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Understanding the Atheistic Mind and the New Atheists and why they Must be Confronted

Someone sent me a link to this ‘blog’ entry titled “10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer”. Now, I definitely don’t agree with the premise. I don’t think we are obliged to answer most of the questions, springing as they do out of sheer ignorance and contempt. What I found most telling about this entry with 850 kudos and 5,000 comments and applauded by Sam Harris himself is the rationale that follows his list:

When you use your brain, and when you think logically about your religious faith, you can reach only one possible conclusion: the “god” that you have heard about since you were an infant is completely imaginary. You have to willfully discard rationality, and accept hundreds of bizarre rationalizations to believe in your “god.”

Now, let me ask you one last question: Why should you care? What difference does it make if people want to believe in a “god”, even if he is imaginary?

It matters because people who believe in imaginary beings are delusional.

It matters because people who talk to imaginary beings are delusional.

It matters because people who believe in imaginary superstitions like prayer are delusional.

It’s that simple, and that obvious. Your religious beliefs hurt you personally and hurt us as a species because they are delusional. The belief in any “god” is complete nonsense.

You are a smart person. It is time for you to use your intelligence to free yourself from these delusions. It is time for you to begin thinking like a rational human being, rather than clinging to imaginary friends and childhood fantasies.

This is a glimpse into the mind of the militant atheist. Not every atheist is militant, mind you.  However, it is the militant atheists at large in society writing books, pushing for legislation, etc, etc.   We need to read between the lines a bit here.  The question posed was why should you care if a person wants to believe in a god even if he is imaginary.  The answer given is because believing in imaginary things is delusional.  However, that only pushes the question back one step- why should we care if a person believes in a delusion?

The answer is hinted at in the sentence “Your religious beliefs hurt you personally and hurt us as a species.”

Now, you, my dear reader, are a smart person.  What does society do when they believe someone is hurting themselves or hurting society, ie, they are delusional.  Why, they lock them up.  Or, in another time and place, they send them to gulags and re-education camps.   Will this ‘smart’ blogger advocate for the logical consequence of his argument?  Of course not.  For one thing, that’s just not the kind of thing you admit.  For another thing, he being ‘rational’ and all, won’t see the relationship between the argument and the obvious action to take.

This is like Richard Dawkins arguing that teaching the doctrine of hell is more abusive to a child then sexual abuse but do we hear Dawkins arguing that children should be taken out of the homes where that doctrine is taught and given over to the state?  Of course not.  But that is exactly what we do if we think sexual abuse is going on and if we think the doctrine of hell is worse than that then obviously we’d all the more want to remove the child from that situation.  This thought doesn’t even occur to Dawkins.

This is what passes as rational, intelligent, thought:  Spouting arguments and then not even being smart enough to think through to the obvious actions that ought to follow if your argument is true… or not having the courage to think it… or say it.

I cannot resist once again quoting from that atheist Ayn Rand, where she records in the introduction to her little book Anthem:

“Some might think- though I don’t- that nine years ago there was some excuse for men not to see the direction in which the world was going.  Today, the evidence is so blatant that no excuse can be claimed by anyone any longer.  Those who refuse to see it now are neither blind nor innocent.

The greatest guilt today is that of people who accept collectivism by moral default; the people who seek protection from the necessity of taking a stand, by refusing to admit to themselves the nature of that which they are accepting;  the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom, with no concrete meaning attached to the word;  the people who believe that the content of ideas need not be examined, that principles need not be defined, and that facts can be eliminated by keeping one’s eyes shut. They expect, when they find themselves in a world of bloody ruins and concentration camps, to escape moral responsibility by wailing:  “But I didn’t mean this!”

Now, if you really believe Christians are delusional child abusers, your course of action is quite clear if you have any ethical bone in your body-  if you are not advocating the confinement of Christians to asylums and mental institutions and the removal of their children to the care of the state, then you either too mentally untrained so as to not see your next step or you are too cowardly to say it aloud.  But perhaps you do think it… and are making steps in that direction, and nine years hence you will take the world in precisely this direction…

The content of militant atheism needs to be examined.  It needs to be exposed.  It needs to be called to task.  Now, while we still can.

If anyone would like me to respond to any of the 10 ‘questions’ I certainly can, although honestly they’ve been answered by many better then me and most centuries before I was even born.

By the way, not all imaginary things are delusions.  Models of the atom, for example, are imaginary things.

