Pharyngula

Yesterday, I mentioned this silly fellow Damon Linker, who complains that the New Atheists aren’t sad enough about their godlessness. This seems to be the new gripe du jour; you can’t be a serious atheist unless you’re all broken up about the absence of god, and unless you tell all the believers how much you appreciate what their superstition brings to the world, and how now you’re going to go home and cry because you have a god-shaped hole in your heart. It’s deeply dishonest and stupid. If anybody tried to pull that nonsense on me in person they’d get a rude response that would reveal that the teddy bear can snarl after all.

Meet Father Barron. I give you fair warning: if you actually watch this video, you may find yourself trying to smash through the glass of your video display to slap the smug prick. The infuriation is compounded by the fact that he’s wearing that pretentious dog collar, which I imagine he thinks gives him a look of authority, but to me is like putting on a big red clown nose. No, that’s not fair; a clown nose wouldn’t be an announcement that one is a pompous fraud.

And there it is again, the crazy complaint that the New Atheists aren’t serious enough, that they’re playing at atheism, because they just don’t express the existential anguish that apostates are expected to feel. Now Camus and Sartre — there are some good atheists; they’re safely dead, so they won’t spit in the eye of a priest, and they appreciated how miserable they were without gods.

Oh, Father Barron, so smug and sure in your phony Catholicism — you must be merely playing at religion, since you aren’t all distressed and weepy over your failure to grasp the power of science and reason and rationalism. How can I take you seriously if you don’t make YouTube videos crying over how sad you are to be trapped in the cloying, smothering dogma of the Catholic church?

And then he gives away his game:

they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice…in other words, for God.

Barron is a fool. The equation of fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice with god is what theists do; atheists haven’t given up on any of those principles, we feel no lack of those important matters to grieve over, we have simply realized that god does not provide fulfillment, truth, goodness, or justice and have sought them out in more practical and real arenas.

And most importantly, we actually respect and take seriously that idea of valuing truth, which is why we reject the superstitions priests offer us. We take it so seriously that we expect to be given reasonable explanations and evidence for fantastic claims, and do not simply accept stories told to us by stuffy old gomers wearing funny collars.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2010

    they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice?in other words, for God.

    Yep, that pretty much invoked the reaction you thought it would.

    Apparently the good Father hasn’t read his bible either because I find many instances that directly contradict those definitions of God.

  2. #2 daveau
    May 14, 2010

    …we have simply realized that god does not provide fulfillment, truth, goodness, or justice and have sought them out in more practical and real arenas.

    Why do theists keep insisting that we can’t be complete without their imaginary friend? I got over mine a long time ago, and don’t miss him at all.

  3. #3 otrame
    May 14, 2010

    I’ve gotten this occasionally: “I can’t believe you are an atheist. You seem to enjoy your life so much.”

    My usual response is: “The truth will set you free.”

  4. #4 Steve LaBonne
    May 14, 2010

    It’s clearly deeply threatening to these dillweeds that so many people have found they can walk just fine, thank you very much, without the imaginary-friend crutch that means so much to them. And it scares them that more people are making that discovery every day. But hey, their weird insecurities ain’t my problem.

  5. #5 Ben Goren
    May 14, 2010

    What never ceases to amaze me is how all these god-botherers always assume that the gods we don’t believe in are their own gods.

    That’s the beauty of the Stephen F Roberts quote. If Barron were ever to realize that, to us, his pantheon (Jesus, YHWH, Satan, Jonah’s sea monster, Moses, Adam, the rest) is as silly as the Hindu pantheon is to him…well, if he were, he’d be able to take off that silly god chain ’round his neck.

    It’d also be really nice if some of them could pass Logic 101. “Your hunger for food proves that food is real; therefore, your hunger for existential meaning in your life proves that my imaginary friends are real; ergo(t), you should eat this cracker.” Dude. What the fuck?

    Cheers,

    b&


    EAC Memographer
    BAAWA Knight of Blasphemy
    “All but God can prove this sentence true.”

  6. #6 dchopoorian
    May 14, 2010

    The equation of fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice with god is what theists do

    “Oh! My God!
    I’m so unfulfilled! What’s really true? I feel so bad today, have so much hate for all those empty-headed morons who don’t have the glory of God inside them, where’s the justice in that?”

    WTF is wrong with these priests that they can not understand the very basic premises of ethical behavior. Fulfillment is not some warm and fussy feeling you get when the Sky Daddy holds you in invisible arms and tells you everything will be alright, don’t worry. Fulfillment is achieved through, for myself, the excitement and satisfaction of my accomplishments at work and within my family, etc.

    Can not know truth, goodness or justice without God? It is the priests, who are so lost and contained within their religious fantasy system, that they are incapable of understanding those concepts.

  7. #7 Tim Harris
    May 14, 2010

    What a very silly, superficial and self-important little man. And he thinks he is in a position to judge Sartre, whom I have no particular liking for but who was no fool, and Camus.

  8. #8 tsg
    May 14, 2010

    Religion is a heavy suitcase: all you have to do is put it down. But these clowns want people to miss carrying it?

  9. #9 Tulse
    May 14, 2010

    Apparently longing for truth, goodness, and justice didn’t prevent this Catholic priest’s peers and superiors from hiding evil acts from secular law enforcement, contradicting all three of those qualities. Why are we to believe that religion offers fulfillment of this “deep desire” when its most ardent adherents fail to demonstrate these qualities?

  10. #10 mumonjmk
    May 14, 2010

    I like Sartre; and don’t think he’s “negative.” That’s like saying Nagarjuna was “negative.”

    No, they’re only “negative” in the sense that there’s something worth losing.

    That guy mischaracterizes Sartre: the “desire” for a deity is bad faith – wanting to take one’s self as an object.

  11. #11 Scott
    May 14, 2010

    I’m so fucking sick of the argument that comfort is a good reason for believing in a god. It is true, at least for me, that having an unquestioning faith is easier than facing up to the occasionally harsh realities of life, but so what? We get NOWHERE with that kind of thinking.

  12. #12 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2010

    Religion is a heavy suitcase: all you have to do is put it down. But these clowns want people to miss carrying it?

    The could hire a rentboy

  13. #13 lykex
    May 14, 2010

    But hey, their weird insecurities ain’t my problem.

    Yes, they are. They’ll make damn sure of that.

    As have already been pointed out, the problem is that this guy
    a) has based his entire world view on a foundation of god
    b) is completely incapable of understanding that there might potentially be any other way to see the world

    I bet you he’s also one of those guys who think we secretly believe in god, but just deny it because we want to sin.

  14. #14 Numenaster
    May 14, 2010

    Ah, he was so close in some ways.

    “we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice”

    Yep, no argument there.

    “All the things we want in life–pleasure, honor, money, power”

    Oo, there you’ve gone off the rails. Those are things we want, but not ALL, just as you’ve said above. And you missed the best one: the pleasure of loving your fellow people and being loved in return. Which is a fundamentally UNselfish motivation, and yet completely supported by the concept that we are social animals. So it doesn’t require a god to motivate us to do those things, and in fact our hunger for those things DISproves the existence of his god since we can be strongly motivated to unselfish moral actions without feeling the presence of, fear of, or even a need for his god.

    These guys can’t get past the idea that atheism = self-absorption. And considering that they use the existentialists as the exemplar, it’s almost understandable. Almost. But seriously, dudes, listen to what atheists have been saying in the last 60 years!

  15. #15 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 14, 2010

    They

    grumble

  16. #16 raven
    May 14, 2010

    The equation of fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice with god is what theists do

    Oh really. All I see them doing is sponsoring xian terrorism, assassinating MDs occasionally, lying about the age of the earth and evolution, and trying to overthrow the US government and set up a hell on earth theocracy.

    They use hate as an ingroup reinforcer. Hate the gays, scientists, other religions, Democrats, Obama, other Fake Xians, or whoever you can think of to demonize.

    A lot of scientists get death threats from them on a routine basis. That seems to be a common theist hobby.

    Any more xian “fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice with god” and we will look like Pol Pot’s Cambodia or the Taliban’s Afghanistan.

  17. #17 Femion
    May 14, 2010

    Dude has clearly never had a dog. Dogs aren’t some noble creature without greed. Dogs will eat until they puke and then eat some more.

  18. #18 Nineveh
    May 14, 2010

    Maybe these religious types are a little jealous that we don’t need an invisible leash attached to an invisible sky friend to be happy, good, and at peace.

    I always had a feeling this was it anyway.  Deep down…they’re jealous that we have found a reason to find beauty, love, and happiness in life without using them as middle-men. 

  19. #19 steve
    May 14, 2010

    Or as Pat Condell once said …buddhism – a religion with no gods, like a prison with no walls.

  20. #20 Pinkydead
    May 14, 2010

    @#12

    The could hire a rentboy

    Catholic priests do not pay for sex with boys.

  21. #21 palaeodave
    May 14, 2010

    Tulse at #9 gets a small round of applause from me.

    Numenaster at #14 hits the nail on the head, as far as I’m concerned. Father Barron’s dog analogy is ridiculous on its own terms as he allowed the dog’s happiness to include being surrounded by a loving family and then omits it from an atheist’s life! Although that’s hardly surprising if he’s a Catholic priest, since they aren’t (normally*) allowed to have their own families, so it makes sense to me that his sense of love and fulfilment would have to come from religion. No sane minister with a family would try to make that argument.

    * Anglican priests (complete with wife and kids) can become Catholic priests.

  22. #22 mattheath
    May 14, 2010

    Bertrand Russell had this kind of bollocks nailed

    Nobody really worries much about what is going to happen millions of years hence. Even if they think they are worrying much about that, they are really deceiving themselves. They are worried about something much more mundane, or it may merely be a bad digestion

    From Why I am not a Christian.

  23. #23 Bernard Bumner
    May 14, 2010

    I’ve never felt life was pointless, hopeless, or without wonder. Why do religious freaks feel a need to project their own fear of death onto me? I am happy, fulfilled, inquisitive, friendly, charitable, kind, helpful, and loved. And even if I do say all of those things myself, they are true from my own point of view, and they are sufficient. (Although that list is hardly an exhaustive roll of my personal virtues – obviously not!)

    Why do these pricks all assume that we arrive at atheism via religion? I am not and never have been religious, I have never had that god-shaped hole in my life. The more sophisticated intellectual arguments for atheism came later, and simply confirmed my own mind, but I didn’t need to actively reject a religion.

    The childishness of the fanaticism which prevents religious folk from understanding that I’m not rejecting their god, but that I simply don’t believe there is any real thing to reject, is frustrating.

    There are things which have not been even imagined by humans that I do not believe in, and the effort to do so is no more than that required for me not to believe in gods. They assume that atheism takes some kind of effort, whereas I know that it takes no more effort than the literally infinite number of other beliefs which I do not hold.

  24. #24 Cerberus
    May 14, 2010

    I said it on the other thread, but they’re coming from the exact same position as other oppressors, which is that escape should hurt. Leaving an abusive spouse, getting an abortion, leaving relgion, should hurt, should come with some suffering and some anguish to show how important the oppressor is and why it would be folly for others to follow in their shoes.

    The worst thing to an oppressor or a bigot is those who don’t really consider them, who don’t need to grovel and be torn up inside over what they think. Women who get abortions without shame, people who leave abusive partners without looking back, gays who kiss in the streets without worrying about self-censure, blacks who walk tall in the street and don’t feel the need to bow and be extra polite to all the white people.

    Each action is an unforgivable blow to those in the oppressor circuit. It’s an impending sign of the final losses of bigotry and the end of the comforting world of oppressing others.

    If atheists walk around not really apologizing about being godless, not really thinking that they need to bow and scrape and rant about how the theists are always right and they are so miserable trying to escape, then it becomes harder to hold down the old rhetoric. How will they threaten others who want to leave with the statements of how much it will hurt, how miserable they will be? How do they retain control everywhere, automatic deference and power fueled by self-censure?

    It’s such a frightening prospect that they’ve stopped arguing entirely that their religion is true, essentially conceding the argument.

    I’d feel pity for them if they weren’t such sad, miserable, oppressive fucks.

  25. #25 louis.ressler
    May 14, 2010

    I wrote a thesis on Camus in college so to see his name mangled like this is painful. Despair was not the end of the line for Camus. Just a couple of his quotes:

    “If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.”

    “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

  26. #26 AJ Milne OM
    May 14, 2010

    They could hire a rentboy…

    FTW.

    Anyway: the meme that “you need to believe in our god, rilly, you do, to be happy or somethin’”, is just the next trench they’re retreating to, the way I see it.

    They can’t make a argument from evidence for their god (tho’ sometimes it’s seriously hilarious to watch them try), there aren’t many folk really believe their ‘god will punish you if you don’t give him tribute’ bullshit anymore, so now it’s ‘Believe in belief anyway, its being bullshit notwithstanding, or you’ll be a sad panda fer some reason… Trust us, honest, you will… Rilly. We swear.’

    Given this, it’s no surprise cheerful, irreverent unbelievers kinda screw with the game plan. And that they’d be whining about it a whole lot. Seein’ as they’re just dense enough actually to think this is a good idea.

    And I shouldn’t even be saying this, but honest: open letter to Barron and other none-too-bright purveyors of this meme: drawing attention to the fact that there are a rather large number of atheists about who’ve noticed you’re full of shit and who haven’t so much descended into some weird despair at said fact (Wait… What… There’s no psychotic cosmic hall monitor? We may have to appoint our own*? Oh noes!) actually isn’t going to serve your game too well, actually, if you think ahead about this at all. But you keep on keepin’ on with that finger-wagging at those annoyingly cheerful unbelievers. Saves me the trouble of pointing it out myself.

    (*/With or without said psychoses. This has, of course, been an ongoing problem in our various civilizations: picking people to put in charge of security-type and administrative-type things who aren’t actually insane. But hey, even if only half of the ones we wind up with are a bit unhinged, we’re still way ahead of putting Barron’s precious Yahweh, or, for that matter, just about any of the various magical sky gods you’re likely to read about in such positions. I mean, have you actually read these guys resumes? I wouldn’t give a one of ‘em a job with even as much power over or interaction with the public as, say, the night janitor. The lot of ‘em seem to have these… issues.)

  27. #27 justawriter
    May 14, 2010

    It’s especially amusing to me because of my path of drifting from Catholicism to Universalism to atheism. I could never accept that billions of genuinely good people would never find joy in an afterlife because they sat in the wrong building on the wrong holy day. How can someone not be joyful at the realization that everyone you love and respect will not spend an eternity of torment at the hands of a vengeful and sadistic deity?

  28. #28 dsmwiener
    May 14, 2010

    I miss Santa and the Tooth Fairy, too.

    I got over it.

  29. #29 amphiox
    May 14, 2010

    The equation of fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice with god is what theists do

    I think it is often more than just an “equation”. For most theists, especially the self-identified “moderate” ones, “truth, goodness, and justice”, etc, is actually their definition of “god”. And whatever passages in their preferred holy text that contradict this personal definition, they are happy to consider metaphorical (if they even realize such passages exist), while those that confirm this definition, are, of course, the literal TRUTH(tm).

    And that is why they are so discombobulated by atheists, because in their worldview, “goodness” and “god” cannot be separated, and to them rejected either one is rejecting both.

  30. #30 40yearoldatheist.com
    May 14, 2010

    All I could think during his entire talk was, “That’s not even wrong”.

  31. #31 WowbaggerOM
    May 14, 2010

    I hate this kind of ‘atheism needs to be justified to be considered valid’ bullshit.

    No it fucking doesn’t. No more than not accepting astrology is capable of telling us anything about ourselves or the future needs to be justified, or not believing in leprechauns needs to be justified, or not liking Céline fucking Dion needs to be justified.

    And don’t start me on theists (or faitheists) blathering on about Camus. Loyal Intersection Lying Suckhole Anthony McCarthy does that so I’ve decided it’s the hallmark of a true pissant.

  32. #32 scottfmessinger
    May 14, 2010

    The ridiculousness of his argument is illustrated in this exchange in the comments to the video:

    Commenter
    A: I’m an? atheist
    B: I’m Happy
    ERGO: I’M NOT AN ATHEIST

    Father Barron’s response:
    I don’t accept premise B.? You might not be psychologically depressed, but there is no way that the deepest longing of your heart is utterly satisfied by anything in this world.

    I…I’m just speechless

  33. #33 Androly-San
    May 14, 2010

    I posted a few comments (hate the 500 character limitation on YT):

    “So fulfillment, truth, goodness and justice are unattainable without a god? What an absolutely moronic thing to say. Imbeciles such as “Father” Barron are the reason religion is ridiculed.
    Sorry Barron, but in the age of information, your babbling holds no? ground and your petty religion is doomed to die (as have so many others in the past). There is simply too much evidence against everything you stand for (including the church’s tainted morals).
    Oh, and btw, your god is undeserving of worship.”


    11 minutes ago
    What a? truly pathetic human being he who finds life absurd without the comfort of an imaginary being. How completely undeserving of the amazing chance that life is.
    By existing, you have defied great odds. A remarkable sequence of events took place to produce you. 13.7 billion years of preparation got you to this moment and here you are concerned that your imaginary friend in the sky might not exist.
    I feel sorry for you and those who share your belief.”

    “We need no higher purpose in life. We need no pre-determined mission. We make our lives worth living. Our only mission in this beautiful planet is to make the best of the little time we have. We work to understand what got us here, not to make up irrational explanations for what we don’t understand.
    Your disgusting belief system? has held sway for far too long and humankind is finally awakening from a long slumber.
    Scientists are a million times more deserving of our appreciation than your god.”

  34. #34 BlueIndependent
    May 14, 2010

    “Why do theists keep insisting that we can’t be complete without their imaginary friend?…”

    Because if they don’t, the value of their chosen belief immediately comes into question, in which case they are made to look like fools because the superfluity of their fawnings is laid bare. They do it because they’re backed into an intellectual corner they chose.

    But it never ceases to amaze, all the contortions of logic theists have to go through. And many of these insulting sentiments we atheists encounter are simply theists grabbing for anything possible to justify their belief. How else can we take the blatherings of a priest who claims we should feel remorse at not believing as he does? The obvious further implication is that he must think we are not only philistines intellectually, but that we’re utterly ignorant of our supposed natural impulses. I note that in this quixote’s quest for “truth”, he hits everyone but himself in the face.

  35. #35 destlund
    May 14, 2010

    Hunger proves the existence of food? La vie est absurde.

  36. #36 tsg
    May 14, 2010

    Hunger proves the existence of food?

    Ergo nobody starves.

    Wait, what?

  37. #37 Standard Curve
    May 14, 2010

    Yes, the hole in my heart is precisely god shaped…

    No god, no hole.

  38. #38 Eamon Knight
    May 14, 2010

    @14:

    These guys can’t get past the idea that atheism = self-absorption. And considering that they use the existentialists as the exemplar, it’s almost understandable. Almost. But seriously, dudes, listen to what atheists have been saying in the last 60 years!

    From my (very superficial, so take this FWIW) skim of history of philosophy, it seems that the “death of god” did cause a certain amount of trauma and moral dislocation for more than a few thoughtful people (ie. Sartre & Co.). But that’s now several generations in the past; the West now has quite a lot of folks walking around explicitly and happily godless, a large number more whose vague theism/deism is pretty much irrelevant to their daily lives, and countries which collectively contain close to a billion people run along largely secular lines.

    Civilization did not end; society did not sink in to nihilistic despair; we didn’t commit mass suicide or destroy ourselves in an orgy of self-indulgence (yet — and anyway, I don’t notice religion exercising much restraint on our tendencies that way). The water looked cold — but once in, turned out to quite enjoyable swimming.

  39. #39 attorney
    May 14, 2010

    I grew up in an xian fundamentalist environment in Indiana (think: “Jesus Camp”). I was always taught that all those evil people outside the church were not happy, that they pretended to be happy but inside they were miserable because the had a natural need to be in fellowship with god. I was so lucky to have been born into the church!

    I learned better when I grew up and moved far away. I have to admit that when I stopped going to church and such, I did initially feel an angst that can be described only as existential: Life DID seem pointless and useless if there wasn’t a god. For a time, I felt despair, as the only meaning in the world had vanished.

    But eventually, I learned to appreciate the REAL meaning in life, the things that actually exist, such as good friends, love, intellectual pursuits, challenges and triumph. It has been years since I felt any of that angst for the absence of god. In fact, I am GLAD there is no god, because the life of slavery and self-denial prescribed by people who believe such things is so empty (and would be even if god existed) that it would be pointless.

    My point is, the existential angst that some people may feel based on the absence of god is a LEARNED behavior. I had been taught my whole life that without god, life was meaningless, so when god vanished, life seemed meaningless. Eventually, reality intervened, and the false teaching I had received gave way to experience.

    This is why the people consumed by religion can state with such certainty that people without god will be miserable, whereas people who have never been in religion see that statement as ridiculous. The church people (for lack of a better term) are repeating something they have been taught, and to them, it seems self-evident. As they attempt (or have been brainwashed) to draw all the meaning in life from god, it seems to them that without god, life would have no meaning. So those people out there without god must have empty, meaningless lives. QED. And if a religious person leaves the church, for a time she may feel an emptiness and meaninglessness, just as she expected to. But it will pass, if she experiences the real world for a while.

  40. #40 RijkswaanVijanD
    May 14, 2010

    would look nice on my dog though..

  41. #41 Zaphod
    May 14, 2010

    ah, justice.

    That particular “attribute” of their God always confused me. In fact, I’ve put forth this little example to most Christians I talk to about this particular “deep desire” I apparently can only fulfill from God:

    For this analogy, imagine you have two things: 1.) a spouse that you care about* and 2.) a next-door neighbor.

    One day, you are sitting with your spouse at the kitchen table eating dinner, and your neighbor breaks down the door, runs into the room and decapitates your spouse with a chainsaw.

    Now, for the moment we will forgo the very real possibility that you would retaliate right then and there with whatever equally lethal powertool you happen to have available and instead explore the notion that you choose to call the police and have your neighbor arrested.

    You find that he has confessed to the crime, pleads guilty to first-degree murder, and you are there at the sentencing hearing when your neighbor gets sentenced to 25-to-life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

    The next morning, as you are leaving to go to your spouse’s funeral, you see your neighbor sitting on their front porch reading a newspaper and waving. You rush over and demand to know why he is at home, free as a bird, when you JUST SAW him get sentenced to 25 years in prison.

    His response: “Oh, that? Yeah, funny thing is, just as I was about to be carted off to prison, some 6 year old boy got up in the courtroom and told the judge that he’ll be serving my sentence for me.”

