Pharyngula

Another mind poisoned

Once upon a time, one of the more popular atheist sites on the web was The Raving Atheist. Then the blogger became the raving anti-abortionist, and most of his readership left — they even set up an independent forum where they could continue their discussions without the weirdo in charge of the blog butting in (uh-oh…I just gave you all an idea, didn’t I?).

Anyway, now the process of conversion is complete. Say goodbye to the Raving Atheist.

There’s an interesting analysis of the process of deconversion to be made here. I suspect he’s been getting a lot of personal support and attention from Christians actively interested in converting him over the years, and it’s that emotional massaging that convinced him to throw his brain out the window.

(Via the Raving Atheists Forum)

Comments

  1. #1 Brownian, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Wow. I find deconversiom from active atheism to theism fascinating. It tweaks the “Could it happen to me? If so, how and why?” thought process.

    I haven’t followed his blog, so I don’t know the details. Was it emotional appeal? What emotions were appealed to?

  2. #2 Marc Abian
    December 23, 2008

    PZ, you should totally convert for April 1st next year.

  3. #3 Kimbo Jones
    December 23, 2008

    Could the whole thing have been an elaborate fake out? Like some christian with a lot of patience creates an “atheist” blog only to “convert” later.

  4. #4 hermit
    December 23, 2008

    “emotional massaging?” We used to call it “love-bombing”
    Many,many cult groups use the practice to simply wear the victim down.

  5. #5 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    I would have been more impressed if he had converted to islam.

  6. #6 The Rev
    December 23, 2008

    I was a long time RA member. He’s been batshit for awhile though. We all knew this was coming. Didn’t he marry a catlicker? First he went all pro-life, then he went all stupid. Shame.

  7. #7 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    Jesus-Fucking-Christ-on-a-stick. Can she not hear the idiotic catch-phrases and irrational religion-speak? How do you go from logical and reasonable to blind and faith-driven?
    This is a reminder -a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Idiot.

  8. #8 Marc Abian
    December 23, 2008

    Could the whole thing have been an elaborate fake out? Like some christian with a lot of patience creates an “atheist” blog only to “convert” later.

    I’m not familiar with this guy, but one way to tell is to check if his atheist posts made sense. I generally find most christians don’t really understand a lot of our arguments.

    Oh, and since I’m making suggestions today, you should change your name to Krimbo Jones for the Christmas period.

  9. #9 Glen Davidson
    December 23, 2008

    I suspect that we will see with him what we see with most such “conversions”–a marked reduction in meaningful questioning.

    It’s generally a kind of entry “into the fold,” acquiescing to the group’s “answers” and giving up doubts, questions, and well, intellectualism. And I think it’s satisfying to some people.

    And he’s probably getting up in years…

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  10. #10 gryphin
    December 23, 2008

    I would love to know his inner thoughts on that one. I’ve heard and known of people who gave up a scientific career because of the conflicts with religious beliefs, but I’ve never known someone who was an intelligent, well-read atheist, flip back over to the religious side. (not a “I hate god and I’m an atheist because I hate my parents” emo kid)

    I’d like to think we’ve beaten pretty much every possible argument for religious faith as intelligent, scholarly atheists. (at least the 3 “Book” faiths, and I think the rest fall pretty fast after those 3 do.) Every discussion I get into these days seems to get around to finishing with:

    Me: Well, before the big bang, our physics just don’t work, we can’t tell what was going on before then, because there was no universe as we know it.
    Them: See! So Goddunit!
    Me: No, actually, there’s several plausible theories, we just have no way to test them..
    Them: Nu-uh! Goddunit!

    This after they handwave away all the errors/contradictions/outright lies in the Bible.

    So I have a really hard time seeing what rational, scholastic reason The Raving Atheist has for conversion. It’s really got to come down either #3’s theory, or just a pure base psychological issues of Fear of Death, and Need of Love that the love-bombing christian community has solved for him.

  11. #11 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Perhaps we should try love-bombing.

    If only to communicate to the idiot masses that we don’t eat babies.

    Who knows, it might even win us a few people.

    Also, people are fucking morons.

  12. #12 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Okay, I only glanced at the website, but this looks like satire. I mean, c’mon — look at the cheesy painting.

    I have known just a very few atheists who had based their naturalistic beliefs on rational analysis and science, and then later converted to a religion. In each case their ‘conversion’ was cautious and intellectual, and their new-found understanding of God rather esoteric — a sort of Deistic Ground of Being or Causative Principle, rather than the Personal Bestest Friend in Jesus.

    Although I don’t know Raving Atheist or his site, I think it’s very unlikely that someone would go from a well-thought out humanism (whatever the stance on abortion) straight to a mindless form of worship which delights in citing rote creeds and posting pictures of Jesus smiling at children. I would guess that most “former atheists” who’ve succumbed to that sort of thing were either nothing-in-particular to begin with, or really just hostile towards churches and believers, so that they crumble when met with kindness and support.

    So no, I don’t buy this. Not yet, anyway.

  13. #13 Somnolent Aphid
    December 23, 2008

    That be some powerful mojo they be workin’
    or, more skeptically #3 Kimbo Jones is right.

  14. #14 Morejello
    December 23, 2008

    My intuition tells me that Kimbo is probably on to somthing here – Realistically, how often in life do you see someone completely turn their entire philosophical belief system completely upside down, and in the short course of just a few years?
    It’s a scam.

  15. #15 Matt7895
    December 23, 2008

    So this guy has evidence for god and the divinity of Jesus? I think we’d all love to see it.

  16. #16 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Sastra – the subset of those who converted weren’t very cautious or intellectual, now were they?

  17. #17 Screechy Monkey
    December 23, 2008

    Brownian: I guess we’ll have to see if The Artist Formerly Known As The Raving Atheist will offer an explanation of his conversion, and I know some people have alluded to some other personal issues he might have, but it sure seemed to me and many of his commenters that it was abortion that did it.

    RA was vehemently anti-abortion; he apparently worked in one of those “pregnancy crisis counseling” operations run by Christians.

    Although I’m pro-choice myself, I don’t that the pro-life position is impossible to rationalize without religion. I think Hitchens has tried to do that. But RA made such a hash of it — all of his arguments were basically versions of “I wouldn’t have wanted to be aborted” — that it seemed to me he was being backed into a corner. His fellow atheists were tearing him apart intellectually (for which no apology is needed, of course, especially to someone who was so quick to dish out mockery and abuse as RA), while Christians were telling him, “there, there, it’s ok. You’re a good person for being pro-life, not like the rest of those mean, nasty atheists.”

    Anyway, it was actually RA’s blog that led me to Pharyngula way back when, so I can thank him for that, I guess. And he did have some very entertaining rants.

  18. #18 John Atkeson
    December 23, 2008

    Most of the people I’ve met who suddenly went Jesus-y did so because of deep loneliness, or emotional trauma, or a really screwed up personal life.

    It’s hard to imagine an actual *thought process* that could take you from skepticism to religion. I think you just have to be in some kind of personal hell first, and willing to accept love at any cost.

    Religion saves us, because God is a substitute for love.

    Religion kills us, because God is a substitute for love.

    I also suspect that some atheists were never skeptics, just zealots who happened to randomly land on anti-religion as their creed.

  19. #19 rob johnson
    December 23, 2008

    whoa. i hadn’t read his site for a while and this is a shock to me. i find it overwhelmingly sad and seriously…scarey. the poor guy looks like he’s had a mental break.

    i never thought i’d think of someone becoming a christian as having a mental break, but, well, you know growth and rationality winning over an upbringing in a fundie household will do wonders… :)

    it seriously looks like the poor guy is brainwashed.

  20. #20 Holydust
    December 23, 2008

    Yet another sheep baa-ing another pointless bleating because he couldn’t be bothered to read any of the books that would have settled the matter (the Bible being one of them, Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason” being another).

    I give up on these people. In my 26 years I have come to realize that there is one unifying factor in their conformity:

    None of them is willing to bother to read anything. So they’d rather throw away a chance to have a perfectly functional worldview, one way or another, to avoid having to read.

    I respect those few, few, FEW Christians who actually have read the Bible top to bottom (a few pastors I’ve known fit the bill) and still believe it. At least I can say they have tested their faith and found it solid.

    Most people I’ve met in my life, however, won’t bother. And that’s just lazy.

    I am just going to assume this guy had never gotten familiar with the Bible, still hasn’t, and was just brought around to the Lord because it’s too damn popular not to be right, right?

    Thank goodness I got out.

  21. #21 Professor Chaos
    December 23, 2008

    Please don’t allow this batshit to dirty the good name of our forum, the Raving Atheists. As PZ mentioned, we saw this coming a long time ago!

  22. #22 Fly in the Ointment
    December 23, 2008

    This story should reveal to your fool followers the eventual conclusion of their lack of morality and ethics. Once you’ve gone far enough down the atheist path, once you’ve allowed enough forces to aline against you,the truth becomes painfully clear. This is the truth of the deathbed conversion many of you secretly fantasize about. Many of you believe that God will spare you from the flames because of your superior intellect, your “keen observations” of His universe. You are no more to him than disobedient dog is to an owner. The time to repent is today.

    In Christ I pray for you.

  23. #23 qwerty017
    December 23, 2008

    @EV:
    I know. Seriously. This would be like a botanist suddenly coming around to the idea that dryads are what makes plants healthy. I just don’t see how that is even possible.

  24. #24 Sven DiMilo
    December 23, 2008

    I’m leaning toward Sastra’s perspective. That kitschy pic of the adoring multiracial American children making physical contact with WASPy Jesus screams “Poe”!
    But I see no other clues, and apparently it’s consistent with the guy’s history…wow.

  25. #25 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Scum in the Feces-Pile has been killfiled.

  26. #26 PGPWNIT
    December 23, 2008

    Raving [anything] would tend to get tiresome after a while.

  27. #27 The Rev
    December 23, 2008

    Meh, the RA hasn’t been a hangout for a good long time any way. Pharyngula is where it’s at, and I know a good portion of us defected to join the squiddish masses :)

    Happy Monkey!

  28. #28 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Go to Guyana and drink your Kool-Aid, fundie shithole. Because if you pigshits keep going at the rate you’re going, soon you’re going to be killing yourselves off in your alleged armageddon. You’re just another cult.

  29. #29 PGPWNIT
    December 23, 2008

    The Rev….are you THE The Rev?

  30. #30 Ryan F Stello
    December 23, 2008

    Never heard of him, but his previous posts before this don’t seem to be leading up to this magnum opus of hossanas.

    That said, true or not, it was fun to read the positive comments criticizing people for doubting that the ‘conversion’ was illogical….when the post didn’t make any logical argument.

  31. #31 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    How exactly do you fall down and worship something when you have no convincing evidence of its very existence?

    If he does have convincing evidence of its existence, he owes it to the world to share it. Facts are facts.

  32. #32 dahduh
    December 23, 2008

    (Sigh) Another contender for the Templeton prize… but it’s nice to know that even a small town prof doesn’t have to retire on an academic pension.

  33. #33 Ryan F Stello
    December 23, 2008

    Sorry,

    criticizing people for doubting that the ‘conversion’ was illogical

    should have been:

    criticizing people for saying that the ‘conversion’ was illogical

  34. #34 The Rev
    December 23, 2008

    I am that I am… the one and only TRUE Rev. All other Revs are but false…

  35. #35 sara
    December 23, 2008

    WordPress security is no match for Christian hackers.

  36. #36 Ward S. Denker
    December 23, 2008

    I think that there’s a pretty good chance that this was the original intention of the author of that blog. I never read it, so it’s hard to be sure.

    What better way to give hope to the godbots that they’ll be able to convert us heathens than to pretend for a while to be an atheist and then be “converted” and “see the light?”

    If I can think it up, someone else surely has.

    Of course, the guy could have been eventually worn down as PZ suspects and eventually fallen for Pascal’s Wager or some other such unintellectual garbage.

    Another simple answer is that his site could have been hacked.

  37. #37 Scott M
    December 23, 2008

    Idiot poll to be crashed! Link to it is at the bottom of the page: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/28364813/?GT1=43001

  38. #38 MickyW
    December 23, 2008

    Love that Jesus picture. He looks so…..white, Anglo-Saxon, dare I say…American!! Wow, I’m so glad Jesus looks just like us folks, and not like some first century Semite with dark hair and dark skin. Praise the Lord !!

  39. #39 raven
    December 23, 2008

    People do sometimes have mental breakdowns from personal problems and never recover. We’ve all seen it.

    1. One professor developed a serious drinking problem. His lab fell apart and he never recovered. Tenure so he just filled a space for a few decades.

    2. Another one disappeared in the middle of a semester. Sent a note from India that he had joined a Hindu cult and would be back in 6 months. Tenure, never did another experiment.

    3. Successful businessman got divorced. Several decades of erratic behavior later, lives in public housing for the incurably mentally ill on SSI.

    Seems to happen in mid adulthood. This guy probably just went too far around the bend and couldn’t get back.

  40. #40 yakaru
    December 23, 2008

    Don’t know the guy and never will, but I must say I also smell a rather large rat. If he’d become some kind of deist after a personal “experience” I would find it more believable, and may even be slightly interested to see what happened, but this is a bit far fetched.

    What is more like — that an atheist got Jeebus exactly like he says, or that a born again fanatic dedicated a few years to suck a few people in. Danger of the internet. Maybe all atheist bloggers should now take the blasphemy challenge, or better, skewer a few crackers.

  41. #41 Fly in the Ointment
    December 23, 2008

    The message is clear to all but the most rebellious: accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and be redeemed in his name.

    In Christ

  42. #42 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    There is no afterlife Fly In The Ointment. You will not feel, see, smell, taste or hear anything once your brain ceases to function (which some can argue that it already has). No hereafter, no fiery flames – nada, zip, bupkis. You will rot in obscurity.
    Your contribution to the world will be lying about non-existant deities and getting people to be mindless sheep so they can really live it up in a fictional afterlife. You are a pathetic, useless dolt. Put your faith to the test, asshole, and go proselytize to the Israelis.

  43. #43 Nick Gotts
    December 23, 2008

    Fly in the Ointment,
    We all know you fantasise about a deathbed conversion to Islam. After all, even you can see how ludicrous the doctrines of the “trinity” and “incarnation” are. Do you really think Allah will spare you from the flames of hell because you were one of the “people of the book”? The time to repent is now!

  44. #44 Barry
    December 23, 2008

    I’m calling it now. Deep-cover liberal troll!

  45. #45 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    non-existent.

  46. #46 H.H.
    December 23, 2008

    Welcome to the hive mind. The assimilation is complete.

    [sigh] Well, I never really knew this character either, but if any atheist finds themselves duped by theological nonsense, I doubt they were ever a very good atheist to begin with.

    And LOL at Fly telling us we should all be obedient dogs. What a flimsy excuse for a human being.

  47. #47 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine #16 wrote:

    Sastra – the subset of those who converted weren’t very cautious or intellectual, now were they?

    Yes they were; that was my point. I know of only a few examples of atheist-to-theist conversions in which the atheist was a thoughtful secular humanist, and had a firm grasp of the rational issues to begin with. Within that small subset of converts, the form of theism chosen was then both cautious and intellectual. They go from secular humanism to whatever the heck it is that’s winning today’s Templeton prizes. I’ve never seen anyone go from secular humanism to a full-blown Born Again experience.

    I’ve heard of atheists who do so, but their arguments against God were usually arguments against God, or against religion, or against the believers — emotional. Of course, this guy was called “The Raving Atheist.” I’m a bit suspicious about those who rave too much. There’s a danger of personalizing the issue.

  48. #48 Lee Picton
    December 23, 2008

    Fly in the ointment #22 & #41

    Assuming that you are NOT a poe, I should like to say that it’s arrogant, supercilious, sanctimonius retards like you that make me glad I am atheist. Empty threats, meaningless prayers (terribly rude to pray, don’t you know), feeling superior – does that make you feel all warm and fuzzy now? If civilization comes to an untimely end, it might just be because of cretins like you.

  49. #49 Nick Gotts
    December 23, 2008

    MIckyW,
    Actually, that Jesus looks like a bloody hippy to me! Very suspicious the way he’s fondling those children too. Druggie pedophile, I reckon.

  50. #50 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    I was highly amused that the first message for Raving Theist was “Welcome home.” It is what Rush Limbaugh says to a caller who states “I used to be a liberal until I started listening to you.”

  51. #51 culmastadm
    December 23, 2008

    Maybe he was so Athiest, he went all the way around to Christian.

  52. #52 Jesse
    December 23, 2008

    I’m not familiar with this guy either. But I am not so sure whether to buy it or not, after glancing at his page.

    Let’s assume it’s a “true” conversion, whatever that means.

    I know it’s easy to call theists “stupid” as the Rev does, or “blind” as E.V. does. Sastra’s comment is a little more on point, I think.

    After all, CS Lewis wasn’t stupid, and I know a lot of theists who can beat us all at chess, you know?

    In any case, I can think of a few reasons people convert.

    One might be the meaning issue. Even if you don’t believe in a God like the one in the Bible — and frankly, most people who say they believe in God don’t (assuming they even give it that much thought) — to say that, “There is nothing but the physical world and when you die it’s over,” doesn’t cut it a lot of the time. Yeah, they are all weak-willed fools, we create our own meaning, yadda yadda. But before we get all self-congratulatory on how tough-minded and rational we are walk a little in someone else’s shoes, hm? Sometimes things that make you feel better aren’t automatically bad, even if they have no rational basis. (For instance, I feel better seeing the Red Sox win, even though there is no rational reason for me to feel that way, since it doesn’t affect my life in any real, concrete fashion).

    Another might be the fear of death and hoping for an afterlife, a subset of the above.

    Maybe this guy got love-bombed and got a whole lot more emotional support from a group of religious people than a group of atheists during a tough time, in which case it is those of us who are atheists who have some thinking to do. That is, if the theists are better at offering such, maybe we’d all better give our attitudes and methods a think. After all, we’re supposed to be offering reality as having value in itself, right? I’m not saying to embrace God, I am saying we need to ask why this happened, if it did.

    I mean, let me put it this way. If one group says “I’m sorry your mother just died, but her life was just ending and there’s nothing left of her now,” and another says, “I’m sorry your mother just died, allow me to offer a shoulder to cry on and whatever support you need,” which one are you going to hang with? (I know most atheists aren’t that harsh, but I am trying to offer the perspective of one in a stressful situation).

    Anyhow, that’s just a set of hypotheses, based on very skimpy evidence and the observation that there is a difference between irrational decisions and the arational* decisions we make every single day, and that people aren’t always one or the other.

    (*Such as, do I like strawberry flavored yogurt for breakfast or Cheerios today is an arational decision — there’s no particularly good or bad reason for either and I don’t know anyone who spends a half hour in the morning weighing the pros and cons. PZ’s decision to study cephalopods is another example — he could, with equal justification, have decided on physics, math or mammals as a field — there is no more “rational” choice).

  53. #53 Ryan F Stello
    December 23, 2008

    Fly in the Ointment…good analogy for a trapped, inconsequential crap eater.

  54. #54 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    The message is clear to all but the most rebellious: accept Jesus Christ Haile Selassie as your personal savior and be redeemed in his name.
    -Yours in Rastafarianism.

  55. #55 Matt Heath
    December 23, 2008

    You are no more to him than disobedient dog is to an owner. The time to repent is today.

    Hey everyone look. Fly intends to chuck his still-conscious dog on a fire if it disobeys him. Someone alert the authorities.

  56. #56 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    Jesse, What’s wrong? You sound so concernedthat you need to make apologies for theists.

    p.s.-You don’t even need to be sane to be good at chess.

  57. #57 J-Dog
    December 23, 2008

    Scott – Your poll link is proof that there are a LOT of Mega-Stupid people out there! 93-7 believe in angels – WTF>>????!!1111. To be fair, I guess it is worth pointing out that the poll is self-selecting – people that are interested in reading the story about angels.

    I wonder if MSN would be interested in taking a picture of the Jesus In My Stool that I noticed this morning? Oh well, If not, I’ll just make another one tomorrow.

  58. #58 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Four or five years ago, when I was a brand-new atheist looking for information, I ran across this guy’s site. I thought the idea of someone posing as a raving mad, pissed off atheist was funny, and I followed the blog for a couple months. Then something started to smell fishy. I’m not saying that he was a deep-undercover Christian, but I definitely got a whiff of something “not all right” there. I had to stop reading long before he got all anti-abortiony. He simply didn’t add up.

  59. #59 Laura
    December 23, 2008

    I find it very sad to see this type of thing, but I can only assume that the person was unstable to begin with. Atheism does not guarantee sanity, and this person grandly demonstrates this.

    Any sane, rational atheist would just not be able to fathom suddenly adopting such absurd dogma and pretending it’s a fact. There’s no way this guy believes what he’s saying.

  60. #60 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    speedwell #31 wrote:

    If he does have convincing evidence of its existence, he owes it to the world to share it. Facts are facts.

    Exactly. I’m curious to see what his rationale is.

    When Dan Barker de-converted from evangelical Christian to atheist and ‘came out’ to his friends and colleagues, he was very surprised that virtually nobody was interested in hearing his reasons, or listening to his arguments. No, they wanted to know who had “hurt” him, or what had gone wrong in his life, that he would cast aside God. He found it frustrating. He hadn’t “cast aside God.” He’d thought through a position, and changed his mind.

    I’m not interested in this guy’s personal life. I want to know his reasons — in formal argument form, if possible. So do we all.

    If it’s “I just broke down and admitted God was God” then there’s an end to the intellectual process. And we’re in no way impressed or concerned. Theists may fantasize that atheists “know deep-down there is a God,” but any secular humanist worth their salt is skeptical about personal intuitions and self-evident truths of the heart — even their own. Especially their own.

  61. #61 Glen Davidson
    December 23, 2008

    I don’t know if Raving Atheist Raving Theist censors or not (I do understand the typical WordPress moderation of first posts, due to spamming), but he hasn’t approved the message I left there yet, so I’ll put it here:

    Assuming that your conversion is legit, what I’d point out is that it likely happened (in part) because you were too dogmatically opposed to religion.

    I see comments from atheists all the time denying that Jesus even existed, when the best inference from the evidence is that, of course, he did exist. Most stories (including outright fiction) have at least a grain of truth to them, and Xianity almost certainly coalesced around an actual figure, presumably Jesus.

    What’s sad is that you apparently converted because atheism gives you the freedom to question, and yet Xianity typically does not (yes, some of the more “liberal” ones do, to varying degrees). So it’s great that you felt free to take up religion if you so desired, yet it is not likely that you will have the same freedom within religion, unless you have specifically chosen such a religion.

    I would not wish to follow. Then again, there does not seem to be much reason from the position of irreligion to fault the use of the freedom allowed by secularism, other than to warn about the frequent lack of such freedom under religion.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  62. #62 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    Fly In The Ointment, could this be your lord?

  63. #63 MickyW
    December 23, 2008

    Nick @ 49; Yeah it’s the beard isn’t it? Maybe he’s a trade unionist too.

  64. #64 The Rev
    December 23, 2008

    @ Jesse

    I didn’t “call theists “stupid” “, I called the Raving Atheist stupid. Which he is. Please read my post again. I’ve been reading the former RA’s crap for years, so I think I’m qualified to pass that personal opinion on if I choose.

    First off, I never tell someone that grandma is rotting in the ground. I’m guessing most atheists don’t. I usually say something like “Peace be with you and yours, may his memory live on” and so forth. Am I supposed to console people with tales that their deceased loved one is cavorting on a cloud with the messiah? So, your take home message is that we should lie to people to make them feel better so they’ll like us more? Piss off. The truth can be inconvenient, like the earth isn’t flat, it isn’t the center of the universe or the solar system, and man IS a naked ape.

    When we die, we live on in the memories of those we affected. That should be enough.

  65. #65 Ignignockt
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve followed RA’s blog for a very long time. While I’m confused as to the thought process behind RA’s conversion, I’ll generally take people at their word on the sincerity of their beliefs and changes to them. I think it is unlikely that this was some kind of elaborate ruse.

  66. #66 akshelby
    December 23, 2008

    I first encountered the Raving Atheist three or four years ago in the context of an abortion debate on Pandagon. I took him to be a christian plant to try to sway pro-choice readers. I was not an atheist at the time and was new to blogland. Even so, I assumed he was a christian in atheist clothing. I wondered how long it was going to be until he “converted.” I’m surprised it took this long.

  67. #67 Matt Heath
    December 23, 2008

    After all, CS Lewis wasn’t stupid

    Well no he was by all accounts a quite talented medievalist and an adequate writer for children, but it baffles the shit out of me when people talk about him like some all-knowing seer.

    He gave the world these two great works or shitty apologetics: “a common morality exist therefore goddidit” (just FAIL)

    and “Jesus said he was God and so he really either was or he was lying or mistaken (and therefore mad)” which is just shite – a doubtful premise (even assuming the gospels are accurate) and ignoring the possibly that he was talking in some poetic way to make a point that’s obscure to us.

    He wasn’t stupid but outside of kids books and medievel studies he did mostly produce stupidity.

  68. #68 RichVR
    December 23, 2008

    Two words: Hallucinogenic drugs.

  69. #69 MKandefer
    December 23, 2008

    In response to #1, who said:

    “I find deconversiom from active atheism to theism fascinating. It tweaks the “Could it happen to me? If so, how and why?” thought process.”

    This should only concern you if you’re the type of atheist that presumes that if one is an atheist they are rational thinkers. This is simply not the case. There are plenty of atheists who came to be so due to less than rational reasons, such as being raised that way or simplistic arguments (such as the rejection of God due to inconsistencies in the Bible*). I also heard one became a theist after seeing a beautiful frozen waterfall. The abundance of atheists that still cling to supernatural or pseudoscientific beliefs is also evidence of this. There are atheists that practice alternative medicine, or seek out ghosts. This is why I prefer the label scientific skeptic over atheist. As this describes my thinking, and how I arrive at my beliefs. It doesn’t treat my beliefs as axiomatic.

    * – This is a good argument against some notions of the Christian God, but not all. It certainly is a good start.

  70. #70 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Greg @ 61:

    Hey, he still has the freedom within atheism to change his mind. It’s OK. It’s kind of sad that he has to go through this, but if he regrets the decision later, we’ll have him back. No hard feelings, just a guy trying to understand stuff, we understand.

    But so long as he persists in telling and spreading lies… no quarter.

  71. #71 DrBadger
    December 23, 2008

    @Scott & J-Dog, yep, I was a bit shocked at the poll, but you gotta think who will read articles on the “Today” show’s website, then how many of those will click on the angel story. I found it more concerning that “No” response was, “No. I think most things can be explained more rationally.” (my italics)… maybe all the rational people are waiting for a response option that says “all things can be explained rationally.”

  72. #72 Magnifico Giganticus
    December 23, 2008

    Brownian, OM said: “Wow. I find deconversiom from active atheism to theism fascinating. It tweaks the “Could it happen to me? If so, how and why?” thought process.”

    I know! I have always been an atheist. I believed I was being told the truth but I knew something was wrong and when I was 8 or so I saw a magician at my cousins b-day party and I knew then it was the same thing as the stuff I was being told. Because of this complete naturalness of my atheism, when I hear of something like this, it is more bizarre than thinking of my own demise. Could this notion hijack my thinking? I suppose I have to allow that it is possible. And what a depressing thought! I wouldn’t want to live on this form of life support any more than any other.

  73. #73 'Licia
    December 23, 2008

    I particularly enjoyed the comment telling RA to “seek Jesus’ living water”.

  74. #74 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Perhaps we can find a way to incite the fundies to react to us in such a maniacal, insane way that they lose their somewhat less deluded followers in droves. It’s a bit like McCain choosing Palin for a vice president, except we’re provoking them to do it.

    Of course, there is the risk, considering how batshit the most fundie godbots are, of losing lives in the process. A large number of them own firearms.

  75. #75 The Rev
    December 23, 2008

    @speedwell

    No quarter. Brilliant. I can’t find the link, but if any of you old school RA’ers recall, the RA himself defined tolerance as (and I’m paraphrasing here) figuratively hacking at one another with claw hammers until in the blood, guts and gore out comes the truth.

  76. #76 Jack
    December 23, 2008

    If you look through this guy’s post, you’ll see that every one in a while there is a character that is not italicized. If you string them all together and read it backwards, it spells out

    “dedicated to aubrey in the arms of jeesus”

    Interesting.

  77. #77 Glenn
    December 23, 2008

    Well, if RA can accept a higher power, that’s good enough for me. I’m converting to Pastafarianism.

  78. #78 Glen Davidson
    December 23, 2008

    No, they wanted to know who had “hurt” him, or what had gone wrong in his life, that he would cast aside God. He found it frustrating. He hadn’t “cast aside God.” He’d thought through a position, and changed his mind.

    Those are not the worst questions in the world. Intellectual positions often hide social and emotional issues. For instance, I do not actually believe that my brother, who went from studying for the Xian ministry, to Wicca, to Daoism, and eventually to atheism, was truly following an intellectual journey. Maybe he was with atheism? Well, maybe, but it’s not something I’m going to believe immediately.

    With me it was largely intellectual (though I had reason to dislike the fundamentalist religion in which I was raised), since I wanted to be able to legitimately support any position that I held.

    Some others are clearly reactive, however (as you have noted), and these are the most likely to seek the (hopefully) comforting bosom of religion. RA RT seems to have been one of these, from what little I know about him.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  79. #79 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    #11 Katherine

    Perhaps we should try love-bombing.

    If only to communicate to the idiot masses that we don’t eat babies.

    Who knows, it might even win us a few people.

    the problem is that we’re not loving. the posts on this blog have proven over and over again, that we’ll eat our own if it makes us feel high and mighty and superior. From the snide comments regarding spelling errors to the condescending “generic listen stupid you don’t know what you’re talking about responses”, its a constant barrage of “everyone is an idiot except me”.
    Frightening really.

  80. #80 Thomas
    December 23, 2008

    That was funny as shit but I´m not at all convinced it isn´t some kinda joke. I mean could he have picked picture more funnily stereotypic christian? Plus there was a link to a site called “religion is bullshit”.

  81. #81 Quiet_Desperation
    December 23, 2008

    Kimbo: Could the whole thing have been an elaborate fake out?

    That was my impression coming in cold to the drama. It almost too over the top.

    raven: 1. One professor developed a serious drinking problem. His lab fell apart and he never recovered. Tenure so he just filled a space for a few decades.

    Holy crap! You just handed me my retirement plan. What’s the minimum I’d have to do to become an engineering professor? I have a Master’s and some patents and some published papers. I could teach an FPGA class in my sleep.

    Then I fake a breakdown after tenure is achieved. Wow. Thanks!!! Of course I’ll actually drink a lot, you know, to help with the image. :)

  82. #82 Glenn
    December 23, 2008

    gypsytag(#79):

    From the snide comments regarding spelling errors to the condescending “generic listen stupid you don’t know what you’re talking about responses”, its a constant barrage of “everyone is an idiot except me”.

    I totally disagree.

    Oh, by the way, commas and period go inside the quotation marks, you stupid fuck.

  83. #83 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Rev @ 75:

    Sir, I’m not interested in tolerance or intolerance. The fact is that he cannot possibly be in full touch with reality to believe what he’s saying. If he’s an imbecile who dropped off the deep end, his lies still need to be fought with as much vigor as if he intended to mislead all along.

  84. #84 AJ Milne
    December 23, 2008

    The message is clear to all but the most rebellious: accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and be redeemed in his name.

    Fly, Fly, dear. You do realize, do you not, that your ‘argument’, as it currently stands is: ‘this atheist allegedly converted to my religion… thus you should, too…’?

    Were we to accept the validity of this, the following would also hold:

    Some of these people deconverted from your religion to atheism, thus you should, too.

    And hey, look! I’ve got more of ‘em!

    So I win, I guess. Democracy, dude. You’re outvoted. You’re an atheist now. Congrats.

    Just leave your snail mail address in the thread, and the magnetic Darwin fish is as good as in the mail, babe. Pleasure doing business with you.

  85. #85 Owlmirror
    December 23, 2008

    The comments about “Love bombing” reminded me of another notion I had, expressed on another thread. Editing that comment a bit, here it is:

    ==================

    Interestingly, [heddle,] who comments here, is adamant that his religious conversion experience was, and I quote: “I don’t think it was a rational experience”

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/03/now_blind_in_two_senses.php#comment-786860

    Of course, his description reminded me of other sudden conversion events, which in turn reminded me that temporal lobe epilepsy and stimulation has been associated with the sensation of an invisible presence, and with religious hallucinations.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/godonbraintrans.shtml

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/godonbrain.shtml

    The fact that Heddle went with his wife to church also reminded me of another tidbit of information: The hormone oxytocin is associated with love and social bonding, so it certainly seems plausible the he had quite a lot of oxytocin in his brain at the time. But oxytocin has also been found to make people more trusting, and have poorer judgment, and perhaps more gullible as well:

    http://www.iew.unizh.ch/home/kosfeld/ottruste.html

    And since I was looking at both of these links at the same time, I noticed the story of the woman who had a temporal lobe incident while giving birth, and confabulated that her child was in fact the baby Jesus. I then remembered that birth is also associated with a flood of oxytocin.

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

    Hm. Might oxytocin affect the temporal lobe?

    Anyway, all of that is just speculation. Yet it is at least potentially testable speculation. Do the sensations induced in the temporal lobe correlate with the feelings of religiosity? Do loving couples, their brains brimming with oxytocin, gravitate more easily towards religion, and give themselves over to trusting a preacher or a religious work? Cults very often work by isolating new members, and enforcing emotional relationships with them, and often directly with the cult leader. Are they clumsily but cleverly exploiting preexisting neurochemical vulnerabilities in humans?

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

  86. #86 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Glenn @ 82: Punctuation works that way in places outside the USA, you ignorant, nekulturny asshole.

    And I mean that in the most loving way.

  87. #87 Matt Heath
    December 23, 2008

    #83: Excellent snark-bombing.

  88. #88 DrBadger
    December 23, 2008

    @Katharine, #74,

    Don’t many fundies already act in maniacal, deluded ways (e.g. Fred Phelps, among many, many others)? The problem is that the “less deluded” ones just say, “That’s not Christianity/Islam/Hinduism…” and go on sticking to their crazy beliefs.

  89. #89 Brownian, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Could the whole thing have been an elaborate fake out? Like some christian with a lot of patience creates an “atheist” blog only to “convert” later.

    I’ve joked a few times about Brownian’s Corollary to Poe’s Law: Creationists/Theists are generally incapable of producing convincing parodies of evolutionists/atheists. I suspect that it’s because, as Marc Abian pointed out, most theists generally don’t get our arguments, and I’d add that few make any attempt to.

    I guess the RA is going to put this hypothesis to the test.

  90. #90 Ryan F Stello
    December 23, 2008

    Jack noted,

    If you look through this guy’s post, you’ll see that every one in a while there is a character that is not italicized.

    Wow, very good catch there.
    Makes this all sound much more like an inside joke.

  91. #91 Dago Red
    December 23, 2008

    I was simply glad to find out he hadn’t died — just call me a junkie for closure. Given RA’s (I guess it’s now RT) long past love for pranks and yanking people’s chains, however, don’t mind me if I wait for the other shoe to drop.