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    • Robert on April 2, 2008 at 10:25 am

    What does society do when they believe someone is hurting themselves or hurting society, ie, they are delusional. Why, they lock them up.

    Really? How many non-Christians have been locked up in jails for their “delusions”? (Actually, I should ask how many have been locked up lately since it wasn’t all that long ago that Christians really DID lock up those they considered holders of false or heretical beliefs (i.e., delusions)). In any case, the point is clear: everyone believes someone else holds delusional beliefs, but we don’t agitate for their incarceration. We just call out the belief for what it is.

    In any case, let’s step back a moment and define what a delusion really is. According to Webster’s, a delusion is “a false belief or opinion; “a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.”

    So much for your “logic.” It’s nothing more than Christian bellicism and fear-mongering. Are you about to start a drive for donations, by chance?

    • Anthony on April 2, 2008 at 11:08 am
      Author

    “Really? How many non-Christians have been locked up in jails for their “delusions”?”

    You missed the point, which is that the author of that blog equated delusions with harming themselves and harming society. If you think someone is harming themselves and/or society, you take action.

    “everyone believes someone else holds delusional beliefs, but we don’t agitate for their incarceration.”

    You do if you think the person is harming himself or is a threat to others.

    “So much for your “logic.” It’s nothing more than Christian bellicism and fear-mongering.”

    You seemed to miss the very critical point, focusing only on ‘delusion.’ Here is the man’s quote again:

    “It’s that simple, and that obvious. Your religious beliefs hurt you personally and hurt us as a species because they are delusional.”

    My logic is fine.

    “Are you about to start a drive for donations, by chance?”

    Don’t be ridiculous. And even if I were, Infidels has requests for donations plastered all over their site, as does the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Here is Infidels site on it: http://www.infidels.org/infidels/support.html

    http://ffrf.org/

    You can just take your hypocrisy to some other blog, thank you very much.

    Now, back to the point:

    Is it your position that Child Services is based on flawed reasoning? Is it your position that children should be left within abusive households? Furthermore, if a parent’s delusion was believed to be a danger to the parent, to the child, or to larger society, would that child remain in that person’s care and would that parent remain unattended?

    Haven’t you ever heard of Andrea Yates?

    • Robert on April 2, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    You missed the point, which is that the author of that blog equated delusions with harming themselves and harming society. If you think someone is harming themselves and/or society, you take action.

    It is a hasty conclusion to make that harm to oneself or society should necessarily result in involuntary incarceration. Much depends on the nature of the harm, and not all harms result in jail.

    There is no logic to your argument; it’s built on a fallacy.

    Is it your position that Child Services is based on flawed reasoning? Is it your position that children should be left within abusive households? Furthermore, if a parent’s delusion was believed to be a danger to the parent, to the child, or to larger society, would that child remain in that person’s care and would that parent remain unattended?

    1) Child services is not based on flawed reasoning. Do you agree?

    2) Children should not be left in abusive households. Do you agree?

    3) Dangerously delusional parents, like the ones in Madison, WI, should not have children left in their care. Do you agree?

    Now that I’ve answered your questions, perhaps you will answer some of mine.

    Is it your position that the laws of God are valid for everyone? Is it your position that the laws of God trump those of man? Assuming you’re not “too mentally untrained” or not “too cowardly to say it aloud” then you’ll advocate for the immediate institution of Biblical law as binding on everyone, like some other of your fellow Christians do.

  1. There is no reason to put all delusional people in institutions. It is not the one’s that talk to God that we should worry about. It’s the ones that think He talks back.

    • Anthony on April 2, 2008 at 12:59 pm
      Author

    “There is no reason to put all delusional people in institutions.”

    Again, that wasn’t the premise I was highlighting or reacting to. This particular delusion was asserted to be dangerous to self and species.

    • Anthony on April 2, 2008 at 1:08 pm
      Author

    “It is a hasty conclusion to make that harm to oneself or society should necessarily result in involuntary incarceration. Much depends on the nature of the harm, and not all harms result in jail.”

    That’s fine. In the case of the blogger in question we do not yet know precisely what he would prescribe. We only know that he believes the delusion is dangerous to self and species.

    However, in the case of Richard Dawkins’s assertions that faith and the doctrine of hell in particular is as bad as and worse than sexual abuse, then we have an idea about where to go.

    You have agreed that abused children should be removed from the home, so if you agree with Dawkins that certain religious doctrines are worse than sexual abuse, then the next step in the reasoning is obvious. If you agree with him but don’t follow up by calling for the state to step in, you are behaving as inconsistently as he.