    At this point in the story, I usually ask the Christian if justice has been served in this case, and surprise surprise, they almost ALWAYS say no.

    And this “Father” thinks we atheists should mourn for the loss of “justice” in our lives? From their God?!

    What a fucking dolt.

    (* I have to add the ‘that you care about’ as I got a couple people actually revelling in the thought of their current spouse getting decapitated with a chainsaw. Gotta love it)

  42. #42 michellegalo
    May 14, 2010

    Damn it, Father, I was a Christian for two decades. When I left that, I left a system in which I had a huge emotional and social investment. You know, Father, I’ll be honest…

    I’ve had some rough days.

    And you have the audacity to begrudge me the happiness and contentment I have found as I have gotten free of all that?

    And to begrudge others who never suffered through that departure in the first place?

    You asshole.

    Funny, I was just blogging about this sort of thing.

    Cerberus (#24) is right to compare these people to, for example, the faux-choicers who think it’s OK for a woman to have an abortion, but only if she feels really, really bad about it.

  43. #43 attorney
    May 14, 2010

    Sorry, this is OT:

    Does anyone else have this experience when posting at Pharyngula? Every time I go to post, the sign-in page refuses to recognize my password. I have to click on the “forgot password” link, get the resulting email, go through the setting up of a new password (using the same password I use every single time), and only then will it log me in and allow me to post.

    And the next time, it refuses to recognize that same password once again, and I have to do it all over again.

    Anyone?

  44. #44 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    I hate people who are convinced that they can define god and that their definition has to be true for everyone. Fortunately I know a lot of big words, like theological noncognitivism, so I am pretty good a avoiding these ridiculous arguments with people in real life.

    The theological noncognitivism argument is particularly good for the “god-shaped hole” idea. Sure, a lot of people, at one point or another, have a feeling of missing or needing something. Deciding that god can fill this gap is meaningless, since the word “god” has no meaning. In this context, god is whatever fills the gap – the beauty of nautre, scientific investigation, personal relationships, booze, rentboys, or the FSM or IPU. Tautology, anyone?

    The 12-step programs actually get this idea, which is why a lot of evangelical fundamentalists are wildly opposed to them – the idea of finding your own “thing to fill the gap” is actually pretty radical.

  45. #45 Zaphod
    May 14, 2010

    #43

    maybe it knows you’re an attorney…
    ;-)

  46. #46 cairne.morane
    May 14, 2010

    Strange, my desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness and justice leads me away from god. Why is that?

  47. #47 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    What’s dishonest about these people is their presumption that belief is so damn fulfilling to begin with. If this is the case, then why does google show nearly 23 million hits for the phrase ‘crisis of faith’?

    Or are there just that many dyed-in-the-wool New Atheists?

  48. #48 adam cosper
    May 14, 2010

    Just thought I’d drop in to defend Nietzsche from these christian vultures. They keep praising Nietzsche for being all broken up about the death of god which is hard to reconcile with the following quote from The Gay Science:

    Even we born guessers of riddles who are, as it were, waiting on the mountains, posted between today and tomorrow, stretched in the contradiction between today and tomorrow, we firstlings and premature births of the coming century, to whom the shadows that must soon envelop Europe really should have appeared by now?why is it that even we look forward to the approaching gloom without any real sense of involvement and above all without any worry and fear for ourselves? Are we perhaps still too much under the impression of the initial consequences of this event?and these initial consequences, the consequences for ourselves, are quite the opposite of what one might perhaps expect: They are not at all sad and gloomy but rather like a new and scarcely describable kind of light, happiness, relief, exhilaration, encouragement, dawn.

    Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel, when we hear the news that “the old god is dead,” as if a new dawn shone on us; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, premonitions, expectation. At long last the horizon appears free to us again, even if it should not be bright; at long last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never yet been such an “open sea.”

  49. #49 Hirnlego
    May 14, 2010

    Why is Father Barron not sad because he doesn’t have a relationship with Allah?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXxtvAy4Rzs

  50. #50 Flatland Nautilus
    May 14, 2010

    Becoming an out, honest, and adamant atheist over the past year has been like getting out of prison. More like a pardon while I’ve been on the run. But it has made me a tad miserable. I now realize how incredibly stupid 85% of the country is and I fear for the survival of the human race should the Baptists get their greedy hateful little fingers on “the button.”

  51. #51 nigelTheBold
    May 14, 2010

    I’ve never believed in god, so I can’t comment on whether or not I’m happier without god than a typical believer with god.

    All I know is, I’m pretty damned happy. Since I can’t force myself to believe in something for which there is no evidence whatsoever (despite thousands of years of searching), I reckon I can’t compare.

    Oh, well. I am sufficiently happy anyway.

  52. #52 iambilly
    May 14, 2010

    they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice?in other words, for God a reality based existence without imaginary skydaddies.

    Fixed.

  53. #53 dpattersonmonroe
    May 14, 2010

    I remember the exact moment that I, a Midwestern girl raised Baptist, first took seriously the idea that there might not be a god. I was utterly terrified.

    For about 10 seconds.

    Then I felt an overwhelming sense that THIS IS IT, this life is all you get and there is nothing else, so I’d better make this the best damn life I possibly can for myself and everyone around me, because that’s all that matters. My life has been immeasurably richer ever since.

  54. #54 JJ
    May 14, 2010

    I have no clue what this argument even means. Guess that’s because I was brought up in a purely secular household. The word god was never really spoken (except “Goddamit” when my father would hit himself with a hammer). Even my neighbors kept all their religion to themselves, which is surprising because I grew up in Orange Count (right down the road from Saddleback, actually).

    There is no aching for anything that’s “missing”. I find fulfillment in the people around me and my work, truth through evidence, goodness through how I interact with my community, and justice through activism. I live a happy, meaningful life.

    No religion required.

  55. #55 gr8hands
    May 14, 2010

    Religion is like driving a racecar using tissue paper for seatbelts. While you may “feel” safe, and you may “believe” that the tissue paper seatbelts are providing you protection, reality has a different opinion.

    This is why people are so devastated when tragedy hits. “Why did God allow this to happen?” Because a tissue paper seatbelt doesn’t actually protect you in an accident.

    I’ve been to many many funerals (as a musician), and I’ve never heard someone get up and say “I’m so glad my child is dead and in the arms of Jesus” with a smiling face, beaming at the prospect of the great joy they felt. Somehow, they’re always sad — which flies in the face of their belief of immortal life in Heaven with God.

    Funerals demonstrate the hypocrisy and self-delusion of theists.

  56. #56 MrFire
    May 14, 2010

    michellegalo @42:

    Damn it, Father, I was a Christian for two decades. When I left that, I left a system in which I had a huge emotional and social investment.

    Yeah, I know how you feel.

    I miss my church the way I’d miss a cheating lover who has bled me dry of money to support an aging grandmother who doesn’t actually exist. I’d still miss them, but it has nothing to do with how virtuous they are, and it certainly doesn’t compel me to go back.

  57. #57 adam cosper
    May 14, 2010

    PS Religion is the opposite of an opiate for the masses? So it’s the methamphetamine of the masses?

  58. #58 ric.larsson
    May 14, 2010

    How incredible sad that priest must be… he’s effectively saying: you can’t be happy living. I mean, if that is what priesthood does to people, I will stop disliking the priests for spreading lies and death through their faith, and instead only feel pity for the incredible sadness they must go through to become such sorry beings.

  59. #59 tyomero
    May 14, 2010

    My usual response is: “The truth will set you free.”

    I coudln’t have put it better.

  60. #60 cameron
    May 14, 2010

    Here I am, married to a sexy and intelligent woman, living in a modest but very nice and comfortable home, “working” at a job that is always interesting and creative and pays very well (I use the scare quotes because I hardly consider what I do for a living to be work), and I write children’s books for fun on my off-time.

    Good thing this priest came along to tell me that I’m fundamentally unsatisfied and unhappy, because all this time I thought I was enjoying my life! Thanks for keeping it extra real, religion!

  61. #61 William R. Dickson
    May 14, 2010

    I think a lot of these guys are of the impression that atheists are mostly people who were raised religious and somehow lost faith later in life. There are quite a few atheists like that, and some of them did feel like it was an important part of their lives and that something is missing when it’s gone. Many such people, like my mother, wind up going to Unitarian Fellowship meetings so they can have all the trappings of community and ritual without the actual deity.

    But I think an ever-increasing number of atheists are people like me. I was raised by two parents who, while nominally theist (at the time) in both upbringing and belief, just weren’t particularly interested in religion, so they didn’t bother teaching me anything about it. My first exposure was in second grade when we learned something about Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. By the time my friends and playmates started talking to me about what they believed and what they did in church and why they couldn’t play on Sunday mornings because they were in Sunday School, I was old enough to start drawing connections between things I had learned. “Oh,” I thought to myself. “That’s like how people used to believe in Thor.”

    It took me a couple more years to realize that people actually really truly believed in these [i]other[/i] stories, [i]today[/i], and that they weren’t just engaging in ritual out of a sense of tradition. Of course I was too young to put the thoughts into these terms at the time, but the impressions remain clear 35 years later.

    So long story short, I was born an atheist and was allowed to remain one. I don’t grieve the loss of deities and religion because, first, I never had them in any deeply personal sense, and second, because they still exist in the same sense that all the Norse gods and Greek gods still exist — in our literature, where they belong.

    I think there will be more and more atheists like us in the years and decades to come — people who grew up without [i]ever[/i] feeling that religion was important in their lives as anything other than a window into the culture history of various cultures throughout human history. And people like Father Barron and Damon Linker will steadily decline in number as they get older and die off, and fewer people are raised in a manner that will produce replacements.

  62. #62 Tink
    May 14, 2010

    All that from a guy who is employed by a perpetrator of pedophila, sadism and rampant child abuse. An outfit that is blatantly involved in covering up, apologizing for and abetting these crimes against children and humanity and yet has the balls to claim he knows for certain that my life is empty because I don’t drink the Kool Aid that he is perpetually intoxicated on. I don’t know what is more pathetic, his lies or his claim of my sadness. And if we atheists were the “masses” that he claims, he and his ilk would be in jail under RICO statues.

  63. #63 frisbeetarian
    May 14, 2010

    Typical religious bigot, he hasn’t even read his bible. Who would not feel more free by not believing in this organized freak show? An invisible creature that is so demented that it could do any vindictive torture it wants based on a thought I might have? In fact, having grown up on a small farm, I developed and continue to develop my moral convictions from animals for the very reason they don’t have the bullshit from religious morons persuading them into acts of perversion.
    This smug fool also doesn’t know anything about dogs. My dog appears to have the same desire I do to make a connection with another living creature. She has other human friends, has many dog friends and litter mates nearby and she seems to prefer some friends over others to spend time with. In fact, one of my goals in life is to be happy and content with what I have and not spend time racing around for the next job or fancy car or other (to me) foolishness.
    So he can stick his fear of his made up god up his god-shaped hole in whichever body part is most appropriate.

  64. #64 chaseacross
    May 14, 2010

    “…they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice?in other words, for God.”

    Fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice… I think those things ought to be on some kind of new Official Seal of Godlessness. Isn’t that why people become atheists in the first place?

  65. #65 MS
    May 14, 2010

    Completely different context, of course, but these stanzas from My Fair Lady seem apropos:

    There’ll be spring every year without you.
    England still will be here without you.
    There’ll be fruit on the tree,
    And a shore by the sea.
    There’ll be crumpets and tea without you.

    Art and music will thrive without you.
    Somehow Keats will survive without you.
    And there still will be rain on that plain down in Spain,
    even that will remain without you.
    I can do without you.

    Without your pulling it the tide comes in,
    Without your twirling it the Earth can spin,
    Without your pushing them, the clouds roll by,
    If they can do without you, ducky, so can I

  66. #66 Susan
    May 14, 2010

    Who died and made him Webster? He thinks he gets to define “happiness” for everyone? Well, then I get to define it, too, for him. It’s getting married and having children and living in California. Also, being able to sleep in on Sundays. Therefore, Barron cannot possibly be happy. Sorry! I don’t care I much you insist you are, Barron. Lalalalala I can’t hear you! You can’t possibly be truly happy, because you don’t have what makes ME happy. Seriously, WTF?

  67. #67 Bill Door
    May 14, 2010

    I miss the good old theists like William James who new that, for some people, the idea of god would have no meaning.

  68. #68 patsymonteleone
    May 14, 2010

    I disbelieved in gods early, when I was six years old and the Catholic priest slapped me upside the head for genuflecting on my left knee instead of my right. At least the bastard didn’t lead me into the confessional to rape me. Lucky for me my parents sent me to catechism simply because it was the traditional thing to do in our extended family and not because of any strong religious beliefs on their part. I objected to going to church from that time forward and they never pushed it on me.

    Barron says that “new atheists” have “a kind of frivolous, or superficial, or childish form of atheism; a kind of playing-at atheism….” He’s smug, all right, and clueless. The dude’s a cult member no different from a Jim Jones Kool-Aid drinker and I have no use for him and his pathetic tribe.

  69. #69 raven
    May 14, 2010

    For a really, miserable view of life and reality, nothing can beat some of the xian ones. The priest probably doesn’t even buy this one because AFAIK, the RCC isn’t into Rapturism. (Posted earlier on a thread falling into the Event Horizon.)

    Some groups of xians have one of the most pathetic worldviews there is. The Rapture monkeys, End Timers. They just sit around in a depressed, catatonic daze, hoping and praying god shows up Real Soon and kills them and everyone else.

    It is deeply hoped and believed that god will show up any minute, destroy the earth, and kill 6.7 billion people. Most will end up in hell being tortured forever, as xians aren’t even 1/3 of the world’s population.

    This is an amoral and immoral dogma and it is about as destructive as it gets unless we discover UFO aliens. Then the fundies can hope god kills them too. For kooks who really believe it, there is no reason to worry about anything, the earth, the environment, your kids, your job, your self. Why worry about Peak Oil, AGW, endangered species, or even get out of bed? God is going to end it all. Any day now, please god.

    Of course there is another problem. The Happy Day of Mass Murder was scheduled 2,000 years ago. It has been predicted every few months ever since. After a few millennia it is obvious it isn’t going to happen.

    It isn’t hard or tragic to be an atheist. Anyone taking a hard look at modern US xianity finds themselves there soon enough. Most of those are…EX-XIANS who decided it was all a weird and gruesome game of Let’s Pretend.

  70. #70 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    Who died and made him Webster? He thinks he gets to define “happiness” for everyone?

    Well, that’s what priests do. It’s part of their job description to pretend their flock isn’t full of people with the same worries and anxieties as everyone else but with the added issues of a disapproving invisible father-figure who watches their every move while snapping his belt to remind them of the penalty of disobedience to his arbitrary and unjust rules. (“Yep, I made you gay, but I forbid you to be true to your nature, condemning you to a life of frustration. What’s that? No, I didn’t similarly mistreat the heteros. Love me!”)

    Here’s a link to the “Catholics Come Home” campaign for all of those Catholics who were so goddamned fucking happy and fulfilled by the church that they left.

    Father Barron is indeed a lying fuck.

  71. #71 a.f.diplotti
    May 14, 2010

    Speaking of this, how can homosexuals be gay? They can’t! They sure must be sad and frustrated that they never have sex with a member of the opposite sex!

  72. #72 toth
    May 14, 2010

    This is the most dangerous post on Pharyngula. I’m at work! I would be in so much trouble if I actually broke my monitor, as was my intense desire after seeing this video.

  73. #73 Cerberus
    May 14, 2010

    scott @32

    Facepalm.

    You start out with one set of falsehoods and it builds a conspiracy theory. Oh, okay, there are people who believe otherwise but they must be miserable. Oh, some of those people say they aren’t miserable, they must be lying. Oh, a whole bunch of people say otherwise, they must all be lying. As the number increases, it’s a global conspiracy attacking Christianity, maybe on the behest of the Devil himself. One lie breaking one further and further from reality to protect it from the icy hands of reality. As I said on the other thread, they’re still trying to pretend the dog is at a farm after the kid has discovered the grave site.

    I can also understand where he’s coming from. Catholicism is evil.

    And I don’t just mean their long history of being on the wrong side of nearly everything, but rather how fucking hard it is to leave the church and the abusive shame it instills in young members. From what I’ve seen of many many ex-catholics, it almost takes two generations to fully clear out the baggage of leaving the church, the feelings of guilt if you dare think of say women’s autonomy or your own sexual fulfillment or other basic human desires and rights.

    My partner is struggling with that as well as admitting her own atheism (she’s still going with agnostic and wondering if she should “make more of an effort” to find a church to “make the effort”). The damage of being raised catholic makes it one of the most painful religions to leave and I’m counting a good number of cults and the mormons. And I think it comes from having the double-whammy of perfecting cult-techniques for centuries with also having the weight of numbers to master the art of passive-agression and shame to oppress and dominate their followers into accepting anything because leaving will be such an emotional hell.

    Luckily for me, my ancestors long left the catholic church and went through that crap so that I could grow up nice and secular and without the ghosts of old white men haunting my psyche and trying to force their God down my throat.

    I’m sorry that the good Bishop was not so lucky.

  74. #74 Celtic_Evolution
    May 14, 2010

    Damn it, Father, I was a Christian for two decades. When I left that, I left a system in which I had a huge emotional and social investment.

    I posted this on the “Linker” thread, but I think it bears repeating here, and this is a more current discussion, so forgive me for re-posting…

    The toughest thing for me, and I think deep down this is essentially the heart of the issue for most believers, was giving up my sense of immortality.
    Here’s the deal: whether you spend an eternity in heaven, or spend an eternity in hell, at least you continue to exist in some way. And existing, even in eternal damnation, is still a more palatable thought to most than simply not existing anymore at all. Most humans simply can not, and will not, accept the possibility that existence is temporary and fleeting. For many, accepting that prospect would literally drive them insane.

    Religion has understood and capitalized on this facet of the human psyche since its inception. Provide a platform for immortality, a piece of you that can never be destroyed and will always exist (the soul), and people will flock to it.

    For me, it was easy to see the inconsistencies and obvious problems with religious texts, and I shed organized religion at an early age and called myself an agnostic. But it took much longer to completely shed belief altogether, and much of that was the difficulty in forsaking the idea of immortality. I was terrified of that thought for quite some time.

    Over time, and the more I learned and understood the real world I simply had no choice but to accept the falseness of religion… and of immortality.

    Once I did, however, It was so freeing to understand and appreciate exactly how precious and fleeting this existence is, and has forced me to make the most of it.

  75. #75 Dahak
    May 14, 2010

    He told some commenter that “I know there’s nothing to fill the deep hole in your life” or something like that. I told him that it was conceited, to prove it, and then “I don’t need your god to deliver happiness any more than I need Santa to deliver presents.”

  76. #76 Qwerty
    May 14, 2010

    Browian – As an exRCCer I checked out “Catholics Come Home” and they’ll welcome me back into the church even though I am gay.

    I can join Courage and struggle with my sexuality as the RCC believes it’s okay to be a homosexual as long as you don’t homosex. (I think Anna Quinlen said this in an article. I like it.)

    As I am seen by the church as a “disordered” and “intrinsically evil” person, I only go to church lately to drop off my elderly Catholic mother; then, I leave.

  77. #77 ecurve
    May 14, 2010

    My strongest experience with faith was fear. I was raised vaguely Catholic by my lapsed Catholic family, but ran across a book of catechism once and was terrified into a period of devoutness. (I was 7 or 8, and it was a pre-Vatican II catechism, of the hardcore GO TO HELL GO DIRECTLY TO HELL DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200 kind.) I found the idea that the creator of the universe had it in for me personally, terrifying: I kept envisioning this grim looming figure, like a particularly strict and humorless teacher, with its finger perpetually poised over a giant red button marked “HELL”.

    By the time I was supposed to be confirmed (which was age 12 then; I hear it’s 16 now), I was already an unbeliever. I can’t help but think that my flirtation with religion hurried that along–it must have sparked some process of reflection, some embryonic bullshit detector, that was yet latent in me. So, yay for religion’s role in helping me ditch religion!

  78. #78 stvs
    May 14, 2010

    they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice ? in other words, for God.

    What bullshit. The “old” atheists express precisely the same contempt for god as the “new” ones do, and all pose the same unanswered questions for the faithful. Where is the line between “new” and “old” atheism over this 2400-year-old+ history? The articles by Linker and Hart, which fail to answer or even grasp this basic point, are pathetically confused.

    What Jupiter? Do not trifle. There is no Jupiter.
    ?Socrates character in Aristophanes’ The Clouds (5th c. BCE)

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is God both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
    ?Epicurus (3d c. BCE)

    The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: Those with brains, but no religion, And those with religion, but no brains.
    ?Al-Ma’arri (10th c. CE)

    The Koran! well, come put me to the test?
    Lovely old book in hideous error drest?
    Believe me, I can quote the Koran too,
    The unbeliever knows his Koran best.

    And do you think that unto such as you,
    A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew,
    God gave the secret, and denied it me??
    Well, well, what matters it! believe that too.
    ?Omar Khayyám (11th c.)

    Don’t you see that the appalling history of sectarianism, persecution, heresy hunting, shows you that this way of thinking about the world is intrinsically unsound?
    ?Thomas Hobbes (17th c.)

    God’s power is infinite, Whatever he wills is executed; But neither man nor any other animal is happy; therefore he does not will their happiness. Epicurus’ old questions are yet unanswered. Is he both able and willing to prevent evil? Then whence cometh evil?
    ?David Hume (18th c.)

    There is no need for that hypothesis.
    ?Laplace (18th c.)

    I think it better to keep a profound silence with regard to the Christian fables, which are canonized by their antiquity and the credulity of absurd and insipid people.
    ?Frederick the Great to Voltaire (18th c.)

    [Christianity] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think. ? My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise, the finest and most respectable which the human mind can point out.
    ?Voltaire to Frederick the Great

    I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government;
    ?Atatürk (20th c.)

    The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.
    ?Albert Einstein (20th c.)

    Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    ?Steven Weinberg (21st c.)

  79. #79 Seifer
    May 14, 2010

    You were right PZ, this is a terrible. This guy tries to sound so sophisticated, and yet he only comes off as pompous dishonest buffoon. When will people get atheism is not a belief system? It is merely a response to a claim. Trying to argue that atheism equals absurdity, meaninglessness, etc. is merely sophistry. I love how he phrases it as “just pretend there’s no God.” As if God is a default position, that everyone knows is true and atheists are merely lying to themselves about it. Why did I watch this? Now I am off to go lobotomize myself.

