309 eric
    September 11, 2008

    “Debating Denesh is a sucker’s bet.”

    Apparently, Hitchens, Shermer, Singer, Dennett, etc. disagree with you.

    Hitchens has called Dinesh the most formidable debater, on any topic, that he’s ever faced. Indeed, it was a debate with Dinesh that changed Hitchens’ views about socialism.

    Shermer has called Dinesh a first rate scholar.

    Singer has debated Dinesh multiple times.

    Your post is another example of the nonsense that passes for reason on too many blog posts. You plagiarize a wiki article (note that your second and third paragraphs are presented as if they’re your own), make an unsubstantiated comparison between D’souza and Gish, and completely ignore the facts (i.e. how other respected scholars regard Dinesh, examples of which I’ve adduced above).

  310. #310 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    The Atheist Who Desecrated the Eucharist

    Posted Sep 10th 2008 12:00PM by Dinesh D’Souza

    Proclaiming “nothing is sacred,” atheist P.Z. Myers took the Christian eucharist, pierced it with a rusty nail, and threw it into the garbage. Then he posed his action on the world wide web.

    Lie by omission. Also included were a few pages of an english translation of The Koran and The God Delusion.

    Who is Myers? He’s a biology professor at the University of Minnesota and a close ally of Richard Dawkins. In fact, Dawkins has praised Myers, conducted public conversations with him, and I count several links to Myers’ articles on richarddawkins.net. Dawkins also urged his fans to write in support of Myers.

    Myers rose to semi-fame, or perhaps I should say notoriety, when he praised University of Central Florida student Webster Cook who stole the eucharist from a church and held it hostage. Apparently figuring that such antics were more likely to gain attention than his own relatively undistinguished scholarship, Myers decided to get into the act himself.

    PZ Myers already made enough of a name for himself that the makers of Expelled had him as one of their rouge’s gallery. Also, PZ came to Webster Cook’s defense when The Catholic League was calling for Cook to be punished. Yet more lies by omission.

    On his blog Pharyngula, Myers wrote “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker” and said that if someone would send him a eucharist he would “show you sacrelige, gladly and with much fanfare.” Myers’ desecration was widely viewed on the web and raised much comment, much of it infuriated–but we can assume that this was Myers’ intention.

    Once more, there was an outcry before PZ entered the fray.

    Asked whether he cared about injuring the feelings of Christians, Myers professed surprise. “I’ve got so many people writing me and saying that I have seriously hurt them. But what have I done? I have thrown away a cracker.”

    PZ did not profess surprise. He merely point out the obvious, who was harmed?

    This would be like someone burning a cross and then saying, “I cannot understand why all those black people are upset? All I did was set fire to a piece of wood.” If a child did it, you can possibly say he was innocent. But when a professor acts this way, isn’t malevolence the obvious explanation?

    Now he is comparing PZ’s actions with a violent racist act. Bad analogy. I person is usually not able to pick what race they pass as. A person gets to choose what religion they follow or even if the choose no religion. Also, at no time did PZ nor Webster Cook threaten to harm anyone.

    The National Catholic Register caught up with Myers recently and asked him the source of his hostility toward religion. “Religion has been selling everybody a bill of goods for so many years. It’s about time somebody spoke up and said it’s a load of nonsense.”

    Asked whether Christianity deserves credit for founding the first Western hospitals, universities and even scientific breakthroughs, Myers said, “No. People made those contributions to Western civilization.”

    But werent’ those people Christians acting on their religious convictions? “That’s like saying that because for so many years people got smallpox, smallpox is to be credited for all the virtue men have done.”

    Here we see Myers’ thought in all its glorious idiocy. No, Myers, the two are not even comparable. Smallpox has nothing to do with the building of Gothic spires and astronomical observatories and setting up institutions like Harvard and the Red Cross. Christianity was a powerful motivating force in why people did those things. You can find all this out by opening up a history book.

    If Dinesh picked up more then one history book, he could see that plenty of non-christians started up similar charitable organizations, made great scientific discoveries and built great buildings that did not have Gothic spires.

    People are motivated by many things. It is too simplistic to place the credit with christianity.

    The problem with people like Myers and Dawkins is not that they are complete morons. It is that they are biologists who know something about one thing but pretend that they know a lot about other things. Consequently they come across sounding like morons. Have pity on them.

    People like Myers and Dawkins have been dealing with complete morons who insist that they know better then them about biology. And the funny thing, those same morans tend to claim superior knowledge then any scholar because of their connection to there god. Myers and Dawkins have every right to criticize these godbots.

    Eric, this is an example of Dinesh D’Souza’s though? It is not at all impressive. I blew apart every point that Dinesh make. And I am sure there are at least two dozen regulars here who can do a better job of smashing Dinesh’s word.

    Dinesh is not worth debating. Dinesh is not worth spending much time pondering. Eric, your challenge is worthless.

  311. #311 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    Your post is another example of the nonsense that passes for reason on too many blog posts. You plagiarize a wiki article (note that your second and third paragraphs are presented as if they’re your own), make an unsubstantiated comparison between D’souza and Gish, and completely ignore the facts (i.e. how other respected scholars regard Dinesh, examples of which I’ve adduced above).

    That was included to show what a Gish Gallop is. I caught onto Dinesh’s style before I heard of the term. He tosses out so much verbal flack that a person ncannot answer all of the BS. As for passing off the wiki as my thought, that was my mistake. I should have blockquoted those three paragraphs.

  312. #312 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Eric,
    Sources (in context) for the rave reviews from Hitchens et al?

    I’ll allow that D’Souza is definitely more articulate and erudite than, say, Ray Comfort. He can make a point that will resonate with like-minded people, and he does possess some debating skills, although if the content of his debate positions is anything like his blog and books, it must feature a preponderance of strawman arguments. Point being, his ability to turn a phrase doesn’t make his arguments any more persuasive. Or right.

    And ‘plagiarism’ is a bit of a knee-jerk response to Janine’s #305, considering that she linked to the source, and knowing how finicky the blockquote feature can be with text broken into multiple paragraphs. Lighten up, dude.

  313. #313 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Well said Danio. Eric is starting to sound like a banjo with one string.

  314. #314 Nancy
    September 11, 2008

    “Pretty dumb frankly. No one asks commenters to agree with PZ. Just to be rational and support your opinion. You ran and hid using the most disgusting of aprons to hide behind.”

    Chimp. Run? Not me. I really did have steaks on the grill.

    You see, I can’t sit around here non-stop every day and exchange gibes. What is there to support? My opinion is that PZ acted in an immature fashion when he desecrated a host….period….it’s MY OPINION.

    Now, my opinion of you is that you are an angry, hostile individual whom, I suspect, gains pleasure from stirring the pot on this blog.

    I am an atheist “in the trenches”. I don’t pretend to be anything other than what I am. I’m not Ivy League educated and there’s not a chance that I’ll ever be asked to speak in public about evolution, darwinism or science in general.

    Raised and educated in Catholic schools, I am now an atheist. I am raising my kids to ask questions and can proudly say that, so far, four of them (out of six) call themselves agnostics. But, they’re still young……they’ll get there. I advise them to listen to all opinions and, when they choose to speak, do so in a respectful manner.

    I did not insult you at any point. Same goes for Danio. I just don’t get your brand of commentary.

    And, now……once again……..life calls. It’s a nice evening…….sun is setting. I’m heading out to take a swim……..maybe have a cigar (husband is waiting). The dishes can wait.

    This will be my last comment. I’m pretty tired.

    Namaste – Nancy

  315. #315 eric
    September 11, 2008

    Rev, I apologize. I understood you to be referring to everything that D’souza has said about religion in general. I should’ve been clearer: I would like to see a debate about, say, the existence of god, or about the effects of religion on society — two topics PZ addresses quite frequently — take place between Dinesh and Myers.

    With respect to the current debate, I have not yet seen a well thought out response to Dinesh’s criticism of PZ’s “It’s only a cracker” remark. Dinesh correctly pointed out that the same sort of remark could be made by racists burning crosses. Here’s how Dinesh’s point was addressed.

    Matt (#3) responded with ‘Racism is real; god is not.” But this is obvious nonsense, since it supposes that if god isn’t real, those who believe in him can’t be subjected to bigotry. Tell that to the jews.

    Emmett (#16) says that the two are not comparable because one is an act of intimidation, while the other is not. This too is nonsense: Dinesh is rsponding to the notion that Christians shouldn’t be upset because of the physical characteristics of the eucharist (it’s a cracker) by pointing out the obvious fact that what matters is not the physical nature of the signifier, but what it signifies. A flag is just a piece of colored cloth, but we know that many people will be quite upset if you deliberately burn one in front of them.

    Hap (#25) makes the same mistake as Emmett: they both pick an irrelevant disanalogy, comment on it, and pretend to have answered Dinesh. Again, whether PZ’s act was meant as an act of intimidation (I don’t think it was; rather, it was meant to ridicule) is irrelevant: the point is that you can’t deny what is signified by x by pointing out its physical characteristics.

    Warren (#53) said that the relevant difference is that blacks are black by choice, while religious people choose to be religious. Need I even comment on the stupidity of this remark? He assumes that bigotry cannot exist in areas where choice is involved. Obviously, this is absurd.

    There. That’s it. I’ve just read through each post, and every one that attempted a response to Dinesh presented a variation of the horrible responses I’ve addressed above (I’ll note that *very* few addressed D’souza’s point), simply insulted D’souza (the vast majority fall into this pathetic category), or addressed another topic altogether.

    Do you honestly consider this to be evidence that, with respect to this topic, “everything D’Souza said has been said innumerable times and answered”?

    Hardly.

  316. #316 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Namaste, odd choice of words for an atheist.

  317. #317 CJO
    September 11, 2008

    it’s MY OPINION.

    Mhm. That and a coupla bucks’ll get you a Starbucks. You see, you’ve done nothing, zero, nada, zilch to support that opinion, oh, other than enable your caps-lock key. We’re not impressed. Nor do we give a flying fuck what you and hubby had for dinner, or any of the other irrelevant bullshit you season your alarmingly vacuous drivel with. I hope you are gone, as you are a twit.

  318. #318 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, please locate the search engine at the top left of this page and enter the term ‘cracker’. This will take you to the 10+ previous blog entries on this topic. The comments on many of these entries exceeds 1000. After you have read through them all, feel free to come back and tell us what aspect of D’Souza’s recent article hasn’t been covered.

  319. #319 Michael X
    September 11, 2008

    it’s MY OPINION

    When I see people run out to say that they have a right to their opinion I instantly know that while I may be interested in the truth, they are not.

    You do indeed have the right to voice your opinion Nancy. We also have the right to savage it as narrow and weak. If you wish to defend your point, do so. If you don’t, don’t. But no complaining about the packaging the opinions of others may come in.

    I suppose you can’t do much about being called an idiot by some people right? After all, it is simply their opinion. And if what you seem to believe is true, then they have no responsibility to back up their opinions.

  320. #320 Janine ID
    September 11, 2008

    Erik: Dinesh correctly pointed out that the same sort of remark could be made by racists burning crosses. Here’s how Dinesh’s point was addressed.

    No wonder Erik is impressed by Dinesh’s debating style.

    Race is something you are born with. One is free to pick one’s religion or lack of one.

    Attacking a person because of their race is monstrous. Criticizing a person’s choice of believe is fair game.

    Cross burning is the threat of violence that, in years past was backed up with violence and murder. Nailing a nail through a cracker, as well as the Koran and The God Delusion, is not a threat to anyone. And is not meant to be a threat of physical violence.

    In other words, this is a bad analogy that falls apart if you stop to think about it.

    Also, it is insulting and demeaning to claim that having your feelings hurt is comparable to the sufferings of people the were attacked by racists like the KKK. Do you serious think that there bis an atheist organization that is rounding up all the good catholics?

    Please get in touch with reality.

  321. #321 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Warren (#53) said that the relevant difference is that blacks are black by choice, while religious people choose to be religious. Need I even comment on the stupidity of this remark? He assumes that bigotry cannot exist in areas where choice is involved. Obviously, this is absurd.

    This is the one that holds water however. As someone’s race is not a choice. Being critical of someone’s race is not attacking something that can be defended beyond a call for tolerance (or pointing out obvious stupidity in the racial claims).

    Beliefs are different. You choose to be a Catholic (not you but whomever). You make that choice based on a number of things. Culture, parents, education, study, etc.. You should be able to defend those things. Being critical of a belief is not being a bigot. Trying to demonstrate the absurdity of said beliefs is not being a bigot. Catholics saying it is diminishes what real bigots do.

    Beliefs, no matter how sacred are not above criticism. Religion does not get a pass just because of the emotional ties people have to it. PZ’s reaction was to the actions of the Catholics involved. A point that is either ignored, quickly brushed over or distorted by every critic I have heard or read so far, D’Souza included. PZ’s point was in part that the response of the Catholics involved was not in measure to the actions of Cook and in part that a physical item does not share the worth of a human being’s well being (as well as some others). This was brought on by death threats, physical assaults and harassment of cook.

    Do you honestly consider this to be evidence that, with respect to this topic, “everything D’Souza said has been said innumerable times and answered”?

    Hardly.

    You haven’t even scratched the surface. Do as Danio suggests.

  322. #322 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    damn it

    blockquote fail again. Should end after “hardly”

  323. #323 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 11, 2008

    Now, my opinion of you is that you are an angry, hostile individual whom, I suspect, gains pleasure from stirring the pot on this blog.

    Angry – depends on the situation

    Hostile – only when provoked

    Gains pleasure from stirring the pot – with out a doubt

    I would have only had a passing issue with your comments if you hadn’t exploited the date and it’s anniversary for your own means.

  324. #324 Steve_C
    September 11, 2008

    Pointing out that a cracker is just a cracker, and a book is just a book is entirely different in intent and symbolism that burning a cross.

    When someone burns a cross on the lawn of a non-white person are they saying…
    that their skin color is unimportant, that something doesn’t exist, that they disagree with something?

    No.

    PZ’s intent was quite clearly described. Burning a cross is a crime of intimidation and of hate. Destroying a cracker is pointing out the obvious, nothing is sacred, especially hokey superstitions.

  325. #325 eric
    September 11, 2008

    Here’s a source for the Shermer quote (note the blurbs on the side of the page) http://www.dineshdsouza.com/

    Here’s the Hitchens remark (go to 3:50 into the segment)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueSJHRU7B9o&feature=related

    Janine ID, try following your poorly thought out premises to their logical conclusions. Again, your premises lead to the conclusion that characteristics determined by choice cannot be subjected to bigotry. Suppose I choose tomorrow to convert to Judaism. Does this mean that I cannot be subject to anti-semitism? After all, I did choose to become a Jew. The answer is obvious. Please, try thinking through the implications of your premises before you attempt to tell another to get in touch with reality.

    Rev, I would never suggest that religious beliefs should be above criticism (c’mon, I called for a debate between Myers and D’souza), and I would not identify criticism with bigotry, but I would also not claim that since such beliefs are chosen, that those who choose them therefore cannot be subjected to bigotry. Obviously, they can.

  326. #326 Steve_C
    September 11, 2008

    Destroying a cracker is not bigotry.

  327. #327 Kel
    September 11, 2008

    Ahh, but Steve C, you forget the Christian Persecution Complex or CPC for short. God is their uniting race, so any attack on God is an attack on them. ;)

    Why aren’t Catholics who are outraged rushing to the defence of those poor and innocent cows that are being slaughtered against the sacred beliefs of the Hindus? Oh that’s right. They couldn’t care less about any other religion’s sacred rights. All they care about is having their own held as sacred. It’s not tolerance, it’s submission. The members of the church are trying to flex a muscle that atrophied long ago. We live in a pluralistic society, having one religion’s beliefs having to be adhered to by the rest of the population is completely unsustainable, not to mention entirely impractical.

    Muslims shouldn’t censor non-muslims over what non-muslims do, likewise Catholics shouldn’t censor non-Catholics over what non-Catholics do. To push censorship of what one holds as sacred is an act of conformity. If Catholics want to believe a cracker turns into Jebus, that’s their choice. But to kick up a fuss because someone says otherwise destroys the pluralistic nature of a liberal democracy.

  328. #328 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    Alas, my editing privileges as a PZMinion have spoiled me. What I wouldn’t give for a comment editing feature on this site.

    Agreement: the third line in #318 should read “…comments…..exceed 1000.”

    Nancy, if you’re still reading, it seems that the net result of our exchange is that you read the insults and overlooked the bulk of the content, including several questions addressed directly to you. I would encourage you to go back and reread the comments I addressed to you, if you can. Please note that at no time did I, or anyone else, suggest that you should abandon your OPINION. We merely asked you to support it. Yes, that is what we do, and if you ‘hang out’ here as much as you imply, you should know that. Many of us are scientists, and science is a field in which no OPINIONS are considered valid without justification. This tenet transfers to all other areas of life quite nicely, and cuts down remarkably on the amount of bullshit one has to sift through on a daily basis.

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I would find your OPINION far more interesting if I had the opportunity to understand the basis of it. Accusations of petulant or immature behavior are not valid, especially as they suggest that you are not taking the entire cracker saga into account, but merely reacting viscerally to PZ’s ‘desecration’ as an isolated, random act of Catholic-baiting. Your comments in response to the RBDC, however, (which, for the record, stand alone as the one instance in which you actually responded directly to a challenge/request for clarification on this thread) indicate that you don’t feel it’s necessary to provide any support for your OPINION. Pity. It could have been a much more stimulating and amicable conversation if you had turned your repeated desire to analyze my perceived animosity into a motivation to clarify your own position.

  329. #329 Steven Dunlap
    September 11, 2008

    @ 283 and 284 SC and Frog

    The interesting bits come out in the primary sources. Foreign Relations of the United States publishes declassified high level Government documents about 30 years after their creation. The documents regarding the ouster of Mossadeq and the installation of the Shah of Iran have many interesting revelations. The University of Wisconsin has made the full text available via the web. If you are ambitious enough to slog through D’Souza’s interview or even one of his books, examining the primary sources he is either ignoring or hasn’t read may be fun. (Or then again, maybe not).

    Foreign Relations of the U.S. through the University of Wisconsin

  330. #330 eric
    September 11, 2008

    “Destroying a cracker is not bigotry.”

    Neither is burning a couple of pieces of wood shaped like a ‘t’.

    However, cross burning (which is to be distinguished *in terms of what it signifies* from burning two pieces of wood shaped like a ‘t’) is at least evidence of bigotry.

    Destroying a cracker isn’t bigotry.

    However, Eucharist desecration (which is to be distinguished *in terms of what it signifies* from destroying a cracker) is at least evidence of bigotry.

  331. #331 Owlmirror
    September 11, 2008

    A flag is just a piece of colored cloth, but we know that many people will be quite upset if you deliberately burn one in front of them.

    And they are wrong to do so. The symbol is not the thing; the flag is not the people.

    As I wrote elsewhere:

    Even if the symbol were the thing, the cracker does not stand for Catholics. That even follows from your own theology: The cracker stands for, or is, God.

    God, as defined by Catholics, does not exist.

    However, even if the Catholic God did exist, then even by your own theology, that God is eternal and omnipotent and omniscient.

    So in other words, even by your own theology, God is big enough and powerful enough to take care of his own goddam frackin’ self.

  332. #332 Danio
    September 11, 2008

    However, cross burning (which is to be distinguished *in terms of what it signifies* from burning two pieces of wood shaped like a ‘t’) is at least evidence of bigotry.

    I would argue that the circumstances under which the cross were acted upon make all the difference in the world as to how these acts should be interpreted. Intent matters, a lot.

    Moreover, for those who don’t believe in transubstantiation, ‘Eucharist desecration’ and ‘destroying a cracker’ are, in fact, quite indistinguishable acts. That’s kind of the point. (again, I refer you the eleventy gajillion posts and comments that have already dealt with this. The search engine is your friend.)

  333. #333 Kel
    September 11, 2008

    If we want to be reductionist, all humans are just made up of sub-atomic particles. Yet killing a human is a horrendous crime. The issue here is not that symbolism is important, of course it’s important. PZ Myers, just like all of us realise that Catholics find that cracker goddamn sacred. The issue is that sacredness was held above and beyond the liberty afforded in a liberal democracy to the point where a person had their life threatened.

    Destroying the symbol is going to piss off people, it’s going to get a severe reaction. But there is a HUGE difference between burning a flag or nailing a communion wafer to burning a cross on the lawn of a black person. Eric, you should be able to recognise that burning the cross isn’t the problem, it’s the threat of violence and racial superiority that comes with burning the cross. They are not comparable.

    What PZ Myers did was insensitive to Catholics, but it’s not bigotry any more than you eating a steak is bigotry to Hindus. This is a liberal democracy and thus the sacred for one religion is not and cannot be adhered to by those not of the religion. When that is broken (as in the case of Webster Cook), it’s our duty as defenders of liberty to show that nothing is above the basic rights of others. Just like we should view the Muhammad cartoons, just like we should eat steak. Looking at this as bigotry is missing the point by a long long way!

  334. #334 eric
    September 11, 2008

    “Moreover, for those who don’t believe in transubstantiation, ‘Eucharist desecration’ and ‘destroying a cracker’ are, in fact, quite indistinguishable acts. That’s kind of the point.”

    No, that’s not at all true. If it were, then why go through the trouble of entering a church, absconding with a Eucharist, sticking a nail through it, throwing it in the trash, and posting the whole thing on the web? You would not say that PZ’s act is the “quite indistinguishable” from the very same act performed on a Ritz cracker. Why not? Because the act with a Ritz cracker *carries no significance*. If PZ were to have posted a video of himself performing the same act on a Saltine, everyone would rightly conclude that he’d gone nuts. Therefore, the two acts are *obviously* distinguishable. Let me quote your own words here: Intent matters, a lot.

  335. #335 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, can you prove PZ ever entered a Catholic church to take a host? You need to go and read the whole threads. In this case, just the one with desecration.

  336. #336 Owlmirror
    September 11, 2008

    Intent matters, a lot.

    Yet Webster Cook’s intent was to show the cracker to a friend, then consume it as usual.

    One of his fellow parishioners went apeshit crazy at even that minor variation.

    Where is the respect for Webster Cook’s intent?

  337. #337 eric
    September 11, 2008

    Nerd, I’m aware of the fact that PZ never entered the church, *but that’s not the point*: someone did! In other words, PZ didn’t use a Saltine or a Ritz, he requested and used a consecrated host. This is why it’s not, as Danio said, ‘indistinguishable’ — even for those who don’t believe in transubstantiation — from destroying an cracker.

  338. #338 eric
    September 11, 2008

    Nerd, I’m aware of the fact that PZ never entered the church, *but that’s not the point*: someone did! In other words, PZ didn’t use a Saltine or a Ritz, he requested and used a consecrated host. This is why it’s not, as Danio said, ‘indistinguishable’ — even for those who don’t believe in transubstantiation — from destroying a cracker.

  339. #339 Nerd of Redhead
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, go and read the desecration post. You are arguing from ignorance.

  340. #340 shonny
    September 11, 2008

    D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth Phi Beta Kappa. He wrote almost a dozen books before the age of 40, many of which ended up on the New York Times bestseller list, and he dusted off the likes of Hitchens in a public disputation.

    I think some of you are just a little green around the gills.

    That Hubbard critter also wrote a lot of books, and sold them in the plentifold. That didn’t improve the content.
    Shit by any other name is still shit.

  341. #341 Steve_C
    September 11, 2008

    The point is that the “eucharist” is just a cracker despite what a priest has done to it.
    It’s not anything but some cheaply made bland tasting bread. How can you be so deaf to what PZ said about it. It’s like saying Obama called Palin a pig… when you can watch the video and clearly see that Obama did not such thing.

    Just because the Catholics are offended by “The Great Desecration” doesn’t mean PZ is a bigot. I’m not a bigot. I was raised Catholic. Unless you believe that the host has been “transmorgified”, you have no reason to be offended.

  342. #342 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Eric, Your lover is waiting for you over on the Open Thread.

  343. #343 Patricia
    September 11, 2008

    Dammit Steve C. – You haul out your transmorgified, just like that!
    Now all the sluts are gettin’ squidgey. Come on man, put it away unless you have some for all of us.
    Teachers pet!

  344. #344 Eric Paulsen
    September 11, 2008

    Proclaiming “nothing is sacred,” atheist P.Z. Myers took the Christian eucharist, pierced it with a rusty nail, and threw it into the garbage. Then he posed his action on the world wide web.

    Shouldn’t it, technically speaking, be the “Catholic eucharist” (ie: all Catholics are Christians but not all Christians are Catholic)? And perhaps his spellcheck was broken but I think PZ “Posted” his action on the web. I know this is usually considered nitpicking, but I was under the impression this D’ Souza guy was supposed to be some kind of genius.

  345. #345 Kendo
    September 12, 2008

    If I’m reading too much into this PZ, please excuse my tendency to do such. I interpreted crackergate as a perfect satire of “taking on the sin” of another, so to speak. These hypocrites don’t seem to get the idea that they claim to worship whom they do, because that guy was thought to have taken upon himself the wrath of religious zealots. It’s just too wickedly funny that none of them seems to get that. Again, perhaps I’m reading too much into it.

  346. #346 Jay Hovah
    September 12, 2008

    The problem is Eric is a fucking retarded eejit.

    I say ignore it…

  347. #347 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 12, 2008

    No, that’s not at all true. If it were, then why go through the trouble of entering a church, absconding with a Eucharist, sticking a nail through it, throwing it in the trash, and posting the whole thing on the web? You would not say that PZ’s act is the “quite indistinguishable” from the very same act performed on a Ritz cracker.

    It’s funny eric because beside the “fatway envy” “you wouldn’t do that to a koran you pussy” comments from Catholics, one of the most common ones was questioning whether it really was a trans-fat transubstantiated wafer. They were concerned. So the act of getting a real one was important to demonstrate PZ’s point. So you’re right it does make a difference in this instance because PZ was making a point.

    But besides that it does not. There is no difference on a one to one.

  348. #348 LotharLoo
    September 12, 2008

    SC: He really says this. Not the CIA’s coup to oust the democratically-elected Mossadeq or installing and maintaining a brutal dictator in power for two decades. The problem was not providing enough support to the dictator to keep him in power in the face of popular revolt.

    Holyshit. What a scumbag. How gutless one should be to support the neo-con policy of wrecking havoc, murder and mayhem around the globe?

    In some other place, the same lowlife said the christian invaders did a very fine job of forcefully converting his ancestors forcefully to christianity, because Christianity is so true and right. By the same logic, I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps on the Ann Coulter wagon idea of “let’s invade their countries and convert them to Christianity”. What an arrogant self-righteous ass.

  349. #349 eric
    September 12, 2008

    Jay Hovah: “The problem is Eric is a fucking retarded eejit.
    I say ignore it…”

    Note the difference between my posts and Jay’s: I actually present arguments, while Jay does simply throws out insults.

    Jay, ‘the problem’ is that you’re imtimidated by those who actually present arguments. If you prefer to ignore those who defend their positions, and call them idiots instead of presenting a rational critique of your own, that’s fine. Just don’t pretend that you’re somehow smarter because of it, since we all know that the opposite is true.

    By the way, don’t you know that people in polite society don’t use the word ‘retarded’ anymore?

  350. #350 Nerd of Redhead
    September 12, 2008

    Eric, if you act and post like you know and comprehend nothing, you will be called names demeaning your intelligence. Maybe if you showed some, you would get respect. Have you read the 30,000 posts from the crackergate affair yet so you can post intelligently?

  351. #351 Anri
    September 12, 2008

    eric:

    Being critical of a belief is not the same as hating a person. Ideas are not people, and they cannot be hurt, upset, or intimidated.

    With regards to the cross burning issue, anyone is free to burn a cross they own on property they own. Really.

    Please, for the sake of everyone here, understand these two points at least, to begin with.

  352. #352 Steve_C
    September 12, 2008

    Come get some of this transmorgification.

  353. #353 Andy
    September 12, 2008

    PZ, I posted this over there in the hopes that I could “Save” some of them… Sorry, had to.

    Your comment:

    The article and these comments completely miss the point of what
    Myers did. Myers didn’t decide one day to desecrate a sacred
    cracker. I really suggest all of you religious folk go to his site
    and see the reason for it.

    I assure you there was one. Here, I’ll help you find it quickly:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/its_a_goddamned_cracker.php

    PZ was pointing out the incredibly ridiculous reaction of church
    officials, University officials, and well, Christians in their
    overreaction to a boy who took one from a church, reportedly to show
    a friend. This wasn’t some exercise on his part to just stomp on
    some religious symbolism (or actual body part of Christ…however you
    see it….) it was to show how people would, through their beliefs,
    try to do everything in their power to DESTROY this kid because of
    what was, basically, a cracker.

    Now I know this article was written so that you could add another
    bullet to your “Liberals and Atheists are ruining America!” clip, but
    the truth, which ironically Christians claim to be the keepers of, is
    that PZ Meyers was pointing out that these Christians considered a
    cracker more important than a human being. It’s really really that
    simple, and it’s really that sad.

    Please, do yourself a favor and use that brain that you claim was
    made just for you by God, and see what actually happened before you
    comment on how evil PZ is. You might just find that your anger might
    be better aimed at the guy who just lied to you.

  354. #354 eric
    September 12, 2008

    Nerd: “Eric, if you act and post like you know and comprehend nothing, you will be called names demeaning your intelligence.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Again, I’ve presented arguments, and I’ve refuted arguments. As for those who ‘post like [they] know and comprehend nothing,’ here’s an example of what I’ve been dealing with:

    “Being critical of a belief is not the same as hating a person. Ideas are not people, and they cannot be hurt, upset, or intimidated.
    With regards to the cross burning issue, anyone is free to burn a cross they own on property they own. Really.
    Please, for the sake of everyone here, understand these two points at least, to begin with.”

    Let’s look at this, Nerd.

    First, while being critical of a belief is not a necessary condition of bigotry, it *can* be a sufficient condition. Here’s a simple example: If I convert to Judaism tomorrow, I will have satisfied the only condition required for some to subject me to certain forms of antisemitism. Now, I’m not saying that religious beliefs cannot be criticized — of course they can, and they should be. But let’s not pretend that bigotry cannot hide behind the banner of ‘criticism.’ Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that it frequently does. Also, don’t pretend that my problem is with ‘being critical of ideas’: I called for a debate between Myers and D’souza, for cryin’ out loud.

    Second, while ideas are not people, people hold ideas (yes, it’s true — this is the only way ideas can exist, unless your a Platonist or a theist), and the people holding those ideas are capable of both harming others with those ideas and of being harmed by those ideas. A simple example of both is easily found in much of contemporary American racism. Most racism in the U.S. today is nonviolent, and many of today’s racists have no power whatsoever. Yet, would you therefore conclude that such racism isn’t an instance of bigotry, since it’s ‘just criticism of an idea’ (the idea that we’re all equal)? It’s just an idea itself as well, isn’t it (viz. the idea that we’re not equal)? And let’s not forget that the reason that even non-violent, powerless racism offends us is because it clashes with other ideas, e.g. the idea of human equality. So please, let’s not pretend that ‘we’re just talking about ideas,’ and not in any way about people.

    Third, of course people are free to burn crosses on their property. PZ is free to do what he did as well. I never suggested that such acts should be illegal, or otherwise prevented. However, if a man burns a cross on his front lawn, I’m going to call him a racist. If a man paints a swastika on his garage door, I’m going to call him an antisemite. See, your problem is that you want to prevent others from criticizing Myers, so in fact you’ve got it exactly backwards: I’m not trying to preclude debate and criticism; you are.

    See, Nerd? I have been similarly demolishing every argument presented so far, and all you and the others can come up with is, “Go and read the thousands of other posts on the topic.” I’m sorry, but if the quality of the arguments there is in any way similar to the quality here, I’m not very interested. If you think you have an argument I can’t answer, go ahead and present it. But first you’ll have to keep in mind just what my point is: I was only criticizing Myers’ stupid remark about the Eucharist being ‘just a cracker,’ and about the criticism of Dinesh’s point that this is similar to saying that a cross burning is ‘just setting two pieces of wood on fire.’ Again, my only point was that you’ve confused the signifier with what it signifies. My second point, which has come out in the conversations I’ve had here on this issue, is that Myers’ action can indeed be characterized as evidence of bigotry, and that you can no more hide behind the ‘it’s just criticism of an idea’ notion than a racist can hide behind ‘I’m just criticizing the idea that all people are equal.’ All criticism can’t be identified with bigotry, but it doesn’t follow that no instance of criticism can be evidence of bigotry. C’mon, there are extremely simple, uncontroversial points.

  355. #355 eric
    September 12, 2008

    *C’mon, these are extremely simple, uncontroversial points.

  356. #356 Owlmirror
    September 12, 2008

    My second point, which has come out in the conversations I’ve had here on this issue, is that Myers’ action can indeed be characterized as evidence of bigotry, and that you can no more hide behind the ‘it’s just criticism of an idea’ notion than a racist can hide behind ‘I’m just criticizing the idea that all people are equal.’ All criticism can’t be identified with bigotry, but it doesn’t follow that no instance of criticism can be evidence of bigotry. C’mon, there are extremely simple, uncontroversial points.

    Nonsense and bafflegab.

    You might have a point if the cracker symbolized Catholics; if nailing a cracker had ever been used as a threat against Catholics; if PZ’s clear and express intent had been against Catholics in general rather than being against a specific example of Catholic bigotry and insanity.

    But it doesn’t, it hasn’t, and it wasn’t.

    Your argument fails utterly.

    Now go find something else to be silly about.

  357. #357 Nerd of Redhead
    September 12, 2008

    Another fine piece of catolick tripe.
    Nothing is sacred. Deal with it elsewhere.

  358. #358 CJO
    September 12, 2008

    You haven’t “demolished” anything but the idea that you have something productive to contribute.

    As your posts get longer, your arguments get more and more divorced from the reality of what took place. The reason people are saying you should familiarize yourself with the incident is that the accusations of bigotry and analogies to racist intimidation tactics have been addressed, specifically, by PZ and others.

    Yet, would you therefore conclude that such racism isn’t an instance of bigotry, since it’s ‘just criticism of an idea’ (the idea that we’re all equal)?

    Case in point. In your zeal to make some, any, kind of argument, since you’ve convinced yourself that cracker abuse must, MUST be an example of Something Bad, you’ve utterly removed the very sense of what is meant by “racism” from your characterization of it. It has nothing to do with ideas; it is a belief about persons. It’s not even legitimate to say that rejection of the idea that we’re all equal is a concommitant of racist attitudes, because it’s easy to imagine a hypothetical racist saying, “All men were created equal, sure, I just don’t like the ones with brown skins.” It’s like you’re saying that punching someone in the nose is just a criticism of the idea that it’s wrong to go about punching people in the nose. Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it?

  359. #359 Danio
    September 12, 2008

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible that one could be simultaneously so overwrought and soporific, but you nailed it, man.

    BIGOTRY: Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion: intolerance, prejudice.

    Driving a nail through a wafer and throwing it in your wastebasket ? bigotry. Not even close. Get a grip, Eric.

  360. #360 John Knight
    September 12, 2008

    Rob is Jewish by birth, but he has recently converted to Christianity. He hasn’t told his family yet.

    Now, suppose his family invites him to Passover dinner, and suppose that he accepts. He puts on his nice clothes, goes to the house, and is served Passover dinner. When the lamb is served, he takes his plate, stands up saying, “Follow me,” walks outside, and dumps the meal in the middle of the street. He then loudly “explains” why the Passover meal is an outdated, unnecessary symbol.

    Is Rob a jerk or not?

    Let me suggest a moral proposition: If someone offers you a gift for a specific purpose, and you take it intending to use it for a completely contrary purpose, you have engaged in deception and theft by fraud. If you enter someone’s home or meeting-place to steal by fraud in this way, then you have severely offended his hospitality.

    Such behavior is only acceptable if there is an overriding moral purpose that justifies these offenses. So what is the overriding moral purpose behind a conspiracy to fraudulently acquire & publicly desecrate a communion wafer? The only “purpose” here is to offend Christians (especially Catholics), to gain notoriety through being offensive, and to gain the approval of other people with similar attitudes.

    IOW, it’s a little like the KKK burning a cross downtown, except that it is meant to offend Catholics rather than blacks.

    P.S.: I am not Catholic & do not believe in transubstantiation. However, good manners are still good manners, and bad manners are rampant.