  92. #92 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Jesse #52 wrote:

    Maybe this guy got love-bombed and got a whole lot more emotional support from a group of religious people than a group of atheists during a tough time, in which case it is those of us who are atheists who have some thinking to do. That is, if the theists are better at offering such, maybe we’d all better give our attitudes and methods a think. After all, we’re supposed to be offering reality as having value in itself, right?

    I understand what you’re saying, but here’s where we hit a problem. Atheism and even secular humanism are basically intellectual positions on the nature of reality. Although humanism is chock-full of wonderful values and ethics, with an emphasis on caring and honesty, there is, from the humanist perspective, absolutely no value in becoming a secular humanist because you think the people are so caring and honest, and you want to be caring and honest, too. You either arrive intellectually, or you don’t arrive. Humanism is about how to live once you’re there.

    I can compare it perhaps to scientific beliefs. If we could get more people to embrace evolution if evolutionists were nicer, and gave parties, and handed out balloons, we probably wouldn’t do it. If we did, we’d feel dirty, as if we were winning a popularity contest. A person should accept evolution because they understand it, not because they think it will make them more appreciated, or stronger, or happier.

    There may be no “wrong way” to become a Christian, but there are wrong ways to become atheist. One of the reasons atheists don’t have “atheist hospitals” and “atheist hospices” and “atheist soup kitchens” is because we don’t want people ‘converting’ to atheism because they want to be part of such a wonderful group. It should be irrelevant. We work or volunteer at hospitals or hospices or soup kitchens to help people, not to promote atheism. “Conversion” doesn’t really apply.

    I once asked some theist friends of mine a question: If there was a religion out there which would really, truly help you become a better person, would you want to join it? They all said ‘yes.’ There is a a serious disconnect between them and me. I don’t think that way. It would be like asking me “if you would be nicer believing that Saturn was larger in size than Jupiter, would you want to believe that Saturn is larger than Jupiter?” It’s not about me. It shouldn’t be about me.

    I am usually polite when I talk to theists, both in person and on-line — but that has nothing to do with hoping that, if I’ve got a ‘nice’ style of presentation, then they’ll agree with my positions. No. It’s so they don’t derail the issues by going for style over substance.

  93. #93 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    Fly in the Ointment

    In Christ I pray for you.

    You’re not praying hard enough. Its not working. Could you pray even harder for me. Maybe give up your day job and continue to pray for me?

  94. #94 Glen Davidson
    December 23, 2008

    After all, CS Lewis wasn’t stupid, and I know a lot of theists who can beat us all at chess, you know?

    No, but he was essentially a Platonist, which position virtually demands some kind of supernatural world beyond our own. Not a Xian supernaturalism, necessarily, but definitely not the world of minimal assumptions and empiricism that science uses.

    It’s the same with David Berlinski, who also is not natively stupid, no matter how many stupid statements he makes. Lewis and Berlinski simply understand the world as something that has to be ordered from the top-down, and not understood from the bottom-up.

    I don’t even know how C.S. Lewis could ever have been atheist, since his philosophy demands “the Good,” “the One,” “God,” or some such thing acting as the hypokeimenon (substance–in the philosophical sense) upon which a world of Ideas could be built. I would believe in god, too, if I were the unquestioning believer in that philosophy that Lewis apparently was.

    He was too smart to be atheist, given the faulty philosophy he had learned. He was not smart enough to question such nonsense, however. I say this because I am quite certain that he must have had at least some exposure to more skeptical forms of thinking, though he clearly knew little to nothing about science.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  95. #95 Glenn
    December 23, 2008

    @ speedwell (85):

    Heh…hoist by my own snark!

  96. #96 Shiftingname
    December 23, 2008

    Heh heh – I wonder who the “Godidiot of the Week” is this week?

  97. #97 Trillian
    December 23, 2008

    Either his site was hacked, or it’s a joke. He has a post on the same day referring to himself as an Atheist. And the timing around Christmas is suspect too. No way this is for real!

  98. #98 Sigmund
    December 23, 2008

    Unlike many on here I don’t find it impossible to imagine a rational atheist becoming a theist.
    We all like to think ourselves strong enough to cope with whatever raw deals life throws in our path yet, for many, there will come a breaking point.
    Rational atheism offers many things, knowledge, explanation of the universe, understanding of the laws that govern it and the ability to recognize the inherent fallacy of supernatural theistic teachings.
    It does not, however offer hope in every circumstance.
    Imagine a worst case scenario, say you lost your children or beloved partner in a fire. When there is no rational hope of seeing them again perhaps abandoning yourself to an irrational hope is the only thing that keeps some people going. I tend to see religion as a giant life support machine for the bereaved. Believers use it as a way of keeping alive their loved ones. Asking them to abandon that hope can be like seeking them to pull the plug on their parent, wife, husband or child – a situation where rational deliberation goes out the window.
    From the descriptions here I don’t think this ‘Raving Atheist’ character had such a straightforward breakdown but I wouldn’t doubt that the ‘hope’ that theism offers, false as it may seem to clear thinking rationalists, was involved to some degree in his conversion.

  99. #99 Jack
    December 23, 2008

    I put forth that his site was hacked or it is a joke. See #76, #90.

    There’s no way this is real.

  100. #100 Owlmirror
    December 23, 2008

    [C. S. Lewis]

    Lewis wasn’t completely stupid, but after reading some of his apologetics, I am convinced that, like many religious people, his brain stopped working properly when evaluating theological concepts.

    I mean, one of his arguments in favor of there being miracles was the existence of Reason itself (which he did indeed capitalize), because, see, Nature (yes, also capitalized) is wild and insane and irrational, so Reason must be from Outside of Nature; a Miracle, and of course, it must be a Divine Invasion; a Miracle from God!

    (Lewis really liked Capitalization For Emphasis of Deeper Meaning)

    And I think that that is the most stupid (and perhaps even dishonest) argument that an intelligent (and otherwise honest) man could advance.

    Finding out that Lewis was rehashing Augustinian and Platonic arguments was just some additional icing on the cake of intellectual disgust.

  101. #101 Kel
    December 23, 2008

    Wow. I find deconversiom from active atheism to theism fascinating. It tweaks the “Could it happen to me? If so, how and why?” thought process.

    Well if they can get Anthony Flew…

  102. #102 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Glenn @ 95:

    Are you the kind that has feathers and bites, or the kind that has whiskers and scratches, or are you a Boojum?

  103. #103 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Jack @ 99:

    Well, he hasn’t bothered to change his website address yet, has he. I would think that his first instinct would be to utterly repudiate anything that marked him as an atheist, if he was sincere.

  104. #104 Truckloadbear
    December 23, 2008

    So….I head over to the site and what do my wondering eyes behold? A mighty white jesus. I mean uber-white. Blond hair and everything.
    I won’t even start about the implied racism regarding the black kid. Yikes.

  105. #105 smiggs
    December 23, 2008

    @ 76, Jack
    Nice catch, it does in fact spell out “Dedicated to Aubrey in the arms of jeesus” backwards in the post (non italicized letters). Because of the misspelling of jesus, I would have to say this is a Poe.

    I have been an atheist as long as I knew what it meant but when I moved back to the mid-west I felt bombarded. That is when I started seeking out an online atheist community. The Friendly Atheist, Pharyngula and RA were the three blogs that initially made it to my google reader.

    The only two remaining are Pharyngula and FA, although I find FA to be tedious at times and the topics to be repetitive. RA, for reasons I can no longer remember, was quickly taken off my reading list.

    Virgin post, you guys are intimidating (intellectually)… :)

  106. #106 conelrad
    December 23, 2008

    Remember the case of sci-fi author Philip K. Dick?
    See this link.

  107. #107 smiggs
    December 23, 2008

    On second thought, the extra ‘e’ in jeesus (post 105) could be a mistake and the conversion could be directly related to this Aubrey person. Maybe she was a recently deceased friend or relative and that was what pushed him over the edge.

  108. #108 Brian's A Wild Downer
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve got The God Who Wasn’t There on DVD, but i don’t remember him appearing it. Could someone remind me or what his scene was?

  109. #109 Fly in the Ointment
    December 23, 2008

    Gypsytag at number 93.

    If you would like to discuss religion further, please email me at chicago76678@hotmail.com. I would gladly accept one of your metal fish if you will in turn take heed of my request to pray.

    In Christ

  110. #110 Kel
    December 23, 2008

    Let me know how you go with that prayer thing.

  111. #111 Fly in the Ointment
    December 23, 2008

    That last post should have been directed to a j milne at post number 84. chicago76678@hotmail.com

    But I would gladly speak with anyone here.

    In Christ

  112. #112 Buzz Buzz
    December 23, 2008

    I assume that he will be putting up his own post as the ‘Goddidit” of the week, no?

  113. #113 anon
    December 23, 2008

    The main text (including the prayer) contains, in reverse letter order, the message: “dedicated to aubrey in the arms of jeesus” (sic) – the spelling of ‘Jeesus’ is surely significant. The whole text is HTML coded for italics using the ‘emphasis’ (em) code — the individual ‘coded’ letters are isolated between emphasis-off (/em) and emphasis-on (em).

  114. #114 Rob
    December 23, 2008

    On second thought, the extra ‘e’ in jeesus (post 105) could be a mistake and the conversion could be directly related to this Aubrey person. Maybe she was a recently deceased friend or relative and that was what pushed him over the edge.

    my bet is that he lost a child or wife and did the whole “angry at god” thing for a while and that was raving atheist. then, he could deal with his denial of the grief and went back to the safe (albeit false) belief so he could continue in the denial.

    i’m sorry to see someone going through so much pain if that is the case. :(

  115. #115 anon
    December 23, 2008

    Oh well, … took too long to work up the post – didn’t see #76 and #105.

  116. #116 Count Nefarious
    December 23, 2008

    To respond to some earlier posts:

    Theists are certainly not all “stupid”. Illogical, yes, but not stupid. People can be deeply muddled in some ways, and yet devastatingly ingenious and technically gifted. Isaac Newton is perhaps the best example, but many great post-Darwin scientists have also been religious or quasi-religious. About half of the founders of quantum mechanics (I’m talking about Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Pauli and Wigner) were religious. The other half were mostly outright mystics.

  117. #117 Kristine
    December 23, 2008

    *Snore*

    Another “conversion.” I think it’s a set-up myself. But this happens all the time. It’s the adoption of a group-mind, and identification with a group, in this case, Christians.

    And kitschy art.

    In fact, I’ve been nonscientifically noticing for some time that there appears to be some kind of relationship between maudlin (as opposed to theological) religious beliefs and sappy images (like the white boy Jesus on TRA’s site), and sappy music and even a liking for sugar (and Michael Landon TV series).

    I think we need Sam Harris to pursue this. Otherwise, zzzzzz. Brownian, I know what you’re saying – it’s like they’re pod people, who’s next? – but it’s never going to happen to me. That I can assure you. I hope you can have the same confidence.

  118. #118 Obeah
    December 23, 2008

    Fly.
    I’m feeling a little warm in my nether regions each time you say, ‘In’ Christ.
    Is that wrong?

  119. #119 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Indeed. I’m guessing he realized that preaching piety pays a pretty penny more than his previous position.

    It would be a lot easier to launch myself directly into the fastlane of infamy using my documented authentic connections directly to God and my amazing powers of prophecy…..

    I’m just a curbside prophet
    with my hand in my pocket
    and I’m waiting for my rocket to come

    See I’m a down-home brother red-neck undercover
    With my guitar here I’m ready to play
    And I’m a sucker for philly got a natural ability
    geared to freestyle, look at my flexibility

    http://tinyurl.com/8xg72v

    …than standing on the nearest street corner on the Web, screaming, “How can the rest of you be THIS stupid?! For Christ’s sake people, phone a friend, buy a vowel, something…anything!”, which is what I’m currently doing now.

    Not everybody gets the kind of unexplainable media exposure (of the Pet Rock craze e.g.) for cracker desecration. Maybe I’m just hatin’ for not having thought of it first?

    Since God’s miraculous revelation to me (previously posted) the other day, so many other ‘mini-miracles’ (like miracles, only less filling, think Miller Lite) have occurred. Some will call it serendipity, but when serendipity get so vicious it jumps out and bites you right in the ass, you just can’t ignore it.

    Miniracle #1: At the time I posted the original flickr link to the miracle screen-shot my focus was on the fact I’d gotten top hit (out of 280,000) for the words TORTURING TODDLER’S TESTICLES. I was only looking at the 1 in 280,000.

    I was checking to see if my meme had been replicating, spreading and infecting the human psyche. Is as factual as it probably is hyperbolic, that TODDLERS TESTICLES WERE TORTURED with and on approval of Bush, etc. Testimony exists. My religion aside (separation of church/state meme), my humanity facing front and center, I believe there are people who need to be properly adjudicated by a civil system, commonly called a War Crimes Tribunal.

    I can only hope to be successful in this by focusing my Christian neighbors on the low hanging fruit (not the dangling bits of our innocent darlings) to START the process be the focus on adolescent gonad abuse. Even Catholics seem to be sorta on board with that one now.

    Now for the point and click documentation of miniracle 1, a song which God chose to place in my periphery and share with you at exactly the time it would advance my (HIS?) cause. This ‘meme’ is much stronger and DEEPER set than any ‘torture is cool’ meme will ever get.

    Do it for the children, ALL the children of the world:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HY5aVXNxrI

    Miniracle #2

    The post that started this whole thing, the one at the top of Google’s URL hitlist, is a rant by me on how God forgot to mention anything specific in the bible about not torturing toddler’s testicles. It seemed to me either God created us smart enough to know our heads from our asses, or it was a vast oversight on his part, not to mention such an obvious abomination and still find time to badmouth seafood and homosexuals. I’m standing right there, in passed now as the official public square of the new Internet World Order, screaming “GOD, WHY HAVE YOU ABANDONED THE CHILDREN?” The original post over at my TPM blog “Those Crazy Fockers, was 700 words, the subject being as political as religious. For example this riff on Condi Rice’s possible legacy:

    she could open a think tank. It could be named the “Center Heading Research in Support of Torturing Toddler’s Testicles” aka CHRISTTT, which will of course be more informally referred to as the CHRIST CENTER for purposes of public consumption. That’s just how those FUCKERS roll.

    Miniracle #2 is that it even occurred to me to check the spread of the TTT meme on Google only a day or two after I planted the initial ‘infection’. The second ‘hit’ shone in the screencap is from another of my comments using the meme.

    Some required housekeeping:

    Science and math types needn’t explain the statistical fallacies involved here. Remember, I’m trying to reach an audience of people using science at the Discovery Institute level. It ain’t lying if you can ‘point and click’ to see it!! If facts mattered, would there be a DI….or a Catholic…(“Donahue, line one.”)

    Now back to conversation 1a, vis-a-vis penniless skeptic or profitable prophet?

    Here’s somebody named Derren Brown, someone you may not have heard of, being interviewed by Richard Dawkins, somebody I’m sure you are aware of. It’s a direct youtube link I picked up over at Dawkins website last week. BTW, Derren Brown is awesome. Use the google.

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=55A986E56B106611

    Enjoy.

    Enjoy.

  120. #120 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    Ah man, I feel really bad . Now I realize Fly in the Ointment is Gary Busey…

  121. #121 schism
    December 23, 2008

    Well if they can get Anthony Flew…

    By a lot of accounts, Flew was pretty senile when they “got” him. Not exactly a fair fight.

    I’m also a bit surprised by how many No True Scotsman responses are popping up here. Assuming it’s not a prank, the idea of a group of theists using an available hook (abortion) to break down a person’s defenses is…well, pretty much the most effective means of converting someone to anything.

  122. #122 AJ Milne
    December 23, 2008

    I would gladly accept one of your metal fish if you will in turn take heed of my request to pray.

    Fly, dear, we can’t mail a fish to an email address. Doesn’t work that way. It’s sorta the same as you can’t fry an egg by praying at it, to use a somewhat poor metaphor, but one which I suppose you may (I charitably will imagine this is at least possible) actually grasp.

    And we are discussing religion here, dear. Or hadn’t you noticed? Not perhaps as respectfully as you’d like, but them’s the breaks, aren’t they?

    Now here’s the thing about your kind offer: my email is, in fact, easily found. You may feel free to mail to it, and if it keeps you away from spamming this forum with your vapid silliness, I am happy to offer this service to you, as a service to this larger community. But if you’re just sending profounding uninteresting theospam, as is, I have to expect from your output here, entirely likely, one of two things is going to happen to it, and the former is rather more heavily weighted:

    a) if it’s the usual same ole’ thing, it gets marked spam. Like all the other godbotting silliness I do tend to see coming in,

    b) if it’s proper grist for entertainment, I may blog on it, for the amusement of myself and any others.

    … but more to the point, kiddo, I believe you’ve dodged your responsibilities, here. You’re an atheist now, remember? You signed up for that implicitly a few posts back already. This is no time for bargaining. You don’t get to say if I pray you’ll take the fish. It’s yours, now. It goes on your car, if you have one, and we tattoo it on your butt, if you haven’t. Put it there. End of discussion.

    Or, seeing as you seem a bit slow, let me put this in language you may actually understand:

    Your soul is mine, dude. Hand it over.

  123. #123 stephanie
    December 23, 2008

    wow, it took RA way too long to realise you can’t be anti-choice and a rational atheist. Inevitable, ’twas. Unfortunately the independant forums have become fucking boring and insular in the last few years.

  124. #124 Leon
    December 23, 2008

    Something definitely doesn’t add up with this guy, but I’m not sure the proposed causes have hit on it yet. My guess is that this guy has an extremist mentality. Extremists hold onto a position with a death grip, and if they’re somehow convinced to change, they don’t become more moderate–they flip 180° in the other direction. That would explain going from raving atheist to raving right-wing Christian.

  125. #125 RobinSV
    December 23, 2008

    Fly in the Ointment said:
    “Many of you believe that God will spare you from the flames because of your superior intellect, your “keen observations” of His universe. You are no more to him than disobedient dog is to an owner.”

    As an “owner” of a few dogs, all of them disobedient, I rather resent the implication that I could have ever condemned them to a an eternity of torture for being less perfect that I would have liked. If only your god could know the love I’ve had for my dogs. Or they for me…

  126. #126 Cujo359
    December 23, 2008

    Sastra @ 12 (and probably others)

    There are many irrational acts that I’m probably capable of, but I’m sure that becoming a Christian isn’t one of them. Deist maybe, on a really bad day. To me, the idea that there are gods controlling what happens here is utterly irrational, and I’ve felt that way nearly all my life. I’m inclined to agree that this guy wasn’t all that rational to begin with.

  127. #127 Ken Cope
    December 23, 2008

    [Peeks at website through face-palming fingers]

    Who in their right mind would want to spend 5 seconds with a bathrobe-wearing, bearded white male who sports a mullet, let alone an eternity?

  128. #128 akshelby
    December 23, 2008

    AJ Milne @122 said, “we tattoo it on your butt”

    You know we don’t tattoo it on his butt, it goes on his forehead and hand for it is the mark of the Beast. His soul is Satan’s now.

  129. #129 facilis
    December 23, 2008

    Hooray! Another atheist realises the truth.Atheism is so bankrupt. I am anxious to see his reasons for converting

  130. #130 Ken Cope
    December 23, 2008

    I am anxious to see his reasons for converting

    Reason had nuttin’ to do widdit[/Mae West]

  131. #131 OctoberMermaid
    December 23, 2008

    #64

    “When we die, we live on in the memories of those we affected. That should be enough. ”

    Maybe it should be enough, but for me and probably lots of other people, it really isn’t. I don’t know if that’s just because most of us in western society have been brainwashed with Christian myths and so it’s hard to let go of that or if it’s just the whole “I cant contemplate my own non-existence” stuff.

    Either way, it’s definitely NOT enough. And it takes really work for most of us to convince ourselves it is. Sort of like acquiring the taste for certain vegetables or something.

    I’m not saying it’s untrue because it sucks and I dislike it, I’m saying… I’m not going to pretend it’s as nice and rosy as others seem to think it is. It’s definitely not enough.

  132. #132 Watchman
    December 23, 2008

    Uh-oh. Too much eggnog.

  133. #133 Feynmaniac
    December 23, 2008

    facilis,

    Considering you didn’t answer my question another thread I’ll ask again.

    2 Kings 2

    22So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.

    23And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

    24And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

    25And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

    Was it right for God to send 2 bears to kill 42 children for simply mocking Elisha for being bald?

  134. #134 culmastadm
    December 23, 2008

    That Jesus looks like Jeff Daniels.

  135. #135 Jeeves
    December 23, 2008

    As a few discerning people have mentioned above, I think the Raving Atheist’s post is a joke. If he is a convert, why does he still have all his atheist posts up? Why does the right hand corner of the page proclaim that there is no God? So he’s been pro-life and an atheist for awhile. Is that not possible? Are those two things so mutually exclusive that they cannot coexist?
    Regardless of what you celebrate the holidays can a stressful time. Maybe some of you guys should take a nap or something and stop bleeding from the eyeballs in misplaced disgust and rage.

  136. #136 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    What Leon post #124 said. I have come across this type of personality on other issues and they really do flip from one extreme to the polar opposite.

  137. #137 Tony Sidaway
    December 23, 2008

    I tried looking a the earliest postings in the blog. Almost without exception they are intemperate rants against abortion and those who promote the right to choose abortion.

    The nominally atheist postings seem to have been confined to a few postings nominating somebody as “Godidiot of the week.”

    I seriously question whether this person’s mind ever had a balance capable of being disturbed. As somebody has suggested, this was apparently a zealot who settled on anti-theism rather than a person with a philosophical outlook.

  138. #138 OctoberMermaid
    December 23, 2008

    Leon @ #124

    Do you have any more info, sources, or things to add on this extremist personality stuff? I’m really interested. I’m not saying that I don’t intend to look it up myself, but just in case I don’t find what I’m looking for, maybe you’d have more to add.

    That sounds sarcastic, but I’m not. I really WOULD like to hear more about this. Mainly because I think I’ve got something of that mentality. I was a very fundamentalist Christian for a good part of my life and was raised in a southern Baptist household. So when I stopped believing, it WAS a very sort of 180 turn. I’m curious if there’s any way to correct that or become more moderate and nuanced or if it’s sort of all-or-nothing.

    Not that I expect to “deconvert” back to theism or anything. I’m a huge doubter, and I need pretty heavy evidence to believe anything, even small stuff. So even if I wanted to start believing there was a heaven or angels or whatever, I couldn’t do it.

  139. #139 Otto
    December 23, 2008

    I think he just loves bad art.

  140. #140 Ian
    December 23, 2008

    Yea, I’d agree with 136 and 124. I have a great aunt and uncle who were big fundamentalist Christians. They went to Jewish neighborhoods to try and convert them, that sort of thing.

    Their daughter is now in a Islamic commune. Not fundamentalist Islam (thank goodness!), liberal in a traditional way, but still her whole life revolves around religion. So its not really much different then the way she was raised in important ways.

  141. #141 E.V.
    December 23, 2008

    Speaking of poisoned minds, there’s facilis. Hi facilis, now fuck off, facilis!

  142. #142 AJ Milne
    December 23, 2008

    You know we don’t tattoo it on his butt, it goes on his forehead and hand for it is the mark of the Beast. His soul is Satan’s now.

    Oh, man, you’re right. Apologies. I’ve been on vacation, see. I didn’t get the memo.

    Also, I see here the mandatory licentious fornication has been moved to Tuesdays and alternate Thursdays…

    Aw, crap. That’s my bridge night.

    Ah well. Duty calls…

  143. #143 akshelby
    December 23, 2008

    Don’t foget the Friday night infant BBQ and bisexual (male/female) orgy. It’s Fly in the Ointment’s turn to bring the meat since he’s the new guy/gal.

  144. #144 Matt Heath
    December 23, 2008

    OT: Rick Warren hating on bloggers. Complete dick.

  145. #145 Jeeves
    December 23, 2008

    In rereading my most recent post, I think I struck too hard of an emphasis on the last part. However, my first few sentences stand. By the by, I would like to be referred to as a “lighten up troll” than a “concern troll.” More appropriate and seasonally festive as well.

  146. #146 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 23, 2008

    You don’t even need to be sane to be good at chess. E.V.

    Indeed, there’s some evidence it helps if you’re not! Exhibit A is obviously Bobby Fischer, but Paul Morphy (the greatest American player before Fischer), Pillsbury (who died of syphilis), Rubinstein and Steinitz all went mad – the latter insisting he had played God over an invisible telephone (and won). Alekhine, while not mad, was an alcoholic and a depressive, as well as becoming scandalously involved with the Nazis.

    And of course, go (or wei-chi to give it its original Chinese name) is a far superior game intellectually.

  147. #147 currie jean
    December 23, 2008

    Emotional weakness might lead someone toward love and the supernatural, but choosing CHRISTIANITY, of all things, when Eastern religions are available? No way, unless this tragedy led to a desperate emotional need for self-loathing.

    I doubt that a rational atheist, when experiencing a change of heart, would give up the opportunity to be intellectual, emotional and spiritual (in a broad sense) at the same time.

    I admit I just never did get the Jesus thing, though. So I can’t really relate.

    Also, the bit about the code in the italics is very interesting.

  148. #148 culmastadm
    December 23, 2008

    “So he’s been pro-life and an atheist for awhile. Is that not possible? ”

    I am an Athiest and Pro-Life. My non-religious reason is that I think sex and pregnency has a social stigma that is excapable with abortion. Abortion has, for some reason, been given a status of being more socially acceptable.

    I wouldn’t deny anyone life.

    And that is entirely a non-religious reason. (As for the quality of the reason, that is not the point, so please don’t flame me.) :)

  149. #149 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Reading through the comments…..there were two when I started but 119 when I finished typing it and posted….lol…I have to comment:

    BLOCKQUOTES USED AS EMPHASIS of MY THOUGHTS, they are not clipped from thread.

    We skeptics have killed many religions over the eons, but we have never successfully killed GOD, and to even attempt it is as much folly as what the DI does on the other extreme. Embrace the enlightened and ignore the extreme.

    (not hating here, but would our resident ‘extremist’ PZ be up for awards and all manner of media exposure if THEY ignored him? Donahue has the media following him like a hungry dog with a pork chop around his neck. Chew on that rational thinkers.

    It’s hard to find a common ground when you start working from a position as extreme as no God, and barely managable from my position on God: Great guy and I love him!! Too bad the only honest thing we can say about his is nothing and he’s never made his presence known to us in any way more fascinating as the science of creation and evolution.

    I eagerly await the first cosmic ‘easter egg’ with a popup ABOUT screen explaining it all. Until then. You wish you could live forever. You need a conduit to provide that. You are scared of death. Let’s pretend this, that or the other as a placebo in lieu of the heavy doses of narcotics we could now substitute in place of prayer to abate our entirely rational phobia of death. This explains the ban on narcotics as it would seriously undermine the church placebo option)

    YOU DON’T KNOW SQUAT ABOUT NOTHING AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL, so get over it and party like there’s no tomorrow, because one day there won’t be. Focus on the fact that God has made you in such a way as to enjoy the fruits of abundance around you and take comfort in the fact that he’ll look out for you no matter what the wingnut preachers are saying. I tell all who will listen: “You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You!” (h/t and grats to Frankin)

    As the God anointed, self-appointed, apostle to the science community, a Godly man whose atheism is strong enough to disavow Jesus, my deism allows compassion for religious people, (nearly all of which are delusional about their creator(s), and my skepticism a documented conduit through which the science community (reality based world) will take some comfort.

    I’m the first of Obama’s bridges to try and make good on the expression, “we can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye”. Why take the trouble? Why not blame it on the Boy Scout Oath I swore to long ago: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and….Reverent. Just like the folks I’m trying to reach out to. You atheists are way too scary for them.

    Enjoy.

  150. #150 Steve_C
    December 23, 2008

    haha… yeah that’s not really thought out culmastadm.

  151. #151 Melissa
    December 23, 2008

    Since everyone is all about having “proof”, isn’t it ridiculous to assume that his conversion is merely on an emotional basis? Can you prove that it is or isn’t? And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved? If you have never experienced it, how could even have the faintest idea of what it’s like?

    This is a blessed day, and I’m hoping and praying that his testimony will help others come to Christ as well. I’ll be praying for you all! :)

  152. #152 dogmeatib
    December 23, 2008

    I ran into a guy on another board who was a really weird, hostile, “atheist,” who then went through a conversion and became a really weird, hostile, “believer.” The consensus amongst the atheists, agnostics, and skeptics on the board was that the guy was batshit crazy regardless of his believe or disbelief. Frankly this guy could be the other loon’s brother from the gist of things I’ve picked up from the link.

    I have to repeat the sentiment that I have yet to see a rational, humanist/secularist make a conversion as extreme as this one seems. Generally those I have known who have become “believers” tended towards a rationalistic Deism, not a “PRAISE THA LAWD!” conversion. Of course, again a repetition, he could have been an emo, “I hate God,” atheist with other major problems, which would explain this change.

  153. #153 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    Melissa, thank you for doing nothing for us, i.e. praying, or should that be preying, happy monkey to you too.

    And Tim fuller, what are you on, started the Xmas drinking early have we?

  154. #154 OctoberMermaid
    December 23, 2008

    @ #151

    You’re assuming none of us have ever given God “a chance.”

    Big mistake. But I know all the old theist justifications. “You just didn’t believe enough. You harbored doubts in your heart. You wouldn’t submit yourself fully to God.”

    It’s really quite clever. No matter what, it’s always the person’s fault. It’s quite convenient.

  155. #155 Rey Fox
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve never seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but is it anything like that post? I think it’s a bit too over-the-top to be real, but if it wasn’t, then I’d have to wonder where all the other pod people in the comments came from. Scary. Gabba gabba we accept you, one of us.

    fly:
    “But I would gladly speak with anyone here. ”

    Mmmm, I don’t think so. You called me a rebellious dog. You should maybe try some love-bombing instead. Or maybe ply me with alcohol.

    “I am that I am… the one and only TRUE Rev. All other Revs are but false…”

    Unless your name is Jim Heath, I don’t believe you.

    “And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved? If you have never experienced it, how could even have the faintest idea of what it’s like?”

    If it were intellectual, then you or he could describe it in words here and we could discuss it. The fact that both of you are appealing to emotion and mystery and slogans makes it very unlikely.

  156. #156 Watchman
    December 23, 2008

    That’s right, Mermaid. If you don’t Believe… there’s something wrong with you. Q.E.D.

  157. #157 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Melissa @ 151:

    “And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved?”

    Oh, but dear, I did convert. Four or five years ago I was reading the Bible on Sunday morning, and I looked up and realized none of it made sense. None of it. Call it my “road to Damascus” conversion, if you like. it was a wonderful feeling… I was free to be good and decent without having to shackle myself to a vicious, capricious idiot of a God not worthy of a weekly phone call, let alone worship.

    Face facts, you don;t believe there is a God, either. You just hope there is, based on the Bible and some stories other people told you. You’ve never actually experienced God for yourself.

  158. #158 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Atheists for Life. I like that. In fact, there is no reason I would not support the following setup:

    1. Early education on human sexuality and reproduction, including honest threat of disease, pregnancy and contraception. No moral position taken on expression of same.

    2. Lowering the age of consent to whatever would appeal to the wingnut lobby. In this regard, I have no personal preference, but in any event the age must coincide with that of consent for purposes of legally prosecuting a child for murder. It is logically incompatible for me to let anybody say a twelve year old child is adult enough to be tried as an adult for murder but lacks the adult civil rights to get married. Fair is fair. Let’s settle on 16 as a mainstay for this discussion.

    If you are sixteen and above and get pregnant you should have to carry to term. It sucks, but that’s the way it is. You don’t have to marry the guy who did it. You don’t have to keep the baby after it’s born. We’ll let you drop it off at the post office in Nebraska where all the other parents are doing it. No harm, no foul. Lesson learned and you’re not burdened with an unwanted baby, just inconvenienced for your poor choices in spite of the fact you were (see 1) fully aware.

    Exceptions will be made on an individual basis depending on special circumstance, and I’ll let liberal doctors make the final choice on ‘health of the mother’ as well as any other exceptions that can be rationally defended.

    Or it can stay the same as it is now. Completely legal. If you don’t want one, don’t have one. If you think people who have one are going to hell on the fast track, pray for them and don’t follow their folly. But most of all STFU about it and quit harrassing the ‘sinners’. Do as directed by scripture. Go to your closet. Lock yourself in and pray SILENTLY to God. You have your instructions. I don’t make the news, I just report it. Never take my word, look it up for yourself.

    Enjoy.

  159. #159 'Tis Himself
    December 23, 2008

    Speedwell #102

    Are you the kind that has feathers and bites, or the kind that has whiskers and scratches, or are you a Boojum?

    “Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
    The five unmistakable marks
    By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
    The warranted genuine Snarks.

    “Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
    Which is meager and hollow, but crisp:
    Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
    With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.

    “Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
    That it carries too far, when I say
    That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
    And dines on the following day.

    “The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
    Should you happen to venture on one,
    It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
    And it always looks grave at a pun.

    “The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
    Which is constantly carries about,
    And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes–
    A sentiment open to doubt.

    “The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
    To describe each particular batch:
    Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
    And those that have whiskers, and scratch.”

  160. #160 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 23, 2008

    Oh Blow me Melissa, you insipid, magic believing, sanctimonious goof. If you are gullible enough to think prayer works, go ahead. It just keeps you busy so you can’t do anything more idiotic. And no one said anything about “proof”, moron. So please do the world a favor and STFU.
    Merry Christmas!!! I’ll pray for you too!!!!

  161. #161 CrypticLife
    December 23, 2008

    a mindless form of worship which delights in citing rote creeds and posting pictures of Jesus smiling at children.

    In my view, that’s the best thing Christianity has going for it.

    That, and the costumes. And The Life of Brian.

  162. #162 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    And Tim fuller, what are you on, started the Xmas drinking early have we?
    —–
    —–

    Critique, or just a casual observation?

    Enjoy.

  163. #163 Michael X
    December 23, 2008

    Two points.

    Tim, you’re scary.

    And Melissa, most of us were christians before we became atheists. So please stop spouting that “if you’d only give him a try” nonsense.

  164. #164 davem
    December 23, 2008

    That whole web site is odd. Only the (very) cheesy Jebus picture is religious – all the rest of the blog is atheist. You’d have thought that, if he was turned godbot, that he’d at least erase the links to stuff like ‘godidiot of the week’. Curiouser and curiouser…

  165. #165 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Oh Blow me Melissa
    —–
    —–

    Grinch, if you’re looking for sexual favors from female forum members, you’ll have to work a little harder on your pillow talk.

    Enjoy.

  166. #166 Robert Thille
    December 23, 2008

    I (now) regard any conversion to “belief” by myself in the future (sans evidence) as some sort of failure in my brain. If this happens, please use whatever medical technology is available at that time to repair the damage.

  167. #167 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    I don’t know, RA could be legit.
    I glanced at a couple posts and they seemed a little borderline.
    Not concerned really. Never heard of him myself.
    Great picture though. White Jesus seems so kind.

  168. #168 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    Tim Fuller, bemusement actually. Admittedly, English isn’t my first language, but I cam normally understand most posters here.

  169. #169 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    Posted by: Kristine | December 23, 2008

    In fact, I’ve been nonscientifically noticing for some time that there appears to be some kind of relationship between maudlin (as opposed to theological) religious beliefs and sappy images (like the white boy Jesus on TRA’s site), and sappy music and even a liking for sugar (and Michael Landon TV series).

