John Pieret reads Jerry Coyne so you don’t have to, and catches Jerry Coyne rewriting history. Pieret notes in particular that Coyne is insisting that “faitheist” was never meant as a pejorative, when it clearly was, and has always and exclusively been used as such. For Coyne to try to rewrite history and claim otherwise is shameful, especially from someone who insists he is the great defender of the principle that “the truth matters.”

Speaking of which, Pieret closes by noting: “As an aside, Coyne accuses [Center for Inquiry VP John] Shook of ‘redefining’ “accommodationism.” Where, exactly, has accommodationism been definitively defined?” (I’d add this link to the mix and this one, as I always do in discussing this much-confused term.)

In any event, I was curious how Coyne defined “accomodationism,” and got this:

for me–and I think nearly all of us–”accommodationism” has always been the view that science and faith are compatible

If that’s true, then Coyne has been persistently misleading his readers (“all of us”) in referring to me and to Chris Mooney and to NCSE and other science societies as “accommodationist.” None of those people or groups, indeed none of the people commonly identified as “accommodationist” (to my knowledge) adopt that absurd position. As Chris Mooney told Coyne two Junes ago:

Insofar as I’m an accommodationist, then, it’s not because I don’t see the incongruity between relying on faith, and looking for evidence, as bases for knowing. Rather, it’s because I know that many very intelligent people are struggling all the time to make their peace with this incongruity in their own way-a peace that works for them. And so long as they’re not messing with what our kids learn-or, again, trying to ram their views down our throats-then good on ‘em.

In one of my earliest blog posts taking Coyne on directly (two Septembers ago), here’s how I described my position, in response to his attack on me with the pejorative “faitheist” (among other puerile smears):

For instance, am I a “faitheist”? No. Coyne defines the term as: an “atheist[] who [is] nonetheless soft on faith.” First, I’m not an atheist and have never claimed to be one. I am an apathist agnostic (Cf.), and have said so on many occasions. Had Coyne invested the modest effort to either ask my religious views, or checked my archives (as I’ve done to find how he defines this term), he would know better. [N.B.: He continues to refer to me as an atheist two years later.] Second, I don’t know what he means by “soft on faith.” If he means that I don’t think faith is ipso facto bad, then yeah. By that standard I’m also soft on dance but not on mushrooms (yech). If it means that I think faith is inherently good, or worth promoting, then no, that’s not my position at all.

Note that his definition of “faitheist” explicitly states that it is a synonym for “atheist accommodationist,” which is why it wasn’t necessary for me to specifically comment on the notion of compatibility: he didn’t define the issue in those terms then. I’ve never held that science is compatible with all religions. Some religions are incompatible with science. Others, as Mooney notes, seem to be capable of coexistence, which is the sense of “compatibility” I’ve always found most useful.

Coyne has had two years to realize that the definition he uses for the term “accommodationist” doesn’t match the views of the people he applies the label to. The simple, decent, and honest thing to do would be to stop using a clearly flawed definition and figure out what “accommodationists” actually think. His is a vincible ignorance.

Comments

  1. #1 Sergio
    April 3, 2011

    Its interesting to see how you devote an entire post to calling out Jerry Coyne on semantics, on something that appears to be a pretty trivial distinction.

    When Chris Mooney says this:
    “Rather, it’s because I know that many very intelligent people are struggling all the time to make their peace with this incongruity in their own way-a peace that works for them. “, I view it as essentially the same thing as telling the person that science and faith are compatible, because you are letting them keep that misguided notion in their consciousness without challenging it. It is exactly the same thing – and all it does is enable religious belief.

    Also, “apathist agnostic”? What does that even mean? There are only two options dude, and that isnt one of them. You are either a theist or an atheist. Agnostics like to sit on that word and claim they have some sort of third option, when all atheism is the lack of belief in any deities, where agnostics clearly fall.

    Good try, but that sort of wordplay is not very convincing.

  2. #2 Andy
    April 3, 2011

    Take a pencil and a sheet of paper. Now list all the gods in which you currently believe.

    We all have the right to self-identify any way we choose, but if your piece of paper is blank–i.e., if your piece of paper is “without gods”–can you really fault someone else for calling you an “atheist”?

  3. #3 Riman Butterbur
    April 3, 2011

    Sergio, I’m with you on the theist/atheist dichotomy, and also on the frivolity of semantic squabbles. In between, not so much.

    If Josh wants to call himself an apathist agnostic — which I assume he defines by Wilkins’ “don’t know, don’t care” — I’m happy with that. It’s essentially the same thing I mean when I call myself an atheist. I’m a “stronger” atheist than Dawkins, BTW; he rates himself at 4 on a scale of 5; I think that what has been learned so far about the way the world works makes it extremely unlikely that there could be anything behind it that could reasonably be called “intelligence”. I’m aware of the conceivability of some future discovery changing that likelihood, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Since the question is currently unfalsifiable, there’s no arguing about it. Experience has shown that people can hold all kinds of unfalsifiable beliefs and still eat with a fork without poking their eyes out, and as long as they don’t bother me, I see no point in bothering them. Chris Mooney is right. In some people’s minds, science and faith are compatible.

    You object to that because “all it does is enable religious belief.” Why do you care?

  4. #4 Anthony McCarthy
    April 4, 2011

    You don’t like mushrooms? Oh, then clearly my admiration for you is misplaced. No one who is a mushroom denier has any decent place in the intellectual class.

    Jerry Coyne, since I found his blog, has seemed to me to be someone who constantly skirts irrationality, keeping his balance only for his professional work. I’ve seen his New Republic pieces as being the no mans land between his rational, professional product and his entirely unhinged blogging.

    That a new atheist is uninterested in historical or documentary accuracy isn’t very surprising. They haven’t ever had much respect for either in the past.

    If you see religion and science as two sets defined by what each can contain and still remain what they are, then it’s easy to get past the “accomodationist” puzzle.

    As I’ve pointed out, it’s possible for religion to accept everything that science gets right, even those things that it will get right sometime in the future, it’s possible for religion to inform itself with science and still remain religion because that’s not only what religion can use to inform itself. But science can’t do that because it must formally restrict itself to its methods and its field of study, the physical aspects of the universe. If it transgresses that boundary, it ceases to be science.

    Of course, an absolutist-fundamentalist religion might not be able to contain parts of science and remain the specific religion they are. But that’s one of the problems of talking about “religion” as if it’s all one thing, when it most clearly, is not.

    I’m wondering how the Coynes deal with science and scientists that don’t accept some science. Does that mean that science is incompatible with science?

  5. #5 Chris' Wills
    April 4, 2011

    @Sergio/Riman Butterbur

    There are only two options dude, and that isnt one of them. You are either a theist or an atheist. Agnostics like to sit on that word and claim they have some sort of third option, when all atheism is the lack of belief in any deities, where agnostics clearly fall.

    Suprising lack of knowledge for two who write so certainly as to what words mean.

    There are Agnostic Theists as well as Agnostic Atheists (though atheists tend not to admit to lack of knowledge)

    Being Agnostic isn’t on a linear line between theism and atheism, as some simplistic people think.

    Though admittedly atheists have done much to debase the words meaning, it really isn’t a synonym for weak atheist.

    Also, some people live as if there is no God, not because they’re atheists simply because they don’t care one way or another.

  6. #6 GregH
    April 4, 2011

    You are either a theist or an atheist.

    Dude! I’m a non-dualist: I don’t give a rat’s ass what other people think about god. Seriously, the determined belief that Theism or its opposite have anything to say about my personal experience of reality is thoroughly misguided.

    I will also suggest that Atheism is a belief system that places you firmly in relation to the god in which you disbelieve. There are alternatives to viewing the world in black and white.

  7. #7 Barry
    April 4, 2011

    GregH:”…Atheism is a belief system…”

    Please define the “Atheist belief system”.

  8. #8 Riman Butterbur
    April 4, 2011

    Chris’ Wills,

    I’ve heard of agnostic theists, but that’s not what Sergio and I were talking about. We were talking about atheists who don’t like to admit they’re atheists.