  361. #361 CJO
    September 12, 2008

    The only “purpose” here is to offend Christians (especially Catholics), to gain notoriety through being offensive, and to gain the approval of other people with similar attitudes.

    Good Gawd, where are these morons coming from, and when will the supply of them be exhausted? PZ stated his purpose, and it was none of these. Are you accusing him of lying about his motives, or are you just another clueless blowhard? Have you read any of the original sequence of posts on the matter? Are you aware that you are not bringing forward anything that we haven’t heard a thousand times by now? Do you just enjoy appearing clueless and bloviating about things you have made no effort to understand?

  362. #362 Nerd of Redhead
    September 12, 2008

    John, Yawn. Same arguments used during the 30,000 (or more, I forget the final tally) posts during Crackergate. Failed then, fail now. Nothing is sacred. Deal with it.

  363. #363 frog
    September 12, 2008

    John Knight: The only “purpose” here is to offend Christians (especially Catholics), to gain notoriety through being offensive, and to gain the approval of other people with similar attitudes.

    IOW, it’s a little like the KKK burning a cross downtown, except that it is meant to offend Catholics rather than blacks.

    Says who? The purpose has been explained over and over, ad nausem – to support the kid who was assaulted in the first place, to illustrate that the “good Christians” are just as likely to send death threats when they are offended as the “evuuul muslims”, to assert everyone’s first amendment rights to offend the sacred.

    If you don’t get that, you either haven’t followed the story closely enough to have a right to have a respectable opinion, or you’re just another liar.

    But the worst is yet to come. Do you somehow imagine that burning a cross is meant to “offend” blacks? Have you no historical consciousness, or are you such a racist that you are trying to whitewash history? Burning a cross is a clear threat – as clear as shouting “I’m gonna lynch you nigger”. Just like vandalizing a synagogue with a swaztika is a clear statement that “kike, you’re next in the gas chamber”. It is not, at all, like your original example, where someone is simply offensive and should be thrown out of the house.

    Your analogy is deeply offensive to anyone who’s family has been terrorized by the KKK and their ilk.

    If Donahue’s response was “PZ’s a dick, and I will never invite him to my home”… that would have been a reasonable response and no one would fault him; it would also have undercut PZ’s message, by affirming that his cult did not feel that they have the right to legally censure someone for simply transgressing their private rules.

    He chose to affirm his wish for a theocratic state – as do you by reducing this to a question of rudeness.

  364. #364 Wowbagger
    September 12, 2008

    John Knight, #360

    Your arguments and analogies have been heard and refuted – dozens of times – in the many, many threads on this topic. I’m sorry you’re late to the party, but that’s the way it is.

    If you want to play catch-up use the search this blog function on the top left hand side of the page; type in cracker and you’ll have a choice of threads to read through. Apart from seeing people try – and fail – every possible analogy (keep an eye out for Pete Rooke; he’s a charmer) to ‘explain’ it, you’ll read that there are plenty of christians (and catholics) who don’t think what PZ did was all that bad – and you’ll also read that there a surprising number of christians who are, for want of a better term, batshit insane.

  365. #365 Owlmirror
    September 12, 2008

    So what is the overriding moral purpose behind a conspiracy to fraudulently acquire & publicly desecrate a communion wafer? The only “purpose” here is to offend Christians (especially Catholics), to gain notoriety through being offensive, and to gain the approval of other people with similar attitudes.

    If Christians (especially Catholics) have used a prior such incident to attack someone (physically and socially), then doing it again deliberately, emphasizing while doing so that taking offense is insane, and based on insanity, shows solidarity with the prior victim(s) of such offense.

    To put it bluntly, offended Catholics have in the past committed murder because they were offended. Even now, they threaten murder.

    You say you are not a Catholic. Do you support Catholic bad manners? If you oppose them, then your analogy of the KKK and cross burning makes no sense.
    It is the Catholics who have proffered death threats and social punishment for religious violation, just like the KKK. It is Bill Donohue who is acting like a white-sheeted bigot angry over an uppity black who has dared to sit in the front of the bus.

    PZ has not called for any threat or punishment against Catholics. He has demanded that Catholics should not have the right to inflict punishment for religious violation.

    So… which side are you on, again?

  366. #366 Anri
    September 12, 2008

    Hi, eric.

    Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a geek, not a nerd, but whatever floats your boat.

    Of course racism is not just a matter of being critical of the idea that all people are born equal. It means disliking all members of a given group of people, based simply on the fact that they are members of that group. Have you seen any evidence that the posters here hate Catholics (including the few that actually are Catholics)? Or merely that we revile and disdain the concept that a small piece of bread is valued beyond the worth of a human life?

    I can honestly say that I wouldn’t hate anyone based solely on who holding such an absurd belief. But I can equally well say that I hate, with a deep passion, the belief, and will go out of my way to make it seem asinine. Because that’s one way to change the minds of otherwise good and moral people, people who you should in no wise hate, about something that stupid, ridiculous, and morally vacuous.

    It’s not the only way. It might not be your way, or a way you like seeing. But it is one way. And, according to a number of personal stories told by a number of different posts (on the threads you refuse to read), it does, sometimes, work.

  367. #367 John Knight
    September 12, 2008

    Ooooooh. Nice rationalizations.

    (NB: A rationalization is not a refutation. Sorry.)

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility. Surprise, surprise.

  368. #368 Kel
    September 12, 2008

    To look at the morality of it is to miss the point. Of course it was insensitive by PZ Myers, there’s no question of that. But to look at it that way is to miss the meaning of the action. It wasn’t to piss off Catholics, it was to show that the symbol has been put above life. Webster Cook was physically assaulted (by a priest no less), and had his life threatened by Catholics for simply wanting to show the cracker to a friend. That’s putting a symbol as a higher value than human life…

    Dr Zoidberg: “Yes, I’m burning the flag. To preserve the freedom it represents.”

    Quite simply John, do you find it immoral to eat beef for religious sensibilities? If not, why not? The Hindus consider the cow a sacred animal, and the cow is much more alive than a fracken’ cracker.

  369. #369 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 12, 2008

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility. Surprise, surprise.

    Yes and I hate Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and Cthulhu (though I know he’d like it). It’s really tough to hate something that doesn’t exist.

    There really needs to be a Religious commenter check list.

    And I don’t hate Christians. I love many christians, but I don’t base my feelings on a person on whether they are a Christian, Jew, Atheist or whatever. I base it on the person.

  370. #370 Kel
    September 12, 2008

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God.

    I went to a public talk by a former Catholic priest last night, I’ve got to say he was a very impressive man. Why would I hate him because of his different worldview? Likewise why would I hate those in my extended family who believe in God? Or the people at work, or my friends, or just random strangers down the street? There’s no reason to hate God as God doesn’t exist, and hating something that doesn’t exist is stupid. And there’s no reason to hate Xtians, because aside from a few nutters (there are nutters everywhere) most of them are kind and warm people; just like in every other religion, just like in the non-religious community.

    In short, the only time I really don’t like an Xtian is when he’s either spouting religious sensibilities at me, trying to promote mythology over science, or playing the persecution card.

  371. #371 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 12, 2008

    The Catholic church briefly outlawed the teaching of geometry. I recall a James Burke documentary series called The Day the Universe Changed in which he explained that as Europeans acquired knowledge from the Islamic world through the Moors in Spain that the concept of the triangle bothered the church leaders. You see, there are 180 degrees in a triangle. Period. Not 179, not 181. Even God could not add or subtract a single degree.

    Wow. Thanks for the information.

    And possibly the most pathetic, grasping attempt to exploit that tragedy for personal ends I’ve ever come across (apart from Giuliani, of course).

    You misspelled 9iu11ani.

    [...] cross burning (which is to be distinguished *in terms of what it signifies* from burning two pieces of wood shaped like a ‘t’) is at least evidence of bigotry.

    [...] Eucharist desecration (which is to be distinguished *in terms of what it signifies* from destroying a cracker) is at least evidence of bigotry.

    Burning a cross was used as a threat. (A threat that was not just made, but often acted out, all the way to killing people.) This is also very widely known. Therefore, if you burn a cross, I will assume you know full well this was used as a threat, and I’ll therefore conclude that you want to make this very threat. Threatening people with murder is illegal for good reasons.

    Piercing a consecrated host (together with pages from a Koran and The God Delusion no less) is not being used as a threat and has never been. It is intended to make us point and laugh at those who see this as a horrible act.

    Do you understand it better now?

    I’m sorry, but if the quality of the arguments there is in any way similar to the quality here, I’m not very interested.

    Emphasis added. Why don’t you go and find out?

    (You’ll find that the quality varies very widely. We are, after all, talking about several thousand comments.)

  372. #372 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 12, 2008

    You guys hate God

    Logic — ur doin it rong.

    All those nice comments 363 through 366 — all wasted on you. What a shame.

  373. #373 Wowbagger
    September 12, 2008

    John Knight – did you actually read any of the approximately 30,000 comments pertaining to this topic on earlier threads? As opposed to the SIX comments posted after you appeared here?

    I’m guessing you didn’t. How intellectually dishonest of you – not that that’s coming as too much of a surprise, considering you’re a christian; it’s been drilled into you as a way to express your ‘faith’. Don’t go eating that fruit from the tree of knowledge, now. You might start thinking for yourself.

    Hate god? Only as much as you hate leprechauns. Do you hate leprechauns, John?

  374. #374 JoJo
    September 12, 2008

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility. Surprise, surprise.

    Another fine product of the John Knight Red Herring & Strawman Construction Company.

    I don’t hate god, any of the almost infinite number of gods that mankind has invented. I hate the effects that some of these gods have had on people. I really don’t see how honoring Huitzilopochtli required killing six youths and six maidens every month. I fail to see how anyone can be impressed by sacrificing children to Moloch. Don’t get me started on the Thirty Years War, where several brands of Christianity tried to show their particular flavor of Jebus worship was better than all the others by killing about one-third of the population of central Europe.

    In short, what’s god done to deserve honoring?

  375. #375 Owlmirror
    September 12, 2008

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God.

    You think that it is correct to honor god by threatening and attacking people?

    Religious people are indeed willing to twist logic to justify their hostility.

    Surprise, surprise.

    It’s always a nasty surprise when a mirror is held up to religion’s face, twisted in hatred.

  376. #376 Arnosium Upinarum
    September 12, 2008

    “You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility.”

    Not at all. We’re just willing to point out the flaming obvious.

    We concede you’ve got all the hatred covered, quite transparently, in how readily you impugn the offense in others you simply do not agree with.

    Very unchristian of you. (Isn’t there a commandment that advises against bearing false witness against thine fellow man?)

    Remember: we’re just willing to point out the flaming obvious. If it troubles thee, look first to the sty in thine own eye.

  377. #377 Bubba Sixpack
    September 12, 2008

    Is Dinesh D’Souza still m’Ann Coulter’s Number One Safe Metrosexual Whipping Boy?

  378. #378 Steve_C
    September 13, 2008

    John Knight hates Santa, Buddha, Tor and the tooth faerie. What a bigot.

    Probably hates unicorns and dragons too.

  379. #379 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “Nonsense and bafflegab.
    You might have a point if the cracker symbolized Catholics; if nailing a cracker had ever been used as a threat against Catholics;”

    No, what’s nonsense is your supposition that the presence of a threat is an essential element of bigotry; it isn’t.

    “if PZ’s clear and express intent had been against Catholics in general rather than being against a specific example of Catholic bigotry and insanity.”

    I agree completely with his outrage at the foolishness that followed Cook’s initial taking of the consecrated host. My only point is that it’s also foolish to react to wave of outrage directed at him (Myers) by saying it’s just a cracker. And he clearly *did* direct his actions against all Catholics, inter alia: remember his remark? Nothing is sacred. (Of course, Myers doesn’t believe this. If tomorrow his favorite liberal principle were questioned by a Republican, he’d be outraged, and treat that principle as if it were sacred. And he doesn’t believe that we should question ‘everything’; if he does, then perhaps he should look into self referential paradoxes and infinite regresses, both of which are entailed by his precept.)

    “But it doesn’t, it hasn’t, and it wasn’t.
    Your argument fails utterly.”

    See above.

    “Now go find something else to be silly about.”

    Actually, I’ve just met my daily ‘silly quota’ by wasting my time responding to your horrible arguments.

    “It [racism] has nothing to do with ideas; it is a belief about persons.”

    And beliefs about people aren’t ideas? (That’s a rhetorical question). What you’re missing is that instances of bigotry aren’t exhausted by examples of racism (or of threats, etc.). Again, criticizing an idea isn’t a necessary condition of bigotry, but it is, in some cases, sufficient. If I convert to Judaism tomorrow, I change my ideas (and, depending on the sect, some of my practices). However, this change of ideas on my part now makes me a potential target of some forms of antisemitism.

    “It’s not even legitimate to say that rejection of the idea that we’re all equal is a concommitant of racist attitudes, because it’s easy to imagine a hypothetical racist saying, “All men were created equal, sure, I just don’t like the ones with brown skins.”

    You accused me of ‘reaching’ earlier, but you’re the one who’s reaching here. I never said that the belief that all people aren’t ‘created’ equal is a necessary condition of racism, yet this is precisely what your response presupposes. However, it is certainly a motivating element of some racist ideologies.

    “Driving a nail through a wafer and throwing it in your wastebasket ? bigotry. Not even close. Get a grip, Eric.”

    I didn’t say it was bigotry. I said that it could be *evidence* of bigotry. The bloody knife on the floor isn’t ‘the murder,’ but it certainly could be evidence of murder. That’s an important distinction, you know.

    “Hi, eric.
    Actually, I prefer to think of myself as a geek, not a nerd, but whatever floats your boat.”

    Anri, I was using the content of your post to address someone called Nerd of Redhead; I wasn’t calling you a nerd. Though, since I consider myself to be a nerd, and not a geek, I would’ve been complimenting you if I had addressed you in that way!

    “Of course racism is not just a matter of being critical of the idea that all people are born equal. It means disliking all members of a given group of people, based simply on the fact that they are members of that group.”

    That’s certainly not true. Many vocal racists in America today will come at you with all sorts of stats, facts, etc. to support their racism. It’s all nonsense, of course, but that’s not the point: the point is that racism is frequently *motivated* by *ideas* people hold about members of a certain group. Also, antisemitism wasn’t simply a dislike of Jews as Jews; it was often motivated by (bogus) religious, (bogus) scientific, (bogus) economic and ?(bogus) cultural arguments.

    “Have you seen any evidence that the posters here hate Catholics (including the few that actually are Catholics)? Or merely that we revile and disdain the concept that a small piece of bread is valued beyond the worth of a human life?”

    I of course agree with the latter point, but I must say that there’s more than ‘criticism’ of religious folks going on here (and I’m speaking about this blog generally, not about this issue alone). PZ quite frequently expresses a genuine contempt of religious belief, and constantly ridicules the intelligence of those who hold religious beliefs. I’m sorry, but it goes far beyond mere criticism. If you want to see criticism — and far more intelligent criticism than you’ll ever see from PZ — of religious thought, there are plenty of brilliant philosophers of religion and scientists who criticize religious beliefs without ridiculing the believers. So, obviously, ridicule adds nothing substantive to the criticism: rather, it’s about creating an ethos in which many young people come to think, “Ah, all these smart people sneer and laugh at religious belief, and ridicule religious believers; therefore, it must be false.” (Let me add that I *love* PZ when he’s writing about science; when he writes about religious issues *that don’t involve scientific questions*, however, he’s way out of his depth, and it’s obvious.)

    “Burning a cross was used as a threat. (A threat that was not just made, but often acted out, all the way to killing people.) This is also very widely known. Therefore, if you burn a cross, I will assume you know full well this was used as a threat, and I’ll therefore conclude that you want to make this very threat. Threatening people with murder is illegal for good reasons.
    Piercing a consecrated host (together with pages from a Koran and The God Delusion no less) is not being used as a threat and has never been. It is intended to make us point and laugh at those who see this as a horrible act.
    Do you understand it better now?”

    Apparently, I understand it far better than you do. When you criticize an analogy, you want to point out disanalogies, to be sure, *but they must be relevant disanalogies*. Let me say it, yet again: the fact that cross burning at one time was used to intimidate and threaten violence is irrelevant, since threatening violence *isn’t* a necessary condition of bigotry. Let’s take another example: not too long ago, a number of nooses were found hanging from a tree (if I remember correctly) on some college campus. Now, no one in his right mind took those nooses to be an indication that someone was about to be hanged. Also, no one thought that those who put up the nooses would follow up with violence. However, it doesn’t follow that this act wasn’t evidence of bigotry. Now, it’s certainly possible that the perpetrators weren’t bigots, and that they were jejune college students (hmm, that sounds redundant) pulling off a prank they thought was ‘funny.’ But that’s not the point: the point is that no one in his or her right mind would say that this act *couldn’t* be construed as evidence of bigotry, since no threat of violence was intended.

  380. #380 Kel
    September 13, 2008

    And he clearly *did* direct his actions against all Catholics

    All Catholics? Come on now, he did no such thing. It wasn’t against Catholics, it was against the traditions of Catholicism that are held as sacred beyond human life. It wasn’t to be personal at all. Stop trying to take the moral high-ground on this, it’s pathetic.

  381. #381 Kel
    September 13, 2008

    Just to ram the point home further…

    When burning a flag, it’s not a direct insult of all the members of that country. It’s not directing anger at the people, rather it’s directing anger at the what the symbol represents. Sure people in that country are going to take offence to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s personal. It’s those who take offence who are making it personal by reacting.

    The cracker as a symbol was clearly being treated as above human dignity. It needed to be destroyed to preserve the values of pluralism, to show that religious intolerance should not be above the basic rights of people. Nothing personal at all in it. To personalise it is to take offence and try and gain the moral high-ground.

  382. #382 Wowbagger
    September 13, 2008

    Eric,

    While you make effective points I think that you’re forgetting (or ignoring) some of the context. PZ’s actions toward the cracker were the culmination of a series of events – the overreaction of the local catholics and the catholic League to Webster Cook’s actions, and the comments made by catholic posters here on the site: death threats; pathetic, clueless analogies and fatwa-envy.

    Had PZ just done what he did for the sake of it, unprompted, without there being these precursors, you might be fair in describing what he did as simple bigotry. But as an act of defiance against a bullying religious organisation claiming special privilege to persecute someone outside its own sphere of influence, it’s not the same thing at all.

    And you’re also treating the cracker as if it were only a symbol – it’s not. Remember, the catholics believe it literally – not symbolically or figuratively – becomes the flesh of their god after the magic spell is cast over it. A significant part of what he did was to show that neither her nor anyone else should have to respect an unscientific belief in the supernatural simply because a well-established group of people choose to believe it.

  383. #383 Nerd of Redhead
    September 13, 2008

    Eric, I haven’t read your last two posts since I do not read any post much larger than a screen full. If your argument takes up more space than one screen, break it down. Actually, if it takes up more than a screen you probably don’t have a cogent argument.

    But I don’t need to read your overly long posts to have a feel for what is there. Anything you said there was already posted somewhere in the 30,000+ posts during the Crackergate affair. What PZ did was in response to people who behaved badly. Not Webster Cook, but those who tried to control him, have him expelled (silly idea, as precipitating event occurred during a non-academic event). PZ was responding to those people, in particular Bill Donohue, who had no business trying to dictate the outcome of what should have been an internal CFU matter. So PZ made his point. In particular, he showed that Bill Donohue was an impotent loudmouth who should be ignored. He also demonstrated that some Catholics do not have a sense of proportion, decorum, and just plain common sense in how to deal with non-Catholics.
    Nothing is sacred. Deal with it.

  384. #384 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “If your argument takes up more space than one screen, break it down. Actually, if it takes up more than a screen you probably don’t have a cogent argument.”

    Right. How many famous arguments have been set out in entire books? How many dissertations could be fit into the space of a screen? How many of PZ’s own posts take up more space than a screen? The chapter of The God Delusion in which Dawkins sets out his central argument would take up much more space than could be fit on a screen. My goodness, do you even think before — or while — you’re writing these incredibly stupid things?

    “But I don’t need to read your overly long posts to have a feel for what is there. Anything you said there was already posted somewhere in the 30,000+ posts during the Crackergate affair.”

    What faith! Now, what you’re saying may be entirely true; my only point is that you claim to know it ‘by feeling’ without examining the data.

    “Nothing is sacred. Deal with it.”

    My, my, you treat the dictum “nothing is sacred” as if it were — well, sacred! If we’re to “question everything,” as your hero asserts, then aren’t we not to “deal with” the notion that nothing is sacred, but instead to question it? My goodness, I suggest you look up the word ‘contradiction’ when you get the chance.

  385. #385 Nerd of Redhead
    September 13, 2008

    Eric, do I have to hold something sacred because you do? The answer to that, in a pluralistic society, is no. There is no other answer available. You can hold what beliefs you want. I will not directly interfere with your beliefs unless I see somebody getting hurt. However, you have no right or authority to demand that I hold the same beliefs, or that I must do anything to avoid offending your beliefs. Because half way to me, my beliefs become paramount.
    Books are written about big ideas. This is small idea. Long windedness equals blather.

  386. #386 Kel
    September 13, 2008

    Eric, do I have to hold something sacred because you do? The answer to that, in a pluralistic society, is no.

    Exactly, it’s not only unfavourable but impractical. If one religion considers something as sacred, it’s impossible for any other religion to adhere to it. Say one religion thought that the blood of an individual must be kept within one’s own body. So doing blood transfusions would be sacrilegious, a sacred violation of the scriptures of the lord. Now if that applied to all members of a society, lives would be lost.

    Now apply the same criticism to a food source. What if the Cow was held as a sacred beast; to be treated as one’s own mother by a certain religion? Eating beef is blasphemy of the highest order, and doing so would bring grave offence to anyone of that religion.

    Now take that to the cracker, Catholics cannot expect non-Catholics to believe in the sanctity of the cracker any more than a Hindu can expect non-Hindus to believe in the sanctity of the Cow. In some ways, the Hindus have a stronger case than the Catholics because a Cow is still a Cow in all cultures, while the Catholics believe a cracker is somehow the body of a Jew Zombie through the magic of an incantation.

    To respect the Catholic right to believe a cracker is the body of a Jew Zombie is guaranteed under pluralism. To have the belief adhered to by non-Catholics goes against pluralism. The simple fact is that desecrating the cracker is not protected any more under religious tolerance than a Hindu’s right to demand that we not eat steak. Quite simply Eric, in this pluralistic society your argument has no ground to stand on. We have no impotence at all to adhere to your beliefs, and nothing more than social sensibilities to respect them. So while the church is pushing the protection of that sacred belief above the rights of humanity as guaranteed by pluralism, the symbol must be desecrated to restore pluralistic order. The right to believe is not the right to make others adhere to them, it’s that simple.

  387. #387 Sastra
    September 13, 2008

    Haven’t followed the whole thread, but I think one of the conflicts here is how ‘religion’ is being categorized.

    The religious (such as Eric) want it to be placed under “identity.” Being a Catholic (or Christian or Muslim or whatever) is who you are as a person. It defines you and your community. Thus, attacking or mocking a person’s religion is like attacking or mocking race, or sexual orientation, or some other deep-seated aspect of the personal self. You’re saying that being a certain way is WRONG. That’s bigotry.

    The non-religious (such as us) want ‘religion’ to be placed in the same category as politics, science, or social beliefs. They’re not an inviolable part of personal “identity.” They’re beliefs which could be right or wrong, true or false. And the people who hold them are assumed to stand on the same basic ground as their critics: they’re not children, and they’re not handicapped.

    Catholics (in this case) are therefore seen as individuals with WRONG factual beliefs — and mockery, ridicule, and insult is simply part of the clash which goes on in the marketplace of ideas. It’s not bigotry, because people can and do change their views and retain their basic identity as persons.

  388. #388 Anri
    September 13, 2008

    Hi, eric.

    I am confused on a small point here: Do you agree with the statement that nothing is sacred?
    (In this case, I am using sacred in its typical religious sense: worthy of respect without regard to reality.)

    If so, I’m unsure why you keep being critical of its use. Please explain.

    If not, please tell us what is sacred. Be as specific as possible. (Note, please, that the statement has nothing to do with things that someone holds as sacred – it is a statement about what is, in point of fact sacred. Answering with “What I hold sacred…” or ‘What some people hold sacred…” is not answering the question).

    Thanks.

  389. #389 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “Eric, do I have to hold something sacred because you do?”

    I never said nor suggested such a thing. What I said is that you treat the dictum “nothing is sacred” as if *it* were sacred. You’re also treating it as if it were beyond questioning (you said “Nothing is sacred. Deal with it.”). But PZ said “Question everything.” It follows that we *should* question whether “nothing is sacred,” and not “deal with it” as if it were beyond questioning.

    Of course you don’t have to believe that x is sacred because some group or person believes it to be sacred. Again, nothing I said could be interpreted in this way; that’s simply an obvious straw man. All I’ve said is that those who openly and deliberately spit upon what others hold to be sacrosanct are displaying behavior that *can* reasonably be construed as *evidence* of bigotry. Here’s a simple example: If I were to burn a copy of the 64′ Civil Rights Act, one could reasonably conclude that I’m a bigot, *even though* I may argue that I’m only doing so out of a respect for states’ rights, and that my act was not directed at any group of people. I’ll say it again: bigotry often hides behind the banner of honest criticism. I’ve never said that PZ is a bigot; what I’ve said is that it’s not unreasonable to interpret his actions in this way (especially when you in addition consider everything he’s had to say in the past, aside from this topic, about religious people; I’m sorry, but there’s a very strong case to be made here).

    “The simple fact is that desecrating the cracker is not protected any more under religious tolerance than a Hindu’s right to demand that we not eat steak. Quite simply Eric, in this pluralistic society your argument has no ground to stand on.”

    *sigh* I never said that PZ had no ‘right’ to do what he did, and I explicitly said that actions like his shouldn’t be ‘illegal’ or in any other way prohibited. All I have insisted upon is the right of others to call him out on such acts, and to label stupid remarks such as “it’s just a cracker” as — well, stupid. If you have a problem with this, then it’s you who are violating the precepts of a pluralistic society, not I. If you don’t have a problem with this, then you as well are wasting your time knocking down a straw man.

    “mockery, ridicule, and insult is simply part of the clash which goes on in the marketplace of ideas. It’s not bigotry, because people can and do change their views and retain their basic identity as persons.”

    I agree with the first sentence entirely, which is why I see no problem with calling some of PZ’s remarks stupid. They are. Again, I’ve called for a debate between D’souza and Myers, so I obviously have no problem with vigorous and open debate about ideas. (Interestingly, those here who talk so reverently about the clash of ideas have no interest in seeing Myers debate D’souza.) The second sentence, though, is obviously false. As I’ve said earlier, if I convert to Judaism tomorrow, I’ll have changed my beliefs, and would certainly be free to renounce Judaism at any time in the future, but it wouldn’t follow that I would therefore be immune from certain variants of antisemitism.

  390. #390 Nerd of Redhead
    September 13, 2008

    Eric, there is a bigot here, but he is you. You simply cannot seem to allow for anything but absolute bowing to your religion by everyone else. This is not going to happen. No bigotry was carried out by PZ. He does not have to bow down to you, your church, or anyone else. “Nothing is sacred” was the lesson that PZ was showing. When I say deal with it, you need to talk to your priest or therapist to come to grips with the fact that on occasion in a pluralistic society you will feel insulted every now an then. I feel insulted every time the catlick church invades politics, where it has business. But I don’t go to catholic blogs and rant and rave about it. Deal with it.

  391. #391 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “I am confused on a small point here: Do you agree with the statement that nothing is sacred?
    (In this case, I am using sacred in its typical religious sense: worthy of respect without regard to reality.)”

    Let me get this straight: you think that religious people mean “worthy of respect *without regard to reality*” when they use the term “sacred”?! Just to provide one counterexample — perhaps the most striking one — Mircea Eliade identified the sacred *with* reality!

  392. #392 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “Eric, there is a bigot here, but he is you. You simply cannot seem to allow for anything but absolute bowing to your religion by everyone else.”

    Kindly provide a single piece of evidence, from anything I wrote, that supports the notion that I “cannot seem to allow for anything but absolute bowing to [my] religion by everyone else.” One piece of evidence will do. Kindly provide it. In fact, you’ve no evidence that I’m religious. Everything I’ve said could’ve been said, without contradiction, and without religious motivation, by an atheist or an unbelieving agnostic.

    I do know one thing: you certainly don’t hold evidence and logic to be sacred!

  393. #393 Nerd of Redhead
    September 13, 2008

    All I’ve said is that those who openly and deliberately spit upon what others hold to be sacrosanct are displaying behavior that *can* reasonably be construed as *evidence* of bigotry.

    While couched in equivocations, that is what you were arguing. The word bigotry has no place in the argument. Bigotry is showing bias against things that people cannot change, like their skin color or sexual orientation. Therefore, using the term where it has no real application is not appropriate, which weakens your argument.
    You can argue that PZ could have found a better means to get his idea across, but you really haven’t done that. You need to put out some clear proposals on what he should have done.

  394. #394 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “While couched in equivocations, that is what you were arguing.”

    Let’s construct an argument out of this:

    Premise: Those who openly and deliberately spit upon what others hold to be sacrosanct are displaying behavior that *can* reasonably be construed as *evidence* of bigotry.

    Conclusion: Therefore, I simply cannot seem to allow for anything but absolute bowing to my religion by everyone else.

    Is there a more obvious non sequitur than this?

    “Bigotry is showing bias against things that people cannot change, like their skin color or sexual orientation.”

    Then it must be the case either that one who converts to Judaism cannot be subject to certain forms of antisemitism, or that antisemitism isn’t bigotry. Nonsense.

  395. #395 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 13, 2008

    Eric you are displaying some serious ignorance if you think that Antisemitism is only about the religion. It in no way is. Much of the antisemitic roots are in stereotypes of the races and cultures of historically typical jews.

    Even term Antisemitism has its roots as being pointed at those who speak semitic languages. Some scholars even argue that Arabs can’t be truly antisemitic because of their cultural ties. Frankly that’s a bit odd to me, but they have a point.

    True, a WASP who converts to Judaism could be subjected to bigotry but so can a person born Jewish only of Mideastern and Cultural heritage yet be an atheist and come from an atheist family.

    The antisemitism is directed at Jews but it’s not just about the Judaism as a religion.

    So This example is not the best to support your argument.

  396. #396 eric
    September 13, 2008

    “Eric you are displaying some serious ignorance if you think that Antisemitism is only about the religion.”

    Rev, I know this. That’s why I was always careful to qualify my remarks by saying I’d be subjected to “certain forms” of antisemitism if I convert to Judaism. Also, earlier I listed cultural, economic, religious and scientific factors (all bogus) that have been behind antisemitic ideologies.

    “True, a WASP who converts to Judaism could be subjected to bigotry but so can a person born Jewish only of Mideastern and Cultural heritage yet be an atheist and come from an atheist family.”

    If it’s true that a WASP who converts to Judaism *can* be subjected to bigotry, as you say, then it follows that bigotry doesn’t preclude characteristics or attitudes people choose. That’s my only point there, one which you admit you agree with. Of course a secular Jew could experience bigotry as well, but that’s irrelevant. I never claimed that bigotry is limited to examples which involve choice, only that it doesn’t preclude examples which involve choice.

  397. #397 eric
    September 13, 2008

    In the interest of ‘the clash of ideas in a pluralistic society,’ here’s a *much* better source for arguments against religion than Pharyngula (though, disappointingly, Law does enthusiastically endorse the incredibly silly “Courtier’s Reply”) .

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/

  398. #398 Sastra
    September 13, 2008

    eric #389 wrote:

    As I’ve said earlier, if I convert to Judaism tomorrow, I’ll have changed my beliefs, and would certainly be free to renounce Judaism at any time in the future, but it wouldn’t follow that I would therefore be immune from certain variants of antisemitism.

    When I try to think of examples of “bigotry which involves attacking matters of choice,” I come up with untrue blanket statements involving character. A bigot attacking a converted Jew could not use the race or “blood” card, but could make statements about how now this person will cheat people out of money, or can’t be trusted to keep their word. None of that is entailed by being Jewish, and is a slur on character.

    By the same token, a bigot could attack Republicans or Democrats on the same irrational basis: you shouldn’t hire one of “them” because they’re all losers, or all crooks, etc.

    But it’s not antisemitic “bigotry” to criticize the converted Jew for beliefs and direct actions: believing in superstitions, or dogmatically supporting Israel, or trying to get shellfish banned from the grocery store. Same for attacking Democrats or Republicans on the basis of their policies, or creationists for their pseudoscience. And I think PZ desecrating the cracker is similar to these examples.

    PZ wasn’t claiming that, as a group, Catholics have bad characters. In a sense, he wasn’t even ‘going after’ the Catholics. It could have been any group endorsing dogmatism and knee-jerk respect for ‘feelings.’ It could have been ‘patriots’ calling for the head of some student who burned an American flag, because ‘desecration’ is a crime. The protest is as much against the protest as against giving deference to symbols.

    PZ was going after “belief in belief” — the idea that faith beliefs (whatever they are) are special, and different, and deserve automatic protection from public criticism because they are “sacred.” That’s not bigotry. I think it the antidote to bigotry.

  399. #399 Owlmirror
    September 13, 2008

    No, what’s nonsense is your supposition that the presence of a threat is an essential element of bigotry; it isn’t.

    I disagree. If that were the case, the Catholics who did not threaten PZ would also be bigots; I don’t think that that is correct. They were delusional, but not bigoted.

    All of bigotry contains an implicit threat.

    I agree completely with his outrage at the foolishness that followed Cook’s initial taking of the consecrated host. My only point is that it’s also foolish to react to wave of outrage directed at him (Myers) by saying it’s just a cracker.

    And you are wrong.

    Look, the whole point is that the original outrage was pointless: Cook harmed no human being at all. Explicitly saying that the cracker is just a cracker emphasizes that.

    And he clearly *did* direct his actions against all Catholics, inter alia: remember his remark? Nothing is sacred.

    That wasn’t against all Catholics, that was against all superstitions, including all religions.

    Or are you in favor of superstitions?

    And he doesn’t believe that we should question ‘everything’; if he does, then perhaps he should look into self referential paradoxes and infinite regresses, both of which are entailed by his precept.

    Whoop-de-do, you’re a pedant. Do you have a substantive argument for not questioning cultural and personal beliefs?

    Actually, I’ve just met my daily ‘silly quota’ by wasting my time responding to your horrible arguments.

    My arguments are clear, lucid, and rational. It is your understanding that is horrible.

    Let me say it, yet again: the fact that cross burning at one time was used to intimidate and threaten violence is irrelevant, since threatening violence *isn’t* a necessary condition of bigotry. Let’s take another example: not too long ago, a number of nooses were found hanging from a tree (if I remember correctly) on some college campus. Now, no one in his right mind took those nooses to be an indication that someone was about to be hanged. Also, no one thought that those who put up the nooses would follow up with violence.

    Of all the dumb things you’ve written, this is probably the dumbest: The United States had lynchings within the living memory of many people, and there are still racially motivated attacks and active hate groups committing murder for racial reasons. And you have the unmitigated gall to assert that nooses hanging from a tree could not possibly be construed as a genuine death threat?

    Sheesh.

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

  400. #400 SC
    September 13, 2008

    Let’s take another example: not too long ago, a number of nooses were found hanging from a tree (if I remember correctly) on some college campus. Now, no one in his right mind took those nooses to be an indication that someone was about to be hanged. Also, no one thought that those who put up the nooses would follow up with violence.

    I don’t have time to read up through several comments to find the post with this idiotic comment, but if you’re going to use something as an example, you should have some semblance of the faintest of shadows of a clue what in the hell you’re talking about.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2007/7/10/the_case_of_the_jena_six

    (updates available online)

  401. #401 Anri
    September 13, 2008

    Hi, eric.

    Well, I did just a very brief overview of the name you noted as being an example of someone who equated the sacred with reality. From what I saw, he claimed that ‘traditional man’ (his term) did so. I didn’t see any indication that he did so, or thought that it was anything other than an anthropological trait of a given form of society. But I will state that I may be utterly mistaken on this point, as I am not familiar with his work by any means. Pity, he seems interesting.

    Unfortunately, that actually isn’t what I asked.