    Oh no! I think that SC could be the next person to convert. She did recently post a Little House episode just for me. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

  170. #170 anon
    December 23, 2008

    The reverse-order coded message “dedicated to aubrey in the arms of Jeesus” @ravingatheist has been cleaned out — not a trace left.

  171. #171 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Yeah, I tried Christianity. Took a heapin’ helping at many piously themed pot luck dinners. Didn’t really suit my taste.

    Like Soylent Green, I think the taste varies from person to person.

    Enjoy.

  172. #172 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    cam=can DOH!

  173. #173 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 23, 2008

    If you would like to discuss religion further, please email me at chicago76678@hotmail.com. Fly

    Even if anyone wanted to “discuss religion”, do you really think they’d want to discuss it with a nasty little shit like you?

  174. #174 CrypticLife
    December 23, 2008

    I know a lot of theists who can beat us all at chess, you know?

    “It takes no intelligence to play chess.”
    ~~ Mikhail Tal

    For a human, it does take some intelligence to resist emotional appeals. It takes more intelligence to realize there is emotional appeal in the truth.

  175. #175 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Janine!!
    I haven’t posted much this week, so I guess I missed it.
    When did you become a vile bitch?

    snarky jokes in 3..2…1…

  176. #176 'Licia
    December 23, 2008

    Tim Fuller: I’ll take your opinion of a abortion rights more seriously when *you* have to live with the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy from a sexual assault.

  177. #177 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 23, 2008

    anon@170,

    Interesting – I just posted about it on RA (having found it myself after seeing #90 but before seeing #105), but my comment is being held for moderation!

  178. #178 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    Ggab, just go down to comment #472. Drew was a playful one day troll.

  179. #179 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 23, 2008

    Grinch, …, you’ll have to work a little harder on your pillow talk.

    No literal sexual act intended, although she seems to be a sucker for Christ…(ba doom doom chic)

    Melissa has been here before and thinks, with her Pollyanna presumptuousness, that she’s accomplishing something positive. She’s either willfully ignorant with a damaged idea of altruism or she’s TSTKSS. Either way, she’s out of her league.

  180. #180 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    anon @ 170: It now says only “secret message here.”

  181. #181 Freidenker
    December 23, 2008

    I’m sorry, guys, but as someone who’s been through a horrible trauma (mother died abruptly, got to see the corpse, suffered from PTSD following that) – I know that horrible situations can completely change the way you think. I was an atheist before and I continued being an atheist after, but I do know that for a years I was a different person than I am today.
    Knowing the feeling up close, I can only imagine something awful happened to the poor bastard. So much that I hope he takes enough solace in his made up savior.

    May his mind rest in peace.

  182. #182 Rey Fox
    December 23, 2008

    “When did you become a vile bitch?”

    When this theist with anger (and most likely woman) issues called her that. I can’t remember the thread it was on, but the guy was named Drew, and his flameout was quite spectacular.

  183. #183 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Tim Fuller, bemusement actually. Admittedly, English isn’t my first language, but I cam normally understand most posters here.

    No harm, no foul. I know very little foreign language, but I’m still struggling to master my native tongue.

    As a point of interest, and not meant as a personal slight on your admittedly poor English comprehension skill, my initial comment in this thread rates as SIXTH GRADE difficulty on the Google Document tool for Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level readability.

    You may be confused by the content of the post if you haven’t been following along for the last few days, or perhaps I’ve used some “American only” jargon or references that confuse you.

    OVERALL, I’m trying to use religious sarcasm, humor, biting political insights and any other GOD given talent to move our country towards prosecuting self admitted war criminals (torture), the most egregious of which is the TORTURE of TODDLER’S TESTICLES.

    Does that help?

    Enjoy.

  184. #184 CRM-114
    December 23, 2008

    False-flag operation.

  185. #185 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Janine
    I like it.
    Some of my favorite people are vile bitches.
    I imagine you having the swagger to pull it off.

  186. #186 CRM-114
    December 23, 2008

    A waste is a terrible thing to mind.

  187. #187 Watchman
    December 23, 2008

    How nice it is to hear from you, Speedwell.

  188. #188 anon
    December 23, 2008

    Actually, it reads “o secret messages here”.

  189. #189 Screechy Monkey
    December 23, 2008

    davem @ 164:

    That whole web site is odd. Only the (very) cheesy Jebus picture is religious – all the rest of the blog is atheist. You’d have thought that, if he was turned godbot, that he’d at least erase the links to stuff like ‘godidiot of the week’. Curiouser and curiouser…

    Not necessarily. RA hasn’t really made a lot of effort to “update” his page over the last year or two of waffling-turned-convert.

    Someone will correct me if I’m wrong on the details, but the history went something like this:

    — RA starts blog, ranting regularly about religious idiocy
    — RA begins posting more and more about abortion, at one point “bifurcating” the blog so that the top half was The Raving Atheist and the bottom half The Unaborted Atheist
    — Abortion becomes more and more the focus of the blog, with atheist commenters pressing RA to justify his pro-life stance, and the Christians praising him
    — RA announces that he has made some sort of promise to someone in his life to stop bashing religion; he begins posting mostly milquetoast musings about things other atheists have written, never agreeing with the atheists and often critiquing them. Speculation begins (here, on RA’s site, and on the by-now-independent ravingatheists.com forums) that RA has or is about to convert, but all the old archives remain, like the Godidiot of the Week, his “Basic Assumptions” declaring his atheism, etc.
    — blog seems to go on hiatus, with almost no posts for a year or more
    — RA “returns” earlier this month, continuing in the same vein of bashing other atheists while coyly refusing to say whether he remains an atheist himself.
    — this recent “coming-out”

    I really don’t think it’s an elaborate hoax.

  190. #190 CW
    December 23, 2008

    I see comments from atheists all the time denying that Jesus even existed, when the best inference from the evidence is that, of course, he did exist. Most stories (including outright fiction) have at least a grain of truth to them, and Xianity almost certainly coalesced around an actual figure, presumably Jesus.

    I’m not convinced. Maybe there was a real person who the stories were based upon, just like (by your reasoning) there was a real Thor, a real Mithras, a real Quetzalcoatl, a real Vishnu, a real Cthulhu and a real Santa Claus, but by the time “The Book” reached us it should have contained the warning that any similarity to persons living, dead or undead was purely coincidental. There may have been a fellow named Jesus (although I have seen nothing much to support such a claim) but the evidence is strongly against his having borne even a passing resemblance to the mundane aspects of the character described in the Bible and against his doing any of the significant things attributed to him.

  191. #191 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    Tim Fuller, not as far as post #149 is concerned. I mean I understand the words, just not the way they are put together, hence my ‘had a drink’ query. But if it is any consolation, your other posts are perfectly comprehensible.

  192. #192 Tom
    December 23, 2008

    Also, people are fucking morons.

    When you realize this then you have started on the path to enlightenment.

    My guess it is fear of dying and going into oblivion. Some people get into this “without an afterlife what is the use” mind set. The guy was always a jerk though.

  193. #193 Quasarsphere
    December 23, 2008

    That “dedicated to Aubrey” message…I don’t think it says that any more. I think it’s been changed, but every time I try to go through the letters my eyes go all blurry.

  194. #194 Mrs Tilton
    December 23, 2008

    Completely O/T, but: the Sadlynauts are trying to pharyngulate a stupid poll by a couple of boy wingnuts trying to determine the grooviest girl wingnut. Just the sort of project for the Minions here to saddle up and support, I’d say. Check it out, and think about lending the boys a hand with their project.

  195. #195 Jesse, Dallas
    December 23, 2008

    How sad.

  196. #196 shader
    December 23, 2008

    Guys, check the page source.

    The is (or no longer is) any message to Aubrey in the coding.

    Instead, the letters F O S are spelled out if you check the coding in the “I dedicate…” section.

    It’s a joke.

  197. #197 MickyW
    December 23, 2008

    “It takes no intelligence to play chess.”
    ~~ Mikhail Tal

    Thank Christ! I’m useless at chess, and here I was thinking it’s because I’m stupid. Um, hang on…..does that mean I have less than no intelligence?

  198. #198 shader
    December 23, 2008

    Oops HTML fail. WHere italics go on and off in the above, read HTML em tags.

    (Is there a tutorial on comment posting here – how to blockquote, post HTML tags etc?)

  199. #199 Quasarsphere
    December 23, 2008

    It has been changed. I was able to keep my eyes from blurring just long enough to see it.

    Now it says, “no secret messages here”.

  200. #200 anon
    December 23, 2008

    To read (secret) message, make copy of URL; define EM tag with color: pink; refresh URL; read remaining black letters backward.

  201. #201 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    Posted by: CRM-114 | December 23, 2008

    A waste is a terrible thing to mind.

    I think you got is slightly wrong.

    The mind is a terrible thing to taste.

  202. #202 Mike Caton
    December 23, 2008

    Yes, I thought “scam” too. But it’s strange that all the atheist links are still up there on the website if indeed it’s a genuine epiphany. But for a moment let’s assume the conversion is real. We atheists waste our time trying to dissect the rational steps into or out of atheism. Humans are pack animals, and the vast majority of the time, you get better results if you analyze human behavior as if we’re machines that resolve cognitive dissonance in order to get back to the real business of eating, avoiding pain and (especially if male) getting laid. Like any other animal.

    Which leads me to analyzing Mr. Raving Atheist. Many of us have seen the following pattern repeatedly in our own acquaintances, and I’ll wager we’re seeing it again here:

    1) Start with a vehement male atheist who is very vocal about his convictions, but is maybe not George Clooney, if you know what I mean.

    2) This male atheist doesn’t have, shall we say, rich social contacts outside of the cyber or atheist world. Given what Myers said about him here, it seems he’s not the socially smoothest or best-balanced person either.

    3) Perhaps not surprisingly, he gets few dates.

    4) Surprisingly, at some point, somehow, he actually DOES get a date.

    5) His date is [fill in hardline politically aggressive religious sect]. But the male atheist sees his way around this conflict because suddenly he has a girlfriend, which he likes. (you probably see the rest coming and can skip the rest of the post)

    6) To justify the sudden dissonance (between nookie and pro-life, prayer, etc.) the male atheist goes through the same gyrations that the devout do when confronted with similar problems (e.g. their only son comes out of the closet.) So he might convert to being pro-life on his blog at this point.

    7) The male atheist gets deeper into the relationship because he knows if he tells her to lose the god act and take a hike, he’s screwed (or actually, not) and it’ll be *another* 34 years before his next date.

    8) Next thing you know they’re at the altar in a big Catholic ceremony, the kids are getting baptized, and he’s enduring uncomfortable visits to the in-laws, who hint not-so-subtly that the beach house could be theirs if he just drinks the Kool-Aid.

    9) Under this onslaught, it’s only a matter of time before the conversion occurs. Why? He either has to look at his own children being raised religious and think every day “I’ve literally created more Christians and therefore have failed in my own most important principles” or he can just have an epihany.

    It might be interesting to add up reversion mutants like Raving Atheist and see how many of them had gotten hitched to a theist spouse prior to their conversion.

    If this seems dangerously close to warning atheists against the dangers of assimilation – the simple idea is don’t *marry* religious people! Dating them is fine and often interesting, and can show them that life is good on the other side.

  203. #203 John M
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve not had time to look at the blog archive, but a gut feeling tells me this guy was a jebus-freak from the go-get. The weird forms of insanity achievable by religious people is evidenced throughout history – the twin towers was just another case of some god-botherers going beyond the pale.

    To deliberately set oneself up as an unbeliever who gradually and magically arrives at a state of (dis)grace, and invites you to witness same conversion on the road to D., is a trick that deserves a close look from James Randi or Penn and Teller.

    He’s pretty smart if he’s fooled all of you, wouldn’t you say?

  204. #204 shader
    December 23, 2008

    It still says F O S in the “I dedicate…” section, but yes, “No secret messages here” added to the creed section.

    Still, given the F O S, I think it’s a joke.

  205. #205 anon
    December 23, 2008

    Now it reads (secretly) “no secret messages here” — they had forgotten the ‘n’ in ‘no’ – ;^)

  206. #206 Orson Zedd
    December 23, 2008

    Love Bombing… that’s a good way to put it.

    I’d encourage all atheists, especially those in the Bible Belt, to start Atheist Support communities. We’re a social animal, because we evolved in a social setting. Atheism is part of your identity, and you need others to help reinforce it.

    I myself am currently alone on this, in the hellspawn depths of Mississippi. But I stay strong because while I have no atheist community to call my own, I have no other community either.

  207. #207 mikespeir
    December 23, 2008

    It felt good, so he did it. Religion is like emotional gravity. It takes a lot of rational thrust to stay aloft and even more to reach escape velocity.

  208. #208 Colugo
    December 23, 2008

    I find conversion stories interesting. Right to left, left to right, theist to atheist and vice versa. Often the convert redoubles their zealotry, damning their former allies. Sometimes the switch really isn’t as profound as it appears; for example, the cohort of revolutionary syndicalists who founded Italian fascism or the very rare ultraorthodox Jew who turns to Islamism.

    Maybe Gouldians who become Dawkinsians or anti-string theorists who become string theorists also fall into the conversion category. I don’t know. We all eventually convert in some aspects of our live; there were probably some resolute country music haters who took a liking to Johnny Cash or the Dixie Chicks in the last few years.

    I just learned that Malcolm Gladwell used to be a conservative who idolized Reagan and wrote for American Spectator.

    But hardline atheism to fundamentalist Christian within three short years? Jesus, that’s weak.

  209. #209 FishNChimps
    December 23, 2008

    The pic accompanying the RA article: why is Jesus a pasty-looking Charlton Heston lookalike? How would the Western Jesus freaks react if He were painted with a more realistic Middle Eastern brown skin?

  210. #210 Ben Finney
    December 23, 2008

    The hidden message (as described earlier in the comments here) has, within the last half-hour or so, changed to “no secret messages here”.

    So, he’s definitely playing at something, and probably responding to the fact that people have just recently started posting, in the comments on *his* post, about the secret message.

  211. #211 Quasarsphere
    December 23, 2008

    Anon #205, the N is there. It’s in the word “and” in the line “and the life everlasting”.

    I’d actually never heard of this guy until today. It’s been kinda fun trying to find the hidden message though.

    I hope he changes it again soon.

  212. #212 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Perhaps we should try love-bombing.

    If only to communicate to the idiot masses that we don’t eat babies.

    Who knows, it might even win us a few people.

    Also, people are fucking morons.

    Did you mean this to come out as funny as it did? I’m still laughing. (This whole thread’s been a hoot.)

    so that the top half was The Raving Atheist and the bottom half The Unaborted Atheist

    I can only imagine The Aborted Atheist is one angry mofo.

  213. #213 anon
    December 23, 2008

    The term ‘mole’ comes to mind. ;^)

  214. #214 CrypticLife
    December 23, 2008

    shader,

    Interesting — I get a longer message if I look into the coding —

    FOS erehgas sem thercoan

    Any idea what it means?

  215. #215 Mike Caton
    December 23, 2008

    Yes, I thought “scam” too. But it’s strange that all the atheist links are still up there on the website if indeed it’s a genuine epiphany. But for a moment let’s assume the conversion is real. We atheists waste our time trying to dissect the rational steps into or out of atheism. Humans are pack animals, and the vast majority of the time, you get better results if you analyze human behavior as if we’re machines that resolve cognitive dissonance in order to get back to the real business of eating, avoiding pain and (especially if male) getting laid. Like any other animal.

    Which leads me to analyzing Mr. Raving Atheist. Many of us have seen the following pattern repeatedly in our own acquaintances, and I’ll wager we’re seeing it again here:

    1) Start with a vehement male atheist who is very vocal about his convictions, but is maybe not George Clooney, if you know what I mean.

    2) This male atheist doesn’t have, shall we say, rich social contacts outside of the cyber or atheist world. Given what Myers said about him here, it seems he’s not the socially smoothest or best-balanced person either.

    3) Perhaps not surprisingly, he gets few dates.

    4) Surprisingly, at some point, somehow, he actually DOES get a date.

    5) His date is [fill in hardline politically aggressive religious sect]. But the male atheist sees his way around this conflict because suddenly he has a girlfriend, which he likes. (you probably see the rest coming and can skip the rest of the post)

    6) To justify the sudden dissonance (between nookie and pro-life, prayer, etc.) the male atheist goes through the same gyrations that the devout do when confronted with similar problems (e.g. their only son comes out of the closet.) So he might convert to being pro-life on his blog at this point.

    7) The male atheist gets deeper into the relationship because he knows if he tells her to lose the god act and take a hike, he’s screwed (or actually, not) and it’ll be *another* 34 years before his next date.

    8) Next thing you know they’re at the altar in a big Catholic ceremony, the kids are getting baptized, and he’s enduring uncomfortable visits to the in-laws, who hint not-so-subtly that the beach house could be theirs if he just drinks the Kool-Aid.

    9) Under this onslaught, it’s only a matter of time before the conversion occurs. Why? He either has to look at his own children being raised religious and think every day “I’ve literally created more Christians and therefore have failed in my own most important principles” or he can just have an epihany.

    It might be interesting to add up reversion mutants like Raving Atheist and see how many of them had gotten hitched to a theist spouse prior to their conversion.

    If this seems dangerously close to warning atheists against the dangers of assimilation – if you marry religious people, the chance that you will become one is high, and that you will create more of them is higher. On the other hand, dating them is fine and often interesting, and can show them that life is good on the other side.

  216. #216 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    FishNChimps
    I sometimes like to point out that if there was a real Jesus (and I believe there was, sort of) he resembled Osama Bin Laden more than that blonde white fella in the painting.
    That usually gets a good reaction.

  217. #217 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    Hail, Watchman. Have we wandered comradely down a dark city street in one another’s good company before?

  218. #218 DavidSJA
    December 23, 2008

    The technique used is called “love bombing”…

    D

  219. #219 anon
    December 23, 2008

    It means you can’t read the code properly without first isolating it in a copy URL and changing the emphasized (EM) text color to something very faint (try “pink”); it makes the encoded (non-EM) letters stand out clearly.

  220. #220 CrypticLife
    December 23, 2008

    Never mind — figured out what I’d done wrong in coding

  221. #221 Mike Caton
    December 23, 2008

    Given the comments appearing on Raving Atheist, it occurs to me that maybe he’s making a point about the reaction of the atheist community to the apparent deversion of an already heterodox member? A single faked post is more likely than a thousand previous fakes. If so, he did a good job – he even fooled Msr. Myers. And I have to say a post above by John M stirkes me as suspicious: “He’s pretty smart if he’s fooled all of you, wouldn’t you say?” I’ve changed my mind; my money is on “this post is faked”.

  222. #222 Insightful Ape
    December 23, 2008

    Hey Melissa, you are absolutely right. In fact, I was led to my creator the Fly Spaghetti Monster through emotions, which is why I need no proof. May you be touched by his noodly appendages.
    Dear Fly, as someone already pointed out-what does “In Christ” mean exactly, is it a sexual reference?

  223. #223 Mark
    December 23, 2008

    E.V.:

    How do you go from logical and reasonable to blind and faith-driven?

    You don’t, generally. Keep in mind that while logical and reasonable implies atheist/agnostic, atheist/agnostic does not necessarily imply logical and reasonable.

    I checked out this guy’s blog once, long ago, and what I read of it struck me as emotionally-driven knee-jerk reactions against religion (which is why I never subscribed to his RSS feed). As far as I’m concerned his (non-)religious ideas were never the result of any rational line of thought, so it’s not as though he would have needed to battle against his own reason in order to eventually change his mind.

    Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.

    — Thomas Jefferson

  224. #224 DaveL
    December 23, 2008

    Since everyone is all about having “proof”, isn’t it ridiculous to assume that his conversion is merely on an emotional basis? Can you prove that it is or isn’t? And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved? If you have never experienced it, how could even have the faintest idea of what it’s like?

    It’s called “giving the benefit of the doubt.”

    You see, if RA truly has come across compelling evidence or a coherent logical argument for the existence of God, after millenia of philosophers and theologians to do the same, wouldn’t he be a giant dick for not sharing it with everyone else?

  225. #225 bipolar2
    December 23, 2008

    ** ado about nothing **

    Methinks the thread doth protest too much.

    bipolar2

  226. #226 anon
    December 23, 2008

    Perhaps the sobriquet ‘ravingatheist’ was, itself, an early warning. ‘Raving’ is a pejorative, suggesting mindlessness; who would self-refer as raving?

  227. #227 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    I hope things in my life never get so bad that I’m tempted to find solace in religion.

  228. #228 speedwell
    December 23, 2008

    anon @ 226:

    “…who would self-refer as raving?”

    Me. I’m a raving beauty. HAHAHA

  229. #229 anon
    December 23, 2008

    … see?!?

  230. #230 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    #215 Good.

    My #149 deconstructed for clarity:
    —-
    Donahue (reference to Catholic activist attack dog prominent in the US. Figured heavily in PZ’s great cracker fiasco as well as many other perceived slights against Catholics (Bill, not Phil)
    —–
    Celestial Easter Egg (refers to hidden messages tucked inside a lot of computer programs. Essentially a ‘hidden message”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)
    ——
    Fear of death induces phobias the church attends to. Drugs could do the same job for people THAT paranoid. Church attendance would decline without fear.
    ——-
    Statement that GOD is unknowable. Any statement made on God’s behalf is immediately suspect. Frankin reference (Al Franken-(D) Minn) used to play a character on Saturday Night Live, named Stuart Smalley, who used the ‘good enough…people like me’ line. He is now the SENATOR of MINNESOTA ?????
    ———–
    The rest of the post is just me having fun expressing my qualifications as a Deist who rejects all current and past religious prophets as bunkum, yet will still argue for the possiblity of a creator unlike those CRAZY and SCARY atheists (pun).

    I often tend to draw on too many unique American cultural references for an international audience to ‘get’ all the ‘in’ jokes. Thank you for helping me clarify that post for those who it confused.

    Don’t feel bad though. Many in my American audience don’t always ‘get it’.

    Reference the girl who went off on me for my Atheists for Life post. Do you think she really took the time to read ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM where I state that I’m fine with a ‘religious’ compromise on legal abortion that let’s GOD make the judgment on an individual by individual basis in the afterlife.

    If I’m in an especially cryptic mood, my posts often end up in the category of Poe’s Law.

    Look it up.

    Enjoy.

    Enjoy.

  231. #231 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008

    I am always amused by the twits who claim to pray for us to imaginary beings (Jebus, god). A couple of studies were done on prayer. Once the deliberately cooked study is removed, guess what. Prayer doesn’t do diddly squat. In fact, it there appears, at least in the studies, to be slightly better not to be prayed for.
    Prayer, used by delusional people world wide since before Jebus. With the same effects, the answer is “no”.

  232. #232 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 23, 2008

    Love bombing=Ideological conversion by nookie. Are you saying RA has been pussywhipped into religion? *whiiiik*
    The only thing stronger than nookie is grief.
    I’ve been in the metaphorical foxhole and looked death straight in the eye and I still think believing in deities is misguided and sad. If I were to lose my wife or kids I’m sure the grief would be oppressive enough to distort my sanity; yet, barring damage to the frontal lobe, I’ll never believe in magic or deities until a god personally shows up and and circumvents physical laws for my benefit or takes me on a guided tour of heaven and hell.

  233. #233 Spinoza
    December 23, 2008

    It’s not like being an atheist or theist somehow gives you (or takes away) IQ points anyway.

    Stupid people abound.

  234. #234 John Phillips, FCD
    December 23, 2008

    OK Tim, it would probably have made more sense if you had been drinking, or perhaps if I had :)

  235. #235 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    Point of pussywhipped fact.

    http://www.rickross.com/reference/raelians/raelians82.html

    Love bombing is more of a Stewart Smalley type technique. Universal ‘acceptance’ is the theme, not sexual temptations. They want you to feel good about yourself and that you ‘belong’ to something.

    Enjoy.

  236. #236 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    Nerd wrote:

    I am always amused by the twits who claim to pray for us to imaginary beings (Jebus, god). A couple of studies were done on prayer. Once the deliberately cooked study is removed, guess what. Prayer doesn’t do diddly squat. In fact, it there appears, at least in the studies, to be slightly better not to be prayed for. Prayer, used by delusional people world wide since before Jebus. With the same effects, the answer is “no”.

    I actually don’t think this is as telling about the vacuity of religion as the excuses we hear from theists as to why prayer doesn’t seem to work – like ‘our god refuses to answer prayers when they’re being tested because that’d prove he exists and proof denies faith’ or ‘our god always answers prayers but sometimes the answer is no’ or – the all-time face-palm-inspiring ‘our god works in mysterious ways’.

    ‘The kind and loving god of christianity’ is an oxymoron. Should theists decide to take the view that their god exists but doesn’t give a shit about them most of the time then at least they’d be considered at least halfway intellectually honest.

  237. #237 Tim Fuller
    December 23, 2008

    It just occurred to me that sharing that previous link might induce a sudden rush towards Raelianism. It was not my intent.

    You do not need a church’s permission to stare at your ass in the mirror. Don’t get caught up in that lie.

    Enjoy.

  238. #238 Parker
    December 23, 2008

    Reminds me of the main character from ‘1984’ finally admitting 2+2=5.

    After seeing some of this guys videos, it seemed his atheism was spawned a lot because of reason, but also, a lot because of anger. He took his early brainwashing very personal and I guess once he waded through the bitter feelings he used to harbor it allowed him to gain back the warm feelings he may have felt cheated from.

    Weird, weird post though.

  239. #239 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008

    Wowbagger

    I actually don’t think this is as telling about the vacuity of religion as the excuses we hear from theists as to why prayer doesn’t seem to work – like ‘our god refuses to answer prayers when they’re being tested because that’d prove he exists and proof denies faith’ or ‘our god always answers prayers but sometimes the answer is no’ or – the all-time face-palm-inspiring ‘our god works in mysterious ways’.

    Sounds like Pilty in full apologetic, dancing, bobbing and weaving, evasive mode, doesn’t it? I’m sure Fly, Facilis, and Melissa would be just as adept at avoiding acknowledging that their insane mental masturbations to imaginary deities does nothing.

  240. #240 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Melissa #151 wrote:

    Since everyone is all about having “proof”, isn’t it ridiculous to assume that his conversion is merely on an emotional basis? Can you prove that it is or isn’t? And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved? If you have never experienced it, how could even have the faintest idea of what it’s like?

    This is interesting, because the writer seems to contradict herself. She talks about having an “experience” which you have to have for yourself in order to know what it’s like to convert to Christianity — and then says that there may not be any emotion involved.

    I don’t understand this. An objective, non-emotional reason to believe in God or a particular religion would involve intellectual assent to a persuasive argument. Perhaps you’ve encountered a version of the Ontological Argument which seems sound, or recent discoveries in cosmology make a theistic hypothesis appear more reasonable than naturalism.

    Being overwhelmed by some sort of personal, subjective experience is, by its very nature, an “emotional basis” for a change of mind — or, perhaps more accurately, a change of heart. You’d have to “know what it’s like” to understand. That invokes emotion, not reason. If the conversion rests on a rational basis, there’s no need to experience anything for yourself. The evidence and line of thought can be laid out for examination and critique.

    I’ve no idea what Melissa thinks she is saying, then. Unless she’s trying to get out some garbled version of the platitude that it’s Facts –>Faith –> Feeling. (which is also nonsense.)

  241. #241 Ames
    December 23, 2008

    #214 (CrypticLife) – if you really found “FOS erehgas sem thercoan” in the code, it’s probably an anagram. I’m looking into it:

    http://wordsmith.org/anagram/

  242. #242 anon
    December 23, 2008

    He didn’t (see #220) – forget the anagrams.

  243. #243 deang
    December 23, 2008

    He may have converted because of the social support he receives in a mainstream religion like Christianity. There really isn’t any equivalent in the US to that sort of thing, since we’re so atomized in our society.

    There’s also the possibility that he was never very rational or reasonable to begin with. I mean, the very fact that he promoted himself as “raving” makes it sound like he mostly wanted attention, that he may not even have been serious about the intellectual foundations of his position.

    And I know of people who only became Christian because they were swayed by pictures of aborted fetuses. The emotional appeal of graphic pictures of surgery can be strong. His mind may have been no match for the photographs.

  244. #244 Ames
    December 23, 2008

    Thanks 242: I’d missed that.

    Yeah, I went through it and saw NOSECRETMESSAGESHERE, but after that he still has TSOF in the dedication section?

  245. #245 Rob
    December 23, 2008

    Fly In The Ointment Said: “In Christ I pray for you.”

    So, sodomy is ok now? Man, you people need to make up your minds.

  246. #246 Ames
    December 23, 2008

    RavingAtheist was on quite a few forums.

    Here he bemoans Obama’s election: http://ace.new.mu.nu/obama_announces_mandatory_youth_corps

    Here he commiserates with anti-choice activists: http://www.jillstanek.com/archives/2008/11/commemorating_h.html

    In the last he’s mocking atheism. My bet is that he was always a theist.

  247. #247 anon
    December 23, 2008

    Not in my HTML-doctored copy which dims all ‘EM’ tagged text.

  248. #248 Facilis
    December 23, 2008

    @DaveL

    You see, if RA truly has come across compelling evidence or a coherent logical argument for the existence of God, after millenia of philosophers and theologians to do the same, wouldn’t he be a giant dick for not sharing it with everyone else?

    What philosophers and theologians have you read?I myself was reading Van Till the other day. Those dutch reformed have weird ideas about logic.

  249. #249 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    Sven’s going to get pissed at me for saying this, but I’m gonna keep beating the point: as a population, we need to be smarter. Honestly. Because it seems to be that a significant amount of the population is plenty delusional, and that’s just around the average IQs; the average IQ in some really shitty places such as Zimbabwe is functionally retarded. That is fucking depressing, people.

    Now I’m not advocating killing anyone, I’m just saying some people gotta stop breeding. Maybe we should pay them to not breed.

    (I hate the fucking pro-lifers, they’re making the world dumber.)

    Seriously, eugenics may be looked at badly and people may whine a lot about ‘OH BUT IT’S RACIST AND CLASSIST’. I mean, that Marcy Darnovsky weirdo on one of the other blogs on here gets all nutty about genetically improving people’s intelligence just because there’ll be a class divide, but guess what – smart rich people and dumb poor people is better than dumb rich people and dumb poor people. (I’m not horribly fond of most poor people anyway; most of them in my experience tend to be mean, stupid, and more than a little off their rocker. There most likely are and there have been exceptions in the past – I can think of more than a few PhDs in my field who have crawled up from destitute backgrounds – but generally, I’m not fond of the poor. I’m all for giving everyone opportunities and the opportunity for treatment – I mean, we need to make sure those among the disadvantaged who ARE a small handful of our future leaders are given the tools they need to make something of themselves, but besides that, I wouldn’t be so shiny-eyed about the rest of them. I actually lost a friend over this sort of argument not too long ago; he turned out to be far more naive about his beloved ‘proletariat’ than he should have been.) Yes, I expect some of you to bitch about this, but I got statistics backing me up – if you look at some of Terman’s studies, there are some correlations going on there among poverty and intelligence (I know, I know, it’s problematic and nebulous but quite frankly it’s not quite as useless as you think as a measure of intelligence) and child abuse and other things.

    Bull. Shit. Contraception is cheap and usable by anyone and frankly, if you’re willing to forgo your right to reproduce for a tax break, that says something about your willingness and/or ability to raise a child. (IMHO nobody who makes under a certain amount of money year deserves to raise a kid, frankly; that kid better be able to get a college education.)

    This is my angry rant for the evening.

  250. #250 Facilis
    December 23, 2008

    [Perhaps you've encountered a version of the Ontological Argument which seems sound]
    Just curious.Have you heard of the new version of the Ontological argument(I think it was Plantiga’s)?

  251. #251 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 23, 2008

    The emotional appeal of graphic pictures of surgery can be strong. His mind may have been no match for the photographs.

    Viscera makes people religious?
    So there are no atheists in ORs and morgues as well as foxholes? Hmmmmm, I did not know that…

  252. #252 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008

    Facilis, the only argument for god is insanity. The god of the bible is one sorry, irritable, irrational bigot, who does not have a theme throughout the whole book (I read it twice cover to cover, and that was my start to atheism–a common start as it turns out).

    Time to quit trying to save us. Others have tried, and either been banned for godbotting, or get tired of the abuse we heap on them. Take you mission elsewhere.

  253. #253 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Facilis wrote:

    Just curious.Have you heard of the new version of the Ontological argument(I think it was Plantiga’s)?

    I think there are several ‘new’ formulations out there (it’s a pretty old argument.) I was thinking of Hartshorne, I think.

    My understanding is that Al Plantinga has some kind of moral OA, but is mostly pushing various versions of the Transcendental Argument, including the claim that God is a Properly Basic Belief, similar to believing in the existence of other minds, and thus needs no argument. Nice try, but no cigar, imo.

    The Ontological Argument usually comes from Catholics, in my experience. Thomists, mostly.

  254. #254 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    Nerd wrote:

    Sounds like Pilty in full apologetic, dancing, bobbing and weaving, evasive mode, doesn’t it? I’m sure Fly, Facilis, and Melissa would be just as adept at avoiding acknowledging that their insane mental masturbations to imaginary deities does nothing.

    I don’t think any of those other three come even close to Pilty. He’s equipped with the most thorough sophistry of anyone I’ve encountered (though I’ve only been at this for a little while). I usually ask theists why their god has decided that proof denies faith when, in the old testament, he revealed himself (oo-er) to the Israelites on pretty much a daily basis; I did the same with Pilty.

    His response – that the people back then were ‘far more spiritually advanced’ then we are today – is possibly the most ludicrous defence of religious nonsense I’ve ever heard.

    But I give him points for creativity…

  255. #255 Scott Hatfield, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Oddly enough, this theist agrees with Satra’s assessment (post #12)

    Also, rather cynically I note he’s probably received more traffic in the past two hours than in the previous two years, if my experience is typical. A ‘spoof’ that takes in the likes of PZ is a publicity whore’s dream….and I say that, in all candor, as a publicity whore for science who has benefited from PZ’s occasional linkage and other assistance!

  256. #256 MrMarkAZ
    December 23, 2008

    Doubtless, Clan Godbot will chalk this up as a watershed moment in the culture war, having won such a noted personality as this over to “their side.”

    Fine. Great.

    But so what? Evolution is still a fact. The speed of light is still a constant. The universe did not upend itself by his conversion, nor did the entire atheist movement shatter into little pieces like so many Saurons who lost their precious rings. Life goes on.

    This is about ideas, not personalities, and an idea’s validity lies not in how many followers it has, or the popularity of its notable champions, but in the weight of the evidence it presents. I learned that from an atheist, not a Christian.

    Besides, his movie sucked major ass. Bill Mahrer did a much better job. Good riddance.

  257. #257 Aerik
    December 23, 2008

    I saw this coming a long, long time ago. He became more and more friendly with Christians as his misogyny grew.

  258. #258 Ames
    December 23, 2008

    Could this be a comeback stunt?

  259. #259 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine makes me wish I had a killfile. You’re one disgusting specimen, Katharine. I’ll henceforth ignore your ignorant, insane rants.

  260. #260 NoFear
    December 23, 2008

    I went back to look at the raving atheists earliest archived post. His persistent capitlization of “god”, even when not starting a sentence, leads me to believe he was never an atheist. I have never known an atheist to capitalize that word, not if they thought for even a moment about it.

    So, IMHO, TRA was a long running hoax, another lying christian who feels that any commandment can be broken as long as he thinks it serves his god his god’s wishes.