    Please note the conditional clauses in my comments. They are there for a reason.

    “Now that I’ve answered your questions, perhaps you will answer some of mine.”

    Thank you for your brave answers. Now we are only left to wonder just what you would consider to be ‘dangerously delusional’ and who you think should make those decisions.

    As for your questions for me, you’re welcome to post them at my forum if you like and if I get around to it I’ll deal with them. On the other hand, a perusal of my forum would probably help you answer some of your questions yourself.

    • Justin on April 2, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Those questions are lame. I can answer them all, and I don’t even believe in Jesus. I hope the author comes out of his angry phase soon. Criticizing a religion you don’t understand on it’s own turf is foolhardy.

    Anyway, when militant atheists say that Christians are dangerous, we don’t mean criminal dangerous. We’re just scared by the fact that they believe in things for which there is no evidence and then vote accordingly. The whole authoritarian vibe is a little scary too.

    Do you have questions for atheists?

    • Anthony on April 3, 2008 at 6:05 am
      Author

    Hi Justin, thanks for your comments.

    When I refer to ‘militant’ atheists I think we’re talking about people who do see it as criminally dangerous, or worse. I don’t think all atheists are militant, nor do I think that all the ones that have very strong feelings are militant.

    I don’t have a ready made list of questions but I do have questions! Every atheist is different, though, so I think I would prefer to find out where that particular atheist stands and form my questions accordingly.

    For you, for example, I might ask why you chose to phrase it as people believing in ‘no evidence.’ Perhaps I might even agree with you that people who believe in things with ‘no evidence’ and act accordingly are scary. But is it really the case that there is no evidence for Christianity? As a theist, I find those kinds of characterizations difficult to work with.

    Even the Heaven’s Gate cult could point at least to a real comet. Do people really believe things with NO evidence?

    Presuming that you are an atheist, what would you make of the argument I make in this post: http://sntjohnny.com/front/the-wonder-of-easter-foretold-in-the-book-of-daniel/240.html

    It occurs to me that another general question I have for atheists is embedded and expounded on on my book site in a latest entry:

    http://www.birthpangs.com/archives/124

    • Justin on April 3, 2008 at 8:02 am

    There are extremists in any group, but in my experience, atheists who identify as militant are really just looking to change people’s minds. You might want to check out the Reasonable Doubts podcast if you want a more civilized approach to the matter.

    As far as evidence, I should have said that there is insufficient evidence. Of course there is evidence. The Bible could be considered evidence, church traditions could also. I just don’t consider them to be strong enough to convince me. OT prophesies that are fulfilled in the NT are not especially impressive to me because it could easily be the case that the authors of the NT books were familiar with the OT writings, and made their story fit accordingly.

    I’ll also address the section on trusting senses from the second link. It’s true that our senses do not provide an exact representation of our surroundings. We have things like lateral inhibition that alter signals before they even get to the brain, and then the brain itself must categorize the stimulus according to previous experience. The only way we can be reasonably sure of things is by observing the consequences of our manipulations of these surroundings. Now, this method is still imperfect because of our perceptual issues, but it gives us more certainty than we had before. It gives us the ability to predict the consequences of our actions. Even if it is an illusory consequence of illusory action, there is at least consistency.

    No scientist or atheist that paid attention in class would ever claim to have absolute proof of anything, but some explanations of the evidence are more likely to be true than others. I think it’s much more likely, for instance, that the authors of the NT books were familiar with the Hebrew Bible, and altered the story either intentionally or out of their own imperfection of perception and memory, than that there is a God who first made all these complicated events happen over a very long period of time that predict each other, and that they could all be recorded well enough for us to understand it thousands of years after that.

    • Anthony on April 3, 2008 at 8:14 am
      Author

    Hi Justin,

    I don’t suppose we’re going to quibble about the definition of ‘militant atheisms’ while we’re getting on so well together. 🙂

    I appreciate the modifier from ‘no evidence’ to insufficient evidence. I understand that it is sort of short hand, but I find that it is short hand that gets in the way. The sufficiency of that evidence and what constitutes sufficient evidence is, in my opinion, the heart of the debate.

    I don’t understand your comment about the Hebrew scriptures. It seems to me to be self-evident that the Christians knew the Hebrew scriptures. Is that a response to my Daniel link? If so, I submit that the Daniel argument is a different animals.