  80. #80 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    @ecurve

    Me too – I found a copy of a high school catechism from the early 1930s in a book sale for a dime and spent years being terrified that I would go to hell because of my lapsed Catholic divorced father and Protestant mother. Plus that great sentence that only appalled me after I grew up: “The majority of children in hell are there because of masturbation.” And an explanation of why anti-semitism was acceptable – something about how the great patriarchs of the biblical time were nothing like the fallen “carnal Jews of today.”

    My husband and I joke that the whole reason I converted to Judaism (besides it being a religion where atheism isn’t all that unusual) was a fascination with those “carnal Jews of today.” I mean, who wouldn’t be curious about that?

  81. #81 tytalus
    May 14, 2010

    I wonder how much of this is really intended to attack or even accurately (in their minds) describe atheism. Another possible motivation could be to scare the flock back into line. If they can make atheism look bad…

  82. #82 josuelito
    May 14, 2010

    I don’t think Father Barron has ever read Sartre:

    “[Existentialism] declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing …. [T]he problem of His existence is not the issue. In this sense, existentialism is optimistic, a doctrine of action, and it is plain dishonesty for Christians to make no distinction between their own despair and ours and then to call us despairing.” Sartre, from “Existentialism is a Humanism”

  83. #83 SteveM
    May 14, 2010

    So, I didn’t watch the video (can’t here at work, but I probably wouldn’t have even if I could) But it sounds like a combination of projection and a failure of imagination. It sounds like he is just projecting what he would feel if he learned that there was no God, in the same way as if he learned that his father had just died.
    This just reinforces my notion that theism is just a way to return to (or remain in) the childlike state of protection by omniscient, omnipotent (in the eyes of the child) parents. Theists are stuck in this state and can only imagine atheism, not as a rejection of the whole “God idea” but as the “death” of their parents. To them “atheism” is not lack of belief, but belief in a god that is “gone”. Like someone who’s parents are dead who is now “a-parent-ist” but mourns for his loss, as opposed to someone who simply does not have parents [somehow, it's an analogy] and lives free of that mourning.

  84. #84 Sastra
    May 14, 2010

    Oh dear, he is surprised that a slogan on a billboard is so shallow and “flip.” I suppose we should have chosen something that wraps around the bus, and has proper footnotes on the bumpers.

    At the end of the video, Mr. Barron makes a case for atheism being a “drug” which dulls the sensitivities of those who take it, so that they are blinded and deluded into thinking they don’t need God. Another example, of course, of the tu quoque: you think religion is the opiate of the masses — no, YOU are!” I suppose his next talk will be about how atheism requires more faith than Christianity. So there.

    I notice that, whenever apologists scornfully list the inadequate experiences of this world, they dwell on things like “pleasure, honor, money, power” — and leave off love, wisdom, beauty, compassion, knowledge, and genuine happiness. No, those are “spiritual.” How nice that we can experience these spiritual aspects in the otherwise humdrum material world.

    This is why the whole “hunger proves there is food; hunger for God proves there must be a God” argument doesn’t work. There is nothing involved in the concept of God which we can’t find right here, without a God. God isn’t like nothing we’ve ever experienced: God is familiar as hell, and is exactly like things we experience all the time. God is like a loving parent; God is like a beautiful sunset; God is like a satisfying and productive day; God is like a feeling of joy. We hunger for those things. And some people slap the term “God” on these things and then claim that people who see it as a metaphor lack “sensitivity.”

    I think those people lack “insight.”

  85. #85 TGAP Dad
    May 14, 2010

    I leave it to George Bernard Shaw:

    The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than
    the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
    George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, critic, political activist (1856 – 1950)

  86. #86 Celtic_Evolution
    May 14, 2010

    Sastra –

    Oh dear, he is surprised that a slogan on a billboard is so shallow and “flip.”

    Uh-huh… that’s always a problem, isn’t it… a religious billboard would never stoop to shallow and flippant tactics, now would it?

  87. #87 tsg
    May 14, 2010

    Oh dear, he is surprised that a slogan on a billboard is so shallow and “flip.” I suppose we should have chosen something that wraps around the bus, and has proper footnotes on the bumpers.

    Wouldn’t those be endnotes?

    OW! What was that for?

  88. #88 Andromeda
    May 14, 2010

    He came off a little desperate to me; trying to convince himself and others that atheists have some deep hidden desire to want to believe.

    I’m much happier now than when I was a believer. It was frightening at first when I realized there isn’t someone there in the sky watching out for me, but it’s not hopeless – I deal with life’s problems as best as I can, with the help of fellow human beings. I do sometimes miss the comfort of belief, but it’s only because I was so used to it – not because I think it has some value. There’s no unhappiness, nor a yearning for something “higher”, thank you very much.

  89. #89 AJKamper
    May 14, 2010

    Maybe someone posted something like this earlier, but I was a LOT happier once I became an atheist. It wasn’t because of fear of hell or the afterlife or whatever–I never really believed in that to begin with. But being a theist was miserable: the world is a crappy place where crappy people do crappy things to each other and the idea that there was some divine power which knew all of this and let it happen was awful. I went through a couple of strange and bitter theisms till I realized, “Hey, wait–I don’t have to believe this anymore. I have no reason whatsoever to actually think it’s true. It just doesn’t make sense.”

    It was an INCREDIBLE relief. Ultimate liberty. The idea that my atheism should be miserable is so entirely foreign to me that I can’t even comprehend what this guy is thinking.

  90. #90 ereador
    May 14, 2010

    Scott @#11: Couldn’t agree more about the “argument from comfort&trade.” I actually realized I do not need that kind of comfort — I’m completely comfortable in questioning everything. I love it, in fact. It makes everything interesting.

  91. #91 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    I notice that, whenever apologists scornfully list the inadequate experiences of this world, they dwell on things like “pleasure, honor, money, power”

    Odd. Whenever I contemplate the Vatican, those are about the first things that spring to mind as well.

  92. #92 AustinAcid
    May 14, 2010

    hmm, you know i think another reason these christians cant grasp that “new atheists” are real atheist, is we don’t fit the archetype they have programed into there warped minds.

    I mean we look and act normal,”But how could this be! Where are their fangs and green skin, and where’s their bag of misery that they want to dump all over the world! they must not be true atheist…”

    personally, i think it pisses them off that we aren’t hunchbacked, subhumans waiting for the moment to drill into there spine and eat them from the inside out, or that we are not woefully depressed individuals cause we have nothing to live for.”But if they look and act normal, then… then it could be anybody, how are we to know who we should avoid and ostracize… THEY COULD BE ANYWHERE! I’ll be safe in my church!”

  93. #93 TimmyC
    May 14, 2010

    Re #48:

    Nietzsche definitely thought that the death of God was a cause for great alarm, and you don’t have to read too far to see this. Right after the Madman in the famous passage (The Gay Science, sec. 125)announces that God is dead–to the atheists, not the theists, by the way–he says the following:

    “Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you! We have killed him, you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move? Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness? Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? – for even Gods putrify! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him!”

    This shows, to me at least, that you can be happy and encouraged by some event (like the passage #48 quotes) and still think that it is deeply unsettling. E.g. I’d be happy and encouraged if the authoritarian North Korean government was overthrown tomorrow, but still be worried and alarmed about how there is going to be any order among the millions of people living there. P.Z. and the priest both paint a false dichotomy– you can feel happy and liberated and also be deeply troubled on account of the same event. This is why more people should read Nietzsche if they want to know about atheism, and less people should read, well . . .

  94. #94 rose
    May 14, 2010

    Thank you Father Barron!I was not aware as an Atheist that I was suppose to grieve for a god that do not exist.
    Excuse me while I compose a dirge.

  95. #95 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    The idea that my atheism should be miserable is so entirely foreign to me that I can’t even comprehend what this guy is thinking.

    He’s probably not thinking this at all. He’s likely lying, for the reason tytalus described:

    I wonder how much of this is really intended to attack or even accurately (in their minds) describe atheism. Another possible motivation could be to scare the flock back into line. If they can make atheism look bad…

    The idea that all (or even most) believers are contented, drawing succor and sustenence from the faith that feeds doesn’t jibe with any Catholic I’ve ever met (priests included), nor many of the ones I haven’t, if the ubiquity of memes like suffocating Catholic guilt are any indication.

    I know we should be treating this man’s arguments as if he were genuine, but consider that his entire job revolves around lying to people that he talks to an entity that there’s no evidence exists at all. Lying to protect his house of cards is his profession.

    If a con man is trying to sell you a bridge, he’s probably not the best source of information about the dangers of boating.

    Oh, @ stvs #78: nice collection of quotes!

  96. #96 Celtic_Evolution
    May 14, 2010

    P.Z. and the priest both paint a false dichotomy– you can feel happy and liberated and also be deeply troubled on account of the same event.

    PZ states no false dichotomy… where does he say you can’t?

    What he’s saying is that you don’t need to be in order to be “serious” about atheism, as is being insisted by Barron and Linker, etc…

  97. #97 H.H.
    May 14, 2010

    If you listen to the conversion stories of most theists who became atheists, you’ll find that almost without exception what drove them was an unquenchable desire for truth.

    Evid3nc3, whose fantastic series of Youtube videos about his personal deconversion has already been posted on this site, explains how truth is greater than god, since god is impotent if he is fictional:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoiW4KO_Om4

    Father Barron dishonestly relabels truth as “god,” but those two words are not synonyms. An honest inquiry into god’s existence will lead to the conclusion that he is invented. When truth and theology conflict, truth wins. Father Barron loses.

  98. #98 Mr T
    May 14, 2010

    What a bizarre idea, that “God” either is or provides “fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice”, etc. It is utterly foreign to me now.

    What seems like a lifetime ago (wouldn’t admit how long), I grew up in a Catholic family, which offered me a Christian and Catholic “education” all the way through high school. They were not not free like public schools, so there was a tendency for the students to be somewhat better-off than the average, although it still wasn’t terribly expensive and some financial help was available for those who needed it.

    Looking back, it’s clear that my path to non-belief was one of trying to understand what truth, goodness and beauty really are. I couldn’t say I had set out to do that from the beginning, but was never satisfied with what only appeared to be half-truths and useful fictions. Growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of shallow, materialistic (in the economic sense), unethical people, and I knew that I didn’t want to be like them, although as a kid I didn’t really know what to do. This lead me into figuring out what really matter, understanding the world and understanding what different brands of Christianity had to say about it. (I figured out a lot about other sects even in Catholic school, as long as I posed the questions carefully.)

    I had always been interested in science, and it took no effort to realize that the equivalence between naturalistic materialism and economic materialism was invalid. In fact, it seemed to me that they had an inverse relationship, since the most ignorant and stupid were often the most self-absorbed. Math and science not only provided so much technology and power, but also real knowledge and real understanding. Studying music and art also helped me realize how much beauty and ugliness were in the world all around me, that gave me the only pleasures and pains worth feeling, not separate from the world like some kind of Platonic forms in outer space. I began to know, without the slightest doubt, that life and nature are not something to be hated in favor of an unreachable fantasy.

    I studied Christian theology, and there was very little beauty or truth or ethic to be found, only commandments from a capricious, invisible tyrant who would only be satisfied with human sacrifice, which didn’t even seem to change or solve anything. Truly horrified by this idea, I studied other philosophies and religions, all of which had their faults, but at least they offered different ways of mistakenly thinking about the world. I tried to learn from those mistakes as much as I could, rather than burden myself with them. I was quite sure as a teenager (who wasn’t?) that everybody had it all wrong about God and morality, and that they were using the idea of God rather than trying to understand it.

    Eventually, I realized how futile and meaningless the whole supernatural idea is, and that there was no reason to believe any of it. It wasn’t easy to understand, but then nothing worthwhile ever is. It wasn’t easy for me to become an atheist, but it’s not at all hard to say that I’m much happier and much more fulfilled without religion, without “spirituality”, and without any of that irrational bullshit. It would literally take a miracle for me to turn back. If the religious can conjure up a miracle, if their gods or souls can do anything, I am ready and waiting.

  99. #99 TimmyC
    May 14, 2010

    @ #96:

    I took PZ to be saying that atheism is primarily a cause for joy, and not sorrow, whereas the priest is saying that for atheists it should be primarily a cause for sorrow, and not joy. This is pretty much how most of the commenters seem to be taking it anyway. I just think it’s worth pointing out that it could be both. And it seems to an atheist like me (and Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre, Woody Allen, etc) that it should be both. As atheists we recognize that human beings are the highest authorities in the universe, that no one else besides us is going to determine right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc. There’s surely a great joy that goes with that, but isn’t it also quite a bit unsettling as well? Sartre called it “forlornness.” Nietzsche compares to wiping away the whole horizon. Woody Allen (or at least some characters in Crimes and Misdemeanors) wonders if an event like the Holocaust has any meaning at all in a world without the moral structure God provides. They and I take our atheism to be the greatest responsibility in the universe–not something that is wholly a cause for joy. And honestly, when I hear other atheists say they are perfectly happy being atheists, and that’s it, I feel like a genuine Christian must feel when he hears some preacher talk about the “prosperity gospel”– like they have missed the point of what it is all about.

  100. #100 Molly, NYC
    May 14, 2010

    I see that the fella who vocationally promulgates religion and believes atheists’ lives are diminished by their lack of God–is also vocationally celibate and implies that physical pleasure is ultimately unsatisfying. (1)

    _________
    (1) And in fact, physical pleasure IS unsatisfying in the sense that the best sex doesn’t satisfy if what your appetite is for food, nor does the clearest, coldest water satisfy if what you want is sleep (and vice versa). Similarly, religion doesn’t satisfy if what you crave is truth.

  101. #101 aratina cage
    May 14, 2010

    Oh My Spam! He used Lion(IRC)’s argument that one’s hunger proves that food exists. ROFL. What a maroon.

  102. #102 Celtic_Evolution
    May 14, 2010

    I took PZ to be saying that atheism is primarily a cause for joy, and not sorrow, whereas the priest is saying that for atheists it should be primarily a cause for sorrow, and not joy.

    OK… and I follow you there… but again I have to state (perhaps pedantically since I think we’re not really far apart here) that this does not imply a false dichotomy. PZ states that, in general, atheism is primarily a cause for joy, but does not state that it must be one or the other. Just that, contrary to the insistence of these clownshoes, it’s more likely to not be a source of sorrow or loss, and certainly does not need to be in order to be taken seriously.

  103. #103 Steve LaBonne
    May 14, 2010

    There’s surely a great joy that goes with that, but isn’t it also quite a bit unsettling as well?

    I don’t find it either joyful or unsettling- merely (trivially) true.

    As a matter of plain fact what you do with your life and what meaning you give is always up to you, always has been and always will be, because even if you believe in an invisible celestial authority it doesn’t, you know, actually exist.

  104. #104 attorney
    May 14, 2010

    Zaphod @43

    Thanks, I needed that. I laughed out loud when I read it.

    And yes, I had to re-do my password to leave this comment. So weird.

  105. #105 naddyfive
    May 14, 2010

    This guy thinks atheists are unintelligent, while his entire argument is based on the assumption that “religion=morality”. Really, that’s what his argument boils down to- the “human need for a better world” IS religion. Atheists can’t be moral. Which is why they all live in an existential sinkhole, wishing they could believe.

    He thinks this is fresh and dazzling?

    Celtic_Evolution @74 sez:

    “I was terrified of that thought for quite some time.”

    Funny, as a kid, nothing terrified me more than when the people at my church would talk about Eternal Life in Heaven as if it was some kind of grand prize rewarded for a life of Jeebus service. The idea that I’d have to live forever in some weird alternate dimension with a creepy non-interventionist God used to paralyze me with fear and dread. (Part of how I imagined heaven to look was based on a video I saw, where it was depicted as a foggy, eerie landscape with New Agey images of wild horses running around. Yeeuck.)

    It’s actually been since I realized that was all bunk at about age 5 that I felt at peace with the idea of dying. Ceasing to exist > creepy God land.

  106. #106 Susan
    May 14, 2010

    @99

    the priest is saying that for atheists it should be primarily a cause for sorrow, and not joy

    He said an atheist can never be truly happy. I think you might have missed Barron’s response to Scott:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/05/letting_go_of_gods_is_a_reason.php#comment-2512972

  107. #107 Steve N
    May 14, 2010

    Faith is not a rational thought process. So the “faithful” feel no obligation to be rational. Just as the rational among us feel no obligation to be delusional when communicating with them. I choose to accept that he may honestly believe his own prattle, and thereby spare my monitor a beat down.

  108. #108 Caine, Fleur du mal
    May 14, 2010

    they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice?in other words, for God.

    That sounds just like the bullshit that used to spouted at women: “oh, you know you need a man to make you complete, honey!” Blecch. Gods make people miserable. Life is too short for that sort of nonsense.

  109. #109 Sastra
    May 14, 2010

    TimmyC #99 wrote:

    As atheists we recognize that human beings are the highest authorities in the universe, that no one else besides us is going to determine right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc. There’s surely a great joy that goes with that, but isn’t it also quite a bit unsettling as well?

    What I find unsettling is uncoupling the concept of God from what humans view as right and wrong, and thinking this makes everything more secure. It wouldn’t. If God is “good” in a sense we don’t recognize, we wouldn’t want to worship it.

    The meek idea that God is the “highest authority in the universe” and stands over and above us lowly humans, hides an underlying requirement that we must first stand in judgment over God, in order to make, and then accept Him as our authority — and not just some big cosmic thug.

    The universe is not fair. It’s not on our side. Things are not meant to “work out” to our ultimate satisfaction. Not everything happens “for a reason” — if, by that, we mean for a moral reason, teaching lessons and guiding us safely along a happy but rocky path.

    But the universe isn’t against us. It’s not “unfair,” like a schoolyard bully. It’s morally inert. I suspect that people who believe in God think it must be one, or the other. Their view of the world, which is supposed to be so humble, is egocentric in the extreme.

  110. #110 raven
    May 14, 2010

    That sounds just like the bullshit that used to spouted at women: “oh, you know you need a man to make you complete, honey!”

    Used to? USED TO? WTH!!!

    They still do. The Mormons are one of the worst. They say, since woman are lucky enough to be able to give birth that they don’t have to worry about anything else. Woman don’t need to think, make decisions, join the priesthood, work, have careers, get an education etc.. Their god the father is famous while his large number of mother goddess wives don’t even merit the mention of their own names. Assuming Mormon women in their heavens even have their own names. And the women can’t even get to the highest heaven unless they are married to someone who does.

    Not sure about Father Kook’s RCC these days. A prominent ex-Catholic, Martin Luther, said women should stay home and bear children until they die (quite common in those days) because that is what they are for. And historically the RCC has been incredibly misogynistic.

  111. #111 daveau
    May 14, 2010

    That sounds just like the bullshit that used to spouted at women: “oh, you know you need a man to make you complete, honey!”

    So, a being without god is like a fish without a bicycle? (If you forget for a minute that bicycles actually exist…)

  112. #112 naddyfive
    May 14, 2010

    Caine, those were my sentiments exactly.

    Religionists like to paint people into a corner in the same way sexists like to paint women into a corner.

    Everyone wants to believe in God, they say, so anybody who claims not to is in bad faith- atheists are just rebelling against God because they’re angry at him. Or they’re too selfish, they want to sin freely, so they won’t “submit” to their natural desire for God’s love.

    Sounds very familiar to me. It’s the same thing sexist men have been telling women for thousands of years: you don’t *really* want a career and personal autonomy, you want the love of a man (one man). No woman doesn’t want kids. No woman enjoys casual sex. Any woman who claims to want these unfeminine things for herself is either selfish, angry, or too rebellious to submit to nature.

  113. #113 Vicki
    May 14, 2010

    Yes, I’m selfish. Maybe even 1/10 as selfish as the sort of sexist man who thinks my life should be dedicated to him (while he dedicates his own life to himself, or maybe to some outside cause, but not to me).

  114. #114 DaveL
    May 14, 2010

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the very idea that religion or god-belief is a life-enhancing thing is just another one of religion’s psychological defense mechanisms. It’s meant to inculcate a fear of adverse consequences, no less than “you’ll go to hell” is. In fact, the constant refrains that life is meaningless and empty without god-belief, or that god-belief is synonymous with fulfillment, truth, justice, and goodness remind me in no small amount to an abusive partner’s warnings that “you’re nothing without me!”

    Sometimes, though, it does seem to act as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a feature I describe as “The Kill Switch”. Because it masquerades as a secular idea about psychology rather than a religious teaching, this idea can remain behind when someone rejects religion and cause all sorts of havoc. Apparently, if you can’t keep people in the fold through fear and threats, try to ensure the apostates will be unhappy and struggling.

  115. #115 Guy Incognito
    May 14, 2010

    Food doesn’t need hunger or long-winded arguments from William Lane Craig to “prove” its existence. Its appearance on my plate roughly thrice daily is more than enough. Hear that, God? And no, piggybacking on my tortillas is NOT going to cut it!

  116. #116 Mr T
    May 14, 2010

    Sastra, #109:

    What I find unsettling is uncoupling the concept of God from what humans view as right and wrong, and thinking this makes everything more secure. It wouldn’t. If God is “good” in a sense we don’t recognize, we wouldn’t want to worship it.

    I’m not sure if I understand what you mean by “we wouldn’t want to worship it”. I wouldn’t worship it if “good” and “evil” have the kind of arbitrary meanings apologists use to excuse “God” from the problem of evil.

    TimmyC:

    As atheists we recognize that human beings are the highest authorities in the universe, that no one else besides us is going to determine right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc. There’s surely a great joy that goes with that, but isn’t it also quite a bit unsettling as well? [...] They and I take our atheism to be the greatest responsibility in the universe–not something that is wholly a cause for joy.

    There might be alien atheists with even greater responsibilities. Don’t inflate our problems back to cosmic proportions simply because that’s what the religious do.

    We should be aware of our responsibilities, and that does of course cause anxiety for anyone who considers them seriously. Nonetheless, it’s better to know that they are ours, not a sky-daddy’s, and it makes me happy (if anxious) that I can do my small part in realizing those goals, understanding and undertaking those responsibilities. It doesn’t just cause forlornness; it also motivates. I would call this a Feature, not a Bug.

  117. #117 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    May 14, 2010

    What happened to the ‘old’ atheists?

  118. #118 Cerberus
    May 14, 2010

    DaveL @114 and naddyfive @112

    This. Very much this.

    That’s pretty much what it seems like. Both the sexism and the psychological kill switch of in-grained guilt mechanisms.

    And it gets reinforced with other shit.

    Just like an abuser will separate their partner from any of her own social support mechanisms to make leaving harder, many religions will try and tie family and friendships entirely to the religion so that leaving a religion means leaving all your friends and family behind and having them guilt you, berate you “to save your soul”.