  261. #261 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 23, 2008

    Thanks Katherine for that heartfelt rant, brought to you by Concerned Citizens for Eugenic Rights.
    I get ya, but seriously, it doesn’t matter. Since the dawn of humankind the morons and idiots have had the numbers in their favor. We will live, love, screw up, fight and eke out some sort of meaning for our specific existence and then die. The universe doesn’t care, the Earth doesn’t care and people who never knew you or will know you won’t care. The idiots will always outnumber the reasonable, the crazy outnumber the sane and the inhumane will always inflict a disproportionate amount of damage even if they are a minority (which is doubtful). Every new generation thinks it’s the first to really discover and exploit sex, alternative religion, philosophy, reason and drugs. And there won’t be a day that goes by when they make mistakes – in this case size counts and whether you learn anything from it.

    I know it’s cliche but life is about the journey. There will always be stupid people. And we will all die, most before they’re ready, a few who wished for it to come sooner and a very fortunate few who will never be aware it came at all. Merry Christmas.

  262. #262 Facilis
    December 23, 2008

    A summary of Plantigas argument is here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument#Plantinga.27s_modal_form_and_contemporary_discussion

    including the claim that God is a Properly Basic Belief, similar to believing in the existence of other minds, and thus needs no argument.

    That’s completely different.I think you are talking about his epistemology.It’s not meant to convince atheist but it is a position for believers to hold with regards to their belief in God. Plantiga believe that man can comes to knowlege of God , not as a result of an inferential process but through sensus divinatis.Under his epistemology there are certain beliefs we come to through experience (eg. the existence of moral truths, existence of the past, existence of other minds) that can be held to be properly basic. the result of this position is that a religious believer can say his experiences are sufficient justification for his belief in God and still be rational.It isn’t an argument for or against any religion but merely a justification

  263. #263 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 23, 2008

    A little ditty for Katharine.

  264. #264 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008

    God either shows himself physically or doesn’t exist. Philosophy is for sophists like you Facilis. Liar and bullshitters. Take your preaching elsewhere.

  265. #265 Shiftingname
    December 23, 2008

    Brava, Katharine. I’m with you. It’s a highly unpopular opinion to opine, but yeah. It’s really great that we have an 18th Duggar and that that one 14year old girl from the ghetto who was in a store last year where I saw her slap her 1 year old and scream “shut up, bitch!” is making babies.

    I wish that we could pass a law that if you are caught protesting at an abortion clinic you will be issued a variety of five crack-babies and FAS kids(varying in age from newborn to 16, so that the offender understands that babyhood is a rather fleeting thing)and sentenced to raise them. And you have to volunteer one day a week at some skid row shelter.

  266. #266 RHudson
    December 23, 2008

    “I have never known an atheist to capitalize that word, not if they thought for even a moment about it.”

    Then, I can say as an academic in religious studies as well as literature AND an atheist, that any atheist who doesn’t capitalize “God” when referring to the Judeo-Christian god doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s a proper noun, therefore must be capitalized no matter what your ideology.

    Sometimes my fellow atheists don’t know quite as much about what they are talking about as they like to believe.

  267. #267 'Tis Himself
    December 23, 2008

    It shouldn’t be surprising that Plantinga has a formulation of the Ontological Argument. He works at Notre Dame.

    My problem with Hartshorne, Plantinga, and other proponents of modal OAs is the possibility premise. It begs the question since possibly necessarily is basically the same as necessarily. Asserting or believing the premise is tantamount to asserting or believing the conclusion. Since I don’t believe it’s possible that there is a maximally great being, the first axiom of the OA fails.

  268. #268 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    A little ditty for Katharine.

    Thanks for that one, Janine. It helped.

    – SC, True Internet Pussy

  269. #269 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    No Fear #260 wrote:

    His persistent capitlization of “god”, even when not starting a sentence, leads me to believe he was never an atheist. I have never known an atheist to capitalize that word, not if they thought for even a moment about it.

    Then you probably need to get around more. Many atheists capitalize the word “God” when it’s used as a name for a specific god — such as the Christian God — or when referring to a personal Being. I don’t think you can infer anything from this.

    What usually sends a little warning flag up for me is when atheists explain that they can’t believe in God anymore because “Christians don’t act like Christians — they don’t listen to Jesus, they’re not as kind and loving and perfect as they should be if they’re really following Christ.” That’s not an argument against God, or even Christianity. That’s someone looking for a nicer church.

  270. #270 Jeeves
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine,

    Please stop harping on the eugenics bit. Your fixation is becoming rather creepy. Just between us, how many homeless people did you kick today?

  271. #271 Shiftingname
    December 23, 2008

    …well, not the poor thing so much, Katharine..I myself am well below the poverty line, but I’m also 32 and despite the fact that I would like to have a kid, I won’t until I can responsibly take care of one. But poor people having tons of kids? What the hell?

  272. #272 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    Facilis #262 wrote:

    the result of this position is that a religious believer can say his experiences are sufficient justification for his belief in God and still be rational.It isn’t an argument for or against any religion but merely a justification

    I fail to see how a ‘justification’ for holding a belief isn’t going to justify accepting the belief as well. It should. If it is reasonable for me to believe something, then I ought to be able to persuade you.

    Plantinga’s claim that we have a trustworthy sense divinus will not stand up under critical examination, because it assumes that people cannot make mistakes about intuitions — and we know that we can. Mystics often interpret inferences they make from their experiences for knowledge that they’ve had an experience.

  273. #273 NoFear
    December 23, 2008

    Alright, I stand corrected on the capitaliazation of “god”. Here is the link to his earliest blog entry: http://ravingatheist.com/2000/03/

    If I read that knowing nothing else about the author, I would presume him/her to be a christian because of the arguments made and the rationale used. I just caught sight of the capitalization of “god” and tried, unsuccessfully, to capitalize on it. :-)

  274. #274 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    Then, I can say as an academic in religious studies as well as literature AND an atheist, that any atheist who doesn’t capitalize “God” when referring to the Judeo-Christian god doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s a proper noun, therefore must be capitalized no matter what your ideology.

    ‘Must’? Rubbish.
    ‘Doesn’t know what he’s talking about’? Utter rot.

    I know I deliberately used it uncapitalised, despite knowing full well it wasn’t technically correct, simply because I hoped it annoyed theists (which it most certainly does). But my pedantic inner editor got the better of my irritating pettiness and I stopped.

    Thing is, I dislike ‘God’ because it supports Judeo-Christian belief that theirs is the only ‘true’ god and that other gods are somehow lesser. Both their god and all the others are equally ficitious as far as I’m concerned; I’m going to treat them all the same.

    Nowadays, however, it isn’t an issue because I almost never use the term ‘God’ – I will say ‘Yahweh’ or ‘the christian god’ or ‘your/his/their/her god’ instead, since ‘god’ doesn’t have to be a proper noun; it can refer to any god at all.

  275. #275 Mr. Slinky
    December 23, 2008

    What the hell is a “poe”?

  276. #276 Sastra
    December 23, 2008

    No Fear #273:
    Heh. I just now read the post you linked to, and it looks a bit like what I wrote earlier, on what raises my own ‘red flag’ — an atheist complaining that theists aren’t following God and the Bible the way they should.

  277. #277 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008
  278. #278 Mr. Slinky
    December 23, 2008

    Why thank you Nerd of Redhead. Seems to say: a Poe is a Poe is a Poe (to paraphrase Jean Chretien).

  279. #279 Feynmaniac
    December 23, 2008

    PZ should add a glossary page with all the terms used here like: Poe, SIWOTI syndrome, PYGMIES + DWARFS??, Happy Monkey,poll crashing, etc.

  280. #280 RHudson
    December 23, 2008

    “Thing is, I dislike ‘God’ because it supports Judeo-Christian belief that theirs is the only ‘true’ god and that other gods are somehow lesser.”

    No, it doesn’t. It’s just English. Seriously how can you defend this. You would be laughed out of academia, rightfully so.

  281. #281 Dorkman
    December 23, 2008

    I never read the RA blog before, but skimming through it several years back, it seems clear to me that the guy was never really an atheist. I don’t see a single instance where he really jumped up and got vocal about the atheist, rational, or freethinking perspective, often rationalizing how people who might (should) be dismissed as theist kooks “actually had kind of a point.”

    Plus, at the risk of pulling a “No True Scotsman” here, a real atheist who had doubts about his doubts would say so publicly. Would ask the questions that he could not find satisfactory non-religious answers to, would demonstrate the path by which they were led to the Magic Man. Going back, I see none of this. Just less and less subtle theistic overtones, culminating in an otherwise abrupt declaration of faith — and a specific, Catholic flavor thereof.

    I’m gonna say this has been the plan all along. Probably got the idea from that good old “former skeptic” Lee Strobel.

  282. #282 Feynmaniac
    December 23, 2008

    Hehe, from the Rational Wiki article on Poe’s law,

    lim Religion = Parody
    Fundamenalism-> ?

  283. #283 John C. Randolph
    December 23, 2008

    I never heard of “Raging Atheist” before today, but it seems to me from the discussion here and a cursory perusal of his blog that he’s someone for whom atheism was an emotional rather than a logical conviction.

    I was raised without religion, so I never had the trauma of giving it up as many other people have. When I consider the possibility of adopting a religion, the proposition fails simply because it doesn’t hold water. As far as I’m concerned, those who claim that a deity exists utterly fail to provide a convincing argument for it, though many have tried.

    I would suggest that someone whose atheism is based on “religious people suck” is far more likely to change his mind than someone whose atheism is based on “god is a very flimsy conjecture”, because not all religious people suck.

    -jcr

  284. #284 Rick R
    December 23, 2008

    “No, it doesn’t. It’s just English. Seriously how can you defend this. You would be laughed out of academia, rightfully so.”

    Sheesh. A concern troll with a copy of “Elements of Style”.

    NOTED.

  285. #285 Colugo
    December 23, 2008

    I have noticed two things: 1) In recent years there has been a resurgence of eugenicist and more generally hereditarian racialist and classist thought in scientific and even “rationalist” circles, sometimes tinged with transhumanism. 2) These attitudes tend to skew young, not old.

    If attitudes like Katharine’s represent the cutting edge of the next generation of rationalist, scientific-minded atheists, then the future truly looks bright for religious fundamentalism.

    There exists decades of research of the effects of developmental insults and challenges on brain development and social behavior. Lead. Psychosocial stress. Intellectually unstimulating environments. Poor nutrition. Maternal smoking and drinking. Unpredictable injury from violence and accidents. Diesel fumes. Such factors surely explain some of the statistical differences in cognitive performance and social behavior between upper middle class and poor people.

  286. #286 Rick R
    December 23, 2008

    jcr @ #283- “I was raised without religion, so I never had the trauma of giving it up as many other people have. When I consider the possibility of adopting a religion, the proposition fails simply because it doesn’t hold water.”

    I was also raised with no religion, but the reason I can’t imagine falling into it now (I’m 47) is exactly the same reason I would have for not suddenly taking up heroin use.

    There’s a reason those religions target kids.

  287. #287 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    “No, it doesn’t. It’s just English. Seriously how can you defend this. You would be laughed out of academia, rightfully so.”

    Sheesh. A concern troll with a copy of “Elements of Style”.

    Not even. That third sentence (other issues aside) should end in a question mark, and the fourth is an abomination.

  288. #288 Tommykey
    December 23, 2008

    I stopped reading the Raving Atheist years ago, and if his conversion is legitimate, it does not surprise me. In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t do it sooner.

  289. #289 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    Around the time of the “Sarah Palin: Ignorant and Anti-Science” thread, I started to think that perhaps I should avoid weekends here, as the views of some of the people who came out of the woodwork at that time were so repulsive to me that I was shocked to see them here and didn’t want to share the same virtual space with them. I’m rethinking this, though. It doesn’t seem to be confined to weekends. I’ll leave this thread to the scumbag neo-eugenicists. I’m not here to teach a course. I’m also recovering from a ‘stomach flu’ – don’t need to be sick again.

  290. #290 zzoon14
    December 23, 2008

    What a coincidence. The first blog I ever read religiously (heh) was that of fiction author and atheist Poppy Z. Brite. The other day I checked her blog for the first time in three years and found out that she has converted to Catholocism.

    Maybe it’s an epidemic…

  291. #291 Insightful Ape
    December 23, 2008

    Facilis, thanks again. I now know that my belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, based on my personal experience, in fully justified, as is my disbelief in the patriarchal Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. I feel he doesn’t exist, so that makes him non-existent. Convenient enough.

  292. #292 Badger3k
    December 23, 2008

    I would add in my own use of god or God, depending on the sense that I am using it. Usually, though, I prefer to say “your god” or YHVH when referring to the Jewish and Christian gods. Using the generic term for a deity as a personal name always seemed bizarre to me, really egotistical (or else insecure).

    I’d also add that Plantiga is a schmuck. His argument is flawed and (to me) really stupid. I guess I just can’t understand all this talk about “possible” worlds. Anything could be possible, but what do we have evidence for? If we don’t have any evidence that such a “possible world” has any basis in reality, then it is all bunk until you can give evidence. We might as well talk about who can beat whom, Batman or Superman (or the Enterprise XXX vs the Super-Star Destroyer). It might be fun and stimulating, but it has no relation to reality, and certainly not something you should live your life based on.

    As for RA, it doesn’t surprise me. I only heard about him after a post linked to him about his anti-choice stance. Didn’t see much in him, and other posts pretty much turned me off him as being someone entertaining or thought-provoking. Assuming this change is true, it would fit with what I remember, especially if he was indoctrinated by the sick freaks at the faux “crisis pregnancy” centers.

  293. #293 Inquisitor Numad
    December 23, 2008

    Wowbagger,

    “Thing is, I dislike ‘God’ because it supports Judeo-Christian belief that theirs is the only ‘true’ god and that other gods are somehow lesser.”

    I’m of the opinion that the way to do achieve the same effect and remain clear is to write “your god” when addressing the religious and “the Judeo-Christian god” when not.

  294. #294 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    Rhudson, #280

    No, it doesn’t. It’s just English. Seriously how can you defend this. You would be laughed out of academia, rightfully so.

    ‘It’s just English.’ Yes, of course. No-one’s ever manipulated a language in order to influence opinion before. Do me a favour – research where the term ‘welch’, as in ‘welch on a bet’, comes from (and why) and then we’ll talk.

    And you’re an academic in literature? Good grief. No wonder many people think so little of a university education these days.

  295. #295 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine #249
    Wow, I mean wow.
    I don’t care what your stats say, that is some fucked up shit.
    Look, I know lot’s of morons. Some happen to be pretty darn well off. My family was dirt poor. What do you think should have been done with me eh?
    You should know that, although I didn’t go to college, I have an IQ in the low 150’s. Is that good enough?
    My parents weren’t particularly brilliant. Perhaps it would be better if I hadn’t been allowed to live eh?
    I assume, because of your…presentation, that your family would have been spared.
    I think that it’s obvious to most who read your post that a world with me and without you would be better than the reverse.
    Someone please tell me this bitch is a poe.

  296. #296 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    …Someone please tell me this bitch is a poe.

    Oh, FFS. Please tell me you’re a woman, ggab. Please. My head’s in a fucking vise. I’m losing hope.

  297. #297 Crudely Wrott
    December 23, 2008

    Used to go to Raving Atheist’s blog. Haven’t for a while. Dwindling interest; no special reason. Instinct proves dominant this time.

    Left this final, timeless message at RA: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” Think it’ll register? I would be pleased if it did.

  298. #298 Wowbagger
    December 23, 2008

    Inquisitor Numad, #293, wrote:

    I’m of the opinion that the way to do achieve the same effect and remain clear is to write “your god” when addressing the religious and “the Judeo-Christian god” when not.

    Er, that’s almost exactly what I said in my original post on the topic at #274:

    Nowadays, however, it isn’t an issue because I almost never use the term ‘God’ – I will say ‘Yahweh’ or ‘the christian god’ or ‘your/his/their/her god’ instead, since ‘god’ doesn’t have to be a proper noun; it can refer to any god at all.

    I agree that ‘God’ is, essentially, correct; I just dislike the connotation, which does exist, whether Rhudson thinks so or not. The academic background he oh-so-casually mentioned (funnily enough, I don’t remember anyone asking) obviously hasn’t featured much sociolinguistics.

  299. #299 Owlmirror
    December 23, 2008

    Left this final, timeless message at RA: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

    Seems rather porpoiseless to me…

  300. #300 Nerd of Redhead
    December 23, 2008

    Seems rather porpoiseless to me…

    Seemed like a rather shark retort…

  301. #301 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    I should probably not be surprised I got killfiled by at least one person, but.

    I look at what havoc the fundies have wrought and I feel a sense that there is a time limit in which we need to act in some way, whichever that way is. I am, to some extent, unsure of just how far the fundies will get if we don’t act, whether it is in a drastic way or a minor way, and the past has shown us that humans can be far nastier than they currently are.

    The opinions expressed in my rant are indeed probably unpopular in many ways. At the same time, I wonder what we will have to do and in what timespan to ensure a brighter future for everyone.

  302. #302 Inquisitor Numad
    December 23, 2008

    Wowbagger,

    Looks like I shouldn’t have assumed RHudson had actually read the post he was responding very categorically about.

  303. #303 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    #109 Fly In the Oinkment

    Instead of praying for me, why don’t you do something useful, pray for a cure for cancer or better, pray that no child be raped and/or murdered. When that prayer is answered I’ll be the first to fall on my knees and praise jebus.
    Oh that’s right we all know that prayers aren’t answered, that’s why you don’t pray for anything useful. you just say you’ll pray for us, but really you’re a lying self-righteous condescending asshat.

    But if you do believe that prayers are answered, I just want you to know that I totally sacrifice myself for the children. Don’t pray for me, pray for them. Don’t be a self-righteous condescending asshat and pray for me.
    Every time you pray for me you’re not praying for the children another one is raped and murdered. And its your fault because you’re not praying hard enough. You’re being selfish again.

    oh look there’s a statistic that says a child is raped or murdered every 15 minutes – get to work Fly.

  304. #304 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    I should probably not be surprised I got killfiled by at least one person, but.

    You have problems with reading comprehension. You’re not especially bright, so that’s not surprising. You’re also arrogantly ignorant – a shithead, basically. You do the reputation of this blog no favors.

  305. #305 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine
    I feel the same urgency when it comes to stopping the fundies, but you have gone off the deep end.
    By the way, your hate seemed directed at poor people rather than fundies.”generally, I’m not fond of the poor”
    Maybe kill them all and let god sort them out?
    I don’t even know what to say to this kind of psychotic shit.
    Wait, I thought of something.
    Fuck off you arrogant waste of an education.

    SC
    Sorry no.

  306. #306 Spinoza
    December 23, 2008

    Sometimes my fellow atheists don’t know quite as much about what they are talking about as they like to believe.

    Of course not! IQ is normally distributed. :)

  307. #307 Sven DiMilo
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine was right about one thing: she pissed me off.

  308. #308 akshelby
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve decided that Katherine is a Poe. She’s just trying to goad someone into agreeing with her, so that she can say, “SEE! Atheists want to kill us!!!”

    If they are her real thoughts, they are better expressed to herself in private. It’s disgusting.

  309. #309 Strider
    December 23, 2008

    I dunno, I gotta call Poe on that one! Look at that simpering Jesus picture! He looks like a total douche! Plus, he still hasn’t taken down the definitions of religion, under “Basic Assumptions” in the sidebar!

  310. #310 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    SC
    Sorry no.

    Race, class, and gender are the three major lines of oppression. Is it possible to defend one oppressed group without attacking another? Is that too fucking much to ask?

  311. #311 Sven DiMilo
    December 23, 2008

    fundies
    stupid people
    poor people
    people who shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce
    people who should be killed

    Sorry. The first three sets intersect but retain considerable independence. The last two sets, arguably, ought to be empty.

  312. #312 george.w
    December 23, 2008

    I left brief snark but realized later he may be foolin’.

  313. #313 SC, OM
    December 23, 2008

    I’ve decided that Katherine is a Poe. She’s just trying to goad someone into agreeing with her, so that she can say, “SEE! Atheists want to kill us!!!”

    I thought this, too, but her posts on this thread…hmmm…

  314. #314 Crudely Wrott
    December 23, 2008

    @Owlmirror, #299

    Well, Jesus did make lots of fish, and fish that are left over go bad quickly and visitors are a lot like left over fish and when I was little I used to hear my father use the expression, “. . . you’re a dead, stinkin’ fish” to describe doing something that leads to failure.

    Personal culture, derived from experience vs instruction, is valid culture; it is the bricks of larger structures. And the farewell as quoted does have a certain cachet . . . not to mention that I wanted to say something as a fully recovered religiotard. It made me feel comfortable in my culture. [grin]

  315. #315 Jeeves
    December 23, 2008

    I’m unaccustomed to jumping on the pile but I’ll make an exception in this case. If anyone takes a gander and looks through her previous posts, they’ll find Katharine to offer up two viewpoints:
    1. Most people are idiots. This must always be mentioned, regardless of PZ’s post.
    2. Eugenics is an answer to whatever problem being discussed. Sometimes there isn’t a problem in PZ’s post and its brought up anyway. Oops!

    It’s kind of funny. She reminds me of one issue presidential candidates like Alan Keyes or Steve Forbes. Problems with the economy? Poverty? Foreign policy?
    Alan: Make abortion illegal!
    Steve: Flat tax is the answer to all our problems!
    Katharine: Eugenics! Poor people are stupid! Eugenics!

  316. #316 Katharine
    December 23, 2008

    I respect and in fact admire Dr. Myers, and I respected and admired most of you, and I am most certainly NOT a Poe, and I’m an atheist.

    But it’s plenty obvious now I should only be reading this blog for PZ’s writing and not your comments, because… well, how do I put it? You’ve apparently now turned on me things that you’ve said to people with diametrically opposite views, which communicates to me that you are less than discriminating in your epithet-flinging.

    Fundies are filthy scum; at the same time, as much of an outspoken, blunt atheist as I am, I’m not liable to deal with ANYONE, no matter what they believe, who turns their backs on you in a moment.

    I didn’t lose my respect for you until you started calling me a Poe.

  317. #317 clinteas
    December 23, 2008

    Katharine,

    youre obviously angry,and desperate,and concerned.
    i think your intentions are the right ones,but isnt what seperates humans from the not self-conscious animals on this planet that we can make decisions based on moral and ethics?
    And should not that fact enable us to control our impulses to cleanse and eradicate the religiously/intellectually/morally/physically challenged?

    Being concerned about mankind is not an excuse to spout this sort of nazi bullshit.

  318. #318 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    #316
    well, speaking only for myself, i think my respect for you left the minute you suggested we turn on some ovens.

  319. #319 Owlmirror
    December 23, 2008

    @#314 (Mmm. Π.):
    Um.

    I think that you’re overthinking a mostly harmless joke. Please don’t panic.

  320. #320 Ken Cope
    December 23, 2008

    Katherine, you are no Poe. But, since you present yourself as a eugenecist, among the virutes of this blog is that you will find no sympathetic ear here, except among the fundies, who seek to characterize all atheists as eugenicists. Since it is impossible to characterize what all atheists think, just because most atheists have sensibly concluded that it is more reasonable to live without imaginary god concepts, there is no reason to assume that all people are atheists for sensible reasons; some of them, as a matter of fact, have reached some seriously fucked up conclusions having nothing whatsoever to do with atheism, for examples, see posts by the moron calling herself Katherine.

  321. #321 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Aww
    I think we hurt the sociopaths feelings.

  322. #322 gypsytag
    December 23, 2008

    And Katherine,

    you made the mistake of thinking that because you’re an atheist that you’re somehow part of a community. You’re not. There is no such community. And thinking there is will only disappoint you. You need to seek out others that actually have your beliefs. Well, actually i take that back you need to fucking let that Nazi shit go. But if you want to really be part of a group then you need to seek people out that you have something in common with and atheism isn’t it. it brings very little to the table.

  323. #323 Owlmirror
    December 23, 2008

    I’m not liable to deal with ANYONE, no matter what they believe, who turns their backs on you in a moment.

    People who are financially challenged — hell, let’s be blunt: poor — might well same the same to you in the face of your genuinely cruel rant.

  324. #324 Crudely Wrott
    December 23, 2008

    No panic here, Owlmirror. Just some satisfying chuckles at your humorous reply to my silly comment. Thought I would follow you up in a similar fashion.

    But I see there is more serious business afoot (re #316). Perhaps a call for help?

  325. #325 ggab
    December 23, 2008

    Owlmirror
    I’m financially challenged and take offence to your bluntness.
    For future reference, I’m also white trash, so no jokes about the couch and transmission on my front lawn or the fact that 30% of my income goes to lottery tickets.

  326. #326 Jeeves
    December 24, 2008

    I didn’t lose my respect for you until you started calling me a Poe.

    I think this may be the saddest sentence of all. It’s as if she felt her questionable ideas would find validation here, rather than derision. On several posts, there has been some variation of “poor people or people with low IQs shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.” It depresses me that she thought there would be an accepting niche for her ideas here. But she’s pretty young, this could be a troublesome phase she hasn’t worked through yet. I hope. Perhaps she can push it to the side and get some real work done like Watson or Shockley did with similar odious views. There is still plenty of time to change.

  327. #327 Owlmirror
    December 24, 2008

    I’m financially challenged and take offence to your bluntness.
    For future reference, I’m also white trash, so no jokes about the couch and transmission on my front lawn or the fact that 30% of my income goes to lottery tickets.

    Well, hell. How am I supposed to respond to that?

    How about with some Scalzi?

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2008/03/02/shaming-the-poor/

    When I was poor, there were people who tried to shame me for it, and people who tried to help me out of it. The names and faces of those who helped me spring to mind without bidding; they are the people whose kindness and generosity let me see how good people can be, and how I should try to be when it was my turn to help, through personal action and through my influence on my government, and how it uses what I pay into it. The names and faces of those who tried to shame me? Gone from me, save for the memory of the smallness of their being, and the poverty of their understanding of how to treat others. I was inspired to lift myself out of poverty, not shamed into doing so.

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/

  328. #328 Jeff
    December 24, 2008

    It’s one person. How many many many more convert the other way?

    Still, from what I’ve read here, it sounds more like a hoax. I never read RA, so this is just speculation on my part.

  329. #329 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    Its not so unlikely that someone,through personal grief or mental or physical illness,will change his persona and convictions.
    whats unlikely is that he/she would do that without any of these factors present.If I had to make a guess,I would say it has to do with the abortion thing.
    So,another mind poisoned,yes,maybe,but the poison would have to have fallen on fertile ground.

  330. #330 Aquaria
    December 24, 2008

    This is a blessed day, and I’m hoping and praying that his testimony will help others come to Christ as well. I’ll be praying for you all! :)

    Since you have no manners and had to threaten me with prayer, I hope you grow a brain and realize that your religious belief is nothing more than a childish clinging to fairy tales, long after their sell-by date.

    Fair’s fair.

  331. #331 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    BTW,
    reading the comments on the website PZ linked to,one gets this creepy cult feeling,with all the “welcome home”,”welcome to the family” bullshit,its freaking me out…

  332. #332 akshelby
    December 24, 2008

    I apologize for calling you a Poe. (How I wish you were!) However, I do not apologize for thinking that eugenics is a horrible, horrible idea. I used to be fundy and I know many, many wonderful people with wonderful children who used to be fundies. People change.

    There are a myriad reasons why people live in poverty. I believe Colugo @ 285 identified why there may be an IQ differential between the upper and lower classes. Having worked in child protection and juvenile justice, I have seen many kids blossom once their situations change. Alleviating poverty should be the goal, not eliminating “the poor” themselves.

  333. #333 miller
    December 24, 2008

    Hmm… I find that hearing about a atheist-to-theist conversion is rather like reading a book with a cliffhanger at the end. There’s the conflict–a person has had a change of mind. We all wonder why. How does a person go from here to there? If we’re lucky, we get to hear them explain it. But even if I hear the explanation, inevitably I find myself thinking, “Oh, that argument again. I’ve always thought that was a terrible argument.”

    My bet is on the argument from personal experience. He tried it out and found his life transformed. Or something happened to him that simply had no rational explanation. He doesn’t expect this to be compelling to anyone else, but it was compelling to him.

  334. #334 speedwell
    December 24, 2008

    NoFear @ 260:

    You said, “I have never known an atheist to capitalize that word, not if they thought for even a moment about it.”

    You know one now. Ex-Christian, ex-proofreader, and pedant, that’s me. I capitalize the word “God” because it’s a proper noun in English. It’s one of my lesser-known foibles, along with my fanatical defense of singular “they” and my pathetic attachment to the Oxford comma.

    I have now violated the integrity of this thread not once, but twice, with rants about writing style. Heh.

  335. #335 akshelby
    December 24, 2008

    Hmmm……..perhaps this should be dedicated to the Raving (a)Theist

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0A4_bwCaX0&feature=channel_page

  336. #336 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    speedwell,

    read your comment on the RA forum site with interest….

    I capitalize the word “God” because it’s a proper noun in English

    Like “Oreo” ? Fair enough then….

  337. #337 speedwell
    December 24, 2008

    Well, clinteas, the man is just wrong, not the Devil Incarnate (which I also capitalize, you may notice)… he could eventually come out the other side of this and decide to become un-wrong, in which case it would be human and decent of us to welcome him like we would someone who we are happy to see has just recovered from a long and contagious illness. But while he is suffering from this illness, we, like doctors and nurses pledged to fight diseases of the body and mind, must fight his delusions. That’s all I meant by that. Not “hate the sin, not the sinner” so much as “hate the delusion, not the deluded.”

    As far as Katharine is concerned, she claims to be “making the world better for everyone,” but she is unclear on the meaning of the word “everyone,” I see. What does she actually mean by the word? Anyone’s guess?

  338. #338 akshelby
    December 24, 2008

    “making the world better for everyone?'” What I think Katharine means is “making the world better for me.” Because then she would not have to see suffering people (with their kids) and go out of her way to kick them when she passes by and subsequently get her Prada shoes scuffed up if she misses. Or have to buy another latte when she “accidentally” spills it on a homeless child.

    Jesus Christ I need to go to bed.

  339. #339 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    As far as Katharine is concerned, she claims to be “making the world better for everyone,” but she is unclear on the meaning of the word “everyone,” I see. What does she actually mean by the word? Anyone’s guess?

    To take an (un)educated guess here,”everyone” might refer to mankind in general,implying there is a kind of master plan for mankind to evolve and better itself.

    There is no such plan of course,if mankind fails because we’re too fucked in the head to sort out our cultural/religious differences in a civilized way,and what we are doing to the planet,evolution wont give a flying fuck if we exterminate ourselves.

    I think Katharine has her heart in the right place,but got sucked in by her emotions to turn to the dark side so to speak,but i somehow have hope that she sees the moral consequences of her thoughts,and can think it through and come good.

    If not,she deserves all the criticism and scorn she has been getting here already.

  340. #340 speedwell
    December 24, 2008

    So, in essence, Katharine is redefining humanity to “disinclude” the “undesirables.” No surprise there. I suppose it is tempting, when you are revolted by certain sorts of people, to say you wish they would go away forever. But it’s a very childish reaction and a very childish, magical-thinking, sort of “solution” (I didn’t say “final”).

    It seems counterintuitive to think that precisely half of the population is of below average intelligence, below average wealth, below average morality, and so forth. But when you get rid of the below-averages, naturally you wind up with a new set, and so on until just one person is left. I would be surprised to hear that even Katherine believes herself to be in a position to win such a game.

  341. #341 Chuck
    December 24, 2008

    as a population, we need to be smarter. Honestly. Because it seems to be that a significant amount of the population is plenty delusional, and that’s just around the average IQs; the average IQ in some really shitty places such as Zimbabwe is functionally retarded. That is fucking depressing, people.

    Now I’m not advocating killing anyone, I’m just saying some people gotta stop breeding. Maybe we should pay them to not breed.

    (I hate the fucking pro-lifers, they’re making the world dumber.)

    Seriously, eugenics may be looked at badly and people may whine a lot about ‘OH BUT IT’S RACIST AND CLASSIST’.
    ————

    A big problem that you don’t seem to understand is that you think that you are superior to everyone else. You sound very dangerous.

    The entire problem with this forum is that it is people who are very into themselves and not into helping other people and improving the world. They are not being pro-active and out there helping other people.

    That is why people who value God and religion more, because people are being helped and they are helping and they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

    Many people here have just as many problems as everyone else and it’s not your job to decide who should live or who dies, who gets a priority on education and who doesn’t.

    Your job should be to do whatever you can to help people evolve into better people, help them in any possible way.

    Financially, Educational, help them with Food or whatever.

    There are a lot of people on this forum who probably take anti-depressants and who are not helping out people but helping themselves.

    Well, it’s not all about you. I know that is shocking and I know you will probably act irrational about this. Life isn’t all about you and being ignorant is something that can be subjective in many cases.

    Case in point, you could say someone is ignorant about science and they can come right back and say that you are ignorant about the Bible.

    Life is about Love. That is all that we can take with us when we die. That’s what we can do while we are down here is to Love and try to help one another.

    You can help educate people and progress that way. You can do something to provide a change for someone and put something of meaning in their lives.

    Too many people are living fake lives and selfish lives and they need to understand that life is too short to worry about how high your IQ is and why not use that to help other people.

    Nothing is wrong with being intelligent, but use it for the right reasons and not for something as silly as a few years of your life.

    Many people on here talk about a religious person who loves God as wasting their life. Not at all, if that person shared, loved, and cared for other people that person did not waste their life at all. They made a difference in other people’s lives and that is what matters.

    Life is not all about getting a Phd and making money, those are nice when we live on this Earth, but those things should not be your only goals in life.

    Someday, you will see what I mean.

  342. #342 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    Oh Lord God,heal me from SIWOTI syndrome,will ya….

    loon @ 341 spilled forth,

    Too many people are living fake lives and selfish lives and they need to understand that life is too short to worry about how high your IQ is and why not use that to help other people.

    Nothing is wrong with being intelligent, but use it for the right reasons and not for something as silly as a few years of your life.

    Define fake life.
    Would that be believing in a fake deity to govern your sad excuse for a life with no need to ever “help other people”,unless your fake deity considers it proper to do so?

    The second part doesnt even make sense.Nothing is wrong with being intelligent? Gee,im glad….And what would the right reasons be? Build toasters,or cars,or power plants,or drugs against plagues? No? Yeah youre right,that would indeed be silly ey…

  343. #343 Goldstein
    December 24, 2008

    Number 11, of course athesits don’t eat babies. But they do use their unborn little corpses for various medicines, cosmetics, and experiments.

    Is there ANY limit to the number of unborn you would kill to get a cure for the living? A hundred, a thousand, a million, a billion.

    Do you draw the line anywhere?

  344. #344 Goldstein
    December 24, 2008

    341, of course you are not advocating killing anyone.

    You don’t have the political power.

  345. #345 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    Goldstein retarded moron @ 343,

    Is there ANY limit to the number of unborn you would kill to get a cure for the living? A hundred, a thousand, a million, a billion.

    ah,we have a life one finally ! Gee,it was a quiet nite…

    Define unborn,moron.

    And when youve done that,just between you and me,when was the last time you committed a little mass genocide,with your dominant hand,hm? Come on,we have the place for ourselves,you can tell me….