    “atheists tend not to admit to lack of knowledge”

    Look at your own first paragraph again. You copied and pasted it correctly, but apparently neglected to read it. Atheism, by definition, is an admission of a lack of knowledge.

    “some people live as if there is no God, not because they’re atheists simply because they don’t care one way or another.”

    I’m sure this is true. If you asked them, most would give a knee-jerk response that they are theists. Because they have never really thought about the question, but are just going along with the crowd.

    But no doubt this will mean nothing to you because you don’t seem to like our definition of atheist. However, since you have not said what alternative definition you prefer, most of your comment is just gibberish.

  9. #9 Anthony McCarthy
    April 4, 2011

    We were talking about atheists who don’t like to admit they’re atheists. Riman Butterbur

    You talk about atheism as if it’s alcoholism.

    Isn’t it nice that the new atheists are able to know peoples’ minds better than they do. It must be all that science they embody that makes them telepath…. uh, well, what else could it be?

  10. #10 Riman Butterbur
    April 4, 2011

    “You talk about atheism as if it’s alcoholism.”

    In some aspects, that’s a good analogy. The difference is that there are legitimate reasons why alcoholism has a social stigma.

  11. #11 Anthony McCarthy
    April 4, 2011

    The difference is that there are legitimate reasons why alcoholism has a social stigma.

    So you guys are providing one?

  12. #12 Helen Wise
    April 4, 2011

    “Jerry Coyne, since I found his blog, has seemed to me to be someone who constantly skirts irrationality, keeping his balance only for his professional work. I’ve seen his New Republic pieces as being the no mans land between his rational, professional product and his entirely unhinged blogging.”

    McCarthy, you’ve got an ax to grind, that is clear. I never see your name anywhere except here, at Rosenau’s place. And, of course, if you stopped posting at Mooney’s blog, he’d have to turn the lights off. Have you been banned everywhere else?

  13. #13 Anthony McCarthy
    April 4, 2011

    Helen Wise, I wasn’t aware I was the subject of this thread. I’m mostly a leftist political blogger so I usually only go on leftist political blogs. I doubt I’ve posted ten comments at Chris Mooney’s blog this year only because I haven’t had the time to follow it as it deserves. So many good blogs so little time.

    Coyne obviously doesn’t want me to comment on his blog so I don’t, it’s his blog, after all. I acknowledged his ability to hold it together for his professional work, only going many bubbles out of level on his blog, as far as I know. I’ve always said that the book of the same name as his blog was one of the best popular science books of the past several years. I said so here on another thread several days ago. It’s too bad he can’t comment rationally as soon as the topic is religion. You’d think his ability to compartmentalize for his professional work would teach him something about the ability of people to do that, but when it comes to religion, his prejudice rules.

    I am told that I haven’t been banned at any blog, I’m told it a lot. I gather there’s some bit of folklore about it in the new atheistosphere.

  14. #14 Barry
    April 5, 2011

    Anthony McCarthy: “It’s too bad he can’t comment rationally as soon as the topic is religion.”

    For example?

  15. #15 Anthony McCarthy
    April 5, 2011

    Barry, read his blog.

  16. #16 Helen Wise
    April 5, 2011

    “Helen Wise, I wasn’t aware I was the subject of this thread.”

    Of 15 comments posted in this thread, you’ve posted a third. Basically, it’s you and Rosenau, talking to each other. Ditto at Mooney’s place.

    As to this bit:
    I am told that I haven’t been banned at any blog, I’m told it a lot. I gather there’s some bit of folklore about it in the new atheistosphere”, you are utterly deluded to believe that you are a topic of discussion in the “atheistophere”.

  17. #17 Jeremy Oxford
    April 5, 2011

    Okay, so you are either an atheist or theist. More narrow descriptions such as “apathetic agnostic” are just an attempt to hide your atheism. Yet, if you are an atheist who doesn’t hold and actively push a naturalistic worldview you need a separate label such as “faithiest” or “accommodationist” to denote how your views differ from others in the atheist community. Is that correct?

  18. #18 Anthony McCarthy
    April 5, 2011

    Helen Wise, one of those is an answer to you. Did you consider that when people want to argue with what I’ve said or to ask me questions, I might feel like it’s polite to answer them?

    I guess people find what I say interesting enough to do that.

  19. #19 Riman Butterbur
    April 5, 2011

    “if you are an atheist who doesn’t hold and actively push a naturalistic worldview you need a separate label such as “faithiest” or “accommodationist” to denote how your views differ from others in the atheist community. Is that correct?”

    No, that’s backwards. An atheist is an atheist is an atheist. If you want to present yourself as something more than an atheist, or some special kind of atheist, that’s when you need an additional label.

  20. #20 Jeremy Oxford
    April 6, 2011

    Sorry, I should clarify my previous statement.

    On the one hand we have “apathetic agnostics”, a position which describes a certain kind of atheist and is accused of trying to dodge the atheist label.
    Then we have “faithiest”, a position which describes a certain kind of atheist and is accused of being pejorative.

    The parallels just made me smile (especially when people try to say that one objection is trivial while raising the other objection).

  21. #21 Ender
    April 6, 2011

    “Take a pencil and a sheet of paper. Now list all the gods in which you currently believe.

    We all have the right to self-identify any way we choose, but if your piece of paper is blank–i.e., if your piece of paper is “without gods”–can you really fault someone else for calling you an “atheist”?”

    Yes, because you haven’t done the necessary research. After all:

    “Take a pencil and a sheet of paper. Now list all the gods which you currently believe don’t exist.

    We all have the right to self-identify any way we choose, but if your piece of paper does not list all the gods you’ve heard of–i.e., if your real belief is not that the world is definitely “without gods”–can you really fault someone else for calling you a “theist”?

    The above is equally nonsensical. Words have definitions. Use them. And stop trying to pathetically boost the numbers of people on your ‘team’ with shitty logic. It’s embarrassing. You’re meant to be the rational ones, not the ones “Lying for Jesus Atheism”

  22. #22 Ender
    April 6, 2011

    Sorry, the second paragraph was meant to be italicised as well.

  23. #23 Ender
    April 6, 2011

    “Take a pencil and a sheet of paper. Now list all the gods in which you currently believe.

    We all have the right to self-identify any way we choose, but if your piece of paper is blank–i.e., if your piece of paper is “without gods”–can you really fault someone else for calling you an “atheist”?”

    Yes, because you haven’t done the necessary research. After all:

    “Take a pencil and a sheet of paper. Now list all the gods which you currently believe don’t exist.

    We all have the right to self-identify any way we choose, but if your piece of paper does not list all the gods you’ve heard of–i.e., if your real belief is not that the world is definitely “without gods”–can you really fault someone else for calling you a “theist”?

    The above is equally nonsensical. Words have definitions. Use them. And stop trying to pathetically boost the numbers of people on your ‘team’ with shitty logic. It’s embarrassing. You’re meant to be the rational ones, not the ones “Lying for Jesus Atheism”

  24. #24 Ender
    April 6, 2011

    Helen Wise it seems like you’ve got an ax to grind. You’ve followed Anthony McCarthy around Rosenau’s place and of course Mooney’s blog – you claim you’ve searched for him everywhere and never found his name anywhere.

    Isn’t that a little creepy? He disagrees with you about something you’re obviously a little fanatical about, and so you proceed to e-stalk him around – and are proud enough of your wasted time that you ‘confront’ him with your little research project as if it makes him look bad rather than making you look wierd.

    You’ve even started counting his posts. Let me ask you, the photo you have of him taped to your monitor, does it have a pink heart around his face, or have you scribbled it out with black marker and written “Bastard – does not not believe in God” over his head?

  25. #25 Anthony McCarthy
    April 6, 2011

    Now we know it’s not only religious folk who the new atheists know better than they know themselves, it’s agnostic folk as well. What is the paranormal faculty they possess that allows them to read the minds and souls of those they’ve set themselves against? I think they figure they’re the boss of everyone.

  26. #26 julian
    April 6, 2011

    “I think they figure they’re the boss of everyone.”