    The point is to make the act of leaving suck to try and discourage others from leaving, doing without the game of oppressors or bigots.

    Hell, most systems of oppression work like that, up to and including the whole, “the system of oppression is the only real source of happiness and you’ll be empty miserable without it”.

    I think it’s because systems of oppression require at least a minimal amount of playing along to operate. As long as someone is willing to go along with at least some of the “rules” because it’s psychologically “easier” than not, one is able to exert the control. Without it, it becomes much harder to enforce.

  119. #119 Magic Pants
    May 14, 2010

    If you reject the premise that we all naturally yearn for a God, or the conclusion that such a ‘natural yearning’ would constitute evidence that there must be a god, this priest has nothing to stand on. That was exactly where he gave himself away (as PZ says). Take that assumption away (as any open-minded person would do) and he has nothing except his ‘apparent’ authority because he uses words clearly, seems to know a little about some old books, and has goofy collar.

  120. #120 InfraredEyes
    May 14, 2010

    Of course, from Barron’s point of view, the single greatest virtue of the old atheists like Camus and Sartre is that they are all dead, and can’t answer back.

  121. #121 Sastra
    May 14, 2010

    naddy5 #112 wrote:

    Religionists like to paint people into a corner in the same way sexists like to paint women into a corner.

    I’m most vividly reminded of this when they trot out theodicies which explain pain and suffering as necessary in the scheme of things, in order to bring people back to God. Horrible tragedies help to vividly remind us of our dependence, and the futility of relying on man’s ways, or putting one’s hopes in this world. Humanity’s rebellious spirit must be broken, if we are to have a chance of eternal happiness.

    “He only hits you, because He loves you. You were getting too uppity, and forgetting your place.” Why, thank you, Lord, honey.

  122. #122 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 14, 2010

    I posted the following on YouTube:

    I really feel sorry for folks like Barron who need a fictitious sky daddy to find any happiness. What a dreary life they must lead, being unable to see the happiness inherent in love, friendship, intellectual endeavors, and competing? against adversity. Instead Barron finds his happiness in a life of slavery and self-denial supposedly required by his delusional deity. Oh well, he’s the one who decided he had to worship a psychotic bully, not me.

  123. #123 naddyfive
    May 14, 2010

    Just like an abuser will separate their partner from any of her own social support mechanisms to make leaving harder, many religions will try and tie family and friendships entirely to the religion so that leaving a religion means leaving all your friends and family behind and having them guilt you, berate you “to save your soul.

    I’ve heard people compare the difficulty of leaving a cult to the difficulty of leaving an abuser, but it never quite struck me how apt the comparison is until I read this comment.

    God hit me and it felt like a kiss! If you don’t feel his love, you just aren’t submitting hard enough. You haven’t learned to be longsuffering yet. Maybe suffering longer will learn ya a thing or two.

    (Please excuse the grammatical mistakes in my comments, if you can. I do know how to use the subjunctive voice and the past perfect tense, I swear…long week…)

  124. #124 Cerberus
    May 14, 2010

    Satra @121

    Almost makes you want to sponsor an atheist version of “Take Back the Night”. ;)

  125. #125 Brian
    May 14, 2010

    One thing I love about this lame criticism of New Atheists by comparing them to atheists like Camus and Sarte is they never bring up the other side of the existential coin: The theistic side. Kierkegaard (however you spell that ) thought that obeying God’s commands was just as absurd a way to get to morality and just as terrifying as an atheism.

    They want the side of existenalism that they think supports their position, and not what doesn’t.

  126. #126 DesertHedgehog
    May 14, 2010

    Once a madman came down from the mountains and stood in the marketplace at midday and cried out, “God is dead!”

    A small, fez-wearing wombat at a nearby cafe table raised his hand and asked, “May I have His sandwich, then?”

    Small, fez-wearing wombats are quite wise.

    [for the record: God's sandwich is always and ever rare roast beef on a kaiser roll, with Russian dressing]

  127. #127 Diane G.
    May 14, 2010

    #40
    Posted by: RijkswaanVijanD | May 14, 2010 11:09 AM

    would look nice on my dog though..

    For a few seconds I was thinking of what a commercial success this could be–producing a line of actual dog collars that look like clerical collars. Given that dogs DO get interpreted as the epitome of so many so-called god-values–love, acceptance, obedience, etc.–how many of us wouldn’t just love to embrace the irony…

    Then I reflected on the almost certain reality that some dogs so adorned would bear the brunt of of the religiobots’ hatred, and suddenly it seemed like a very bad idea…

    #57
    Posted by: adam cosper | May 14, 2010 11:49 AM
    PS Religion is the opposite of an opiate for the masses? So it’s the methamphetamine of the masses?

    Which of course explains so many things, the way people enslaved by addictions will do almost anything to satisfy them…

    #63
    Posted by: frisbeetarian | May 14, 2010 12:01 PM
    …In fact, having grown up on a small farm, I developed and continue to develop my moral convictions from animals for the very reason they don’t have the bullshit from religious morons persuading them into acts of perversion.

    I can identify with that, and it serves to illustrate both sides of the morality equation. Much as I love my chickens and goats, I can’t imagine a better example of the horror that can be inflicted on the “odd” (ill, weak, disabled, etc.) member of the flock/herd.

    …This smug fool also doesn’t know anything about dogs. My dog appears to have the same desire I do to make a connection with another living creature. She has other human friends, has many dog friends and litter mates nearby and she seems to prefer some friends over others to spend time with.

    Wonderful points. Unfortunately some science itself has precluded research into such human/other animal similarity with its reluctance to examine the null hypothesis that animals can have no agency.

    In fact, one of my goals in life is to be happy and content with what I have and not spend time racing around for the next job or fancy car or other (to me) foolishness.

    Or, in the case of one of my dogs, the next chew stick.

    –Diane

  128. #129 MarkL
    May 14, 2010

    Ok,
    Can I say that if Father Barron doesn’t make your gaydar go off, you must be as straight as John Wayne.
    Second, I listend to about one minute before I couldn’t take anymore.
    He loses me—in fact, he should lose any INTELLIGENT listener—when he begins by saying that the bus’s ad is deeply unintelligent.
    Um, no, it’s not, and no, that’s not a good way to begin your case.

  129. #130 truthspeaker
    May 14, 2010

    It may surprise Father Barron to learn that someone who has never smoked a cigarette doesn’t crave nicotine.

  130. #131 ecurve
    May 14, 2010

    Mattir@80 “carnal Jews of today”

    It does sound like one-stop shopping for sin, doesn’t it?

  131. #132 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    It may surprise Father Barron to learn that someone who has never smoked a cigarette doesn’t crave nicotine.

    I don’t think so. He’s not speaking to us. He’s speaking to believers, warning them what will happen if they try to leave. If he were a cartographer, he’d be screaming “Here be dragons!”

  132. #133 Knockgoats
    May 14, 2010

    And existing, even in eternal damnation, is still a more palatable thought to most than simply not existing anymore at all. – Celtic_Evolution

    I don’t believe that. If it were true, people would not wish to die rather than continue to suffer the pain of (for example) bone cancer or trigeminal neuralgia (the latter certainly won’t kill you but has been called the “suicide disease”).

    I certainly want to go on existing, but only so long as that existence is, on balance, enjoyable – or I have reason to believe it may become so again, or I feel I ought to stay alive for the sake of others. The thought of my future non-existence certainly isn’t frightening or deressing – after all, I didn’t exist for nearly 14 billion years, and as Mark Twain put it “never suffered the slightest inconvenience” from it.

  133. #134 Mr T
    May 14, 2010

    If he were an actor, he would be the old man in this clip:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZR64EF3OpA

  134. #135 Brownian, OM
    May 14, 2010

    The thought of my future non-existence certainly isn’t frightening or deressing – after all, I didn’t exist for nearly 14 billion years, and as Mark Twain put it “never suffered the slightest inconvenience” from it.

    How flippant Mark Twain is. Theologian Barron would argue assert that you and the esteemed Mr. Twain both suffered due to the existence-shaped hole in your, well, something for all that time. Oh, how I long for the glory days of the real existentialists, who cried ethereal rivers of ethereal tears throughout their ethereal pre-existence.

  135. #136 Knockgoats
    May 14, 2010

    At the end of the video, Mr. Barron makes a case for atheism being a “drug” which dulls the sensitivities of those who take it, so that they are blinded and deluded into thinking they don’t need God. Another example, of course, of the tu quoque: you think religion is the opiate of the masses — no, YOU are!” – Sastra

    It’s often not recognised that Marx was being rather fatheist when he described religion as “the opiate of the people”. Opiates were the best method of pain relief available, and had not acquired their modern opprobrium.

    Barron’s claim that “our desire for God” proves God’s existence is exquisitely ridiculous. Many people have desired perpetual motion machines, methods for squaring the circle, for turning lead into gold, etc. “Ah”, Barron would say, but not everyone desires those things. But, of course, not everyone desires God. “You do!”, says Barron, “You do, you do, you do! So there, with knobs on, and no returns!” To call his attitude childish is a gross insult to children.

  136. #137 Mathew Wilder
    May 14, 2010

    Not even gonna watch it. The last thing I need to see is some ignoramus theist bloviating about Camus. Camus was not a sad or despairing atheist. Yes, he believed we live in a universe with no inherent meaning, but he loved life.

    For that matter, so did Nietzsche. Have any of these anti-”New Atheists” ever fucking read Nietzsche or Camus? (I don’t particularly care if they mangle Sartre, since he was an apologist for Stalinism.)

  137. #138 raven
    May 14, 2010

    Cardinal Cormac: ‘Atheism the greatest of evils.’ – Ruth /2009/05/cardinal-cormac-atheism-the- ….. future of belief in God is because obviously it’s the greatest threat. …

    It isn’t surprising that Father Barron is demonizing atheists. It’s his job. The RCC is a mind control cult and a business like they all are. And atheists are the competition.

    He is actually holding back. One of the princes of the church, Cardinal Cormac, called atheism the greatest of evils. He also said atheists are subhuman.

    We’ve seen that movie before and we will see it again. I suppose in the good old days, Cormac and Barron would have been saying grace before those heretic Protestants were hung on the gallows. It all seems almost…Darwinian for some reason.

  138. #139 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    I still think we should simply respond to stupid people yammering about how miserable atheists are without god by invoking theological noncognitivism. Big words for saying that the word “god” has no meaning and thus can mean anything one wishes, from the trees in my backyard to sexual desire to the mean old man in the sky advocated by the likes of Mr. Barron. And it’s always fun to watch theists’ ears start to steam as the brain overheats from too much thinking…

  139. #140 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2010

    Oh, Father Barron, so smug and sure in your phony Catholicism ? you must be merely playing at religion, since you aren’t all distressed and weepy over your failure to grasp the power of science and reason and rationalism.

    yawn.

    he’s projecting.

    what’s new?

    he even compares psalms to Camu and Sartre’s writings.

    sad.

  140. #141 Birger Johansson
    May 14, 2010

    Here is a “rationalist anthem”. Veterans of Scienceblogs.com may already have heard it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAYVY2eLMck&feature=player_embedded

  141. #142 D
    May 14, 2010

    Seriously? BWAHAHA! Wow, that’s a really powerful piece of logic that he’s got there when he says that our hunger for food proves that there is food. Yes, yes, of course, we want there to be a paternalistic god looking out for us (perhaps so that we can sleep as soundly as dogs?), therefore there is one. Also, I want there to be a way for me to never experience physical death, therefore there must be one. I wouldn’t look for food in my fridge if there wasn’t some in there, therefore I never need to shop for groceries. I also want there to be no god so that I’m not accountable to anyone in the end, therefore there is no god. Man, when your desires are allowed to be used as evidence for facts about the world outside your mind, there’s no limit to the absurdities you can imagine to be the case!

    Nevermind the fact that reality is under no obligation to conform itself to our urges. Nevermind the fact that we bred dogs to obey us over centuries. And nevermind the fact that dogs get bored, too! I’d say that only a deity could design something too stupid to live, but we’ve had ages to domesticate ourselves and breed docility into ourselves, so that’s not really the case.

  142. #143 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2010

    If he were an actor, he would be the old man in this clip:

    “No, I’m a good man, I’m just a very bad wizard.”

  143. #144 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    @Ichthyic – I might compare Psalms to Camus and Sartre as well. Psalms are the efforts of people who lived almost 3000 years ago to make sense of their lives. Camus and Sartre build on Psalms and all the other new ideas developed during the intervening years in order to make sense of their lives.

    Why these folks don’t seem to think that humanity might have new ideas developed since the Bronze Age is sort of beyond me. I guess if they acknowledged those new ideas, we would be compelled to view Psalms with the same amount of reverence as we devote to stonehenge or Clovis points.

  144. #145 Ichthyic
    May 14, 2010

    Camus and Sartre build on Psalms and all the other new ideas developed during the intervening years in order to make sense of their lives

    you actually need to listen to HOW he compared them, before making inane comments like this.

  145. #146 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    @Ichthyic – Yes, I haven’t listened to the fool yet – my stomach isn’t quite strong enough and I have houseguests. I just wish that some of these folks would accept that we might have moved on a bit from the Bronze Age.

  146. #147 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnV9m0XZFyBJD1XXjpSl__qxR4GdrLdOpw
    May 14, 2010

    “Email about to be sent”

    “I watched your video with interest you stated that our hunger for and desire for God proves that God is out there.
    All my life (at least as all as I remember) I have deeply hungered for and desired a pink flying pony. So my question is where is the catholic church hiding the flying ponies and how much will cost me to get one?”

  147. #148 Kirk
    May 14, 2010

    I spent most of my life as an unhappy atheist.

    I never believed in god, even as a child, but I was always wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t believe in this “wonderful” thing that all the religious people were believing.

    So I spent a long time trying to believe, and being very unhappy, because the cognitive dissonance was strong.

    And finally I stumbled across the writings of the “New Atheists”, and found confirmation in not believing.

    And ever since then I’ve been a very happy person. Being godless is not necessarily good, but it can certainly lead to happiness.

    And I’ve found that happiness has been a pretty good thing, all things considered.

  148. #149 Kel, OM
    May 14, 2010

    And there it is again, the crazy complaint that the New Atheists aren’t serious enough, that they’re playing at atheism, because they just don’t express the existential anguish that apostates are expected to feel.

    I keep seeing this, and I wonder why I’m meant to feel it. Am I meant to weep that there’s no God? Should I be sad that Christianity is just the current myth our culture takes? Am I meant to be down that Jesus is going the way of Hercules?

    Maybe going one God further is a big jump. Since I never really believed I never had anything to lose.

  149. #150 Snoof
    May 14, 2010

    Pretty typical snake oil salesmanship technique, really.

    First you convince people that they’re sick.
    Then you sell them something that’ll “cure” them.

  150. #151 Teshi
    May 14, 2010

    Ah, the final fear of the believer as he or she stands at the precipice of atheism: “If others can find joy and beauty in a life that omits the thing I perceive as bringing joy and beauty, does this thing need to exist?”

    Also, when he introduced the dog thing, his argument totally fell apart and I may be quite mistaken, but I felt like he realised it when he said: “We’re not like that… if, as the atheists claim, we are just dogs with big brains, we could be like that…”

    Also, it drives me crazy that this guy is speaking from personal experience but using “we”. Who is “we”? Not me, certainly. How dare he presume to speak for the whole of humanity when really he just means himself?

  151. #152 cyan
    May 14, 2010

    Agreeing with the premise of reversing this analogically (as well as other potent criticisms delineated by numerous comments) – if seriousness were to be judged by the amount of gloom engendered, then wouldn’t John Calvin and his followers be the most serious christianists? Calvin’s philosophy seems the most dour and grim, and therefore, if Barron is not a Calvinist, he is not as serious. That is assuming per his argument that seriousness is the standard by which one should judge the usefulness and benefit and truth of something.

    If he is not as serious, then by his argument, I infer he must be more silly.

    I like silliness if it is funny. He is not funny – just illogical for the purpose of being illogical, not to point out the illogicalities.

  152. #153 Stan Pak
    May 14, 2010

    This dog-collar-man said something like this: “existence of hunger proves food’s existence, etc.”.

    This is of course logical fallacy (appeal to emotions, which can be easily falsified by following counter-example:
    “our desire for aliens landing on my backyard is a proof for existence of aliens” or similar constructs.

    I found that this is old L.C.Lewis’ argument from desire.

    It is just sad that such apparently eloquent man cannot see this.

  153. #154 Kel, OM
    May 14, 2010

    I hate this kind of ‘atheism needs to be justified to be considered valid’ bullshit.

    No it fucking doesn’t. No more than not accepting astrology is capable of telling us anything about ourselves or the future needs to be justified, or not believing in leprechauns needs to be justified, or not liking Céline fucking Dion needs to be justified.

    Well said Wowbagger. It gets annoying when atheists and theists alike bring this up. Perhaps there needs to be something more than “Mum and Dad told me there was no God” but what is being asked for is just ridiculous.

    Especially too when the requirements they impose as necessary for consideration have little to do with the question of existence in which atheism is defined by. How is the symbolism of Christ’s suffering relevant to the question of whether Jesus was an incarnation of the One True GodTM? It’s like counting pin-dancing angels without first showing that it’s a meaningful task.

    As an aside, I’ve got to say I’ve found much more comfort and insight into the human condition from understanding evolution than I ever have from any metaphysical ideal that any religion has put forth to explain it. The Christian dogma gives at best a superficial explanation, simplified to the point of being wrong where original sin and vicarious atonement are the markers for the worst and best in humanity. Aspire to the best? Heaven through Jesus’ sacrifice. Shy away from that ideal? Hell awaits…

  154. #155 irksome.infidel
    May 14, 2010

    I assume it is a blogging faux pas to re-post a quote which was recently ignored, but here again is Carl Sagan in Demon-Haunted World,

    In the way that skepticism is sometimes applied to issues of public concern, there is a tendency to belittle, to condescend, to ignore the fact, that, deluded or not, supporters of superstitions and pseudoscience are human-beings with real beliefs, who, like the skeptics, are trying to figure out how the world works and what our role in it might be. Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.

    And yet, the chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is in its polarization: Us vs. Them?the sense that we have a monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you?re sensible, you?ll listen to us; and if not, you?re beyond redemption. This is unconstructive. It does not get the message across. It condemns the skeptics to permanent minority status; whereas, a compassionate approach that from the beginning acknowledges the human roots of pseudoscience and superstition might be much more widely accepted.

    That is the problem with New Atheism.

  155. #156 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    @Ichthyic – OK, I’ve now listened to the bozo. He didn’t actually reference Psalms, he referenced the book of Ecclesiastes, possibly the most cynical book in the entire bible. I still don’t know what was inane about my comment – Ecclesiastes, Camus, and Sartre all grasped that there is something pretty absurd about life, and the idea that Ecclesiastes was right about how there’s a god and Camus/Sartre wrong and appropriately depressed as a result represents some sort of logical fallacy.

    Even within the bizarre intellectual framework of the RCC, the idea that one is obliged to be serious and grim about life without god is probably wrong. And wouldn’t it be interesting if he gave some consideration to the real message of those New Atheist signs, namely that religion can impose huge amounts of irrational guilt and suffering on believers. His listeners could probably benefit from a talk on how excessive guilt is wrong…

  156. #157 Mattir
    May 14, 2010

    @Kel

    As an aside, I’ve got to say I’ve found much more comfort and insight into the human condition from understanding evolution than I ever have from any metaphysical ideal that any religion has put forth to explain it.

    Amen!

  157. #158 Harbo
    May 14, 2010

    A brief precis of world events leaves…
    3 options for your imaginary friend;
    ..1 Asleep at the wheel
    ..2 Homicidal maniac
    ..3 Non-existent
    Now is that a pole we should run?

  158. #159 raven
    May 14, 2010

    and the idea that Ecclesiastes was right about how there’s a god

    I wouldn’t bet on Ecclesiastes saying there is a god, originally. The inerrant, infallible bible has been continuously rewritten and edited since day 1. In fact, an obvious example is on page 1 with two different creation myths and two different gods.

    A lot of the god in Ecclesiastes looks a lot like post facto editing somewhere along the line.

  159. #160 Harbo
    May 14, 2010

    sorry POLL I’m tired

  160. #161 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 14, 2010

    irksome.infidel #155

    I disagree with Sagan’s opinion given in the quote. Playing nice with the goddists has done exactly zip point shit in having them play nice with us. George H.W. Bush doesn’t think atheists should be citizens. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor blamed atheism for war and destruction, and implied it was a greater evil even than sin itself. Notice I’m not talking about Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson but an ex-president and the ex-Catholic Primate of England.

    So you’ll excuse me if I think that, in this instance, Carl Sagan is full of shit.

  161. #162 Galactus35
    May 14, 2010

    There is a god shaped hole in my life. It’s where the light comes in.

  162. #163 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 14, 2010

    So you’ll excuse me if I think that, in this instance, Carl Sagan is full of shit.

    What? We atheists aren’t authority following mindless blobs of protoplasm, and must think for ourselves? Swoo..ooh, sniny…

  163. #164 Mak
    May 14, 2010

    @Galactus35

    That’s just…poetry.

  164. #165 realinterrobang
    May 14, 2010

    I was raised without religion and it never “took” on me, so how the hell am I supposed to have existential angst about losing something I never had to begin with? I can understand people who grow up in profoundly religious cultures or households feeling like they’ve lost something when they figure out that they don’t believe anymore, but I was raised in a completely religion-neutral environment, where it neither mattered if other people believed or not, but I was also never forced into it, so I have all the sense of loss of a congenitally blind person over their sense of sight. (Much like someone with a congenital inability to perceive something, I find the notion of religion to be kind of weird and inexplicable and not really within any common frame of reference I have with the religious.)

  165. #166 Crudely Wrott
    May 14, 2010

    The content and even the “tone” (chuckle) of the video, poorly augmented by an admittedly small sampling of the above comments, brings something into the clear. That is, that mainstream God worship is mightily occupied with damage control. Not that that is a new thing but it does seem to be getting a little more air time lately and is a bit shriller and insistent.

    I could be wrong yet this seems a positive sign . . .

    Just before I clicked the submit button I recalled a saw often bowed by the faithful, “Let go and let God.” The meaning being that if you quit, God will start. Unexplained is why an action of God should depend on the action of a puny human.

    To all the other puny humans out there, live long and prosper, one with another.

  166. #167 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    May 14, 2010

    I find the concept of the abrahamic god to be frightening and horrifying, a blood thirsty tyrant who acts without ethics. But I also find the concept of a creator deity to be one of the most unlikely possibilities. So I spend no time worried that an angry will punish me nor angry that it exists. And I am grateful that the universe does not care if I exist or not. It beats either being an eternal sycophant or facing eternal punishment.