  346. #346 Nick Gotts
    December 24, 2008

    It isn’t an argument for or against any religion but merely a justification load of crap. – Facilis

    Fixed for you. No thanks necessary.

  347. #347 SC, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Life is about Love. That is all that we can take with us when we die. That’s what we can do while we are down here is to Love and try to help one another.

    Paging Sastra to the thread. Sastra to the thread, please.

  348. #348 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    Switchboard,cancel the Sastra page…..paging Dr Freud,Dr Freud to Resus 2 please….

  349. #349 SC, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Hey, clinteas. Hope you’re not sore with me for defending patg the other day. Didn’t mean it as an attack on you.

  350. #350 john
    December 24, 2008

    “There’s an interesting analysis of the process of deconversion to be made here. I suspect he’s been getting a lot of personal support and attention from Christians actively interested in converting him over the years, and it’s that emotional massaging that convinced him to throw his brain out the window.”

    ..or maybe he just copped on to the fact that matter cannot create itself, or realised the assumption that the mind can comprehend and observe ALL that exists is just an assumption? Or that atheists offer no answers, just ask questions then block their ears and throw puerile insults around at those who happen not to agree with them? That true liberals are usually religious?

  351. #351 Nick Gotts
    December 24, 2008

    You’re one disgusting specimen, Katharine. I’ll henceforth ignore your ignorant, insane rants. SC, OM@259

    Thanks SC. I was going to put together a detailed refutation of Katharine’s hateful nonsense, but you’ve really said all that’s necessary.

  352. #352 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    Nope SC,no offense taken at all.I was more concerned with your physical wellbeing….:-)

    Hope youre feeling better….

  353. #353 Excluded Layman
    December 24, 2008

    What I find interesting about the anti-poor, eugenicist ranting is the approach. Instead of looking at circumstance, the socioeconomic approach, the focus is on removing unfavourable traits through selective breeding. It’s purely biological, as if the poor qualities of the poor were indeed inheritable by bloodline rather than by circumstance. (Also: LOL@”they’re like this, except the exceptions, but they’re the good ones.”)

    Concerning abortion: Like PZ’s standing challenge for any sophisticated theology, perhaps an analogous challenge is needed for anti-abortion arguments. I, admittedly having a small sample size from never looking any up, have yet to see a non-subjective justification, nor a non-aesthetic premise.

    Though, in an effort to fix my ignorance, I have a series of mostly rhetorical questions:

    Do pro-lifers limit their diet to ripe fruit (the only tissue that can legitimately be called intended for consumption by another organism), carrion and the plant equivalent, salt, milk and milk products, honey, unfertilized eggs, and any other killing-free food I’ve missed?

    If removing parts without causing death is okay, does placenta-dependent progeny count? If not, is there a purely technical distinction?

    Is it because people are special? Then are pro-lifers pacifists, especially regarding war? Or opposed to the self-defense defense, castle doctrine, and capital punishment?

    If it’s not about killing people in general, but about the children, is there an effort to take care of unwanted children, or to mitigate the numbers of such unfortunate people through contraception and actual sex ed?

    If they’re inconsistent there, what the bloody hell is the standard? Is it fundamentally aesthetic, or is there an underlying duplicity concealing the true goals?

  354. #354 SC, OM
    December 24, 2008

    I was going to put together a detailed refutation of Katharine’s hateful nonsense, but you’ve really said all that’s necessary.

    I think so. On the other hand, I for one greatly enjoy your detailed refutations.

    Hope youre feeling better….

    Thanks – I’m actually feeling great. And my grades are in at last. Aaaaahhh.

  355. #355 john
    December 24, 2008

    “I’d like to think we’ve beaten pretty much every possible argument for religious faith as intelligent, scholarly atheists. (at least the 3 “Book” faiths, and I think the rest fall pretty fast after those 3 do.)”

    Comparing Islam to Judaeo-Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, is way off. Lumping them in together is innappropriate I think, even though its regularly done. The difference between Catholicism and all other religions, including protestantism, is that it believes it ie the Church existed as founded by Christ before ‘the Bible’ and the Church declared the books compromising the bible to be holy and inspired. Islam and protestantism see themselves essentially as emanating from a book, and therefore fall into the error of literal interpretation which leads to so many problems eg evolutionism/creationism, and in the case of protestantism there are so many different ideas and no-one is the final arbriter hence the number of protestant denominations. The Catholic Church on the other hand interprets the Bible and does not see it always as literally historical.

    The Churches authority comes from Christ, not from the Bible.

  356. #356 clinteas
    December 24, 2008

    John,

    im watching “Mamma Mia”,so im kinda distracted,but you are just another world class moron my friend…

    Or that atheists offer no answers, just ask questions then block their ears and throw puerile insults around at those who happen not to agree with them?

    As to insults at those who happen not to agree with them,if those who dont agree are ignorant and willfully obtuse and refuse to look at the facts,then yes,they deserve all the insults that can be flung at them.

    You may go and pray for us now.

  357. #357 John Morales
    December 24, 2008

    john @355

    The Churches authority comes from Christ, not from the Bible.

    What authority? Jesus was a wandering Jewish preacher, and through historical circumstance the religion picked (as a social management tool) by the Roman Empire was Christianity, which happened to be centered on Jesus.
    The only authority is traditional and cynically self-serving, neither real nor justified.

    Catholicism today is just another descendant of early Christian groups (like all the other of the 38000+ sects of Christianity) and would be probably be considered heretical by early Church, and certainly so by the medieval Church.

    Bah.

  358. #358 Wowbagger
    December 24, 2008

    john, #355:

    Comparing Islam to Judaeo-Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, is way off spot-on, because of what they all have in common – a nonsensical belief in superstition combined with archaic, redundant concepts of morality; to attempt to rationalise the superiority of one form of ooga-booga over another because of the differences is naught but sophistry.

    Fixed it for you.

  359. #359 Bezoar
    December 24, 2008

    if you REALLY want to see what happens when you are “born again”, just go to YouTube and type in “Crazy Jesus Guy”. He lives in my community and I derive such pleasure driving by his hangout and flipping him the bird. Why, because he hollars back, “you’re going to hell you fucking bastard”. Ah, the love–.

  360. #360 Anon Ymous
    December 24, 2008

    I know I’m late, but Facilis, try reading this one:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/unmovedmover.html

    The relevant passage is this one:

    “A somewhat more sophisticated version of the ontological argument has been proposed by the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Plantinga’s formulation uses the notion of possible worlds; any world that can be imagined to exist, including our own, is a possible world. Plantinga goes on to argue that if there is any possible world in which God exists, which there plainly is, then God must exist in all possible worlds, including this one. In more formal terms, Plantinga’s argument proceeds as follows:

    1. A being is maximally excellent in a possible world if and only if it is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect in that world.
    2. A being is maximally great in a possible world if and only if it is maximally excellent in all possible worlds.
    3. There is a possible world in which there exists a being that possesses maximal greatness.
    4. Therefore, there exists a being that possesses maximal greatness in every possible world.
    5. Therefore, God exists.

    Though it uses different language, Plantinga’s argument relies on the same fallacious trick of trying to define something into existence. What it essentially says is, “There is a possible world containing an entity that exists in all possible worlds,” or more simply, “By definition, God exists if we can imagine him to exist.” This is not legitimate. Possible worlds, by the definition of what it means to be a possible world, are completely disjoint; they cannot influence each other in any way. (If two possible worlds could affect each other, they would not be separate possible worlds, but the same possible world, again by definition.) Therefore, it is invalid to define something such that its existence in one possible world “causes” it to exist in another possible world. An unlimited array of absurdities would ensue if that was the case.

    For a particularly dramatic example of this, consider the following proposition: “There is a possible world containing an entity that destroys all possible worlds.” If we accept Plantinga’s implicit claim that one possible world can be defined in terms of other possible worlds, we must admit that such a world is conceivable. But if there is such a possible world, by definition there will be no possible worlds. Therefore, Plantinga’s logic has led to an obvious absurdity: it has just proved that nothing exists. The solution, again, is to recognize that defining the contents of one possible world in relation to another is logically illegitimate and meaningless.

    There is another, very obvious way to counter this argument. Consider this:

    1. There is a possible world in which there is no entity that possesses maximal greatness.
    2. Therefore, there is no entity that possesses maximal greatness.
    3. Therefore, God does not exist.

    The logic of this argument would seem to be airtight. Certainly there is no logical contradiction involved in conceiving of a world that possesses no maximally great entity, and therefore this is a possible world; and therefore, by Plantinga’s own logic, there is no such entity in any possible world and therefore there is no God. As yet, proponents of the ontological argument have offered no reply to this. ”

  361. #361 Ryogam
    December 24, 2008

    Forgive me is this has been asked/answered already (I’ve only made it to comment 148), but can someone please help me with the “code in the italics” thing? Specifically, what letters are you seeing non-italics and on what lines in the post? I’ve tried to see them, but have failed. I’ll keep reading the comments after 148 to see if any help is there.

    As to RT’s conversion, the only interesting thing about it is his intellectual reasons behind it. So, far he has a declaration without any reasoning, which is as convincing as a Nigerian Scam E-mail. If it all boils down to “I believe because it feels true” then we can sadly nod our heads and shuffle off to more important matters. It;s no crime to live life irrationally. To paraphrase Nietzsche “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that feeling that something is true does not prove anything.”

  362. #362 Ryogam
    December 24, 2008

    Well, shit, if I had just read to post 170 before I posted, I wouldn’t have looked like such an idiot.

    Interesting, though.

  363. #363 Iain Walker
    December 24, 2008

    Melissa (#151):

    And, since you have never converted, how would you know if there is or isn’t emotion involved? If you have never experienced it, how could even have the faintest idea of what it’s like?

    If the Raving Atheist has genuinely converted from atheism to Xianity, then he either has rational reasons for doing so or he doesn’t. If he does, then those reasons can be communicated, understood and analysed by anyone capable of parsing an argument, irrespective of whether they have ever undergone a conversion experience. To that extent, sharing the experience is irrelevant.

    [Pre-posting edit - unsurprisingly, Sastra has already made this point in #240. But it still bears repeating.]

    In any case, newly-converted theists are often kind enough to provide the rest of us with an account of the process (indeed, it can be difficult to get some of them to shut up about it). And lo and behold, conversions are almost always described as involving strong emotional experiences. So unless all these converts are liars, we have very good grounds for supposing that conversion experiences typically have a significant emotional content.

  364. #364 vjack
    December 24, 2008

    I do remember that blog, as it was one of the first I read when I started atheist blogging. Sad that the author could not cope with reality. Fortunately, there are now several hundred of us ready to take on the atheist blogger role where there used to only be a handful.

  365. #365 Iain Walker
    December 24, 2008

    Anon Ymous (#360):

    There is another, very obvious way to counter this argument.

    A more forceful version of this objection to Plantinga’s OA is to say: There is a possible world in which agency is not instantiated.

    From this it follows that there is a possible world in which omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection are not instantiated (individually or together), and from this it follows in turn that there is a possible world in which maximal excellence is not instantiated. Consequently, maximal greatness is not possible after all.

    The difference is that in a toss-up between:

    (a) There is a possible world in which there exists a being that possesses maximal greatness.
    and
    (b) There is a possible world in which there is no entity that possesses maximal greatness.

    the two premises look (superficially at least) to be equally plausible. Plantinga effectively admits this, but still tries to claim that although one is not bound to accept his premise (that maximal greatness is possibly instantiated), it is still not unreasonable to do so. So if you want to show why Plantinga’s premise is unreasonable, it helps if you can point to a broader formulation like “There is a possible world in which agency is not instantiated”, which provides a more obvious justification for denying that premise.

  366. #366 Nerd of Redhead
    December 24, 2008

    Plantinga’s sophistry is why I distrust philosophical arguments for god. Philosophy can prove anything with the right premises or slight of hand insertion of “god exists” into the logic. I’ll stick with requiring physical evidence, which is much easier to evaluate, and more reliable at the end of the day.

  367. #367 DaveL
    December 24, 2008

    What philosophers and theologians have you read?I myself was reading Van Till the other day. Those dutch reformed have weird ideas about logic.

    Atheists often find themselves doomed to repeating Monty Python’s Banana Sketch with apologists.

    “Have we done Ontological arguments?”

    “Yes”

    “St. Anselm’s? Kalaam?”

    “Yes”

    “Ha! Plantinga’s!”

    “We’ve done Plantinga’s.”

    “I bet we haven’t dont First Cause, though!”

    “Done it.”

    “Fine Tuning?”

    “Yes…”

    “Argument from Design?”

    “YES!”

    “Right… the Trilemma! We haven’t done the Trilemma!”

    “We did the Trilemma last week.”

    “I see. Well it’s obvious you’re all just too proud and closed minded, and can’t bear the idea of being held morally accountable.”

    “We’ve done that one too.”

    And on and on it goes. I have no need to post an exhaustive list of all the philosopher’s I’ve read to know there isn’t a decent argument out there for exactly the same reason I don’t have to scour the scientific literature for the last 100 years to know we haven’t yet developed faster-than-light space travel, and for the same reason I don’t have to read every newspaper on the planet to know alien spacecraft did not land at the U.N. today. That kind of thing would be kind of important, and could not possibly be allowed by theists to rest in obscurity.

  368. #368 E.V.
    December 24, 2008

    Philosophy can prove anything with the right premises or slight of hand insertion of “god exists” into the logic. I’ll stick with requiring physical evidence, which is much easier to evaluate, and more reliable at the end of the day.

    Amen.
    But DaveL wins the thread.

  369. #369 Nerd of Redhead
    December 24, 2008

    But DaveL wins the thread.

    Second!

  370. #370 E.V.
    December 24, 2008

    Ok Nerd, I just spit RedBull all over my monitor.

  371. #371 John Phillips, FCD
    December 24, 2008

    Nothing trumps Python, or perhaps more accurately Python trumps Nothing :)

  372. #372 Chas
    December 24, 2008

    From his site:
    Basic Assumptions

    First, there is no God. In fact, all definitions of the word “God” are either self-contradictory, incoherent, meaningless or refuted by empirical, scientific evidence.

    Now that’s theism I can believe in!

  373. #373 My Wild Irish Prose
    December 24, 2008

    That Jesus fellow in the illustration looks pretty WASPY for a Jewish guy (Joshua ben Joseph)

  374. #374 My Wild Irish Prose
    December 24, 2008

    That Jesus fellow in the illustration looks pretty WASPY for a Jewish guy (Joshua ben Joseph)

  375. #375 Bertram Cabot, Jr.
    December 24, 2008

    Dear 345, unborn means not born yet.

    You are stupid.

    But since you are experienced in the use of your hand, I recommend you keep it up or just abort any children you might have.

    That way, you win a DARWIN AWARD!

  376. #376 andyo
    December 24, 2008

    Sigh, another vote for “mental break”. It’s probably not Poe, if people who followed him don’t think it is, but it sure looks like one.

    But anyway, cases like these are very, very rare. More often “atheists” who convert (like one of the first few commenters over there) are usually brain-dead to begin with, who were “atheists” only because they didn’t grow up on any religion in particular, but that doesn’t mean they were rational. Probably always believed in astrology and all that other non-theistic bullshit. They still can get reason later on, only pick up some science books!

    On the other hand, people who deconvert into atheism do usually have rational, cool-headed reasons, and that’s usually a one-way road, there’s no getting religion after that, unless you have some sort of mental breakdown or very deep emotional issues.

  377. #377 andyo
    December 24, 2008

    Posted by: Bertram Cabot, Jr. | December 24, 2008 11:00 AM

    Dear 345, unborn means not born yet.

    You are stupid.

    I had to read #345 to see what prompted this explanation. So unborn means not born yet. And what does “kill” mean?

    You’re hilarious. Don’t bother to answer that.

  378. #378 Ken Cope
    December 24, 2008

    360, premise number one is false. “Omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect” doesn’t pass the smell test as per Euthyphro.

  379. #379 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 24, 2008

    His persistent capitlization of “god”, even when not starting a sentence

    If you’re using it as a proper name, which is common when discussing the Christian god, then capitalization is appropriate.

    Now, if you start capitalizing pronouns, that’s different.

  380. #380 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 24, 2008

    Ken Cope, for some reason, this day brings back memories of Christmas of 1984 when members of my family went to over a half dozen different stores in order to buy a Castle Greyskull for my then five year old brother.

    Strange how the actions of one person can effect, even in the slightest ways, an other person.

    Happy Monkey.

  381. #381 Sven DiMilo
    December 24, 2008

    unborn means not born yet. You are stupid.

    untrue means not true yet. undone means not done yet. unbelievable means not believable yet. You are all stupid.

    Nerd, I just spit RedBull all over my monitor.

    I don’t think that was a joke. More like Robert’s Rules.

  382. #382 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 24, 2008

    @318: you suggested we turn on some ovens.

    I don’t agree with Katharine’s ideas, on ethical, financial, and biological grounds, but there’s no need to mischaracterize them so severely. Offering financial incentives to people in exchange for them using contraception is in no way “turning on the ovens”, and twisting her idea like that tells me that you can’t debate the real issue.

  383. #383 Nerd of Redhead
    December 24, 2008

    I don’t think that was a joke. More like Robert’s Rules.

    Exactly. I recognized DaveL did a bang up send up, that far outpaced my meager offering. So I seconded him winning the thread.

  384. #384 Ken Cope
    December 24, 2008

    And a Happy Monkey to you and yours!

  385. #385 E.V.
    December 24, 2008

    Nerd, I just spit RedBull all over my monitor.
    I don’t think that was a joke. More like Robert’s Rules.

    No, what was funny was that NoRH answered almost instaneously. Dayumn! (You had to be there to get it)
    I considered the Robert’s Rules of Order as a possible explanation of “second!” but considered that he also had the right to claim second place after DaveL’s wonderful post. Either way – harm, no foul just fast.

  386. #386 E.V.
    December 24, 2008

    no harm…
    (Prince of Typos)

  387. #387 Psychodiva
    December 24, 2008

    :) we still going strong over at the forum tho- and thank you PZ- we have some new members / chewtoys to play with now :)

  388. #388 amk
    December 24, 2008

    Chuck @ 341

    There are a lot of people on this forum who probably take anti-depressants and who are not helping out people but helping themselves.

    You see mental illness as a moral deficiency? And then you lecture others about helping the needy?

    Take your bible and ram it up your arse, you ignorant, bigoted and hypocritical arsehole.

    We know where this bullshit comes from: dualism, the belief that mind and body are separate, and therefore the mentally ill can “think themselves out of it”, or perhaps “pull themselves together”. This works as well as thinking oneself out of influenza. Thus, the ill are treated as inferior. Chalk up another glorious victory for the Abrahamic religions!

  389. #389 RHudson
    December 24, 2008

    And you’re an academic in literature? Good grief. No wonder many people think so little of a university education these days.

    No, I’m currently an academic in the field of religious studies. Newsflash: most of us in the field are atheists and are disgusted by the way many of you make us look. Many of you who comment here are great, but also a great many of you don’t really understand religion, or apparently English writing.

  390. #390 rimpal
    December 24, 2008

    Atheists may scoff but cannot afford to ignore the power of religious persuasion. Christianity and Islam are the ultimate in comfort food. The one provides certainty, the other order/discipline/rigidity. suffering may tend people towards what is popularly known as “Buddhism” and that is it, once in a while. These two belief systems feed off each other with Islam questioning Christianity’s certainty and Christianity questioning Islam’s discipline. The Western world today is but the result of a doctrinal interplay between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation. Freethinkers/humanist/secularists/atheists/agnostics must first understand and engage with the reality of the Western world before taking on irrationality and belief. Because too often the tools and principles freethinkers use are all drawn from the toolkit of Martin Luther.

  391. #391 Owlmirror
    December 24, 2008

    Freethinkers/humanist/secularists/atheists/agnostics must first understand and engage with the reality of the Western world before taking on irrationality and belief. Because too often the tools and principles freethinkers use are all drawn from the toolkit of Martin Luther.

    Wait, what?

    Your concern and historical revisionism are noted.

  392. #392 Eva
    December 24, 2008

    diva@#387
    sweetie, that we call theists chew toys is supposed to be a secret!
    as punishment, you have to chew on cal and sevens for a whole week!

    love,

    your mod.

  393. #393 SC, OM
    December 24, 2008

    And you’re an academic in literature?

    No, I’m currently an academic in the field of religious studies.

    RHudson @ #266:

    Then, I can say as an academic in religious studies as well as literature…

    RHudson,

    You have not responded to the points made by Wowbagger.

  394. #394 Janine, Vile Bitch
    December 24, 2008

    Posted by: rimpal | December 24, 2008

    Because too often the tools and principles freethinkers use are all drawn from the toolkit of Martin Luther.

    Was he a freethinker?

    Sorry dude. I have no desire to read On Jews and Their Lies.

  395. #395 Jeeves
    December 24, 2008

    @Naked Bunny,

    “…twisting her idea like that tells me that you can’t debate the real issue.”

    What’s the real issue to debate? Sure, there should be better science education. Along with history, literature etc. People should be better educated, not just in their field of study, but in general. That’s a given and no one disagrees with her about that. It was the means to achieve that that bothered people. Writing that poor people shouldn’t have children. Poor people aren’t smart and most likely are nasty and brutish. She’s clearly writing about creating a super race of geniuses. That’s doesn’t sound like anybody, does it? Here something she wrote on another science blog:

    “There are way too many sick fucks in the world. Can we please institute an IQ requirement to let people breed?”

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2008/11/denialists_harvestthe_aids_bod.php

    Well, that was certainly well reasoned, backed by scientific thought. There is no way someone could take anything bad anyway from that. No sir.

  396. #396 Sven DiMilo
    December 24, 2008

    Because too often the tools and principles freethinkers use are all drawn from the toolkit of Martin Luther.

    It’s true. When I want to nail some theses to a church door, I reach for a hammer just like Luther did. Often, I’ll hum “A Mighty Fortress” while hammering.

  397. #397 CrypticLife
    December 24, 2008

    Personally, I write God, god, He, he, it, or whatever just so long as the message is communicated. If someone is so stupid as to claim I must really believe in a deity because of my choice of capitalization or lack thereof, they’re not really worth a conversation.

    I’ve had people claim I believe in a deity because of such idiotic things like use of words such as “damn” and “jeez”. It’s really the same thing.

  398. #398 Patricia, OM
    December 24, 2008

    RHudson, so you are disgusted by the way we make you look. Aww, I feel so sorry for you.

    You should have checked for fins before you jumped in the pool.

  399. #399 John Phillips, FCD
    December 24, 2008

    RHudsion, my aren’t we a precious little prick.

    Happy monkey.

  400. #400 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 24, 2008

    What’s the real issue to debate?

    How about the underlying assumption that IQ is based solely on biology and is transmitted genetically? How about asking who would actually take advantage of a “tax breaks for condoms” program? (Hint: People like me, who aren’t breeding anyway.) Those are just two real issues that popped into my mind given what little specifics she mentioned in her post @249, and don’t even get into the ethical considerations

    It was the means to achieve that that bothered people.

    And rather than pointing out the problems, most people immediately started calling her a Nazi and invoking over-the-top rhetoric like “firing up the ovens”. That’s what I found so disappointing. There are enough problems with what she did say. Why twist it like that?

    Here something she wrote on another science blog:

    Doesn’t really matter to me, since I’m hardly defending her ideas, and you can’t assume that everyone reading this thread knows as much about her as you do. I’ve never noticed Katharine’s posts before, and I didn’t even read her eugenics post on this thread until I got curious about what a monster she was from the responses she garnered.

    Well, that was certainly well reasoned, backed by scientific thought.

    If people only refuted well-reasoned arguments around here, the discussion threads would never exceed 50 posts.

    People will patiently explain to obvious trolls what evolution and atheism are over and over and over. And even when they’re not patient, they’ll often use humor and sarcasm to lampshade the ridiculousness (my preferred approach). Yet Katharine gets a kneejerk “Nazi scum!” response and little else even though she doesn’t seem hopelessly out of her mind. Why are people more patient with Pete Rooke and Fly in the Ointment than with Katharine?

  401. #401 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 24, 2008

    I really gotta start using the blockquote tag. Sorry.

  402. #402 amk
    December 24, 2008

    Naked Bunny,

    Why are people more patient with Pete Rooke and Fly in the Ointment than with Katharine?

    Possibly because Katharine is feeding godbot scaremongering memes about atheists. See Chuck above.

  403. #403 Patricia, OM
    December 24, 2008

    On the back of the DVD case of “The God Who Wasn’t There” it says Brian Flemming was a former fundamentalist.

    Having watched the whole DVD several times it’s amazing to think the guy would revert to idiocy when he knows full well the bible is sheer bullshit.

  404. #404 Monado
    December 24, 2008

    John Shore of Suddenly Christian underwent an overwhelming religious experience one day while in an office-supply closet, presumably alone. That suggests a surge of brain activity in one of the areas that generates religious feeling. And certainly the research has been around for several years:

    Religious emotions: The middle temporal lobe is linked to emotional aspects of religious experience, such as joy and awe.

    Sacred images: The lower temporal lobe is involved in the process by which images, such as candles or crosses, facilitate prayer and meditation.

    Response to religious words: At the juncture of three lobes, this region governs response to language Cosmic unity: When the parietal lobes quiet down, a person can feel at one with the universe.

    –“Your Brain on Religion, May 2001.”

    Philip K. Dick underwent a series of spontaneous religious experiences a few years before he had a series of strokes. He found the experiences convincing but realized there was no outward cause for them. I would want to know if perhaps the brain problems started earlier than he realized.

  405. #405 Jeeves
    December 24, 2008

    Naked Bunny,

    “Why are people more patient with Pete Rooke and Fly in the Ointment than with Katharine?”

    I would think patient is the wrong word for the first two examples. It’s more along the lines of telling the person to fuck off, in many, many, many different (often creative) wordings. Many people who post here have been posting for much longer than I have, so I suppose their patience is stretched much more easily. As to your second part, I think it hurts and bothers people more when it comes from a like minded thinking person. If it were a religious person, the response would have been vitriolic all the same but since the person was religious, they would be seen as a lost cause anyway.

    I think the disgust was directed at her after the “I generally don’t like the poor” spiel. Read it again. It’s a beaut. After she wrote that, it didn’t matter if she proposed to give away puppies and ice cream, no one was going to cotton to her views.

  406. #406 Grinch (aka E.V.)
    December 24, 2008

    Newsflash: most of us in the field are atheists and are disgusted by the way many of you make us look.

    ???
    Ahh, a Nisbetian Framer… or a fibber.
    Why would you stay in Religious Studies if you no longer believed in Metaphysics and the Supernatural? Theology departments won’t hire you, and no church will knowingly offer you a job as a pastor or minister. You can teach Philosophy somewhere – that
    is, if you can actually find a position. (What’s the final thesis question for Philosophy Majors? – “How Do You Plan to Make a Living With This Degree?”)

    Is this some undercover plot to infiltrate Theological Institutions, and why? I personally could not stand Seminarians after I came to the realization God/bible=Fantasy/myth. This doesn’t pass the smell test, so just call me Doubting Thomas for your revelations of atheism academia.

  407. #407 SC, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Yet Katharine gets a kneejerk “Nazi scum!” response and little else even though she doesn’t seem hopelessly out of her mind.

    She sounds like a Nazi to me. She’s also profoundly ignorant. I’m no more interested in having a discussion with her on these “issues” than I am in having one with Vox Day. Feel free to debate such assertions as “I’m not horribly fond of most poor people anyway; most of them in my experience tend to be mean, stupid, and more than a little off their rocker” and “the average IQ in some really shitty places such as Zimbabwe is functionally retarded” if you wish; I’ll continue to treat them with the contempt I think they deserve.

    Why are people more patient with Pete Rooke and Fly in the Ointment than with Katharine?

    I have no patience for them, either, and rarely respond to the comments of such people with anything other than derision. I believe my last direct response to Pete Rooke was “Fuck off, Rooke, you authoritarian lunatic.” I bothered to respond to Katharine because she claims to be on my side on some other issues, and I want to make it very clear that I do not share her eugenicist views in any way. I occasionally respond to BobC’s genocidal rants for the same reason.

  408. #408 Patricia, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Naked Bunny – I’m a non-breeder too. Over the years I’ve noticed that being childfree really offends some people. It’s taken a long time to learn how to express my views without pissing anyone off.

    If you simply say – “I was never blessed” in room full of the religious, they’ll instantly quit questioning you. Bit of a cop out, but it works. *weary grin*

  409. #409 anon
    December 24, 2008

    Sed nescio quo modo nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum.

    But I don’t know how anything so absurd can be said so far as was not already said by some philosopher. – Cicero, De Divinatione

  410. #410 Rey Fox
    December 24, 2008

    “..or maybe he just copped on to the fact that matter cannot create itself”

    Do a little research on quantum physics, it might just blow your mind.

    “or realised the assumption that the mind can comprehend and observe ALL that exists is just an assumption?”

    How do you get from that to your very specific God?

    “Or that atheists offer no answers,”

    What answers do you have? How do you know that they are even remotely correct?

    “just ask questions then block their ears and throw puerile insults around at those who happen not to agree with them?”

    Typically you get a mix of thoughtful critique and insults, but since the theists who agitate here generally only read the insults, then it’s sort of pointless to try and argue with them. Might as well just go straight to the insults and whinging.

    “That true liberals are usually religious?”

    But do they eat haggis?

  411. #411 uncle frogy
    December 24, 2008

    again I am slow and must go out now and do not have time to finish this thread just now. I may have read a post by RA before I’m not sure but sounds like B.S. in some way.
    I find that the act of defining a “higher power” as a personality God as pure bunk. The presumption of knowledge has for some time reminded me of the lies other kids try to get me to believe.
    Is this god that RA has been converted to believe in some immortal guy who loves him? “SOME ALL POWERFUL IMMORTAL GUY WHO MADE EVERYTHING?”
    A lier or a con, a fool or just one who suffers I don’t know or even need to know.

    If I was to covert to any religion that was centered on believe in some immortal loving guy who made everything I would chose Santa above all others. The only thing he ever does to naughty boys and girls is give them lumps of coal that at least will help to keep them warm on the long winter nights!
    all are just stories we have been telling around the fire ever since we figured out how to make one and keep it going.
    So on these long, dark and cold nights with all the dangers and troubles out in the future lurking here are wishes that you are safe and warm with friends and family by all the things that you love at these times and have some good stories to share with all the seasonal cheer.

  412. #412 brokensoldier, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Posted by: Patricia, OM | December 24, 2008 2:25 PM

    Having watched the whole DVD several times it’s amazing to think the guy would revert to idiocy when he knows full well the bible is sheer bullshit.

    Ah, but one can never discount the human ability to forego one’s own intellect in favor of adoration and approval from their desired in-group. All it takes is a disregard for intellectual honesty and a neutralized gag reflex (to avoid those painful retching reactions when hearing something you know to be utter, dangerous bullshit…).

  413. #413 brokensoldier, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Patricia, OM @ 408:

    Yeah, but copping out is often preferable to the deluge of irrational, pious objection to your reasoned statements as to why you don’t want children. As a child-free bachelor nearing 30 and living deep within the Bible Belt, I know all too well what you mean. I often get the double whammy, being questioned for having no children while at the same time being suspected of being gay for that same reason. Though letting them think that I’m gay has the benefit of disgusting them so much that some just don’t speak to me at all…BONUS!!

  414. #414 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 24, 2008

    Was he [Martin Luther] a freethinker?

    Sorry dude. I have no desire to read On Jews and Their Lies. – Janine, Vile Bitch

    Nor me. But I’m sure Katharine would enjoy Against the Murdering, Thieving Hordes of Peasants.

  415. #415 Wowbagger
    December 24, 2008

    Well, RHudson has certainly learned something from his religious studies – how to avoid answering difficult questions that make you look like a fool.

    It’s sad that there’s still that small proportion (at least I hope it’s small) of academics out there who’ll limit themselves to the narrow spectrum of the field they study. RHudson’s ignorance of sociolinguistics indicates he falls into that category. He’s been taught that ‘God’ is technically correct – which it is; that’s not the issue – but without realising what the implications of doing that are.

    What’s hilarious is that he can write a sentence as poorly constructed and ambiguous as this one – ‘Many of you who comment here are great, but also a great many of you don’t really understand religion, or apparently English writing.’ – in an attempt to criticise others for their poor writing skills!

    Newsflash, RHudson – you’re not a very good writer, and you’re certainly not a good enough one to tell me anything about the art of writing in English (which, by the way, is my academic discipline). In fact, if you can’t spot the failings of the sentence I quoted then you’re in no place whatsoever to be passing judgement (go ahead, tell me that’s the incorrect spelling – I dare you; in fact, I fucking double-dare you) on many of the posters here.

  416. #416 badger3k
    December 24, 2008

    Patricia at 403 – can you tell me who this guy is? I see he says he was in the God Who Wasn’t There, but I am curious as to who he is. I can’t find anything on his site that gives any idea of his identity. Of course, I didn’t do a whole lot of searching, that site just reeks of irrationality that I didn’t want to waste my time trying to find out who the asshat is. I can only remember Brian Fleming and Dr Price. Since it’s not them, it has to be someone else. Just curious, that’s all.

    Other than that, the Jesus picture just screams “Papa-Ratzi protect me from the lawsuits!” The smile/smirk on his face is kinda creepy, especially when it’s associated with children.

  417. #417 spam spam bacon spam
    December 24, 2008

    meh.

    Can I just say something? (!!!)

    After reading (not all of) the comments so far, one thing that immediately jumped out at me is that being a theist isn’t a result of education, IM(very humble)O.

    I did NOT graduate high school. (I just didn’t have as good childhood as most other here…) Yet I am an avid atheist because I see religion as “illogical”.

    I have aquaintances who are very well educated (one person I’m thinking of is VP of major bank) and they are about as bat-shit religious as someone can be and still *appear* normal.

    So education, to me, doesn’t portend to what extend someone will be gullible or not. (“Gullible” because I feel you have to be so in order to believe some wacko story another person tells you to believe = ie: pastor, priest, etc)

  418. #418 Wowbagger
    December 24, 2008

    spam spam bacon spam:

    I agree. It’s something that’s always baffled me, too – so I’m confident there are factors other than intelligence involved in religious belief.

    One term that gets thrown about is ‘intellectual honesty’ – a person can be otherwise brilliant but unless they are prepared to accept that something they can perceive is true actually is true then it doesn’t matter. If you don’t want something to be true, for whatever reason, then it doesn’t matter how well you can comprehend the logic behind doing so.

    One thing is that many christians are taught to believe that anything which appears to diminish christianity’s credibility is either a) god testing faith, or b) the work of ‘Satan’. Convenient, isn’t it?

    One thing I try to remember is that, for some, the ramifications of their religion not being real is far too much for them to bear. It’s part of their daily lives, their family unit, their ethnic and/or sociocultural sense of self – and those things may be too difficult to do without. So they choose to go on believing, even though a part of them knows it’s all a lie.

    I was raised without any indoctrination so I’ve no personal experience with deconversion and the struggle some people go through to rid themselves of the shackles of religious belief. But reading the stories of those who have is very illuminating. Richard Dawkins has a section on his website – Convert’s Corner – that has a few personal anecdotes if you’re interested.

  419. #419 JJR
    December 24, 2008

    Don’t know if someone already answered this, but RA is interviewed in one of the *commentary* audio tracks for THE GOD WHO WASN’T THERE, he doesn’t appear on camera.