    Coming from a believer that sorta falls flat. And your willingness to throw hordes of people you neitherknow nor want to know into the same pile is once again noted.

  27. #27 julian
    April 6, 2011

    Wow there’s a shocker, you post only in places where everyone will agree with you. I wonder, ever accused a gnu of creating an echo chamber? Or are you at least suffieciently self aware to not do that?

    Out of curiosity, why don’t you post on gnu blogs? Banned, dnt like the atmosphere, what? Just dislike avenues where people won’t agree with you?

  28. #28 Anthony McCarthy
    April 6, 2011

    Julian, I’d guess you’re under the impression that everyone here was in perfect accord. Only I guess that’s not it at all.

    On my home blog, people frequently and violently disagree with what I say. But, then, I don’t think it’s worth it to endlessly ponder the common received wisdom except to take a closer look at it than is comfortable for casual acolytes.

    I think Josh’s blog attracts a far lower percentage of nodding fan boys than PZ’s or Oracs and Coyne is especially uneager to have hard questioning of what he says appear on his comment threads. Chris Mooney hasn’t enjoyed uncritical agreement on his blog either.

    Now, maybe if you stay on topic Helen Wise won’t get upset that I’m answering someones’ off-topic digression. If you want to make me the topic, start your own blog.

  29. #29 Barry
    April 6, 2011

    Anthony: “Barry, read his blog.”

    So you don’t like his blog. I just wanted you to give me an example of…” “It’s too bad he can’t comment rationally as soon as the topic is religion.”

    I’ve read his blog. Just point out comments of his about religion that you regard as “not rational”.

  30. #30 julian
    April 6, 2011

    @Barry

    Careful. This could turn into a repeat of Stangroom’s Quest for the Gnasty Snark.

  31. #31 Anthony McCarthy
    April 6, 2011

    Just point out comments of his about religion that you regard as “not rational”.

    Oh, just in this at the top of his blog today:

    But of course Hawking’s statement comes not from theology or philosophy but from physics: he feels that the theories of physics are capable of accounting for the origin (or eternal persistence) of a universe without invoking the supernatural.

    Physics is a science, sciences necessarily exclude everything that doesn’t address physical evidence (I won’t get into M-theory having a sum total of confirmatory evidence no evidence just now) processing that with methods that address only physical evidence. Hawking’s famous PR generating statement of last year had absolutely nothing to do with physics, it was an opinion on a matter that physics is entirely unable to address, no more than you could address it with politics or economics. In fact, since the belief that God created the universe is a belief and not based in scientific knowledge, to claim it as a question of science is profoundly irrational, especially for a scientist. It’s exactly the same kind of thing that I.D. proponents do, applying science to evaluate religious questions. You can’t do that and have the results remain a matter of science, but I never claimed that atheists who were scientists couldn’t misapply their work to support their extra scientific ideas. That kind of thing is quite frequent in the history of science, William Shockley always comes to mind when I hear it being done.

    That’s not a matter of personal preference, it’s a matter of an obvious lapse in reasoning.

    His April 4th diatribe is full of irrational statements about religion but I won’t go into that just now.

    In a quick review of his blog posts that come up with the search terms “Francis Collins” shows that he’s got a real problem keeping a lid on the irrationality when it comes to him. I recall an early post where Coyne tried to associate him with an infamous incidence of parental medical negligence, which I’d sue over if it had been me.

  32. #32 Helen Wise
    April 6, 2011

    Ender, my word. You’re a deeply paranoid little person, yes?

  33. #33 Mike from Ottawa
    April 6, 2011

    His is a vincible ignorance.

    After two years, perhaps the evidence is against the faith you express in Jerry Coyne.

  34. #34 Ender
    April 7, 2011

    Oh, did I hit a nerve Helen?

    You have to admit it’s pretty wierd – finding that someone disagrees with you and monitoring where they post and where they don’t.
    Not as wierd as following Anthony here and telling him you were doing that, in a strangely triumphalist tone. Nor as wierd as counting his posts and comparing the ratios. But wierd nonetheless.

    What isn’t clear is whether you’re a nasty little obsessive who’s personally offended by Anthony and e-stalking him on your own behalf or whether you’re simply part of a slightly paranoid social group on the internet who spend too much time encouraging each other’s silly suspicions and working yourselves into quite a lather.

  35. #35 julian
    April 7, 2011

    Will the ironies coming from Rosenau’s camp ever cease?

  36. #36 Anthony McCarthy
    April 7, 2011

    Will the new atheists ever learn how to use a dictionary?

  37. #37 Gurdur
    April 7, 2011

    “McCarthy, you’ve got an ax to grind, that is clear.”

    You know, Helen Wise, if you’re accusing someone of having an axe to grind, it’s never wise to then immediately reveal you do too — as you do with your next comments.

    “I never see your name anywhere except here, at Rosenau’s place.”

    I stand in awe at your all-seeing eye that scans the whole net.

    “And, of course, if you stopped posting at Mooney’s blog, he’d have to turn the lights off.”

    Try not to be silly. Even if you heartily dislike Mooney and his message, you cannot deny Mooney and Kirshenbaum have built up their blog to have quite a high hit-count — oh, and a lot of commentators too. So get over yourself and try sticking to facts.

    “Have you been banned everywhere else?
    Posted by: Helen Wise”

    *snert* Keep grinding that axe.

    Let me ask you a serious question here; since you so obviously dislike Anthony and his message, why do you do so? If you want to claim that it is because Anthony’s message is wrong or contrafactual, then exactly what do you have to complain about, given the fact-free way you flame here? Not to mention the sheer irony of you being guilty of what you claim Anthony to be guilty of.

    Ah, I see the other factfree flamers are out in force too.

    So, it’s flames in desperate evasion of the topic of Coyne’s little ways, is it? Too difficult to defend them, I guess.

  38. #38 Barry
    April 8, 2011

    Andrew, you quoted this as an example of Coyne’s irrationality regarding religion – “But of course Hawking’s statement comes not from theology or philosophy but from physics: he feels that the theories of physics are capable of accounting for the origin (or eternal persistence) of a universe without invoking the supernatural.”

    You then go on to attempt to explain why Coyne might be guilty of faulty science (which you fail to do in my opinion), but other than asserting a meaning that Coyne himself does not make, you leap to the claim of irrationality with regards to his treatment of religion.

    So I reapeat, please point out comments about religion that are not rational.

  39. #39 Barry
    April 8, 2011

    Anthony: “Will the new atheists ever learn how to use a dictionary?”

    Forgive my ignorance, but is this comment what one would describe as a “blanket statement”? Is it a scientific proposition or more based on faith?

    The double standard, however, is duly noted.

  40. #40 Anthony McCarthy
    April 8, 2011

    Barry, it’s an informal observation based on years of experience with new atheists. I’ve made similar observations about creationists.

    By the way, I don’t use the latest designation for fear of being unfair to innocent ungulates.

  41. #41 julian
    April 8, 2011

    Here’s a reason to dislike Mr. McCarthy, he’s repeatedly referred to gnus as bigots, hypocrits ect. And. Not particular gnus or with examples, just a blanket statement about people that by his own admittance he never deals with.

  42. #42 Anthony McCarthy
    April 8, 2011

    Julian, I am still, somehow, carrying on without your love.

    See, Helen Wise, they’re always making me the subject. You’d think there were more interesting things to discuss that were relevant to the topic of the post.

  43. #43 julian
    April 8, 2011

    Oh, you know you love the attention. Helps feed your disdain for us!

  44. #44 Barry
    April 8, 2011

    Anthony: “Barry, it’s an informal observation based on years of experience with new atheists. I’ve made similar observations about creationists.”

    So, with an “n” of 1 you feel free to make wide and sweeping condemnations based on a stereotype that clearly fits your prejudice. Throwing in the comment that you make the same sweeping generalizations about creationists does not constitute balance. You are like a hammer seeing nails everywhere.

  45. #45 Lesley Fellows
    April 9, 2011

    Never head the term ‘apathist agnostic’ before.. does that mean ‘don’t know, don’t care?’ I like it!