    I merely asked if you agreed with a given statement, and listed what I felt was a pretty good definition of what was likely to be the most troublesome term in the question. If you have an alternate definition of ‘sacred’ that you feel is typical of religious usage, please let us know.

    And then, if you would, please answer the question.
    Or at least let us know you aren’t going to, or don’t wish to, in which case I will be happy to move on to something else.

    Thanks.

  402. #402 CJO
    September 13, 2008

    “It [racism] has nothing to do with ideas; it is a belief about persons.”

    And beliefs about people aren’t ideas? (That’s a rhetorical question).

    What a smarmy, disingenous little bit of sophistry. Beliefs are ideas, yes, but, either out of stupidity or rank dishonesty, you conflate the referent of a belief with the thing itself. Some beliefs are about other beliefs, but racism, as I said, is not one of them. Argue the point without lying, or concede it.

  403. #403 Kel
    September 13, 2008

    *sigh* I never said that PZ had no ‘right’ to do what he did, and I explicitly said that actions like his shouldn’t be ‘illegal’ or in any other way prohibited. All I have insisted upon is the right of others to call him out on such acts, and to label stupid remarks such as “it’s just a cracker” as — well, stupid.

    No, you called him bigoted for doing so and said it was a personal attack on all Catholics. That’s what the steak analogy was to show. If you just called him stupid, then this conversation would go nowhere. But when you make asinine comments like this:

    And he clearly *did* direct his actions against all Catholics

    It shows that you are personalising the issue in order to ascertain the moral high-ground.

    If you just want to call PZ Myers stupid, that is very different from calling him a bigot and saying he personally attacked all Catholics. He clearly did no such thing. Are you going to acknowledge that your reaction was a personalisation of the issue, and that your language is extreme? Or are you just going to change your tone from post to post in order to call the response of others strawmen?

  404. #404 eric
    September 14, 2008

    (I apologize in advance for the long post, but I have a lot of posts to which to respond.)

    “PZ wasn’t claiming that, as a group, Catholics have bad characters.”

    I’m not so sure about this. I don’t know how familiar you are with epistemology, but many philosophers will argue that those who believe something to be the case without sufficient evidence are guilty not only of violating an epistemic obligation, but of violating a fundamental moral obligation as well. Now, I’m not sure if PZ agrees with this, but it’s certainly possible (even probable) that he does, given much of the condemnation he regularly heaps upon the very notion of faith in se.

    “I don’t have time to read up through several comments to find the post with this idiotic comment, but if you’re going to use something as an example, you should have some semblance of the faintest of shadows of a clue what in the hell you’re talking about.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2007/7/10/the_case_of_the_jena_six

    Actually, this is the story I was referring to:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=3580350&page=1

    Note, I did say it was a university campus, and I was speaking from memory. However, I obviously confused the fact that it was only one noose at Maryland, and a number at the high school. The number, however, is irrelevant. The point is that nobody expected to find people hanging from trees soon after, *yet the absence of such a threat in no way suggests that the noose hanging couldn’t be construed as evidence of bigotry*. In other words, however hateful and cringe-worthy the hanging of the noose was, it wasn’t a threat that some were about to be hanged. Yet, even though it wasn’t a threat, it could nonetheless be perceived as evidence of bigotry. Talk about distorting a point to take the moral high ground!

    “All of bigotry contains an implicit threat.”

    If you think it does, you’re playing the part of Humpty-Dumpty and redefining words as you choose.

    “That wasn’t against all Catholics, that was against all superstitions, including all religions.”

    Ouch! How could you have missed this one?! If it was against all religions and all superstitions, as you concede; and if religions and superstitions cannot exist but in the minds of people; and if Catholicism is a religion; then it follows that it was against all Catholics! Which premise will you deny? Do you deny that it was against all religions? I hope not: it’s precisely what you said above. Do you deny that religion only exists in the minds of people? I hope not, unless you have a ready defense of some variant of Platonism. Do you deny that Catholicism is a religion? This one shouldn’t be too difficult to sort out. Obviously, you cannot deny any of these premises; hence, my conclusion follows.

    “Do you have a substantive argument for not questioning cultural and personal beliefs?”

    I’ve said repeatedly that such beliefs should be questioned. Remember, my first post involved calling for a debate between Myers and D’souza. This is another straw man.

    “The United States had lynchings within the living memory of many people, and there are still racially motivated attacks and active hate groups committing murder for racial reasons. And you have the unmitigated gall to assert that nooses hanging from a tree could not possibly be construed as a genuine death threat?”

    No, I referred to a specific instance, which occurred at the University of Maryland, and my only point was that after finding the noose, no one expected presently to find a body hanging from a tree. Again, my only point was that although no one took this noose as a threat that someone would be hanged, it in no way follows that the hanging of the noose couldn’t be construed as evidence of bigotry.

    “I merely asked if you agreed with a given statement, and listed what I felt was a pretty good definition of what was likely to be the most troublesome term in the question. If you have an alternate definition of ‘sacred’ that you feel is typical of religious usage, please let us know.
    And then, if you would, please answer the question.”

    No, I didn’t agree with your statement, since the definition was — well, a bit tendentious. I would take the broad view of the term ‘sacred,’ which generally involves some notion of a normative inviolability (i.e. that some ‘things’ — construed broadly — *should not* be violated or interfered with). In that sense, yes, I do indeed believe that it is false that “nothing is sacred.” E.g. if I had a child, I would indeed hold his or her right against torture and murder as sacred, and my duty to protect him or her from them as sacred. I believe that truth, wherever and however it is discovered, is sacred (in this sense, therefore, I’m completely at odds with the notion, which you suggested, that the sacred is “without regard to reality”). Note, I’m not saying that these examples cannot *in fact* be violated; rather, I’m saying that they’re sacred in the sense that anyone who does violate them cannot escape the charge that he or she has acted immorally.

    “Beliefs are ideas, yes, but, either out of stupidity or rank dishonesty, you conflate the referent of a belief with the thing itself. *Some beliefs are about other beliefs, but racism, as I said, is not one of them*.”

    Racism isn’t about other beliefs? Can you point out a “racism” out to me? Racism is defined by other beliefs (though not necessarily by some “essence”; rather, by a Wittgensteinian set of “family resemblances”). Racism has no direct referent. What are you, some warped neo-Meinongian, with a ridiculously inclusive ontology?

    “No, you called him bigoted for doing so and said it was a personal attack on all Catholics.”

    Yet again, I never called PZ a bigot. Please show me where I did. What I said was that it’s not unreasonable to interpret his act as evidence of bigotry. Please note the key word here: evidence. I can have evidence for the truth of x, even if it later turns out that x is false. If I go to my brother’s house in the evening (he lives alone) and see his car in the driveway, the lights in the house on, and, through the window in the parlor, observe a figure sitting in his chair watching television (his favorite program), I have plenty of evidence to support the conclusion, “My brother is home watching television right now.” However, one can imagine sundry possible counterexamples in which all these facts obtain, *yet my brother is still not home* (e.g., perhaps I’m unaware of the fact that his car needs work, and that he’s borrowed a friend’s car, and it’s his friend who is sitting in the parlor watching television). Again, this is as far as I’ve gone: it’s not unreasonable to construe PZ’s
    act as evidence of bigotry; yet, for some reason, you all display this extreme, almost motherly defensiveness whenever someone suggests that Myers might be wrong about something. It’s almost as if you’ve invested so much in the notion that everything this man says is correct, that the very possibility that he might be wrong has the potential to upset your entire worldview. That’s just a bit of unsubstantiated, relatively worthless speculation, but it does seem to at least cohere with the facts.

  405. #405 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    If it was against all religions and all superstitions, as you concede; and if religions and superstitions cannot exist but in the minds of people; and if Catholicism is a religion; then it follows that it was against all Catholics!

    I will admit up front that I haven’t followed this thread in the least, but after seeing this argument and then looking up the reference in question, this simply stands as arguing in bad faith.

    Sastra’s original comment was meant to convey the fact that this was not an act that was meant to challenge catholics alone. It wasn’t meant to be pointed at Catholics at the exclusion of every other religion. And that is how it can be honestly said that it wasn’t meant for all Catholics, as that that implies the of the exclusion of all others. The context is clear. The argument against looks to be attempting to simply score semantic points at the expense of the discussion at hand.

    Arguments such as these will not incline me to look favorably in the future on the arguer that makes them.

  406. #406 eric
    September 14, 2008

    “Sastra’s original comment was meant to convey the fact that this was not an act that was meant to challenge catholics alone.”

    Michael, I believe you’ve misinterpreted Sastra’s remark. Note, (s)he didn’t move from “Catholics” to “superstitious people,” but from “Catholics” to “superstition and religion.” In other words, he tried to claim that it was directed against some abstracta labeled “superstition” and “religion,” and not against religious people.

  407. #407 eric
    September 14, 2008

    Michael, actually, it wasn’t a response to Sastra, but to Owlmirror at #399. Perhaps that will clear up the confusion.

  408. #408 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    I suppose I will leave Sastra to clear up her own intention. Though the argument reads clearly to me. The act of “desecrating” a cracker held in irrational high regard by a certain group people was not a focused attack any Catholic but the belief held.

    It seems you are unwilling to separate a person from their beliefs while in the midst of a specific argument. While an argument could be made that if I criticize the 49ers for being a crappy football team, I am also criticizing those people who believe that the 49ers are great, that would be a conclusion not within the spirit of my argument. My focus would be on the team specifically, reserving judgement of the fans, which would be another more complex argument. In other words, the argument that I am criticizing the fans would be “in bad faith”.

    Sastra’s comment seems to only clarify that this irrationality and PZ’s response to it, is not something that is restricted to that certain group, regardless of the fact that the response was couched in terms of their own previous irrational acts.

  409. #409 Kel
    September 14, 2008

    Saying his act is evidence of bigotry is inferring he’s a bigot. Surely you can see that. By the way you still haven’t addressed the main point that I was getting at: that you were personalising the issue in order to obtain the moral high-ground. Can you please acknowledge Eric that PZ Myers did not direct his actions against all Catholics like you stated here:

    And he clearly *did* direct his actions against all Catholics

    That is an incredibly damning statement to make. To put it in other analogies: to criticise Israel is to attack all Jewish people, to burn a flag is to attack everyone who believes in the flag. It’s plain wrong, and it’s personalisation in order to gain moral high-ground.

  410. #410 Steve_C
    September 14, 2008

    Ah hell. Is eric still going on and on???

    Eric. There are no gods. I laugh at the idea. I mock it. It’s stupid and juvenile.

    All PZ was doing was mocking the idea that a cracker is important. The cracker is of no consequence.

    I eat cheeseburgers. Does that mean I’m an anti-semite? hate hindus? vegans?

    Just stop and TRY to wrap you brain around it.

  411. #411 Owlmirror
    September 14, 2008

    However, I obviously confused the fact that it was only one noose at Maryland, and a number at the high school. The number, however, is irrelevant. The point is that nobody expected to find people hanging from trees soon after, *yet the absence of such a threat in no way suggests that the noose hanging couldn’t be construed as evidence of bigotry*. In other words, however hateful and cringe-worthy the hanging of the noose was, it wasn’t a threat that some were about to be hanged. Yet, even though it wasn’t a threat, it could nonetheless be perceived as evidence of bigotry.

    How do you know that it was not a threat? You assume your conclusion and completely ignore the history of racial violence in the United States which I already pointed out to you and you utterly ignored.

    If it was against all religions and all superstitions, as you concede; and if religions and superstitions cannot exist but in the minds of people; and if Catholicism is a religion; then it follows that it was against all Catholics!

    Nice misrepresentation.

    You: He attacked all of people X.
    Me : No, he attacked ideas Y and Z.
    You: But all of people X hold idea Y, so he attacked all of people X!

    Ideas are not people. You fail at logic.

  412. #412 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    You are correct, Eric@407. I did confuse them. Though the argument made by Sastra @398 is basically the same as Owlmirror’s@399. PZ’s response was directed at a belief. One held by people, naturally, but not directed personally at the people themselves. So my response wouldn’t actually change.

  413. #413 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    Also, before head hits pillow, I’d like to reiterate, that the fact that this was about ideas should never have been in question. To do so is to mistake the personal for the abstract, regardless of whomever holds such abstract ideas as true.

    The original point I saw as needing clarification was that, while a catholic ideal was being skewered, that was simply happenstance due to the situation that sparked it. The main point being that no ideas are above being ridiculed, criticized, mocked, or challenged. I make that lengthy clarification because I see there has been a semantic dance up thread over the meaning of “sacred” which serves only to obscure the point. Simply because a large number of people think, without evidence, that a simple cracker becomes their savior, this does not dictate any special treatment of either the idea itself or the object of the idea. As any steak eaten in India shows.

  414. #414 eric
    September 14, 2008

    “It seems you are unwilling to separate a person from their beliefs while in the midst of a specific argument.”

    It depends on the argument. I doubt you’d be willing ‘to separate a person from their beliefs’ if the beliefs were antisemitic or racist. But yes, you can indeed frequently distinguish ‘the person’ from ‘the belief’; however, when you criticize the belief in a particularly demeaning and intentionally offensive way, it’s hard to argue that you’re going to such lengths to criticize the belief and not the people who hold such beliefs. If PZ had performed a conceptual and logical analysis of transubstantiation, that would be one thing; in such a case, it would be more reasonable to believe that he’s focusing on a belief, and not on the people who hold it. However, when instead he performs an act that he *knows* will deeply offend many people, make them not more *but less* open to the arguments behind his boorish behavior, and presents little to nothing by way of substance (I’d certainly argue that jejune, trite assertions such as “nothing is sacred” and “question everything” add little to the public conversation; perhaps this is why he resorted to cheap sensationalism: if you have nothing interesting to say, you can often get attention by doing something you know to be offensive), it’s a bit more difficult to support the notion that ‘it’s just a criticism of certain beliefs; it says nothing whatsoever about the people who hold them.’

    “While an argument could be made that if I criticize the 49ers for being a crappy football team, I am also criticizing those people who believe that the 49ers are great, that would be a conclusion not within the spirit of my argument.”

    This is an extremely poor analogy, since there’s nothing remotely equivalent in the area of football to the sacrament of the Eucharist in Catholicism (in terms both of its centrality to Catholicism, and of the devotion, committment, sanctity etc. that characterizes Catholic dispositions towards it). Even a flag burning analogy doesn’t come close (though it’s certainly closer) to Eucharist desecration in this sense.

    “Saying his act is evidence of bigotry is inferring he’s a bigot.”

    No it’s not. I never said that the evidence is dispositive, and, more importantly, *I never made the inference*. If I say x is evidence that p, or that x can reasonably be construed as evidence that p, I need not go on to infer that p from x. First, evidence is never indefeasible (remember underdetermination?). Second, and more importantly, the evidence may not be sufficient. I can consistently say both 1. that x is evidence that p, but 2. x is not sufficient evidence to establish that p. This is pretty basic stuff, isn’t it?

    “To put it in other analogies: to criticise Israel is to attack all Jewish people, to burn a flag is to attack everyone who believes in the flag.”

    These are incredibly poor analogies, and they evince a serious lack of understanding with respect to the importance of the Eucharist to Catholics.

    “Eric. There are no gods. I laugh at the idea. I mock it. It’s stupid and juvenile.”

    Steve, more power to you, brother. Mock away, and laugh it up, if that makes you happy. Just be prepared, now and then, to defend your position with actual arguments — that is, if you want to come across as at least somewhat intelligent.

    “All PZ was doing was mocking the idea that a cracker is important. The cracker is of no consequence.”

    The cracker is not; the Eucharist is. I doubt that you’re a realist when it comes to value (actually, I doubt you know what this means, or why an antirealist position with respect to value completely demolishes your case; interestingly, you’ve foolishly placed yourself in the position of having either to affirm value realism, or to repudiate your own argument!). Also — yet again — you fail to distinguish between the signifier and the signified. Let me quote you with respect to this failure on your part: “Just stop and TRY to wrap you brain around it.”

    (Incidentally, I know that the Eucharist is more than a symbol to Catholics; however, I refer to it as a symbol since this is the LCD between Catholics and atheists when it comes to discussing it.)

  415. #415 Kel
    September 14, 2008

    These are incredibly poor analogies, and they evince a serious lack of understanding with respect to the importance of the Eucharist to Catholics.

    And you think that Israel is not of the most importance to Jewish people, that the flag is not of the most importance to some of the citizens of a country? That the cow is not of an equivalence of sacredness to Hindus?

    You still aren’t retracting that it’s an attack on all Catholics. There’s nothing in there to suggest he is, again you are trying to keep the moral high-ground by simply by maintaining that it’s important to you therefore it’s an attack on you. Why can’t you just say “I was wrong”? It destroys anything else you say, because instead of getting to the real issue of whether it was right or wrong, you are still justifying it as a personal attack; an act of bigotry.

  416. #416 SC
    September 14, 2008

    The number, however, is irrelevant. The point is that nobody expected to find people hanging from trees soon after, *yet the absence of such a threat in no way suggests that the noose hanging couldn’t be construed as evidence of bigotry*. In other words, however hateful and cringe-worthy the hanging of the noose was, it wasn’t a threat that some were about to be hanged. Yet, even though it wasn’t a threat, it could nonetheless be perceived as evidence of bigotry.

    The case at Maryland was pretty clearly a copycat of the Jena (Louisiana) incident. Your claim that there was no threat or rationally-perceived threat in either case is totally unfounded. In Maryland, it was treated as threatening. (For you to try to speak for everyone, including the black students, on that campus, arguing that no one saw it as an imminent threat, is totally outrageous.) Did you read the transcript from the DN!? Here are a couple of quotations:

    ROBERT BAILEY: It was in the early morning. I seen them hanging. I’m thinking the KKK, you know, were hanging nooses. They want to hang somebody. Real nooses, the ones you see on TV are the kind of nooses they were, the ones they play in the movies and they were hanging all the people, you know, and the thing dropped, those were the kind of nooses they were. I know it was somebody white that hung the nooses in the tree. You know, I don’t know another way to put it, but, you know, I was disappointed, because, you know, we do little pranks–you know, toilet paper, that’s a prank, you know what I’m saying? Paper all over the square, all the pranks they used to do, that’s pranks. Nooses hanging there–nooses ain’t no prank.

    CASEPTLA BAILEY: It meant hatred, to the other race. It meant that “We’re going to kill you, you’re going to die.” You know, it sent a message: “This is not the place for you to sit. This is not your damn tree. Do not sit here. You know, you ought to remain in your place, know your place and stay in your place. You’re out of your boundaries.”

    But “no one in his right mind” in Maryland would make similar associations. Right. And your assertion that your “only point was that after finding the noose, no one expected presently to find a body hanging from a tree” in Maryland is problematic. Even if this were true (how the hell would you know? have you conducted interviews?), you would be most unreasonable and/or ignorant in the US context not to recognize a noose as an implicit threat of racial violence.

    Racism isn’t about other beliefs? Can you point out a “racism” out to me? Racism is defined by other beliefs (though not necessarily by some “essence”; rather, by a Wittgensteinian set of “family resemblances”).

    Talk about changing up between sentences. Racism is not defined by other beliefs. Racism is a belief – the belief that one racial category is innately superior or inferior to another. It is a belief about people in a given racial category. It is entirely possible to have a group or society in which everyone is racist, without any opposing ideas of equality, just as there are cultures which are sexist and lack any alternative ideas about gender equality. Indeed, both of these have probably been the historical norm. As many people have pointed out to you, racism is a belief about people, not a belief about ideas.

    Are you suggesting that to challenge racist beliefs is a form of bigotry against groups or religions that hold racist beliefs?

    In that sense, yes, I do indeed believe that it is false that “nothing is sacred.” E.g. if I had a child, I would indeed hold his or her right against torture and murder as sacred, and my duty to protect him or her from them as sacred.

    Nice try. So, following your reasoning, if someone tortured or murdered your child, that person would be attacking your beliefs about her rights and your duties, not the child herself. I don’t think you even believe your own arguments. What you’re saying is that you hold your child, the person, to be sacred. (Incidentally, the philosopher Giorgio Agamben, in Homo Sacer, tries to make a case that the idea that human beings are sacred is extremely dangerous.) The idea that children should not be tortured or murdered (or, for that matter, executed if they have committed a crime) is not sacred and can be challenged, and defended, in defining our public morality. The idea that some children in some circumstances should be tortured or murdered, often forming part of religious beliefs, is an idea that has been successfully challenged in many societies, and we should be thankful to those who argued that this idea wasn’t sacred.

  417. #417 SC
    September 14, 2008

    It depends on the argument. I doubt you’d be willing ‘to separate a person from their beliefs’ if the beliefs were antisemitic or racist.

    Explain what you mean by this.

    But yes, you can indeed frequently distinguish ‘the person’ from ‘the belief’; however, when you criticize the belief in a particularly demeaning and intentionally offensive way, it’s hard to argue that you’re going to such lengths to criticize the belief and not the people who hold such beliefs.

    This just shows how little you’ve read on this blog. You seem, like others, to have happened in here in the wake of the Great Desecration, with little prior knowledge and little understanding of the range of beliefs that are regularly questioned, debated, torn apart, and ridiculed here.

    If PZ had performed a conceptual and logical analysis of transubstantiation, that would be one thing;

    Of what would this consist? Please perform a conceptual and logical analysis of the Easter Bunny. You also fail to grasp that this was not just about the alleged reality of transubstantiation but about the requirement that everyone act reverentially toward others’ religious beliefs.

    in such a case, it would be more reasonable to believe that he’s focusing on a belief, and not on the people who hold it.

    However, when instead he performs an act that he *knows* will deeply offend many people, make them not more *but less* open to the arguments behind his boorish behavior, and presents little to nothing by way of substance

    If you’re going to continue to refuse to recognize the context of the act, the nature of the act, and the actual statements made by Dr. Myers, then you’re not arguing in good faith and not worth engaging with.

    (I’d certainly argue that jejune, trite assertions such as “nothing is sacred” and “question everything” add little to the public conversation;

    Assertions so trite and jejune that you still fail to grasp their import. The assertion that religious beliefs, like any beliefs, are not sacred and need not be treated with reverence in the public sphere is of great importance to the contemporary public conversation.

    for some reason, you all display this extreme, almost motherly defensiveness whenever someone suggests that Myers might be wrong about something. It’s almost as if you’ve invested so much in the notion that everything this man says is correct, that the very possibility that he might be wrong has the potential to upset your entire worldview. That’s just a bit of unsubstantiated, relatively worthless speculation, but it does seem to at least cohere with the facts.

    Change “correct” to “incorrect” and “wrong” to “right” and the projection becomes evident. You haven’t demolished any arguments. You’ve simply shown yourself to be an intellectually-dishonest person with an unswerving commitment to an agenda. Everything you’ve presented has been said and argued about many times over during the past few months. If you’re not willing to educate yourself on what has been written here about the matter, then your speculation is entirely worthless.

  418. #418 SC
    September 14, 2008

    make them not more *but less* open to the arguments behind his boorish behavior

    I’ve addressed this before (more than once, in fact), but I feel compelled to do so again. There are many audiences for any such action. In this case, they include not only believers in transubstantiation but Catholics who are unsure about it, people who were raised Catholic but question their faith or are unhappy with the Church’s position on and actions with regard to many private or public issues, Catholic believers who don’t think nonbelievers should be required to show reverence for any religion’s beliefs, followers of other religions, agnostics, and atheists (and many that I’m forgetting, I’m sure).

    People from all of these groups have appeared here over the past few months and expressed varying views on the matter. Several Catholics and ex-Catholics have been supportive, and have said that this has pushed them even further in questioning their beliefs. Both they and nonbelievers have said that this has led them to be bolder in not accepting dictates to show deference toward religious beliefs. (In one case that I’ve mentioned before, the person said that in the future when someone said he would pray for him, he would be less likely to meekly thank the person and more likely to reply – I’m paraphrasing – “I don’t believe in a god, but I appreciate the sentiment.” That’s small but significant.) The incident has also shown some religious people for the authoritarians they are. The claim that it is rude or offensive to challenge beliefs publicly, to demand evidence for them, and to refuse to act deferentially toward them is a means of social control, make no mistake about it. It is anathema to a genuine participatory politics, and serves only to maintain existing structures of authority. Any shift away from public deference toward religious institutions or beliefs is a positive thing, as far as I’m concerned.

    It’s still too early to assess the long-term effects of the Great Desecration, but in doing so we need to keep this broader context in mind. You keep making claims, eric, about the effects of this action, but you have nothing to back them up – far less than I have, in fact, because you haven’t even bothered to educate yourself on the discussion that’s been ongoing here and elsewhere for weeks now.

  419. #419 SC
    September 14, 2008

    Perhaps eric the philosophist will be so kind as to offer a response to Allen Wood:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/fyi.php#comment-981847

    (I’ve been asking since Damian posted Wood’s chapter more than two months ago, and don’t think one has yet appeared. Thanks in advance, eric.)

  420. #420 Anri
    September 14, 2008

    Hi, eric.

    Well, this has fallen off of the front page, and so it’s good to see we’re still here, still talking. Shows we’re paying attention…

    Earlier, you had said (in part):

    “I would take the broad view of the term ‘sacred,’ which generally involves some notion of a normative inviolability (i.e. that some ‘things’ — construed broadly — *should not* be violated or interfered with). In that sense, yes, I do indeed believe that it is false that “nothing is sacred.” ” … “I believe that truth, wherever and however it is discovered, is sacred (in this sense, therefore, I’m completely at odds with the notion, which you suggested, that the sacred is “without regard to reality”). Note, I’m not saying that these examples cannot *in fact* be violated; rather, I’m saying that they’re sacred in the sense that anyone who does violate them cannot escape the charge that he or she has acted immorally.”

    Ok then, that strikes me as a slightly odd way to define sacred, to utterly divorce it from religious thought, but that’s fine, we can run with it.

    Would you then say that if (as you say), truth is sacred, and therefore inescapably immoral to violate, that anyone making a statement that is demonstrably a lie (a known falsehood) is inescapably immoral in that act?

    And, having asked that, is the Eucharist actually flesh?
    And, do people say that it is?
    And, if so, what do you call someone who is critical of an immoral act?

    I think one thing we may be getting caught up on here is your assertion that this act is evidence of bigotry on Myers’ part. Two quick things:

    First off, you might want to take the rather quick defense of Professor Myers by many here to be more a measure of their dislike of bigotry than a cult of personality involving Myers. I might, of course, be wrong.

    Secondly, I suspect that most folks here have been reading this blog for quite a while now, and have a pretty decent grasp on all of the *other* evidence with regards to Professor Myers being a bigot or not. In other words, if you want to consider this one act as evidence that our host (no pun intended) is a bigot, fine. Please consider the rest of the evidence before reaching a conclusion.

  421. #421 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    If PZ had performed a conceptual and logical analysis of transubstantiation, that would be one thing; in such a case

    If the incident PZ was responding to had to do with a student getting in trouble for performing a conceptual analysis then that response would have been apt. That however was not the case. Context dictated response.

    This is an extremely poor analogy, since there’s nothing remotely equivalent in the area of football to the sacrament of the Eucharist in Catholicism

    That’s because the analogy wasn’t meant to highlight the similarities between football and crackers, but the differences between ideas and and those who hold them. The analogy holds.

  422. #422 John Knight
    September 14, 2008

    From D’Souza:

    The National Catholic Register caught up with Myers recently and asked him the source of his hostility toward religion. “Religion has been selling everybody a bill of goods for so many years. It’s about time somebody spoke up and said it’s a load of nonsense.”

    Yeah. PZ thinks that religion is “a load of nonsense.” I get that.

    But I don’t think it makes much sense to lump Tibetan Buddhism, African animism, Aztec sun worship, Hinduism, Greco-Roman polytheism, Reform Judaism, Celtic Druidism, the cult of Kali, Lakota shamanism, and Christianity (whether Catholic, Reformed, or Orthodox) together as if they were all one big happy family. At least some of the differences are meaningful.

    Moreover, in the time I have been browsing this site, PZ has yet to post one reason for me to think that my religious position, Christian theism, is “nonsense.” Nor has he given me any reason to think that he offers a world-view which is superior to Christianity.

    In fact, when he says that Christianity deserves no credit for the achievements of Western Civilization, I have to wonder if he isn’t the one selling a load of nonsense. Can any serious person compare Christianity to smallpox?

  423. #423 Michael X
    September 14, 2008

    John, please refer yourself to http://www.infidels.org. I am under the impression that the reason you don’t see arguments for a naturalistic worldview is because you been ignoring them. This is a site that will have a great many answers to your questions.

    Also, as per your last remark, about Christianity deserving credit, please refer to my answer at 106. Also AC Grayling has this to say on the topic:

    let us not forget that for a person to acknowledge that he or she was non-religious at any point before the 19th century in Europe or the Americas was at least to invite social exclusion, at worst to invite death. So everyone “was religious”. The education, such as it was, for most people was religious education; children learned to read by reciting by rote from the Bible as the children in Pakistan’s madrassas today learn the Koran’s suras by rote. Even we atheists say things like “for god’s sake!” and “oh hell!”. So when any historically derived idea not actually part of the dogma or scriptures of some religion is described as a “religious” idea it might as informatively be described as a “human idea” or “a social idea” … You see the technique: how easy it is to ascribe everything to a source in religion, because religion was historically the social element as water is the element in which fish live. Attributing anything other than specific doctrine to “religion” is therefore vacuous.

  424. #424 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 14, 2008

    But I don’t think it makes much sense to lump Tibetan Buddhism, African animism, Aztec sun worship, Hinduism, Greco-Roman polytheism, Reform Judaism, Celtic Druidism, the cult of Kali, Lakota shamanism, and Christianity (whether Catholic, Reformed, or Orthodox) together as if they were all one big happy family.

    Why? They all depend on you suspending rational thought to rely on faith. That’s the point.

  425. #425 Kel
    September 14, 2008

    Well of course they all are a load of nonsense, they all appeal to the supernatural at the first sign of ignorance (and sometimes in spite of knowledge). Religions are memes that rely on an invocation of the supernatural in order to propagate. Now while some of these religions may have nice snippets of philosophy or be a carrier of social order, it doesn’t make the supernatural belief any less silly.

    As David Hume said: “Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”

  426. #426 Owlmirror
    September 14, 2008

    In fact, when he says that Christianity deserves no credit for the achievements of Western Civilization, I have to wonder if he isn’t the one selling a load of nonsense.

    Well, why would Christianity deserve any credit at all for any of the achievements of Western Civ?

    Christianity has been called a death cult, and I am not so sure that this is wrong. Christianity is concerned with the individual preparing for his or her own death, and with the death of the world itself. There is nothing in Christianity that I know of that speaks approvingly of knowledge, or learning, or curiosity, or of improving the world for future generations.

    Instead, much of the bible is devoted to submissiveness and passivity, of doing nothing in the face of that which is not understood. The Lord’s Prayer says “Thy will by done” to God, not “Allow us to learn more of thy creation, for our sake, and for our children, and for our children’s children”.

    Martin Luther spoke with scornful rage against reason; in this, he was echoing 1st Corinthians, which asserts that God deliberately chose to perform an act of salvation which would implicitly lead to the damnation of most of the Jews and Gentiles, for whom the act made no sense whatsoever.

    This is not a God who encourages learning and wisdom. This is a God who is insane.

    The principle course of action that Christianity took upon the philosophical works of the Hellenic world was either control or destruction — and mostly the latter. Again, Christianity was against learning and wisdom, not in favor of it

    All of the advances in Western civilization can be seen as deliberate or implicit disobedience of the basic Christian principles: hospitals, doctors, and medicine are rejections of faith-based prayers for healing; advanced architecture is a rejection of the biblical commands for humility; capitalism is a rejection of the biblical commands against greed, pride, and usury.

    And of course, science is a rejection of the idea that the “wisdom of the world” is “foolishness”.

    Can any serious person compare Christianity to smallpox?

    Given all of the above, yes, I really think so.

  427. #427 Sastra
    September 14, 2008

    Eric #404 wrote:

    “PZ wasn’t claiming that, as a group, Catholics have bad characters.”(Sastra)
    (Eric):I’m not so sure about this. I don’t know how familiar you are with epistemology, but many philosophers will argue that those who believe something to be the case without sufficient evidence are guilty not only of violating an epistemic obligation, but of violating a fundamental moral obligation as well.

    But the argument and criticism is still to point: saying that Catholics who believe in Catholic superstitions are guilty of epistemic dishonesty is not the same as saying that Catholics are dishonest and untrustworthy in general, as a matter of character.

    It would be analogous to claiming that Republicans in favor of the war are cruel and heartless — in that respect. Such criticism in politics is not ‘bigotry’ (even if you think the charge unfair and too broad.) Bigotry against Republicans would require bringing it down to the personal level: they are simply unfit as human beings, and therefore nobody should hire or rent to them. In some cases, the bigotry label may apply even in politics, if it’s extreme enough to be blanket character assassination.

    Mocking the superstitious is not blanket character assassination. The superstitious are more than their superstitions.

    Atheists classify religion under opinion and viewpoint, similar to political views. They refuse to see a person’s religion as an inviolable part of their “identity.” Which, in a sense, means that we’re taking the actual religion more seriously than many religionists, who are blurring the supernatural beliefs which specifically distinguish religion from non-religion with morals, ethics, culture, art, and their own personal lives. If they refuse to distinguish what they believe from who they are as human beings — then they should knock it off. That sort of refusal to differentiate one’s factual beliefs about the world from one’s self would mean that all dissent on facts is squashed.

    So I still think my original point stands: “bigotry” either involves matters which are not choices but basic to identity (such as race), or blanket condemnations of the entire personal character of all people in a group.

    I suspect PZ would readily agree that many Catholics are intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate people; excellent friends, colleagues, and neighbors — even if they violate Clifford’s dictums on epistemic integrity when it comes to their religious beliefs. His act of desecration was not bigotry, even though it offended Catholics. It was a protest against what he felt was an aggressive demand that a particular factual (and mistaken) belief be enshrined as beyond criticism in general public life.

    Again, in context, it was like burning a flag to protest demands that those who burn flags be charged with blasphemy and treason. People who say they’d “die for the flag” are of course outraged: but only by burning flags and demonstrating that there is no effect on the country can their outrage be tempered and desensitized in the larger culture.

  428. #428 SC
    September 14, 2008

    Did eric ever respond to the point made by Owlmirror at the end of #411, calling him on a ridiculous twisting of logic? I don’t think so.

    I missed this earlier:

    I don’t know how familiar you are with epistemology, but many philosophers will argue that those who believe something to be the case without sufficient evidence are guilty not only of violating an epistemic obligation, but of violating a fundamental moral obligation as well.

    Sastra’s already dealt quite nicely with the larger argument of which this statement formed a part, but seems to have avoided its broader implications. Now I really would like to hear eric’s response to Allen Wood.

  429. #429 SC
    September 14, 2008

    Eek!: “but seems to have avoided its broader implications” should have read “but eric seems to have avoided its broader implications.” Sorry, Sastra!

  430. #430 frog
    September 15, 2008

    The oh-so Rev BDC: Why? They all depend on you suspending rational thought to rely on faith. That’s the point.

    Because they’re still different. Which faculties are suspended and why are different. Going to the movies (and enjoying it) require a temporary suspension of rationality, for The Great Chimp’s sake!

    Don’t oversimplify. Christianity sucks for different reasons than Hinduism, which sucks for different reasons than Buddhism. The suckiness may be similar in some respects, but they’re not the same. Sometimes they even have redeeming features — like blowing off some steam on a Saturday afternoon to go pretend that the two-dimensional image projected on a wall is actually real.

  431. #431 John Knight
    September 15, 2008

    Michael X (per #423):

    I’ve spent some time at Infidels.Org. What exactly do you recommend?

    I don’t find the arguments of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, & Christopher Hitchens, & Victor Stengler have offered a lot of noise, but not one argument that raises a substantial doubt regarding Christian theism. Indeed, they seem to have a thumbless grasp of epistemology.

    I don’t think it’s fair to say that I’ve been ignoring atheist arguments. I’ve even read Atheism: The Case Against God by George Smith. Although he is much more sophisticated than Dawkins, Harris, et alia, his arguments still come of lacking.

    As for your comment on Christianity & Western civilization, I find that approach to be too atomistic to be useful. The unconscious impact of cultural assumptions need to be evaluated more broadly, more “sociologically,” if you will.