    We should talk more about the consistency argument you make. You’re right- at least there is consistency, but that smuggles in the assumption that consistency is better than inconsistency. That is an abstract mental judgment which itself cannot be proved. Ie, it is immaterial, yet real. Or seems real.

    You mention the Reasonable Doubts podcast. Are you associated with it? Hit me with a link. If you’re associated with it perhaps I can come on and we can have a discussion. The Lord knows it would be nice to have a discussion for once where the knives didn’t come out in the first exchange. 🙂

    • Justin on April 3, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Sorry to say I’m not associated with RD, I just started listening to it a couple months ago and have come to enjoy it. They do encourage opposing views, so if you like their style, you should get in contact with them and see what can be arranged.

    http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/

    I was responding to the Daniel link when I addressed prophesy, I thought the question was how such a prophesy being fulfilled was naturalistically possible.

    Consistency is at least more helpful than inconsistency because it allows us to understand how things work. Again, nothing can be proven absolutely, but we can, as Dawkins claims, say something about their probability.

    • Anthony on April 3, 2008 at 8:44 am
      Author

    Thanks for the link. Honestly, I prefer to let people come to me because in the past I spread myself too thin. But hopefully they’ll notice the trackback and come visiting and we’ll see.

    Ok, so you were talking about Daniel. The question was not about explaining the prophecy naturalistically. It was more of a question of what is the best explanation. If the details of that argument are correct, then Daniel, writing more than 400 years earlier, predicted virtually to the very day when the prophecy would be fulfilled.

    We are to the issue of reasonable expectations of the evidence which I mentioned just previously. You can construct a naturalistic explanation for that if you like. Even if you succeed, that doesn’t explain why I should prefer it. I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand. Do you see what I mean?

    I’m not sure you get my point about the consistency question. At the level I’m talking about you cannot say that the consistency does allow you to understand things work. That could be an illusion as well. It is one of those immaterial facts of our existence that we must take as axiomatic or else all else collapses.

    But once you’ve allowed for that there are such things as immaterial facts which must be taken as real even if they can’t themselves even conceivably be tested, isn’t materialism already at risk? Aren’t we already halfway to Plato’s forms?

    Moreover, when confronted with certain immaterial realities such as that (and there are others), why isn’t it reasonable to allow for the existence of other immaterial realities, and even trans-material ones?

    Moreover, isn’t it important that the world view we adopt be big enough to account for all of reality? If we are aware of immaterial realities then how can philosophical materialism even be considered?

    Or, even if you feel that you have a different solution (ie, you propose that those ‘realities’ are emergent characteristics of physical systems), why can’t it at least be allowed that those of us who feel differently are still within our rights as reasonable, rational people?

    Instead, we must put up with being called delusional, ala the ‘leading’ atheist of our day, suffering from a ‘God Delusion.’

    • Justin on April 3, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I’ll have to leave now and get some work done, but I’ll leave you with something before I bow out.

    I’ve conceded repeatedly that we can’t have absolute knowledge (as far as I know), though I’ve said a few things in ‘short hand’ that may have confused the point. Probably just too much science writing. Anyway, we can never know anything completely, but we have tried our best to come as close as we can, and the results are everywhere, even in the computers we’re typing to each other on.

    I believe things to be true when they have powerful scientific evidence behind them, because they allow me to make accurate predictions about the consequences of my actions. The evidence has been verified repeatedly in these cases, and almost all alternative explanations have been ruled out. Does Christianity have the same support? What demonstrable evidence is there that would justify my believing in an afterlife, or a soul, or a God?

    Hope you have a good day. I look at this site now and again, so I’ll be around another time. I especially like your literary analyses. I’m currently reading the Chronicles of Narnia, and it’s fun to see the Biblical allusions pointed out by someone more knowledgeable on it.

    • Robert on April 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    That’s fine. In the case of the blogger in question we do not yet know precisely what he would prescribe. We only know that he believes the delusion is dangerous to self and species.

    He believes the delusion is harmful not dangerous. And since you’ve acknowledged that you don’t know what he would prescribe, isn’t an edit of your original post now in order?

    You have agreed that abused children should be removed from the home, so if you agree with Dawkins that certain religious doctrines are worse than sexual abuse, then the next step in the reasoning is obvious. If you agree with him but don’t follow up by calling for the state to step in, you are behaving as inconsistently as he.