  46. #46 Anthony McCarthy
    April 9, 2011

    Barry, if they don’t stereotype and blame people of things they’re not guilty of based on their stereotype, they lack two of the requirements to be new atheists. Most atheists of my acquaintance aren’t new atheists because most of them aren’t bigots. And, as I’m constantly reminded, it’s never a surprise to find that bigots are also liars because bigotry inevitably is founded in lies believed because the liars want them to be true.

  47. #47 julian
    April 9, 2011

    Oh more definition games! I’ll play too.

    Believers are all mush brained. If you aren’t mush brained you can’t possibly be a believer and have no right to feel insulted.

  48. #48 Gurdur
    April 9, 2011

    Thoughts from Kansas is definitely the most rockin’, stompin’, hardasshiphoppin’ in-place to be these days on the net.
    Rock on!

  49. #49 Barry
    April 9, 2011

    Anthony, it seems that those you call “new atheists” are synonymous with bigots. You are the very example of everything you criticize. If you were able to compose a half -intelligent response to my questions it would be worth the trouble. Empty vessels always did make the most noise.

  50. #50 Anthony McCarthy
    April 10, 2011

    Barry, the new atheists defined themselves as bigots when they started blaming religious people for the crimes of other people they didn’t have any connection with and whose crimes they opposed. They defined themselves as bigots when they chose to mock religious people as all deluded fools and idiots. They defined themselves when they chose to lie and distort in order to denigrate all religious people. I could go on to things like staking a claim to science but that’s not strictly answering your claims related to their bigotry.

    All I’m guilty of is taking them at their word about their sect, drawing the necessary conclusions about it and making the correct classification based on how other identifiable forms of bigotry are classified. I apply the same rules to them that I would the associations which promoted racism and other forms of bigotry.

  51. #51 julian
    April 10, 2011

    “When they started blaming religious people for the crimes of other people theydidn’t have any connection with and whose crimes they opposed.”

    Sir, thank you for the laugh. Self awareness is not your strong suit.

  52. #52 Anthony McCarthy
    April 10, 2011

    Julian, I’ve made the basic distinction between most atheists and new atheists and I’ve explained it. Atheists who don’t want to be mistaken for bigots don’t seem to mind that being pointed out, not to mention agnostics. So I don’t blame most atheists for the bigotry of a small number of atheists unlike new atheists who make vicarious guilt a foundation of their ideology. Maybe the inability of new atheists to make those kinds of distinctions is a trait that accounts for their bigotry.

  53. #53 julian
    April 10, 2011

    Actually I was thinking about a certain pastor.

  54. #54 Barry
    April 10, 2011

    Anthony. It isn’t new atheists you are describing, but yourself. I’m afraid you’ll need to be a little more specific in your examples – “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? Please give me the exact quote.

    “mock religious people as all deluded fools and idiots” – all new atheists do this? Are you sure it isn’t just the ideas that are mocked and ridiculed…as all bad ideas deserve to be?

    “they chose to lie and distort in order to denigrate all religious people” – again, let’s have copious examples provided.

    “I apply the same rules to them that I would the associations which promoted racism and other forms of bigotry” – please, please, don’t except yourself.

  55. #55 Barry
    April 10, 2011

    Anthony, could you name the new atheists you regard as bigoted and provide the exact quotes that support your accusation?

  56. #56 David Stoeckl
    April 11, 2011

    Anthony, could you name the new atheists you regard as bigoted and provide the exact quotes that support your accusation? Posted by: Barry

    On another blog a self-identified gnu proudly posted a video clip of Dawkins responding to the question of why are you doing this, spending all this time attacking religion? His response,”9/11!” ’nuff said.

    As for the suggestion of “gnu” bigotry, I live in the sticks. Just blue collar working folk, many of whom truly believe that blacks just aren’t as smart as white folk. With that belief, is it possible for them to treat blacks as equals?

    If you believe that the religious are child-like idiots worthy of nothing but contempt, is it possible to treat religious folks as equals?

  57. #57 julian
    April 11, 2011

    @David

    Who exactly believes that?

    Here’s a hint,it isn’t the person you quoted or really any self identified gnu.

  58. #58 Barry
    April 11, 2011

    David S “If you believe that the religious are child-like idiots worthy of nothing but contempt, is it possible to treat religious folks as equals?”

    No and No.

  59. #59 Ender
    April 12, 2011

    “Who exactly believes that?”

    PZ Myers and many posters on Pharyngula, for starters. He of course wouldn’t claim that all religious people are like that. It’s called deniability.
    But they certainly shouldn’t be treated as equals until they renounce their religion and stop being worthy of contempt.
    Why would you take someone seriously who believes in the Big Sky Daddy in the Sky? When ‘studies’ show that smarter people are less religious? When there isn’t a mention of religious people on his blog without insults and invective ["dogmatic fool", "If you are a Christian, don't worry. They removed the scary black man who drives through in the middle of the video" etc]
    He peppers his blog with these ideas, so if you have not seen them then you have either not read him enough, or are blind to what he is saying. Either way I’m not going to go searching for it as I have no dog in this conversation apart from the desire to answer your absurdly easy question.

    Barry:
    “”blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? – Please give me the exact quote.”

    This occurs any time moderates are blamed for the actions of extremists. Even when they are blamed for encouraging it in unspecified ways. For example: “Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world – Sam Harris

    This is such a simple idea, people get it when it’s aimed at their own groups – but then turn around and do it to other people!! You’re left wing, right? You don’t feel responsible for the crimes of left wing anarchists right? Or anti-capitalist protestors? You’re not a communist revolutionary? Amazing, people can be moderates without supporting extremists. In fact it’s usually the moderates who oppose the extremists the most!. I mean, ask a moderate what’s worse, moderate Muslims setting up a mosque on their street, or radical evangelical Christians. The answer will always be the latter.

    “”mock religious people as all deluded fools and idiots” – all new atheists do this? Are you sure it isn’t just the ideas that are mocked and ridiculed…as all bad ideas deserve to be?”

    Yes, pretty much all new atheists do this. This is pretty much the defining characteristic of New Atheists. If you simply oppose religion and are willing to do it through rational argument and not emotive populism, then you are just an Atheist.
    This is mainly why people, both theists and atheists, don’t like NA’s so much. We all appreciate how annoying it is when people using emotive crap to try and convert you to their religion, and most of us appreciate how annoying it is when they use emotive crap to try and deconvert you.
    Ideas are ridiculed too, of course, alongside religious people.

    “they chose to lie and distort in order to denigrate all religious people”

    I will disagree with this one. I see little provable lying, but plenty of distorting, whether accidental or careless. I don’t think NA’s are any morally worse than any other large group of self identified people and I don’t think they are lying on the whole, even though I largely disagree with them.

    Every time they describe religion, religious beliefs, the effects of religion, and the actual contents of our doctrines they hew towards literalist, facile belief structures. Refuse to do the groundwork, fail to engage on an appropriate level, take tendentious readings of our positions and beliefs and claim that either that’s what we do believe, or that’s what we should believe (-a meaningless statement if atheism is correct)
    They promote an a-historical version of the development of science and religion, and help fundamentalists promote the provably false view that literalist fundamentalism is somehow “more correct”, more fundamental, or more accurate, when there is indisputable evidence that this is not the case. It is in fact largely a modern phenomenon.

    Examples will not help here, unless you are willing to a) take our word for it that the quoted passages do distort our beliefs or b) do the research to find out whether the quotes are a distortion; and that means abandoning the facile and intellectually deadening shout of “Courtier’s Reply!” that some favour.

  60. #60 Ender
    April 12, 2011

    julian: “@David – Who exactly believes that?
    Here’s a hint,it isn’t the person you quoted or really any self identified gnu.”

    58

    “David S “If you believe that the religious are child-like idiots worthy of nothing but contempt, is it possible to treat religious folks as equals?”

    Barry: “No and No”

    Apart from the fact that Barry answered twice when there was only one question it looks a lot like he just agreed with David S and therefore contradicted julian. Am I reading this right?