    Owlmirror (per #426):

    I get the vague impression that you’re a follower of Ayn Rand.

    I have to tell you that I disagreed with pretty much everything you wrote. For now, let me observe that there are numerous verses that praise wisdom, knowledge, & understanding. That praise is, in fact, the theme of Proverbs. And Paul writes that in Christ are found “all the treasures of knowledge. These examplesa re easily multiplied.

    The impact of this valuation of can be found in medieval monasteries as centers of learning, the unique birth of modern science in the Christian West, and schools like Harvard, Yale & Princeton – all founded by Christians – among many other examples.

    To characterize this natural outworking of the Christian faith as “disobedience” requires a systematic misinterpretation of Christian theology. This kind of misinterpretation is all too common in atheist writing, and bears an odd resemblance to the ahistorical teachings of some fundamentalists & Pentecostals.

    Finally, yes, Paul describes “the wisdom of this world” – that is, the paradigms of the non-Christian world – as foolishness. Paul was addressing the incommensurablity of paradigms that Thomas Kuhn would observe 19 centuries later. As Ludwig Wittgenstein put it, “When to principles meet that really cannot be reconciled, each man calls the other a fool and a heretic.” The principles of atheism & polytheism cannot be reconciled with world-view of Christian theism, and Paul knew it.

  432. #432 Sastra
    September 15, 2008

    John Knight #431 wrote:

    I don’t find the arguments of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, & Christopher Hitchens, & Victor Stengler have offered a lot of noise, but not one argument that raises a substantial doubt regarding Christian theism. Indeed, they seem to have a thumbless grasp of epistemology.

    In your opinion, what would “raise a substantial doubt regarding Christian theism” for you? If you’re mistaken — and there is no God, and never has been — what could cause you to realize that, and change your mind?

  433. #433 Owlmirror
    September 16, 2008

    I get the vague impression that you’re a follower of Ayn Rand.

    Why?

    I’ve barely read anything by her, and what I have read about her suggests that I would find her to be boring and wrong.

    I have to tell you that I disagreed with pretty much everything you wrote.

    Your disagreement is not disproof.

    For now, let me observe that there are numerous verses that praise wisdom, knowledge, & understanding. That praise is, in fact, the theme of Proverbs. And Paul writes that in Christ are found “all the treasures of knowledge. These examplesa re easily multiplied.

    In Christ“. In religion! NOT in studying the world, NOT in using reason.

    And I note that Proverbs, as part of the Hebrew canon, was written by the Jews! And Paul asserts positively in 1st Corinthians that Christ crucified was a deliberate stumbling block to the Jews. He is actually condemning, attacking, and contradicting all the wisdom that the Jews (supposedly) learned and taught!

    Sorry, you can’t have the New Testament and claim any heritage of wisdom. Now, if you were Jewish, we could have a different discussion. But I doubt that’s going to happen.

    The impact of this valuation of can be found in medieval monasteries as centers of learning, the unique birth of modern science in the Christian West, and schools like Harvard, Yale & Princeton – all founded by Christians – among many other examples.

    Bah. “Medieval monasteries”, you say. The re-valuation of learning took centuries after the early Church closed down and/or destroyed all of the pagan centers of learning, and even then, all topics, but especially philosophy, were heavily censored.

    Who came up with the fucking Index Librorum Prohibitorum? Who came up with a special word for those who had different ideas — heretic — and came up with policies demanding that heretics be burned to death? Who came up with the fucking Inquisition?

    To characterize this natural outworking of the Christian faith as “disobedience” requires a systematic misinterpretation of Christian theology.

    Everything I wrote is spoken of in the bible, and at some of it was at some point absolute doctrine. Are you saying that Christian theology directly contradicts the bible? Of course, the bible contradicts itself, so that’s hardly surprising.

    Christian theology has changed over the centuries. Deal with it.

    This kind of misinterpretation is all too common in atheist writing, and bears an odd resemblance to the ahistorical teachings of some fundamentalists & Pentecostals.

    *snort*. You mean, what was made up by one group of Christians contradicts what was made up by another group of Christians. What a surprise.

    Ah, for the good old days, when those who “misinterpreted” the bible could be arrested, tortured, and set on fire. For the greater glory of God, of course.

    Finally, yes, Paul describes “the wisdom of this world” – that is, the paradigms of the non-Christian world – as foolishness. Paul was addressing the incommensurablity of paradigms that Thomas Kuhn would observe 19 centuries later.

    Paul was addressing the Hellenistic schools of philosophy, you ignorant blithering dunderhead.

    The principles of atheism & polytheism cannot be reconciled with world-view of Christian theism, and Paul knew it.

    The principles of reason cannot be reconciled with Christian theism. It was true then, and it is still true now: Jesus Christ crucified as the savior of mankind is an absolutely insane idea. And Paul knew that.

  434. #434 Kel
    September 16, 2008

    I don’t find the arguments of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, & Christopher Hitchens, & Victor Stengler have offered a lot of noise, but not one argument that raises a substantial doubt regarding Christian theism.
    To turn this into a positive presupposition rather than trying to prove a negative, what positive evidence do you have for the Christian God that cannot be applied to any other god in history?

    Given it’s impossible to prove a negative (i.e. absence of evidence is not evidence of absence), how could the likes of Dawkins, Harris or anyone else write a disproof of God? It seems a logical absurdity to look for reasons not to believe where belief is the default.

  435. #435 Sastra
    September 16, 2008

    I recently read a book which discussed the relationship between Greek thought and the Catholic Church. Essentially, the Christians took and incorporated the ideas of the Greeks as if they, too, had been revealed wisdom. The process of demonstration and argument which had been critical for their formulation was ignored. It took additional factors, such as the development of autonomous communities and individuals with direct access to the works themselves, for science proper to begin to take shape.

    In the NT, Jesus doesn’t try to reason people into his views through debate. He proclaims and declares, same as all mystics. “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” The approaches of Christianity and Greek philosophy are opposed. Christianity’s unique contribution was basically having both the money and leisure to support a class of scholars, and an unlivable theology which required outside sources of input.

  436. #436 Owlmirror
    September 16, 2008

    I recently read a book which discussed the relationship between Greek thought and the Catholic Church.

    I might be interested in reading this as well… what was the title and author?

    Christianity’s unique contribution was basically having both the money and leisure to support a class of scholars, and an unlivable theology which required outside sources of input.

    I’m not sure that it was “unique”, though. In thinking about it (which is more than a little superficial, and would need to be backed up by more careful research and argument), prosperity and civilization had a defusing-of-fundamentalism effect on Judaism (and probably on Islam as well). That is, I think it might be argued that non-literal rabbinic Judaism arose precisely because Jews, living in the prosperous and intellectual civilizations of Babylonia, Persia, and the Hellenic kingdoms, realized that the “moral code” of the Torah was ridiculously harsh, and required a more humanistic interpretation and analysis.

    Christianity (and Islam) then repeated this process, as the cultures in which they existed became more prosperous and civilized over time, and also re-discovered the pre-existing humanistic principles of the cultures that they had overthrown.

    Anyway, it’s something for me to keep pondering.

  437. #437 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 16, 2008

    Because they’re still different. Which faculties are suspended and why are different. Going to the movies (and enjoying it) require a temporary suspension of rationality, for The Great Chimp’s sake!

    Don’t oversimplify. Christianity sucks for different reasons than Hinduism, which sucks for different reasons than Buddhism. The suckiness may be similar in some respects, but they’re not the same. Sometimes they even have redeeming features — like blowing off some steam on a Saturday afternoon to go pretend that the two-dimensional image projected on a wall is actually real.

    Now frog, its not the same thing going to a movie for entertainment purposes and suspending rational thought and then relying on what someone tells you is a supernatural higher power for life guidance.

    Hell I once was heavily into playing MMOs, thats serious suspension of rational thought. Not just for the entertainment value but ignoring th incredible time waste it was. But I also knew it was make believe.

    The problem is that people (most I assume) who suspend rational thought for religion for get that whole make believe thing.

  438. #438 Sastra
    September 16, 2008

    Owlmirror #436:

    The book was Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science by Alan Cromer. I guestblogged a bit on it in the “Science and Human Rights” post last month.

    I’ve seen the same point made elsewhere, though. And you’re right about a certain amount of prosperity being necessary in science’s evolution: you needed an educated class, with the leisure to study. It wasn’t really the clergy and monks, but the sons of middle class merchants who took advantage of education, and used the ‘holy’ Greek texts which had been copied like scripture in the monasteries — and which were now cheap and readily available thanks to the printing press — to start off their experiments and arguments.

    The Catholic Church was one of many important factors behind the growth of modern science, but it’s utility wasn’t in its theology or “inspiration.” Without Greece, the Catholics would never have gotten anywhere. When the Bible praises learning, it’s learning about God. The Greeks sparked the idea of “natural theology.”

  439. #439 John Knight
    September 18, 2008

    Kel asks:

    To turn this into a positive presupposition rather than trying to prove a negative, what positive evidence do you have for the Christian God that cannot be applied to any other god in history?

    The short answer is that Christian theism makes sense, and I have not found another world-view that does.

    Owlmirror remarks:

    Your disagreement is not disproof.

    Obviously not. I was merely pointing out that I would need pages to correct your statements. I don’t really have that kind of time. For example…

    Owlmirror: adds:

    [Paul] is actually condemning, attacking, and contradicting all the wisdom that the Jews (supposedly) learned and taught!

    Sorry, you can’t have the New Testament and claim any heritage of wisdom.

    Even if this interpretation were remotely reasonable, it would still be irrelevant to the historical issue. The Christian Church accepted the Hebrew scriptures as canonical & authoritative throughout the medieval period (as it does today). So, yes, the Christian Church did acknowledge knowledge, wisdom, & understanding as praiseworthy.

    I find your interpretations of history unconvincing & your interpretations of scripture somewhat bizarre. But, you have no desire to fairly interpret scripture, do you?

  440. #440 John Knight
    September 18, 2008

    The second quote from Owlmirror (above) should include the sentence followwing it as well. Thus, it should read:

    [Paul] is actually condemning, attacking, and contradicting all the wisdom that the Jews (supposedly) learned and taught! … Sorry, you can’t have the New Testament and claim any heritage of wisdom.

    Hmmm… Weird computer rule.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  441. #441 Kel
    September 18, 2008

    The short answer is that Christian theism makes sense, and I have not found another world-view that does.

    Can you elaborate on that? Because Christianity to me seems a whole big bunch of crazy.

    Were you brought up Christian?

  442. #442 Owlmirror
    September 19, 2008

    The short answer is that Christian theism makes sense,

    Except it does not make sense. Again, 1st Corinthians.

    and I have not found another world-view that does.

    A pity you haven’t tried rationalism.

    I was merely pointing out that I would need pages to correct your statements.

    You mean, you would need pages to obfuscate the simple fact that you are entirely incorrect.

    Even if this interpretation were remotely reasonable, it would still be irrelevant to the historical issue.

    Because Paul had no influence on the historical development of Christianity?

    The Christian Church accepted the Hebrew scriptures as canonical & authoritative throughout the medieval period (as it does today). So, yes, the Christian Church did acknowledge knowledge, wisdom, & understanding as praiseworthy.

    Again, that’s the medieval period — many centuries after the Church began!.

    Really, it looks like you actually agree with me, and are just too embarrassed to admit it.

    I find your interpretations of history unconvincing & your interpretations of scripture somewhat bizarre.

    I suppose they are unusual because they take the plain meaning as written.

    But, you have no desire to fairly interpret scripture, do you?

    All of religion is about the unfair interpretation of scripture.

    Hmmm… Weird computer rule.

    If you want to have multiple separate paragraphs inside of a blockquote, you need to make sure that there are no empty lines. You can make it render empty lines by using the <br> (break) tag. Thus:

    <blockquote>
    [Paul] is actually condemning, attacking, and contradicting all the wisdom that the Jews (supposedly) learned and taught!<br>
    <br>
    Sorry, you can’t have the New Testament and claim any heritage of wisdom.
    </blockquote>

    Yields:

    [Paul] is actually condemning, attacking, and contradicting all the wisdom that the Jews (supposedly) learned and taught!

    Sorry, you can’t have the New Testament and claim any heritage of wisdom.

  443. #443 John Knight
    September 21, 2008

    I’ll try, Kel.

    John Knight: The short answer is that Christian theism makes sense, and I have not found another world-view that does.

    Kel: Can you elaborate on that? Because Christianity to me seems a whole big bunch of crazy.

    Christianity is a coherent world-view. It is a self-consistent set of principles. Christian metaphysics do not make much sense if you start with atheist metaphysics, but the reverse is obviously true as well. To use Kuhnian language, the paradigms are incommensurable. The point is that Christian metaphysics & epistemology make sense if viewed as a complete unit.

    By contrast, in my experience, other world-views run into fatal contradictions. This problem makes them unacceptable alternatives.

    Owlmirror keeps pointing me to First Corinthians. As it happens, that passage illustrates my point. (I hope I’m not violating PZ’s anti-quotation rule.)

    From First Corinthians, Chapter One:
    18. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    19. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE,
    AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.”
    20. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    21. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
    22. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
    23. but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
    24. but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    25. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    26. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
    27. but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
    28. and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
    29. so that no man may boast before God.

    Notice the antithesis between the wisdom of God & the “wisdom” of the unbelieving world. They are hostile to one another. What counts as wisdom in one world-view seems like folly in the other. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that “When two principles do meet that really cannot be reconciled, each man calls the other a fool and a heretic.” So, yes, from an unbelieving perspective, Christian theism seems like folly & heresy.

    But Paul goes further than just saying that we disagree because we have different world-views. He writes that the Christian world-view provides the basis for “all the treasures of knowledge,” while unbelieving world-views are philosophically useless.

    “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21, 22)

    It has been my experience that the non-Christian world-views are indeed philosophically useless. Obviously, much more could be said on the subject, but I’ve probably rambled on more than enough.

    Owlmirror writes: “A pity you haven’t tried rationalism.”

    Could you be more specific? Do you mean Platonism? Or Hegelianism? Or some other variety of rationalism?

  444. #444 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    Christianity is a coherent world-view. It is a self-consistent set of principles. Christian metaphysics do not make much sense if you start with atheist metaphysics, but the reverse is obviously true as well

    What the hell are atheist metaphysics? Also, what makes Christianity a coherent worldview? And isn’t the fact that it only makes sense if you believe in it tautological?

  445. #445 John Knight
    September 21, 2008

    Metaphysics = theory of reality.

    What is your theory of reality? Are you a materialist?

    Tautological? No, I’m pointing to the internal consistency of Christian theism.

    By contrast, to take an easy example, Humean empiricism is self-refuting.

  446. #446 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    Well my personal theory of reality is one of materalism; but that’s not the atheist position. There is no consistent atheist position, atheism is simply a lack of belief in God. What individuals believe who are atheist is up to them.

    Can you actually show some examples of how Christianity is a coherent worldview? Calling it internally consistent does not change that it’s inconsistent with the material world. And like it or not, the material world is the world we live in. This is the intersection of where the known meets the unknown, where reality meets the speculative, where God plays a role in nature. How are these two views reconciled? We can test material existence after all ;)

  447. #447 John Knight
    September 21, 2008

    Obviously, there is no one atheist world-view, or one atheist metaphysics. But there is an atheist world-view (or family of world-views) which generally predominates among the atheists reading this blog. If you would prefer that I use some other terminology, I am open to suggestions.

    As a materialist, you do not believe in any immaterial entities?

    How is Christian theism inconsistent with the material world?

  448. #448 Nerd of Redhead
    September 21, 2008

    The material world does not need a god for explaining anything. Ergo, christian theism is just mental masturbation.

  449. #449 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    But there is an atheist world-view (or family of world-views) which generally predominates among the atheists reading this blog.

    Well of course, like minded people tend to flock to places where they fit in. This blog is hardly representative of the nontheist population as a whole, it’s skewed to the more scientifically-minded politically liberal type (as you would expect from a blog of this perscription). So yeah, using this blog to gain a worldview on atheists is like using RaptureReady.com to gain a worldview on Christians.

    As a materialist, you do not believe in any immaterial entities?

    Personally, again no. I don’t deny that there could be immaterial entities, I just don’t see any reason to believe in it; or how we could even go about experiencing them as all our senses are products of materialism.

    How is Christian theism inconsistent with the material world?

    Well not all theism is inconsistent; those who take a transcendental view of God have a perfectly consistent view. This, however, is not a widely held view among theists. An interventionalist God is one that could be measured, experienced, observed. It needs to be stressed that it’s impossible to talk about Christian theism without mentioning the incredibly diversity in range of views on God. If we took some of the biblical literalists, then evidence of the creation stories should be able to be observed in evidence. Likewise when God is punishing people through hurricanes and earthquakes, how much does that draw away from the natural forces that bring about those phenomena?

    So in general terms, a God that intervenes in the world would undermine the basic principles of that materially observed cause-and-effect; to the point where the naturalistic explanation would come into question or that God’s hand should be able to be measured. The question to you would be what role do you see God playing in this universe? This is why I can understand a deist or a pantheist view of God (though I don’t agree with them), but cannot fathom how a person could have a theist belief that is anything beyond transcendental.

  450. #450 Owlmirror
    September 22, 2008

    Christianity is a coherent world-view. It is a self-consistent set of principles.

    It is no such thing.

    If it were, there would be only one form of Christianity. There wasn’t, when Christianity first arose, and the schisms have only continued to this day.

    The point is that Christian metaphysics & epistemology make sense if viewed as a complete unit.

    Nonsense. Christian metaphysics & epistemology are nothing more than incoherent mythology and dogma.

    By contrast, in my experience, other world-views run into fatal contradictions.

    Christianity is far worse. It fails from the beginning.

    (I hope I’m not violating PZ’s anti-quotation rule.)

    PZ does not have an anti-quotation rule. However, if all a commenter does is copy and paste scripture, and post nothing else but the scripture, that sort of stupid behavior will lead to trouble.

    Notice the antithesis between the wisdom of God & the “wisdom” of the unbelieving world. They are hostile to one another.

    Paul includes the wisdom of God as understood by the Jews. He does not just speak against the Greeks, he says that everything the Jews thought they knew was wrong.

    This contradicts all of the old testament, which he perversely quotes as the basis for his claim that now he, Paul, knows what God wants to be known.

    What counts as wisdom in one world-view seems like folly in the other. Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote that “When two principles do meet that really cannot be reconciled, each man calls the other a fool and a heretic.” So, yes, from an unbelieving perspective, Christian theism seems like folly & heresy.

    Just as from a sane perspective, insanity seems like folly. Because it is folly.

    But Paul goes further than just saying that we disagree because we have different world-views. He writes that the Christian world-view provides the basis for “all the treasures of knowledge,” while unbelieving world-views are philosophically useless.

    And Paul has obviously been proven wrong: Christianity failed to make the world a better place; it provided neither better morality, nor pragmatic benefits. Whereas scientific naturalism (note that I do not say metaphysical naturalism) has indeed provided pragmatic benefits. It may also point the way to a better morality, precisely because science provides the tools to understand the psychology of altruism and morality, and the game theory analysis to apply said altruism and morality.

    It is Christianity, and indeed all religion, that is useless.

    By contrast, to take an easy example, Humean empiricism is self-refuting.

    Why? Because you say so?

    How is Christian theism inconsistent with the material world?

    Here’s one way. There are many others:

    Christian theism is based on the old and new testaments. The old testament has two different creation stories, which implicitly describe the age of the universe and of the earth, and the sequence in which the universe, and the earth, came to be as they are now. It also has a story of a global flood.

    Modern cosmology, astronomy, and geology directly contradict these stories, describing a universe several orders of magnitude older than that described in the old testament, and an earth on which no global flood has occurred. If there were a real God who was responsible for these stories, he would not have had them contradicting scientifically verifiable fact.

    Here’s another, more subtle way:

    The only measures that we have of the personal qualities of benevolence, power, and knowledge arise from our experience of them in human beings, in the material world. Christianity posits a God that is a benevolent, powerful, and knowledgeable person, who will nevertheless condemn to eternal torture all those who do not worship this person in the right way. Countless disputes have arisen over the “right way” to worship this person, both within Christianity, and outside of it, leading to numerous deaths. Given that none of these disputants agreed about what God wanted, it must be the case that most, if not all, were incorrect about what God wanted. Therefore, most if not all of these disputants must be condemned to that eternal torture stated above, as are all of their followers.

    Given that this God putatively knows of these disputes, and putatively has the power to stop them with a few words of clarification, and putatively has the benevolence to do so, we can therefore conclude that the eternal silence of God in the face of disputes about what God wants is inconsistent with God’s alleged attributes of power, knowledge, and goodness.

    I could go on.

  451. #451 John Knight
    September 27, 2008

    Quick replies. (Well, it started out that way…)

    Kel writes:

    So yeah, using this blog to gain a worldview on atheists is like using RaptureReady.com to gain a worldview on Christians.

    True, but since I’m talking with the atheists here, well, I thought it was polite to talk about their form of atheism, not to attack some other variety. And, as I said, if you have a better choice of terminology, I’m open to suggestions.

    Kel writes:

    I don’t deny that there could be immaterial entities, I just don’t see any reason to believe in it; or how we could even go about experiencing them as all our senses are products of materialism.

    I gather from this comment that you are empiricist. Is this impression correct?

    Kel writes:

    The question to you would be what role do you see God playing in this universe?

    Having created the world, God sustains & orders all things. According to Paul, “in Him all things hold together.”

    Owlmirror, on why Christian theism is (allegedly) inconsistent with the material world:

    The old testament has two different creation stories, which implicitly describe the age of the universe and of the earth, and the sequence in which the universe, and the earth, came to be as they are now. It also has a story of a global flood.

    Modern cosmology, astronomy, and geology directly contradict these stories, describing a universe several orders of magnitude older than that described in the old testament, and an earth on which no global flood has occurred. If there were a real God who was responsible for these stories, he would not have had them contradicting scientifically verifiable fact.

    Only if one relies on a non-Augustinian interpretation of the Creation account. I’m an Augustinian.

    Also, your version of the problem of evil is no more logically compelling than any other version that I have seen.

    Owlmirror writes:

    Christianity failed to make the world a better place; it provided neither better morality, nor pragmatic benefits.

    I completely disagree. This could be a really interesting discussion, but it is rather a different question.

    BTW: I do not find your interpretation of Paul compelling. I see no reason for me to deal with claims arising from misinterpretations of his writings.

    As for Wittgenstein, please remember that you look foolish to me. Are you insane?

    You previously criticized me for not trying “rationalism.” Did you mean “empiricism”? If not, could you suggest some particular school of rationalism?

    Owlmirror, on the self-refuting nature of Humean empiricism:

    Why? Because you say so?

    David Hume wrote:

    David Hume: When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? No. Commit it to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    The problem here is obvious.

  452. #452 John Knight
    September 27, 2008

    Sorry, the relevant quote should read:

    Owlmirror, on why Christian theism is (allegedly) inconsistent with the material world:

    The old testament has two different creation stories, which implicitly describe the age of the universe and of the earth, and the sequence in which the universe, and the earth, came to be as they are now. It also has a story of a global flood.

    Modern cosmology, astronomy, and geology directly contradict these stories, describing a universe several orders of magnitude older than that described in the old testament, and an earth on which no global flood has occurred. If there were a real God who was responsible for these stories, he would not have had them contradicting scientifically verifiable fact.

    Only if one relies on a non-Augustinian interpretation of the Creation account. I’m an Augustinian.

    Also, your version of the problem of evil is no more logically compelling than any other version that I have seen.

    [Etc.]

  453. #453 Owlmirror
    September 27, 2008

    Having created the world, God sustains & orders all things.

    God does absolutely nothing, then, that would demonstrate him being different from the universe itself?

    Sounds like Spinozan Pantheistic Deism.

    Only if one relies on a non-Augustinian interpretation of the Creation account. I’m an Augustinian.

    I assume that you refer to this little gem:

    Augustine of Hippo, in “The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim)”: Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances,… and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.

    Yet note that Augustine certainly appears to be implying that scripture can be clearly false when compared to the evidence of reality. Indeed, the simple fact that he wrote two books trying to reconcile the text in the bible with the world just goes to emphasize the problem that he had with scripture.

    So you agree, then, with Augustine, that scripture is inconsistent with the material world. Which was what you were asking for.

    Also, your version of the problem of evil is no more logically compelling than any other version that I have seen.

    So you agree, then, that God’s alleged attributes are inconsistent with the material world?

    You seem to use the phrase “not [logically] compelling” as a more sophisticated version of the child’s trick of putting your fingers in your ears, squeezing your eyes shut, and saying “nananana” loudly.

    I do not find your interpretation of Paul compelling.

    Case in point.

    I cannot “compel” you to read, listen, think, or reason. Although I can note that you are failing to do so…

    I see no reason for me to deal with claims arising from misinterpretations of his writings.

    Indeed, you cannot, because they are not misinterpretations.

    There are only about 10 verses, as you pasted above, although of course there is more in later chapters in the same vein. Paul is simply claiming that the personal revelation of Christianity overturns and replaces all other forms of knowledge and wisdom.

    His “paradigm” is nothing more than the privileging of a made-up story as being more real than reason, and also more real than the traditional religion up until that point.

    And there is an implicit warning in 1st Corinthians as well: It clearly asserts that God either changed his mind or hid information from the Jews (and indeed, from everyone). If the text is indeed true, it means that there is no certainty whatsoever in religion. It means that God might well change his mind again, or might have hidden additional information from the Christians. You certainly have no way of knowing…

    As for Wittgenstein, please remember that you look foolish to me.

    Just as to the insane, the sane look foolish.

    Are you insane?

    I’m not the one claiming that a made-up story is real.

    You write of paradigms, as though that settles everything, yet do do not address the critical question: Is the paradigm of something fictional equally valid with the paradigm of that which can be verified with the real world and is consistent with that which can be found in the real world?

    David Hume: When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? No. Commit it to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    The problem here is obvious.

    Quite so: Nothing in that paragraph refutes empiricism, which is indeed an obvious problem for your argument.

    However, I disagree with Hume that the sophistry and illusion of theology should be burned. A more reasonable course would be to demonstrate the fallacious reasoning and epistemic failures of those works.

    Although I suppose that is not much use if people insist on making believe and ignoring reason, as you do.

  454. #454 John Knight
    September 27, 2008

    Owlmirror, I have tired being polite to you, but you insist on being rude & insulting. (And possibly dishonest, but I cannot know what is in your heart. Perhaps you normally make this simple kinds of errors.) I will try not to be rude, but I will take a somewhat firmer hand.

    When I say that your interpretation is “not logically compelling,” that is a polite way of saying that I think your interpretation is wrong. And “wrong” is not the strongest word that I could use in your case. Not even close.

    Just as I think that you misinterpret history, I think that you misinterpret Paul and Augustine of Hippo. You certainly have misinterpreted me.

    John Knight: Having created the world, God sustains & orders all things.

    Owlmirror: God does absolutely nothing, then, that would demonstrate him being different from the universe itself?
    …Sounds like Spinozan Pantheistic Deism.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    The act of creation, if nothing else, separates God from the created world. Also, God is immaterial, unlike the material world. And, of course, he raised Christ from the dead, among many other feats.

    John Knight: Only if one relies on a non-Augustinian interpretation of the Creation account. I’m an Augustinian.


    Owlmirror: I assume that you refer to this little gem:

    Augustine of Hippo, in “The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim)”: Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances, … and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience. It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.

    Owlmirror: Yet note that Augustine certainly appears to be implying that scripture can be clearly false when compared to the evidence of reality. Indeed, the simple fact that he wrote two books trying to reconcile the text in the bible with the world just goes to emphasize the problem that he had with scripture.
    …So you agree, then, with Augustine, that scripture is inconsistent with the material world. Which was what you were asking for.

    No, clearly, Augustine was saying that certain careless interpretations of Scripture yield “nonsense” which even some unbelievers can see to be in error. He was calling for Christians to interpret Scripture carefully, in the full light of all that we know.

    When I say that I am an Augustinian, this is part of what I mean. I do not mean that I agree with your misinterpretation of Augustine.

    John Knight: Also, your version of the problem of evil is no more logically compelling than any other version that I have seen.

    Owlmirror: So you agree, then, that God’s alleged attributes are inconsistent with the material world?
    …You seem to use the phrase “not [logically] compelling” as a more sophisticated version of the child’s trick of putting your fingers in your ears, squeezing your eyes shut, and saying “nananana” loudly.

    If I wanted immature, gratuitous abuse, I would post on the World of Warcraft forums. This blog affects a pretense of an atmosphere of education & learning in which such adolescent taunts would be inappropriate.

    No, no, no. A thousand times “No.” Your presentation of the problem of evil is not new or exceptional in any way. And Alvin Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil applies just as well to your version as to any other.

    John Knight: I do not find your interpretation of Paul compelling.


    Owlmirror: Case in point.
    …I cannot “compel” you to read, listen, think, or reason. Although I can note that you are failing to do so…

    As I explained above, this was a polite way of saying that you were dead wrong.

    John Knight: I see no reason for me to deal with claims arising from misinterpretations of his writings.

    Owlmirror: Indeed, you cannot, because they are not misinterpretations. [Etc., etc.]

    They certainly are from where I stand. The natural reading of the passage in 1st Corinthians is that the death & resurrection of Christ is objectionable to unbelievers, whether Jew or Gentile. However, for believers, whether Jewish like Paul and the Twelve or Gentile like many others, Christ provides the basis of wisdom, knowledge & understanding. Indeed, a summary of this passage might be: “Unbelief leads to misinterpretations.”

    That is my interpretation.

    Owlmirror continues:

    You write of paradigms, as though that settles everything, yet do not address the critical question: Is the paradigm of something fictional equally valid with the paradigm of that which can be verified with the real world and is consistent with that which can be found in the real world?

    Actually, I write about paradigms in order to clarify the nature of the debate. We are not debating the prices of eggs. You do not answer the question by driving to the grocery store to see what the price is.

    Incidentally, you do not advance the conversation by calling my world-view “fictional” or “made-up” or “make-believe.” You may score a few points with the Peanut Gallery (if we still have one), but you don’t win any respect from me.

    David Hume: When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? No. Commit it to the flames: For it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    John Knight: The problem here is obvious.

    Owlmirror: Quite so: Nothing in that paragraph refutes empiricism, which is indeed an obvious problem for your argument.

    Read that quotation again. Let us ask, Does the quotation contains any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? (No.) Let us ask, Does the quotation contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? (No.) Then by its own standard, it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    Therefore, Humean empiricism is self-refuting.

    Q.E.D.

  455. #455 Kel
    September 27, 2008

    True, but since I’m talking with the atheists here, well, I thought it was polite to talk about their form of atheism, not to attack some other variety. And, as I said, if you have a better choice of terminology, I’m open to suggestions.

    Honestly, I don’t think you should try and find a word because none of us have the same worldview. If you referred to it as anything, then all you would do is caregorise people who don’t share that worldview in it. There’s no tenets of atheism, there’s no way to make a blanket term for worldviews. Just try and stick to individuals and individual philosophy.

    I gather from this comment that you are empiricist. Is this impression correct?

    Indeed.

    Having created the world, God sustains & orders all things. According to Paul, “in Him all things hold together.”

    As the archbishop of Canterbury said, “that would imply [God] didn’t do a good job of setting up the laws of the universe in the first place”

    So do you think that the universe is fine without God, or it needs God to maintain order? If so, how? What have we seen that demonstrates that universe is not self-sufficient?

    Though honestly I find your answer there poetic garbage, it sounds profound and meaningful but it says nothing. What does “God sustains & orders all things” actually mean? Is this something that changes the way matter acts? does it keep the speed of light constant in a vacuum? Does it sustain human life? Is there an immaterial entity through which God sustains the universe? It’s all well and good to be poetic, but it seems that it’s nothing more than a way of wriggling out of saying anything concrete.

    It should be a simple question: how does God operate? Without an answer, how can you know that God is doing its job?

  456. #456 Nerd of Redhead
    September 27, 2008

    Time to stop talking and show some evidence. Where can we have the definitive physical proof for god that can be confirmed by scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as having divine presence. If we can explain it without using god you lose. Period.

  457. #457 Owlmirror
    September 28, 2008

    Owlmirror, I have tired being polite to you, but you insist on being rude & insulting. (And possibly dishonest, but I cannot know what is in your heart. Perhaps you normally make this simple kinds of errors.)

    Hm. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for calling you an “ignorant blithering dunderhead”, at comment #433. That, indeed, was uncalled-for rudeness. I had no cause, then, to impugn your knowledge, eloquence, and intelligence.

    Yet when you speak of dishonesty, I cannot help but note that that is the root of the problem. I too often find that theologians and the religious are fundamentally dishonest. I find myself sometimes responding to that dishonesty with grumpiness, and snarkiness. Try not to take it too personally; I assure you, when theology comes under discussion, I am quite often grumpy and snarky to far more honest and straightforward persons than yourself.

    When I say that your interpretation is “not logically compelling,” that is a polite way of saying that I think your interpretation is wrong. And “wrong” is not the strongest word that I could use in your case. Not even close.

    Your calling my interpretations “wrong” does not mean that they are. All of your refutations are either flawed or nonexistent, as I shall demonstrate.

    Just as I think that you misinterpret history, I think that you misinterpret Paul and Augustine of Hippo. You certainly have misinterpreted me.

    Perhaps the problem is that all of you have misinterpreted basic epistemology. This causes your thinking to work incorrectly.

    Please don’t put words in my mouth.

    I wasn’t trying to, which is why I wrote “Sounds like”. I was trying to provoke an expansion on your thesis. You responded to the “Pantheistic” part, at least…

    And, of course, he raised Christ from the dead, among many other feats.

    Alleged raising, and alleged feats.

    And what does God done lately?

    No, clearly, Augustine was saying that certain careless interpretations of Scripture yield “nonsense” which even some unbelievers can see to be in error.

    “Careless” meaning “literal; plain reading”, and “nonsense” and “error”, meaning “false”. That’s pretty much what I wrote.

    And who is responsible for scripture being written so sloppily that that it can so easily yield nonsense? And why is the scripture so similar to other Middle-Eastern myths?

    He was calling for Christians to interpret Scripture carefully, in the full light of all that we know.

    “Carefully”, meaning “non-literally”.

    And if we know that the universe clearly works by rules that can be discovered by experiment, and if we know that almost none of scripture is supported by investigating the universe, what then?

    If I wanted immature, gratuitous abuse, I would post on the World of Warcraft forums.

    I am sure that World of Warcraft forums would be far more easily intimidated by your deep erudition, and would no doubt respond with poorly-spelled and ungrammatical epithets.

    No doubt this would make you feel martyred, superior and self righteous. So, what’s keeping you?

    This blog affects a pretense of an atmosphere of education & learning in which such adolescent taunts would be inappropriate.

    Your concern is noted, and…

    Heh.

    And Alvin Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil applies just as well to your version as to any other.

    Pfft. His argument boils down to “free will”.

    Plantinga does not refute the problem of evil, because he utterly fails to take into account the free will of God.

    Or does God not have free will? You tell me.

    As I explained above, this was a polite way of saying that you were dead wrong.

    Refreshingly direct, yet it is you who are wrong (on the internet).

    The natural reading of the passage in 1st Corinthians is that the death & resurrection of Christ is objectionable to unbelievers, whether Jew or Gentile. However, for believers, whether Jewish like Paul and the Twelve or Gentile like many others, Christ provides the basis of wisdom, knowledge & understanding. Indeed, a summary of this passage might be: “Unbelief leads to misinterpretations.”
    That is my interpretation.

    And your interpretation is wrong because it is incomplete . You neglect Paul’s boasts that God is directly responsible for, and desires, that unbelief; that according to Paul, God deliberately chose a course of action that would lead to unbelief.

    A better summary would be: “God wants only you few stupid people who are believers, not everyone else who is smart.”

    Paul is more eloquent and tactful, much like a con-man or a cult leader, yet that’s what it boils down to.

    Actually, I write about paradigms in order to clarify the nature of the debate. We are not debating the prices of eggs. You do not answer the question by driving to the grocery store to see what the price is.

    And this makes no sense. What are you even talking about?

    Incidentally, you do not advance the conversation by calling my world-view “fictional” or “made-up” or “make-believe.” You may score a few points with the Peanut Gallery (if we still have one), but you don’t win any respect from me.