  420. #420 samuel black
    December 24, 2008

    Possible scenarios:

    1) Honest conversion – logic makes this unlikely
    2) Faked atheism to sucker atheists into religion – required patience makes this unlikely
    3) Is now faking Christianity to sucker Christians to atheism when he converts back yet again – dishonesty makes this unlikely for an atheist
    4) Site was started by atheist, then sold to or hacked by Christians
    5) It’s all a big joke designed to attract hits

    I think all are possible, but 4 or 5 are the most plausible

  421. #421 andyo
    December 25, 2008

    Posted by: spam spam bacon spam | December 24, 2008 6:35 PM

    Can I just say something? (!!!)

    After reading (not all of) the comments so far, one thing that immediately jumped out at me is that being a theist isn’t a result of education, IM(very humble)O.

    I did NOT graduate high school. (I just didn’t have as good childhood as most other here…) Yet I am an avid atheist because I see religion as “illogical”.

    I have aquaintances who are very well educated (one person I’m thinking of is VP of major bank) and they are about as bat-shit religious as someone can be and still *appear* normal.

    So education, to me, doesn’t portend to what extend someone will be gullible or not. (“Gullible” because I feel you have to be so in order to believe some wacko story another person tells you to believe = ie: pastor, priest, etc)

    There are several things that I kind of disagree on here, to your credit.

    First of all, you are a minority, you realize that. Most of people who didn’t finish high school because of difficulties or lack of interest don’t do as well.

    Then of course, education comes in a variety of ways. What’s art or business education got to do with having an especially skeptical view or reality? So what you do see, is that creationists are very successful lawyers, business people (of course, the most wealthy are scammers), and such. And on the other hand, the more “elite” people get as a scientist, you see a strong trend towards a-supernaturalism.

    Also, the fact that you don’t have a high school diploma doesn’t mean you’re uneducated. You probably know more about biology or physics than even the average college-educated person. Look where you’re hanging out. And come on, you’re referencing Monty Python!

    I myself find me in a kind of similar situation as yours. I did some university in my country, but now I live in the U.S. and will have to start it over (hopefully soon), but in all honesty I do feel I know more about the universe (a.k.a “nature”) than most people, some of them much more “successful” in their lives and careers, that I know. Not because I’m smarter or “more educated”, but just because I take an interest. Most people don’t. I don’t know any scientists by the way.

    I also feel that most of my university education didn’t particularly help (it didn’t harm of course either), except for one cosmology course, and some earlier viewings of Sagan’s Cosmos in old, “boring”, Spanish-dubbed tapes. It was Hawking’s book that started a chain reaction that just got me hooked. It actually wasn’t Dawkins or even Myers who got me into so-called atheism. It was Hawking who got me asking myself questions, and ultimately Sam Harris who made me realize I was one of those dirty “atheists”. Those sleazy catholics I knew (I did know some honest ones too, but kinda brainwashed) helped as well to drive me away from that sect.

  422. #422 RickrOll
    December 25, 2008

    Monado @404- that’s a fascinating bit of info. I never knew that about John.

    But it doesn’t really mean anything if you believe a vision that you had one time, does it? After all, there’s a whole book on this as well, The “God” Part of the Brain, by Matthew Alper.

    Uncle Froggy: “The only thing he ever does to naughty boys and girls is give them lumps of coal that at least will help to keep them warm on the long winter nights!”

    Wrong, he gives them the switch in Holland. Yep, he can even suggest punishments to the parents. Fun guy. Santa is far from simply an American entity, though he is ignored by most other developed countries i would imagine, just like God lol.
    ———–
    How depressing, is there any way to dramatically reduce the worlds population without throwing ethics out the window? Katherine is a Nazi, but the population problem exists, whether she’s insane or not. There’s no way to condone her behavior, and it’s impossible to follow through with her idea even if it could be initiated. I want to hear a couple of workable non-sociopath solutions.

    But stupid people do outbreed the intelligent, that much is statistically true. Another lose-lose scenario. Not to say anything about other demographics. Oh well, if our intellect is relagated to the evolutionary dustbin like the wolly pachyderms (sp), then that Would be proof negative for the teleological crapument that Theists love to spout.

    Anyway, The global economy will never allow for as many people as there are now to survive in as affluent a way as most, in say Europe, and American lifestyles are utterly out of the picture. We’re energy shrews in the States. And that says nothing about the population growth of the future. *sigh* Not that the population won’t hit an eventual bust and many will die, solving the problem, but we have an obligation to keep that from happinging, don’t we? Suffering and death ought not to be tolerated, even at present levels. I want some brainstorming on how to get this fucking elephant out of the room.

    http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2008/11/only_population_size_really_ma.php

  423. #423 John Morales
    December 25, 2008

    RickrOll,

    How depressing, is there any way to dramatically reduce the worlds population without throwing ethics out the window?

    I think a great start would be to legislate for reproductive freedom for women worldwide – i.e. all women.

    Ain’t gonna happen, but it would certainly be ethical.

  424. #424 Wowbagger
    December 25, 2008

    How depressing, is there any way to dramatically reduce the worlds population without throwing ethics out the window?

    The advocating of any and all forms of contraception by a certain virgin male in a dress apparently listened to by many millions of a large cult would certainly help; similar statements from other, similar cult leaders wouldn’t go astray either, ’cause it’s not just the one cult that frowns on such things.

    Sadly, because quite a few of these cults’ belief systems rests on the mistaken belief their non-existent gods will provide for them no matter what, I doubt we’re going to see much change in too many places.

    It’s really down to hope that people will choose to have fewer children. Human population will eventually have to decline – it’s just whether or not it’s going to be via choice or starvation that’s the big question.

  425. #425 amk
    December 25, 2008

    Comprehensive sex education for adolescents and freely available contraception would go a long way to solving the over-population problem. Unfortunately the godbots are in the way.

    In The Authoritarians (compulsory reading for those that haven’t read it yet) Altemeyer talks of psychological experiments with a global politics game. The highRWAs (fundies mostly), when faced with an over-population caused humanitarian disaster, still couldn’t bring themselves to drop their opposition to birth control.

  426. #426 Raiko
    December 25, 2008

    Does this “welcome home to the family” crap – this sickeningly hypocritical, morally distorted, in-group only, disgustingly bigoted and conservatively one-sided “welcome home to the family” – make you cringe, too?

  427. #427 wildlifer
    December 25, 2008

    He’s gone to censoring the posts already. He’s fully assimilated into the Borg.

  428. #428 clinteas
    December 25, 2008

    Comprehensive sex education for adolescents and freely available contraception would go a long way to solving the over-population problem. Unfortunately the godbots are in the way.

    And this would by the way also greatly reduce the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases and therefore health costs and social stigmatisation,and the numbers of abortions.

    But that might make boys and girls enjoy their sexuality without guilt,and we cant have that if we are a respectable world religion and want to control and keep our flock,now can we?

  429. #429 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Katherine is a Nazi, but the population problem exists, whether she’s insane or not. There’s no way to condone her behavior, and it’s impossible to follow through with her idea even if it could be initiated. I want to hear a couple of workable non-sociopath solutions. – RickrOll

    RickrOll, the first step is to find out what the actual situation is, which I’d guess you haven’t done – your “elephant in the room” reference is typical of people who believe, quite wrongly, that nothing is being done about population growth and no-one talks about the issues. There is plenty of information a couple of clicks away.

    Global population is still increasing, but at a proportional rate that has fallen from its peak of 2.4% per year in the 1960s, to around half that now. The numerical increase in global population per year has fallen significantly from its peak in the early 1990s. In most rich countries, the birth rate per woman is now below replacement level (which is around 2.1); populations continue to grow, where they do, due to inertia (there are more women of childbearing age now than at any previous time because of earlier birth rates), and immigration. Japan’s population is already falling, as are Russia’s and those of some other east European countries. Most of the rest of Europe is predicted to follow in the next generation or so.

    These trends will almost certainly continue, because they are driven above all by urbanisation and female emancipation: city people have fewer children (and of course are less religious and sexist) than country dwellers; women with economic independence, career options, and the ability to say no to their partners have fewer than those without. We couldn’t halt urbanisation if we wanted to, but we know exactly how to speed the process of declining birth-rate: raise the staus of women, get children (particularly girls) into school, make contraception and abortion readily available and cheap or preferably free, undermine religion. The countries where birth rates are highest (they are still falling) are in Muslim north Africa and the Middle East (this isn’t a universal characteristic of Islam – rates in Bangladesh and Indonesia are much lower), where women are most oppressed.

    Access to TV also probably helps, as will access to the internet and mobile phones – all these give a window onto the wider world: in Brazil, the very popular soap operas that show high-status families with 1 or 2 children are thought to have had a significant effect.

    So: you know what to do. Carry on combating religion, give time or money to charities working to improve the lot of women and/or access to school in poor countries, vote for internationalist and green (with a small “g”) candidates and parties.

    But stupid people do outbreed the intelligent, that much is statistically true.

    Evidence for this claim? I don’t mean “Oh, we all know fundies breed a lot”, or “I know this pair of halfwits with ten kids”. I mean real, scientific studies. Poor people have more children than rich ones except in really dire situations (so dire the children of the poor die and/or women become infertile), but we don’t know what the genetic differences between rich and poor are, if any. People with diagnosable learning difficulties due to specific medical conditions almost certainly have fewer children than average, as these conditions generally have other effects on physical health and fertility.

    Evidence for it mattering if it is true? Particularly given:
    1) The universal tendency for regression to the mean in multi-factoral phenotypic characteristics.
    2) The fact that human intelligence and human stupidity are primarily collective, culturally-determined properties.
    3) The near-certainty that if our civilisation survives, we will be modifying our genetic inheritance, and using far more extensive cognitive prostheses even than we do now, during the coming century.

  430. #430 clinteas
    December 25, 2008

    Katherine is a Nazi, but the population problem exists, whether she’s insane or not

    Sorry,but this is annoying the crap out of me.She most certainly is not a nazi,and clearly not insane.If you dont like her eugenic rant,say so,but it doesnt make her insane.
    Her rant about the poor was poorly thought through,impulsive and just plain wrong,but it doesnt make her a Nazi.I called it Nazi bullshit or so in one of my posts,which it is if thought to its conclusion,but the “oven” comments were not hers.

    So while I thought her posts showed poor thinking and an impulsive kind of dispair with mankind,give the woman a break.

  431. #431 bob
    December 25, 2008

    I was going to suggest looking him up by doing a whois on his domain name. Finding out who he really is could prove whether or not this was all some Christian plot. But he/they use Godaddy’s proxy service.

  432. #432 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Sorry,but this is annoying the crap out of me.She most certainly is not a nazi,and clearly not insane.If you dont like her eugenic rant,say so,but it doesnt make her insane.
    Her rant about the poor was poorly thought through,impulsive and just plain wrong,but it doesnt make her a Nazi.I called it Nazi bullshit or so in one of my posts,which it is if thought to its conclusion,but the “oven” comments were not hers.

    So while I thought her posts showed poor thinking and an impulsive kind of dispair with mankind,give the woman a break.

    Her rant bore many features of Nazi rhetoric and thinking on the subjects of “race,” intelligence, and eugenics. I don’t think it was poorly thought through (to the limited extent that she’s capable of thinking things through) on her part or impulsive. As someone else pointed out above, it was completely typical of the comments she’s been making elsewhere, regardless of their relevance to the subject at hand; also, she herself pointed out that she’s lost a friend over her views: “[H]e turned out to be far more naive about his beloved ‘proletariat’ than he should have been.” These are her views, and they (and she) would be at home among the whacko far right. I’m not giving her any breaks. She can take her idiotic remarks about Zimbabweans and shove ‘em up her racist ass.

    Happy Monkey.

  433. #433 clinteas
    December 25, 2008

    SC,

    maybe Im just in a too conciliatory Squidmas mood,and Happy Monkey to you too !

    I just think people make it too easy for themselves sometimes to murder someone’s arguments by drawing the Nazi card,and Im a bit sensitive to that.

    She can take her idiotic remarks about Zimbabweans and shove ‘em up her racist ass.

    But asses are not designed for idiotic remarks !!

  434. #434 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    I just think people make it too easy for themselves sometimes to murder someone’s arguments by drawing the Nazi card,and Im a bit sensitive to that.

    I am, too. At the same time, I don’t think that should stop anyone from pointing to similarities or simply expressing disgust at racist rants, especially since these ideas will keep appearing in slightly modified form (“I’m really just concerned about overpopulation!”; “We can all agree that fundamentalism is a problem, right?!”). (Anyway, I don’t generally pay attention to Rickr0ll’s comments. They hurt my head.)

    But asses are not designed for idiotic remarks !!

    :D

  435. #435 clinteas
    December 25, 2008

    especially since these ideas will keep appearing in slightly modified form

    Yes,that is true,and I do take notice of it.

    Its 350am here,the Boxing Day test is only 6 hours away,and I better get some rest.
    Enjoy your day !!

  436. #436 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Enjoy your day !!

    Thanks! Sleep tight! :)

  437. #437 clinteas
    December 25, 2008

    Ah,what the heck,we’ll fit one more in,ive only got to work at 4pm today…:-)

    Naked Bunny @ 400,

    How about asking who would actually take advantage of a “tax breaks for condoms” program? (Hint: People like me, who aren’t breeding anyway.)

    I get irritated by the term “breeding” to be honest,if its used for describing the (f)act of reproducing,it seems to me that it implies some sort of forced intervention,which unless we’re talking pedophilia or rape,is just not there…
    My ex breeds chihuahuas,but you wouldnt use that term for the kid we made together,it is rude and obscene,and Im not normally one for sensitivities….Just dont like it.

  438. #438 Colugo
    December 25, 2008

    Those who share Katharine’s views will be delighted by this book, now available for pre-order:

    http://tinyurl.com/9hn3vd

    The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution by Gregory Cochran, Henry Harpending

    John Derbyshire, author of Prime Obsession: “Did human evolution come to a screeching halt fifty thousand years ago when Homo sapiens emerged from Africa, thus ensuring the psychic unity of mankind? Don’t be silly, say the authors of this latest addition to the fast-emerging discipline of Biohistory….”

    This book is destined to be a classic in the field of “human biodiversity” AKA “race realism” AKA scientific racism.

    On Google books we find that the authors thank, among others, Bruce Lahn (microcephalin theory of civilization), Gregory Clark (A Farewell to Alms) and Phil Rushton.

  439. #439 Patricia, OM
    December 25, 2008

    badger3k – Sorry to be so long in replying. It’s very cold in this room, so I dart in read a few posts and dash back out.

    In the fine print on the DVD box it says Brian Flemming is ‘your guide’ through the movie, but in the even finer print it says Earl Doherty The Raving Atheist is featured in audio commentary.
    You might try http://www.thegodmovie.com

  440. #440 Patricia, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Brokensoldier, OM @413 – Ha, ha! Yep, letting the gawd soaked be disgusted with you does have it’s good points.

  441. #441 windy
    December 25, 2008

    Those who share Katharine’s views will be delighted by this book

    Oh, come on. Whatever you may think of those guys, at least they can argue their case, unlike Katharine (or Derbyshire).

  442. #442 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 25, 2008

    windy,
    Even if what you say is true (I haven’t seen the book but thanks to Rushton and praise from Derbyshire are clear warning signs that it’s likely to be a stinking pile of racist shit), it could still be true that “Those who share Katharine’s views will be delighted by this book”.

  443. #443 Colugo
    December 25, 2008

    windy: “at least they can argue their case, unlike Katharine”

    Right you are. I’ve attended a talk by Cochran and I’m very familar with the work of Harpending, whom I used to greatly admire. That’s precisely why race realists will be delighted with the book. For a while they had to make do with The Bell Curve and Rushton. Then Vincent Sarich (and his sidekick Miele) lent more gravitas. But The 10,000 Year Explosion is sure to be be the cream of the crop, so sophisticated that one of its messages, implicit in the accelerated evolution paper that got so much buzz, initially flew over the heads of many science bloggers. (But not Derbyshire’s.) This book will probably draw more scientists out of the race realist closet and may even win converts.

  444. #444 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    That’s precisely why race realists will be delighted with the book. For a while they had to make do with The Bell Curve and Rushton. Then Vincent Sarich (and his sidekick Miele) lent more gravitas.

    I know! I hate it when my sickfuck ideology doesn’t have pseudoscientific grounding of sufficient gravitas! This sophisticated repackaging is long overdue!

    ***

    http://raceandgenomics.ssrc.org/

  445. #445 windy
    December 25, 2008

    Naked Bunny:
    Why are people more patient with Pete Rooke and Fly in the Ointment than with Katharine?

    If that’s true, maybe it’s because we expect better from a scientist.


    it could still be true that “Those who share Katharine’s views will be delighted by this book”.

    Nick & Colugo, that may be true, just that it seems a bit irrelevant considering how naive “Katharine’s views” are…

    Evidence for it mattering if it is true? Particularly given: 1) The universal tendency for regression to the mean in multi-factoral phenotypic characteristics.

    This is not an argument against natural selection on those characteristics (this was Galton’s mistake)

    2) The fact that human intelligence and human stupidity are primarily collective, culturally-determined properties.
    3) The near-certainty that if our civilisation survives, we will be modifying our genetic inheritance, and using far more extensive cognitive prostheses even than we do now, during the coming century.

    I agree on these points. Even if there is selection against some trait that we should collectively worry about, it’s a multi-generational process. If some civilization-crucial gene is getting too low in frequency we’ll either have time to detect it and figure out a solution, or it will be the least of our concerns.

  446. #446 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Looks like a joke to me so far. No reasons given, not even the most shallow emotional one; carefully selected kitschy picture; no original text whatsoever; then there’s the discovery in comment 76; and then there are comments 97 and 420.

    Comment 82:

    Oh, by the way, commas and period go inside the quotation marks, you stupid fuck.

    No, you stupid fuck. They only go inside if they’re part of the quote! Some Americans always put them inside, but nobody else does, and for good reasons.

    Comment 301:

    I should probably not be surprised I got killfiled by at least one person, but.

    I look at what havoc the fundies have wrought and I feel a sense that there is a time limit in which we need to act in some way, whichever that way is. I am, to some extent, unsure of just how far the fundies will get if we don’t act, whether it is in a drastic way or a minor way, and the past has shown us that humans can be far nastier than they currently are.

    The opinions expressed in my rant are indeed probably unpopular in many ways. At the same time, I wonder what we will have to do and in what timespan to ensure a brighter future for everyone.

    Education.

    Condorcet, not Robespierre.

    Or what else do you think is the reason why we don’t have tens of millions of ignorant fundies over here in Europe?

    Comment 308:

    If they are her real thoughts, they are better expressed to herself in private. It’s disgusting.

    Fuck “disgusting”. They’re wrong, as in “based on wrong assumptions”.

    Comment 424:

    It’s really down to hope that people will choose to have fewer children. Human population will eventually have to decline – it’s just whether or not it’s going to be via choice or starvation that’s the big question.

    Choice alone would suffice: all else being equal, the world population will have started declining by the end of the century. The only question is which comes first. If Peak Oil will hit too hard, we will have, shall we say, a problem.

    Comment 432:

    Her rant bore many features of Nazi rhetoric and thinking on the subjects of “race,” intelligence, and eugenics. I don’t think it was poorly thought through (to the limited extent that she’s capable of thinking things through) on her part or impulsive.

    It’s not poorly thought through, and it’s not impulsive. It’s deeply, deeply ignorant.

    Ignorant, for example, about the fact that piss-poor Kerala (one of the states of India) has got its birth rate down to 1.8 simply by means of education; that’s less that China’s 1.9. Ignorant even of the fact that France’s birth rate recently climbed back up to 2.1, by means of socialism.

  447. #447 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    No, you stupid fuck. They only go inside if they’re part of the quote! Some Americans always put them inside, but nobody else does, and for good reasons.

    It is standard in the US. From The Columbia Guide to Standard American English (1993):

    A key problem with quotation marks is which other marks of punctuation go inside the closing quotation mark(s) and which belong outside. In the United States, most stylebooks and most editors follow these rules: periods and commas belong inside, colons and semicolons outside. Other marks – question mark, dash, and exclamation point, for example – go inside when they belong with the quoted material, outside when they belong to the main sentence. British editorial conventions differ.

    I do see the reason for putting all of them outside, but most US editors would “correct” this.

    It’s deeply, deeply ignorant.

    As I noted above – twice, I think. :)

  448. #448 SC, OM
    December 25, 2008

    I do see the reason for putting all of them outside when they’re not part of the quoted material,

    that should have read.

  449. #449 Patricia, OM
    December 25, 2008

    As a proud 12th grade graduate, I do the best I can.
    Thank you.
    ;o)

  450. #450 Ghoulslime
    December 25, 2008

    I was an active participant on the Raving Atheist’s forum for many years. I rarely interacted with him. There was always something suspicious about his demeanor. It is my humble postulation that he was always a theist in a rational thinker’s clothing.

    Maybe his “conversion” was just an elaborate walking on water miracle to bolster the faith of the ignorant masses. Maybe he received a head injury which affected his critical thought processes. Whatever the case may be, he is a sick man.

    The atheists have maintained control of the forum. We are now the Raving Atheists. And we are relieved to have the cancer removed from our midst.

  451. #451 andyo
    December 25, 2008

    One thing that annoys me a little about English is its ambiguity. Like this quotation marks thing. In Spanish we do that as logic dictates, like the non-American version. Another thing not easy to grasp is pronunciation. As far as I know, it’s down to experience and local use, isn’t it? In good old Español, as soon as you read a word, you already know 100% how to pronounce it. If the same words are pronounced differently in different regions (notably Argentina) then they’re written differently, period.

    Maybe you guys should just start adding a few “´”‘s, “~”‘s and “¨”‘s to some of your letters, you know, for shits and giggles, see what comes out of it. (Hope I punctuated those correctly.)

  452. #452 Patricia, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Ghoulslime, You will find a good community here. Most of us are hardcore atheists.

    If you’ve known the Raving Atheist for years, is he Earl Doherty of The God Who Wasn’t There movie fame? That’s quite a turnabout from atheist to godbot.

  453. #453 Debonator
    December 25, 2008

    From what I’ve read about brain tumours and religious experiences, perhaps the poor guy (RA) should see a doctor, pronto!

  454. #454 Ghoulslime
    December 25, 2008

    Don’t look to me for the answers to the Raving Lunatic question. I always minimized interaction with him even on his own forum. He always gave me strange vibes. I’ve always thought him a duplicitous person, even before he started chewing Jesus crackers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him gather a great following of credulous Kool-Aid drinkers only to pop their party balloons at some later date. I can only say for sure that he is a scam artist. I’m just not sure who he is scamming at this point.

  455. #455 Patricia, OM
    December 25, 2008

    Ghoulslime, Thank You for your reply, even though it answered little.

    It won’t matter a fiddlers fuck for me since I rarely venture far from PZ’s ink stained waters. But hopefully those of you in the Raving Atheist community will be able to recover. Who is he scamming? You, of course.

  456. #456 Eva
    December 25, 2008

    As the moderator of the Raving Atheists forum and long time (ex-) reader of the original Raving Atheist, i can say he is NOT Earl Doherty. He is (was?) a lawyer in New York.

  457. #457 Patricia, OM
    December 26, 2008

    Good for a laugh then huh.

  458. #458 Eric Haas
    December 26, 2008

    In the fine print on the DVD box it says Brian Flemming is ‘your guide’ through the movie, but in the even finer print it says Earl Doherty The Raving Atheist is featured in audio commentary.

    You’re misreading that. It says, “FEATURING AUDIO COMMENTARY FROM RICHARD DAWKINS EARL DOHERTY THE RAVING ATHEIST”. Earl Doherty and The Raving Atheist are two separate people.

  459. #459 Patricia, OM
    December 26, 2008

    No, I’m looking directly at the DVD case – it says exactly what you and I are both saying, but it doesn’t make it clear that Earl Doherty The Raving Atheist are two separate people.

  460. #460 RickrOll
    December 26, 2008

    I can’t recall who exactly said it, but higher education alone causes a decline in population growth- doesn’t that correlate to smarter people- knowledgeable citizenry- as being out-procreated by the less intelligent? You can’t have it both ways.

    Either education and raising the intelligence of people reduces population, or it does not. Simple. I wasn’t making a sweeping statement about the genetic tendencies of intelligence as correlated with overall virility- mostly a socoio-economic observation that overall intelligence- which usually is traced to knowledge and expertise, due to the niche that is therefore allotted to- necessarily implies that less people are born. The reverse is true as well. Isn’t that a statement of logic? If A thus B, then -A thus -B. Not that is so obviously black and white. Just a simple observation.

    Contraception/sex education is an absolute must, i agree. Isn’t it interesting (in a tragic, gruesome fashion) that the folks who want to keep this from happening are also the source of anti-science and anti- environmental protection legislation? Coincidence? Of course not. Why would they worry about the suffering of others when it is their “IMMORTAL SOULS!” that are in jeopardy?

    And it clearly shows that it is all to increase suffering in the future and drive people to the alter, therefore wresting control of the political arenas of the world from the Evil Atheists in the future. And it doesn’t even have to be conscious. They have spokespeople that speak directly to what they subconsciously want. All the Bill O’Reily’s of the world and the Ken Ham’s, all for a goal that they don’t even realize that they want- the suffering and death of as many humans as possible. And animals if they can spare the time.

    In Fact, I would go as far as to say that there are no legitimate ,ethical reasons to avoid contraceptives, more in-depth discussion of real science, and green tech. It is so that they could presumably justify the existence of evil, therefore giving fuel to the fire that is this stupid Zoroastrian duality that they worship, giving God more of an appeal in the face of an ugly, tortured world. And through Evil, like always, God is glorified. Truly truly stupid, the self defeating nature of the Religious.

  461. #461 amk
    December 26, 2008

    David,

    If Peak Oil will hit too hard, we will have, shall we say, a problem.

    The chief economist of the International Energy Agency told George Monbiot that global oil will peak around 2020, so mark that date in your calendar with the caption “End of Western Civilisation”.

    Andyo,

    Another thing not easy to grasp is pronunciation. … Maybe you guys should just start adding a few “´”‘s, “~”‘s and “¨”‘s to some of your letters, you know, for shits and giggles, see what comes out of it. (Hope I punctuated those correctly.)

    There have been attempts to produce a regular English alphabet. They do not succeed.

  462. #462 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    andyo,
    Surely you realise English spelling was devised purely in order to bamboozle foreigners? Since most of us native English speakers are incapable of learning foreign languages, we’ll be blowed if we let you get one over on us by learning how to pronounce ours!

    Here’s my favourite example:

    “The rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman walked coughing and hiccoughing through Scarborough.”

    (The Americans, wimps that they are, misspell “plough” as “plow” and, I believe, “hiccoughing” as “hiccuping”. Bah!)

  463. #463 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    I’ve just found a better version of my example!

    “A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.”

  464. #464 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    Either education and raising the intelligence of people reduces population, or it does not. Simple. I wasn’t making a sweeping statement about the genetic tendencies of intelligence as correlated with overall virility- mostly a socoio-economic observation that overall intelligence- which usually is traced to knowledge and expertise, due to the niche that is therefore allotted to- necessarily implies that less people are born. The reverse is true as well. Isn’t that a statement of logic? If A thus B, then -A thus -B. Not that is so obviously black and white. Just a simple observation. – RickrOll

    Well you were far from clear in your original statement: if you’re going to use words like “intelligence”, which often carries the implication of innate ability, you need to be careful you specify what you mean. It is certainly possible to have people who are relatively uneducated but highly intelligent as judged by their competence in daily life and/or ability to learn when given the chance, so to conflate “education and intelligence” as if the two must have the same effect is unjustified. Yes, education reduces birth rate (but primary education is more important than secondary, and secondary more so than higher in this respect). Which rather makes me wonder, if by “intelligence” you meant “education”, why your original comment had that despairing “Oh-whatever-shall-we-do” tone to it.

  465. #465 amk
    December 26, 2008

    “hiccoughing” as “hiccuping”

    Wikipedia claims the latter is preferred in both US and UK English.

  466. #466 John Phillips, FCD
    December 26, 2008

    RickRoll, as Nick Gotts said, we are being out bred by the ignorant or the uneducated, not necessarily the less intelligent.

    After all, we still don’t have a true measure or even agreement what we mean by intelligence.

    The best we can say, is that the more intelligent, all else being equal, will usually adapt to their environment better than the less intelligent.

  467. #467 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    amk@465,
    What? And let the foreigners off the hook? Never! I remain a proudly hiccoughing Englishman ;-)

  468. #468 Eric Haas
    December 26, 2008

    No, I’m looking directly at the DVD case – it says exactly what you and I are both saying, but it doesn’t make it clear that Earl Doherty The Raving Atheist are two separate people.

    Admittedly, punctuation would have been helpful here. But, if you’re not willing to take the slightly larger gaps as separating names, you’d have to conclude that The Raving Atheist’s full name was “Richard Dawkins Earl Doherty”.

  469. #469 John C. Randolph
    December 26, 2008

    Rick #286:

    the reason I can’t imagine falling into it now (I’m 47) is exactly the same reason I would have for not suddenly taking up heroin use.

    That would be a reason to avoid scientology (for example), but religions, like drugs, vary greatly in degree. I have a couple of friends who practice new-agey California type religions, and I can’t say that their hobby is any more dangerous than the occasional glass of wine, if we were to continue the drug analogy.

    -jcr

  470. #470 Patricia, OM
    December 26, 2008

    Eric – Your eyesight must be better than mine. ;o)

  471. #471 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    JCR@469,
    Oh, hi John. I’m still waiting for your explanation of how the market would have saved us from the destruction of the ozone layer by CFCs, and how it will ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced sufficiently to halt anthropogenic climate change.

  472. #472 SC, OM
    December 26, 2008

    I remain a proudly hiccoughing Englishman ;-)

    That reminds me of that discussion a whole back of those upper-class names with the hilarious pronunciations. Those were great.

  473. #473 thalarctos
    December 26, 2008
    I remain a proudly hiccoughing Englishman ;-)

    That reminds me of that discussion a whole back of those upper-class names with the hilarious pronunciations. Those were great.

    It would also lend a certain je ne sais quoi to my favorite case report of all time, if it were spelled:

    Odeh M, Bassan H, Oliven A. Termination of intractable hicc[ough]s with digital rectal massage. J Intern Med. 1990 Feb;227(2):145-6.

    A 60-year-old man with acute pancreatitis developed persistent hiccups after insertion of a nasogastric tube. Removal of the latter did not terminate the hiccups which had also been treated with different drugs, and several manoeuvres were attempted, but with no success. Digital rectal massage was then performed resulting in abrupt cessation of the hiccups. Recurrence of the hiccups occurred several hours later, and again, they were terminated immediately with digital rectal massage. No other recurrences were observed. This is the second reported case associating cessation of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage. We suggest that this manoeuvre should be considered in cases of intractable hiccups before proceeding with pharmacological agents.

  474. #474 Sven DiMilo
    December 26, 2008

    thalarctos (@473): oO
    I saw a picture once of somebody that must have had really, really bad hiccups.

  475. #475 Tenspace
    December 26, 2008

    PZ, what have you done?! Though we appreciate the bump in traffic, your highlighting of this story has released a one-man virus on our forums. And that name is Dr. John A. Davison. It only took a few days, but now I see why he was banned from every website he’s visited. It is doubtful that he will be banned from ravingatheists.com, but he will be restricted to a single thread. That is one crazy old man.

  476. #476 Patricia, OM
    December 26, 2008

    Has anyone figured out who the Raving Atheist is? I’ve lost track.

  477. #477 Rey Fox
    December 26, 2008

    “Does this “welcome home to the family” crap — make you cringe, too?”

    Like I said, pod people.

  478. #478 John C. Randolph
    December 26, 2008

    I’m still waiting for your explanation of how the market would have saved us from the destruction of the ozone layer by CFCs,

    When did you stop beating your wife, Nick?

    Anyhow, the way you get companies to modify their behavior without resorting to the threat of violence is to convince the public that something they’re doing should be stopped.

    The public then brings pressure to bear on those who are doing it, and it becomes unprofitable to continue. Then you’ll start seeing products advertised as not containing the offending substance, and so forth.

    Right now in fact, you can already see that businesses are falling all over themselves to show how “green” they are, even though legislation to mandate that they do so is not in place, and may never be.

    -jcr

  479. #479 John C. Randolph
    December 26, 2008

    BTW, Nick: how do you propose to stop governments from committing egregious acts of environmental vandalism? That fly ash reservoir that collapsed recently was at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant.

    -jcr

  480. #480 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    jcr@479,
    Improved democratic oversight and political organisation from below. Thing is, I don’t believe governments are automatically going to get the right answer: we, the people, have to be vigilant, oppose governments when necessary, kick them out of office when necessary, use non-violent direct action when necessary – as I have done numerous times.

    Aside from that, of course, neither the TVA plant spill, nor the pollution of Lake Baikal, nor that of the Savannah River Plant, threaten the continuation of our civilisation – as destruction of the ozone layer did (and still would if we let the market have its way), and anthropogenic climate change does. If you have your way, we’ll all just sit on our arses and wait for the market to sort out even urgent global problems like this. So, how would the market have stopped the production of CFCs, and how will it cut greenhouse gas emissions as radically as climate science shows is necessary?

    If you have no answer, John, why not be honest enough to admit it, instead of ignoring the question or trying to divert attention?

  481. #481 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    The public then brings pressure to bear on those who are doing it, and it becomes unprofitable to continue. Then you’ll start seeing products advertised as not containing the offending substance, and so forth.

    Right now in fact, you can already see that businesses are falling all over themselves to show how “green” they are, even though legislation to mandate that they do so is not in place, and may never be. – jcr

    Sorry, jcr, I missed this when posting #480, but it’s a pretty feeble answer. If we’d done that with regard to CFCs, we’d have been completely stuffed – for one thing because it required international agreement to stop their production. Believe it or not, the USA is not the whole world. The same, of course, is true with respect to greenhouse gases. For another, the scientific experts agreed action was urgent – we couldn’t afford to wait the years building such a campaign would take, even if it would succeed at all – boycotts of specific companies rarely do.

    Second, “falling all over themselves to show how “green” they are”. It’s pitiful – a bit of greenwash, and you’re convinced! What a sucker – they must see you coming a mile off! FYI, US greenhouse gas emissions have continued to climb – the Great Crash of 2008 may bring a temporary halt to this, one potential upside from it. You are clearly prepared to gamble civilisation’s future on what happens to be most profitable for individual companies in the interests of your religion – I’m not.

  482. #482 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 26, 2008

    What? And let the foreigners off the hook? Never! I remain a proudly hiccoughing Englishman ;-)

    But that’s it. Learning to read and write in English is easier if you can already read & write in another language. All the time, all over the Internet, native speakers make mistakes that I’d never dream of making. It’s FUBARecognition.

    That reminds me of that discussion a whole back of those upper-class names with the hilarious pronunciations. Those were great.

    Featherstonehaugh! There are placenames like that, too. IMNSHO they should outright be written in specially created Chinese characters — that would be less actively misleading.

  483. #483 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 26, 2008

    Oops. Gold Dragon 1968 attributes the following quote to Robespierre in a more recent thread, and that quote agrees with Condorcet:

    The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is keeping them ignorant.

    Let’s exchange him by Francis Galton.