  61. #61 Anthony McCarthy
    April 12, 2011

    David Stoecki, if only that was enough. But, as demonstrated on another comment thread here, yesterday, they will deny the most obvious and massive support for a very well knonw point. I’ve had a long experience of that, even having new atheist admirers of Richard Dawkins denying that he was a promoter of evolutionary psychology, probably the most obvious fact of his career, denying it over and over again, in the face of cited evidence with links provided and with the knowledge of Dawkins, himself, that the argument over his claim to fame being in progress.

    No amount of documentation is enough for the new atheists who will deny it’s there, that it means what it so obviously means and that it is well past where the point has been proven. They are a thoroughly fundamentalist sect of the same variety as creationists, just of a different ideology. It is a shallow, bigoted, dishonest, largely ill informed intellectual fad.

  62. #62 Ender
    April 12, 2011

    “No amount of documentation is enough for the new atheists who will deny it’s there”

    Just for a little moderation I’d like to say it’s not ‘New Atheists’ but ‘some New Atheists’, and they’re not the only group that does it, it’s a common feature of many groups, political, religious and interest-based.
    Potentially it’s always the same T% of each group who does it, damaging the trustworthiness of their own position in defense of either their own ego or an indefensible point of contention.

  63. #63 Anthony McCarthy
    April 12, 2011

    Ender, I have never had new atheists jump in to that kind of argument to correct their brethren, in the argument from last fall that I refer to, Dawkins, himself, was involved and he didn’t correct his own fans. Apparently he wasn’t interested enough in defending an accurate statement made about what his fame is based in from the ignorance and dishonesty of his new atheist fan boys. There were other new atheists participating in the argument who I know knew better but who would also not admit that I’d documented an entirely well known fact about Richard Dawkins’ position in what gets called science, the reason he was given a Chair at Oxford, the only reason anyone cared to hear him on the topic of atheism v. religion.

  64. #64 Barry
    April 12, 2011

    Anthony: “No amount of documentation is enough for the new atheists who will deny it’s there, that it means what it so obviously means and that it is well past where the point has been proven”

    But you have provided NO evidence. You do see the difference between “no amount of evidence” and “no evidence” don’t you? Just more sweeping generalizations and absolutely nothing to back it up.

  65. #65 Barry
    April 12, 2011

    Ender: ” “Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world – Sam Harris”

    By referencing this very poor example you show a profound misunderstanding of Harris’s point. He is attacking religion’s “privileged” status that renders it immune from criticism in the public discourse. It enjoys protected status unlike any of the other red herrings you mention. Tell me, do communists enjoy tax-exempt status? Are left-wing extremists provided state funding to provide a vehicle for their ideas to the wider public? This protective behavior of religious moderates provides a shield for all kinds of whacky religious nonsense. If you understood Harris you would see that he is laying out a very different case than the simplistic reasoning you make.

    “Yes, pretty much all new atheists do this. This is pretty much the defining characteristic of New Atheists.”

    What is it with you, Ender, and Anthony? Your prejudice has such clarity that I hardly need point out your bias.

    “Every time they describe religion, religious beliefs, the effects of religion, and the actual contents of our doctrines they hew towards literalist, facile belief structures. Refuse to do the groundwork, fail to engage on an appropriate level, take tendentious readings of our positions and beliefs and claim that either that’s what we do believe, or that’s what we should believe (-a meaningless statement if atheism is correct)”

    So, ignoring research that shows atheists are amongst the most knowledgeable about religion than even the religious themselves – http://pewforum.org/other-beliefs-and-practices/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey.aspx – what exactly is the point you are making?

    “Examples will not help here, unless you are willing to a) take our word for it that the quoted passages do distort our beliefs or b) do the research to find out whether the quotes are a distortion; and that means abandoning the facile and intellectually deadening shout of “Courtier’s Reply!” that some favour.”

    I wouldn’t take your word on the sun rising tomorrow, at least not without some corroborating evidence. As for your comment on “research”, the difference between you an I is that I don’t spend time trying to find things that confirm my prejudice.

  66. #66 Barry
    April 12, 2011

    Anthony: ” I have never had new atheists jump in to that kind of argument to correct their brethren,”

    So, apart from this – http://jetpress.org/v21/blackford3.htm – and this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8vYq6Xm2To&feature=related – and this – http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/appiah-reviews-harriss-the-moral-landscape/
    …you “…have never had new atheists jump in to that kind of argument to correct their brethren…”

  67. #67 Anthony McCarthy
    April 12, 2011

    Ender, see what I mean about the habitual denial of the new atheists and their continual demands for ever higher levels of “evidence”, confirming confirmation of confirmation….

    I believe there was a time that the phrase “moving goalposts” was useful to describe that situation, before they turned it into a meaningless formula.

  68. #68 Anthony McCarthy
    April 12, 2011

    Ender, see what I mean about the habitual denial of the new atheists and their continual demands for ever higher levels of “evidence”, confirming confirmation of confirmation….

    I believe there was a time that the phrase “moving goalposts” was useful to describe that situation, before they turned it into a meaningless formula.

  69. #69 Barry
    April 13, 2011

    Anthony, please tell me where I “moved the goalposts”? I have simply requested you to provide evidence to support your wild accusations and prejudice. You have not done that. And your last post was so profound and good that you posted it twice. I’ll let you and Ender continue your private conversation together.

  70. #70 Ender
    April 13, 2011

    Barry, you write like you know me. Are you psychic? Because if you are Randi has some money he’d like you to win.

    “Ender: ” “Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world – Sam Harris”

    This was in reply to your request for an example: “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? – he is clearly doing that – the religiously moderate are not the ones involved in religious conflict in our world and he is blaming them “in large part”

    “This protective behavior of religious moderates provides a shield for all kinds of whacky religious nonsense. If you understood Harris you would see that he is laying out a very different case than the simplistic reasoning you make.”

    No I understand Harris all too well. It is a simplistic point, largely unevidenced, but easy to understand.
    Whether or not he is right, he is blaming the religious for the crimes of other people, something you asked for a quote of someone doing, which I provided to you.
    I believe this is what Anthony is referring to when he accuses you of “moving the goalposts” as you initially asked for a quote of anyone doing that, you have been provided with one and are now asking for more than that, without acknowledging that your original question has been answered. If you are now asking a new question then it’s a new question, if you are pretending that your original question has not been answered then you are moving the goalposts.

    “What is it with you, Ender, and Anthony? Your prejudice has such clarity that I hardly need point out your bias.”

    What prejudice exactly?

    “So, ignoring research that shows atheists are amongst the most knowledgeable about religion than even the religious themselves – http://pewforum.org/other-beliefs-and-practices/u-s-religious-knowledge-survey.aspx – what exactly is the point you are making?”

    No, I choose not to ignore that survey. It’s an illustration of exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. If you think any of the questions in that survey requires you to demonstrate any kind of in depth knowledge or understanding of religious belief then you don’t have any in depth knowledge or understanding of religious belief.
    It’s a simple test of some very basic facts about religion and the only thing it shows is that most people are idiots. (Sorry, ‘are very underinformed’ I mean)

    The point I’m making is that as an Atheist you have no leg to stand on when discussing with a religious person whether a certain description of their beliefs is a fair and accurate summary. They after all have first hand knowledge.
    If you want to discuss it you either have to do your own research or accept that they know what they believe.

    “I wouldn’t take your word on the sun rising tomorrow, at least not without some corroborating evidence. As for your comment on “research”, the difference between you an I is that I don’t spend time trying to find things that confirm my prejudice.”

    I suppose you mean this to be some sort of “awesome” declarative statement. I wouldn’t believe you even if you said the sun would rise tomorrow! Yeah!
    Unfortunately all it does is mark you out as a tribalistic type, unwilling to believe anyone you disagree with even if they tell you something you know to be true
    That you think this reflects well on you is, well, certainly a grave intellectual error, and probably something you should be ashamed of.