    As you no doubt noted, I never indicated agreement with Dawkins on his idea. I read his article where he lays out his reasoning, and find myself in agreement with his general point that some Christian doctrines, like hell, could be considered a type of mental abuse, particularly if they’re used to influence a behavior. However, I don’t think the question is settled sufficiently since few, if any, have actually looked at the long-term consequences that such doctrines have.

    Thank you for your brave answers. Now we are only left to wonder just what you would consider to be ‘dangerously delusional’ and who you think should make those decisions.

    As suggested in my link above, I believe the parents in Madison, WI who relied solely on prayer in an attempt to cure their deceased child are “dangerously delusional,” the definition of which should ultimately be left up to our legislators and courts.

    • Anthony on April 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm
      Author

    “I believe things to be true when they have powerful scientific evidence behind them, because they allow me to make accurate predictions about the consequences of my actions.”

    I do not believe we are yet talking at the same level, here. My arguments precede that which you call the scientific evidence and concern the nature of the mind and facts about reality that are non-empirical in nature and yet nonetheless undeniably part of our experience of reality.

    “What demonstrable evidence is there that would justify my believing in an afterlife, or a soul, or a God?”

    It is my argument that not everything that is real or true is amenable to so-called ‘scientific’ evidence. About the matters you have just mentioned, it is my contention that the only evidence conceivably possible would not be scientific, it would be revelatory, and so to require scientific evidence would be to demand something which rationally shouldn’t even be expected.

    “I especially like your literary analyses.”

    I appreciate that. My wife is convinced that no one reads my blog. I know that’s not true: I can hear them breathing. 🙂

    • Anthony on April 3, 2008 at 1:57 pm
      Author

    “And since you’ve acknowledged that you don’t know what he would prescribe, isn’t an edit of your original post now in order?”

    I don’t think so. In the first place, in the original post I already indicated that in regards to him I would be ‘reading between the lines’ and I linked his post to Richard Dawkins who makes an argument that more clearly makes the point of the post.

    I would be willing to give the original blogger the chance to speak for himself, if he liked. In ultimate terms, we’d want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not that he would admit to my accusation because it would be poor public relations, indeed! However, again regardless of him, the point is made more explicitly plain when you have someone like Dawkins- THE SPOKESPERSON for modern atheism, so we are informed- who believes that it is worse than even physical abuse, so we are left wondering what on earth is keeping him from advocating for the removal of the children, if not the locking away of the parents.

    “As you no doubt noted, I never indicated agreement with Dawkins on his idea.”

    Which is why I used the conditional word “If.”

    Also from the beginning I indicated that not all atheists were ‘militant’ and was aware that not everyone would share the views of the atheists I was discussing.

    “the definition of which should ultimately be left up to our legislators and courts.”

    You didn’t provide a link to what you were referencing in Madison. I suppose you mean in your earlier comment? Feel free to correct. At any rate, I believe in that instance the parents did not actually believe that the child was so bad as to be on the verge of death.

    Let me speak to the larger point… by our legislators we mean our representatives, who we hope represent our own views. What if Dawkins succeeded in convincing people that certain doctrines were worse than child abuse and that the parents were delusional, hence The God Delusion?

    Wouldn’t the next step then be obvious? If that step is not going to be taken, can I have someone who believes this (apparently not you, since you only generally agreed) explain why given that belief they won’t take that step?

    If you don’t want us fear-mongering, set our minds at ease: if certain doctrines are worse than physical abuse and you take kids out of abusive situations what keeps you from removing kids from situations where those doctrines are being taught?

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 12:25 am

    “I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.”

    Your characterization of my position gives the highly misleading impression that I would favor a non-divine explanation over the divine one, even if the latter was BETTER supported by the evidence.

    Will you admit that this is NOT my view?

    I DO favor the non-divine explanation (assuming that there’s something that needs explaining); but I don’t favor it AND think it’s inferior to the divine explanation in terms of evidence. That would be absurd.

    Next time when you represent my position, could you please characterize it accurately? Before taking cheap shots at it, it would be helpful if you explained to your readers just WHY I would prefer the non-divine explanation over the divine one. The reasoning isn’t that complicated.

    • Anthony on April 4, 2008 at 12:47 am
      Author

    “who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation.”

    Spence, this is an accurate summary of your position. If you feel this leaves an impression that you can’t abide, you are more than welcome to offer a clarification if you think it is relevant.

    “Next time when you represent my position, could you please characterize it accurately?”