  484. #484 Nick Gotts
    December 26, 2008

    jcr,
    Following on from 481, I do sincerely apologise for wrongly suggesting you had not answered my question. I shall be more careful in future.

  485. #485 'Tis Himself
    December 26, 2008

    The Americans, wimps that they are, misspell “plough” as “plow” and, I believe, “hiccoughing” as “hiccuping”. Bah!

    At least we don’t feel the need to burden words with extra letters just for the look of the thing. A harbor or a neighbor do not require unnecessary us. As for the British spelling and pronunciation of aluminininininininium, the less said the better.

  486. #486 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself@485,
    Sorry, but the spelling “aluminium” is the only one recognised by that great authority, google: try putting “aluminum” in, and all you get is “aluminium”. Just because Americans can’t manage two vowels in a row… or, in many cases, two consonants: “nucular” indeed!

  487. #487 'Tis Himself
    December 26, 2008

    Anyhow, the way you get companies to modify their behavior without resorting to the threat of violence is to convince the public that something they’re doing should be stopped.

    Typical libertarian “the market will fix everything” twaddle. In real life (something most libertarians know little or nothing about), it takes government action to stop companies from doing things injurious to the general public. John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil didn’t stop their monopolistic action until the US government told them to. Beginning in 1936 the Cuyahoga River used to catch on fire until the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972. In the 1940s the president of Johns-Manville said that the managers of another asbestos company were “a bunch of fools for notifying employees who had asbestosis.” When one of his managers asked, “do you mean to tell me you would let them work until they dropped dead?” the response is reported to have been, “Yes. We save a lot of money that way.”*

    Sorry, John, but your ivory tower, wishful thinking doesn’t match reality. But libertarianism and reality have little in common, as can be easily proved.

    *Barry I. Castleman, Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects, 4th edition, Aspen Law and Business, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 1996, p 581.

  488. #488 lostn
    December 26, 2008

    Maybe he just wants to PSYCHE the Christians once he’s built up a big enough readership.

    I had his blog bookmarked though I wasn’t a regular reader. I’m removing the bookmark now.

  489. #489 'Tis Himself
    December 26, 2008

    Nick Gotts #486

    Sorry, but the spelling “aluminium” is the only one recognised by that great authority, google: try putting “aluminum” in, and all you get is “aluminium”.

    You must be using the inferior, British version of Google spellcheck. The US version recognizes “aluminum” and sneers at “aluminium.”

    The Brits take delight in tossing extra verbage into words. They eschew the perfectly reasonable word “orient” for “orientate.” Fortunately Noah Webster in his wisdom wrenched English from the grip of “Dr.” Samuel Johnson and set the language on the proper course.

  490. #490 Wowbagger
    December 26, 2008

    Nick Gotts wrote:

    Just because Americans can’t manage two vowels in a row… or, in many cases, two consonants: “nucular” indeed!

    Sadly, I actually read/saw something recently that explained that the original spelling (and pronunciation) was ‘aluminum’, not ‘aluminium'; on this particular occasion it’s the non-Americans who are the upstart word-modifiers. I believe the reason was that the -ium suffix was more consistent with the other element names.

    That doesn’t, of course, explain the loathsome ‘nucular’, though…

  491. #491 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 26, 2008

    ‘Tis Himself@487,
    Yes, the asbestosis story is much the same in the UK, the main villains being Turner and Newell. They and other asbestos-using companies had reason to know by the 1940s the lethal nature of their product, but deliberately concealed this from their employees – who are still dying of mesothelioma today, T&N having escaped into bankruptcy – without, of course, their directors suffering any personal loss. “The market” did not end the commercial use of asbestos; legislation did. Similarly with lead in paint and petrol, acid rain, smog from coal smoke, raw sewage and industrial waste poured into rivers: in no case did the market, or pressure on profits from public disapproval, end these environmental and health problems; legislation did. The unavoidable conclusion is that “libertarians” don’t give a flying fuck about actual, living people suffering brain damage or coughing their lungs up; the abstract “freedom of the individual” – which actually means freedom of the corporation – is far more important.

  492. #492 thalarctos
    December 26, 2008

    I saw a picture once of somebody that must have had really, really bad hiccups.

    It must be a tremendously under-reported public health problem–I understand that there is an entire sub-genre of documentary films out there, providing instruction in proper technique.

  493. #493 Sven DiMilo
    December 26, 2008

    LOL, for real.

  494. #494 John C. Randolph
    December 27, 2008

    The unavoidable conclusion is that “libertarians” don’t give a flying fuck about actual, living people suffering brain damage or coughing their lungs up;

    Nick,

    When it comes to callous disregard for people’s lives and health, it’s you bootlickers who worship your governments who really take the cake. People die by the millions in wars for the aggrandizement of politicians, they die waiting for medical treatments that are mired in bureaucratic red tape, they die of starvation when “agricultural policy” forces them to participate in asinine fads like Lysenkoism.

    -jcr

  495. #495 RickrOll
    December 27, 2008

    “RickRoll, as Nick Gotts said, we are being out bred by the ignorant or the uneducated, not necessarily the less intelligent.”

    I see the distinction you make, but socioeconomic tendencies would indicate that there may not be a difference. Aren’t intelligent people very good about learning about the world? And in nearly any lengthy gaze at the operations of the world will open one’s eyes to the fact that there is no god- scientific expertise is not necessarily a prerequisite for this view- rationalism.

    Furthermore, i’m not sure that this applies to America, but as a whole, a species. I think that intelligence and education foster each others’ growth, sort of like an anthropological chicken and the egg. Though by all accounts, it would seem that intelligence came first; but with societies and especially in comparison/contrast scenarios. Similarly, as i stated before, the reverse is also true. We see a demand for ignorance, and that is indeed lowering our intelligence in regards to IQ as well- every “I get mail” post attests to this. Additionally, 97% adult literacy rate Sounds impressive, but is lower than virtually all other developed nations.

    Of the top 50 countries that are highly religious, America is 44th (1). Similarly, America isn’t even in the top 25 most livable nations- and only one that is and is highly religious would be Ireland. Or rather, the other 24 are leading atheistic countries (2). The few most crucial criterion are Adult literacy, Educational attainment, per capita income, and infant mortality rate. I’ll have more stats and my sources at a less heinous time of day. Of the thirty five leaders in youth illiteracy rate- all of them are highly religious with insignificant percentages of atheism (3). There are commonalities, correlations, and consequences to dogma that overruns a lot of unfortunate peoples’ lives. And it is this Inquisition against intellectuality which causes all of this. Recall that the West’s most unintelligent epoch was the most religious one- and also the one with the most death and bloodshed.

    Agreed however, that ignorance is the dominant of the two forms mentioned. Like i try to explain, one and the other are connected vitally. Education,given at great cost to the wealthier nations of the world to the poorer (and vastly more religiously strangled) ones would no doubt fix the problem and render my statements rather moot. However, it is by far the poorest of the countries that have the lions share of the global population- and the highest population growth rates. Education is not afforded, and that is why they remain in the terrible shape that they are in. As development in India and china continue however, we may be able to change the tide of ignorance growth to a deflation. It’s really hard to say… But even allotting that these nations will become smarter, the third worlds population will continue to grow at a staggering rate.

    So, upon further inspection, no, my arguments aren’t as pessimistic as they seem; but there are several significant points that i have. Courtesy once again, to Matthew Alper

    Indentation good.

  496. #496 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 27, 2008

    I believe the reason was that the -ium suffix was more consistent with the other element names.

    Correct.

  497. #497 'Tis Himself
    December 27, 2008

    Nick Gotts, OM #491

    The unavoidable conclusion is that “libertarians” don’t give a flying fuck about actual, living people suffering brain damage or coughing their lungs up; the abstract “freedom of the individual” – which actually means freedom of the corporation – is far more important.

    I may not believe in gods but I do believe in sin. One of the greatest sins is treating people like things rather than people. Libertarians don’t even see people as things but rather as theoretical abstracts.

    Libertarianism is a form of solipsism, “the universe consists of me and everything else is a figment of my imagination.” One consequence inherent to solipsism is an atomic individualist view of the world and nature. If only “I” matter, then other people, animals, environments only matter insofar as they impact myself. This explains libertarians’ rejection of society as a concrete manifestation. Maintenance of social tools like government is not required, the individual need only exist, not interact with the world.

    This solipsism is one reason for libertarians’ idealization of capitalism. Since capitalism is based on (among other things) greed and is perceived as the polar opposite of socialism, it meets libertarians’ psychological needs. Hence their approval of corporations as the manifestation of capitalism.

    Libertarians don’t care about people other than themselves. Their desire for drug legalization: “I want to get high.” Their abhorrence (in the US) of gun control: “I want to protect myself.” Their disdain for government: “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do.”

    Libertarianism is basically Marxism of the Right. If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism. Society in fact requires both individualism and collectivism, both selfishness and altruism, to function. Like Marxism, libertarianism offers the fraudulent intellectual security of a complete a priori account of the political good without the effort of empirical investigation. Like Marxism, it aspires, overtly or covertly, to reduce social life to economics. And like Marxism, it has its historical myths and a genius for making its followers feel like an elect unbound by the moral rules of their society.

  498. #498 Sven DiMilo
    December 27, 2008

    “bootlickers”?

  499. #499 speedwell
    December 27, 2008

    Himself, you’re one of the most sophisticated caricature artists I’ve run across on the Web in a long time. I should save your post and use it to teach kids how to recognise propaganda. Should there be some sort of reverse Godwin for people who invoke “the delusion of Marxism”? I call bullshit on complaining about Marxism and then using those same complaints against libertarianism, in any event, as if those same complaints couldn’t be made against any form of economic or political theory anywhere.

    You are factually and emotionally wrong about libertarianism. Libertarians are commonly misrepresented by their ideological opponents as being out for only themselves. This is obviously a misrepresentation, because if greed was truly the motivator for libertarians, we would see them actually advocating policies designed to benefit themselves at the expense of others’ wealth and well-being. On the contrary, libertarians want to remove as many of the removable obstacles to everyone’s wealth and well-being as possible. We consider central planning such an obstacle because it cannot be fair and beneficial to every individual at the same time. Only free association and free agreements between free and equal individuals, without arbitrary and confiscatory policies, can approach that ideal.

    It would be uncharacteristic of a greedy, selfish individual to want and work toward everyone else having precisely the same rights that he wants to grant himself. A greedy, power-hungry, “out for himself” person would be more likely to enact laws and policies to tell other people what to do and to force other people to implement his own “good ideas.” Libertarians are for choice in abortion, choice in religion (or choice to have none), choice in employment, choice in what charities to support, choice in everything, in fact. What could be less coercive?

    As for helping people in need, there is no libertarian principle that demands that people should suffer. In fact, libertarians believe that people in need would be likelier to be helped by private charity, and those charities would be more likely to exist if the people who ran them and donated to them weren’t burdened by confiscatory, redistributionary, government taxes and hobbled by arbitrary, irrelevant, and ill-considered regulations. As things are, people are more likely to leave the job of charity up to the government than to take the job on themselves, because government itself has taken on that role, even with all the waste and corruption that entails. (Have a member of your family in trouble? It’s not your responsibility to help them anymore… tell them to go hold their bucket up to the welfare firehose.)

    I’m proud to say that I can help my friends and extended family when they need help. I don’t have that much extra myself, but I can plan and spend as I see fit, and I don’t have to make deep inquiries into their finances and mode of living for six weeks before I decide. When I hear that a family member or friend needs help, I can offer help even when they didn’t ask me… catch government being able to do that. I am far more efficient than any government entity can be, and I care more. Government can’t care.

    Finally, I find it massively interesting that you claim not to believe in gods, but you do believe in sin. To the best of my and the dictionary’s knowledge, sin is a theological term meaning a transgression against the will or a violation of the laws of God. Who or what is your object of worship here? Could you possibly be placing your faith in the power of government to create a Heaven on Earth? Government is neither infallible, invincible, omniscient, omnipresent, nor omnibenevolent, yet you seem to talk like it is.

    I’m afraid you greatly overestimate the benevolence and intelligence of governments, and sweetly and naively overlook their tendency to waste and corruption and violence. If you don’t do what they tell you, rightly or wrongly, they have the right to force you to do it anyway whether you like it or not, and the implied threat is “we have a gun and you don’t”. Police officers carry guns and are trained to think of citizens as “civilians” and adversaries, just like they would if they were soldiers occupying hostile territory. If you don’t like the war in Iraq because you believe that Iraqis should have the freedom to determine their own fate and way of living, that is a libertarian notion. I don’t understand how you can favor the same sort of armed war on the rights and freedom of its own citizens.

    All we libertarians want is for the government to trust us to use our own knowledge and judgment to think about how best to manage our own lives and concerns, and to not take away the tools and processes we need to maintain our legitimate rights and freedoms. The government does not own us. We want the same freedoms for everyone else that we do for ourselves. We want this because we think it will benefit and help everyone, and because it is the most respectful of our fellow man and what they want for themselves. We would not want it if we thought that it wouldn’t work to the ultimate benefit of everyone.

  500. #500 Sven DiMilo
    December 27, 2008

    Do libertarians believe that greed is good? Or that greed doesn’t exist?

    confiscatory, redistributionary, government taxes and hobbled by arbitrary, irrelevant, and ill-considered regulations.

    If I wouldn’t choose those particular adjectives, does that make me a “bootlicker”?

  501. #501 speedwell
    December 27, 2008

    I don’t know. Do you in fact lick boots?

  502. #502 speedwell
    December 27, 2008

    Sorry. I love off-handed, flippant comments a bit too much. What I meant to say was that I didn’t use those adjectives without thinking about them. Taxes are confiscated. Resources are redistributed (it’s a term). Regulations are, indeed must be, arbitrary and often are irrelevant; how can a law take into account each person’s individual circumstances? And “ill-considered” referred to the fact that laws are debated and passed by human beings who are not always as intelligent as we might wish, and are less pure than such an undertaking might ideally require.

    And if you lick boots, then you’re a bootlicker.

  503. #503 speedwell
    December 27, 2008

    Before this gets much farther off-topic, we should decide whether this is the proper venue for this argument. PZ says OK, I stay; he says “take it outside,” I stop. Good with everyone?

  504. #504 Sven DiMilo
    December 27, 2008

    For the record, I do not, in fact, lick boots.

  505. #505 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 27, 2008

    it’s you bootlickers who worship your governments who really take the cake – jcr

    Your “worship the government” claim is as far from reality as most of what you say. Perhaps you would care to look back at what I have said about the current US, UK and other governments – particularly their wars, my frequently expressed contempt and hatred for Leninism, and apologise for this gross falsehood – I won’t call it a lie because I believe your religion prevents you recognising the truth.

    Although I no longer call myself an anarchist, my views are very close to SCs, as you would have noticed if you were capable of removing your head from your fundament. Governments are, to a large extent, tools of the powerful within a given society. In capitalist societies, this means they are to that large extent tools of big business. In countries where there are reasonably free and fair elections, freedom of expression and so forth, they are obliged to take note of the views and interests of the population as a whole. It is plain fact that legislation, and other government action, can benefit people at large – as indeed, can markets. Your inability to see this is simply a symptom of your religious fanaticism, which is every bit as dangerous as that of the creationists.

    On the contrary, libertarians want to remove as many of the removable obstacles to everyone’s wealth and well-being as possible. We consider central planning such an obstacle because it cannot be fair and beneficial to every individual at the same time. Only free association and free agreements between free and equal individuals, without arbitrary and confiscatory policies, can approach that ideal. – speedwell

    There is actually little explicitly stated here I would disagree with. Where I disagree is, first, that central planning – assuming by that you mean a top-down, command economy – is the only alternative to market-worship; second, the obvious point (or it should be obvious) that once there are large differences in wealth, we are not dealing with “free and equal individuals”; third, the rhetorical flourish of “confiscatory”: unless you are an anarcho-capitalist, you believe taxation is justified for some purposes.

    In fact, libertarians believe that people in need would be likelier to be helped by private charity, and those charities would be more likely to exist if the people who ran them and donated to them weren’t burdened by confiscatory, redistributionary, government taxes and hobbled by arbitrary, irrelevant, and ill-considered regulations. -speedwell

    Private charity has never, anywhere, come anything like close to abolishing poverty in a society. Collective, tax-funded provision, has – notably in Scandanavia. This is exactly the sort of garbage I was referring to – you prefer your precious “principles” – if one can so describe opposition to taxation – to the real needs of living people.

    Finally, I find it massively interesting that you claim not to believe in gods, but you do believe in sin. – speedwell

    I don’t agree with ‘Tis Himself here.

    Incidentally, speedwell, let me put to you the questions I posed to jcr, and which he answered so inadequately. How would the market have prevented the destruction of the ozone layer? How will it produce the radical cuts in greenhouse climate scientists say are necessary to halt anthropogenic climate change?

  506. #506 Patricia, OM
    December 27, 2008

    Sven – I’ll bet a quarter you lick toes.

  507. #507 brokensoldier, OM
    December 27, 2008

    Regulations are, indeed must be, arbitrary and often are irrelevant; how can a law take into account each person’s individual circumstances?

    That’s a great display of the libertarian veneration of and fixation on the individual – regulation cannot and should not be tailored to each individual they will eventually affect. Regulations are designed not for individuals, but for an industry or society as a whole in order to even the playing field as much as possible and protect whole classes of individuals.

    And if taxes are always “redistributionary,” and you don’t like things that are redistributive, I assume you think taxes should be done away with? While I agree that our tax system needs an overhaul, to believe that we should do away with all taxes is impractical and would be severely detrimental to both the government, and individuals all across the nation. While the ones who currently have the wealth and prosperity they need, those who do not enjoy that kind of security depend – to varying degrees – on the types of benefits that taxes make possible.

    All we libertarians want is for the government to trust us to use our own knowledge and judgment to think about how best to manage our own lives and concerns, and to not take away the tools and processes we need to maintain our legitimate rights and freedoms.

    If the last eight years have taught us nothing, they should have shown us that government is not the problem – corrupt and unresponsive government is the problem. And if you don’t want the government to take away the tools for individual betterment, your disdain for taxes – again – is misplaced.

    And there is quite a difference between a government staying out of its individual citizens’ lives and a government staying out of its nation’s corporate and industrial sectors. To suggest otherwise is to conflate the two, and such conflation is yet another display of your form of libertarian fixation on the individual at the expense of an apt consideration of the larger overall picture. The former is desirable, the latter is detrimental – especially to individuals working for those entities who expect fair and decent treatment. Contrary to your notions, giving business a free hand will lead directly to a deterioration in the rights of the worker, because time and time again corporations and other businesses have proven that the dollar is at the top of their priority list, and they will favor it over all else, to include their own employees’ best interests.

    Police officers carry guns and are trained to think of citizens as “civilians” and adversaries, just like they would if they were soldiers occupying hostile territory.

    And which police training course did you sit through, audit, or otherwise evaluate to come up with that nugget of knowledge? Besides the fact that citizens are “civilians,” exactly where did you get that all, or even a slight majority of police officers are trained to think of citizens as adversaries? That, to me, sounds exactly like a red herring argument that may be true in the cases of some police officers as a result of any number of flaws in those individuals, but inaccurate when discussing the general methodology of police training.

    Only free association and free agreements between free and equal individuals, without arbitrary and confiscatory policies, can approach that ideal.

    That is a statement of advocacy for pure majority rule, rights of the minorities be damned. If there is no governmental authority, what is to stop unscrupulous individuals from using your principles to justify removing rights from certain classes of people who are viewed by a majority of a society to be less worthy of respect and liberty than themselves? The plain fact is that until there are no such people in the world, there will be the need for some sort of publicly supervised oversight of the nation and its different segments, be they industry, medicine, etc… That will definitely never come to pass, so regulation is a necessary tool for fairness, safety, and protection. And since there is only one institution – the government – in which all citizens have a direct voice, that is necessarily the institution that is charged with the creation and maintenance of such regulation.

  508. #508 Nick Gotts, OM
    December 27, 2008

    Police officers carry guns and are trained to think of citizens as “civilians” and adversaries, just like they would if they were soldiers occupying hostile territory. – speedwell

    If you’ve been following this blog recently, you’ll have seen me complaining about the trigger-happy behaviour of some members of the London (“Metropolitan”) Police in Britain; I’m far from dismissing concerns about their role. Mostly, of course, British police don’t carry guns, and I hope we’ll keep it that way. I’ve myself been arrested and questioned for “trespassing” on a US military base in Britain; bitten by a police dog while trying to prevent the unloading of illegally-logged Brazilian timber; stopped and harassed on my way to demonstrations, etc.. On the other hand, if my house gets burgled, or I see someone being attacked by more or larger thugs than I could deal with (assuming they are not themselves police), who do you advise I call – my local “libertarian”? Typically, you talk as if the state were the only possible oppressor, which is, quite simply, tosh.

  509. #509 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 27, 2008

    Emphasis added:

    In fact, libertarians believe that people in need would be likelier to be helped by private charity

    I find this religious wording — which hasn’t appeared in Pharyngula comments by libertarians for the first time here! — very telling. It comes across as “we don’t even get the idea that we could try some empiricism; instead, we arbitrarily declare it an axiom that private charity would be more effective and then build on that”. Is that what you wanted to say…?

    As often, when empiricism is applied, it turns out that assumptions which appeared oh so logical and self-evident are flat-out wrong; comment 505 gives concrete examples.

    I am far more efficient than any government entity can be,

    And how about effective? How many million people can you help?

    and I care more. Government can’t care.

    It doesn’t need to — and the funny thing is that you agree that the market doesn’t need to care either!

    It merely needs to consider its own long-term self-interest: if it helps people in an effective and sustainable way, it will much more likely be reelected than otherwise. It’s just like how corporations will go out of business if they keep producing trash — assuming there’s any competition, and (returning from the metaphor) assuming the government can be fired.

    Finally, I find it massively interesting that you claim not to believe in gods, but you do believe in sin.

    Just for the record, I don’t. However, I don’t have a problem with the term “evil”. My favorite example is that commenting on a thread without having read all previous comments is evil and — if it could be controlled, which it can’t — should be forbidden.

    I’m afraid you greatly overestimate the benevolence and intelligence of governments, and sweetly and naively overlook their tendency to waste and corruption and violence.

    That’s why democracy is important. In a democracy, you can hire governments, and you can fire governments; you can even correct your own hiring mistakes.

    Much like how competition is important in the market, so you can buy another company’s products if the ones of the company you previously bought from turn out to be trash.

    The government does not own us.

    We own the government. We have hired it to do a couple of specific jobs that none of us (juridical persons) can do alone. It works for us (or else it gets fired). The government is no longer King George III far away across the ocean; it is your employee.

  510. #510 'Tis Himself
    December 27, 2008

    Since many of Speedwell’s whines have been answered, I’m going to respond to this comment:

    Finally, I find it massively interesting that you claim not to believe in gods, but you do believe in sin.

    One of the accusations that theists throw at atheists is “you have no basis for morality.” Most atheists, including me, deny this accusation and explain that we do have moralities. Part of morality is recognizing the difference between good and evil.

    Quite often, when Catholics show up here, we throw the “your church actively aids and abets pedophile rapists” sneer at them. Why should we care about members of an organization do to each other? Because we recognize that child rape is evil. It’s immoral. An organization that claims to possess moral leadership should not be supporting immorality. This support of immorality is itself immoral.

    Like most normal people (i.e., non-libertarians), I’m dismayed and disgusted by displays of immorality. To me, one of the greatest evils is to view other people as things rather than people. This is what I was referring to as “sin.” The Catholic Church’s hypocrisy toward pedophile priests is another example of sin. The concept of sin does not need a religious justification, just a moral one.

  511. #511 thalarctos
    December 27, 2008

    That’s a great display of the libertarian veneration of and fixation on the individual

    But only selected individuals–if you’re a poor Appalachian who doesn’t want corporations leaking thallium into the river near your home, libertarians don’t give a flying fuck what you think.

  512. #512 'Tis Himself
    December 27, 2008

    All we libertarians want is for the government to trust us to use our own knowledge and judgment to think about how best to manage our own lives and concerns, and to not take away the tools and processes we need to maintain our legitimate rights and freedoms. The government does not own us. We want the same freedoms for everyone else that we do for ourselves. We want this because we think it will benefit and help everyone, and because it is the most respectful of our fellow man and what they want for themselves. We would not want it if we thought that it wouldn’t work to the ultimate benefit of everyone.

    Libertarians argue that radical permissiveness, like legalizing drugs, would not shred a libertarian society because drug users who caused trouble would be disciplined by the threat of losing their jobs or homes if current laws that make it difficult to fire or evict people were abolished. They claim a “natural order” of reasonable behavior would emerge. But there is no actual empirical proof that this would happen. Furthermore, this means libertarianism is an all-or-nothing proposition: if society continues to protect people from the consequences of their actions in any way, libertarianism regarding specific freedoms is illegitimate. And since society does so protect people, libertarianism is an illegitimate moral position until the Great Libertarian Revolution has occurred.

    Is society really wrong to protect people against the negative consequences of some of their free choices? While it is obviously fair to let people enjoy the benefits of their wise choices and suffer the costs of their stupid ones, decent societies set limits on both these outcomes. People are allowed to become millionaires, but they are taxed. They are allowed to go broke, but they are not then forced to starve. They are deprived of the most extreme benefits of freedom in order to spare us the most extreme costs. The libertopian alternative would be perhaps a more glittering society, but also a crueler one.

    Empirically, most people don’t actually want absolute freedom, which is why democracies don’t elect libertarian governments. Irony of ironies, people don’t choose absolute freedom. But this refutes libertarianism by its own premise, as libertarianism defines the good as the freely chosen, yet people do not choose it. Paradoxically, people exercise their freedom not to be libertarians.

    The political corollary of this is that since no electorate will support libertarianism, a libertarian government could never be achieved democratically but would have to be imposed by some kind of authoritarian state, which rather puts the lie to libertarians’ claim that under any other philosophy, busybodies who claim to know what’s best for other people impose their values on the rest of us. Libertarianism itself is based on the conviction that it is the one true political philosophy and all others are false. It entails imposing a certain kind of society, with all its attendant pluses and minuses, which the inhabitants thereof will not be free to opt out of except by leaving.

    If libertarians ever do acquire power, we may expect a farrago of bizarre policies. Many support abolition of government-issued money in favor of that minted by private banks. But this has already been tried, in various epochs, and doesn’t lead to any wonderful paradise of freedom but only to an explosion of fraud and currency debasement followed by the concentration of financial power in those few banks that survive the inevitable shaking-out. Many other libertarian schemes similarly founder on the empirical record.

    A major reason for this is that libertarianism has a naïve view of economics that seems to have stopped paying attention to the actual history of capitalism around 1880. There is not the space here to refute simplistic laissez faire, but note for now that the second-richest nation in the world, Japan, has one of the most regulated economies, while nations in which government has essentially lost control over economic life, like Somalia and Russia, are hardly economic paradises. Legitimate criticism of over-regulation does not entail going to the opposite extreme.

    Libertarian naïveté extends to politics. They often confuse the absence of government impingement upon freedom with freedom as such. But without a sufficiently strong state, individual freedom falls prey to other more powerful individuals. A weak state and a freedom-respecting state are not the same thing, as shown by many a chaotic Third-World tyranny.

    Libertarianism has a lot to say about freedom but little about learning to handle it. Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom.

  513. #513 brokensoldier, OM
    December 27, 2008

    But only selected individuals–if you’re a poor Appalachian who doesn’t want corporations leaking thallium into the river near your home, libertarians don’t give a flying fuck what you think.

    Exactly. It seems that speedwell’s version of libertarianism ignores those that do not enjoy the level of comfort and security necessary to live autonomously, free from the assistance that government programs provide. In short, it is snobbery and class division hiding behind a dishonest political viewpoint that purports to speak for all individuals, when in all actuality it speaks only for those who are in their in-group already, whether socially, financially, or otherwise.

  514. #514 spurge
    December 27, 2008

    @ brokensoldier, OM

    Is that why every Libertarian I have come across is a well off white male?

  515. #515 John Phillips, FCD
    December 27, 2008

    spurge, pretty much, or at least already have all the trappings so they may as well be.

  516. #516 spurge
    December 27, 2008

    There is one thing I have always wondered.

    Would libertarians be OK with a one time total redistribution of all wealth and resources in exchange for a libertarian world?

  517. #517 abortionblogger
    December 27, 2008

    HA HA HA!
    This is hilarious. I heard about this guy when he started blogging about me a few weeks ago, and I knew his blog was bullshit as an atheist forum when everyone there was prolife (Oh, and some praying for me).
    Not that you can’t be prolife and atheist, but his sort of vehemence can only come from believing a fertilized egg has a soul.

  518. #518 brokensoldier, OM
    December 27, 2008

    Posted by: spurge | December 27, 2008 3:54 PM

    @ brokensoldier, OM
    Is that why every Libertarian I have come across is a well off white male?

    Probably so. I’d imagine that anyone not so well-off who espouses individual freedom and justice would simply call themselves a liberal. Not because they’re the same thing, mind you, but instead because they actually mean what they’re actually saying, instead of cloaking their intentions with lofty yet thinly veiled exclusionary rhetoric.

  519. #519 spurge
    December 27, 2008

    I wish we could have fewer threads derailed by libertarians.

    It all boils down to two simple assertions. Government is always bad and the market is always good. That and their visceral hatred of all taxes.

    How can you debate people who think in such black and white terms.

  520. #520 'Tis Himself
    December 27, 2008

    Is that why every Libertarian I have come across is a well off white male?

    I have met a female libertarian but they are a sparse breed. I have never met a poor libertarian.

  521. #521 brokensoldier, OM
    December 27, 2008

    How can you debate people who think in such black and white terms.

    Easy – just talk in shades of gray. It might not be productive, but it sure is fun watching points and arguments fly right over their heads. Hey, if you’re not going to change their minds, you might as well have some fun! ;)

  522. #522 spurge
    December 27, 2008

    I can certainly see how all the regulars who post here have fun with that.

    I am not very good at writing but I do find it fun to read other peoples posts.

    I guess that is why I lurk far more often than I post.

  523. #523 speedwell
    December 27, 2008

    I am a female libertarian, and I was a libertarian during a period of my life when I was actually homeless, refusing welfare and government services, and offering services (cleaning, cooking, child care, and secretarial) in exchange for lodging, food, and clothing. I’m also white, and if that’s a crime I suppose I’m guilty. Does being Jewish mitigate that sufficiently?

    Other than answering the nasty ad-hominems above, I don’t propose to help you derail the thread anymore, unless you and Dr. Myers insist.

  524. #524 thalarctos
    December 27, 2008

    I am a female libertarian, and I was a libertarian during a period of my life when I was actually homeless, refusing welfare and government services, and offering services (cleaning, cooking, child care, and secretarial) in exchange for lodging, food, and clothing. I’m also white, and if that’s a crime I suppose I’m guilty. Does being Jewish mitigate that sufficiently?

    I’m sure you understand, however, that none of those anecdotes are actually data that support your assertions.

    I’d be much more interested in seeing you answer David’s question above regarding what empirical evidence you can supply to support what you claim libertarians “believe”, as well as how you reconcile those beliefs with empirical evidence to the contrary.

    I’m specifically interested in the mechanisms of how libertarianism/market forces can keep thallium out of the water table before a spill happens, as compared to only paying damages afterward.

  525. #525 'Tis Himself
    December 27, 2008

    I don’t propose to help you derail the thread anymore, unless you and Dr. Myers insist.

    A common tactic with libertarians. Throw criticisms of their ideology at them, as I did in post #512, and they retrieve their spheroid and retire to their domicile.

  526. #526 Doc Smartass
    December 27, 2008

    According to Wikipedia’s page on “The God Who Wasn’t There”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Who_Wasn't_There

    The following only appear on the DVD’s commentary track:

    * Richard Dawkins is an eminent British evolutionary biologist and popular science writer. His best-selling books include The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, and The God Delusion. Dawkins is a staunch atheist and an established critic of creationism.

    * Earl Doherty is a modern pioneer of the Jesus Myth theory. His 1999 book The Jesus Puzzle lays out evidence for a mythical Christ.

    * The Raving Atheist is a lawyer and atheist blogger read widely in the blogosphere.

    Pity his brain threw a rod.

  527. #527 huttonism
    December 28, 2008

    I’m ashamed to say that 4 years ago I was trying to convert him. We actually sent some emails back and forth for a while. I was thinking about e-mailing him to tell him how I deconverted… but I guess he wouldn’t appreciate it now.

  528. #528 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    Other than answering the nasty ad-hominems above, I don’t propose to help you derail the thread anymore, unless you and Dr. Myers insist. – speedwell

    “She bravely turned her tail and fled!”

  529. #529 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    Fled? I think I said I would stay if PZ said stay and take this elsewhere if he preferred. It was someone else who claimed that libertarian talk was “derailing the thread.” Don’t crow on your dunghill quite yet.

  530. #530 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    OK, I’m going to try to answer some of the questions raised here. If the questions feel like attacks to me, I suppose that’s how you meant them. I would have expected no less in this forum, lol…

    Nick @505: you first.

    “…unless you are an anarcho-capitalist, you believe taxation is justified for some purposes.” Yes, I am an anarcho-capitalist, since it seems to me to be the most consistent and honest of the various libertarian viewpoints. I don’t see any difference between you declaring that you need my money for some “good cause” and arranging to have it withdrawn it from my paycheck without my explicit consent in the form of a transaction for which I owe a legitimate purchase debt, and “society” doing the same thing. I don’t agree that there is some sense in which the government has more right to my work and my property than I do. I do think that when someone else has the right to dispose of my person and my property without my consent, my liberty is compromised to that extent. If I explicitly agree that a certain cause is justified (including the cause of “running the state”) and I choose knowledgeably and voluntarily to contribute to it, then I may agree to contribute to it, either on my own or in conjunction with a group. In that sense, it wouldn’t be a “tax,” it would be a bill I’ve agreed to pay. But I think there are ideological inconsistencies with the notion that liberty and property ownership is compatible with arbitrary default taxation. Can you reconcile those two things?

    “…you prefer your precious ‘principles’ – if one can so describe opposition to taxation – to the real needs of living people.” What, you don’t think principles are precious? Hmm, OK, I’ll try to keep that in mind… in any event, as I said, I would not be a libertarian if I didn’t believe that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” I have been in need myself… I’ve been destitute and homeless… and I have been singularly unimpressed with the bureaucratic nightmare surrounding the provision of services. I understand there are limited resources and seemingly unlimited needs, but that does not automatically exonerate the government for doing a poor job, and it absolutely imposes a responsibility on government to monitor its own staff and internal processes to eliminate delay, waste, and inefficiency. I don’t have to claim that private charity would completely eliminate poverty. I haven’t heard of any proposed solution that will do that (and I’d like to see you try). I only need to claim that private charity will do a better job than government will, and that is what I do claim. (It’s at least possible, I think, that local (village level) governments, the kind that can operate with less arbitrariness and more consent, may do even better in some locations, but in others it will not be up to the task.) Private charity that attempts to operate under circumstances where the government has first crack at everyone’s money is not a good counterexample. For private charities to work as intended, private individuals need to be able to choose which charities to support, and to be able to do so as a tax alternative, not as a tax supplement. US citizens are, by and large, surprisingly generous even with their shortened paychecks. I see no reason to suppose that they would be less generous if they were allowed to decide where their money should be spent.