    Also, you’re still not psychic (they don’t exist you silly billy) so don’t pretend you know me. It might make you feel better in the few moments between you typing it and posting it, but in hindsight I’m sure you can see it just looks bitter and a little bit petty. It certainly does not strengthen your ‘argument’ at all and most likely weakens it even in the eyes of those who agree with you as they will think “Hmm, he seemed like he was making a good point until he abandoned it to make unsupported speculations about the personal characteristics of his interlocutor, I guess he couldn’t follow up his point after all”

  71. #71 Anthony McCarthy
    April 13, 2011

    That PEW survey combines atheists and agnostics, as I recall, into a single category. I wouldn’t have any problem believing that agnostics, as a group, would be better informed because agnosticism is a more sophisticated position, based in sufficient thought to realize that it’s not possible to determine the existence of God with science or reason but it’s also not possible to determine the non-existence of God by those means either. Usually after a lot of reading and thinking.

    I’d even say that lots of atheists who are also agnostic, would tend to be well informed. But that hasn’t been my experience with new atheists who might have read Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins and Chris Hitchens and who might have absorbed their low to middle brow assertions and arguments but who don’t know much else.

    I think the agnostics are what account for the reported difference.

  72. #72 Barry
    April 13, 2011

    Ender, it wasn’t my intention to pique your sensibilities and get you all hot and bothered over your poor responses, but now that you have sunk to the depths of ad hominem comments and you don’t know how to draw the line between legitimate criticism and childish behavior, I’ll stick to correcting your factual inaccuracies.

    “This was in reply to your request for an example: “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? – he is clearly doing that – the religiously moderate are not the ones involved in religious conflict in our world and he is blaming them “in large part”"

    There is a big difference between quoting words and ascribing a literal definition for your own purposes and actually understanding what they mean in context (pardon my “smile to self”, because this is the exact criticism your friend Anthony is so quick to accuse of new atheists). Harris is not accusing religious moderates of committing the acts of extremists, he is blaming them for laying the conditions that allow extreme religiously motivated attrocities to go unchallenged. He holds them culpable for the conditions that make attacking such extreme religious belief impossible in the public arena. It’s really no different from holding the Catholic Church culpable for centuries of anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust – no-one is accusing the Catholic Church of gassing Jews, but they are absolutely responsible. I am sorry this subtelty is lost on you. This explains why your comment – “If you are now asking a new question then it’s a new question, if you are pretending that your original question has not been answered then you are moving the goalposts.” – is erroneous.

    My reason for quoting the Pew research was to counter another sweeping and completely unevidenced statement of yours – “Every time they describe religion, religious beliefs, the effects of religion, and the actual contents of our doctrines they hew towards literalist, facile belief structures. Refuse to do the groundwork, fail to engage on an appropriate level, take tendentious readings of our positions and beliefs and claim that either that’s what we do believe, or that’s what we should believe (-a meaningless statement if atheism is correct)” Again, you make a blanket assertion on what you think atheists know or don’t know with regards to religious belief based on your n=1. Hence – “The point I’m making is that as an Atheist you have no leg to stand on when discussing with a religious person whether a certain description of their beliefs is a fair and accurate summary. They after all have first hand knowledge.
    If you want to discuss it you either have to do your own research or accept that they know what they believe.” It’s really not clear here what point you are making. A “fair and accurate summary” of what? If you are talking about whether I have superior knowledge of a person’s subjective belief system, then this is nonsense – by definition, only a person knows what they truly believe – but this applies to many areas, not just religion. However, if they hold their beliefs to be objectively fair and accurate then this is certainly open to legitimate challenge. If you would express yourself a little more clearly I might know what you are trying to say. But it’s understandable…you are a little hot and angry.

    The reason I wouldn’t accept your word on anything has nothing to do with personal petulance (although I do enjoy a little petulance from time to time), it’s because you have a very consistent pattern of making sweeping, unsubstantiated generalizations and that you fail to understand the issues you are dealing with. By stating that I am, “unwilling to believe anyone you disagree with even if they tell you something you know to be true” you seem to be assuming the psychic cloth in which you were clothing me at the beginning of your post. If the “anyone” in the statement was your attempt at self-effacement, then what truth do you claim in anything that you have said that I could only agree with?

  73. #73 Anthony McCarthy
    April 13, 2011

    It’s really no different from holding the Catholic Church culpable for centuries of anti-Semitism culminating in the Holocaust – no-one is accusing the Catholic Church of gassing Jews, but they are absolutely responsible. Barry

    Oh, they didn’t gas Jews but they are responsible. Nothing ambiguous about that statement. How about Catholics who hid Jews from the Nazis at risk to their own lives, are they responsible for gassing Jews? How about Catholics who were murdered by the Nazis just like they murdered Jews, Are they absolutely responsible for gassing Jews? How about Jewish converts like Edith Stein who was murdered by the Nazis because she was Jewish even while she was a Catholic nun? Was she absolutely responsible for gassing Jews?

    Antisemitism wasn’t invented by Catholics, it predated Christianity by centuries.

    Of course any Catholics who participated in the murder of the Jews, those who stood by and did nothing, those who encouraged antisemitism are guilty of what they did but no one who isn’t guilty of those or related acts is guilty of them. Pius XII, especially when he was a Vatican diplomat, shares in that guilt but his successor, John XXIII, who was responsible for heroically saving many Jews during the same period, certainly doesn’t share that guilt. Vicarious guilt is irrational and illegitimate.

    How about we do a little thought experiment.

    Are all atheists responsible for the murders during Stalin’s abortive “Jewish Doctor’s Plot”, which is responsible for the deaths of a number of Jews and which, if Stalin hadn’t died, might have turned into a full program of genocide. Stalin was an old hand at mass killing himself, that was his last major act of mass murder. How about the God(less)father of modern organized American atheism, Corliss Lamont, aka the last Stalinist, who was an open apologist for Stalin all during his reign of slaughter? Did he share in the guilt of Stalin, who he had tirelessly promoted and for whom he propagandized? What aura of guilt hangs over the various atheist groups he funded and was influential within? I’ve always wanted to know more about him and his continuing influence in organized American atheism. I may get around to doing the research someday.

  74. #74 Ender
    April 13, 2011

    “now that you have sunk to the depths of ad hominem comments and you don’t know how to draw the line between legitimate criticism and childish behavior, I’ll stick to correcting your factual inaccuracies.”

    Oh I like this. You proclaim that you would not believe me if I told you something you already knew to be true, and when I accurately describe this as tribalistic and suggest that you should not be so proud of that fact, you cry Ad Hominem! It is of course a legitimate criticism of your claim.

    Your final paragraph is a far better response to that than this intemperate start.
    You are right of course, the word “anyone” was an overreach, “someone” would have been more accurate, and avoided the psychic mantle.
    However your nonsensical claim: “you have a very consistent pattern of making sweeping, unsubstantiated generalizations” is very silly – you haven’t seen nearly enough of my posts to see a pattern at all let alone a ‘very consistent pattern’ you’re just making a shaky generalisation from almost no evidence. Weak.

    You repeat yourself about Sam Harris. I understood his point when I quoted it, I understood it again when you explained it the first time, now I understand once again as you have explained it once again.
    The request was for:

    A quote: “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”

    Not a quote “accusing religious people of perpetrating the crimes of other people” but a quote “blaming religious people for the crimes of other people”

    When Sam Harris lays a large part of the blame for religious conflict in the world on religious moderates who do not commit it themselves he is “blaming religious people for the crimes of other people”

    Now if you want to change the question to “Show me where anyone has ever accused religious people of perpetrating the crimes of other people” then that’s not moving the goalposts, but if you want to pretend that this was the original question then that’s moving the goalposts.

    You may have noticed I’ve switched to the rather accusatory ‘pretend’ rather than ‘think’ or ‘be mistaken’, that’s because I’ve gone back to the original quote, which was Anthony’s claim, and it’s a lot more specific about what type of blaming he’s talking about:

    Anthony: “the new atheists defined themselves as bigots when they started blaming religious people for the crimes of other people they didn’t have any connection with and whose crimes they opposed”

    Now that is definitely nothing to do with who perpetrated the crimes, it clearly refers to exactly the kind of thing Sam Harris is doing. Now you might think it’s fine to blame religious people for the crimes of other people they didn’t have any connection with and whose crimes they oppose – Sam Harris certainly does – you may think it isn’t bigoted, but finally, at last you cannot possibly deny that this was what Sam Harris was doing.