    Yet this bobo insists that I am supposed to be sad that god does not exist, a fictional being that I find repugnant? I would rather be “shallow” than to life this bobo’s fantasy of what an atheist should be.

  167. #168 Crudely Wrott
    May 14, 2010

    Yes. What you said, Janine.
    The bible and the other tomes I have read all portray their sponsor(s) in much the same light as NASCAR portrays theirs. All good. No bad. Buy it or miss out.

    Now pardon me, I have to get back to “Ghost Busters” on the TeeVee. That’s more real than some of the things I’ve heard lately . . .

  168. #169 MrPeach
    May 14, 2010

    Oh noes, i r not a seeriuz atiest. I r so mad I gonna

    Oh shiney.

  169. #170 elzoog
    May 15, 2010

    Hey PZ, you made my day. Don’t know if you commented because of me or not, but I’m glad to know that I’m doing my small part for atheism.

  170. #171 writermonky
    May 15, 2010

    Even when I was a Christian, I don’t recall ever having any desire for God. He was just this intangible force dude guy who had made everything and you prayed to him when things went wrong. And when your prayers weren’t answered, well god has a plan.

  171. #172 rajesh.shenoy.myopenid.com
    May 15, 2010

    I have a deep, true, longing for FSM. In fact, if you cut open my heart, I’m sure you’ll find a FSM shaped hole there. I’ve searched Him for hours deep inside my computer’s CPU using Intel’s native debuggers. Or is He deep down in my Ubuntu Lucid Lynx’s TCP/IP stack? If so, can He make it past the transition to IPv6? Oh, FSM … WHERE ART THOU…??

    I have a real, palpable, deep longing for FSM. THEREFORE FSM much exist. Somewhere. Someplace. One day, I’m sure I’ll meet Him. But till then … sniff, sob!

  172. #173 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    A man, a plan, a canal, Panama. A familiar palindrome that reads the same forwards and backwards. Perfect. Let’s try it again!

    A god, a plan, a canal, Panama. Nope. Doesn’t work and here’s why. “A man, a plan, a canal, padoga” doesn’t read the same backwards as forwards and thus there is nothing to worry about.

    Can’t say that I’m inspired to relinquish my humanity in return for word games. Maybe I’m just tired. It has been a long and tiring week.

    Wait! . . . Pagoda?

  173. #174 mothwentbad
    May 15, 2010

    Dogs can design canal pagodas?

  174. #175 Knockgoats
    May 15, 2010

    As atheists we recognize that human beings are the highest authorities in the universe, that no one else besides us is going to determine right and wrong, justice and injustice, etc. There’s surely a great joy that goes with that, but isn’t it also quite a bit unsettling as well? – TimmyC

    No.

    Next question?

  175. #176 Quincyme
    May 15, 2010

    I’m an atheist but I’m not happy… maybe it’s just because I’m a grumpy bastard.

    Actually, if anyone reads this that knows me, I’m very happy and at least I get up early on a Sunday morning and go and do something constructive like hack pieces of grass around my local golf course.

    On another note, I love the way most posts contain the word god with a small “g” even when writing about the big g. So “disrespectful”.

  176. #177 John Scanlon FCD
    May 15, 2010

    So are we allowed to copypasta comments from the Linker thread? Mine fits better here anyway:

    It was a bit of a disappointment, but also a relief, to find out that the spiral stair at the back of the church only went up as far as the organ loft, and down to a small crypt*; that all the miraculous stuff in the old book was hearsay, with no standing as accurate history or even eyewitness accounts; that most of it was insane drivel with no philosophical value anyway (Ecclesiastes is OK, but toss the rest!); that the Vatican showed its lack of faith in the Turin rag by refusing (as it did for so long) to submit samples for carbon dating; that God was nothing to be afraid of**. Without heaven, hell, or any kind of miraculous intervention to fear, we can appreciate life and reality for what they are and can be, not write them off as a prelude or a fake like the religious do (or pretend to, except when their real fear shows). Not missing anything, thanks for asking.

    *(if it’s not clear, that’s no metaphor: when you’re told from infancy that heaven and hell are real places, not magical imaginary fairylands, you expect there to be some actual means of transport)

    **(if the God of the bible were real, fear would be the most appropriate attitude; but I saw little evidence of it in the professed believers I grew up among. That’s one reason I think most of them are just pretending to believe)

  177. #178 Knockgoats
    May 15, 2010

    Dogs can design canal pagodas? – mothwentbad

    No (excuse my using your amusing contribution as a launching pad for a serious point!) – and this is why they curl up and go to sleep once fed, warm, and surrounded by their pack: there’s little else they can do that could enhance their ability to survive and reproduce. We, on the other hand, can plan, trade, make tools, impress others with our skills, persuade them to do what we want… Of course, much (even most) of what we now do with our cognitive and linguistic abilities has no systematic effect on our inclusive fitness, but the occasions when it does, and did, are why we have them, and use them when basic needs are satisfied, rather than curling up to sleep like dogs. Sorry, “father”, that’s another disappearing gap your imaginary friend can’t squeeze into any more.

  178. #179 bastion of sass
    May 15, 2010

    When I was trying to be a good Catholic girl, trying to believe things that didn’t make sense to me, trying to embrace a faith which often seemed to me unjust, trying to live a sinless life (even though early on, I wasn’t really buying into the whole heaven/hell business), I was profoundly unhappy, stressed, hated myself. The mental dissonance was terrible.

    But when I gave up religion, I almost immediately became much much happier. Such a weight was lifted from me. I was free! Free to live a life without superstition, irrationality, injustice, and inane rules. Free to live a life of rationality, justice, peace, and real joy.

  179. #180 irksome.infidel
    May 15, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself #161 –

    The point Sagan was making is that we should resist falling into the trap of emotionalism, Us-vs-Them, and tribalism. That is the signature of religion, paranoia and otherwise delusional thought.

    Rather, we should advance rational, intellectually forceful positions which do not have the obvious weakness that allows the opposition to say, “Look, atheists really are crazy kooks!”

  180. #181 QED
    May 15, 2010

    …they [the good old atheists] knew that inside us we have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness, justice?in other words, for God.

    Apply Occam’s razor:

    Atheists [like most people] have a deep desire for fulfillment, truth, goodness and justice

    no “other words” or gods need be posited.

  181. #182 Mattir
    May 15, 2010

    Just before I clicked the submit button I recalled a saw often bowed by the faithful, “Let go and let God.” The meaning being that if you quit, God will start. Unexplained is why an action of God should depend on the action of a puny human.

    Actually this is usually a 12-step saying that means “stop trying to force your own stupid and non-working solution and see, once your narrowed attention has opened up a bit, what other options might be available.” You can interpret that how you wish, and the word “god” in the saying can be interpreted as everything from Thor to photosynthesis.

  182. #183 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 15, 2010

    I’m an atheist but I’m not happy… maybe it’s just because I’m a grumpy bastard.

    Strange because I’m and atheist and a grumpy bastard, but strangely very happy.

  183. #184 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 15, 2010

    an

    AN

    damn IT!


    AN

  184. #185 pittige
    May 15, 2010

    don’t forget that in a religion the organisation
    is not for the believers but in the contrary the
    believers serve the organisation (read priests).
    They use fulfillment, truth, goodness, and justice
    as advertisement for their parasitic existence.
    talk evolutionary : because they can’t dominate
    women biological they trie to dominate psychological. It is know that despite of the fact
    that the church don’t want to recognize the existence
    of half of humanity, women are the strongest believers in their celibatarian gods.

  185. #186 Mr T
    May 15, 2010

    From irksome.infidel, #155, Sagan wrote:

    Their motives are in many cases consonant with science. If their culture has not given them all the tools they need to pursue this great quest, let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.

    It is consistent with this claim that in many cases “their motives” are not consonant with science. What can we do then? (Please note the unavoidable use of us v. them in standard English grammar.)

    [...] if you?re sensible, you?ll listen to us; and if not, you?re beyond redemption. This is unconstructive.

    If they are unwilling to “redeem” themselves because of their anti-science motives, then what are we to do? In such cases, does it follow that we should not temper our criticism with kindness? If so, what kind of temperance is ethical or desirable?

    a compassionate approach that from the beginning acknowledges the human roots of pseudoscience and superstition might be much more widely accepted.

    “New Atheists” have tried to explain how some errors are made, and how they are natural functions of the brain gone haywire, or reasonable assumptions in one domain that don’t apply to another. That alone doesn’t always work. It’s unfair to insist this is “the problem with New Atheism,” without considering what other factors are involved.

    #180:

    we should resist falling into the trap of emotionalism, Us-vs-Them, and tribalism. That is the signature of religion, paranoia and otherwise delusional thought.

    The signature of religion, etc., is not emotionalism. It’s a signature of human beings who actually care about their work, and who recognize they have real opposition in the world who will resort to anything to get their way. Don’t berate “New Atheists” for being emotional. We’re human beings, just like everyone else, and there are good reasons to be emotional. People respond to positive and negative emotions, and are able to put them into context without assuming we’re “crazy kooks” just for having them. We’re not Vulcans, and I happen to think it’s better that way

    Do you acknowledge that in many cases, uninhibited emotions are not only unavoidable but also effective forms of communication? That there are people who deserve a great deal of scorn for their unethical, anti-science positions? That there are many who have no sincere belief that could be swayed by a compassionate approach, but rather use this superstition to maintain their own power and justify every kind of evil?

    We should not let ourselves be trampled upon anymore. I’m not about to stop being “uppity”, because nothing we say will ever be comforting enough. Please try to understand that.

  186. #187 irenedelse
    May 15, 2010

    Ooh, I’ve had an epiphany!

    If all those theistic apologists can only comprehend atheism as full of angst and pitiable suffering, maybe, just maybe it’s because… they apply to all atheists what they observe in those atheists who (I surmise) they may most easily observe: those who have lost their faith but haven’t let go of the church!

    Now, these people are likely to tie themselves in knots to keep the two parts of their minds together just a little bit longer, instead of letting go. (Of course, since some of them are priests, letting go would lead to losing their jobs, too. And what with the economy being what it is, this is not something to be considered lightly. No wonder the good father is ready to understand their plight…)

  187. #188 DaveWTC
    May 15, 2010

    @43, attorney, it may be that you are trying to log in using your display name (attorney) instead of your user name (???). If you hit “Sign up” again and click in the user name box, you may get a hint of what it is. Why they are different I do not know, possibly because none of us has enough user names and passwords to remember these days.

  188. #189 irksome.infidel
    May 15, 2010

    Mr T #186 –

    I’m afraid you’ve chased a red herring there. You saw the word “emotionalism” and went down a pretty meaningless path, as if I suggested that we should be as Vulcans.

    No, when I said emotionalism it referred to its use as potent fuel for tribalism and Us-vs-Them-ism.

    Since that puts your last comment to rest, perhaps you could explain what you think Sagan was referring to. [Hint: it's not the adoption of Vulcanism.]

  189. #190 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    Hello, Mattir @ 182. Yes. I’ve always silently asked anyone who mentioned God this simple question, “Which one?”

    When I was about nine years old and was considering the fact that kids frequently have imaginary playmates, I realized that I hadn’t any. So I tried to invent one. Even gave it a name, Cosmo. (Probably due to a sitcom on B&W TeeVee back in the my day.)

    At first it was pretty cool. Cosmo was there when I got off the bus after school and walked the three quarters of a mile home with me. Actually, he floated along off my right hand, two o’clock high. I’d tell him about the day and he would suggest exciting alternatives. That lasted about a week. The problem was that Cosmo wasn’t there on the walk to the bus in the morning. I realize now that because I am not a morning person, more of a “bear” as I’ve been told, my imagination and credibility just weren’t up to speed at seven thirty AM.

    It became obvious to me that Cosmo was a puppet and I, in an attempt to come to terms with a foreign concept (no religion taught in home, bless Ma and Dad) was quite plainly pulling the strings.

    I caught myself red handed. I actually got a hearty chuckle at my own expense and considered it profit. Yes, I was a bit embarrassed by it but not as much as I am by what happened later in life. But that’s another story . . .

  190. #191 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 15, 2010

    irksome.infidel #180

    The point Sagan was making is that we should resist falling into the trap of emotionalism, Us-vs-Them, and tribalism. That is the signature of religion, paranoia and otherwise delusional thought.

    I don’t disagree with this.

    Rather, we should advance rational, intellectually forceful positions which do not have the obvious weakness that allows the opposition to say, “Look, atheists really are crazy kooks!”

    Ray Comfort has had the evolution of sex explained to him several times. He even admits this. However every few months he comes out with a bunch of shit convoluted story about evolution teaching that males and females of each species evolved separately. In a similar way Rick Warren, who claims to have a good understanding of TOE, has said if given a choice between science and the Bible he’ll pick the Bible every time. Rationality does not work with folks like that.

  191. #192 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    Wow. What an utter asshole.

    I think of belief in god as a gangrenous toe. It holds us back. It makes us ill. It harms us and threatens to kill us.

    Neitsche and the existentialists were missing the thought of what that toe might have been, were it not gangrenous (ie, if god were real). They were like that man who refuses to let them take off the toe, because the fear is too strong. And then they get septic, and the gangrene spreads….

    I think some of the new atheists are people who bit the bullet and said “take the toe.” They had the imagination to see that life had more value. They’ve been through the worst and healed.

    Life is good, sweet smelling, and free of illusion. Of course we’re happy! Of course we’re flippant! We stared down the worst the religious can imagine, did the free-fall, and realised that there’s so much more beyond that existential wall, that belief in god is absurd for us, that we’d lose so much by going back.

    Or maybe that’s just my story. I did come to this from a deeply religious culture, and the leap was frightening, but probably the best thing I ever did.

    That toe can stay, preserved in formaldehyde, on the shelf. I don’t miss it; it was holding me back.

  192. #193 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    I reread that- sorry, that was gross. I’ve seen a lot of diabetic feet this week.

  193. #194 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    Redrabbitslife said, “Or maybe that’s just my story.”

    No. Oh, no. Your story is common coin for many. OK, your story is unique in its details but common in overall terms. So is mine and so are many, many others. Really, you’re in good company. (By that standard them so am I.) Nice to meet you.

    signed
    Crudely “toeing the line” Wrott

  194. #195 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    By that standard them so am I.

    Did you see that Rev. BDC? You, too, are part of a larger set.

    [grimace]

  195. #196 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 15, 2010

    Did you see that Rev. BDC? You, too, are part of a larger set.

    Just as a comment, Rev BDC is sensitive about his tonnage weight.

  196. #197 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    I rephrase that as, “We two are part of a larger set.”

  197. #198 irksome.infidel
    May 15, 2010

    ‘Tis Himself #191:

    Rationality does not work with folks like that.

    But responding with steady, rational arguments can work for their followers. I’ve seen it happen.

    However I often observe in New Atheists the same kind of Us-vs-Them craziness which is the hallmark of creationists and such. Presenting atheism as a worldview alongside opposing worldviews is to cede the unique position of skepticism, which always includes self-skepticism.

    In other words, atheism is a conclusion while skepticism is a process. No amount of argumentation whatsoever will get another person to accept your conclusion, no matter how right you insist you are or how loud you say it–that’s exactly the fallacy of the religious. But emphasizing skepticism as a process of examining claims can be effective, though it takes patience and lacks the our-side-is-awesome bravado that many enjoy.

  198. #199 redrabbitslife
    May 15, 2010

    Thanks CW.

    That’s why I’m here: to experience about the good company.

    That, the bat sex, and the bacon.

  199. #200 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    @ 199: No problemo, man. Same old story. Nice to greet a fellow traveler pushing through the new territory.

    The only thing better is the “radically ambiguous and ceaselessly flowing cosmic soup!” (see this site, 3-23-10, with respect to Chopra,)

  200. #201 Kel, OM
    May 15, 2010

    However I often observe in New Atheists the same kind of Us-vs-Them craziness which is the hallmark of creationists and such. Presenting atheism as a worldview alongside opposing worldviews is to cede the unique position of skepticism, which always includes self-skepticism.

    You’re essentially complaining about tone rather than position. I’m with you on not selling atheism as a worldview, it’s merely a descriptor that has the same connotation as “non-astrologer”. It’s a negative position and cannot be a worldview in itself. The simple illustration is “if someone doesn’t use astrology to understand their destiny then what do they do?”, being a non-astrologer doesn’t entail anything other than the negation of the belief in astrology.

    No matter how you say it, there’s going to be that great indignity. Sagan was very sympathetic, it comes off strongly in his writings and work the empathy he had for those who believed. And he is held up as the idealised form a skeptic should take – one who shows that they care, that they understand. But I wonder if he was really that effective? If we had another Carl Sagan today, would he be anything more than an exemplar we could point to? Would he actually be more effective, or would he just be one we could look at having a civil yet fruitless conversation?

    What I worry about is that we’re creating an atheist saint, as if it’s the tone of the delivery that is the problem with the message itself. I’m sceptical about that…

  201. #202 Crudely Wrott
    May 15, 2010

    Erk! That should be “quantum soup. Also, bacon with a hint of maple syrup is most better. If you haven’t any maple syrup you’ll just eat your bacon and be glad you’ve got it. If you do have syrup then you will eat your bacon with it and be glad for it all.

    Bacon. The great equalizer. The grand prize. The tastiest. With or without.

  202. #203 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 15, 2010

    irksome.infidel #198

    But responding with steady, rational arguments can work for their followers. I’ve seen it happen.

    Maybe with one or two in a hundred, but the followers are as brainwashed as the leaders. Ever see the creationists who come through here? These folks try to argue to people who actually know something about both evolution and the Bible. The creationists tell us things like:

    ? “Evolution is on its last legs. Today the majority of biologists don’t accept evolution.”

    ? “The universe is 6000 years old.”

    ? “Dinosaurs rode on Noah’s Ark.”

    These folks actually, honestly, really believe that sort of stuff. They’re told it by Ken Ham and “Dr”* Kent Hovind. They know that Ham and Hovind** wouldn’t lie to them.

    However I often observe in New Atheists the same kind of Us-vs-Them craziness which is the hallmark of creationists and such. Presenting atheism as a worldview alongside opposing worldviews is to cede the unique position of skepticism, which always includes self-skepticism.

    Okay, please explain how we should deal with someone who thinks fossils were planted by Satan. Be specific, since your knowledge on how to deal with the deluded is obviously much superior to “New Atheists.”

    In other words, atheism is a conclusion while skepticism is a process. [emphasis in original]

    And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Do you have any other trite truisms to toss out? Is the ocean still full of water? Is the Moon not made out of green cheese? Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

    No amount of argumentation whatsoever will get another person to accept your conclusion, no matter how right you insist you are or how loud you say it–that’s exactly the fallacy of the religious.

    But didn’t you say, in the first paragraph, that you had seen “steady, rational arguments … work for their followers.” Isn’t this a contradiction? Or is it only Old Atheists who can use this ploy and us New Atheists will automatically fail if we try?

    But emphasizing skepticism as a process of examining claims can be effective, though it takes patience and lacks the our-side-is-awesome bravado that many enjoy.

    I tell you what. You use your methods and let us use ours. Since your “steady, rational arguments” are as effective as our unsteady, irrational arguments with the likes of Ham and Hovind, you can continue doing your ineffectual, pathetic posturing and let us do the heavy lifting. Go talk to Karen Armstrong and Bishop Sprong while we deal with Ham and Hovind.

    *Hovind got his doctorate from Patriot Bible University, a school whose main (and only) building is the size of two double-wides.

    **Hovind is a convicted felon presently serving time in federal prison for tax fraud and money laundering.

  203. #204 Kurt1
    May 15, 2010

    a few month back i read an interesting paper (which sadly, i can´t find online right now), about the emerge of religious behaviour. pidgeons were fed at random and after a short while, whenever they were hungry, they started behaving in a certain way, like picking the feathers under their wings i.e.. this could explain the emerge of raindances etc. the special behaviour was falsly linked to some kind of reward that would happen anyway because it is a random appearance.

    therefore is his deep desire for god nothing more, than his arrogant wish, not to be an animal with a bigger brain (his words), but something special.

  204. #205 Topaca
    May 15, 2010

    Well, I don’t know if this has already been said, but when I hear priests or other of that kind say “there is a desire for god, so be serious about, don’t dismiss it, try and satisfy it with us” I always think that it sounds like basic advertising: you have a craving for fat food, so here at McDonald we have it: come and eat it!

    The fact that we have craving for things does not mean that things are good for us.

    Just advertising :-)

  205. #206 irksome.infidel
    May 15, 2010

    Maybe with one or two in a hundred, but the followers are as brainwashed as the leaders.

    Even granting your estimate, 1%-2% means millions of potential mind-changers. That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    Okay, please explain how we should deal with someone who thinks fossils were planted by Satan. Be specific, since your knowledge on how to deal with the deluded is obviously much superior to “New Atheists.”

    I’m glad to oblige. The technique is to shift the conversation up a level: How do we decide claims? Do we start by assuming the answer, or not? The problem is not their particular claim regarding Satan, but the closed mode of reasoning to which they are accustomed. Do not even address the Satan issue, but rather on how they arrived at the idea. Don’t call them stupid, because that effectively ends the conversation, but also because they aren’t stupid — our species believed such things for thousands of years while our brains are basically the same today.

    It is indeed a verifiable, empirical scientific fact that you will not influence them if you challenge their intelligence: read “Mistakes We Made” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson (thanks to http://www.forgoodreason.org/carol_tavris_mistakes_were_made for tipping me off to this book).

    With someone that deluded, this is what usually happens: they keep going back to assuming the answer. They’ll agree that in other situations they won’t assume the answer, but for the topic at hand (something Satan-related) they do just that. The conversation will go in circles for a few moments, maybe forever. But on several occasions I’ve seen a glimmer of realization from them.

    But didn’t you say, in the first paragraph, that you had seen “steady, rational arguments … work for their followers.” Isn’t this a contradiction?

    Only superficially, like when ID advocates think they’ve scored a point whenever biologists use the word “design”. All arguments automatically fail except the argument about arguments, that is, skepticism. Skepticism is unique because it is self-referential; it’s not quite a viewpoint itself but a meta-viewpoint. An “argument” from skepticism is not really an argument but a process of Socratic questioning.

    I tell you what. You use your methods and let us use ours.

    Your method fails. See Tavris’ book.