    “Collective, tax-funded provision, has [nearly eliminated poverty] – notably in Scand[i]navia.” It has? Super, let’s go to Nigeria and implement it there. Oh, Nigeria is different and it won’t work there? Why not, do you suppose? Could it be that there are more important factors at work here, for example, having a large and productive base of citizens who have sufficient wealth to tax heavily? How do you suppose those Scandinavians got prosperous in the first place? Whose wealth did their taxes redistribute to them? How did those wealthy people make their wealth? They can’t all have inherited it, been celebrity sports figures, or won lotteries. I don’t know a lot of Scandinavians (I know a few Norwegians) but the ones I know think that the successes of their system (and there are many) draw attention from the failures (and there are many of those, too).

    “How would the market have prevented the destruction of the ozone layer? How will it produce the radical cuts in greenhouse climate scientists say are necessary to halt anthropogenic climate change?” How will your proposed solution do this? How is the current government doing this? The market is what is doing it now, to the extent it can still be done, and would do it better if the government didn’t enact asinine and counterproductive measures for the short-term benefit of polluters. In the absence of government pressure to suppress unpopular views, would scientists be better able to research and disseminate the issues, or less able? Do you really suppose government is likelier to listen to scientists than to big business? People believe that the government will protect them from the abuses of big business polluters. This is what you appear to believe, as well. In the largest, most egregious cases of polluting, we find exactly the opposite. We find government supporting the businesses that are the worst offenders, and suppressing the data and the efforts of those who are trying to oppose the offenses. Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse. Governments are composed of politicians who serve the interests of the most powerful. That’s how it’s always been. I invite you to invent a plausible government that isn’t. (Democracy doesn’t count; it simply redefines “the big guy” whose rights and interests are being protected as “the majority,” and “the little guy” whose rights and interests are being at best ignored as the “minority.”)

    OK, next…

  531. #531 spurge
    December 28, 2008

    More of the same libertarian tripe.

    Government always bad market always good.

    Plus the usual unsupported assertions.

    Plus this gem proving my point about the inability of libertarians to think in terms other than black and white.

    “Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse.”

    You clearly don’t understand that both of these things can happen.

    When we elect people who want to make government work it will when we elect libertarians we get the aftermath of Katrina.

  532. #532 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    brokensoldier @ 507: Glad to see you posting, I hadn’t seen you much lately and I wondered what happened. I don’t read every single comment section so I might just have missed you. Let’s see how I can fare with your criticisms:

    “Regulations are designed not for individuals, but for an industry or society as a whole in order to even the playing field as much as possible and protect whole classes of individuals.” How are you going to even a playing field unless you impinge on the rights of certain individuals and privilege certain others? You cannot ignore the fact that “classes” do not and cannot make decisions and act as a group. The individuals within the group make the decisions and do the actions. It’s convenient to take an average and then assign that to the group as a whole, but that is actually a fallacy. (If my neighborhood has a birthrate per individual of a certain number, for example, that does not mean my boyfriend will give birth to approximately that many babies.) Your notion that the rights of “whole classes” can be protected ignores the individual needs of the members of that class. You are doing the same thing that people complain about when they say libertarians ignore the needs of the needy minority.

    …that we should do away with all taxes is impractical and would be severely detrimental to both the government, and individuals all across the nation. While the ones who currently have the wealth and prosperity they need, those who do not enjoy that kind of security depend – to varying degrees – on the types of benefits that taxes make possible. That’s what they said about slavery in the South, that it was impractical to do away with because the whole economic health of the society depended on it–and they were correct, it did. I don’t recall anyone in modern times claiming that the Civil War failed to destroy their system and impoverish all of its citizens for an extended period. Yes, the Civil War was a government action, but it has been shown that market forces were beginning to make the system impractical anyway. Slavery was becoming increasingly odious to educated people, and cheaper cotton was becoming increasingly available from other countries. The plantation system of the South would not have lasted. The War was over secession, not slavery–the slaves were basically freed in order to weaken the South and make it more tractable to other government interventions, not necessarily because it was the right and noble thing to do. (I do think that eliminating slavery was necessary and right, by the way; all people have the absolute right to liberty and the management of their own affairs without infringement by outsiders who pretend to have first claim on their life and their money. I’m just pointing out that people who oppose economic liberty reforms on the ground of “not practical” are the same sorts of cowards as the defenders of Southern slavery.)

    “…government is not the problem – corrupt and unresponsive government is the problem. I suppose, while criticizing libertarianism for being an impractical utopianism, you think you can propose a system government free from corrupt and unresponsive elements? Libertarianism, because it reduces reliance on governments, reduces the likelihood that any corruption and incompetence can affect citizens. The real utopian is the person who pretends that governments, made up of politicians whose personal interests must often directly conflict with the interests of the governed, can consistently protect the interests of the governed.

    “…giving business a free hand will lead directly to a deterioration in the rights of the worker…” Libertarians consider this a violation of liberty like any other. While castigating government for coercion and fraudulent practices, we don’t obtusely leave room for businesses (or individuals) to engage in force and fraud also. If I steal property or time from you, or renege on a contract, or collude with others to do so, then I am at fault. If a business does so, or a government does so, then they are also at fault. Businesses commit fraud in this way because the worker has value to them (otherwise there would be nothing to steal). There are many ways in which workers can retaliate against a business that engages in these practices. They can, for example, take their expertise and productivity to a competitor, or take part in the creation of a competing business. They can, for another example, advertise the abuses and encourage customers to take their business elsewhere. These remedies, among others, are much more powerful and useful when the government is not engaged in colluding with business owners against the interests of the employees. A business where the owners and employees are in conflict is sick, anyway. For any business to remain profitable and productive, the owners and the employees need to cooperate with each other in making the enterprise a success. That’s not libertarianism, it’s just good elementary business practices.

    “…exactly where did you get that all, or even a slight majority of police officers are trained to think of citizens as adversaries?” I live in Houston. I have acquaintances who are cops, and are trying to be decent cops, but the culture of their job prevents them from doing this as much as they would like. There are two sorts of training, official and unofficial. The official trainers mostly pretend that the trainees are to protect the rights of “law abiding” citizens, however they define this, and the definitions can get pretty elastic. Mostly it means “obedient and cooperative.” Unofficially, the practice is as I’ve said, and “training” is done in the station, by the job culture, and on the job while working. The telltale word “civilian” shows you I have a point. As a soldier yourself, you know that police officers are themselves “civilians” in reality since they are not military. To view themselves as soldiers, they must view themselves as being in a war. War is hell and all means of subduing “the enemy” are justified. Since when did citizens become “the enemy?” I’m astonished to hear that you deny such a state of affairs exists. I’m interested in hearing what you think a viable solution should be, other than making police directly answerable to the citizens whose rights they are supposed to protect, rather than allowing them to become rogue mercenary forces at the beck and call of politicians in power.

    That is a statement of advocacy for pure majority rule, rights of the minorities be damned. How in the hell did you get that out of what you quoted? Go back and read it again, please.

  533. #533 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    Nick @ 508: “Mostly, of course, British police don’t carry guns, and I hope we’ll keep it that way.”

    How’s that working out for you, when crime is notoriously on the rise and all the criminals have the guns?

    “…if my house gets burgled, or I see someone being attacked by more or larger thugs than I could deal with (assuming they are not themselves police), who do you advise I call – my local libertarian?” Corrected that quote misuse for you; my correction strengthens your statement. Except for giving the citizens the means to protect themselves against crimes in progress, only micromanaging oversight has the best chance of completely preventing crime from happening, short of keeping the entire nation under permanent sedation, and only then if it is implemented properly. There are lots of cameras in London right now. Are they successful in stopping crime where they are planted? I actually lived in a medium-sized town where every household was legally required to have a firearm for home protection (Kennesaw, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta). Did every household have one? Could they all be used effectively? Decidedly not; the police did not go to each house to make sure the law was obeyed, and not everyone went to a training class. I was an underage college student in an apartment off campus with three students from other countries, and we did not have one. Nevertheless, there were enough citizens who did have them and could use them to deter crime in the town. The number of home burglaries and murders in the town each year I was there were each in the single digits, I understand, unlike the neighboring towns and vastly unlike the city. Gun violence and suicides by guns did not exceed the average level for the country.

    “…you talk as if the state were the only possible oppressor…” Well, of course we all know that it is not. I thought that would go without saying, but in your overstrain to find things criticize, you had to go and make up something I did not say. We do know that the state can be an oppressor, and when it is, it can be the worst one imaginable. (My father lived in Hungary during the Revolution and under Communism, and he had a lot of stories to tell. My mother’s family is Jewish and from Russia and they, too, have a lot of stories to tell. Both own guns for personal protection and to potentially protect themselves and their neighbors from “door knocks in the night,” even though they are not, by and large, libertarians.) You yourself called the government “corrupt and unresponsive,” but you seem to be advocating that the citizens have no means of protecting themselves from criminals until the police get there, if they ever do, and if they can effectively protect you against criminals with guns when they do, since they are also disarmed. It’s that “level playing field” you mentioned.

  534. #534 'Tis Himself
    December 28, 2008

    How would the market have prevented the destruction of the ozone layer? How will it produce the radical cuts in greenhouse climate scientists say are necessary to halt anthropogenic climate change?
    How will your proposed solution do this? How is the current government doing this? The market is what is doing it now, to the extent it can still be done, and would do it better if the government didn’t enact asinine and counterproductive measures for the short-term benefit of polluters.

    Now I know speedwell is in Never Neverland, where reality is an unwelcome guest. But she’s an anarcho-capitalist libertarian, the wackiest of the wackos, so her relationship with the real world is quite tangential. (Yes, that’s an ad hominem. It’s also true.)

    If governments hadn’t stopped CFC production, it would still be going on. CFCs are efficient and cheap refrigerants so there’d be no reason for “the market” to use anything else. It took the government to stop CFC production and use because there was no incentive for corporations to do so.

    It’s the same thing with other forms of pollution. The Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted it caught on fire periodically. After the establishment of the EPA (both federal and state) and passing of the Clean Water Act and similar legislation, the Cuyahoga was cleaned up enough that the water is now potable. Some of the strongest lobbying against the Clean Water Act was done by corporations who dumped pollutants into the Cuyahoga. It cost millions to clean up that river and, guess what, the corporations didn’t want to spend the money.

    Are there things that the market does better than government? Of course there are. As noted above, I’m as anti-Marxist as I am anti-stupidity anti-libertarian. On the other hand there are some things that the market either cannot or will not do. These things have to be done by other organizations, including government.

  535. #535 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    Spurge @ 531: “When we elect people who want to make government work it will when we elect libertarians we get the aftermath of Katrina.> Oh, come on. Tell it to Sweeney. Libertarians did not cause the damage to New Orleans. The government did, by failing to arrange for adequate levees and then lying about it. Everyone knows that. As far as cleaning up afterwards… I live in Houston, dude, OK? I know the score. If private individuals and industry had been allowed to flourish in New Orleans the way it is being (partially) allowed to work in Galveston after Hurricane Ike, the “aftermath” would have been much shorter and much cleaner. After all, you don’t see news stories about Galveston and Baytown refugees in the news these days, do you. Don’t talk to me about hurricanes; all of us here know who mismanaged the cleanup after Katrina, and it wasn’t the libertarians.

  536. #536 speedwell
    December 28, 2008

    OK, I’ve worked for two hours and I need to go do other things now because I have a life. More later, if you want. Actually, you’d prefer I just shut up so you can twit me about running away, but I prefer to try to honestly answer your objections, to the extent that you object honestly.

  537. #537 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    Yes, I am an anarcho-capitalist – speedwell

    So, a system in which the rich can hire armed thugs to ensure they keep and expand their wealth and power – and for that matter, steal all you have and enslave you – appeals to you? Just when, in much of the world, the people as a whole have succeeded in putting some (partial, imperfect) democratic curbs on the abilities of the state to do so. It doesn’t to me. Maybe you’re just confident you will be among the thug-hiring, stealing and enslaving rich?

    Could it be that there are more important factors at work here, for example, having a large and productive base of citizens who have sufficient wealth to tax heavily? – speedwell

    Wouldn’t do to compare like with like, now, would it? For example the USA with Western Europe? Both rich, and the USA with more natural resources (all of them stolen property, incidentally – why aren’t all American “libertarians” advocating the return of the country to the Native Americans from whom it was taken by force or fraud?) – yet somehow, poverty is much more extensive in the USA because of the antipathy to welfare state solutions. Or for that matter, compare Nigeria with Cuba – a dictatorship, true, but one where life expectancy and infant mortality rates approach those of the US. To solve at least severe poverty on a global scale requires a significant, but by no means huge, redistribution of resources. Ensuring everyone adequate food, clothing, shelter, clean water, sanitation, access to medical care, at least primary education, and the means to communicate with the wider world is technically quite feasible within a couple of decades. But since “the market” won’t do it – poor people exercise almost no effective demand – you’d much rather it wasn’t done.

    How will your proposed solution do this [halt CFC production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions]? How is the current government doing this? – speedwell

    Governments did, as a simple matter of historical fact, halt the production of the CFCs that were destroying the ozone layer. The market did not. Now, first of all, just admit the truth of that statement. Then, explain how the market would have done so – and with the necessary speed.

    With regard to greenhouse gas emissions, the way in which governments can play a large part in solving this – I am not confident they will because of the many interests that will oppose their particular emissions being controlled – is by international agreement to reduce them. Different states may then meet their treaty obligations in different ways or combinations of ways: banning particular industrial processes, taxing greenhouse gas emissions or the products that cause them, establishing emissions quotas and artificial markets, transfering technology to poorer countries, protecting forests, directing or encouraging investment in energy efficiency, low-emission energy production, public transport, etc. They will not do so unless pressured by scientists – and by public opinion, to which, unlike corporations, they are, in democratic countries, directly accountable – and grassroots organisation.

    The market is what is doing it now

    How? I think we need some details here. Emissions are currently still rising – indeed, faster than ever up until the Great Crash of 2008. How is the market going to ensure that, as conventional oil runs short, it is not replaced by oil from tar sands, oil shales, or coal – which may well be the most profitable path to take, but would increase greenhouse gas emissions enormously. The thing is, many acts of individuals and businesses create negative externalities: greenhouse gas emissions being one of them. Controlling pollution is always a cost – so the businesses that don’t do it will, other things being equal, outcompete those that do. That is why measures to control all businesses’ pollution are necessary. Same with CFCs: it was not in the interest of any one company to halt production while others continued, nor would it have solved the problem. Even if the existing producers had got together and agreed to stop, others would have jumped in to exploit the market opportunity – and from your point of view, why not? What was needed, and fortunately for you as much as the rest of us was produced, was a ban on all production. But I guess you’d rather have seen the ozone layer destroyed than – oh horror! – see governments doing something useful and thus undermining your cretinous market-worship.

    In the absence of government pressure to suppress unpopular views, would scientists be better able to research and disseminate the issues, or less able? Do you really suppose government is likelier to listen to scientists than to big business? People believe that the government will protect them from the abuses of big business polluters. This is what you appear to believe, as well. In the largest, most egregious cases of polluting, we find exactly the opposite. We find government supporting the businesses that are the worst offenders, and suppressing the data and the efforts of those who are trying to oppose the offenses. Please don’t say out of one side of your mouth that the government will protect us, and then say out of the other that corrupt and unscientific elements in the government are making the problem worse.

    Dear me yes, it would be impossible to admit that governments do both good and bad things, wouldn’t it? Because then you would actually have to learn and think about specific issues, rather than knowing “the right answer” automatically.

    Historically, the research establishing both ozone-layer destruction and anthropogenic climate change has been almost entirely tax-funded. Where governments (primarily, that of Bush) have suppressed results, they have done so at the behest of private interests. Denialist lies about climate change, by contrast, are being funded by “libertarian” think-tanks and corporations, notably Exxon. Despite this, almost every significant government now admits the reality of anthropogenic climate change; and their representatives will be meeting in Copenhagen later this year in an attempt to reach an agreement on cutting emissions. Still, don’t let mere facts get in the way of your commitment to your religious beliefs, will you?

    What, you don’t think principles are precious?

    I think you place your “principles” before the real needs of living people, as I made clear.

    Governments are composed of politicians who serve the interests of the most powerful. That’s how it’s always been. I invite you to invent a plausible government that isn’t. (Democracy doesn’t count; it simply redefines “the big guy” whose rights and interests are being protected as “the majority,” and “the little guy” whose rights and interests are being at best ignored as the “minority.”)

    I favour the extension of direct democracy on a global scale until government as a separate stratum becomes largely if not completely obsolete. But at present, democratic governments can be pressured to protect us from private interests that would rob us, poison us, or destroy the environment in their pursuit of profit. Even with direct democracy, we would still need curbs on the freedom of individuals and, much more important, private organisations such as corporations and religious cults. What if a minority decides that the science underlying the banning of CFC production is nonsense and they are going to produce CFCs in huge quantities in order to prove it? Or a mad or merely irresponsible biologist decides to see if he can engineer a virus which would kill all humans if released? Or, more simply, a minority decide they want to use more than a fair share of a limited resource?

  538. #538 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    it has been shown that market forces were beginning to make the system [plantation slavery in the southern states] impractical anyway – speedwell
    [citation needed]

    I’m sure the slaves would have been glad to wait another half-century or so for market forces to liberate them.

  539. #539 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    Actually, you’d prefer I just shut up so you can twit me about running away – speedwell

    No, as I would with any religious fanatic, I’d prefer you came to your senses.

  540. #540 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    since we’re talking about leeves and federal government vs. local government plus private….

    please compare the entire Netherlands with the leeve-system along the Mississippi. The former is a national infrastructure funded and maintained by the government, in a country that’s almost completely below sea-level. the latter is a mix of private and local earth works or a relatively stable river system. guess which one works better.

    The problem with the U.S. government is that one side believes the government can’t do no wrong, while the other believes the government can’t do nothing right. the result is generally that one side builds a promising yet flawed program, and when the other side gets their hands on it, they starve it rather than fix it. nothing can function like that, but that’s a problem with the annoying black-and-white vision typical for American government.

    as for comparing African countries to Scandinavian ones… well DO you know why Europe and America got rich, while Africa is starving? I get the impression you don’t. The West was and still is jealously guarding its own business while raping the rest of the world and forcing it to play by Free Trade rules that don’t even allow the most basic safety net, thus exaggerating the boom-and-bust cycles typical to capitalism. and in a place like Africa, when there isn’t a safety net, the “bust” part means drought, starvation, riots, and eventually massive debt to recover. If we played fair and allowed them the same protections we have here, they could build up infrastructure and weather bad periods with more internal stability.

    In places like the U.S., stability is taken pretty much for granted, but in poor nations it’s an essential and rare commodity. Only already rich nations can afford not having a safety net, and even then there’s a level below which the society begins to unravel.

    And family anecdotes are not proving anything, either. I counter your “a few of my family are from beyond the Iron Curtain, and they’re rabid libertarians now” with “my entire family is from beyond the Iron Curtain, and the whole lot would rather throw themselves off a cliff than live in the U.S.”

  541. #541 Sven DiMilo
    December 28, 2008

    As I’ve probably admitted before, I find political philosophy oh-so-boring (I regard this as a character fault, but, as with my many others, cannot seem to do anything about it), and I had never even encountered the term “anarch-capitalism” before. I guess my question about this particular extremist version of libertarianism–which just seem nutty on the face of it, and that’s a gut reaction involving very little reflection or thought–remains:
    Do these people think that greed is good? Or that greed doesn’t exist? Or that competing greeds somehow cancel each other out? Or what?

  542. #542 brokensoldier, OM
    December 28, 2008

    How are you going to even a playing field unless you impinge on the rights of certain individuals and privilege certain others? You cannot ignore the fact that “classes” do not and cannot make decisions and act as a group. The individuals within the group make the decisions and do the actions. It’s convenient to take an average and then assign that to the group as a whole, but that is actually a fallacy. (If my neighborhood has a birthrate per individual of a certain number, for example, that does not mean my boyfriend will give birth to approximately that many babies.) Your notion that the rights of “whole classes” can be protected ignores the individual needs of the members of that class. You are doing the same thing that people complain about when they say libertarians ignore the needs of the needy minority.

    You’re missing the point, and your notion that since every individual cannot be accommodated, the whole regulatory system should simply be done away with is utterly ridiculous. We have seen time and time again over the past decade that less regulation only leads to more corruption, and that comes at the direct expense of the precious individual. When it comes down to it, in a society that is as fair as can be made, a worker’s right to safety on the job simply outweighs a CEO’s right to make a profit.

    And protecting the rights of whole classes of individuals, such as workers, only ignores the rights of those who would exert them at the workers’ expense. As such, it is entirely fair that the former be valued over the latter. If it were not, profit pursuit would soon erode the ranks of the working class to the point that those CEOs’ rights to profit would soon be severely impinged upon by the lack of a work force with which to make their profits.

    And the birth reference you tried to make is totally inapplicable, because we are not talking about collective behavior, we are talking about protecting rights that would otherwise be trampled in pursuit of wealth.
    And there is a huge difference between favoring the rights of the many over the luxury of the few and ignoring a minority group’s rights in favor of a majority rule society. A CEO has all the rights a worker has, he or she simply does not have the right to overwork, underpay, or otherwise abuse his or her workforce in favor of more profit.

    Libertarians consider this a violation of liberty like any other.

    So then you’d propose that no institution – aside from your “market,” of course – should step in and rectify this violation? No, you simply rely on the good nature of the businesses to do right by the worker, and that if they do not, the “market” will correct their behavior. Your assertion has been demolished by the actions of the CEO’s of Adelphia, Enron, AIG, etc… The plain fact – that you choose to ignore – is that absent governmental regulation, many leaders of business place profit at the top of their priorities, above all else, and your ‘market’ is not only powerless to stop such behavior, in many cases it rewards it.

    I live in Houston. I have acquaintances who are cops, and are trying to be decent cops, but the culture of their job prevents them from doing this as much as they would like. There are two sorts of training, official and unofficial. The official trainers mostly pretend …

    So your evidentiary support is: “I have some friends who say…” and “it’s really the ‘unofficial‘ training that I’m talking about…” Those are weak arguments, and do nothing to prove your assertion that police officers are trained to see citizens as enemies or hostiles.

    The telltale word “civilian” shows you I have a point. As a soldier yourself, you know that police officers are themselves “civilians” in reality since they are not military. To view themselves as soldiers, they must view themselves as being in a war. War is hell and all means of subduing “the enemy” are justified. Since when did citizens become “the enemy?”

    The word “civilian” and your use of it only shows me that you’re displaying your ignorance not only on police training matters, but also on the very concept upon which you base your assertion – the attitudes and training of soldiers. The term “civilian” is not an enemy designator in the Army, but simply an identifier of a non-combatant. In fact, we have a whole other word for enemy – it’s enemy. In police terms, it is used to identify someone who is not a police officer. To police, I am a civilian on our streets, even in uniform. I can tell you that with 100% certainty, because twice in the past I have completed courses in police training – one two-month course with the IPTF (International Police Task Force) prior to going to Bosnia and one three-week course in a Florida police academy as an audit preparation for a week of ride-alongs with my local police department that my best friend belongs to.

    And your ignorance of soldiers’ attitudes is even more maddening. Please tell me where you get that soldiers are trained to see civilians as enemies, and that “all means of subduing the enemy are justified”? Exactly how many hours have you spent being trained to be a soldier? How many classes did you sit through in which you were told by a military instructor that “all means” of defeating an enemy are justified? How many officers pointed at a civilian in a combat zone and told you to engage the enemy? Obviously you have no idea what Rules of Engagement are, how difficult the rules can be in a combat zone, and the moral, physical, and intellectual effort it takes to keep a unit full of young men and women – scared to death and extremely apprehensive – within the bounds of those rules. Even considering the difficulty, soldiers who are not criminals go so far as to put their very lives in danger to stay in accordance with those rules. I have placed myself between an ambush site and a school in Samarra, Iraq – ensuring that my convoy would get caught by that ambush, but also ensuring that the ensuing fight would not endanger the children in that school. I watched as an officer caught the full blast of an IED, unprotected, because he had thrown a girl of about 12 and her brother into a ditch nearby and did not then have enough time to escape the trap. He could just as easily gotten himself into that ditch, and then – at least by your ignorant and uninformed reasoning – he would have taken care of two more of the supposed “enemy.” Your accusation that soldiers care not for innocent bystanders is a generalization that applies the behavior of war criminals to the wider population of soldiers as a whole. There are soldiers that disobey the RoE and Code of Conduct, and while they are certainly still soldiers (you’ll find no ‘No True Scotsman’ argument here), they are criminal soldiers, and Army regulation provides for not only their trial and punishment if convicted, but that punishment also still includes the death penalty for the most serious cases. But hey, the death penalty isn’t really a definitive statement of opposition to criminal behavior – there’s always more soldiers, right? (Before you ask, 10 soldiers have been executed since 1951, all for charges that include premeditated murder, and some of which include rape. But by all means, keep asserting that soldiers who mistreat and abuse civilians are somehow acting in accordance with their training.)

    I’m astonished to hear that you deny such a state of affairs exists.

    You shouldn’t be, because as I have shown above, between the two of us I am the only one who has any actual first-hand knowledge of the situations you’re presuming to speak about.

    How in the hell did you get that out of what you quoted? Go back and read it again, please.

    Here you go – I’ll show you:

    Only free association and free agreements between free and equal individuals, without arbitrary and confiscatory policies, can approach that ideal.

    You posited this in rejecting any governmental authority for regulating the businesses that drive our economy. Your “free agreements” between “free and equal individuals” could only exist in a democracy, and since you’re so adamant about the individual and removing any government’s ability to impose fairness or even safety regulations, the only logical conclusion is that the majority opinion will necessarily win out, regardless of the opinions of the surrounding minorities. Please illustrate how else you believe these “free agreements” will be arrived at, and “the market” is an insufficient answer, for reasons already explained above.

  543. #543 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    I favour the extension of direct democracy on a global scale until government as a separate stratum becomes largely if not completely obsolete.

    I think I’m in love

  544. #544 brokensoldier, OM
    December 28, 2008

    Posted by: Nick Gotts | December 28, 2008 11:20 AM

    Maybe you’re just confident you will be among the thug-hiring, stealing and enslaving rich?

    JACKPOT!!

  545. #545 'Tis Himself
    December 28, 2008

    …giving business a free hand will lead directly to a deterioration in the rights of the worker…

    Libertarians consider this a violation of liberty like any other.

    You may say so, but many of your fellow looneytarians don’t think so.

    Anarcho-capitalists are, in fact, simply capitalists who object to the State cutting into corporate profits by way of regulations and taxation. That is their sole gripe with the State. They see the bureaucrat as the nefarious boogeyman in their lives, motivated solely to enmesh the world in red tape–simply out of maliciousness alone.

    Genuine anarchists dislike the term “anarcho”-capitalist, since they do not object to private property, to class distinctions, social stratification, concentrated wealth, and other bourgeois trappings in society. Their idea of a utopia is a world of unaccountable, unfettered corporate power where literally everything is up for sale and is negotiable.

    Prostitution, e.g., selling your services for an anticipated monetary gain, is the definition of anarcho-capitalist empowerment. The ability to sell yourself however you want or need is the anarcho-capitalist idea of freedom.

    Nothing would be free from market forces. Not families, not children, not the environment, and, of course, not you. Literally everything would have a price tag. Clean air, clean water, housing, human organs–each not an end unto themselves, but a marketable commodity: a product. In such a dystopia, anything which could not be readily translated into product would be cast out as pointless and without value (measured only in economic terms, of course).

    Now let’s go back into Never Neverland, where fantasies and wishful thinking rule.

    Libertarianism, because it reduces reliance on governments, reduces the likelihood that any corruption and incompetence can affect citizens. The real utopian is the person who pretends that governments, made up of politicians whose personal interests must often directly conflict with the interests of the governed, can consistently protect the interests of the governed.

    Two points about the above fantasy:

    1. One glaring inconsistency of anarcho-capitalism is the absolute necessity of government interaction in corporate affairs. All rhetoric aside, laissez faire capitalists need the government to uphold contracts and defend property rights. Otherwise, there is nothing to prevent squatters from coming along and usurping someone’s holdings.

    I know what you’re going to say, the corporations will provide their own protection. Besides having a bunch of robber barons fighting each other as in medieval times, that brings up the next point.

    2. The corporations would rely on paramilitary mercenaries (Blackwater for instance) to protect their property. Now these latter-day Pinkertons would not be instruments of government oppression but rather employees of private firms. There are fewer safeguards with paramilitaries, because, unlike municipal police forces, these are paid employees of the capitalists in question. Thus, if their boss wants them to shoot strikers, they’ll do it or risk losing their employment. And you know what? This is exactly what happened during the golden age of laissez-faire capitalism in the late 19th Century, when the Pinkerton Detective Agency serviced industrialists across the United States. Ever hear of the Homestead Steel Strike?

    Further, the anarcho-capitalists would still require a court system, and thus laws, to uphold property rights and contracts.

    Finally, speedwell, I’ve noticed one difference between your arguments and Nick’s and mine. You talk in generalities. Nick and I give concrete examples from real life to bolster our arguments. That’s because there has never yet been a libertarian society (though one or two have come close to some libertarian ideas). I can’t be too impressed by an ivory tower ideology without practical experience.

  546. #546 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    Nothing would be free from market forces. Not families, not children, not the environment, and, of course, not you. Literally everything would have a price tag. Clean air, clean water, housing, human organs–each not an end unto themselves, but a marketable commodity: a product

    my nerdiness is showing, but that line sooo reminded me of DS9 episodes that featured the Ferengi homeworld… especially a scene where Quark uses the staircase to climb a skyscraper because the elevator is too expensive! :-p

  547. #547 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    How’s that working out for you, when crime is notoriously on the rise and all the criminals have the guns? – speedwell

    You’ve been reading the Daily Mail, haven’t you? Actually, the picture is much more mixed, and it is certainly false that “all the criminals have guns”. From the British Crime Survey 2006-7:

    “Figures published in the British Crime Survey (BCS) 2006-07 show that overall crime rates held steady in England and Wales over the past year. This is part of a long-term trend – crime rates peaked in 1995, then fell by 42% over the subsequent 10 years. The decline reduced the risk of the average person becoming a victim of crime by 41%, although that risk increased by one percentage point last year. Police recorded crime rates showed violent crime rates fell by 1% over the last year – the first fall in that category in eight years. The number of police recorded crimes involving firearms declined by 13% during the same time period. Some crime categories did show increases, but vandalism was the only category to show a statistically significant change over the year – vandalism reports increased by 10%. However, even with that increase, reports of vandalism are still 11% lower now than they were in 1995.”

  548. #548 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    I think I’m in love – Jadehawk@543

    *blush*

    Well if you want to preserve that state, don’t put my name into google images! (Unless you’ve got a thing for largely bald, grey-bearded, mid-50s men!)

  549. #549 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    when I put “nick gotts” into google, I get pictures of sheep from realclimate.org. fascinating.

  550. #550 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    There are lots of cameras in London right now. Are they successful in stopping crime where they are planted? – speedwell

    To some extent I believe they are, but they tend to displace it rather than prevent it. Most of them are privately owned and operated. I oppose their proliferation, whether state or privaely owned. They are a potential tool of state oppression, and there are much more effective ways of reducing crime, mostly to do with the design of streets and buildings, improving opportunities for disadvantaged young people, increasing local social cohesion, and legalising (but taxing and controlling) currently illegal drugs.

    you seem to be advocating that the citizens have no means of protecting themselves from criminals until the police get there, if they ever do, and if they can effectively protect you against criminals with guns when they do, since they are also disarmed. It’s that “level playing field” you mentioned. – speedwell

    Isn’t it odd that murder rates in the UK are so much lower than in the US? Statistically, the people most likely to be killed or injured by a householder’s gun are the householder and their family. However, restrictions on private gun ownership are among matters that are appropriately dealt with by democratic decision-making on a national or regional basis. If a majority of Americans want to allow it with little restriction, it is (literally) no skin off my nose. I prefer gun possession to remain as restricted as possible.

  551. #551 Nick Gotts
    December 28, 2008

    when I put “nick gotts” into google, I get pictures of sheep from realclimate.org. fascinating. – Jadehawk

    I’m the one at the back on the far left ;-)

    The actual URL relevant is
    The Sheep Albedo Feedback
    , posted on 1 April 2007 – but the comments unfortunately deteriorated into serious discussion of methane emissions from ruminants.

  552. #552 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    The Sheep Albedo Feedback, posted on 1 April 2007

    “Dr. Ewe Noh-Wat”, hehe, awesome.

  553. #553 'Tis Himself
    December 28, 2008

    Nick Gotts

    Yes, you look like a D.Phil in AI.

  554. #554 Jadehawk
    December 28, 2008

    well, for fairness sake, if you put “Jadehawk” into google, you get an SUV, a BattleMech, and a really stupid haircut :-p

  555. #555 'Tis Himself
    December 28, 2008

    I have just wasted 20 or more minutes looking for a picture of me on the web. Here’s what I finally found, but it’s not particularly good.

  556. #556 Nova
    December 29, 2008

    It’s kinda revealing what RA wrote in the last sentence of the post immediatly before his conversion post, on the same day:

    And even if the arguments [for non-belief] are compelling, a compelling argument must be made why people are better off believing them than believing in lies.

    Maybe he just chose lies.

  557. #557 speedwell
    December 29, 2008

    Folks, if I was afraid to go where the facts led me, I wouldn’t be an EX-Christian today. I wouldn’t have changed my mind about a lot of things… I now advocate legal abortion, gay marriage, and children’s rights, for example.

    But it’s really hard to try to sort the honey from the vinegar in your posts. It’s difficult to get the message when you’re one tick from screaming in frustration. Obviously we don’t agree. You guys are not stupid and your points are not without merit, even if I often can’t see the merit in them. I’m not stupid or meritless either. I’m willing to review all sides and try to come up with something legitimate. I thought that was what I had done, but since intelligent people disagree with me, I am prepared to admit that there is likely to be some grounds for that disagreement.

    Can you steer me to some good popular resources that calmly explain the points you are trying to make? Please give highest weight to those writings that are professional, rational, and free of sarcasm, rancor, and spite.

    Thanks very much.

  558. #558 Nick Gotts
    December 30, 2008

    speedwell,
    I appreciate the reasonable tone of your #557. I can’t at present think of any suitable texts. After all, anarcho-capitalism is a political philosophy held by a minuscule minority of the population, and is completely lacking in influence – I’m not sure why anyone would spend a lot of time writing a detailed refutation. To me, it seems obvious nonsense; some of the reasons for this I (and others) have gone into above. I’d guess your best bet would be in the modern anarchist literature. SC, if you read this, have you any suggestions?

  559. #559 Oliver
    January 3, 2009

    To people who think he was never an atheist in the first place, was just interested in ranting against abortion or was probably incapable of rational arguments or lacking in knowledge of Christianity or atheism etc — I used to read his blogs about 3 years ago for a while, and he was well-known and respected among atheists on the net at the time, and wrote entertaining, intelligent pieces pointing out absurdities of religion. On his The God Who Wasn’t There DVD Brian Flemming called him the net’s most famous atheist as far as I remember. I can only assume his conversion is for emotional reasons; I would like to hear his explanation of it

  560. #560 Justin
    January 7, 2009

    Speedwell, have you read “Why I Am Not a Libertarian” over at Daylight Atheism?

  561. #561 hery
    January 25, 2010

    Extremists hold onto a position with a death grip, and if they’re somehow convinced to change.

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