    I did characterize it accurately. What I didn’t do is invest 10,000 words elucidating your position to head off the tragic possibility that someone may have gotten an impression contrary to what you- unnamed in the entry, anyway- really think. They’ll stop reading after the first 100 words, I assure you.

    Spence, you are one of the most high strung individuals I’ve ever come across on the net. You really need to learn to lighten up. Seriously. You’re going to give yourself a coronary.

    • Anthony on April 4, 2008 at 12:53 am
      Author

    I think its amazing that you feel I have to even anticipate whatever ‘impression’ someone might get beyond what I’ve actually written, but to make sure that we give you the opportunity to prove or disprove my summary, I invite you to answer the following two questions directly and succinctly:

    If you, Spencer, believed that Jesus rose from the dead as described in the NT, would you be a Christian? Would you believe in God?

    Very simple yes or no questions.

    • Robert on April 4, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I don’t think so. In the first place, in the original post I already indicated that in regards to him I would be ‘reading between the lines’ and I linked his post to Richard Dawkins who makes an argument that more clearly makes the point of the post.

    Hasty conclusions are part and parcel to Christian apologetics, so it surprises me little you have no problem employing them. But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    George H. W. Bush: “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”

    Now, you, my dear reader, are a smart person. What does society do when they believe someone is not a citizen? Why, they throw them out of the country.

    Jerry Falwell: “Someone must not be afraid to say, ‘moral perversion is wrong.’ If we do not act now, homosexuals will ‘own’ America! If you and I do not speak up now, this homosexual steamroller will literally crush all decent men, women, and children who get in its way … and our nation will pay a terrible price!”

    Now, you, my dear reader, are a smart person. What does society do when they believe someone will literally crush them? Why, they crush them first.

    D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.: The legacy of Charles Darwin is “millions of deaths, the destruction of those deemed inferior, the devaluing of human life, and increasing hopelessness.”

    Now, you, my dear reader, are a smart person. What does society do when they believe an idea is mortally dangerous? Why, they censor it.

    However, again regardless of him, the point is made more explicitly plain when you have someone like Dawkins- THE SPOKESPERSON for modern atheism, so we are informed-

    I must have missed the press release, wherein Dawkins was made THE SPOKESPERSON for modern atheism. Can you provide a link?

    At any rate, I believe in that instance the parents did not actually believe that the child was so bad as to be on the verge of death.

    No, the girl died at the home, but the point seems to have sailed over your head. The parents believed that prayer and faith would cure whatever was causing her illness. Hmm..wonder where they got that idea.

    Let me speak to the larger point… by our legislators we mean our representatives, who we hope represent our own views. What if Dawkins succeeded in convincing people that certain doctrines were worse than child abuse and that the parents were delusional, hence The God Delusion?

    It would take a lot of careful research to establish a connection, and then a lot of time to convince people that such a connection was real. Even then, I’m sure many would “put their trust in the Word of God” and ignore the evidence.

    If you don’t want us fear-mongering, set our minds at ease: if certain doctrines are worse than physical abuse and you take kids out of abusive situations what keeps you from removing kids from situations where those doctrines are being taught?

    No long-term research on the effects of these doctrines has been conducted, so the jury is out on whether they in fact constitute abuse. Unlike some, I’m not willing to take matters purely “on faith.”

    • Anthony on April 4, 2008 at 8:55 am
      Author

    Oh, that’s intelligent. Or, in your language, “part and parcel” of atheistic behavior.

    You seem to be offended by my comments about being a ‘smart person’ and such, using such references sarcastically. You did read the original blog, did you not? My comments were far milder than his comments. You realize that, don’t you? It is a taste of his own medicine, and ‘part and parcel’ of the atheistic methodology is to ignore the context. The result: hypocrisy.

    I don’t see you repudiating his approach. I don’t see you repudiating anything I’ve presented of the atheists. Even with Dawkins’s claim you have ‘generally agreed’ with him, and now in your latest you are trying to take the high road by suggesting you’ll wait for evidence. That sounds an awful lot like if it was shown to ‘in fact constitute abuse’ you would then take Dawkins’s view… and we would be left right back where we started: will you have the kahoonas to advocate the pulling of those children out or not?

    As for your overall argument about ‘hasty generalizations’ I stand by what I said. It is true that in principle we’d want to give him the clear opportunity to state just what he would do, but he did say, and I quote (again):

    It’s that simple, and that obvious. Your religious beliefs hurt you personally and hurt us as a species because they are delusional. The belief in any “god” is complete nonsense.