    A pity. My heart is broken. I shall wander off and weep quietly to myself. Go, enjoy your self-righteous pique on the World of Warcraft forums. Don’t mind me.

    But if you decide to hang around, tell me, what distinguishes Christianity from fiction; from make-believe?

    Read that quotation again. Let us ask, Does the quotation contains any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? (No.) Let us ask, Does the quotation contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? (No.) Then by its own standard, it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    Therefore, Humean empiricism is self-refuting.

    Ah, but your own words are nothing but sophistry and illusion, so your alleged self-refutation is self-refuting, and vanishes in a puff of logic!

    PS: Does the quotation contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? Actually, Yes. It describes analysis of books of theology (which do indeed exist) for evidence of experimental reasoning — which analysis is itself experimental reasoning.

    Q.E.D.

  458. #458 John Knight
    September 28, 2008

    Kel: Let’s not play semantic games. Here’s the line to which you object:

    Christian metaphysics do not make much sense if you start with atheist metaphysics, but the reverse is obviously true as well.

    Now, as I’m sure you will agree, if you start with an atheist world-view – almost any atheist world-view – then Christian metaphysics will look absurd. I think that we can agree on the basic idea without engaging in terminological warfare.

    Suppose I had said, “Christian metaphysics do not make much sense if you start with Dawkinite metaphysics, but the reverse is obviously true as well.” Would that make more sense to you? Or maybe, “Christian metaphysics do not make much sense if you start with materialistic metaphysics, but the reverse is obviously true as well.” Would that be better?

    As to empiricism, Kel, do you believe that all knowledge is ultimately based on sense perception? Is that what you mean by “empiricism”?

    As to God sustaining all things, I can give you my own rough understanding of what Paul is saying. I certainly do not agree that it implies that God “didn’t do a good job.” Rather, it tells us what kind of physical universe God wanted to create.

    I’m sorry if it sounds like “poetic garbage” to you, but to mean it seems like a fairly straightforward way of saying that God maintains the physical laws of the material universe. Granted, Paul was a pre-Newtonian speaking to a pre-Newtonian audience, but here we see the seeds of a Newtonian view of causation and physical laws. (Indeed, Newton was raised in a Calvinist home where he was taught that God sovereignly ordered the whole physical universe.) All things in the universe obey universal laws, contradicting the Aristotlean view that “a thing acts according to its nature.” These physical laws are sustained, maintained, and held constant by God. This is why we live in an orderly universe and – just as important -how we can know that we live in an orderly universe.

    Nerd: Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    Owlmirror: I’m running out of time for now, but…

    Why do you say that my words are “sophistry & illusion”? How is my position “self-refuting”?

    Also, no, Hume’s quote does not describe experimental reasoning. It describes an abstract evaluation of abstract symbols. No experiment is involved, just the application of abstract rules. Hume’s statement most certainly is self-refuting, as is his entire epistemological approach.

    More later…

  459. #459 SC
    September 28, 2008

    but to mean it seems like a fairly straightforward way of saying that God maintains the physical laws of the material universe.

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day (and there was much competition). How? Punishing disobedient particles? Showing dark matter the light? The authoritarian theistic mind in action.

    Emma Goldman (1916):

    The philosophy of Atheism expresses the expansion and growth of the human mind. The philosophy of theism, if we can call it philosophy, is static and fixed. Even the mere attempt to pierce these mysteries represents, from the theistic point of view, non-belief in the all-embracing omnipotence, and even a denial of the wisdom of the divine powers outside of man. Fortunately, however, the human mind never was, and never can be, bound by fixities. Hence it is forging ahead in its restless march towards knowledge and life. The human mind is realizing “that the universe is not the result of a creative fiat by some divine intelligence, out of nothing, producing a masterpiece chaotic in perfect operation,” but that it is the product of chaotic forces operating through aeons of time, of clashes and cataclysms, of repulsion and attraction crystalizing through the principle of selection into what the theists call, “the universe guided into order and beauty.” As Joseph McCabe well points out in his Existence ot God: “a law of nature is not a formula drawn up by a legislator, but a mere summary of the observed facts — a ‘bundle of facts.’ Things do not act in a particular way because there is a law, but we state the ‘law’ because they act in that way.”

    http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/ANARCHIST_ARCHIVES/goldman/philosophyatheism.html

  460. #460 Nick Gotts
    September 28, 2008

    Christian metaphysics doesn’t make sense at all in the light of modern science and philosophy. The very idea of a “simple” substance that is nonetheless able to create and “sustain” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) a complex world is absurd, as is that of a disembodied mind. There is absolutely no reason to think the “laws of nature” need upholding or supporting – as if naughty electrons would start spinning the wrong way if God took his eye off them! Still, I suppose if you can believe in Homo economicus, you can believe in anything!

  461. #461 SC
    September 28, 2008

    Me:

    How? Punishing disobedient particles?

    Nick Gotts:

    as if naughty electrons would start spinning the wrong way if God took his eye off them!

    Spooky, man.

  462. #462 Nick Gotts
    September 28, 2008

    SC,
    Spooky indeed!
    This confusion between the descriptive and the normative seems characteristic of the religious mind.

  463. #463 Nerd of Redhead
    September 28, 2008

    JK, Still no physical proof for your god? Strike one. Time to put up or shut up.

  464. #464 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2008

    This causes your thinking to work incorrectly.

    somehow, this line really struck me.

    so droll, yet so accurate.

  465. #465 Owlmirror
    September 28, 2008

    it seems like a fairly straightforward way of saying that God maintains the physical laws of the material universe. [...] These physical laws are sustained, maintained, and held constant by God. This is why we live in an orderly universe and – just as important -how we can know that we live in an orderly universe.

    Ah, and yet there indeed is the answer to all theodicy, including my version, by rejecting the premise of benevolence: God is not good, God is not just, God is not kind, God is not merciful, God is not loving, God is not compassionate. God is orderly — and utterly indifferent.

    You worship a giant transcendental clock.

    All things in the universe obey universal laws, contradicting the Aristotlean view that “a thing acts according to its nature.”

    How do universal laws contradict Aristotle? Physical laws describe the nature of how things act, after all.

    Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    Why? Because you say so?

    How do you know?

    How would you know if you were wrong?

    Why do you say that my words are “sophistry & illusion”? How is my position “self-refuting”?

    Because you are dead wrong.

    First of all, “refuting” one paragraph does not refute all of empiricism; the empirical philosophy, whether of Hume or in general, is not based on that one single paragraph. Indeed, we could rewrite the paragraph better, or expand on it so that it is clearer, and most definitely not refuting, and yet is still in support of empiricism.

    Following from that, your attempted refutation of all of empiricism by attempting to refute that one paragraph, and getting it wrong anyway, is most definitely sophistry and illusion…

    Also, no, Hume’s quote does not describe experimental reasoning. It describes an abstract evaluation of abstract symbols.

    The evaluation of abstract symbols can, and indeed, does, derive from experimental reasoning. “F=ma” is a set of abstract symbols, for example, yet is derived from experimental reasoning, and is used in further analysis and support of that experimental reasoning that is known as Newtonian mechanics.

    And the same goes for any other “abstract symbol” or collection thereof, which just leads us back to Hume’s point: Are the symbols derived from the real world, or from imagination and make-believe making believe that it’s not make-believe?

    Once again, your self-refutation is nothing but sophistry and illusion. Maybe you should go back to World of Warcraft.

  466. #466 Kel
    September 28, 2008

    As to empiricism, Kel, do you believe that all knowledge is ultimately based on sense perception? Is that what you mean by “empiricism”?

    To an extent, as long as the fallibility of the senses is recognised.

    Now, as I’m sure you will agree, if you start with an atheist world-view – almost any atheist world-view – then Christian metaphysics will look absurd. I think that we can agree on the basic idea without engaging in terminological warfare.

    I think it would be a lot better to call them a monoist and dualist worldview as opposed to atheist and Christian. It’s more accurate, and gives a much broader scope for the type of thinking.

    Would that be better?

    Monoist and dualist would be a better way of putting it. This way we can actually make progress in terms of what the worldviews entail. Basically the monoist and the dualist agree on this reality, where there is disagreement is over the transcended reality that a dualist believes in. Where the intersection lies is the debating point, and where the argument lies.

    I’m sorry if it sounds like “poetic garbage” to you, but to mean it seems like a fairly straightforward way of saying that God maintains the physical laws of the material universe.

    So what does God do to maintain the universe? Does he hold the laws of gravity in it’s place, makes sure decay rates are constant, keeps the speed of light in a vacuum constant? This is the intersection between a monoist and a dualist worldview, how the dualist force interacts with the forces of the monoist reality. What would a universe without a maintainer look like? And what data is there to support it?

    Paul was a pre-Newtonian speaking to a pre-Newtonian audience, but here we see the seeds of a Newtonian view of causation and physical laws.

    So do you agree that all current physical and chemical reactions we see today would just happen without God to maintain it, or are the cause and effect we see of physics simply because God is holding together otherwise unstable forces? If it’s the latter, does that mean by measuring constants we are in effect measuring God?

    These physical laws are sustained, maintained, and held constant by God. This is why we live in an orderly universe and – just as important -how we can know that we live in an orderly universe.

    This all sounds incredibly tautological. What evidence do you have that without a supernatural force the laws of physics would fall apart (which is essentially what you are saying correct?). That if the laws need to be maintained, then without a maintainer they would go away.

    How is that anything other than speculative nonsense?

  467. #467 Kel
    September 28, 2008

    You worship a giant transcendental clock.

    pure win right there

    Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    Why? Because you say so?

    How do you know?

    How would you know if you were wrong?

    Exactly, without empiricism what makes anyone’s view on reality anything more than wild speculation? Especially when he’s claiming God is the order of the universe, how could we know that without empiricism? It’s just him guessing, pure speculation that has no more credence than the rantings of a madman.

  468. #468 John Knight
    September 28, 2008

    First things first….

    Owlmirror writes:

    Hm. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for calling you an “ignorant blithering dunderhead”, at comment #433. That, indeed, was uncalled-for rudeness. I had no cause, then, to impugn your knowledge, eloquence, and intelligence.

    Thanks. I think.

    Yet when you speak of dishonesty, I cannot help but note that that is the root of the problem. I too often find that theologians and the religious are fundamentally dishonest. I find myself sometimes responding to that dishonesty with grumpiness, and snarkiness. Try not to take it too personally; I assure you, when theology comes under discussion, I am quite often grumpy and snarky to far more honest and straightforward persons than yourself.

    Noted.

    John Knight: And Alvin Plantinga’s refutation of the problem of evil applies just as well to your version as to any other.


    Owlmirror: Pfft. His argument boils down to “free will.”

    I was not referring to the free will defense. Rather, Plantinga has shown that if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, then evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of the Christian God. Plantinga has tried to develop this demonstration along free-will lines, but the demonstration itself is his real contribution to the issue.

    The existence of evil is a much more serious problem for empiricists & materialists.

    Special Bonus Reply:

    Owlmirror writes:

    First of all, “refuting” one paragraph does not refute all of empiricism; the empirical philosophy, whether of Hume or in general, is not based on that one single paragraph.

    Not all of empiricism, no. I said “Humean empiricism.” If you feel that this passage is not characteristic of Hume’s empiricism, I am open to counter-examples.

    Moreover, it does illustrate the basic contradiction inherent in forms of empiricism.

    Indeed, we could rewrite the paragraph better, or expand on it so that it is clearer, and most definitely not refuting, and yet is still in support of empiricism.

    I’d pay to see that.

    Following from that, your attempted refutation of all of empiricism by attempting to refute that one paragraph, and getting it wrong anyway, is most definitely sophistry and illusion…

    That’s empty rhetoric on your part. Also, are you withdrawing your claim that my argument is self-refuting? Or do you care to explain that assertion?

    More soon…

  469. #469 SC
    September 28, 2008

    Plantinga has tried to develop this demonstration along free-will lines, but the demonstration itself is his real contribution to the issue.

    So vacant and illogical it hurts.

    The existence of evil is a much more serious problem for empiricists & materialists.

    Demonstrate this (and define evil). Show your work.

  470. #470 SC
    September 28, 2008

    Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    I’m on the edge of my seat – which will it be?

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

  471. #471 Kel
    September 28, 2008

    The existence of evil is a much more serious problem for empiricists & materialists.

    Evil to a materialist point of view is a poetic descriptor, not a real force at play. Humans can act what we describe as evil; breaking the moral code as defined through the implicity social contract that is morality, but there isn’t a pure evil force in the world. If such force existed, then I’d agree it’s a problem for materialists. Instead all we see is nature acting in it’s amoral brutality, and our behaviour is shaped by those genes. The only force is the force to survive, it’s both brutal and beautiful.

    Putting nature in the context of an all-loving being is where the problem of evil sits. It’s a question of the nature of God, not a question of the nature of reality. Why would an all-loving God allow such evil in the world? Not a question for materialists to answer there John.

  472. #472 Ichthyic
    September 28, 2008

    heh, thanks for that link, SC.

    Immediately added to my bookmark library.

  473. #473 SC
    September 29, 2008

    heh, thanks for that link, SC.

    It was from JeffreyD, on this entertaining thread:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/i_get_email_20.php#comment-1014312

    I miss him, but he seems to be doing well, so I’m happy about that.

  474. #474 SC
    September 29, 2008

    (I still think it would make a great drinking game.)

  475. #475 Patricia
    September 29, 2008

    I second it. I’m on the edge of my seat for any proof of god.
    Show HIM to me and my face is in the dirt worshipping, and my money goes to the church.
    Although why the creator of the universe needs money is a bit dicey.

  476. #476 John Knight
    September 29, 2008

    Is it twelve against one yet? I do my best work facing a herd of independent minds.

    SC writes:

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all day…

    Why? Because Emma Goldman says so?

    Nick Gotts writes:

    Christian metaphysics doesn’t make sense at all in the light of modern science and philosophy. …Still, I suppose if you can believe in Homo economicus, you can believe in anything!

    As to the former: Why? Because you says so?

    As to the latter: I started to comment on this claim in an earlier thread, but I decided it wasn’t worth it. Probably still isn’t, but what the heck, eh? In the real world, no decent neoclassical economist believes in Homo economicus. Rational actors are (at most) a model-building assumption. (Bounded-rationality models are sometimes used.) Just as physicists use simplifying assumptions for certain problems, economists use simplifying assumptions to build models. They also employ the most rigorous empirical testing in the behavioral sciences.

    Having read some of your anti-American posts, I don’t expect your view of economics to be entirely rational.

    Nerd: You haven’t shown me that physical proof is needed. Two strikes.

    Owlmirror writes:

    You worship a giant transcendental clock.

    I gather this is an example of the aforementioned snarkiness. It would be more effective if it did not depend on a blatant misrepresentation of my views.

    How do universal laws contradict Aristotle? Physical laws describe the nature of how things act, after all.

    They contradict his view of causation.

    John Knight: Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    Owlmirror: Why? Because you say so? How do you know?

    Because empiricism is self-refuting.

    Owlmirror writes:

    And why is the scripture so similar to other Middle-Eastern myths?

    Better question: Why is scripture so radically different from Middle eastern myths? Whereas Middle Eastern mythologies depict a chaotic universe created by accident or “just because” with no sustaining, orderly principle, the Judeo-Christian creation myth depicts an orderly physical universe created deliberately for divine purposes. No wonder creative science died out in all the ancient civilizations (including pre-Christian Greece), but grew to maturity in the Christian West.

    Maybe you should go back to World of Warcraft.

    I’ve never played the game, actually. But it is said to be populated by snarky adolescents. You know the kind: Juveniles who misquote you, then deny that they misquoted you; who take your comments wildly out of context; who misinterpret every possible phrase; who use words like “rationalism” when they really mean “empiricism.”

    But maybe it’s just ugly stereotype.

    On to Kel…

    John Knight: As to empiricism, Kel, do you believe that all knowledge is ultimately based on sense perception? Is that what you mean by “empiricism”?

    Kel: To an extent, as long as the fallibility of the senses is recognised.

    Thank you. I wonder, could you tell me, how do you deal with the problem of induction?

    Kel asks

    How is that anything other than speculative nonsense?

    This relationship between God & creation, in which he sustains the natural order, is my understanding of Paul’s teaching. If I have misinterpreted the passage, then the error is mine. However, if I am correct, then this reading is sufficient to establish the premise of an argument in the Christian world-view. The authority of scripture is one of the core propositions of the Christian world-view.

    SC jabs:

    So vacant and illogical it hurts.

    Actually, no. Even Plantinga’s academic critics admit that his argument has logical merit. According to J.L. Mackie:

    Since this defense is formally [that is, logically] possible, and its principle involves no real abandonment of our ordinary view of the opposition between good and evil, we can concede that the problem of evil does not, after all, show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another. But whether this offers a real solution of the problem is another question.

    Thus, Mackie concedes that there is no logical problem of evil. Evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of the Christian God.

  477. #477 Patricia
    September 29, 2008

    Please SC tell JefferyD that I send him a huge ol hillbilly hug.
    I miss him, and worry about how he is.

  478. #478 Ichthyic
    September 29, 2008

    It would be more effective if it did not depend on a blatant misrepresentation of my views.

    apparently, you’re the only one who thinks anyone here is grossly misrepresenting you.

    funny, if it were me, I’d do one of the following:

    make myself clearer.

    take my marbles and leave.

    since you have had ample opportunity for the former, I would suggest trying the latter course of action.

  479. #479 Kel
    September 29, 2008

    Thank you. I wonder, could you tell me, how do you deal with the problem of induction?

    Falsifiability.

    This relationship between God & creation, in which he sustains the natural order, is my understanding of Paul’s teaching.

    How is that anything other than speculative nonsense?

    The authority of scripture is one of the core propositions of the Christian world-view.

    How did the scriptures get written if God can’t be empirically measured? Again, how is it anything other than speculative nonsense?

    Surely you see that “to know”, there must be some way that there is a bridge built between the natural and the supernatural. And where the supernatural intersects with the natural, it could be measured. This is the fundamental question here: what is the bridge?

  480. #480 SC
    September 29, 2008

    Please SC tell JefferyD that I send him a huge ol hillbilly hug.
    I miss him, and worry about how he is.

    I totally would, but I’m not in touch with him at all. If you click on my link @ #473 you can go to his blog and leave a message. His last post sounded optimistic, so that’s something, and he also left a note for Rev. BDC the other day about doing some volunteer work in their area. It seems he’s doing OK.

  481. #481 John Knight
    September 29, 2008

    Past my East Coast bedtime, but…

    Kel writes: “Falsifiability.”

    Huh? How is that an answer to the problem of induction?

  482. #482 Kel
    September 29, 2008

    Huh? How is that an answer to the problem of induction?

    Inductive reasoning is predictive, any new evidence that doesn’t fit what is predicted by inductive reasoning is falsified. Say for instance, we observe many swans and use the evidence to deduce “all swans are white”, we can falsify that with the discovery of a black swan. The predictive nature of the scientific method and the constant influx of new evidence means that any and all assumptions based on observation can come under scrutiny.

  483. #483 SC
    September 29, 2008

    Past my East Coast bedtime, but…

    Heh.

    Why? Because Emma Goldman says so?

    Because I say so. It was a statement of opinion. But congratulations! You’ve now won in the Emptiest Response category as well.

    Actually, no. Even Plantinga’s academic critics admit that his argument has logical merit. According to J.L. Mackie:

    Ah, but what did D’Souza have to say about Eagleton’s analysis of Tillich’s reading of Augustine? Do you have a substantive point that you could make, perhaps – in English, in your own words?

  484. #484 Owlmirror
    September 29, 2008

    I was not referring to the free will defense. Rather, Plantinga has shown that if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, then evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of the Christian God.

    Which is not a refutation of the problem of evil at all, but rather an evasion.

    I note that you don’t suggest that there is a “morally sufficient reason for allowing evil”.

    And given that God is responsible for everything in the universe, any “morally sufficient reason for allowing evil” in the universe must have been created by God, and is therefore only logically consistent with an evil or indifferent God.

    Besides, what’s the point of positing the Christian God at all? Epicurus brought up the problem of evil before Christianity. We might as well just say that evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of Zeus. Or Shiva. Or Ra. Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Plantinga has tried to develop this demonstration along free-will lines, but the demonstration itself is his real contribution to the issue.

    In other words, he’s mostly useless.

    I don’t suppose he has anything else?

    The existence of evil is a much more serious problem for empiricists & materialists.

    Nonsense.

    Given an empirical and material perspective, “evil” is just a genuinely indifferent universe having a particular negative effect on someone, or a human with a defective brain performing actions which would otherwise not have been performed if said brain was not defective.

    Or in other words, in a morally neutral material universe, shit happens simply because it does. We mere mortals must simply cope with it. But we can cope better with knowledge of how the universe works, which is gained for us by science. Not religion.

    If you feel that this passage is not characteristic of Hume’s empiricism, I am open to counter-examples.

    Mm. How about this one:

    “In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.”

    Or this:

    “… no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.”

    Or this:

    “The Christian Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: and whoever is moved by Faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.”

    Heh.

    Moreover, it does illustrate the basic contradiction inherent in forms of empiricism.

    It most certainly does not.

    That’s empty rhetoric on your part. Also, are you withdrawing your claim that my argument is self-refuting? Or do you care to explain that assertion?

    Your argument is self-refuting precisely because it was nothing but empty rhetoric. As I already pointed out.

    I gather this is an example of the aforementioned snarkiness. It would be more effective if it did not depend on a blatant misrepresentation of my views.

    Mm. Granted, I suppose —   But it would help if you could make your “views” a little more clear.

    Please demonstrate how your God differs from a giant transcendental clock. Show all work. It would help if you could get God to speak for himself, though.

    Because empiricism is self-refuting.

    Ah, now you’ve gone from vapidly attacking Humean empiricism to even more vapidly attacking all empiricism; from sophistry to pathetic question-beggar.

    Bravo.

    I must assume that I am correct in my inference from 1st Corinthians that God hates wisdom.

    Perhaps that is why you now attack empiricism….

  485. #485 Owlmirror
    September 29, 2008

    As long as I’m commenting here, I thought I would take a crack at showing that Christianity is self-refuting. Let’s see….

    John Knight wrote:

    And, of course, he raised Christ from the dead

    But isn’t Christ God (same substance)? So God just pulled himself up by his own bootstraps…

    Or are you an Arian, like Newton?

    Moving on:

    The problem with this is that “dead” can be tricky to interpret — is someone whose heart and brain stops for a minute or so, and then starts again via CPR, “dead”? I think we need to distinguish between that, and between the sort of “dead” that means it’s time to go through his clothes and look for loose change actually bury the body. So, there’s mostly-dead, which refers to someone who can be revived by some means, and all-dead, which means the body just begins to rot.

    So which term refers to what happened to Jesus? Well it might appear at first that he was all-dead. However, sometimes people can collapse into an extremely-low metabolic state, or a coma that lasts a while, and then they wake up.

    However, in a sense, the point is academic, really: after about a day, Jesus is up and kicking again. So, clearly, by whatever means he was raised (CPR, miracle pill), Jesus wasn’t all-dead, he was just mostly-dead, for that brief period of time.

    Now, when someone has a heart attack and is revived (that is, from mostly-dead), we might congratulate them on their recovery, but we don’t refer to them as being really dead.

    So Jesus didn’t really die, for our sins, or at all.

    Thus, Christianity is self-refuting.

    Q.E.D.

  486. #486 Kel
    September 29, 2008

    Not all proof is physical. Not all evidence is empirical.

    The answer has come

    This relationship between God & creation, in which he sustains the natural order, is my understanding of Paul’s teaching.

    The bible is not empirical evidence, but it’s taken as evidence so not all evidence is empirical.

    *head asplodes*

  487. #487 Owlmirror
    September 29, 2008

    Oh, and one more point…

    I originally (@#450) posted my argument about God’s silence in the face of religious disputes in response to the query “How is Christian theism inconsistent with the material world?”

    Note that Platinga’s own argument is about the (alleged) lack of logical inconsistency of the existence of evil and God. This says nothing whatsoever about the inconsistency of those concepts with the material world — which is what question was about.

    After all, the (alleged) lack of logical inconsistency of the existence of evil and God requires the positing of a “morally sufficient reason for allowing evil” — and this alleged “morally sufficient reason for allowing evil” cannot even be demonstrated as existing in the material world, even if it hypothetically did exist in the hypothetical God’s hypothetical eternally-ticking transcendental clockwork!

    Q.E.F.D.

  488. #488 Emmet Caulfield
    September 29, 2008

    Emmett (#16) says that the two are not comparable because one is an act of intimidation, while the other is not. This too is nonsense: Dinesh is rsponding to the notion that Christians shouldn’t be upset because of the physical characteristics of the eucharist (it’s a cracker) by pointing out the obvious fact that what matters is not the physical nature of the signifier, but what it signifies.

    No matter what this “Emmett” fellow said, I didn’t say that the two are not comparable and not for that reason (both interpolations on your part), I said that the comparison is obscene and repugnant and that D’Souza is an odious little scumbag for advancing it. If I have a paper-cut on my finger, I might consider it painful, but for me to compare the pain of my paper-cut to the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, cancer, or third degree burns would be outrageous. Similarly, D’Souza’s remark is sickening in its profligate misappropriation of symbolism.

  489. #489 the great and powerful oz
    September 29, 2008

    Kel, Owlmirror, John Knight, eric, etc.

    Please keep it up, this is hugely entertaining.

    Whooo-eeee!
    *Chucks some peanuts*

  490. #490 God
    September 29, 2008

    Please demonstrate how your God differs from a giant transcendental clock. Show all work. It would help if you could get God to speak for himself, though.

    May I remind you all that clocks are not the only thing that tick merrily along?

    Think it through…

  491. #491 Satan
    September 29, 2008

    May I remind you all that clocks are not the only thing that tick merrily along?

    Think it through…

    He’s bluffing, humans.

  492. #492 Kel
    September 29, 2008

    If God is a transcendental clock, is Satan quantum uncertainty?

  493. #493 God
    September 29, 2008

    He’s bluffing, humans.

    Shush, you.

    No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.

  494. #494 Gaia
    September 29, 2008

    #490, #491, #493

    If you two don’t knock it off, I swear I’ll turn this car right around and nobody will get any ice cream.

  495. #495 Nick Gotts
    September 29, 2008

    Plantinga has shown that if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, then evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of the Christian God. Plantinga has tried to develop this demonstration along free-will lines, but the demonstration itself is his real contribution to the issue.

    – John Knight

    “Your honour, it is true that my client is responsible for many billions of painful and premature deaths, but I submit that as you have not proved that it is logically impossible that there was a valid moral reason for him to act as he did, which he has a valid moral reason for not divulging to the court, he should be acquitted, and released from the court without a stain on his character.”

    Do you think this defence would fly?

    Nick Gotts writes:

    Christian metaphysics doesn’t make sense at all in the light of modern science and philosophy. …Still, I suppose if you can believe in Homo economicus, you can believe in anything!

    As to the former: Why? Because you says so?

    I gave two reasons immediately after the sentence you quote. Why not read them?

    As to the latter: I started to comment on this claim in an earlier thread, but I decided it wasn’t worth it. Probably still isn’t, but what the heck, eh? In the real world, no decent neoclassical economist believes in Homo economicus. Rational actors are (at most) a model-building assumption. (Bounded-rationality models are sometimes used.) Just as physicists use simplifying assumptions for certain problems, economists use simplifying assumptions to build models. They also employ the most rigorous empirical testing in the behavioral sciences.

    A fine example of the “neoclassical shuffle”: make absurd claims, such as that people are rational and selfish, in order to justify the ways of Mammon to man, then when challenged on them, say they are just simplifying assumptions, or similar guff. The question is, are they useful simplifying assumptions. The answer is: no. Experimental economics, and cognitive and social psychology, have shown that people do not behave in anything close to the way the neoclassical model predicts: they do not have any form of overall utility function – rather, they select specific goals to pursue and look for ways to achieve them, they do not discount logarithmically, most value equity (but to varying extents), their decisions are affected by irrelevant alternatives, and by how they are framed, they are often wildly wrong about probabilities and frequencies. I can give you numerous references if, as I expect, you are unfamiliar with these bodies of work, since neoclassical economists systematically ignore anything that does not fit their dogmatic beliefs.

    Oh, by the way, I’m not “anti-American”; I’m anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. Are you capable of understanding such subtle distinctions?

  496. #496 Nick Gotts
    September 29, 2008

    Incidentally, the similarity in the rejection of contrary evidence by Christians and by neoclassical economists is striking – but you really ought to remember that the alleged founder of one of these two religious belief systems is alleged to have said that you cannot serve two masters.

  497. #497 Owlmirror
    September 29, 2008

    “Your honour, it is true that my client is responsible for many billions of painful and premature deaths, but I submit that as you have not proved that it is logically impossible that there was a valid moral reason for him to act as he did, which he has a valid moral reason for not divulging to the court, he should be acquitted, and released from the court without a stain on his character.”

    Or we might go with something like this:

    “That eminent defender of Imperial Couture, Count Plantwanker, has spent many years and filled pages and pages of closely argued and erudite reasoning to demonstrate clearly and finally, and in such careful language that even his opponents agree that his conclusion cannot be gainsaid, that it is not logically impossible that there can exist clothes so utterly thin, fine, diaphanous, and ethereal that they would be so utterly transparent to all frequencies of light as to appear completely invisible, and utterly intangible to the senses or other instrumentation as may be conceived. Whether the Emperor is indeed wearing such clothes has not yet been established, but the noble Plantwanker is laboring mightily on the problem…”

  498. #498 John Knight
    October 3, 2008

    Earlier, I noted that the Christian world-view is internally coherent, while (in my experience) other world-views are not. I commented that I have not been given a reason to think that the Christian world-view is untrue. And so it remains.

    John Knight: Thank you. I wonder, could you tell me, how do you deal with the problem of induction?

    Kel: Falsifiability.
    …Inductive reasoning is predictive, any new evidence that doesn’t fit what is predicted by inductive reasoning is falsified. Say for instance, we observe many swans and use the evidence to deduce “all swans are white,” we can falsify that with the discovery of a black swan. The predictive nature of the scientific method and the constant influx of new evidence means that any and all assumptions based on observation can come under scrutiny.

    I appreciate the answer, but it seems to reflect the lack of attention commonly given to the problem of induction. The predictive nature of inductive reasoning is predicated on the idea that unobserved cases will be like observed cases. More casually, we sometimes speak of “the uniformity of nature.” The question is: How do we establish this claim? As an empiricist, you cannot claim that unobserved cases will be like observed cases, since you have no way of knowing what unobserved cases will be like.

    Empirical reasoning relies heavily on induction. But the principle of induction cannot be established through empirical observation. Empiricism, then, cannot establish the inductive principle. Empiricism undermines a great deal of empirical reasoning.

    Actually, it gets worse.

    How can a consistent empiricist escape the egocentric predicament?

    How can a consistent empiricist make universal claims?

    How can a consistent empiricist use categories or concepts?

    Ultimately, then, any kind of coherent empirical reasoning must be based on some epistemology other than empiricism. Testing another world-view against the requirements of empiricist epistemology is thus doubly-flawed. First, it begs the question, by assuming that empiricism provides the proper standard. Second, it requires another world-view to measure to a standard than empiricism cannot itself meet.

    This is not to say that professing empiricists cannot use empirical reasoning. It just means that they are inconsistent with regards to their professed world-view.

    More soon…

  499. #499 Nick Gotts
    October 3, 2008

    John Knight,
    You really don’t have a clue. Of course we can’t establish the validity of inductive reasoning, because it isn’t valid – that is, it does not guarantee that if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. That’s why, when it comes to universal generalisations, science can never prove them, and scientists with even the slightest philosophical sophistication are well aware of this. In your sense of the term, I doubt whether there are any “professing empiricists”. I certainly haven’t come across any here.

    the Christian world-view is internally coherent
    Bwah-haw-haw-haw-hawwwww! Leaving aside the feeble excuses of theodicy, and the absurdities of the doctrines of original sin and vicarious atonement, how about:
    God is one, but at the same time three.
    God the Son is “begotten”, but has always existed.
    Jesus was both fully human (therefore finite) but also fully divine (therefore infinite).
    God is omniscient (so he has always known everything each of us was going to do, and since he willed the creation, willed all our acts) – but we have free will and deserve to be punished for our sins.

    How can you come out with such utter bilge and expect to be taken seriously?

  500. #500 Nerd of Redhead
    October 3, 2008

    JK, are you ready to show the physical evidence for your alleged god yet? Something that can pass muster by scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being divine? Science is all about evidence. Please supply some, or we must conclude you are a con man.

  501. #501 Owlmirror
    October 3, 2008

    Earlier, I noted that the Christian world-view is internally coherent, while (in my experience) other world-views are not. I commented that I have not been given a reason to think that the Christian world-view is untrue. And so it remains.

    Sure, because you ignore the arguments that show that the Christian world-view cannot possibly be true.

    “There are no flaws in the Emperor’s Clothes,” says the man who refuses to open his eyes. “Therefore the nudity of which you speak cannot be true.”

  502. #502 Owlmirror
    October 3, 2008

    The predictive nature of inductive reasoning is predicated on the idea that unobserved cases will be like observed cases. More casually, we sometimes speak of “the uniformity of nature.” The question is: How do we establish this claim?

    Empirically, of course.

    As an empiricist, you cannot claim that unobserved cases will be like observed cases, since you have no way of knowing what unobserved cases will be like.

    That’s why we hold with the principle of falsifiability: if there is a contradicting case, the contradicting case can be shown. The contradicting case may be itself self-contradictory, which is why we can be so confident in inferring that the unobserved cases will indeed be like the observed cases. If the contradicting case is not self-contradicting, then all that means is that a potential new inductive rule exists… which can be discovered empirically.

  503. #503 Kel
    October 3, 2008

    John, I would reply but just read what Nick Gotts wrote. I’d just be copying mostly what he said anyway.

    In terms of science: it’s a deductive process that when combined is inductive. This is why there’s no absolute certainty in science, only degrees of certainty. But like I said, if you think that gravity isn’t going to always be there, you are welcome to test it out by jumping off a tall building to test it out. The falsifiability does break the largely break the problem of induction; just look at the discovery of the black swan. “All swans are white”, “we’ve found a black swan” – ‘all swans are white’ is falsified.

    See, observation shows that these laws do not change, the effects are measures time and time again; in fact we rely on them not changing in order to have complex electrical devices. If some of these laws changed even slightly, matter would rip itself apart and the universe would be nothing more than a drifting dust cloud. If you want to believe a giant transcendental clock keeps it from breaking, then go ahead. But there is no reason to suggest this, you are just speculating.

  504. #504 Owlmirror
    October 3, 2008

    Rather, Plantinga has shown that if it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil, then evil is not logically inconsistent with the existence of the Christian God.

    I think I want to rework my comment @#484 a bit more formally…

    Plantwanker Plantinga’s argument is, in fact, self-refuting.

    He posits this “morally sufficient reason for allowing evil”, but does not demonstrate that such a thing actually exists. However, such a reason, if it existed, would force the exact same limitations on God that would contradict the Christian conception of God as being all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. Such a reason, if it existed, would be in place so that God might presumably achieve some ultimately beneficent goal, hence, the “morally justified” clause. Yet, what follows from this is that either God is too weak to achieve whatever that goal is, or God does not know how else to achieve this goal, without using this hypothesized “reason”.

    Thus, since the argument attempts to solve the problem of evil and in fact cannot do so, it is indeed self-refuting.

  505. #506 John Knight
    October 5, 2008

    David Hume, 1737:

    It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future; since all these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance. Let the course of things be allowed hitherto ever so regular; that alone, without some new argument or inference, proves not that, for the future, it will continue so.

    Hume here provides a classic statement of the problem of induction. On purely empirical grounds, past experience provides no basis for believing that the future will be like the past.

    The standard of falsifiability does not overcome this problem. In fact, it depends on the assumption that the future will operate like the past. But, as Hume notes, empiricists have no rational basis for believing the future will resemble the past.

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clearer. I assumed that any reader with – how did Nick put it? – “with any philosophical sophistication” would be familiar with this well-known problem.