  206. #207 Kel, OM
    May 16, 2010

    That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    Do you actually have evidence of this, or are you just talking theoretical? This is the problem I have with the whole “tone” argument, it seems that people who claim that tone is a problem are really making an argument based on the rule of thumb that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Do the numbers really stack up? Are there any numbers at all?

    read “Mistakes We Made” by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

    I ordered that book earlier today, she sold me on Declaring Independence and For Good Reason.

  207. #208 Jadehawk, OM
    May 16, 2010

    That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    and you base this statement on what? there’s been a number of posters here who admitted that it was “new atheism” that finally got them out of their religion, so 0% is already wrong.

  208. #209 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    Even granting your estimate, 1%-2% means millions of potential mind-changers. That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    Please feel free to finger yourself on the way out. Thanks again.

  209. #210 Gregory Greenwood
    May 16, 2010

    That priest clearly has advanced degrees in smug idiocy. For all his mealy-mouthed attempts to dodge the issue the single, unavoidable question remains:-

    Where. Is. Your. Proof?

    His ‘logic’ that hunger implies the existence of food, therefore god, has a massive flaw. Madness does not imply the existence of the delusions of those afflicted. Religious belief is a psychological state, an asect of mind set, not a product of the metabolic processes of the maintainence of life. As such, religion has far more in common with mental illness than it does with hunger.

    Of course, the final question I would like to ask this dog collar wearing buffoon would be:-

    “So, religion is necessary and atheism is a ‘drug’? Godlessness is a lie, and faith is the truth? Ok, then. So where the child-raping factors in to the unalloyed goodness of your Church…?”

  210. #211 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    Kel, Jadehawk, and Mr T:

    I already gave you the evidence–and I said it was empirical, scientific evidence: the book “Mistakes Were Made”. It’s based on clinical trials, with proper controls and all.

    Carol Tavris will be speaking at TAM.

  211. #212 John Morales
    May 16, 2010

    irksome, the issue is your contention of 0%.

    cf. Converts’ Corner at RDF.

    (No, PZ doesn’t collect testimonials.)

  212. #213 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    John Morales, I’m not talking about New Atheism as a whole, but only the particular Us-vs-Them mentality which has cropped up in various individual followers of New Atheism.

    I read through the first two pages of testimonies in your link to Dawkins’ site. Most are reactions to the God Delusion and Dawkins’ other books like Unweaving the Rainbow. None said anything like, “After someone came up to me and told me how stupid I was, I immediately saw that he was right!” or “Those derogatory names he called me–they cut to the heart and made me see the truth!” Though theoretically not impossible, such a case would be interesting because it would contradict the many years of clinical research outlined in Tavris’ book.

    Also, PZ is no Dawkins, and a random Internet commenter is most certainly no Dawkins, so the comparison isn’t even appropriate to begin with.

  213. #214 redrabbitslife
    May 16, 2010

    @ irksome and others: from my observations, I don’t know that it matters what the new atheists say or do, so long as they (we) are visible.

    The change that I have seen doesn’t come from being nagged, being kindly “talked at,” or even being debated. It comes from within (diclaimer- non-scientific, observational, and quite probably unfounded assertion, but not more so than the idea that we should be all nice and friendly).

    We need to be visible, to allow people trapped in religion to know there’s another way, that people leave the church, whichever church, and get along just fine, have relationships, families, jobs and in general quite mundane and satisfying lives. You pick your means of visibility and I’ll pick mine.

    Telling this group how to behave and what they should and shouldn’t say smacks of the same controlling bullshit many of us left when we left our respective churches. In other words, you’re not the boss of me, nanny nanny poo poo.

    I don’t mind being part of a merry band of flaming assholes, poopyheads, shrill harpies, or whatever. If you do, well, off you go then.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

  214. #215 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 16, 2010

    Irksome, changing peoples minds consists of two parts. First, getting their attention. That is where the vocal atheists come into play. Paraphrasing one of the vocal gay memes, we’re here, we don’t believe, and we aren’t going away, so learn to deal with it. Gets their attention. Then the quieter atheists can persuade them that they don’t need to be be loud if they lose their belief.

    This blog is a vocal place. We tend to break through the inattention many folks use to cling to the old ways. Then they might complain to their neighbor, who says I’m also an atheist. That makes it a one-two punch. And might get them thinking.

    Take your concern elsewhere. We don’t give a shit.

  215. #216 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    irksome.infidel:

    I’ve heard of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) before, and it had immediately caught my interest. Does it say anything in particular about religious beliefs? Its reviews on Amazon and its wiki article didn’t mention anything about religion. Religious beliefs certainly have their own special characteristics (to put it mildly), so I’m wondering if it gave the subject any treatment at all.

    My position is that there are many different religions and different religious experiences (which are inconsistent), so there may not be a consistent set of strategies for confronting every form of theological lunacy. Likewise, different people respond to different methods; other times, they simply deserve a negative response whether they like it or not, whether it is “constructive” or not. I don’t even know what data one would need to make those kinds of determinations, but I doubt it’s a settled issue.

  216. #217 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    People,

    By all means, have a jolly old time among yourselves. Nobody is all that concerned. Who knows, maybe this a kind of support group.

    Creationists have their support groups too. That doesn’t stop me from dropping by a creationist forum and politely asking someone to explain ring species http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species (always a fun exercise; get them to define species first).

    The only reason to bother creationists (or pharyngulites) is when they make claims which are incompatible with evidence. Otherwise who cares, let ‘em have their support group.

    So yuck it up to your heart’s content. However when it claimed that such revelry is effective in influencing faith-heads, that’s when someone may be tempted to step in and say, “Um, no, that’s not how the mind works.”

    Like creationists, you may be tempted to formulate counter-arguments by spinning your own theories. What that strategy lacks is scientific evidence, in this case evidence based on clinical trials. But even before that, the important task is to become familiar with the existing evidence. (Think of a creationist who presents an elaborate theory based on the recession of the Moon, while he doesn’t even know some basic facts about geology.)

    So learn the evidence first; that book is a good start.

  217. #218 truthspeaker
    May 16, 2010

    Your concern is noted.

  218. #219 Kel, OM
    May 16, 2010

    I already gave you the evidence–and I said it was empirical, scientific evidence: the book “Mistakes Were Made”. It’s based on clinical trials, with proper controls and all.

    Like I said, I ordered the book earlier today. So while it’s in delivery I can’t verify the claims. But I have some concerns (not about the book itself, but what you’re claiming).

    1. 0%? Seriously, 0? That technique never works – not short term, not mid-term, not long-term? If it’s empirical scientific evidence and it’s at 0%, then surely alarm bells ring. Are you sure you’re interpreting the data in the book correctly?

    2. Yesterday I went to a talk about science communication. He (the speaker) was saying one of the problems with science communication is that the data is just not there to see how effective a communicator has been. There’s plenty of data checking output, but not much data at all about how effective it was at getting people to take on ideas in the mid and long terms. Now perhaps this book has data about this such thing, but I’ll reserve judgement until I read it.

    3. I’ve talked to people who were once believers who converted because of books like The God Delusion. So to me, saying 0 has to be factually incorrect because I know people who have said it. Now they might have been lying to me, or that they are misrepresenting (unintentionally) their own recollection of events. But I keep hearing about people who were once theists or creationists who have been shaken away from that belief by confronting someone hostile then over the ensuring months they gradually lost their position.

    I really hope the book shows what you’re saying it shows…

  219. #220 Mr T
    May 16, 2010

    Thanks, truthspeaker. That pretty much sums it up….

    irksome.infidel:

    So yuck it up to your heart’s content.

    I wasn’t even sure if you or anyone would come back to the thread to respond, but you did and it’s as if you only came back to practice your typing skills rather than read any of the other comments. I asked you sincere questions, which you didn’t bother to answer. Actually, that was yesterday, and then again today. The last one was especially easy to answer: does the book say anything about religion?

    I have to say, I was confused from the beginning why you started this particular conversation on this particular thread. (For fun, go to the “Clarity” thread and watch the Dawkins video. I’d like to know if it makes your head explode.) PZ was writing about how we don’t need to be sorry for our nonbelief. Do you have a problem with that? What does that have to do with how ‘New Atheists’ are doing it all wrong? Nothing, I guess. I and others respond anyway, and you offer a 5th-grade level book report and pile on the condescension.

    Cut the rhetoric about comparing us to creationists — it’s more boring than it is insulting. Is this one of the 12 steps from the fucking book with (apparently) all the data that ever was about “how the mind works”? I can’t even tell what you’re blathering about anymore because you won’t explain it. As far as I can tell, unlike true skeptics such as yourself, we atheists only try to anger people and know nothing about psychology. We atheists make conclusions but you have a super-secret process. Yeah, that’s the strawman you wanted. Good for you. Now, for real this time, fuck off.

  220. #221 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 16, 2010

    Makes notations in certain lists for #220.

  221. #222 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    Kel #219,

    I already addressed (1) and (3) in #213. I am pro-”God Delusion” and pro-Dawkins. I agree with his remarks in the recent “Clarity” video. Like I said, “PZ is no Dawkins, and a random Internet commenter [by which I mean a pharyngulite] is most certainly no Dawkins.” I am definitely not a “framer” or an “accomodationist”.

    Yes it is 0%, exactly 0. The God Delusion is a case in point, precisely because it doesn’t give religious readers the finger. In particular it treats the reader as intelligent, exactly the opposite of the 0%-effective style of argument. (See #213.)

    Regarding (2), there is much data showing that cognitive dissonance will absolutely determine the decision between an enormous sunken cost (like religion) and the rejection of an argument because it contains a silly personal attack (such as an accusation of being unintelligent, which is probably not even the case). Always, the religious person will reject the personal-attack-laden argument, whether or not that argument sans attack is reasonable. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t give it a chance.

    That’s the tragic fallacy of the PZ blogosphere. They try so hard, but they hand our opponents a “get of jail free” card every time. And every time our opponents–surprise, surprise–choose to get out of jail free. And then it triumphantly claimed, against all empirical scientific evidence, that this is effective.

    This is not a moralistic argument. Again, I don’t care about people having fun with personal attacks. Just don’t delude yourselves into believing claims which are well-refuted by evidence.

  222. #223 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 16, 2010

    Even granting your estimate, 1%-2% means millions of potential mind-changers. That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    Besides an off-hand reference to a book which, from what I can determine from Amazon reviews, doesn’t discuss either religion or atheism, what other evidence do you have?

    I understand why you don’t like New Atheists. We’re strident, we’re raucous, most of all we’re noisy. Well guess what, we don’t care if you don’t like us. The goddists don’t like us either because we force them to acknowledge that atheists exist. That is the first step to any dialogue. Without us you’d be whispering in the closet just like the goddists want you to. You don’t have to thank us for our efforts. In fact, both of us realize you’re too much of a pompous prig to do so. But it would be nice if you weren’t such a prissy prude in your condescension.

    I am definitely not a “framer” or an “accomodationist”.

    If you’re not an accommodationist you’re making an excellent impression of one. You’re so good at playing the accommodationist role that you completely fooled me. Either that or you’re fooling yourself.

  223. #224 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 16, 2010

    Just don’t delude yourselves into believing claims which are well-refuted by evidence.

    Sometimes folks fool themselves because of their own prejudices as to what the real evidence means. I get the feeling it doesn’t necessarily back your hypothesis, but you want to back your thesis. So you pretend it does. I frankly don’t believe you. Books aren’t the same as peer reviewed literature either, and are a lesser form of proof. Ever hear of vanity press, used by creobots? I get the feeling you are deluding yourself in the long run.

  224. #225 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    Besides an off-hand reference to a book which, from what I can determine from Amazon reviews, doesn’t discuss either religion or atheism, what other evidence do you have?

    Books aren’t the same as peer reviewed literature either, and are a lesser form of proof.

    These quotes are like a creationist saying, “Well you mentioned The Greatest Show on Earth, but what other evidence do you have?” What the creationist doesn’t understand is that any good book on evolution would do. It’s not the book itself, but the decades of cumulative research from which it pulls.

    Tavris’ book summarizes the results from clinical psychology over the past several decades. It lists 261 references, so you could disregard the book and just read the references, if you like.

  225. #226 Kel, OM
    May 16, 2010

    Yes it is 0%, exactly 0. The God Delusion is a case in point, precisely because it doesn’t give religious readers the finger.

    This is not what I’ve heard from many who are religious, they treat Dawkins with contempt and are incredibly hostile. There are even atheists like Chris Mooney who have taken exception to Dawkins approach for the very reason that you’re giving here. There may be some subtle distinction that I haven’t grasped of your position, but it seems that you’re doing exactly the same thing you’re being critical of. You’re creating the in-group out-group distinction, and this is not something uncommon in attacks on the “new atheists”. The very complaint against them is being used to argue against it.

    Futhermore, it sounds like you’re making the statement that all swans are white. So if there’s a black swan, it can’t be a swan by definition because all swans have to be white. If Dawkins is successful in his approach, he’s must be white. It might appear as black to many people, many might decry Dawkins as black. But because he is a swan he must be white…

  226. #227 Kel, OM
    May 16, 2010

    This is not a moralistic argument. Again, I don’t care about people having fun with personal attacks. Just don’t delude yourselves into believing claims which are well-refuted by evidence.

    If the evidence shows that approach then so be it. I think you’re stretching, but I’ll see what the book says. Like I said, I’ve heard that there are many who have changed their beliefs by the likes of PZ. To me it sounds like you’re taking a narrow focus and broadening it beyond its reach, and thus neglecting different routes to the same solution. You’re ignoring the evidence that approaches like this are working, using almost an a priori approach. Calling it empirical while using the figure 0% is putting up a major red flag for me, especially when I’m being told by experts in science communication about the gaping hole when it comes to how well people take on-board ideas.

    From what I’ve gathered listening to Carol Tavris talk on the matter, she’s putting forth a case for the difficulties one encounters in terms of cognitive function. Perhaps there is more in the book (I’ll find out for myself in a couple of weeks) and if so then I’ll change my tune. But right now I’m finding that many people are responding positively to what are called the “new atheists”, which makes your statement that it works for 0 empirically false.

    Guess I’ll find out in two weeks whether you’re overstating the case made in the book, or whether I’m underestimating what’s in there.

  227. #228 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    But because he is a swan he must be white…

    Or the situation could be more complex, for example an inheritance tree instead a boolean value.

    [Begin metaphor.]

    Dawkins and Myers have a pretty recent common ancestor. The two species can probably interbreed. Hitches and Harris are also close by, but Hitchens contains a neo-con mutation which may result in sterility when breeding with other closely related species (in particular the Buddhist traits from Harris may pose a problem).

    My observation is that Myers has a mutation which inhibits the production of a certain receptor. It’s not detrimental, but it does have certain consequences.

    Pharyngulites have Myers as their direct ancestor, and so are likely to have this specific mutation from Myers. However I notice the effects of the mutation are magnified in these offspring.

    [End metaphor.]

    Myers’ “mutation” is what I described earlier as the habit of slipping a “get out of jail free” card to opponents, while somehow not recognizing the craziness of this strategy. Moreover, in a bizarre evidence-ignoring self-assessment, the strategy is believed to be effective.

  228. #229 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    But right now I’m finding that many people are responding positively to what are called the “new atheists”, which makes your statement that it works for 0 empirically false.

    I’ve already said that I’m not talking about New Atheism as a whole (#213), and that I’m pro-Dawkins (#222). My point is about a specific mode of argumentation which is believed to effective while simultaneously proven to be ineffective. It does not follow that Myers must always be using it; in fact sometimes he doesn’t. Dawkins may have even used it, but I haven’t seen or read such.

  229. #230 irksome.infidel
    May 16, 2010

    Calling it empirical while using the figure 0% is putting up a major red flag for me, especially when I’m being told by experts in science communication about the gaping hole when it comes to how well people take on-board ideas.

    See the third paragraph of #222.

  230. #231 Kel, OM
    May 17, 2010

    Moreover, in a bizarre evidence-ignoring self-assessment, the strategy is believed to be effective. [..] My point is about a specific mode of argumentation which is believed to effective while simultaneously proven to be ineffective.

    Wait, take a step back. Who believes it to be effective? From what I can gather, the problem is that there aren’t many effective strategies period. The only real malleable people are children. Teenagers are almost impossible, and adults it can happen but rarely. Then there’s the Dunning Kruger effect to contend with, and this is the biggest problem I see creationists having. In 5 years I have been drawn into arguing with creationists online, not a single one I’ve come across has understood evolution. They all think they do… so no matter how much there is explaining the evidence to them they can’t recognise it as such. When they think they are right but can’t recognise any disconfirming evidence what can you do but ridicule?

    As a general rule on here, I don’t pull out the insults and ridicule until the argument has fallen into futility. Do I believe it effective? No! Do I do it because Myers does it? No! I do it because at that point there is no more point in trying to have a rational discussion.

    Myers’ “mutation” is what I described earlier as the habit of slipping a “get out of jail free” card to opponents, while somehow not recognizing the craziness of this strategy.

    Yep, spend many posts arguing with someone and the big issue is on post 14 you called them a moron for not getting it. Now was the problem really with calling them a moron? I would contend not, at best it’s an excuse to get indignant about the exercise. But the important question I feel is that if you didn’t call them a moron, would the outcome have been different?

    See the third paragraph of #222.

    I’ve read that paragraph 3 times now. It’s highlighting a mental phenomenon which you’re claiming inhibits the method from working. That’s hardly a thorough exploration of the methodology. Perhaps the book has something more in it, but you’re not making a compelling case. I’ve heard Carol Tavris explain the phenomenon, I can understand the difficulty it poses – but as far as I can tell you’re applying it in a far more reaching manner than what she was selling it. Like I said, when I read the book I’ll find out. But again, 0 without error bars is not empirical unless you have compelling evidence as to the impossibility

  231. #232 Ichthyic
    May 17, 2010

    always a fun exercise; get them to define species first

    *looks around for Marjanovich*

    actually, it’s often a fun exercise here, too.

  232. #233 John Morales
    May 17, 2010

    irksome.infidel:

    Pharyngulites have Myers as their direct ancestor, and so are likely to have this specific mutation from Myers.

    Your metaphor is feeble, and fails utterly at this point.

    I was a Pharynguloid well before Pharyngula existed; that I found this a congenial place in due course doesn’t mean my attitude was formed from it.

    Myers’ “mutation” is what I described earlier as the habit of slipping a “get out of jail free” card to opponents, while somehow not recognizing the craziness of this strategy.

    Your opinion is noted, but not shared.

    The “tone” excuse is just a way to save face.

    This is not a site for proselytising; it’s a site where open discussion can take place. There’re plenty of other web sites where respect is automatically granted to all others, regardless of merit. When you speak of strategy, you seem to be imagining that we’re here to deconvert delusionists. Not so.

    In short, this is an atheist, liberal, scientific hang-out, not a theist-friendly place. Theists come here at their peril, and that’s how PZ and regulars like it.

    (You might note that there are a couple of Molly-winners who are theists.)

  233. #234 Kel, OM
    May 17, 2010

    Sometimes I get the feeling that people look at the way this place behaves and then judge it by what they think it should be as opposed to trying to grasp the dynamic of what it is. And I’m getting pretty sick of being accused of being in lockstep with PZ, that somehow my arguments and attitudes are as a result of PZ’s. It’s really quite condescending to hear time and time again, it reflects no reality of the situation. Might it be I’m on here because I enjoy talking to people who also post here? Nah, it’s that I’m just acting how PZ wants me to… yeah that makes total sense.

  234. #235 llewelly
    May 17, 2010

    https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnV9m0XZFyBJD1XXjpSl__qxR4GdrLdOpw | May 14, 2010 6:38 PM:

    All my life (at least as all as I remember) I have deeply hungered for and desired a pink flying pony.

    They taste terrible. Even with bacon and chocolate. I know, I know, I deeply hungered and desired one for a long time too. But getting it was the worst disappointment of my life.

  235. #236 WowbaggerOM
    May 17, 2010

    John Morales wrote:

    This is not a site for proselytising; it’s a site where open discussion can take place. There’re plenty of other web sites where respect is automatically granted to all others, regardless of merit. When you speak of strategy, you seem to be imagining that we’re here to deconvert delusionists. Not so.

    And delugionists, for that matter.

    But what John has said is important to note. I also come here to interact with some likeminded people – and, from time to time, argue with those whose opinions differ. Any deconversions are purely a bonus. However, since several formerly religious people have admitted that coming here and seeing their beliefs treated with the respect they deserve (i.e. very little) helped them free themselves from the shackles of their religion.

    I see no reason to doubt this; ergo, it is ridiculous – and profoundly intellectually dishonest – for the irksome accomodationist to claim a figure of 0% for deconversion as a result of mocking.

  236. #237 ButchKitties
    May 17, 2010

    Hmm… looks like Mr. Barron went on a comment deleting spree.

  237. #238 Kel, OM
    May 17, 2010

    I see no reason to doubt this; ergo, it is ridiculous – and profoundly intellectually dishonest – for the irksome accomodationist to claim a figure of 0% for deconversion as a result of mocking.

    Remember, Wowbagger, that all swans are white. The times when people slowly changed their mind through interaction with the comments, it was the comments that didn’t give the finger. ;)

  238. #239 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 17, 2010

    I notice the accommodationist didn’t try to show he wasn’t an accommodationist.

    The way I see it, if an accommodationist can’t even recognize what he is, then he’s poorly equipped to determine the effectiveness of non-accommodationist tactics.

  239. #240 freethinkermdvw
    May 17, 2010

    so the desire for something proves its existence. such as the desire for god proves his existence so would it then be fair to say that the desire to walk with dinosaurs proves the existence of time travel?

  240. #241 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 17, 2010

    I suspect that Father Barron really, really, really wants for god to exist. Otherwise a major part of his life has been rendered meaningless. Plus he’s annoyed that “New Atheists” are walking around, enjoying life, smelling the flowers, and otherwise being happy without god in their lives. It’s not fair. They should be miserable, just like Barron would be if he discovered he’d spent all those celibate years for nothing.

  241. #242 irksome.infidel
    May 18, 2010

    Wait, take a step back. Who believes it to be effective?

    #201 (implicitly; I may have misread it) and #203 (explicitly, by another commenter). As for PZ, if being effective is indeed not his goal then I withdraw all my comments. There’s no problem with having some fun; just don’t make non-evidence-based claims on top of it (cf. #217).

    But again, 0 without error bars is not empirical unless you have compelling evidence as to the impossibility.

    It is 0% in the same manner that we expect the probability of rabbit fossils in pre-Cambrian to be 0%. Like I said in #213, it is theoretically not impossible, but such a finding would contradict decades of accumulated research. You are free to design and conduct your own clinical trials in order to find refuting evidence, but until then you are obliged to accept the existing evidence. The general public is largely unaware of the body of research in clinical psychology. In particular cognitive dissonance is among the most predictable aspects of human behavior.