    If you can’t see that this is what Anthony was describing – it wouldn’t surprise me if that Sam Harris quote inspired the description in the first place – then what on Earth do you think Anthony was saying?

    Also I’m not sure you know what “they hew towards” means. It certainly is not a phrase that can be part of “a blanket assertion” – so I guess that excuses me from that charge.
    It’s interesting, I’m not 100% sure you understand what’s going on here at all. You proudly proclaim your intellectual tribalism. You proudly assert you cannot tell the difference between me and Anthony, but contradict yourself by saying you can draw a consistent pattern from the few posts I’ve made. You don’t seem to read very carefully, you miss entire paragraphs explaining “point of the comparison” and start demanding to know the “the prupose of comparing”. You appear convinced that I have made large sweeping statements when the opposite is true. I’ve even disagreed with Anthony about the phrasing of one statement about New Atheists that I felt was too sweeping. You don’t seem to understand that the Pew poll doesn’t show anything about whether atheists understand religious beliefs, or know anything more than basic facts, so you seem to think that it is a meaningful response to the question. And finally, you’ve obviously been stung by my contention on the other thread that you’d got annoyed and misread my post and have now tried several times to say that I’m annoyed instead – I wasn’t trying to annoy you, I was actually being nice, I was saying you weren’t maliciously misreading me, you were just naturally swayed by your emotional state into taking one of several almost reasonable interpretations of my words.

  75. #75 Barry
    April 14, 2011

    Ender, you can parse what you think Harris is saying all you like, but when you form all of your opinions from the quote, and fail to see the context, your “blaming” accusation is completely false. Here is what Harris actually said, ““Religious moderates are, in large part, responsibl­e for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed.” Apparently this quote was offered by Anthony as evidence of Harris’s “bigotry”. Please explain how this comment reflects “bigotry”. Anthony read a selected part of that quote and said “the new atheists defined themselves as bigots when they started blaming religious people for the crimes of other people they didn’t have any connection with and whose crimes they opposed” I guess Anthony has cognition problems that you so perfectly amplify.

    Ender, “You appear convinced that I have made large sweeping statements when the opposite is true.”

    Where do I start? Your posts are peppered with sweeping generalizations based on no evidence. Post 59,
    “…it’s usually the moderates who oppose the extremists the most!.”
    “Yes, pretty much all new atheists do this. This is pretty much the defining characteristic of New Atheists.”
    “This is mainly why people, both theists and atheists, don’t like NA’s so much.”
    “Every time they describe religion, religious beliefs, the effects of religion, and the actual contents of our doctrines they hew towards literalist, facile belief structures.”

    That’s just on this thread. Is it a pattern? I might have been too presumptious in describing it that way, but please go ahead and prove me wrong. And, yes, you did disagree with Anthony on one point – whereas he said “they chose to lie and distort in order to denigrate all religious people”, you “disagreed” by saying “I see little provable lying, but plenty of distorting, whether accidental or careless.” Wow, that’s some disdagreement you have going there Ender!!

  76. #76 Ender
    April 14, 2011

    “Apparently this quote was offered by Anthony as evidence of Harris’s “bigotry”. Please explain how this comment reflects “bigotry”.”

    No.
    How about I explain only the things that I’m saying, not the things other people are saying that I don’t necessarily agree with.

    This is the kind of thing that gets you accused of moving the goalposts. You asked for a quote: “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”… now you are asking me to “explain how this comment reflects “bigotry”

    You see how those are different questions?

    Now you can concede that I have answered your first question, then ask me that question, but if you pretend that was your question all along then you are moving the goalposts.

    You again try to explain the context of Sam Harris’s quote when I understood it the first four times you said it!
    What part of it’s largely their fault do you not understand as blaming them?

    English. Do You Speak It?*

    Wow, what “sweeping generalisations” I’ve made! I’m truly shocked. Not at the sentences you quoted, which clearly weren’t sweeping generalisations, but at your poor command of simple English:

    “”…it’s usually the moderates who oppose the extremists the most!.”

    usually – look it up.

    “Yes, pretty much all new atheists do this. This is pretty much the defining characteristic of New Atheists”

    pretty much – look it up.

    “This is mainly why people, both theists and atheists, don’t like NA’s so much”

    mainly – look it up

    “Every time they describe religion, religious beliefs, the effects of religion, and the actual contents of our doctrines they hew towards literalist, facile belief structures”

    hew towards – look it up

    Actually – I’m not being entirely fair to you there. Three out of four of your examples are silly, and betray a lack of understanding of simple English words and how they modify sentences. The second one could be understood to be a sweeping generalisation even by people who have bothered to read all the words in the sentence. I may expand on it at some point.

    “Is it a pattern? I might have been too presumptious in describing it that way”

    Yes. Four examples are not enough to substantiate your opinion, even were it not true that three of them are only sweeping if you ignore the key words.

    “And, yes, you did disagree with Anthony on one point”

    Yes. Yes I did.
    But I’m glad that you can tell us apart now. That’s wonderful. Are you sure he’s not disagreeing with me, though? Which one of us is which after all?

    Despite your inability to percieve nuance, anyone else versed in simple logic and grammar can see the difference between “They lie and [deliberately] distort our beliefs” and “They might distort our beliefs but it’s not intentional and it’s not lying” – so your continued willingness to publicise your own intellectual weaknesses is confusing to me.
    Why do you think suggesting that you can barely see the difference between two different opinions reflects badly on anyone but yourself? Surely you can see that criticising your own reading comprehension abilities is a poor rhetorical move, fair though that criticism may be?

    *Full marks if you recognise this bowdlerised quote.

  77. #77 Barry
    April 14, 2011

    Ender, “This is the kind of thing that gets you accused of moving the goalposts. You asked for a quote: “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”… now you are asking me to “explain how this comment reflects “bigotry”

    You see how those are different questions?”

    I see how the questions are different – the original question I asked was for evidence of Harris’s bigotry and Anthony offered this quote. My argument has been consistent all along, it is you who is moving goalposts.

    “English. Do You Speak It?*”

    I speak it very well, as I am sure you do. The difference is that I understand what is being said. Please explain how this quote supports your view that Harris is bigoted.

    “Wow, what “sweeping generalisations” I’ve made! I’m truly shocked. Not at the sentences you quoted, which clearly weren’t sweeping generalisations, but at your poor command of simple English”

    Do you understand what “generalization” means? Picking out words like “mainly” and “pretty much” does not protect you from the accusation but reinforces it. A “generalization” is something that is generally applied. A general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases. It isn’t a uniformly attributed characteristic.

  78. #78 Ender
    April 14, 2011

    “I see how the questions are different – the original question I asked was for evidence of Harris’s bigotry and Anthony offered this quote. My argument has been consistent all along, it is you who is moving goalposts.”

    That’s a fair point. Almost. You were involved in a conversation about bigotry with someone who is not me. I answered a specific question you raised during that conversation. The question I answered was actually:

    “I’m afraid you’ll need to be a little more specific in your examples – “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? Please give me the exact quote.”

    Not:

    “I’m afraid you’ll need to be a little more specific in your examples – “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”? Please give me the exact quote. And tell me how it is bigoted

    I only answered the question you asked, not the one that you thought in your head but did not put down in text.

    If you want to ask someone why that is bigoted, ask Anthony. All I have done is answer your question as you wrote it.

    “Please explain how this quote supports your view that Harris is bigoted.”

    That’s not my argument and I haven’t said that it does. All I have said is that it fits the description of “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”. Which it does. Do you not agree?

    “Do you understand what “generalization” means?”

    Unfortunately I do: “Of any two related concepts, such as A and B, A is considered a “generalization” of concept B if and only if: every instance of concept B is also an instance of concept A; and there are instances of concept A which are not instances of concept B.” *

    The key words being “if and only if: every instance of concept B is also an instance of concept A”

    As you can see I did not say “all NA’s are X” which would be a generalisation, but instead specified some subset of NAs who are X.