    Here is a clearer statement of the problem:

    Probabilism or inductive reasoning can show neither that its required assumption (that nature is uniform) is known with certainty nor that it is even probably true, for in that case it would offer an inductive argument in order to warrant the very premise needed to warrant inductive argumentation. Falsificationism as a method of reasoning abandons any hope of providing a criterion for being warranted by foundational certitudes; it offers instead the weaker condition of a belief’s being rejected according to the foundation. But even this weakened approach is of little help to the scientist. No belief is understood in isolation of other beliefs, and no belief meets the tribunal of sense perception individually. When a man who believes that he is dead is presented with the counter-evidence that he bleeds, he can choose to abandon the belief that he is dead, or he can reject the belief that dead men do not bleed (or any number of other beliefs which form of the context of the originally mentioned belief). Therefore, falsification does not enable us to build a system of knowledge outward from foundational certitudes, for those foundations can never decisively falsify any particular belief. In the context of empirical science, the target for the arrow of modus tollens is hopelessly elusive (see Lakatos’ article in Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, eds. Lakatos and Musgrave).

    The appeal to physical laws made by some posters is especially inappropriate. First, if physical laws are merely descriptive rather than regulative, as has been suggested above, then what is the basis for predicting future cases? The uniformity of nature would suffice, but that cannot be established on empiricist grounds, contra Owlmirror, for the very reasons Hume has already given.

    Second, the empiricist cannot resort to regulative physical laws precisely because the empiricist cannot observe physical laws. This problem, again, is at least 270 years old.

    Hume, again:

    When we look about us towards external objects, and consider the operation of causes, we are never able, in a single instance, to discover any power or necessary connexion; any quality, which binds the effect to the cause, and renders the one an infallible consequence of the other.

    This is an old, well-known problem for empiricism. It is not the invention of crazy, axe-grinding Christians. Nor is it a trivial challenge. Indeed, according to Bertrand Russell, “The growth of unreason throughout the nineteenth century and what has passed of the twentieth is a natural sequel to Hume’s destruction of empiricism.”

    This problem is so serious that Russell wrote:

    It is therefore important to discover whether there is any answer to Hume within a philosophy that is wholly or mainly empirical. If not, there is no intellectual difference begins sanity and insanity. The lunatic who believes that he is a poached egg is to be condemned solely on the ground that he is in a minority…

    Since Hume, philosophers have further critiqued empiricism. It has not overcome the egocentric predicament. The empiricist concept of concept formation has been refuted by Wilfred Sellars and by Ludwig Wittgenstein. And the empiricism claim that “all knowledge is based on empirical observation” has been shown to be self-refuting.

    …Which reminds me: Owlmirror, you keep misusing the term “self-refuting.”

    Later all.
    .

  506. #507 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    You know, there’s something absurd going on when all of these philosophers were having the vapors over the problem of induction, when I am certain that they lived their lives as if empiricism were true and their personal inductions were valid.

    And you yourself are doing the same. You aren’t cloistered in some hermitage or insane asylum, rocking back and forth in a robe or straitjacket and mumbling “I know nothing for certain”; you’re using a computer which was created by pragmatically assuming that nature is indeed uniform. You argue from your knowledge of philosophers and from the foundational knowledge that enabled you to learn what these philosophers wrote; if you had no way of knowing anything, you would not be here, and arguing (badly) from that knowledge that we have no way of knowing anything.

    So your argument is, once again, self-refuting.

    : Owlmirror, you keep misusing the term “self-refuting.”

    I most certainly am not.

    You, on the other hand, have badly misused the term “internally coherent”.

    I assume, from your utter failure to address any of the arguments made, that you concede that Christianity is in point of fact completely incoherent.

  507. #508 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    And you yourself are doing the same. You aren’t cloistered in some hermitage or insane asylum, rocking back and forth in a robe or straitjacket and mumbling “I know nothing for certain”; you’re using a computer which was created by pragmatically assuming that nature is indeed uniform. You argue from your knowledge of philosophers and from the foundational knowledge that enabled you to learn what these philosophers wrote; if you had no way of knowing anything, you would not be here, and arguing (badly) from that knowledge that we have no way of knowing anything.

    Exactly. John, the entire production of our modern civilisation depends on the laws of physics working. Like I keep saying, would you bet your life on the laws of gravity being wrong? It’s induction to say we’d fall from a building, but it’s inductive reasoning that is falsifiable any time someone wants to jump. We need the laws of strong and weak bonding to be as they are to hold atoms together, we need the law of electromagnetism in order to keep our computers working.

    Quite simply the existence of the universe as we know it needs the laws to be static. We have deduced that from observation and evidence. Science is a deductive process, it’s inductive as a means of falsification. You can go on about induction all you want, but the simple fact is that science works. Mars could be randomly moving around the universe but just happens to be at exactly the right spot every time we look at it, we can’t know that it doesn’t. But I’d be willing to bet that it moves in conjunction to planetary orbits as restricted by the laws of gravity, and I’m sure you would to. If you think mars is jumping around randomly, then all you need to do is show that it is and the idea that mars orbits the sun in uniform motion as defined by the laws of gravity would be falsified.

  508. #509 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    I apologise for the formatting there, I did put a couple of line breaks in but they didn’t to transfer to the final post. Will use HTML formatting in the future as WYSIWYG is unreliable.

  509. #510 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Ya know, I almost added a caveat at the end of my last post, explaining that I was not criticizing empirical investigation. Rather, I was criticizing the idea that all knowledge is based on empirical observation. Almost. But I thought, “No, they understand what I mean when I use the term ‘empiricism.’ It’s a pretty standard philosophical term.”

    Guess not.

    Owlmirror writes:

    You know, there’s something absurd going on when all of these philosophers were having the vapors over the problem of induction, when I am certain that they lived their lives as if empiricism were true and their personal inductions were valid.

    Classic beginner’s mistake.

    I am not endorsing skepticism. Rather, I am making the point that empiricism leads to skepticism is followed consistently. I even quoted two of the most important empiricists in the history of philosophy to make my point.

    Nor do I live “as if empiricism were true.” I don’t live as if “all knowledge [were] based on sense perception.” I don’t and quite frankly neither do you. If you did, you wouldn’t use induction, you wouldn’t trust your senses, and you would use neither concepts, nor mathematics, nor logic.

    In fact, in your daily life, you live much more like a Christian theist, trusting in God’s orderly & comprehensible creation, than like an empiricist. And if you going act as if Christian theism is true, maybe you should start talking like it’s true, too.

  510. #511 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    I am not endorsing skepticism. Rather, I am making the point that empiricism leads to skepticism is followed consistently.

    But empiricism plus skepticism plus falsifiability leads to science.

    Nor do I live “as if empiricism were true.” I don’t live as if “all knowledge [were] based on sense perception.” I don’t and quite frankly neither do you.

    Wait — only sense perception? Of course not. And neither do you, indeed.

    There’s also this thing called “memory”, without which sense perception is just raw data.

    If you did, you wouldn’t use induction, you wouldn’t trust your senses, and you would use neither concepts, nor mathematics, nor logic.

    Your argument is so self-refuting. Take into account memory, or else all you have is garbage in, garbage out.

    In fact, in your daily life, you live much more like a Christian theist, trusting in God’s orderly & comprehensible creation, than like an empiricist. And if you going act as if Christian theism is true, maybe you should start talking like it’s true, too.

    Balderdash. Christian theism is self-refuting.

    Not even you trust in God’s “orderly and comprehensible” creation, since you reject that that order and comprehensibility can be determined empirically.

  511. #512 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Aaaaaaaarrrrgggghh.

    Owlmirror, in grown-up philosophy, “skepticism” refers to the idea that nothing can be known. Like rationalism, of course, skepticism is sometimes used as a propaganda term for secularism. The sense in which I used the term, as should have been obvious from context, was the philosophical sense.

    So I wonder: Are you completely dishonest? Or are you twelve years old?

  512. #513 God
    October 6, 2008

    Not even you trust in God’s “orderly and comprehensible” creation, since you reject that that order and comprehensibility can be determined empirically.

    I’m actually kind of hurt. Here I am, keeping things ticking along smoothly, and even a so-called believer rejects the obvious empirical consistency in My work. Oh, ye of little faith.

    Although… Maybe I should not have outsourced the whole business of maintaining an epistemic foundation to My sockpuppet. Descartes got it wrong; he should have written: Satanas cogitavi, ergo cogito, ergo sum.

  513. #514 Nerd of Redhead
    October 6, 2008

    JK, why are you talking about honesty and dishonesty when you cannot show any physical evidence as proof for your god, which is the height of dishonesty Time for you to grow up and stop bothering your betters.

  514. #515 Satan
    October 6, 2008

    Maybe I should not have outsourced the whole business of maintaining an epistemic foundation to My sockpuppet. Descartes got it wrong; he should have written: Satanas cogitavi, ergo cogito, ergo sum.

    Sure, blame Me for Your screwups; that’s what I’m here for, Mister-oh-I’ll-create-Man-in-My-own-image. And here I am now, slaving away, trying to cope with everyone from infants who get distracted by their own bowel movements to adults distracted by their aroused genitalia. It’s a madhouse, I tell you. I should sub-sub-contract to Cthulhu….

  515. #516 Ichthyic
    October 6, 2008

    I keep wondering whatever became of the Black Knight from “Holy Grail” after arthur left him limbless at the bridge.

    now I know.

    he started going by his original name, and became a pretend sociologist named John.

    Glad ta meet ya good sir knight. Still threatening to bite people’s legs off after all this time?

  516. #517 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    in grown-up philosophy, “skepticism” refers to the idea that nothing can be known.

    Pfft. If you mean Pyrrhonism, you can by damn well specify Pyrrhonism.

    Like rationalism, of course, skepticism is sometimes used as a propaganda term for secularism.

    “Propaganda”. Your religion is nothing but propaganda.

    Are you completely dishonest? Or are you twelve years old?

    Are you?

    Or are you a hypocrite? Or are you a small child who sticks his fingers in his ears, squeezes his eyes shut, and goes “nananana!” as a way of avoiding dealing with arguments you don’t like?

  517. #518 Ryan F Stello
    October 6, 2008

    Like rationalism, of course, skepticism is sometimes used as a propaganda term for secularism.

    Sometimes rationalism is used as a propaganda term for religiots who have to change its meaning to the nth-degree.

    Just ask Aquinas.

  518. #519 God
    October 6, 2008

    I should sub-sub-contract to Cthulhu….

    Don’t be ridiculous. You know he sleeps on the job.

    And while it would be amusing for a while, his dreaming while being the epistemic foundation would result in everyone thinking that they are poached eggs, or even stranger things. Not to mention that if he does wake up, the extinction of humanity would eventually mean boredom, again, for the both of Us, after a brief period of insane excitement.

  519. #520 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    Ya know, I almost added a caveat at the end of my last post, explaining that I was not criticizing empirical investigation. Rather, I was criticizing the idea that all knowledge is based on empirical observation. Almost. But I thought, “No, they understand what I mean when I use the term ‘empiricism.’ It’s a pretty standard philosophical term.”

    Our problem with what you are arguing is that you seem to be trying to break down empiricism (by prattling on about the problem of induction) in order so you can facilitate your totally unempirical beliefs. Of course all knowledge isn’t empirical, but the problem for a dualist is showing that their beliefs are anything more than being made up. How do we determine if your God is real or not?

    Your argument to me is along the same lines as “God is love” where the person arguing for God tries to make the case that love can’t be empirically measured but we can experience it, and use that as an analogy for God. Of course it’s a load of crap because love is a chemical and neurological stimuli made wholly from material parts while the concept of God is beyond space and time; love is natural, God isn’t.

    Yes, there are limits to empiricism. But that doesn’t mean that “making stuff up” begins to be a coherent worldview. How is your God any different from Thor, or Ra, or Zeus, or Brahman, or The Rainbow Serpent, or Ziltoid The Omniscient? How can you even know without having some impartial means of measurement? How is anything you think about the deity’s existence anything more than blind speculation based on social and cultural indoctrination?

    You’ve spent enough time trying to break down empiricism, it’s time now to talk up just why you think your means of “knowing” God is valid. Otherwise you are no better than a creationist who takes pot-shots at evolution without showing why his own case is right. Even if empiricism is not 100% (you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who says it is), it doesn’t validate your worldview in any way. You need to talk up why the way you believe is valid.

  520. #521 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    The discussion of John Knight in recent posts feels very post-modern.

    And if you going act as if Christian theism is true, maybe you should start talking like it’s true, too.

    It’s like saying that “evolution requires faith” therefore it and creationism are comparable. Not even close.

  521. #522 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    I’m confused.

    John Knight: As to empiricism, Kel, do you believe that all knowledge is ultimately based on sense perception? Is that what you mean by “empiricism”?

    Kel, in response: To an extent, as long as the fallibility of the senses is recognised.

    Kel, later: Of course all knowledge isn’t empirical…

    You can begin to see, I think, where I’m having trouble addressing your world-view.

  522. #523 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    This is funny:

    John Knight: Ya know, I almost added a caveat at the end of my last post, explaining that I was not criticizing empirical investigation. Rather, I was criticizing the idea that all knowledge is based on empirical observation. Almost. But I thought, “No, they understand what I mean when I use the term ‘empiricism.’ It’s a pretty standard philosophical term.”

    Owlmirror (in the very next post): Not even you trust in God’s “orderly and comprehensible” creation, since you reject that that order and comprehensibility can be determined empirically.

    That makes no sense whatsoever. Is Owlmirror claiming that since I do not believe in X on his grounds, I do not believe in X at all?

    Not only is it crazy, it inverts the order of reasoning. First, I trust in God. Second, I trust His revelation of an orderly, comprehensible creation. Third, I trust in empirical investigation, including induction, made possible by God’s self-revelation of His character and His creation.

    If you have a non-contradictory foundation for induction, please show me. I still have not seen any non-Christian world-view that makes sense in any rigorous philosophical sense.

  523. #524 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    More fun…

    Nerd writes:

    JK, are you ready to show the physical evidence for your alleged god yet? Something that can pass muster by scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being divine? Science is all about evidence. Please supply some, or we must conclude you are a con man.

    Please show me that physical evidence is required. Please supply some or I must conclude that you are an empty mocker.

  524. #525 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 6, 2008

    Shorter John Knight:
    Proof? I don’t need no stinkin’ proof!

  525. #526 Patricia
    October 6, 2008

    They never have proof.

  526. #527 Brownian, OM
    October 6, 2008

    In fact, in your daily life, you live much more like a Christian theist, trusting in God’s orderly & comprehensible creation.

    John lives his life much more like a Hindu polytheist, trusting in Brahma’s orderly creation.

    Sorry John, but you’ll have to pull your head a little further out of your ass if you want to claim that Christianity is consistent with an empirically observable and predictable universe than any other religion with (a) creator god(s).

    Don’t worry too much about it though. I know knowledge about other people and their beliefs is toxic to conservative Christians.

  527. #528 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    On a more serious note…

    Kel writes:

    Yes, there are limits to empiricism. But that doesn’t mean that “making stuff up” begins to be a coherent world-view.

    I have never claimed that I was making stuff up. But I’m not sure that you’re not making up answers to difficult problems that your world-view faces. Induction? The egocentric predicament? Concept formation? Basic epistemology?

    You have now renounced the idea that all knowledge is based on sense perception. Okay, so now what is your claim? Can you give me a world-view that even begins to make sense?

    You want me to provide empirical evidence of Christian theism, but we have seen that we cannot demand empirical evidence of all fact claims. So what is your basis for claiming that empirical evidence is appropriate for verifying a world-view?

  528. #529 Steve_C
    October 6, 2008

    God is actually a giant octopus that feeds on unborn babies and rides a black unicorn, and sends everyone to hell, because Satan is actually his brother, and they like their arrangement.

    Evidence? I don’t need any evidence.

  529. #530 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Brownian writes:

    John lives his life much more like a Hindu polytheist, trusting in Brahma’s orderly creation.

    That is a ridiculous claim. Hinduism does not portray an orderly universe. Hindu creation myths feature chaos & accident. And in Hinduism the material universe is treated maya or illusion. I do not treat he physical universe as an illusion.

  530. #531 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    John Knight: As to empiricism, Kel, do you believe that all knowledge is ultimately based on sense perception? Is that what you mean by “empiricism”?

    Kel, in response: To an extent, as long as the fallibility of the senses is recognised.

    Kel, later: Of course all knowledge isn’t empirical…

    Did you miss the words “fallibility of the senses”? That contextualises everything. What you’ve quoted there highlights anecdotal evidence and why we don’t accept it.

    Presently there are things beyond empirical measure (it’s a limitation of the tools and our intellect), but that doesn’t change that everything we are or know is material. And it doesn’t change that God is still nothing more than blind speculation passed on through cultural indoctrination. In short, you are making a huge deal about the use of the word empiricism and that detracts away from the point I’ve been arguing. We are still material entities; arranged compositions of matter. We are made of trillions of atoms, these are the building blocks of all life and of all objects in the universe.

    So what does the problem of induction have to do with that worldview? Just think materialism, not empiricism. Empiricism plays it’s part, it’s how I know that the force of gravity works, how electromagnetism works, how solar bodies interact, how we came to be. But empiricism is there for my understanding of the universe, materialism is my worldview. There’s one reality, it’s the one of energy and matter; with some dark matter and dark energy thrown in. This is the world you live in too, it’s the observable reality. I’m sure you will agree that we both live in this world as far as we can tell. Fallibility of the senses and all. What the difference is that I don’t see any reason to suspect that there is a power from outside this reality that comes in here and manipulates events on one planet which orbits one star of about 200 billion in this galaxy, which in turn is one of about 125 billion galaxies in the observable universe (we hit that event horizon point).

    Now onto you, how do you derive your belief in God to a point that is more than simply blind speculation? How is your belief in God anything more than cultural indoctrination wiring your brain?

  531. #532 Patricia
    October 6, 2008

    Turning me into a pillar of salt. Opening the mouth of some ass so it can talk. A talking snake, talking bush… showing up in Central Park and talking to New Yorkers. Have jesus ascend from heaven and walk across the Columbia River. I’m easy to convince.

  532. #533 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Give me some physical evidence for your world-view, or stop demanding physical evidence.

    Give me some physical evidence that all evidence is physical evidence, or stop claiming that I don’t demand evidence.

  533. #534 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Wait. Kel, is there some knowledge which is not based on empirical observation? Yes, no, maybe?

    Is there some knowledge which is not ultimately based on sense perception? Yes, no, maybe?

  534. #535 Kseniya
    October 6, 2008

    Shorter Mr. Knight:

    In the grown-up world, it’s ok if you make stuff up and pass it off as Truth.

    First, I trust in God.”

    Have you ever really broken that one down? How can you claim that it’s the foundation of a coherent world-view? It relies on a base assumption that is far more extravagant than the one that props up induction. How is “I trust in God” more coherent or supportable than “I trust that reliable conclusions can usually be drawn from repeated and repeatable observations”?

  535. #536 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    I have never claimed that I was making stuff up. But I’m not sure that you’re not making up answers to difficult problems that your world-view faces. Induction? The egocentric predicament? Concept formation? Basic epistemology?

    I didn’t say you were making stuff up, I’m saying that your God without evidence is entirely indistinguishable from making stuff up. You’ve missed the point of empiricism by a long long way. And yes, I recognise there are problems with empiricism, there are limits. But there are also uses, practical uses. The computers we are both sitting on requires precise knowledge of how the basics of our reality work. We need to understand how electromagnetism works, and how to precisely transmit it, we need the components to be made of precise materials and the voltage lengths required to turn that electricity and material into logic gates. These are incredibly powerful devices that are only here because of empirical measure. Empiricism, even with it’s faults, works. It may not give us an absolute understanding of every facet of nature, but it gives us a practical application.

    You have now renounced the idea that all knowledge is based on sense perception. Okay, so now what is your claim? Can you give me a world-view that even begins to make sense?

    Can you twist my words any further?

    This is what I wrote on my blog regarding evidence:
    The great disparity of reason is that while all we can ever truly know is based on our own experience, the brain is a poor mechanism for both comprehending and rationalising the extent of the world. They are not finely tuned machines, they are clumsy. The fallibility of man, of memory, of interpreting our thoughts and actions is well established. It’s with that the argument to personal experience is not accepted. What can appear real to us is not necessarily so, and even the most sound mind and hardened sceptic is prone to the same shortcomings and limitations that the mind allows.

    If you have a non-contradictory foundation for induction, please show me. I still have not seen any non-Christian world-view that makes sense in any rigorous philosophical sense.

    Could you please stop going on about induction? Science is a deductive process in how we derive knowledge, and it’s inductive in it’s falsification. But even then, there still is no certainty. You make the mistake of thinking that I’m absolutely correct.

    None of this even begins to show how *you* derive the world. Why is your view valid? What makes your view anything more than blind speculation based on cultural indoctrination? How, in effect, do you measure an immeasurable object?

  536. #537 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    First, I trust in God. Second, I trust His revelation of an orderly, comprehensible creation.

    No, that’s backwards. You have no knowledge of God whatsoever outside of what is told in the “revelation”, or story.

    So:
    First, you trust in a story a few thousand years old, told to you by others, which you have no way whatsoever of confirming. You trust that the entire chain of transmission, starting from Paul of Tarsus, did not involve anyone who was insane, deluded, mistaken, or lying, all the way down to yourself, and that your own interpretation of this revelation is true and correct, and that no other claims of revelation made by humans are true and correct: an argument from confirmation bias, and the fallacy of special pleading.

    Second, you trust that this revelation is indeed from God, and therefore that God is real.

    Third, I trust in empirical investigation, including induction, made possible by God’s self-revelation of His character and His creation.

    No:
    Third you reject that God needs or requires empirical evidence of his character, and yet enables this in every other thing in existence: A self-refuting argument, again by way of the fallacy of special pleading.

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever considered that a God who was indeed real would be aware of the problems that humans have with verifying facts and truths, and would not choose such a ridiculously error-prone method of communication as “special revelation”? No, of course, not. Because your greatest error is your own absolute certainty that you understand anything at all…

    I have never claimed that I was making stuff up.

    But you are.

    Paul of Tarsus made up a story about God. You are making up your own certainty that Paul was in any way correct, and that your interpretation of Paul is correct.

  537. #538 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    Wait. Kel, is there some knowledge which is not based on empirical observation? Yes, no, maybe?

    Is there some knowledge which is not ultimately based on sense perception? Yes, no, maybe?

    Should I answer black & white questions of issues where fuzzy logic would mean I’m bound to contradict myself? Yes, no, maybe?

    Define knowledge, define sense perception, give meticulous definitions so I know exactly what you will infer from my answers. Because currently you aren’t doing a very good job of being precise on these things, and I get the feeling you are twisting my words in order to rant against something you don’t fully understand.

  538. #539 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    If you have a non-contradictory foundation for induction, please show me.

    Empiricism is indeed non-contradictory.

    The only one who has claimed otherwise, here, is you — and you have not made a coherent argument in this regard. Unsurprisingly, given your general love of incoherence — just like Paul of Tarsus, in some ways. No wonder you have an affinity for the old fraud.

  539. #540 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    Right now I feel obliged to point out John Knight’s earlier comment:

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility.

    John, are we still haters of God and of people who try to honour God? Yes, no, maybe?

  540. #541 God
    October 6, 2008

    an argument from confirmation bias, and the fallacy of special pleading.

    Don’t forget the fallacy of argument by fiat, and argument ad populum, petitio principii, affirming the consequent, fallacy of accident, non sequitur… really, examine his epistemology long enough, and you’ll find more fallacious arguments than you can shake a copy of De Natura Deorum at.

    Not to mention argumentum verbosium. The man just babbles on and on…

    Now, if he would just pay attention to Me, he wouldn’t have to rely on Paul‘s revelation. I’m the real deal. And I never make fallacious arguments or lie.

  541. #542 Satan
    October 6, 2008

    I’m the real deal. And I never make fallacious arguments or lie.

    Isn’t that more or less what you told Paul of Tarsus? I’m just asking.

  542. #543 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    You want me to provide empirical evidence of Christian theism, but we have seen that we cannot demand empirical evidence of all fact claims. So what is your basis for claiming that empirical evidence is appropriate for verifying a world-view?

    If you don’t want to use empirical evidence to prove God, you don’t have to. What I’m asking is that you show a proof for God that covers the claims of Christianity and cannot be applied to other supernatural concepts.

  543. #544 God
    October 6, 2008

    Isn’t that more or less what you told Paul of Tarsus?

    Shush!

    Verbum sat sapienti

  544. #545 Quetzlcoatl
    October 6, 2008

    Who are those guys?

  545. #546 Satan
    October 6, 2008

    Verbum sat sapienti

    ?? ???? ?? ? ?????? ??? ? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ????? ?? ? ??????

  546. #547 Patricia
    October 6, 2008

    So, I take it gawd is not capable of recreating his former physical feats? He can’t walk in a garden with his creations and have a conversation? He can no longer make animals talk, or people rise from the dead?
    Yes, or no John?

  547. #548 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    ?? ???? ?? ? ?????? ??? ? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ????? ?? ? ??????

    Translated into English: “one ring to rule them all”

  548. #549 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    Yes, or no John?

    You forgot the ‘maybe’ option ;)

  549. #550 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Kel, I’m not trying to twist your words. I told you up front that, in my experience, the non-Christian world-views are not coherent.

    I am aware of several major problems with empiricism as a theory of knowledge. Induction is one problem. So is the egocentric predicament. So is the problem of concept formation. So is the break-down of the analytic-synthetic distinction. Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    (Really self-contradictory, not just “something Owlmirror doesn’t want to believe.”)

    Materialism as a metaphysical outlook likewise has serious negative epistemological implications.

    As for definitions:

    Knowledge: Justified true belief.

    (Believing that a given roll of the dice will come up snake eyes, even if it turns out to be true, is not knowledge because it is not justified. A lucky guess is not knowledge, so even true beliefs are not always knowledge.)

    Sense perception… Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

    I am being critical of empiricism as a theory of knowledge precisely because the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” seems to be implicit in almost every objection made by posters. (Nerd, for example, demands physical proof, as if all knowledge is based on physical proof.) Not only is that claim self-refuting, it produces invalid objections that may seem plausible in light of the tacit assumption that “all knowledge is based on sense perception.”

    In order to adequately deal with these true-seeming objections, I have to deal with the false premise behind the objection. Simply put, a great deal of knowledge does not depend on sense perception.

    Also, I see no reason to abandon my world-view for yours if yours is self-contradictory.

    Ksen: Good point. I should have been clearer. In the Christian world-view as I understand it, human knowledge begins with the self-revelation of God. So, in that sense, my trust is not the first step. But I was speaking of the sequence of my beliefs, which is a slightly different point.

  550. #551 SC
    October 6, 2008

    Yes, or no John?

    Let him sleep on it.
    He’ll give you an answer in the mo-o-orning.

  551. #552 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Kel, I’m not trying to twist your words. I told you up front that, in my experience, the non-Christian world-views are not coherent.

    I am aware of several major problems with empiricism as a theory of knowledge. Induction is one problem. So is the egocentric predicament. So is the problem of concept formation. So is the break-down of the analytic-synthetic distinction. Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    (Really self-contradictory, not just “something Owlmirror doesn’t want to believe.”)

    Materialism as a metaphysical outlook likewise has serious negative epistemological implications.

    As for definitions:

    Knowledge: Justified true belief.

    (Believing that a given roll of the dice will come up snake eyes, even if it turns out to be true, is not knowledge because it is not justified. A lucky guess is not knowledge, so even true beliefs are not always knowledge.)

    Sense perception… Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

    I am being critical of empiricism as theory of knowledge precisely because the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” seems to be implicit in almost every objection made by posters. (Nerd, for example, demands physical proof, as if all knowledge is based on physical proof.) Not only is that claim self-refuting, it produces invalid objections that may seem plausible in light of the tacit assumption that “all knowledge is based on sense perception.”

    In order to adequately deal with these true-seeming objections, I have to deal with the false premise behind the objection. Simply put, a great deal of knowledge does not depend on sense perception.

    Ksen: Good point. I should have been clearer. In the Christian world-view as I understand it, human knowledge begins with the self-revelation of God. So, in that sense, my trust is not the first step. But I was speaking of the sequence of my beliefs, which is a slightly different point.

  552. #553 Owlmirror
    October 6, 2008

    Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    Keep on arguing by fiat. I’m sure you’re continuing to impress yourself with your own erudition.

    (Really self-contradictory, not just “something Owlmirror doesn’t want to believe.”)

    I haven’t said that I don’t want to believe it. I am saying that you are all mouth, all fallacy, and no substance.

    Materialism as a metaphysical outlook likewise has serious negative epistemological implications.

    More fiat.

    Knowledge: Justified true belief.

    And of course, all you need for justification and truth is your own word. Because your special pleading is special.

    (Believing that a given roll of the dice will come up snake eyes, even if it turns out to be true, is not knowledge because it is not justified. A lucky guess is not knowledge, so even true beliefs are not always knowledge.)

    How about believing that it will come up as a number between two and twelve inclusive?

    I am being critical of empiricism as a theory of knowledge precisely because the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” seems to be implicit in almost every objection made by posters.

    Come up with knowledge that is based on zero sense perception at all. Even your own pretend make-believe “knowledge” of the alleged truth of the bible is based on the “sense perception” of having read the words.

    Simply put, a great deal of knowledge does not depend on sense perception.

    A “great deal” of knowledge? Such as? Oh, right. “Because John Knight says so” counts as “knowledge”.

    In the Christian world-view as I understand it, human knowledge begins with the self-revelation of God. So, in that sense, my trust is not the first step.

    Self-refuting balderdash.

  553. #554 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    Kel, I’m not trying to twist your words. I told you up front that, in my experience, the non-Christian world-views are not coherent.

    And I called into question your ability to make that judgement. I ask again, were you brought up Christian?

    Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    Explain how. Don’t just assert it.

    I am aware of several major problems with empiricism as a theory of knowledge. Induction is one problem. So is the egocentric predicament. So is the problem of concept formation. So is the break-down of the analytic-synthetic distinction.

    You keep going on about induction, yet that is not relevant to the discussion. It just seems you are all like “Look, Kel said empiricism. Here are the problems of empiricism…” When really I’m not arguing that at all. I’m arguing for materialism, something we can and have observed. We are wholly material creatures, our brains, our thoughts, everything about us are products of materialism. You are asserting beyond that, that an immaterial being is playing around with the material world. How can you possibly say that without providing any evidence that it does?

    Sense perception… Sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

    If you are going to be that narrow in terms of sense perception then I would not agree. If by senses you mean everything the body can experience including thoughts and emotions, then I would agree that sense perception is accounts for all personal knowledge. In terms of that knowledge being right, that’s another thing entirely.

    I am being critical of empiricism as a theory of knowledge precisely because the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” seems to be implicit in almost every objection made by posters.

    You are misunderstanding the nature of empiricism. And like I’ve said, if you have a better way of measuring reality, show it! Like I said, how do you look at your own beliefs objectively? How do you discern between God and Ganesh? Between Yahweh and Yivo? Between Jesus and Horus? Between the trinity and Thor? How do you know that the God of Israel is the one true God as written in the bible? What critical thought do you use?

    Empiricism is not perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than any other tool we have out there. You seem to neglect empiricism’s practical application: the scientific method. Just comprehend what empiricism has brought to the understanding of reality in the time since Hume. Science is a deductive process, not an inductive one. “Here’s the evidence, what can we deduce to fit the evidence?”. Falsifiability works to counter induction as you see with the statement “All swans are white” is falsified with the discovery of a single black swan.

    Basically you are just trying to weasel your way out of showing any form of evidence that your God is real. You are trying to attack the worldviews of people here just as a creationist attacks evolution; you don’t bring any evidence of your own, just push the idea that other people have a flawed worldview and hope that yours looks good by comparison. Again, this is what creationists do. They don’t tie themselves down to specifics because specifics can be falsified.

    Basically, I see you as an intellectual coward. You are afraid to do anything other than attack other people’s worldviews because your own is so utterly incomprehensible. You’ve been flogging a dead horse in your attacks on empiricism, saying the same thing over and over again (I know about the problem of induction already, you repeating it for a 7th time won’t change that empiricism works despite it’s assumptions), yet you still won’t provide any good reason that your beliefs are valid.

    What good reason do you have that Jesus lived, that he was born of a virgin, that he performed miracles such as walking on water and healing the sick? What good reason do you have that he was tortured and killed on the cross only to rise 3 days later? What reason do you have to believe that this man is both the son of God and God himself? What good reason do you have that there is that immaterial being out there who gave rise to the universe that it meddles in human affairs, that it answers prayers, heals the sick (but not amputees), watches over our world and helps us in times of need? Do you have even a good reason to believe that Jesus is more than just legend? And what good reasons of these do not have parallels in other cultures and with other religons?

    Also, I see no reason to abandon my world-view for yours if yours is self-contradictory.

    Again with the post-modern inanity. Just because there are flaws in any worldview, it does not mean for a second that all worldviews are equal. Again, this is the same tactic creationists use; they think because science doesn’t have the answers to absolutely everything regarding biology it means that Creationism is a comparable concept. It’s false reasoning, But I would assert my worldview is not self-contradictory as I use the qualifier that it can change as new evidence comes to light. You don’t seem to grasp the idea of fuzzy logic; that degrees of certainty are complementary to any empirical conclusion. I do not claim absolute certainty, and I do claim that my reality is falsifiable. What is contradictory about that?

  554. #555 Patricia
    October 6, 2008

    I won’t except a maybe answer in this case. Either gawd can do his physical, 2000+ year old tricks or he can’t.
    It wowed em’ then, it would wow us now.

    John can’t answer the Riddle of Epicurus.

  555. #556 John Knight
    October 6, 2008

    Kel: I have stated my evidence for Christian theism from the beginning: Christian theism makes sense; other world-views, in my experience, do not make sense.

    But let me be more formal: Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment. Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    Let me, as you suggest, use the example of empiricism:

    JK:Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    Kel: Explain how. Don’t just assert it.

    In the nature of the case, sense perception cannot verify (or even falsify) the claim that all knowledge is based on sense perception. You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant. You cannot empirically observe an idea being based on an experience. This claim, then, cannot be based on sense perception. It refutes itself.

    In the history of philosophy, “empiricism” is not just empirical methodology. Some questions are primarily empirical and suited to empirical investigation. But, for a long time now, “empiricism” has meant the idea that all knowledge is based on sense perception. I even asked you if that was what you meant.

    I certainly regret any confusion, since I would much prefer to address your world-view than some other world-view.

    Good night for now.

  556. #557 Kel
    October 6, 2008

    But let me be more formal: Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment. Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    Firstly, you keep saying it’s self-consistent without showing anything more than “It’s my opinion.”

    Secondly, since when is Christian theism a sound basis for knowledge, reasoning and moral judgement? It does none of those. It’s based around a book that contains many contradictions, physical impossibilities, historical innaccuracies, and delivers a very questionable moral doctrine that does not reflect the behaviour or man.

    Surely an all-powerful deity would have been able to get the story of creation right; or at the very least consistent. There’s two different creation tales in the first two books. And neither of those creation tales come even close to matching what has been discovered through empiricism. It would have been able to write of historical events that actually happened, giving stories that fit perfectly with archaeological evidence. Yet the bible doesn’t contain much historical fact at all, it references a few people and places but seldom does it get the dates right. There are even two different stories for the birth of Jesus that historically would make Yeshua’s birth either before 4BCE or after 6CE.

    And as for morality? I can’t think of a worse book for people to derive morality from it. That God character is one of the most malevolent characters in mythology out there; the devil is not the one to fear in Christianity. God punished all manking becoase Adam and Eve ate from a tree that gave them knowledge. He murdered all the first born children of Israel after stopping the Pharaoh from letting the children go. He participated in acts of genocide alongside the Israeli army which involved killing all men, women, children, livestock, and taking the town’s treasure. Yes, this the same God that will condemn anyone who blasphemes against the holy spirit to hell without repent, the one who thinks it’s okay to rape women of another tribe once killing the men and children. God destroyed a city because he thought it immoral, drowned almost all life because he was unhappy with mankind, separated people because they worked together to build a giant tower. The one and same redeemer of all mankind is hardly a source of morality.

    You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant.

    Yet all knowledge and justification are material, they exist within the brain. Our brains are material entities, our thoughts are simply neurons firing in patterns.

    I certainly regret any confusion, since I would much prefer to address your world-view than some other world-view.