    Again, I’m talking about the expected failure rate of an instance of particular argument directed at a particular person. It would be absurd to extrapolate a global claim like “Nobody who reads Pharyngula ever gets converted” (cf. #229). Namely, the controls aren’t there.

    The times when people slowly changed their mind through interaction with the comments, it was the comments that didn’t give the finger.

    This is another way of saying that removing the controls does not make sense.

  242. #243 John Morales
    May 18, 2010

    irksome.infidel:

    As for PZ, if being effective is indeed not his goal then I withdraw all my comments. There’s no problem with having some fun; just don’t make non-evidence-based claims on top of it (cf. #217).

    You’re equivocating. PZ is effective at getting his POV out and engendering discussion; he doesn’t pretend to do anything else.

    As for “non-evidence-based claims”, off the top of my head I can point to an ex-theist who abandoned his wishful thinking via Pharyngula (the regular commenter Walton).
    Hence, there is at least one counter-example to your claim of zero effectiveness of “new atheist commentary” as a motivator for a theist to re-examine their beliefs.
    (cf. 34 Unconvincing Arguments for God.)

    You are free to design and conduct your own clinical trials in order to find refuting evidence, but until then you are obliged to accept the existing evidence.

    I hardly think your putative evidence refers to Pharyngula. How is it relevant?

    Again, I’m talking about the expected failure rate of an instance of particular argument directed at a particular person.

    Which “particular argument”, which “particular person”? I only see generic claims, and a straw-man version of “new atheism”.

    Be specific.

  243. #244 Kel, OM
    May 18, 2010

    #201 (implicitly; I may have misread it)

    Indeed you did misread it. I was professing my scepticism at the Carl Sagan approach actually having much success, it in no ways follows that I know of any approach that does work – I’m just sceptical about those who trumpet Carl Sagan as some form of secular saint.

    It is 0% in the same manner that we expect the probability of rabbit fossils in pre-Cambrian to be 0%.

    And you base that on what? Please don’t cite that book again, especially if it has no data beyond a psychological model. Some empirical support doesn’t mean the complete impossibility of the contrary. Meanwhile pre-Cambrian rabbits would be so contradictory to all palaeontological, geological and biological evidence that such a finding cannot possibly happen.

    Like I said in #213, it is theoretically not impossible, but such a finding would contradict decades of accumulated research.

    Like I’ve stated repeatedly, I’ve seen it happen. Which again comes down to the statement “all swan are white”, in which you’re saying that anything we try to say is a black swan is indeed a white swan or not a swan at all.

    Just a quick question. When physics comes with error bars, why shouldn’t psychology? Again to make myself very clear – I’m not saying that it’s effective, I’m saying that you’re claim that it’s 100% no exceptions ever is overstating the case.

    Again, I’m talking about the expected failure rate of an instance of particular argument directed at a particular person.

    0% every single time in every instance? Shit, I really wish I had your certainty on the matter. Heck, if you can’t even admit that being absolutely certain that it cannot work when it comes to a model of how the mind works, then what can you do?

    Just to make sure you understand where I’m coming from. I’m not saying the tactic is effective. If there were successful tactics then why aren’t they being used? I’m saying two things here. Firstly, you’re use of 0% is premature at best given I’m being told by experts in the field of science communication about the lack of data looking at the efficacy of communication tactics. Secondly, you’re using 0%. 0, without error bars. You’re saying that it cannot happen, and any time anyone gives an example of it happening you’re saying it’s not really that case.

  244. #245 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2010

    Yawn, an anti new atheist tone troll lying? What next? The sun will rise in the east? The bear will shit in the woods?

  245. #246 Kel, OM
    May 18, 2010

    I’m actually not really sure what you’re arguing against. First it was the new atheists #155

    That is the problem with New Atheism.

    Then you claimed there was a path out that works

    But responding with steady, rational arguments can work for their followers. I’ve seen it happen.

    Then again in #198

    However I often observe in New Atheists the same kind of Us-vs-Them craziness which is the hallmark of creationists and such.

    Then in #206, you put forth a dichotomy between being rational and giving them the and being rude

    That’s better than 0%, which is the exactly number obtained by giving them the finger.

    Then when John Morales questions you on that, you shift the goal posts in #213

    John Morales, I’m not talking about New Atheism as a whole, but only the particular Us-vs-Them mentality which has cropped up in various individual followers of New Atheism.

    and made a statement that I think cuts to the heart of this discussion

    None said anything like, “After someone came up to me and told me how stupid I was, I immediately saw that he was right!”

    because I think that people here aren’t arguing that ridicule will grant immediate results. Heck I’ve been ridiculed on here on a position which was the starting point in the process that ended in me changing my mind and my behaviour. If it wasn’t for the emotional and negative reaction I received, I wouldn’t have thought the issue a big deal. But because it happened it brought it to my mind and eventually got me to realise I was wrong and I’ve changed my behaviour accordingly. Now I didn’t immediately change my mind then and there on the spot but I did think it raised my consciousness. And from what I’ve heard of how this approach has worked with others, that’s how it happened. Not instant, but the start of a process. But back to the point.

    In #217

    The only reason to bother creationists (or pharyngulites) is when they make claims which are incompatible with evidence.

    I found this statement quite odd. Just what claims are people making? Apparently that giving someone the finger is a means to make people abandon theism / creationism and join our side. I don’t see anyone making that claim but apparently it’s implicit. Then talking in specific about the new atheists in #223

    Yes it is 0%, exactly 0. The God Delusion is a case in point, precisely because it doesn’t give religious readers the finger.

    So The God Delusion isn’t a “new atheist” book? Well perhaps your problem with the new atheists was a generalisation that you wish you hadn’t said, or all swans are white considering that you don’t consider Dawkins a new atheist. And all those who made those same accusations against Dawkins and The God Delusion were misguided. Perhaps it’s like a british journalist whose name escapes me who criticised the new atheists and omitted Dan Dennett from the list while criticising the lack of philosophical training among them.

    My point is about a specific mode of argumentation which is believed to effective while simultaneously proven to be ineffective.

    Now this has changed from the initial comment in #155, not about a problem with the “new atheists” any more but a style of argument.

    As for PZ, if being effective is indeed not his goal then I withdraw all my comments.

    I actually got to meet PZ and ask him about this a couple of months ago. He is having success. But again, I’m betting this is the white swan again. It was his non-giving the finger posts that persuaded people.

    And finally (I just read all your posts for the 3rd time to do this)

    Again, I’m talking about the expected failure rate of an instance of particular argument directed at a particular person.

    One name: Walton. He’s a regular poster here now. Puts up with a hell of a lot of crap from a lot of people on here. From the start he’s been abused, had his arguments ridiculed, been challenged and antagonised at every step of the way. Yet he’s lost his theism and changed his position on climate change (among other things) through arguing with people here. So please take your 0 and shove it. It’s empirically wrong!

  246. #247 Shala
    May 18, 2010

    Irksome, if it weren’t for Pharyngula I would still be a theist.

    We need “strident” people to reach out to others like these folks do in their own way.

    Not everyone wants to listen to people that just make them feel good. Being challenged is what makes some people change their minds.

  247. #248 WowbaggerOM
    May 18, 2010

    Shala wrote:

    Irksome, if it weren’t for Pharyngula I would still be a theist.

    No, no, no Shala. As I’m sure Irksome Accomodationist will explain to you, you’re completely wrong. Unless you had someone who was, for all intents and purposes, identical to you who did everything else you did except for coming to Pharyngula and who remained a theist, you can’t make that claim.

  248. #249 John Morales
    May 18, 2010

    Thank you, Shala.

  249. #250 Shala
    May 18, 2010

    No, no, no Shala. As I’m sure Irksome Accomodationist will explain to you, you’re completely wrong. Unless you had someone who was, for all intents and purposes, identical to you who did everything else you did except for coming to Pharyngula and who remained a theist, you can’t make that claim.

    I made a clone of myself prior to my deconversion so that neither of us would be virgins.

    Does that count

  250. #251 irksome.infidel
    May 18, 2010

    And you base that on what? Please don’t cite that book again, especially if it has no data beyond a psychological model.

    If clinical psychology merely proposed psychological models then it would be nothing more than the laughing stock which is Freudianism. #225:

    These quotes are like a creationist saying, “Well you mentioned The Greatest Show on Earth, but what other evidence do you have?” What the creationist doesn’t understand is that any good book on evolution would do. It’s not the book itself, but the decades of cumulative research from which it pulls.

    Tavris’ book summarizes the results from clinical psychology over the past several decades. It lists 261 references, so you could disregard the book and just read the references, if you like.

    #244, #246:

    Like I’ve stated repeatedly, I’ve seen it happen.

    One name: Walton.

    #242:

    It would be absurd to extrapolate a global claim like “Nobody who reads Pharyngula ever gets converted” (cf. #229). Namely, the controls aren’t there.

    I presume that you don’t need me to explain the difference between testimony based on anecdotal stories and experimental results of clinical trials. If you can demonstrate such behavior experimentally (read: with controls), then you have really got some interesting data.

    There seems to be a consistent misunderstanding that behavior claims are free to be proposed or rejected without reference to empirical evidence from controlled studies. That’s not how science (in this case, clinical psychology) works.

  251. #252 Shala
    May 18, 2010

    I presume that you don’t need me to explain the difference between testimony based on anecdotal stories and experimental results of clinical trials.

    There’s not much anecdote to be had when Walton’s entire deconversion is basically documented on this blog, you know.

    You can really tell he’s had a change of heart over the last year or so.

    But yes, I guess I was just lying about being a former theist, I mean it’s just such a nice thing to make a claim about am i right

    hurrrrr

  252. #253 irksome.infidel
    May 18, 2010

    There’s not much anecdote to be had when Walton’s entire deconversion is basically documented on this blog, you know.

    This and previous comments convince me that readers have a misapprehension of what “controlled experiment” means. That relevant quotes have been consistently elided makes it ever more convincing. With bolding for convenience, #251:

    If you can demonstrate such behavior experimentally (read: with controls), then you have really got some interesting data.

    There seems to be a consistent misunderstanding that behavior claims are free to be proposed or rejected without reference to empirical evidence from controlled studies. That’s not how science (in this case, clinical psychology) works.

    #242:

    Again, I’m talking about the expected failure rate of an instance of particular argument directed at a particular person. It would be absurd to extrapolate a global claim like “Nobody who reads Pharyngula ever gets converted” (cf. #229). Namely, the controls aren’t there.

    The times when people slowly changed their mind through interaction with the comments, it was the comments that didn’t give the finger.

    This is another way of saying that removing the controls does not make sense.

    So when I talk about a particular argument directed at a particular person, I am talking about a clinical, controlled experiment. We don’t have to throw around theories and debate them ad infinitum. We can conduct experiments, which is the essential (anti-Freudian) element of clinical psychology.

    Now every experiment needs to be controlled, meaning that we must do everything in our power to remove or limit confounding factors. It helps to limit the scope of the experiment, in this case conducting an isolated encounter under controlled conditions. In fact such a limitation is the only way a reasonable measurement could be recorded, and why extrapolating global predictions is out of the question.

    Think of all the uncontrolled interactions which take place before, during, and after a comment on a blog. It should be clear that the process of blog commenting is not a controlled experiment. Imagine your reaction to someone who insists that comments on a homeopathy blog serve to demonstrate that homeopathy works. “Look, people got better! The evidence is right there in the blog comments!” Even assuming all participants are impeccably honest, it still cannot count as evidence.

    Another point which as been consistently elided from the conversation is the red herring of 0% which was addressed in #213, #242. In both comments I made clear that while disconfirming evidence is a theoretical possibility, none has been found thus far. It is in this sense (as previously explained) that we are confident of the 0% outcome, and if you like there are theoretical error bars, but we can’t measure them because we have no instances of errors, like rabbit fossils in the pre-Cambrian.

    It appears that misunderstandings continue to appear (or persist) at a rate faster than I am able to address them, given my limited time (which is expected in high-dissonance/high-conflict conversations). If anyone wishes to continue in good faith then feel free to email me at irksome.infidel@gmail.com.

  253. #254 Kel, OM
    May 18, 2010

    I presume that you don’t need me to explain the difference between testimony based on anecdotal stories and experimental results of clinical trials. If you can demonstrate such behavior experimentally (read: with controls), then you have really got some interesting data.

    For fucks sake! Are you seriously going to go down this path? First any testimony was due to other factors. Now testimony is invalid because it wasn’t controlled? And you’re saying this so you can keep the unempirical 0 value going.

    It seems that you’re the one who can’t change your mind. No matter what, you’re taking the a priori position that it can’t work despite it being seen to work and even having someone tell you it worked for them. You’re not being asked to say it’s the most effective strategy out there, you’re not being asked to say it’s even effective except for a few borderline cases. Just that it’s not 0. But no, you can’t do that. Clinical psychology trumps all…

    We can conduct experiments, which is the essential (anti-Freudian) element of clinical psychology.

    Conducting experiments doesn’t mean that one has certainty. Again you’re being unempirical.

  254. #255 John Morales
    May 18, 2010

    Shorter irksome: theory trumps observation.

    ?Eppur si muove?

    Imagine your reaction to someone who insists that comments on a homeopathy blog serve to demonstrate that homeopathy works. “Look, people got better! The evidence is right there in the blog comments!” Even assuming all participants are impeccably honest, it still cannot count as evidence.

    Bad comparison; belief is not a physiological disease or injury, nor is hostile argumentation a medicine.

    (Note that it’s quite possible that a psychosomatic disorder will be amenable to homeopathic treatment.)

  255. #256 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2010

    Yawn, Irksome reminds me of SP, Mendacious Delusionalist. A one data point/technique wonder with delusions of science, who keeps harping on that data point no matter how many times it is refuted for any cogent reader, and by the larger evidence. Boring twit.

  256. #257 Ichthyic
    May 18, 2010

    please, AK* I shudder every time I see the word “mendacious” used anymore.

    there are plenty of good synonyms, yes?
    :P

    *After Kwok

  257. #258 WowbaggerOM
    May 18, 2010

    What Irksome Accomodationist appears to be saying is that, unless it was under experimental conditions, no person can ever honestly say he or she changed his or her mind on anything.

    “You learned fire was hot because when you put your hand near it it hurt? Really? Was there a psychologist observing you at the time? Was there a control group? No? Well, I’m sorry; you cannot make that claim with any certainty. It could have been anything at all that put that idea in your head.”

  258. #259 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2010

    Ah, a psychologist claiming to be a hard scientist. Excuse me while I run off to have a fit of giggles, or worse…

    there are plenty of good synonyms, yes?

    As long as it starts with a “m”, I’m game. That way I can mock his attempt at authority.

  259. #260 Ichthyic
    May 18, 2010

    “You learned fire was hot because when you put your hand near it it hurt? Really? Was there a psychologist observing you at the time? Was there a control group? No? Well, I’m sorry; you cannot make that claim with any certainty. It could have been anything at all that put that idea in your head.”

    be careful with that.

    there ARE actually alternative explanations as to why someone might feel something is “hot” when it really isn’t.

    I know you are trying to construct an extreme example, but I could also see Irk arguing that it also supports what they were saying.

  260. #261 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 18, 2010

    Ichthyic, Montebank of Deceit?

  261. #262 Kel, OM
    May 19, 2010

    After all this I’m really looking forward to reading the book. Wish it would arrive already, can’t wait to see just what evidence and what scope the clinical trials took to make irksome.infidel so certain that it was precambrian rabbit certain it can’t happen.

    Also, if Walton did indeed convert while in this environment, does this overthrow our models of cognitive dissonance like a precambrian bunny would our theory of common descent? If not, is that a blight on irksome’s line of argument or on the empirical validity of clinical psychology?

    We need to strap Walton into an fMRI or strap some electrodes to his brain…

  262. #263 holyheretics
    May 19, 2010

    Dear PZ Myers

    I have been enjoying your blog. Thanks!

  263. #264 Walton
    May 19, 2010

    Wow. I’m astonished to have become the centre of attention on a thread where I didn’t even post. :-)

    The truth: I was a hardcore and active Christian in my secondary school years, and held deeply conservative beliefs. By the time I started posting on Pharyngula a couple of years ago, at age eighteen, I had already begun to harbour some doubts, but still considered myself a Christian, and many of my early discussions here involved me trying to defend Christianity. However, after several arguments, I eventually came to the realisation that orthodox Christian doctrine simply could not be rationally defended. After a brief flirtation with deism, I came to terms with the fact that I was an atheist. All of this is documented by posts on older threads from 2008 and early 2009, though I can’t recall the exact date.

    So yes, I did “deconvert” while posting on Pharyngula, and yes, my deconversion was largely triggered by discussions here. It would be too simplistic to say that I was deconverted “by” Pharyngulites; as I said, I already harboured some doubts about Christianity when I came here, and argued about it partly to see whether my beliefs stood up to scrutiny. But it was the fact that I tried, and failed, to defend Christianity in rational argument on Pharyngula which was the final trigger for my abandoning religion entirely. I am now an outspoken atheist and secularist, here and in real life.

  264. #265 John Morales
    May 19, 2010

    Walton, I linked to one such thread @243.

    Apparently, irksome finds it non-evidential, inasmuch as it was not a “controlled study”.

  265. #266 Kel, OM
    May 19, 2010

    And what about in regards to climate change Walton?

  266. #267 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 19, 2010

    Now every experiment needs to be controlled, meaning that we must do everything in our power to remove or limit confounding factors.

    While it’s desirable to have an experiment with such rigorous standards it’s not always possible. Indeed, medicine uses observation studies and astronomers can’t exactly conduct controlled experiments with stars (at least presently). Yet both medicine and astronomy are considered sciences.

    My statistics prof basically had this nice rule of thumb:

    no data &lt anecdote &lt observational study &lt controlled study

  267. #268 irksome.infidel
    May 19, 2010

    People,

    What you believe to be true based on personal conviction and personal experience is not necessarily, in reality, true. You don’t need me to tell you this. Homeopathy quacks are mired in that fallacy. Don’t let the same happen to you.

    When you make a claim about the effectiveness of a certain form of argumentation, you are making a scientific claim about how the mind works. You are obliged to support that claim with scientific data from controlled studies. You should not reject the existing data because it doesn’t agree with your current beliefs. That is the fallacy of creationists. Don’t let yourself fall into it.

    When you find yourself spinning and justifying your own views without reference to scientific data, you should recognize that as a red flag. If you are doing this while you aren’t even familiar with the current scientific data, you should recognize that as a neon-red show-stopping flag. While lacking of this basic knowledge, if you find yourself saying things like “Well I don’t see how…”, you should recognize that as the Argument From Personal Incredulity. Creationists make these mistakes. Learn from their failure.

    There are decades of research from clinical psychology. Learn about it before entrenching yourselves further into your existing beliefs. What I’ve been saying is not even controversial, and Tavris’ book is simply an introduction to the subject. You could look up all 261 references and discard the book, if you prefer.

  268. #269 John Morales
    May 19, 2010

    irksome:

    When you make a claim about the effectiveness of a certain form of argumentation, you are making a scientific claim about how the mind works.

    But it was you who originally made the claim that “a certain form of argumentation” did not “work” — i.e. that it will never change minds.

    A counter-example was provided in response to your claim.

    There are decades of research from clinical psychology.

  269. #270 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist,

    No-one’s saying that every person who’s ever deconverted has done so because they heard/read an atheist mocking their beliefs. No-one’s saying that even most of them. Heck, no-one’s saying that such deconversions are not even a tiny minority of those who abandon religion for rationality.

    I, personally, am happy to say that we can never be 100% sure of what makes a person change their mind about such things – I’ve never been a theist so I don’t even have a personal anecdote regarding deconversion – but I have read/heard enough accounts to make me suspect that it has in at least a few people.

    Were you to say it ‘hardly ever’ happens then I – and not doubt the others here as well – wouldn’t have a problem. However, you are making the blanket claim that not one single person, anywhere, ever, has had the mocking of their beliefs be a contributing factor in their eventually decision to shed those beliefs.

    Not even one in a million. Zero.

    It seems to me that unless you have data to support such an extraordinary claim – that such certainty exists without allowing even a tiny margin for error – it is you who are being unscientific.

    All the references in the world aren’t going to change that.

  270. #271 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    Don’t let the same happen to you.

    no worries.

    btw, “irksome” as a handle fits you well.

    I’m thinking one of these synonyms might fit even better though…

    http://encarta.msn.com/thesaurus_561577998_561577998/nextpage.html

    anyone have a favorite?

  271. #272 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    When you make a claim about the effectiveness of a certain form of argumentation, you are making a scientific claim about how the mind works. You are obliged to support that claim with scientific data from controlled studies. You should not reject the existing data because it doesn’t agree with your current beliefs. That is the fallacy of creationists. Don’t let yourself fall into it.

    I do have to admit to that being one of the more interesting bits of concern trolling I’ve seen.

  272. #273 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Don’t let the same happen to you.

    But you’re letting it happen to you. Which is why we don’t believe you. DUH.

    When you make a claim about the effectiveness of a certain form of argumentation,

    You don’t get it. We don’t claim that one form alone is really effective, but rather a combination of arguments. Get their attention with the new (loud) atheists, then have the quieter folks help them along.

    Don’t let yourself fall into it.

    Yes, don’t let yourself fall for it. As we have been saying all along.

    to scientific data,

    OK, do you have Science, Nature, or some physical science peer reviewed journal to cite? If not, it isn’t considered science, but rather studies, but most of us.

    There are decades of research from clinical psychology.

    As if we care about your alleged studies. You are brainwashed, we aren’t. Time to get off your one-note horse which you rode to death twenty posts ago.

    You could look up all 261 references and discard the book, if you prefer.

    A book isn’t the same a peer reviewed journal article. Nothing but propaganda until proven otherwise. And from your behavior, nothing but propaganda.

  273. #274 John Morales
    May 19, 2010

    Bah, I accidentally clicked on “submit” prematurely.

    irksome:

    There are decades of research from clinical psychology.

    ?Eppur si muove?.

    What I’ve been saying is not even controversial, and Tavris’ book is simply an introduction to the subject.

    You may not think so, but it evidently is wrong (by counter-example).

    You could look up all 261 references and discard the book, if you prefer.

    You could choose not to ignore evidence that contradicts your preconceived notion, if you prefer.

  274. #275 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 19, 2010

    I notice that Irksome.Accommodationist complains we don’t have any “scientific data from controlled studies.” However I notice a distinct lack of the same for his claims. (No, Irksome.Accommodationist, I do not accept some random book which at first glance has absolutely nothing to do with whether “New Atheism” converts the masses or not as proving your claim.)