    This is how generalisations work. “Catholics are all evil” is a generalisation, a sweeping one. “Some Catholics are evil” is a description. “Many Catholics are evil” is a description too. etc etc.

  79. #79 Barry
    April 14, 2011

    Ender “If you want to ask someone why that is bigoted, ask Anthony. All I have done is answer your question as you wrote it.”

    The fact that you are accepting his accusation of bigotry makes this verbal dancing irrelevant.

    “”Please explain how this quote supports your view that Harris is bigoted.”

    That’s not my argument and I haven’t said that it does. All I have said is that it fits the description of “blaming religious people for the crijmes of other people”. Which it does. Do you not agree?”

    No. Accusing Harris of being bigoted is also your argument. In post 74 above you state “…you may think it isn’t bigoted, but finally, at last you cannot possibly deny that this was what Sam Harris was doing.” Looks to me like you are arguing Harris is a bigot.

    You still don’t understand “generalization”. When you apply characteristic descriptors by inference a generalization does not require that “A is considered a “generalization” of concept B if and only if: every instance of concept B is also an instance of concept A”. I don’t know why I’m copying this link to you – http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/itl/graphics/adhom/general.html – but if you read the section on “sweeping generalizations” it might explain why the use of terms like “many” are no defence for you.

  80. #80 Ender
    April 14, 2011

    “The fact that you are accepting his accusation of bigotry makes this verbal dancing irrelevant.”

    You have to claim that I am attempting verbal dancing because I, though you have failed to acknowledge it yet, successfully answered your request for a direct quote.

    If you can tie me into the debate you’re having with Anthony we can get bogged down in that, and you won’t have to acknowledge that I answered your request correctly, and you were wrong when you claimed I hadn’t.

    My opinion on your debate with Anthony is irrelevant. The question I answered was your request for the quote, and though you failed to recognise it at first, it was a quote that fit the criteria.

    “Accusing Harris of being bigoted is also your argument.”

    No. No it’s not. That’s the other thread. In this thread I answered your request for a quote. Remember? The one that turned out to fit the bill.

    It appears you don’t understand the quote you provided:

    “…you may think it isn’t bigoted, but finally, at last you cannot possibly deny that this was what Sam Harris was doing”

    I said that exactly to acknowledge that you did not agree with Anthony’s assessment of it as bigoted, you idiot! :) How can one person misread so many things!. You may not think it is bigoted, I am not disputing that, but you cannot dispute that he said the quote that fits your request!

    …And finally – though you will probably attempt to misread this and turn it back on me – but there’s always hope you’ll read it right for once:

    Yes, I think that it’s a bigoted position, of course I do. That’s still irrelevant because I never attempted to persuade you that it was bigoted. I never got involved in that question, that was Anthony you blithering idiot! :)

    So there you have it. I agree with Anthony. No I do not care to discuss it with you, you are welcome to think we’re both wrong as much as you like. – You cannot, however, finally, after all these repeats, possibly fail to acknowledge the aptness of the quote I provided.

  81. #81 Ender
    April 14, 2011

    Your point about sweeping generalisations is much better, thanks for the link, I hope you stop making a fool of yourself with your other arguments and just pursue this one.

    You’re still not correct, unfortunately, but you’re not embarrassingly wrong.

    You claim:
    “if you read the section on “sweeping generalizations” it might explain why the use of terms like “many” are no defence for you.”

    Here is the section on “sweeping generalisations”:

    “A sweeping generalization is one in which there seems to be sufficient evidence offered to draw a conclusion, but the conclusion drawn far exceeds what the evidence supports. Consider these examples:

    1. The profit margin on HP’s printer line has been a steady 25% for two years. We can assume, then, that the profits company-wide have also been 25%.
    2. The poll from Orange County shows the governor winning in a landslide. I guess he will also win across the state just as easily.

    In each example, the conclusion drawn far exceeds what the evidence would support. For all we know, the printer line is part of HP’s profitable personal computer division, and we might be able to extend the findings to similar products in HP’s line, but not to the full line itself without a great deal more information. In the second example, we could certainly conclude that the governor will win in Orange County, and perhaps we might be willing to conclude that the governor should be favored in similar counties, though the nature of the similarity may not, at first, be very apparent–if geographical, demographical, political, and economic, and so on. But assuming that the entire state is somehow similar to Orange County, which is an assumption that you would have to accept to make this argument, is stretching the evidence of similarities well beyond the limit.”

    Where exactly there do you see an argument that suggests “most X are Y” is a sweeping generalisation? Be specific.

    You can’t of course – the generalisations described are fallacies of generalising from one piece of local information to a wider conclusion that is not supported.
    This is not anything to do with the word “most”

    You can argue that I am wrong, that I can’t possibly be correct in my judgement, I can’t possibly know enough to make that claim (and possibly you are – but if so you are doing it very ineptly) but you can’t call a sentence with qualifiers a sweeping generalisation.
    That’s what qualifiers do, they qualify things.

  82. #82 Barry
    April 15, 2011

    Ender, you’ve been teetering on the edge of poor behavior for a while. It’s difficult to remain calm when you are exposed for blatant lying and distortion. The irony of the general accusation made against new atheists (not one that I have seen you repeat…but as you detest new atheists so much I am sure you sign up for this also) is that they are intolerant, intemperate and disrespectful of religion and the individuals they speak to. But your true colors shine through. Rather can keeping the “discussion” at least superficially respectful you again plumb the depths and go for the ad hominem – “…you idiot”; “…you blithering idiot”

    The hilarity of your verbal contortions stand testimony to the fundamental error you make. Goodbye.

  83. #83 Ender
    April 15, 2011

    So you’re completely unable to provide a logical argument to support your position then? How predictable.

    So I guess this counts as a flame out then? “You’re a big meanie, your tone offends me, I shall leave!”
    Now, while I think the tone argument has some merit to it, surely you as a big bad New Atheist think that anyone who complains about tone is a whiny crybaby afraid of the truth(tm) who’s only complaining because they haven’t got a leg to stand on?

    You appear to have learned how to spell – or at least proofread – for your last post though. That’s a good thing.

    “but as you detest new atheists so much”

    Nope. Sure, it’s irritating to see people devalue logic, truth, objectivity and science by forcing their religious ideology all over it while claiming vociferously and incorrectly that they are paragons of truth, objectivity and science, but I don’t detest them. They’re not as twisted and evil as real sickos (WBC, S.C.U.M etc) and they’re a tiny minority, if vocal, so are no existential threat to anyone.

    It’s quite amazing, though I have quoted you word for word, showing in mind numbingly simple detail where you have erred, and even though our words are there in black and white for anyone to read, you still think that anyone is going to read:
    “The hilarity of your verbal contortions stand testimony to the fundamental error you make. Goodbye.”
    And believe you are describing anyone else but yourself?

    Seriously though, if you think I’ve made a fundamental error, and hidden it with verbal contortions, why not quote them and show me doing it. Then I’d surely have no way of denying it.
    Of course you are unable to do that because there is no error nor any verbal contortions, you are simply looking for some sort of face-saving thing to say in your flounce.

    Well bravo. Enjoy your flounce. It’s better than continuing this conversation. You aren’t intelligent enough to argue us into accepting your falsehoods, and frankly your inability to parse any sentence that might show you to be wrong has forced me into greater and greater pedantry, as I try to phrase it so simply that even you could not misunderstand.

    It will be a relief to be able to return to writing sentences without having to stop and think – “Hold on! I’ve used more than one clause, will that confuse him?; Wait! If I were an idiot I would read this as a confession that I am Hitler and I hate all New Atheists – better make it simpler for Barry; Damnit! I let my six year old write this and Barry will still get confused, quick! Get the four year old!”

  84. #84 Anthony McCarthy
    April 15, 2011

    I might, occasionally, be fairly described as a fool but I only blither when too pressed for time to adequately edit blog comments.

    I find that if you’re careful to not make stuff up, you rarely have to take anything back. Though there’s not much to be done about deliberate mischaracterization or distortion. And I’m not responsible for the need for remedial reading on the part of a significant percentage of the “Brites”.