    Then go after the materialism, not the empiricism. I use empiricism as a tool to understand the world around me. Materialism would be a better worldview to attack.

    Yet you still aren’t providing any reasoning for your own. Please stop this quasi-creationist rhetoric and start showing how your worldview is even remotely valid. Show how a dualist worldview can even be considered as equal to a monoist worldview. You aren’t doing that, you are just throwing potshots at others without showing why we should put a mystical realm over reality.

  557. #558 Nerd of Redhead
    October 6, 2008

    JK, you are the one positing god. I do not posit god. You must show some physical proof for your god that can pass muster with scientist, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine original. Failure to do so means that everyone reading these post will presume your are a professional con man, and everything you say must be looked at under the highest scrutiny, where it will fail to pass muster.

    So sir, time to put up or shut up. Which will it be?

  558. #559 Kel
    October 7, 2008

    So sir, time to put up or shut up. Which will it be?

    I’m guessing more long posts about the problem of induction.

  559. #560 Patricia
    October 7, 2008

    He buggers off, and he runs away, brave brave Sir John.

    Coward.

    You ignore my offer of bronze age miracles. Have gawd do his old show and I’ll bow down and worship him 24/7.

    Hell, I’m not even asking gawd to answer for Katrina, the Challenger, 9/11, the Tsunami – just do a little thing like make an ass speak, or show up in the garden, raise the dead. I miss my grandpa! Come on gawd, vacation is over.

  560. #561 Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker
    October 7, 2008

    Posted by: John Knight | October 6, 2008

    Kel: I have stated my evidence for Christian theism from the beginning: Christian theism makes sense; other world-views, in my experience, do not make sense.

    But let me be more formal: Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment. Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    Now we know why all non-christian civilizations were never able to develop there own foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment. We can all see why, for example, the Chinese fall apart so long ago. It just was not possible for them to last for four thousand years.

    Oh, thank you, John Knight for providing all of these proofless truths. I am feeling more wise already.

  561. #562 Owlmirror
    October 7, 2008

    Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment.

    And how do we know? Why, because John Knight says so! And John Knight is always right…… right?

    Wait… Is he right?

    Christian theism on knowledge and reasoning:

    20. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    21. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

    Christian theism on moral judgement:

    “But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them.”

    John Knight is dead WRONG!

    You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant.

    This sort of argument might have flown in the 8th or 9th century, or even the 18th or 19th. But here in the 21st century, it demonstrates a pathetic ignorance of modern neurobiology (and even in the past, someone with knowledge of medicine and the body could have pointed to brain damage as a demonstration of the physical correlates of the mind).

    “Cannot see knowledge”: PET and CAT scans. fMRIs. We can watch the ebb and flow as the brain recognizes and processes information; we can observe neural growth correlating with activity; see mirror neurons fire as an action is itself observed; note the changes in behavior that result from the absence of function in certain brain areas. We can test the various types of memory and how they work, and what exactly happens when they fail, and which types of memory will continue to work when other types aren’t there.

    We can even extend this empirical observation to behavioral areas that cover morality and ethics; proffer examples of dilemmas and see what the brain does in each case; suppress certain sections of the brain and watch behavior change.

    You cannot empirically observe an idea being based on an experience.

    And this is just stupid, and doesn’t even need advanced brain observation technology to show why: If someone learns something, and knows they have learned it, they can then demonstrate, empirically, that they know it.

    This claim, then, cannot be based on sense perception.

    Of course it can. Your argument from outdated crap arguments and ignorance is totally refuted.

  562. #563 Ichthyic
    October 7, 2008

    brave brave Sir John.

    *psst*

    Robin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZwuTo7zKM8

  563. #564 Patricia
    October 7, 2008

    Ichthyic,
    Thou are’t correct sirra!

  564. #565 Kel
    October 7, 2008

    The brain: Mystical? Yes. Immaterial? No.

    It’s a material organ, made from the same matter as everything else. The way it works is wholly material, so the thoughts and experiences that are a product of our brain’s higher functioning are material as well. There’s empirical ways to test this; damage the brain and see what function is lost. If thoughts and memories were immaterial, they should be able to survive an attack on the brain. Yet we see when parts of the brain die, the function associated with that part of the brain dies too.

  565. #566 Ichthyic
    October 7, 2008

    Thou are’t correct sirra!

    really, I just used it as an excuse to link to yet another great moment in Python history.

    even though I’ve seen it at least as many times as JK’s spiel, it’s still far more entertaining.

    John Knight is dead WRONG!

    I dunno, don’t you all pretty much feel like it’s whip/dead horse time? actually, I think he’s been whipped past the point of being even useful for dog food at this point.

    OTOH, who am i to advise those that like to play their fish for a long, long time before either finally gaffing them, or cutting the line.

    so, is this catch and release, or do you plan to finally filet and fry up the bastard?

  566. #567 Patricia
    October 7, 2008

    Nope, you are the fishy master Ichthyic.
    This guy doesn’t even register as a dungfish.
    I twirl off!

  567. #568 Kel
    October 7, 2008

    The guy just doesn’t get it at all. Given his earlier posts in this thread and what he posted about abstinence, I don’t think he’d ever get it.

  568. #569 Wowbagger
    October 7, 2008

    Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    Congratulations, John Knight; you’ve set set a new benchmark for the application of Poe’s Law. Your willful ignorance is truly frightening.

  569. #570 Ichthyic
    October 7, 2008

    I don’t think he’d ever get it.

    ever think that maybe he doesn’t want to?

    xian trolls are like that, you know.

    It’s a lot like playing whack-a-mole.

  570. #571 Kel
    October 7, 2008

    ever think that maybe he doesn’t want to?

    Of course he doesn’t want to, he’s the philosophical equivalent of a creationist.

    It’s a lot like playing whack-a-mole.

    Only without the points tally and the satisfaction of physically beating the smug bastards!

  571. #572 Corey
    October 7, 2008

    John Knight wrote: “Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment”

    Please then explain the Standard Model in Biblical terms, providing direct evidence for it.

  572. #573 Kel
    October 7, 2008

    I dunno, don’t you all pretty much feel like it’s whip/dead horse time?

    Of course. But we are like moths to a flame, attracted to the field of ignorance. We’re drawn in, but we just can’t leave until the field is deactivated or removed. I’ve only ever seen it removed, just once I would like to see it deactivated.

  573. #574 Kel
    October 12, 2008

    So John Knight hasn’t come back. Probably too busy working on the Standard Model of Biblical Physics to continue posting about the problem of induction.

  574. #575 Owlmirror
    October 12, 2008

    Or he’s sulking because we wouldn’t let him get away with epistemological and logical murder.

    1) The problem of induction exists
    2) Therefore, empiricism is self-refuting
    3) Therefore, God exists and Christianity is absolutely true and consistent and has no logical problems and is the source of all knowledge, reasoning and moral judgment blah blah blah.

    We should get that one added to this list:

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm

  575. #576 Kel
    October 12, 2008

    And that comes from the same person who said this:

    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility.

  576. #577 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    “There’s glory for you!”

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”

    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’ ” Alice objected.

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

    “The question is, ” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty. “which is to be master–that’s all.”

    I confess that I feel a bit like poor Alice in this conversation. My challengers keep using words in ways that are confusing, inconsistent, and obfuscatory. For example, when I discuss empiricism as an epistemology, Kel replies by referring to “what has been discovered through empiricism.” It seems clear from his comment that he is now speaking of empiricism as a methodology rather than as an epistemology. It makes me wonder if he understands what an epistemology really is.

    Kel goes on to say that if I want to critique his world-view, I should “go after the materialism, not the empiricism. I use empiricism as a tool to understand the world around me. Materialism would be a better world-view to attack.” Again, this comment suggests that Kel views empiricism as a method rather than an epistemology, suggesting that I’ve poured my arguments into a bucket with no bottom.

    Hmnph…..

  577. #578 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Still your evidence for your illusionary god. What a dishonorable godbot. Either prove your god or go away. Those are to two honorable choices. Put up or shut up. To stay and lie is not an honorable choice. You are bearing false witness against your alleged god.

    It is bad form to resurrect a dead thread. Godbots and creobots do it regularly. It must be a character flaw.

  578. #579 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Kel goes on to say that if I want to critique his world-view, I should “go after the materialism, not the empiricism. I use empiricism as a tool to understand the world around me. Materialism would be a better world-view to attack.” Again, this comment suggests that Kel views empiricism as a method rather than an epistemology, suggesting that I’ve poured my arguments into a bucket with no bottom.

    For almost a hundred posts now we’ve been saying that bucket has a hole in it, you kept repeating the problem of induction over and over again despite people trying to show that you are barking up the wrong tree.

    Like I’ve said repeatedly, I understand my worldview isn’t perfect. I’ve never claimed it to be. There are problems with truly knowing anything, and empiricism is the best means we have to find that out. Again, this doesn’t make your worldview any more valid, and I’m surprised you think by tearing down something that people aren’t arguing for that your worldview suddenly becomes a valid alternative. I repeatedly asked you to explain why yours is right as opposed to others being wrong, and it seemed time and time again that your worldview is valid upon the process of elimination. Too bad it doesn’t work on the process of credulity to anyone who wasn’t indoctrinated into it.

    But you can complain you were mislead if you want, if it makes you feel better that you failed to listen to multiple people here who saw through your facade. All that was asked of you was to provide evidence for your worldview. You were asked over and over to provide evidence, all we got was your personal opinion that your worldview is consistent while ours was not. Given that you couldn’t see our points, your opinion is not at all credulous.

    Don’t take the creationist approach, even if you destroy evolution, it doesn’t make creationism any more valid. This is the point several of us tried to ram home to you, but you ignored it and went on about the problem of induction again and again and again and again. If you want to show your worldview is valid, provide positive evidence to do so. Otherwise you are no better than a creationist.

  579. #580 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Doh!, since the Rev. is on vacation, I seem to be leading in the typos department.
    I meant to say “Still no evidence for your illusionary god.”

    Most religionists don’t seem to be able to grasp how the scientific mind works. Philosophical meanderings are meaningless. Either show the physical evidence for your proposition, be it god, creationism, or whatever, or just don’t talk about it. It’s not that hard of an idea to comprehend.

  580. #581 Owlmirror
    October 19, 2008

    I confess that I feel a bit like poor Alice in this conversation.

    Except that you’re actually Humpty-Dumpty, you hypocrite.

    If you don’t know that you’re using words in ways that are confusing, inconsistent, and obfuscatory, you are no doubt insane.

    Wag your tail much when angry, I suppose?

  581. #582 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    John, if you don’t understand the way that empiricism is used, how can you argue against it? It seems you just jumped on the use of the word and from there tried to disassemble your own understanding of it with no regard for the application of empiricism beyond philosophy. The problem with your worldview is that you neglect the role of empiricism where it’s needed because you apply it to situations where it isn’t.

  582. #583 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    The price of my education in philosophy is to be called a troll, ignorant, and hopeless. Such is my thanks for asking serious questions. These pointless insults would sting more if they came from people who seemed to know (1) what empiricism is, (2) what the problem of induction is, (3) what the egocentric predicament is, (4) what the refutation of the empiricist concept of formation is, or (5) why these things matter.

    But back to Kel’s question…

    Can I go after materialism rather than empiricism? Up to a point, yes, but materialism is not a world-view. A world-view needs a metaphysical system (like materialism) and an epistemological system (like empiricism) in order to be complete. (It also needs an ethical system, but more on that later.) So with Kel I need to address the synthesis of empiricism & materialism.

    One reason for addressing the epistemological standards of empiricism is very simple. People keep demanding “proof” of God’s existence or of Christian theism. (Interestingly, as I pointed out at the very beginning of this exchange, no one here has given me any “proof” of his world-view. That has yet to change.) But what standard are you using to evaluate the evidence? What counts as evidence?

    This question is central to the debate, as it is to many seemingly “empirical” debates. For example, if mere statistical disparity is evidence of discrimination, as many left-liberals implicitly argue, then Asian Americans are successfully discriminating against whites, blacks, and Hispanics in fields like science & engineering (among others). The deterrence debate is another case where muddied conceptual issues can render empirical evaluation pointless.

    Back to the question…

    What counts as evidence? How is it evaluated? What is our yardstick?

    If the yardstick is faulty, then the measurements may be false. If the metaphorical yardstick used to judge Christian theism is faulty, then the perceived failings proclaimed by the denizens of this site may have no merit.

    Well, if empiricism is the yardstick, then the measurements cannot be trusted. Even empiricism cannot measure up to its own standard. The claim, “All knowledge is based on sense perception” cannot be evaluated empirically. One cannot see knowledge, and even if one could, even then one could not see all knowledge. Since empiricism is self-defeating, using empiricism as the standard to evaluate Christian theism (or Hinduism or Kantianism or Platonic Idealism) is absurd.

    This problem is why I have focused serious attention on the many problems of empiricism as an epistemology. Sound philosophical foundations of empirical methods cannot be found in empiricism.

  583. #584 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Heeeee’s back!
    This time with more comedy than ever.
    My challengers keep using confusing words! Are you serious, idiot?

    Put up or shut up.

    It must be the ‘put up’ that confounds you, because you certainly refuse to shut up.

  584. #585 Blake Stacey
    October 19, 2008

    Christian theism is self-consistent and provides a sounds basis for knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgment. Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    Which, Gentle Reader, is more appropriate: the spit take or the Picard facepalm?

  585. #586 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Kel writes: I’m surprised you think by tearing down something that people aren’t arguing for that your world-view suddenly becomes a valid alternative.

    Pretty much what I’ve wanted to tell Owlmirror all along.

  586. #587 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Philosophical/theological arguments show or prove nothing. Words can be twisted to mean many things. Physical evidence is different matter. If you have a letter with the signature “god”, and the signature is always in flames, but the paper isn’t destroyed, or it can folded up and reopened with the same results at a later time, it might be proof of god. The letter needs to be examined by scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers to show it is not a trick, or it can’t be replicated by natural means. If it can’t be explained, it could be one piece of evidence for god. There would need to be more. I don’t see what your problem is with physical proof. A very simple concept.

    Then, again, there is no physical proof to back your arguments. That might be your real problem.

  587. #588 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Oh goody! John you want to know what I would consider as proof. No problem big boy.
    I will take as proof any of the old or new testament proofs of god/jesus. Let jesus show up in person and walk across the Columbia River. Let god make the sun stand still. If jesus can raise the dead, I’d like my grand parents, and all my pets back please. We have plenty of asses in my county, start making them talk. Turn me into a pillar of salt. Turn the moon to blood.
    See John, I’m easy to convince. Put up or shut up.

  588. #589 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    These pointless insults would sting more if they came from people who seemed to know (1) what empiricism is, (2) what the problem of induction is, (3) what the egocentric predicament is, (4) what the refutation of the empiricist concept of formation is, or (5) why these things matter.

    And there he goes again.

    Can I go after materialism rather than empiricism? Up to a point, yes, but materialism is not a world-view. A world-view needs a metaphysical system (like materialism) and an epistemological system (like empiricism) in order to be complete.

    Who is to say it’s complete? There are so many things I don’t know and are probably unknowable. But it’s better if the system got what we can know right rather than being complete. I don’t know where the universe came from if indeed it came from anywhere, I cannot adequately explain consciousness more than just on a superficial level (it stems from brain function), but I would much prefer to be humble in the face of the unknown than talk with absolute certainty about the nature of a being that simply doesn’t fit the constraints of reality. Christianity is full of empirical questions, God likes to interact with Earth and most specifically with us. Yet you talk about Christianity being a complete worldview when there is nothing empirical to suggest it’s validity? That it has in it’s core doctrine physical impossibilities and contradictions of everything we know about reality?

    (It also needs an ethical system, but more on that later.)

    Morality is a social construct, though I look forward to you bringing the Christian view of morality and ethics to the table. I’m going to bet now that it doesn’t match the empirical evidence we have of morality, that all you are doing to do is shove God into holes he need not be in. After all, “we hate god and those who honor god”

    One reason for addressing the epistemological standards of empiricism is very simple. People keep demanding “proof” of God’s existence or of Christian theism.

    Well Christian theism does pose many real world events, it’s what many Christians use as proof that it’s real. Yet when asking for any evidence whatsoever of these divine interventions, we get nothing. What’s the proof Jesus resurrected?

    What counts as evidence?

    An all-powerful God can’t regrow a limb on the command of a prayer?

    If the yardstick is faulty, then the measurements may be false.

    Empiricism has had a pretty good track record so far. I refer you again to the computer, it’s a fascinating device. If we didn’t understand electron flow, electromagnetic force, conductivity and semiconducting material, how different compounds work, and having a precise understanding of how mathematics ties it all, we would not be having this conversation now. Empiricism works because it’s a self-correcting system. What does Christian theology have? Raving madmen playing a game of chinese whispers at a time when God played the weatherman.

    The claim, “All knowledge is based on sense perception” cannot be evaluated empirically.

    Again, you miss the point of falsification. Like I’ve been saying all along, a statement like that can be falsified. All it takes is one example of perception without senses and that statement is wrong. But of course you ignore that, you’ve ignored that over and over to make the same mute point about the problem of induction.

    Since empiricism is self-defeating, using empiricism as the standard to evaluate Christian theism (or Hinduism or Kantianism or Platonic Idealism) is absurd.

    If you have something better than empiricism, bring it to the table! It’s by no means perfect, everyone here has been saying it’s by no means perfect. But it is as we speak the most practical tool we have for determining reality.

  589. #590 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Pretty much what I’ve wanted to tell Owlmirror all along.

    You wanted to tell Owlmirror off for something you’ve been doing yourself?

  590. #591 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    (I’ll admit that I haven’t been following what I thought was a long abandoned thread — and don’t wish to read almost 600 posts — but I thought I’d jump in anyway.)

    John Knight #583 wrote:

    This problem is why I have focused serious attention on the many problems of empiricism as an epistemology. Sound philosophical foundations of empirical methods cannot be found in empiricism.

    I don’t think that empiricism is ‘self-defeating’ so much as the demand for justification for it is self-defeating. The concept of ‘justifying something’ implies a pre-existing epistomological background. If I understand you correctly, it seems to me that you’re borrowing assumptions which belong to a concept (‘we need evidence for our beliefs’) in order to undermine that very concept. Not a legitimate move, I think.

    The problem of induction is only a serious problem if the standard is absolute certainty. We can only have absolute certainty on unambiguous, self-contained, self-confined analytical claims (ie math), or on uninterpreted, self-evident givens of experience (that is, I can be sure I exist, though I can’t be 100% sure in what form and detail I exist.)

    Pragmatic reliance, open to correction, and confirmed to varying degrees of certainty, is all we have on anything — and good enough. Though it won’t allow one to be ‘certain’ of God — if that’s your standard.

    What counts as evidence for “God” is going to depend on what “God” is supposed to be. Since definitions of God range all over the board and back again — sometimes it is a spiritual person, sometimes it is another word for existence, sometimes it is an emotional sense, and sometimes it is all of this, and more (or less) — I can’t answer the question.

    Do you have a clear definition?

  591. #592 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Kel writes:

    And as for morality? I can’t think of a worse book for people to derive morality from it.

    This statement is inconsistent with materialism. In a materialistic universe, there are no objective universal standards for morality. Therefore, there is no objective basis for calling one sourcec of moral teching “better” or “worse” than any other.

  592. #593 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    The problem of induction is only a serious problem if the standard is absolute certainty.

    Untrue.

  593. #594 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    And as for morality? I can’t think of a worse book for people to derive morality from it.

    This statement is inconsistent with materialism. In a materialistic universe, there are no objective universal standards for morality. Therefore, there is no objective basis for calling one sourcec of moral teching “better” or “worse” than any other.

    Just because morality is not handed down by a divine source, it doesn’t mean we live in a world of moral subjectivism. Morality is a social construct, it’s derived from our individual sense of right and wrong (an evolved trait) and put together with our social interactions. Morality is provisional, it changes as the social environment changes.

    John, you work in absolutes far too much.

  594. #595 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    The bible is not a book for morality. If you truly read it, like I have twice, you have god and people doing any number of vile acts that today we consider improper today, like slavery, giving your virgin daughters to crowds to make them go away, or a prophet calling upon bears to eat children who made fun of his bald head. Not any god or people I care to emulate, or would like anyone else to emulate.

    Morality starts with determining how we want to be treated, and then treating other people that way. This has a theoretical basis with game theory as being a very good strategy.

  595. #596 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    John Knight #593:
    Can you give an example of a conclusion drawn from evidence/experience which is not only flawed, but which no new evidence or experience could correct?

  596. #597 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror has evidently never heard of the “principle of charity” in interpretation. He does not apply it to my posts or to Scripture. Instead, he commits the Strawman Fallacy.

  597. #598 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    John, back up. Until you prove god, scripture is just a fiction. Put up or shut up.

  598. #599 Zarquon
    October 19, 2008

    The problem of induction is only a serious problem if the standard is absolute certainty.

    Untrue.

    Prove it.

  599. #600 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Kel – Before I get too swozzeled, or pissed off at John for being a complete ASS, let me compliment you on being a great poster this month! I watch for your comments, as well as all the Molly winners. Well done!

  600. #601 Zarquon
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror has evidently never heard of the “principle of charity” in interpretation.

    Of course he has. He knows it by its proper name: the fallacy of special pleading.

  601. #602 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    I’m giving you all the charity you deserve John. I ask you for nothing new of god. I’ll take the biblical proofs.
    God has appeared on earth, to humans before, he walked and talked with Adam in the garden, why won’t he come and talk to us now? Surely we need god more than ever. If jesus will have mercy on us, shouldn’t he do it now?
    The Vatican is standing, the pope is on his throne, why doesn’t god appear?

  602. #603 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Kel – Before I get too swozzeled, or pissed off at John for being a complete ASS, let me compliment you on being a great poster this month! I watch for your comments, as well as all the Molly winners. Well done!

    Awww shucks. Thanks Patrica :)

  603. #604 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    John Knight – You may as well kiss your stupid christian ass goodbye. Owlmirror is a Molly winner, and they are rarely bested by damn fools like you.
    You can’t win on science here.
    You can’t win on bible quotin’. You’re screwed dude, buzz off.

  604. #605 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Kel writes:

    Just because morality is not handed down by a divine source, it doesn’t mean we live in a world of moral subjectivism. Morality is a social construct, it’s derived from our individual sense of right and wrong (an evolved trait) and put together with our social interactions. Morality is provisional, it changes as the social environment changes.

    On the contrary, if morality is merely a social construct, then it is subjective. If morality is a social construct, then there is no objective basis for saying that the moral norms of Nazi Germany are worse than the social norms of modern America or contemporary Sweden.

  605. #606 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Nerd, Patricia: You have yet to prove that your world-view is true. Put up or shut up.

  606. #607 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Kel: If you’re not an empiricist, then what is your epistemology?

  607. #608 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Probabilism or inductive reasoning can show neither that its required assumption (that nature is uniform) is known with certainty nor that it is even probably true, for in that case it would offer an inductive argument in order to warrant the very premise needed to warrant inductive argumentation.

  608. #609 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Nerd, Patricia: You have yet to prove that your world-view is true.

    John, see the Null Hypothesis. I’m sure you’d agree that in all probability we do exist. That we are of the species homosapien, and we sit on a 4.5 billion year old rock that is part of a universe at least 3 times as old. Are you going to deny we exist and play a game of constructivist? Or would you agree that we all exist in this reality, and from there questions of what else in this reality are what is to play. We can all agree we exist, we are talking about an external being to our existence, God. What evidence of God do you have beyond the null hypothesis or that couldn’t be applied to any other quasi-deity or supernatural entity? Why the Christian God and not Thor? Why Jesus and not Krishna? Why the holy spirit instead of the invisible pink unicorn? Why the talking snake instead of the rainbow serpent? Why anything instead of nothing?

    John, you are proposing the existence of an unseen entity, surely you are going to have something more than “Well you can’t prove he’s not there” to substanciate your absolute certainty.

  609. #610 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    John, John you lousy liar. You are the one trying to promote your world view on us. As a result, you are considered wrong until you prove yourself right. So far, you have done a miserable job of it. Your approach is to believe you are right until we prove you wrong. That is a complete inverse of what you must do. That makes you a lousy liar for Jebus. You always have the option of going away and never posting her again. Now, if you want us to believe your world view, show us the physical evidence or you go away. Which is it going to be?

  610. #611 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror writes: You have no knowledge of God whatsoever outside of what is told in the “revelation”, or story.

    You’re begging the question. Try again.

  611. #612 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    On the contrary, if morality is merely a social construct, then it is subjective. If morality is a social construct, then there is no objective basis for saying that the moral norms of Nazi Germany are worse than the social norms of modern America or contemporary Sweden.

    Love the use of the either / or fallacy there. If it’s not commanded by God, then it has to be subjective. Of course we can condemn nazi germany, just as they can condemn us. But that misses the point of what morality it is, it seems that your version of a moral system is like the Creationist idea of a transitional fossil. It’s like you are asking “where’s the crocoduck?”. Well there isn’t one because you are asking the wrong questions.

    Morality is societally subjective, but not indivual. And we can damn well condemn any and all societies that aren’t like us, this is where the use of ethics comes in. Instead of just saying “they are wrong”, we have to justify it with normative reasoning. Rights and duties, consequentialism, deontology; while we can never get an absolute agreement on right and wrong across culture or even on an individual level, you miss the point to even consider that is how morality works.

    Are you going to stop making assumptions about a worldview you don’t understand? This is just like arguing with a creationist, you have a set idea of how things work and your faulty reasoning shines out. It’s quite pathetic to watch because you obviously do have at least a semi-functioning brain. It’s just you’ve rationalised away false dichonomies, you’ve made either/or fallacies, justified tautologies, and believe in the incredulous as if it were fact. Just a creationist in philosophers clothing.

  612. #613 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror lies….

    John Knight: Even more fundamentally, the claim that “all knowledge is based on sense perception” is self-contradictory.

    Owlmirro: Keep on arguing by fiat. I’m sure you’re continuing to impress yourself with your own erudition.

    Liar. I explained why the claim is self-contradictory. If you have too much mud in your ears to listen to the argument, don’t bother replying.

  613. #614 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Kel writes: You are misunderstanding the nature of empiricism. And like I’ve said, if you have a better way of measuring reality, show it!

    I am defining empiricism exactly the way that philosophers define the term. And you are begging the question. You assume that all reality is material, and that “measuring reality” is the sum total of all knowledge.

  614. #615 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    I asked (re the ‘problem of induction’): Can you give an example of a conclusion drawn from evidence/experience which is not only flawed, but which no new evidence or experience could correct?

    John Knight #608 wrote:

    Probabilism or inductive reasoning can show neither that its required assumption (that nature is uniform) is known with certainty nor that it is even probably true, for in that case it would offer an inductive argument in order to warrant the very premise needed to warrant inductive argumentation.

    I think this is meant to be a response to my question.

    First, inductive reasoning doesn’t require the assumption that ‘nature is uniform’ in every sense. If it did, then we would not be able to incorporate some of the counter-intuitive and highly irregular results of quantum mechanics into physics, and we are. All that’s really required is a basic assumption that, under the exact same circumstances, there will be the exact same results. We cannot always know circumstances with that sort of accuracy. Thus, the need to revise given new evidence.

    Again, it seems to me that the illegitimate move is not in offering an inductive argument to support inductive arguments in general, but in demanding ‘justification’ for ‘justification’ in the first place. You’re assuming what you’re trying to undermine.

    It’s a bit like someone saying to Bob “Bob, I don’t believe you are real. I want you to provide me with some evidence you ARE real. Only it better not be you providing the evidence, because then I’d have to assume you’re real in order to accept it, and I don’t think you ARE!”

    In this hypothetical scenario, Bob is not the one with the problem.

  615. #616 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    An exchange:

    John Knight You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant.

    Kel replies: Yet all knowledge and justification are material, they exist within the brain. Our brains are material entities, our thoughts are simply neurons firing in patterns.

    This is sad.

    “Justification” is not material. It does not exist in the brain. And it certainly cannot be subjected to empirical measurement. Sorry, but empiricism as an epistemology really is self-defeating.

  616. #617 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    I am defining empiricism exactly the way that philosophers define the term. And you are begging the question. You assume that all reality is material, and that “measuring reality” is the sum total of all knowledge.

    Like I’ve said repeatedly, show me it’s not all material. This is what falsification does, but of course you will ignore that again and go on about begging question again. But herein lies the problem. We as humans are made up entirely of matter, every little piece of us is made up of atomic particles. If there is a part that isn’t, show it. Falsify my statement. That’s all you have to do is falsify what I said any my entire argument is in the water. What about us cannot be explained by the interaction of matter in the manner of the four fundamental forces? Show me one thing on the human body that cannot possibly be the result of the laws of nature.

  617. #618 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Hey Nerd, we’re famous now – another idiot has noticed us.

    But again you fail John.
    I ask you for no more proof than the bible claims. I was a christian for 50 years. Unlike you, I have read the bible. I know what gods actions are.
    Science has proven there was no flood. Fossils, John. Science has proved that mankind did not walk with dinosaurs. I don’t assert that there is a god, I say you have nothing to present to prove your point. Ass.
    How do you explain fossils? Shit, I’m feelin’ real charitable tonight, how do you explain the Sphinx?

  618. #619 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    “Justification” is not material. It does not exist in the brain. And it certainly cannot be subjected to empirical measurement. Sorry, but empiricism as an epistemology really is self-defeating.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8311021@N03/2331862131/

    If you destroy parts of the brain, you lose cognitive abilities. They are gone, lost forever. Our thoughts, our memories, our reasoning abilities are all functionality of the brain. Injure it and face the consequences. Lose power and that’s it, you as you know yourself is over. Once you are braindead, you aren’t going to be alive anymore. It’s a wholly material organ that works on a material way.

    You really are no better than a creationist, you just ignore the science that doesn’t fit into your worldview.

  619. #620 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror either dishonestly or very stupidly misrepresents the Christian view of knowledge. He quotes the following passage to “show” that Christianity does not value knowledge:

    20. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    21. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

    Well? Where is the “wise man” of this world? Where is the scribe or debater who can defend his world-view? Owlmirror certainly hasn’t made a case for his world-view.

    Yes, God was well-pleased to save those who believe through the preaching that others see as mere foolishness. So?

  620. #621 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    John, John, you really don’t get it. We don’t have to defend our world view to you. Who are you to ask about that anyway? What are your credentials? Are you god?

    Remember, you came to this site, so you have to defend and prove yourself. As I have repeatedly stated, you do a piss poor job of it. If you can’t prove god, there is no scripture. Only after proving god and the scripture being the word of god can we talk about god given morality. You are stuck at proving god.

    Your god doesn’t exist. We don’t have to bow down to your imaginary sky ghost. You make yourself look less than intelligent twisting words to get there. Learn how to deal with atheist and no god.

  621. #622 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    John, give it up. You are an argument in insipidity who is doing nothing to justify their own worldview, instead attack those of others. Basically it’s like taking the statement “all cars are red”, then finding one that is not red then concluding “all cars are blue”. You still haven’t given any evidence for how you believe and why it’s it’s even slightly valid. We at least can see the functionality and construction of empiricism, there are plenty of devices now that require an intimate understanding of the material means of nature in order to operate. What do you have? “It’s not perfect, therefore Christianity is”, nevermind that Christianity encroaches on areas that are empirically testable.

    Is that why you are so hard on empiricism? Is it because the historical event that was Jesus doesn’t stay an article of faith? Might it be that proof beyond eyewitness accounts is needed for events that are outside the norm of reality? Or is it because you simply want to keep your delusion, under the impression that your God is the only way to look at reality when you can’t even provide even slight justification that Christian metaphysics is any more valid than pastafarianism metaphysics?

  622. #623 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror worships scientism, but abandons knowledge.

    John Knight: You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant.

    Owlmirror: This sort of argument might have flown in the 8th or 9th century, or even the 18th or 19th. But here in the 21st century, it demonstrates a pathetic ignorance of modern neurobiology (and even in the past, someone with knowledge of medicine and the body could have pointed to brain damage as a demonstration of the physical correlates of the mind).
    …”Cannot see knowledge”: PET and CAT scans. MRIs. We can watch the ebb and flow as the brain recognizes and processes information; we can observe neural growth correlating with activity; see mirror neurons fire as an action is itself observed; note the changes in behavior that result from the absence of function in certain brain areas. We can test the various types of memory and how they work, and what exactly happens when they fail, and which types of memory will continue to work when other types aren’t there.

    No, you stupid moron troll. I watch House, too. MRIs show brain activity, not knowledge.

    Calling something “knowledge” requires a normative judgment. How can you observe a normative quality? How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    Where are the adults? Is this just a place to “bash them nigg…. [I]um,[/I] Christians” or does anyone want a grown-up conversation?

  623. #624 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    “In all probability we exhist”.

    That is so damned funny I about wet myself.
    And your proof of that is? er…well we’re all here, we’re at least half drunk, and we are enjoying the experience of breathing.
    Some of us are going to share our biological resources with another live being – and god participates how?

  624. #625 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror worships scientism, but abandons knowledge.

    John Knight: You cannot see knowledge or weigh justification or taste epistemological warrant.

    Owlmirror: This sort of argument might have flown in the 8th or 9th century, or even the 18th or 19th. But here in the 21st century, it demonstrates a pathetic ignorance of modern neurobiology (and even in the past, someone with knowledge of medicine and the body could have pointed to brain damage as a demonstration of the physical correlates of the mind).
    …”Cannot see knowledge”: PET and CAT scans. MRIs. We can watch the ebb and flow as the brain recognizes and processes information; we can observe neural growth correlating with activity; see mirror neurons fire as an action is itself observed; note the changes in behavior that result from the absence of function in certain brain areas. We can test the various types of memory and how they work, and what exactly happens when they fail, and which types of memory will continue to work when other types aren’t there.

    No, you stupid moron troll. I watch House, too. MRIs show brain activity, not knowledge.

    Calling something “knowledge” requires a normative judgment. How can you observe a normative quality? How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    Where are the adults? Is this just a place to “bash them nigg…. um, Christians” or does anyone want a grown-up conversation?

  625. #626 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Calling something “knowledge” requires a normative judgment. How can you observe a normative quality? How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    Because, if you destroy parts of the brain, you lose certain abilities.

    Basically, it’s like looking on a computer handdrive and finding lots of 1s and 0s. Because we can’t map those individual bits of data to anything meaningful, we conclude that the computer must not store the information. That’s your argument in a nutshell. But the fact is that if we destroy the harddrive, we destroy the data. Just as if we destroy the brain, we destroy the knowledge.

  626. #627 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    John, Patricia and I have given you some examples that might help you prove your god. Good physical evidence that does not require fast talking to be believed. You are rather loath to show such evidence. That weakens you argument to point that we consider everything you say to be a lie. You need to rebuilt your credibility, but that requires some physical evidence.

    If you are sentient, you should see that you are in over your head. We have refuted everything you have presented and you refuse to acknowledge the refutations. You do have the ability to quit posting here. Think hard about that option.

  627. #628 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    John Knight #625 wrote:

    Calling something “knowledge” requires a normative judgment. How can you observe a normative quality? How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    It seems to me that you’re assuming that abstractions (and judgments) are mind-dependent, and therefore either cannot be physical, or cannot be explained in a material universe.

    Is this it?

  628. #629 John Knight
    October 19, 2008

    Owlmirror lies:

    Or he’s sulking because we wouldn’t let him get away with epistemological and logical murder.

    1) The problem of induction exists
    2) Therefore, empiricism is self-refuting
    3) Therefore, God exists and Christianity is absolutely true and consistent and has no logical problems and is the source of all knowledge, reasoning and moral judgment blah blah blah.

    Nope, sorry, not what I said.

    I pointed out that empiricism as a theory of knowledge is self-refuting.

    Additionally, it cannot overcome the egocentric predicament, the problem of induction or several other challenges.

    Therefore, world-views with empiricist epistemological commitments are not a viable alternative to Christian theism.

    Very, very different. As any honest person will acknowledge.

  629. #630 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Very, very different. As any honest person will acknowledge.

    1 Any idea without physical evidence cannot be proven and doesn’t exist
    2 There is no physical evidence for any god
    3 Therefore, god doesn’t exist.

    How honest are your John? Your god doesn’t exist, Time to stop believing in him.