    We’ve heard this same shit from accommodationists before. They claim “you guys are being mean to the goddists and they don’t like it, so you should stop.” Irksome.Accommodationist differs only in claiming some book supports his whining. Other than that, it’s the same tone trolling we get from accommodationists all the time.

  275. #276 irksome.infidel
    May 19, 2010

    A counter-example was provided in response to your claim.

    You may not think so, but it evidently is wrong (by counter-example).

    However, you are making the blanket claim that not one single person, anywhere, ever, has had the mocking of their beliefs be a contributing factor in their eventually decision to shed those beliefs.

    This is exactly the global claim I called absurd in #242, #251, #253.

  276. #277 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome, you made your point 30 posts ago, Kel, who we trust, is looking at your idjit book, and the rest of us see you as nothing an accommodationist troll. So why not retire? Further trolling of that book will not convince us. In fact, it will convince us you have nothing, and are trying to be the “authority”. Just like every other accommodationist, creobot, godbot, and IDiot who comes trolling here.

  277. #278 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist wrote:

    This is exactly the global claim I called absurd in #242, #251, #253.

    No, you compared it to successfully finding fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.

    Which would be fine, except the number of fossil rabbits presented as being found in the Precambrian = zero, while the number of people claiming to have been deconverted (wholly or partially) by having their religion being mocked = some.

    Some > zero; ergo, your analogy is false.

    And as for ‘decades of research’, how many of these studies relate specifically to religious beliefs? I would suspect that, at best, you are extrapolating what might apply to other cognitive constructs which may not operate in the same way.

  278. #279 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    furthermore, I know of many sociological studies that have looked at the value of ridicule in marginalizing bad behavior.

    Is our resident concern troll unaware of any of these?

    or does it think them irrelevant, I wonder…

  279. #280 irksome.infidel
    May 19, 2010
    This is exactly the global claim I called absurd in #242, #251, #253.

    No, you compared it to successfully finding fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.

    Did you read #253? It’s not possible to make a controlled experiment for “contributing factor in their eventual decision”. And the claim does not follow from the results of limited, controlled interactions; that would be an inappropriate global extrapolation, as I mentioned.

  280. #281 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    It’s not possible to make a controlled experiment for “contributing factor in their eventual decision”.

    how many published studies in psychology are based on interview data?

    well?

  281. #282 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    There goes the possibility of irksome convincing us of anything down another notch. Let us make up our own minds irksome. You won’t let you make up our minds for us. You are too stoopid for us to give you that authority. You just can’t acknowledge that. Boring one-note troll.

  282. #283 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist wrote:

    It’s not possible to make a controlled experiment for “contributing factor in their eventual decision”. And the claim does not follow from the results of limited, controlled interactions; that would be an inappropriate global extrapolation, as I mentioned.

    I don’t believe it’s possible to make ‘controlled experiments’ on the issue of losing religious beliefs, period. For starters, how would anticipate recruiting subjects? And even then that’s only going to happen after you get down some clear definitions of ‘religious beliefs’ and how to accurately measure it beforehand.

    But we can gather satisfactory data on behaviour change via means other than controlled experiments, and extrapolate from that. Heck, it’s key aspect of marketing.

    Of course, if you could provide relevant studies to the contrary, you’d have a point – but, because you can’t, this is nothing more than accomodationism via a form of greedy reductionism.

  283. #284 irksome.infidel
    May 19, 2010
    It’s not possible to make a controlled experiment for “contributing factor in their eventual decision”.

    how many published studies in psychology are based on interview data?

    I assume you understand that interview data is unlike a controlled experiment, so I wonder what you mean. I didn’t mention interview data, and I don’t see a purpose in guessing a number. Could you clarify your reasoning here?

  284. #285 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist wrote:

    I assume you understand that interview data is unlike a controlled experiment, so I wonder what you mean. I didn’t mention interview data, and I don’t see a purpose in guessing a number. Could you clarify your reasoning here?

    You’ve got to be kidding. Poe?

  285. #286 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    I assume you understand that interview data is unlike a controlled experiment, so I wonder what you mean.

    what???

    I see I’m wasting my time talking to you. You don’t know anything about psychology.

    evidently, you must be a high school student who just recently learned what “controlled experiment” means, and is eager to inflict his new knowledge on the rest of the world.

    good luck with that.

  286. #287 Kel, OM
    May 19, 2010

    When you make a claim about the effectiveness of a certain form of argumentation

    From what I can gather, the only person making that argument is you. You’re the one making a claim about the effectiveness of a particular form of argument, and making what seems to amount to an a priori dismissal of the very concept. You’re the one making the claim – and one as far as I can tell is based on a limited scope of evidence. This is not dismissing clinical psychology, but highlighting that it’s not the be-all and end-all. That you’re comparing a counter-example to a paradigm-shattering discovery like a precambrian rabbit belies the discipline and the scope thereof.

    I have a few complaints about how you’ve handled your argument on here, as I’ve laid it out above (#246) I won’t make the case again. I don’t think you’ve argued in good faith, you’ve made general statements which you’ve backtracked on to make specific statements, which by the end I’m not actually sure what you’re arguing against anymore. Clarity is your friend, not something to skirt around when pressed.

    What you believe to be true based on personal conviction and personal experience is not necessarily, in reality, true. You don’t need me to tell you this. Homeopathy quacks are mired in that fallacy.

    Indeed. But again I wonder just what you’re referring to, can I trust the personal experience of me using my keyboard to type this? Can I trust clinical psychology? Can I trust your account of Tavris’ book? Perhaps, perhaps not. But how do I make a distinction between correlation and causation?

    When it comes to posting here, I can only rely on my experiences. I have no idea how others post here, but I do it by hitting the submit button. When it comes to an individual changing belief, I can look to see what causal factors present themselves through my interaction with them. When it’s over a long time in online conversations, I can see how a person’s position changes over time. It’s not perfect, there’s a degree of interpretation and self-reporting – but this is better than nothing. As for your interpretation of Tavris’ book, I think you are overextending what’s in the book because you’re narrowly focusing on a particular methodology of data and from that extracting certainty, at the same time as I’m being told by people working in parallel yet relevant fields that the data simply isn’t there.

    So for all those cases, what can I do? Be sceptical! For the keyboard input post, I can see that my post actually appears and that others are responding to it. Pretty much signifies that I’m doing something right. No need to rub a feather over the computer before hitting submit. For the self-reporting, keep in mind that self-reporting isn’t the most reliable means. I haven’t made any claims about it being effective other than 0 offends my sensibilities on empiricism and that I’ve had sufficient examples to show that ain’t the case. It’s not enough to warrant to say it’s effective or that it’s the most effective, but that discounting the possibility of it working at all is premature (remember that homoeopathy does work – as a placebo). As for Tavris’ book, all I can do is read it and see what’s in there. I’m not qualified to say what’s in the book is wrong, but my concern is not the book’s contents but your extension of the ideas apparently contained within to give you such certainty.

    So yes, I could be wildly misguided on a lot of things. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is something that one should always be on the lookout for. My claim here has always been that you’re overreaching in your conclusion, and for what? How can you be sure you’re not making the same mistake with interpreting the data or interpreting the claims or atmosphere of people here?

    Kel, who we trust, is looking at your idjit book

    To be fair, since hearing about the book I’ve wanted to read it. The claims made within correspond with a lot I’ve heard from others including psychologists and magicians – that the easiest person to fool is yourself and the book apparently explains why. More importantly it apparently explains how to avoid those traps and move on. Which would be an important lesson for everyone, especially sceptics. So I wouldn’t be trashing the book just yet NoR, it might be a valuable source of information.

    In this case, I think one should be sceptical of the way the book is being used to prop up a specious claim. In a couple of weeks I can give an account of the book, but the argument the book is being used to prop up has many things wrong with it other than that the book is being used to prop it up. Don’t kick the book out from under it, the book isn’t so thick that it puts the argument beyond kicking height ;)

    I know of many sociological studies that have looked at the value of ridicule in marginalizing bad behavior.

    Do you have links for any of these? I’d love to read them.

  287. #288 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    Do you have links for any of these? I’d love to read them.

    yes. I have several that link to online publications.

    I have to dig them up, though.

    I should be online again tomorrow, remind me?

    itmt, for fun, try this:

    http://www.iwp.edu/news_publications/detail/ridicule-an-instrument-in-the-war-on-terrorism

  288. #289 irksome.infidel
    May 19, 2010
    You could look up all 261 references and discard the book, if you prefer.

    A book isn’t the same a peer reviewed journal article.

    What do you think the references contain?

    As if we care about your alleged studies. You are brainwashed, we aren’t.

    Further trolling of that book will not convince us. In fact, it will convince us you have nothing

    You won’t let you make up our minds for us. You are too stoopid for us to give you that authority.

    Could Ned be the first Pharyngula-targeted Poe? That is, someone whose intent is to ridicule Pharyngula?

    If not then Ned: take a deep breath, read #268, and watch Dawkins’ interview with Wendy Wright.

    What happens when each side concludes the other is Poe? Does it create a singularity?

  289. #290 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    What do you think the references contain?

    links to papers that may or may not support the author’s contentions in a book containing them.

    surely you don’t expect us to think otherwise?

    What happens when each side concludes the other is Poe? Does it create a singularity?

    does anyone care?

    bah.

  290. #291 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 19, 2010

    Yawn, loser troll still trying to make the decision for us. It won’t work. And as a real (not social) scientist, your concept of constitutes peer review doesn’t match mine. Guess what, get off your one- note chant of us looking, and actually present on of those references to us. Full citation, and a summary of the paper. If you are capable of it. Which I doubt.

  291. #292 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    heh, I just now noticed that that little article I linked to refers to one of the books I was going to recommend:

    Jerrold M. Post, “Leaders and their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior”
    (Cornell University Press, 2004).

    great comment on that in the article:

    Dictators, tyrants, and those aspire to seize and keep power by intimidation and force can tolerate no public ridicule. They generally harbor grandiose self-images with little bearing on how people really think of them. They require a controlled political environment, reinforced by sycophants and toadies, to preserve an impenetrable image. Some are more tolerant of reasoned or principled opposition but few of satire or ridicule. The size of their egos may be seen as inversely proportional to the thickness of their skin. However, few are true madmen; most are rational and serious

    reminds one of religion in America, no?

  292. #293 Owlmirror
    May 19, 2010

    my concern is not the book’s contents but your extension of the ideas apparently contained within to give you such certainty.

    Yeah, this.

    irk sounds very, very certain about having understood the exact claims made by Tavris, and sounds very, very certain about presenting those exact claims here.

    And yet, irk does not really have the sort of expertise that demonstrates actual understanding and experience — especially given the absolutist sort of claims made.

    I find myself wondering if irk might not perhaps be a perfect example of a “skeptic” with the exact sort of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias that Tavris is trying to highlight.

    Wouldn’t that be ironic?

  293. #294 WowbaggerOM
    May 19, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist, you’re being challenged on being a Poe because you’ve demonstrated what can only be considered profound intellectual dishonesty in appearing to be believe that the only possible way to obtain behavioural data is via ‘controlled experiment’.

    We don’t think anyone can possibly be that stupid – and that you must therefore being a troll pretending to hold a position.

    Which is it?

  294. #295 Owlmirror
    May 19, 2010

    That having been said, I am not sure that Walton (Hi, Walton!) is useful as a counterexample.

    The whole point, as I understand after an admittedly sketchy survey of the sort of thing Tavris appears to be saying, is that the sort of mindset that embraces and “resolves” cognitive dissonance by creating a new idea that justifies retaining false beliefs, is exactly the sort of mindset that Walton does not have. Someone who is willing to acknowledge the reasoning and evidence offered in counterargument, and examine his beliefs in light of that reasoning and evidence, and change his mind after being presented with that reasoning and evidence — no matter how many gratuitous insults were sometimes offered with it — is pretty much the opposite sort of mindset.

  295. #296 Owlmirror
    May 19, 2010

    Hm!

    http://www.skeptiko.com/blog/?p=46

    Carol: Okay, let?s be really clear about the balancing act. I am absolutely with you on this. There are no two points of view about creationism. ?Oh, let?s do a little creationism here and a little evolution there.? On that one, no, and I entirely agree in fact with Richard McNally, he?s a clinical scientist at Harvard who has written a spectacular book on repression and memory and so forth. He said, ?You know, on this recovered memory business, it?s not like it?s a little bit right here and a little bit wrong there.? This is not a view where we?re going to take two circles and they can oval out of it or something. One side is right and one side is wrong. Either it is possible to repress the memory that your father raped you every day for 16 years, only you forgot it until you went into therapy or it?s not. I entirely agree with that. I don?t think in my career I have been wishy-washy about issues in which the science was clearly to one side. Homosexuality is not a disease, it is not an aberration, it is not a mental illness even though you can probably still find psychiatrist somewhere who will tell you that it is. So, I think, it is important for scientist in particular to take public stands on issues in which in fact there really is no scientific debate.

    I think we can agree that Tavris herself is absolutely not an accommodationist.

  296. #297 John Morales
    May 19, 2010

    Owlmirror, it is a truism that those whose mindset is not amenable to change via confrontation and ridicule aren’t amenable to change via confrontation and ridicule, but Walton still exists; as such, he suffices as a counter-example contrary to irksome’s claim (as expressed in such contentions as “No amount of argumentation whatsoever will get another person to accept your conclusion” [#198] and “0%” [#206]), which is an absolute (i.e. universal) one.

  297. #298 Ichthyic
    May 19, 2010

    Wouldn’t that be ironic?

    yes.

    but I’ve now lost interest in seeing if that is in fact, the case.

  298. #299 Kel, OM
    May 19, 2010

    I find myself wondering if irk might not perhaps be a perfect example of a “skeptic” with the exact sort of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias that Tavris is trying to highlight.

    It would be ironic if this were the situation, which leaves me wondering whether he’s an exercise in scepticism or futility. Or he might really have a point, but as I said above I’m sceptical.

  299. #300 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 20, 2010

    WowbaggerOM #285

    You’ve got to be kidding. Poe?

    Has my vote.

  300. #301 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    but Walton still exists; as such, he suffices as a counter-example contrary to irksome’s claim (as expressed in such contentions as “No amount of argumentation whatsoever will get another person to accept your conclusion” [#198] and “0%” [#206]), which is an absolute (i.e. universal)

    True. OK, point granted.

    Walton, you’re still exemplary!

  301. #302 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    “No amount of argumentation whatsoever will get another person to accept your conclusion” [#198] and “0%” [#206]

    irksome, is it possible that you misremembered the exact wording and context of what the book was saying that led to the claims made above?

    Or to put it in other words, is it possible that… mistakes were indeed made?

  302. #303 Ichthyic
    May 20, 2010

    Rufus: I’m telling you, man, this ceremony is a big mistake.
    Cardinal Glick: The Catholic Church does not make mistakes.
    Rufus: Please. What about the Church’s silent consent to the slave trade?
    Bethany: And its platform of noninvolvement during the Holocaust?
    Cardinal Glick: All right, mistakes were made.

  303. #304 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    From the department of “I’m just saying, is all”…

    Let us be not proud, for, yea verily, is it not true that we all maek

  304. #305 Mr T
    May 20, 2010

    I’ve been too busy with work and music-scribbling to check in again until now. My apologies. It looks like I’ve missed loads of bullshit fun from irksome…

    Irksome’s claims are ridiculous, so they deserve ridicule. That doesn’t necessarily mean he or she deserves anything in particular, just that the claims themselves are not worth taking seriously. If people aren’t willing to separate themselves from their own claims, then they are still not thinking critically, no matter how patient or polite anyone is about it. It would not be “critical thinking,” “free-thinking” or “skepticism” at all if it depends on the arguer’s tone or whether the argument is filled to the brim with expletives. As mother always used to say, “Two plus motherfucking two equals four, you son of a bitch!” These factors (as well as other biases) also must be discarded from rational thought because they are always irrelevant.

    How effective ridicule is as a mode of communication is another question. Contrary to irksome’s weird insistence on its impossibility, ridicule is effective, but I admit that all of the reasons are not entirely clear to me. It does seem to be the case that we are more likely to remember things which have made an emotional impression. It also seems to be inevitable that people will ridicule things which are absurd, with or without the approval of accomodationists.

    And it does in fact change minds by making it clear how absurd something is on the face of it, how utterly unworthy of serious contemplation an idea is. This has a superficial resemblance to how creationists will mock evolution by saying “I didn’t come from no monkey”, but they are only deluding themselves with a strawman. If the actual claim being made is that remarkably stupid, then there is no good reason to be shy or polite about it. One doesn’t need to go into a long philosophical treatise to explain the intricate process by which one might determine the relative absurdity of the transubstantiation (but presumably “absurd” only if and only if I’m not being offended in the process). One can simply say, “It’s a frackin’ cracker!”, and move on to something more interesting. This expresses the message, wastes no time on a silly topic which deserves none, and it fucking works.

  305. #306 Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad
    May 20, 2010

    My favourite quote from Thomas Jefferson:

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

  306. #307 irksome.infidel
    May 20, 2010

    I think we can agree that Tavris herself is absolutely not an accommodationist.

    Yes, and I’ve clearly stated that I’m not an accommodationist (#222). It’s funny to see this “insult” since the position does not follow from anything I’ve said. It’s not even related to the topic at hand.

    Delegating dissonant views to out-group generalizations is Janis’ fourth symptom of groupthink. Something to contemplate. http://www.psysr.org/about/pubs_resources/groupthink%20overview.htm

  307. #308 Ratio
    May 20, 2010

    My favourite quote from my favourite cowboy:
    “If you’re NOT with us, you’re AGAINST us”

  308. #309 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    It’s funny to see this “insult” since the position does not follow from anything I’ve said.

    The problem is that what you’ve said has been internally inconsistent, possibly contradictory to your source of information, and often unclear.

    Accommodationists are often that way as well.

    While calling you an accommodationist may well be the result of an incorrect inference from confusing or incomplete data, I think it’s a not entirely incomprehensible mistake.

    Any responses to #302?

  309. #310 WowbaggerOM
    May 20, 2010

    Irksome Accomodationist wrote:

    Yes, and I’ve clearly stated that I’m not an accommodationist (#222).

    You can’t act like an accomodationist – i.e. make the tone argument and insist that PZ and others shouldn’t take the aggressive stance they take – and then complain when you’re correctly identified as being one.

    A three-word mantra to keep in mind when posting here is the (good) writer’s motto: show, don’t tell.

  310. #311 Walton
    May 20, 2010

    I’m not at all keen on the dichotomy of “accommodationism” versus “New Atheism”. I think there’s a place for both.

    On the one hand, on a lot of issues, atheists and agnostics should be forging alliances with liberal and progressive religious people: evolution, science education, LGBT equality, gender equality, aid to the developing world, and so on. Driving a wedge between non-believers and liberal believers on these issues would just be silly; we should work together to combat fundamentalism, ignorance and pseudoscience, and to build a better and fairer world. I have a lot of respect for Christians like Barry Lynn who are on the right side on these issues.

    On the other hand, I think it’s also a good thing for atheists and agnostics to be candid about the fact that we don’t believe. When it’s appropriate to discuss religion, a non-theistic point of view should be heard in the debate; and we shouldn’t show some sort of faux-deference to religious ideas which we consider to be entirely wrongheaded. There’s a difference between respecting a person and “respecting” his or her ideas, and if an idea appears to be totally irrational and non-evidence-based, it’s fine to say so, in religion as in any other field.

  311. #312 Owlmirror
    May 20, 2010

    That reminds me — I can’t believe we’ve gotten this far without someone bringing up the point that the Overton window offers a paradigm for expressing a range of messages that have the ultimate goal of the most reasonable and personable proponents of the most reasonable and mild versions of the messages persuading more easily those who are repelled by the more extreme messages and their proponents.

    The point being that the milder messages are more persuasive because of the existence of the extreme messages.

  312. #313 Kel, OM
    May 20, 2010

    Something to contemplate.

    Something to contemplate for yourself. As you’ve posted in this thread, you’ve had a chance to be a shining example of the message you’re presenting. It’s not, and that’s a shame. Instead you’ve made the same kind of argument it seems you’re being critical of here. And for what? Are you just trying to antagonise “pharyngulites” so you can proclaim groupthink and dismiss the criticisms of your positions? It must be that it’s an out-group hostility directed against you, not that you’ve made untenable comments that deserve criticism.

    The only way I can make sense of your position is that you’re an exercise in scepticism. Trying to show by example that the particular strategy doesn’t work. Because what you’re saying and how you’re saying it are an expression of cognitive dissonance. Mistakes were made but not by irksome.infidel it seems.

    I’ve been here for nearly two years now. And I’m not surprised that people have called you an accommodationist. I don’t think you are, nor that they’re using the term correctly. As far as I can gather, an accommodationist is one who advocates for compatibility between science and religion. You’re not doing that, and whoever is labelling you as one is wrong.

    In those two years I’ve seen many people come on here and proclaim this place an echo chamber, or that anyone who posts here is merely a slave to the intellectual dominance that is PZ Myers. It’s a means to dismiss the opinion of many people telling you you’re wrong, as if someone can’t see that 2+2=4 without having a professor first point it out to them. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc and whatnot. And all for what? As far as I can see, it’s an easy way to deal with consensus opinion without having to be substantive. Like those who would dismiss atheists as having bad relationships with their father, it doesn’t mean the arguments they have for belief in God are any good but they can take on the negativity by trying to find an underlying motive for holding a belief rather than checking the veracity of the rationality behind it.

    And this is why I don’t think you’re arguing in good faith. You’ve made grand claims, then skirted around that claims while never admitting fallibility. Given what the book’s contents are, surely admitting you’re wrong is the best path forward. Perhaps everything you’ve said was right and it’s people here who can’t see it. Who knows? Mistakes were made, but not by pharyngula regulars ;)

  313. #314 'Tis Himself, OM
    May 20, 2010

    Yes, and I’ve clearly stated that I’m not an accommodationist

    You’ve made the claim you’re not one. So what? “I’m a world famous violinist and brain surgeon!” That’s a clear statement. It’s not true about me but it’s still clearly stated.

    I haven’t seen one iota of evidence to support your claim. So show us how you differ from accommodationists.

  314. #315 Ratio
    May 20, 2010

    Hi guys. I hate to spoil the fun here, but don’t you think that the real culprit who is stealing our joyful life is getting away? The doggone Gods are laughing at us now it seems. Can we focus to the issues at hand here?

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