  630. #631 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Fuck you John. By DNA I am a Bantu, therefore a nigger. I resent your comment, you racist bastard. On behalf of all the green eyed, blonde haired, and lilly white Bantu’s of this world I call you a racist asshole John. Fuck you.

    You loose John. You can’t prove your bible, and now you pull the race card. Idiot.

  631. #632 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Therefore, world-views with empiricist epistemological commitments are not a viable alternative to Christian theism.

    Are you under the delusion that Christian theism is the default?!?

  632. #633 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Are you under the delusion that Christian theism is the default?!?

    Just like the creobots. If evilution is no true, they are.

    A rather dishonest approach.

  633. #634 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Where are the adults? Is this just a place to “bash them nigg…. um, Christians” or does anyone want a grown-up conversation?

    PERSECUTION!!! PERSECUTION!!! Everyone is persecuting me because they don’t accept that Christianity is the only viable metaphysical worldview despite me posting no evidence to support that and worming around saying something meaningful to support it.

  634. #635 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    John Knight #629 wrote:

    I pointed out that empiricism as a theory of knowledge is self-refuting.
    Additionally, it cannot overcome the egocentric predicament, the problem of induction or several other challenges.

    And I have pointed out that one has to assume empiricism in order to ‘challenge’ empiricism in the first place.

    Your argument is self-refuting.

  635. #636 Zarquon
    October 19, 2008

    I pointed out that empiricism as a theory of knowledge is self-refuting.

    Additionally, it cannot overcome the egocentric predicament, the problem of induction or several other challenges.

    You did not point anything out. You have simply asserted it. The fact that you will not go into the details and your “arguments” consist of repeating yourself over and over show, empirically, that you’re full of shit.

  636. #637 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    John Knight – PZ is going to get around to you, you idiot. Your racist bullshit is beyond the pale.
    What the hell are you doing here?
    We are against sexism, racism and damned foolism. You are a racist damned fool. Go where you are appreciated. Idiot.

  637. #638 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Everyone except John Knight is right. He shows nothing. He has no proof. He is a racist, and full of shit.
    Trot out your god John.

    What a piss poor christian John is. I could argue ten times better than he does. Sissy!
    Come on boy, trot out jesus or shut the fuck up.

  638. #639 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    Er … I don’t think John Knight’s remark was racist. He was making an analogy to racism. The mere use of the “n” word (or near use) doesn’t entail racism in all and every context.

  639. #640 Sven DiMilo
    October 19, 2008

    Hey, I’m up for a grown-up, adult conversation!
    How ’bout them Phillies?

    (semantic philosophical sophistry in service of xtianity? nah.)

  640. #641 Kel
    October 19, 2008

    Yeah, it wasn’t racist. He was just trying to paint us as bigots. Remember, it’s the same guy who said this:
    You guys hate God & hate people who try to honor God. And you are willing to twist logic to justify your hostility.
    He’s losing the argument so he’s playing the persecution card.

  641. #642 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    awww… I’m trying to tilt my head and squit my eyes to see it your way Sastra.

  642. #643 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    Kel #641 wrote:

    He’s losing the argument so he’s playing the persecution card.

    It may come with the territory. I haven’t read through the whole thread, but Mr. Knight seems to be using a version (several versions) of a form of apologetics called presuppositionalism. The philosophical conundrums and handwaving cover a basic assumption about the debate ‘opponent.’

    From a Christian pre-sup website:

    A Presuppositionalist “does not try to “prove” that God exists or that the Bible is true. He holds to the Faith because the Bible says so, not because he can “prove” it. He does not try to convince the unconverted that the gospel is true. They already know it is true when they hear it. They need repentance, not evidence… He does not defend “natural theology,” and other inventions designed to find some agreement with covenant-breaking apostate mankind.”

    Of course, that’s from the Chalcedon Foundation, and I don’t think Knight is that far gone.

  643. #644 Nerd of Redhead
    October 19, 2008

    Typo in #633, I meant to say “if evilution is not true…”. I also screwed up the formating for #630. I appear to channelling the Rev in his absence.

    I think the whole exercise did not turn out a John expected. I think he thought he could waltz in here with a line of logic/philosophy, and get us to agree with him. He thought if he maintained his beliefs, we would eventually fall into his way of seeing things. But we kept demanding evidence he knew he was incapable of showing, and it frustrated the jebus out of him.

    John, if you come back, we will start out where we left off. That is proving that your god exists with some physical evidence.

  644. #645 Patricia
    October 19, 2008

    Thank you for bringing that up Kel.

    Damn straight I hate god. I hate god for hanging my grannies and aunties. I hate god for condemning me to hell because I like to fuck. I hate god for sending me into an eternal lake of fire because I want to get drunk and eat a fine meal. Piss on god. God is an asshole.

  645. #646 Sastra
    October 19, 2008

    Nerd of Redhead #644 wrote:

    I think the whole exercise did not turn out a John expected.

    Oh, I expect it did. He hoped to frustrate us, and succeeded. But, if so, it does not mean, what he thinks it means.

  646. #647 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    It may come with the territory. I haven’t read through the whole thread, but Mr. Knight seems to be using a version (several versions) of a form of apologetics called presuppositionalism. The philosophical conundrums and handwaving cover a basic assumption about the debate ‘opponent.’

    That seems a pretty good assessment of how this thread went down. Any time I asked anything specific about his beliefs or how he came to them was ignored for the option of talking about the problem of induction. I’ve asked multiple times for him to show any indicator whatsoever that he has a good reason for using what he does to understand the world, it just gets ignored too.

  647. #648 Wowbagger
    October 20, 2008

    John’s obviously an experienced debater. Unfortunately (for him) this isn’t a classroom – and all the philosophical tap-dancing in the world won’t change that.

    That he can construct a philosophical defence of xinanity is one thing; but it’s statements like this that I find staggering:

    Non-Christian world-views undermine the foundations of knowledge, reasoning, and moral judgments.

    If this is his genuine opinion and not rhetoric, it’s indicative of a profound self-delusion, one beyond that of the everyday religulous.

  648. #649 Patricia
    October 20, 2008

    I’m about to turn in for the night.
    But John just doesn’t cut it.
    He won’t back up his bullshit with the bible.
    Come on John, you got dragons and unicorns on your side.

  649. #650 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    John’s obviously an experienced debater. Unfortunately (for him) this isn’t a classroom – and all the philosophical tap-dancing in the world won’t change that.

    It’s amazing just how indepth someone can construct a philosophical statement that concludes with the non-answer of Goddidit.

  650. #651 Wowbagger
    October 20, 2008

    It’s amazing just how indepth someone can construct a philosophical statement that concludes with the non-answer of Goddidit.

    Indeed. As I’ve mentioned on threads past, I want to make one of those ‘motivational’ posters that goes something like this

    [picture maybe of some long-winded book justifying religious belief]

    Apologetics
    Because when you believe without evidence
    you have to console yourself somehow.

  651. #652 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Kel asks: Are you under the delusion that Christian theism is the default?!?

    No. Are you under the delusion that there is a default? All world-views bear the burden of proof. So far, I’ve seen no evidence for yours.

  652. #653 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    [picture maybe of some long-winded book justifying religious belief]

    Apologetics
    Because when you believe without evidence
    you have to console yourself somehow.

    Lee Strobel’s “The Case For Faith” would probably work there.

  653. #654 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    No. Are you under the delusion that there is a default? All world-views bear the burden of proof. So far, I’ve seen no evidence for yours.

    You agree that my worldview exists. We are all in agreeance here that the material world does indeed exist. Do you think the computer you are typing on is not real? Do you think it’s not material? Do you think it doesn’t work by material laws? You are propsing an extension to the world we know, you have the burden of proof.

    And again, what makes your worldview of metaphysics any better than the metaphysics of pastarafianism? Why is your God one which is monotheistic, but in 3 forms: the father, the son and the holy ghost? Why isn’t your God a giant spaghetti monster? How do you know that god is the Christian God?

  654. #655 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    John Knight writes: Calling something “knowledge” requires a normative judgment. How can you observe a normative quality? How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    Kel replies: Because, if you destroy parts of the brain, you lose certain abilities.

    But that fact tells us nothing about whether brain activity corresponds to true beliefs or false beliefs. Nor does it give us anyway to distinguish between warranted bel;ief & unwarranted belief.

    No, you cannot see knowledge as knowledge. Not with a thousand MRIs.

  655. #656 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    John Knight’s argument in a nutshell
    1. There are problems with empiricism
    2. Therefore Jesus died for our sins and rose on the 3rd day to be at one with his father [who happens to be himself]

  656. #657 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Kel writes: You agree that my world-view exists. We are all in agreement here that the material world does indeed exist.

    Believing in a material world does not mean believing in materialism. Believing in empirical methods does not mean believing in empiricism.

  657. #658 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Kel, you’re not ready for an argument. You just want to play Texas sharpshooter.

    And you’re ticked that I won’t play your game.

  658. #659 Wowbagger
    October 20, 2008

    John Knight wrote:

    And you’re ticked that I won’t play your game.

    The only game you’re playing, John, is the philosophical equivalent of three-card monty with a minor variation: there’s no red ball, no cards, and no table; we’re left with only your insistence that a) a god exists and b) it’s your xian god.

  659. #660 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    John Knight writes:

    On the contrary, if morality is merely a social construct, then it is subjective. If morality is a social construct, then there is no objective basis for saying that the moral norms of Nazi Germany are worse than the social norms of modern America or contemporary Sweden.

    Kel replies: Love the use of the either / or fallacy there. If it’s not commanded by God, then it has to be subjective.

    Not what I said. It may be true, but it’s not what I said.

    I said that if morality is a merely a social construct, then it must be subjective. God was not mentioned.

    Of course we can condemn Nazi Germany, just as they can condemn us.

    So? Is Nazi Germany objectively wrong? Not if morality is merely a social construct.

    But that misses the point of what morality it is, it seems that your version of a moral system is like the Creationist idea of a transitional fossil. It’s like you are asking “where’s the crocoduck?” Well there isn’t one because you are asking the wrong questions.

    I’m asking the wrong question? How so? Says who?

    Morality is societally subjective, but not [individually].

    Says who?

    And we can damn well condemn any and all societies that aren’t like us, this is where the use of ethics comes in. Instead of just saying “they are wrong”, we have to justify it with normative reasoning.

    And a materialist has no basis for talking about objective norms.

    Rights and duties, consequentialism, deontology; while we can never get an absolute agreement on right and wrong across culture or even on an individual level, you miss the point to even consider that is how morality works.

    How so? Says who?

  660. #661 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Patricia writes: All that’s really required is a basic assumption that, under the exact same circumstances, there will be the exact same results.

    …An assumption that cannot be proven empirically…

    So my point stands.

  661. #662 Tyler DiPietro
    October 20, 2008

    “The problem of induction exists”

    True, it can be construed as a “problem” if one regards pedantic appeals to circularity “problems”. You will note, however, that a similar problem (method of reaching a conclusion cannot recursively prove its reliability) also applies to deduction, abduction, etc. It’s a non-starter to argue against empiricism with this nonsense.

  662. #663 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Patricia writes:

    Again, it seems to me that the illegitimate move is not in offering an inductive argument to support inductive arguments in general, but in demanding ‘justification’ for ‘justification’ in the first place. You’re assuming what you’re trying to undermine.

    This is actually in interesting reply, but it makes a simple confusion. It confuses “justification” with a particular standard of justification. Humean empiricists have different criteria for justification than Hegelian rationalists, and as an Augustinian, I have criteria that are still different. How should we choose between such different standards? Doesn’t that choice need to be justified?

  663. #664 Tyler DiPietro
    October 20, 2008

    “How should we choose between such different standards? Doesn’t that choice need to be justified?”

    The same we choose anything, we use methods which yield the best results (best being a domain specific measure which, in science, usually amounts to the predictive value of a specific theory about the natural world).

  664. #665 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Nerd writes:

    John, Patricia and I have given you some examples that might help you prove your God. Good physical evidence that does not require fast talking to be believed. You are rather loathe to show such evidence. That weakens you argument to point that we consider everything you say to be a lie. You need to rebuild your credibility, but that requires some physical evidence.

    That’s like saying that the lack of “good physical evidence” for laws of logic proves that logic does not exist. Logicians must be con men (by your reasoning).

  665. #666 Tyler DiPietro
    October 20, 2008

    “That’s like saying that the lack of “good physical evidence” for laws of logic proves that logic does not exist. Logicians must be con men (by your reasoning).”

    So God is a formal, abstract entity rather than a being with a physical manifestation? Not following your comparison here.

  666. #667 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    But that fact tells us nothing about whether brain activity corresponds to true beliefs or false beliefs. Nor does it give us anyway to distinguish between warranted bel;ief & unwarranted belief.

    No, you cannot see knowledge as knowledge. Not with a thousand MRIs.

    How we distinguish between true and false beliefs is still done inside the materialistic organ that is the brain.

  667. #668 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    And a materialist has no basis for talking about objective norms.

    Says who? Not the evolutionary psychologists who actually study this.

    And you’re ticked that I won’t play your game.

    No, I’m ticked that you’re whole argument strategy is tearing down the other’s argument and having yours win by default. You aren’t providing anything to support your worldview, you are just playing a semantic game where you are contextualising meanings of words so anyone who argues against you is bound to contradict themselves.

    Even if you show empiricism to be limited (which everyone here freedly admits), it doesn’t make your view any less absurd. The fact that you won’t answer any questions on your belief while everyone here has answered everything you’ve come up with just shows you to be an intellectual coward, a worm who can’t put their own beliefs under the scrutiny they do for others. Why do you believe in the Resurrection of Jesus? Why do you believe in the holy trinity and virgin birth? Surely they are empirical questions, they are historical events and statements on the nature of reality. How do you know God? But of course you won’t answer, you are an intellectual imposter, a fraud, a charlatan. You hate reason and those who attempt to use it. You twist meaning in order to justify your own incompetence.

    I’ve answered all you’ve asked of me, you’ve answered nothing anyone here has asked of you. Coward!

  668. #669 Zarquon
    October 20, 2008

    See here for why Knight is full of shit.

  669. #670 Ichthyic
    October 20, 2008

    Believing in a material world does not mean believing in materialism. Believing in empirical methods does not mean believing in empiricism.

    //Indecipherable Rhetoric//

    here, it’s simple, even for you, sir black knight:

    show us how one can test a supernatural hypothesis. for that matter, show us how to even formulate such a hypothesis to begin with.

    I’ll save you the trouble: you can’t.

    ergo you’re wanking.

    btw, as long as you’re so obviously wanking, I suggest you ditch the fucking “materialist” jargon. It’s entirely made up and useless.

  670. #671 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    Believing in a material world does not mean believing in materialism. Believing in empirical methods does not mean believing in empiricism.

    So you agree that materialism and empiricism have their place in understanding the world? Good. We are on the same page then. What more is there, and how do you know so?

  671. #672 Wowbagger
    October 20, 2008

    That’s like saying that the lack of “good physical evidence” for laws of logic proves that logic does not exist. Logicians must be con men (by your reasoning).

    Feel free to point out where anyone – on this site, or on any other – is making the claim that logic created the universe. Or that logic can heal the sick, bring the dead to life, make it rain, banish demons, turn water into wine, answer prayers, turn people into pillars of salt, make asses talk and set bushes alight…need I go on?

    Logic needs no physical evidence to exist because no-one claims it has ever existed or acted in any physical sense – unlike your god. Or are you claiming, as Tyler mentions above, that your god is a ‘formal, abstract entity’ which has never, and can never, enter or affect the physical realm?

  672. #673 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    Kel rants:

    PERSECUTION!!! PERSECUTION!!! Everyone is persecuting me because they don’t accept that Christianity is the only viable metaphysical worldview despite me posting no evidence to support that and worming around saying something meaningful to support it.

    Nope, not persecution. Just immaturity.

    And trying to discuss foundational philosophical issues is not “worming around.” It is seeking clarity. Sorry if you’re not used to having your assumptions challenged.

  673. #674 Owlmirror
    October 20, 2008

    [Sheesh. I go out for an errand and come back to find that Knight is wriggling all over the chessboard, going from black to white and back again as it suits his needs.]

    The price of my education in philosophy

    Maybe you had just a wee bit too much education, and not enough actual thinking.

    These pointless insults would sting more if they came from people who seemed to know (1) what empiricism is,

    Nuts. You’re the one ignorant of empiricism — as you’ve demonstrated empirically.

    (3) what the egocentric predicament is,

    Your predicament is that you have too damn much ego, you pompous overstuffed blowhard.

    (4) what the refutation of the empiricist concept of formation

    You mean, the self-refuting refutation.

    Your incoherence is incoherent.

    (5) why these things matter.

    By your own philosophy, nothing matters. You naughty annihilating nihilist.

    One reason for addressing the epistemological standards of empiricism is very simple. People keep demanding “proof” of God’s existence or of Christian theism. But what standard are you using to evaluate the evidence? What counts as evidence?

    God speaking for himself and demonstrating his alleged attributes personally.

    “All knowledge is based on sense perception” cannot be evaluated empirically.

    Knowledge not based on sense perception cannot be evaluated, period.

    One cannot see knowledge, and even if one could, even then one could not see all knowledge.

    Deliberate misconstruing of “All”. 40 yard penalty.

    Sound philosophical foundations of empirical methods cannot be found in empiricism.

    Which I suppose is why you’re seeking to find them up your own butt?

    And as for morality? I can’t think of a worse book for people to derive morality from it.

    This statement is inconsistent with materialism. In a materialistic universe, there are no objective universal standards for morality. Therefore, there is no objective basis for calling one sourcec of moral teching “better” or “worse” than any other.

    Actually, it is Christianity that has no objective universal standard for morality; it’s the ultimate in moral relativism.

    The materialistic basis of morality is itself based on an empirical understanding of actions and consequences. Without that, you have no basis of morality anyway.

    The problem of induction is only a serious problem if the standard is absolute certainty.

    Untrue.

    Liar.

    On the contrary, if morality is merely a social construct, then it is subjective.

    Consensus on morality is not completely subjective, any more than scientific consensus itself is.
    The former is based on falsifiable and empirical understanding of actions and consequences, just as scientific knowledge is based on falsifiable and empirical understanding of experimental demonstrations.

    The only part that is entirely subjective is an individual actually caring about what the consequences of actions are.

    If morality is a social construct, then there is no objective basis for saying that the moral norms of Nazi Germany are worse than the social norms of modern America or contemporary Sweden.

    The moral norms of Nazi Germany were far closer to those of religion than to anything else.

    Just as their rejected an empirical approach to science, they also rejected an empirical approach to morality. As I said, not too different from theists.

    Owlmirror writes: You have no knowledge of God whatsoever outside of what is told in the “revelation”, or story.

    You’re begging the question. Try again.

    And lo, I did pray unto the almighty God, who knoweth all things, and can do all things, and I asked the LORD, “Oh God, who knoweth all things, doth John Knight speak sooth, or doth he pull that which is false from out of his fundament?” And the LORD did answer me: “Hearken unto me! I speak justified truth unto you when I say, John Knight hath no knowledge of Me or My works. Indeed, John Knight knoweth not true from false, and knoweth not that he knoweth not. He is a fool and a liar, and is like unto the sewage farm, full of stinking shit. So say I, the almighty and eternal LORD, who knoweth all things!”

    There you go. I now have justified true belief from God, the only impeccable source of justified true belief, that you don’t have justified true belief about God.

    QED.

    I explained why the claim is self-contradictory.

    Liar. I explained why your explanation was self-contradictory.

    I am defining empiricism exactly the way that philosophers define the term.

    Liar.

    “Justification” is not material. It does not exist in the brain.

    Liar.

    And it certainly cannot be subjected to empirical measurement.

    Liar.

    He quotes the following passage to “show” that Christianity does not value knowledge

    Paul did not, and neither do you.

    20. Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    21. For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

    Well? Where is the “wise man” of this world?

    The wise men of whom he spoke were the Greek philosophers. Remember what happened to them? They weren’t exactly treated very nicely by the Christians…

    Yes, God was well-pleased to save those who believe through the preaching that others see as mere foolishness. So?

    So, finally, even you acknowledge that Christianity is indeed foolishness.

    You simply don’t care that it is, which is the problem. And all of your evasive maneouvers are the deployment of pathetic and fallacious sophistry in the defense of foolishness.

    However, something that Christians forget is that God either changed his mind about what he told the Jews, or hid information from the Jews.

    In which case, you are now in the exact same place now that the Jews were then: You have no way of knowing that God did not change his mind again, or hide information from Christians.

    No, you stupid moron troll.

    Sorry, the title of “stupid moron” belongs to you, not me.

    Remember 1 Corinthians? The Greek for “foolishness” is ??????, or transliterated, morian. Or in other words, from the same Greek root as “moron“.

    Oh, and you’re definitely a “troll” as well. Troll.

    MRIs show brain activity, not knowledge.

    Uh-huh. And what knowledge exists without brain activity?

    How can you know that brain activity really is knowledge?

    I concede that in your specific case, brain activity is not knowledge. Your brain is apparently active, but there’s no knowledge that correlates to the bullshit you spout.

    It is a pure and vitalistic aetheric vapor indistinguishable from the ravings of a crazy person.

    Where are the adults? Is this just a place to “bash them nigg…. um, Christians” or does anyone want a grown-up conversation?

    Oh, the irony. You want to be treated like an adult, and you play the victim card?

    You whiny petulant spoiled little insufferable brat.

    I pointed out that empiricism as a theory of knowledge is self-refuting.

    And I (and others) pointed out that your refutation was self-refuting. Want to try again?

    Additionally, it cannot overcome the egocentric predicament, the problem of induction or several other challenges.

    Problems whose solution limits can be approached by falsification, and consensus, and by skepticism (NOT PYRRHONISM, YOU PATHETIC MISCONSTRUING GIT).

    Therefore, world-views with empiricist epistemological commitments are not a viable alternative to Christian theism.

    You mean Christian theism is not a viable alternative to falsifiable skeptical empiricism.

    Because Christian theism is make-believe.

    But that fact tells us nothing about whether brain activity corresponds to true beliefs or false beliefs.

    I will have to pull out my collection of articles on psychology and neurology that refer to the neural correlates of telling the truth and lying…

    And of course, the only way to determine whether the belief actually is true or false, in the real world, is… empirical demonstration of the facts of that belief. Hah.

    Of course, I grant that some beliefs may be true but unverifiable, or false and unfalsifiable.

    But Christianity qua Christianity is not among those beliefs.

    Believing in empirical methods does not mean believing in empiricism.

    Liar.

    Patricia writes:

    And you can’t even keep straight who you’re replying to. That was Sastra.

  674. #675 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    You really are a spoiled teenager, aren’t you, Owlmirror.

    I would love a face-to-face, one-on-one, equal time debate. Your ignorance would be on display for all to see.

    Quite frankly, I can’t type fast enough to correct the fallacies in this thread.

  675. #676 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    Quite frankly, I can’t type fast enough to correct the fallacies in this thread.

    It seems you can’t type fast enough even to correct your own.

    And trying to discuss foundational philosophical issues is not “worming around.” It is seeking clarity. Sorry if you’re not used to having your assumptions challenged.

    I’m fine with having my assumptions challenged, I’m not find with you worming out of answering any questions about your own assumptions. You are an intellectual coward who won’t answer any questions despite many answering yours freely. I’m surprised you can’t see your own behaviour given how much wanking you do over your own opinion.

  676. #677 Nerd of Redhead
    October 20, 2008

    John, you can’t argue god into existence. Either he is there and there is proof, or he doesn’t and the idea is lie. Your god doesn’t exist. Trying to argue that he does without supplying the proof makes you look simpleminded. Time to call it quits.

    Johns argument summarized: I am so intelligent that all of you need to bow down to my logic. That doesn’t work here. We are as authoritative are you, even more so.

  677. #678 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    I would love a face-to-face, one-on-one, equal time debate. Your ignorance would be on display for all to see.

    My irony meter exploded!

  678. #679 Wowbagger
    October 20, 2008

    Nerd of Redhead wrote:

    Either he is there and there is proof, or he doesn’t and the idea is lie.

    Nerd, c’mon – haven’t you read John’s posts? I mean, how can you fixate on something as trivial as that? He’s obviously a very smart man. He throws around terms like induction and epistemological and empiricism and (my favourite) egocentric predicament. Obviously, when you can toss about polysyllabics like that without fear then you don’t need anything as piddling as icky old proof or evidence or, I don’t know, reality. That’s just so pedestrian and uncivilised.

    No doubt he’d happily argue about exactly how many angels can dance on the head of that pin – and probably write voluminous tracts on the precise colour of the shoes they’re wearing and throw in a thesis or two on the music that’s playing as well.

  679. #680 Nerd of Redhead
    October 20, 2008

    Wowbagger, big words!? Oh, I have to go and hide. Never mind that the names of some of the compounds I have made over the years run to 6-10 lines of the printed page.

    Sheer logic can determine how many angels dance on the head of a pin. Or that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow. Mental masturbation for those so inclined. Something they should do in private.

    A scientist like myself would first have to determine that angels exist, what size are they, what size is the pinhead, and can angels really dance. Then, and only then, can we discuss how many can dance on the head of a pin.

  680. #681 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    A scientist like myself would first have to determine that angels exist, what size are they, what size is the pinhead, and can angels really dance. Then, and only then, can we discuss how many can dance on the head of a pin.

    That’s because you use the self-refuting epistemology of empiricism. If only you believed on faith like Christians do, then you’d be able to sort true beliefs from false beliefs.

    Funny that John Knight is under the impression that his study in philosophy makes him smarter than others. I came across another like that on the Richard Dawkins facebook group. He claims that he’ll become the next Newton by providing evidence of the paranormal. He’s just biding his time now, and anyone who doesn’t accept his word for it is closed minded.

  681. #682 Sastra
    October 20, 2008

    John Knight #661 wrote:

    (Sastra)writes: All that’s really required is a basic assumption that, under the exact same circumstances, there will be the exact same results.
    …An assumption that cannot be proven empirically…
    So my point stands.

    Since the assumption that ‘under the exact same circumstances, there will be the exact same results” simply restates and applies A=A, we can have more confidence in this than in any other empirical assumption. Our difficulty is in knowing whether things really are exactly the same.

    John Knight #663 wrote:

    This (demanding justification for justification assumes what it tries to undermine) is actually in interesting reply, but it makes a simple confusion. It confuses “justification” with a particular standard of justification. Humean empiricists have different criteria for justification than Hegelian rationalists, and as an Augustinian, I have criteria that are still different. How should we choose between such different standards? Doesn’t that choice need to be justified?

    We resolve differences in criteria the way differences are always resolved: by seeking a standard common to both. You cannot persuade someone to change their mind by pointing out that they’re violating someone else’s beliefs. You can only do it by showing them that they’re violating their own beliefs, going against their own standards and criteria — once they understand the entire situation.

    This is where humanist criteria have advantage over divine or religious criteria. It seeks an intersubjective common ground of agreement founded on human nature and a natural world. We agree on the existence of the natural world, and we share the same very basic values. There is our rock.

    Without that, anything goes. You do not anchor concepts — or morals — by appealing to standards outside of common ground. Religion and religious reasoning is, by its nature, special to a few, and ‘above’ the world. It will grant an unearned certainty, and can justify what, to the secular, look like absurdities — to all but the special few.

  682. #683 John Knight
    October 20, 2008

    So, finally, even you acknowledge that Christianity is indeed foolishness.

    No, you lying fool. It is *perceived* as foolish: “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.”

    And: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…”

    Your speculations are futile. You cannot even provide the barest justification for your knowledge claims, and you lack the integrity to admit it. You survive only in the midst of a supportive herd. Professing to be wise, you are a fool.

  683. #684 Nerd of Redhead
    October 20, 2008

    You cannot even provide the barest justification for your knowledge claims

    John, our knowledge claims are not under question. Yours are, since you are the one trying to posit your claims. And you do not defend your claims well, or at all. I don’t know what you call that, but I call it hypocricy.

    Time for you to quit. You lost many posts ago.

  684. #685 N.C.
    October 20, 2008

    Whoa. This thread is still going?

  685. #686 Owlmirror
    October 20, 2008

    No, you lying fool.

    Does having your delusional hypocrisy and intellectual double-standards exposed always make you mad?

    It is *perceived* as foolish:

    No, it is foolish. Because it is entirely unjustified.

    O hypocritical hypocrite, let’s see how you like eating your own words:

    John Knight’s speculations are futile. John Knight cannot even provide the barest justification for his knowledge claims, and he lacks the integrity to admit it. He survives only in the midst of a supportive herd. Professing to be wise, John Knight is a fool.

  686. #687 Laser Potato
    October 20, 2008

    Oooh, ooh, ooh. Careful there, John:
    “but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” -Matthew 5:22

  687. #688 Patricia
    October 20, 2008

    As a dog returneth to it’s vomit, so doth a fool to his folly.
    John Knight is a fool indeed.
    Nice quote Laser Potato. Even with that, the damned fool bible contradicts it’s self once again. So much for the inerrant word of the all knowing god.
    Should we tell lies? No! Yes! Does god ever lie? No! Yes!
    Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness.
    Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.
    but on the other hand…
    1 Kings 22:23 The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.
    II Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.
    Good ol’ godly John. Full of lies.

  688. #689 Kel
    October 20, 2008

    Your speculations are futile. You cannot even provide the barest justification for your knowledge claims, and you lack the integrity to admit it. You survive only in the midst of a supportive herd. Professing to be wise, you are a fool.

    I’m convinced, John Knight is a poe. There’s no way he could say that with a straight face after avoiding any questions on his beliefs while everyone here has shown justification for theirs. Either that or he wears Jesus Glasses so thick they don’t let any light in at all.

    You cannot even provide the barest justification for your knowledge claimsFunny you say that when people here actually have knowledge and you claim to have some that you can’t justify. Goddidit is not an answer, it’s avoidance; an act of intellectual cowardice.

  689. #690 Owlmirror
    October 21, 2008

    I’m convinced, John Knight is a poe. There’s no way he could say that with a straight face after avoiding any questions on his beliefs while everyone here has shown justification for theirs.

    Hm. No, I think not. That is, I think there is sufficient cause to suspect that a correlate of his intense psychological attachment to his delusion, and the mental compartmentalization that necessarily follows from that, is that he is perfectly capable of being utterly dishonest while at the same time being utterly sincere.

    Sastra did manage to get a tiny little confession out of him: That, hey, some philosophers do actually have different definitions for core concepts. But of course, his own core concepts are special and privileged.

    Either that or he wears Jesus Glasses so thick they don’t let any light in at all.

    Seeing him claim to be an Augustinian inspired me to review Augustine’s philosophical life:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/augustine/

    (and see also:
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/illumination/
    )

    It reminded me that Augustine was trying to reconcile some very, very conflicting ideas: The abstract and remote God of the Neoplatonians, the Middle-Eastern tribal deity Yahweh (wo was combined with the tribal deity El), the idealistic dualism of the Manicheans, and of course, the whole syncretic-Messianic-Eschatological cult mess that was Christianity. Unsurprisingly, however aesthetic some portions of the attempt may have been, the result is… not epistemologically nor logically convincing.

    And of course, the Church inherited Augustine’s philosophical collection of immiscible ideas, and has nevertheless maintained steadily over the past centuries that they are indeed miscible. You just have to look at it right, in a special and charitable way.

    Speaking of which…

    Owlmirror has evidently never heard of the “principle of charity” in interpretation. He does not apply it to my posts or to Scripture.

    Charity is for the impoverished. Are you really doing your arguments or scripture any favor at all by implying that they are like unto a blind legless beggar? (Perhaps with a cardboard sign reading “Lost my epistemological foundation and rational understanding. Please give.”)

  690. #691 Kel
    October 21, 2008

    That is, I think there is sufficient cause to suspect that a correlate of his intense psychological attachment to his delusion, and the mental compartmentalization that necessarily follows from that, is that he is perfectly capable of being utterly dishonest while at the same time being utterly sincere.

    Agreed, his unwillingless to open up and subject his own beliefs to that same scrutiny that he is putting on others is very much intellectually dishonest. I’m sure he doesn’t see that way, that he sees our questions as philosophically meek. Yet everyone here has been more than happy to answer his questions, the fact that he went on for over 100 posts of this thread about the epistemological problems of empiricism when everyone else was talking about pragmatism then when he finally realised that, he tried again shifting his criticism to the epistemological problems of empiricism.

    He’s been asked several times to show any reasoning why his beliefs are right, he won’t give any reason why his worldview is more viable than any others; instead turning the question back on anyone who asks it. He’s not here for a discussion, he’s right (in his head) so he doesn’t have to justify his own beliefs to anyone. He can’t even say how he knows God exists, or that Jesus walks the earth. He can’t say how he knows of the virgin birth, of the holy trinity, of the resurrection, of miracles. How does he know all those? He won’t say. He’ll dump on empiricism without providing any better means to understand knowledge.

    I can only imagine him in that one on one debate in front of an academic audience. It would be so funny to see him try and convince an academic crowd that he needs no jusification for his own beliefs because he sees epistemological problems in the beliefs of others. He’s the Dinesh Z’Souza of this thread.

  691. #692 John Knight
    November 29, 2008

    Sastra writes (#682):

    Since the assumption that “under the exact same circumstances, there will be the exact same results” simply restates and applies A=A, we can have more confidence in this than in any other empirical assumption. Our difficulty is in knowing whether things really are exactly the same.

    Obviously, if we are discussing two separate occasions, then things are never “exactly” the same. The time index is different. So this approach to induction is useless.

    More generally, attempts to derive causation from the Law of Identity have proven unsuccessful in the history of philosophy. Such attempts involve a category error regarding the nature of the Law of Identity. As one evidence of this error, these attempts consistently lead to the conclusion that “nothing ever changes,” since the Law of Identity prevents them from changing.

    Sastra writes:

    We resolve differences in criteria the way differences are always resolved: by seeking a standard common to both.

    Then we may be in trouble. We do not have common standards.

    For example, if we were having coffee & doughnuts at some café, discussing the historical evidence for the Resurrection, would we really agree on common standards of evidence? As a materialist, you are pre-committed to the idea that claims of immaterial entities are invalid (or at least highly suspect). As a Christian, I believe that we can only use & evaluate empirical evidence because of immaterial entities. In that sense, I hold the use of empirical evidence to be evidence for immaterial entities.

    The idea that materialists & Christians genuinely share common ground reflects an orientation towards discreteness in one’s philosophy: different pieces of a world-view can just be broken off randomly. But if world-views form organic wholes, with epistemologies & metaphysical systems that are interconnected, then the surface appearance of similarity should not be mistaken for genuine commonality.

    You cannot persuade someone to change their mind by pointing out that they’re violating someone else’s beliefs. You can only do it by showing them that they’re violating their own beliefs, going against their own standards and criteria — once they understand the entire situation.

    Yah. That’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to explain how the epistemology professed by Kel & others here is self-refuting. Now Kel tells me that he’s not really a Humean empiricist, he’s more of a pragmatist. I assume it was a misunderstanding. I asked him if he was empiricist and what he meant by that before I began my critique of radical empiricism, but he seems not to have thought carefully about such matters heretofore, so a measure of confusion is natural.

    This is where humanist criteria have advantage over divine or religious criteria. It seeks an intersubjective common ground of agreement founded on human nature and a natural world. We agree on the existence of the natural world, and we share the same very basic values. There is our rock.

    Allegedly. (I believe Habermas advances this opinion.) So far, to my knowledge, the humanist project has failed to provide a secure basis for knowledge or for intelligibility. But I am open to suggestions.

    Without that, anything goes. You do not anchor concepts — or morals — by appealing to standards outside of common ground. Religion and religious reasoning is, by its nature, special to a few, and ‘above’ the world. It will grant an unearned certainty, and can justify what, to the secular, look like absurdities — to all but the special few.

    I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say here.

    Best,

    JK

  692. #693 Nerd of Redhead
    November 29, 2008

    Still no proof for your imaginary god. TSK, TSK. At some point you are going to have to put up or shut up on the god issue.

  693. #694 John Morales
    November 29, 2008

    John Knight:

    Posted by: John Knight | November 29, 2008 9:25 PM
    Sastra writes (#682):

    #682: Posted by: Sastra | October 20, 2008 9:10 AM

    That’s 40 days ago!

  694. #695 Nerd of Redhead
    November 29, 2008

    John, delusional godbots love old threads, along with creobots. Just an occupational problem with them.