    You see, it is that simple, and that obvious. He believes believers are hurting themselves and hurting the species. It is not reading between the lines to infer that he thinks this harm is significant… or else he wouldn’t be bothering.

    Simple. Obvious.

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 10:55 am

    This is what you originally wrote:

    “I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand. Do you see what I mean?”

    Notice the phrase “My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either…but RATHER prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.”

    If your approach is “different” from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then the implication is that I would favor explanations even when they are NOT best supported by the evidence. Hence your inaccurate characterization of my position.

    Will you admit that this is NOT my position? After all this time, you STILL don’t understand what my argument is; and until you do, please don’t talk about it.

    • Anthony on April 4, 2008 at 11:23 am
      Author

    You didn’t answer my direct question. I wonder why.

    Honestly, I’m not going to sit here and defend whether or not some possible impression that some possible person may have possibly gotten is in fact your position or not. What I did say was that even if you believed that the resurrection happened, you would still not be a Christian. You would still not believe that God exists.

    That much of your position is perfectly simple to grasp. I notice you don’t answer it.

    As for the rest of your ‘argument’ it may not be that I don’t understand it but rather find it incoherent. This could be because it actually is incoherent or perhaps you haven’t communicated it as well as you think you have.

    At any rate, my representation of your position, as stated, was that even if you granted the resurrection, you still wouldn’t be a Christian or a theist. Do you deny?

    As for the other half, the feared ‘impression’ that someone might possibly get, I’m not even sure you have a case. For example, in this thread here you cite Cavin…
    http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2563.0

    You know, the Cavin who proposed that it was more likely that Jesus had a twin brother who staged the resurrection then that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

    Cavin’s whole point is that any naturalistic theory is more plausible than a supernatural account, and you indicated that he makes your argument better then he does.

    Your comments give readers the impression that I ate a cheese sandwich for lunch. Will you admit that I did not have a cheese sandwich for lunch? Otherwise, please don’t talk about what I eat. Thanks.

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 11:31 am

    “You didn’t answer my direct question. I wonder why.”

    You didn’t answer MY direct question (which I asked first). I wonder why.

    “Honestly, I’m not going to sit here and defend whether or not some possible impression that some possible person may have possibly gotten is in fact your position or not. What I did say was that even if you believed that the resurrection happened, you would still not be a Christian. You would still not believe that God exists.”

    What you ALSO said was this: “My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.”

    How exactly is YOUR approach different? You’re asserting that it’s different BECAUSE you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, and my approach differs. Hence, the implication here is that on my approach, I prefer explanations that are not necessarily the best. Hence your inaccurate characterization of my position.

    “As for the rest of your ‘argument’ it may not be that I don’t understand it but rather find it incoherent.”

    Given that you can’t even characterize it properly, it isn’t a stretch to assume that you don’t understand it.

    “I’m not even sure you have a case. For example, in this thread here you cite Cavin…
    http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2563.0

    You know, the Cavin who proposed that it was more likely that Jesus had a twin brother who staged the resurrection then that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

    Cavin’s whole point is that any naturalistic theory is more plausible than a supernatural account, and you indicated that he makes your argument better then he does.”

    Circumstantial ad hominem. Cavin’s “twin brother” theory is irrelevant to the particular article of his I was referencing.

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 11:34 am

    If your approach is “different” from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then the implication is that I would favor explanations even when they are NOT best supported by the evidence. Hence your inaccurate characterization of my position.

    Here’s my direct question (which I posed first): Will you admit that this is NOT my position? Yes or no?

    • Anthony on April 4, 2008 at 11:53 am
      Author

    “Circumstantial ad hominem. Cavin’s “twin brother” theory is irrelevant to the particular article of his I was referencing.”

    Not at all. It is perfectly reasonable, as it establishes that I am not out of bounds contrasting my views with yours with the way I did. Given the fact that we have had many, many arguments, not just ONE (and hence, not just one position, either), if I can provide a citation to one place where it is clear that your position is basically as I have described it, then I have met my burden.

    I have provided that citation. You don’t deny Cavin’s general point, do you? You don’t deny saying that he makes the case better than you, do you?

    Let’s be quite clear here: We don’t need you to answer my direct question because we already know the answer. It is absolutely true that even if you believed the resurrection happened (ie, that the evidence supported it) you would still not be a Christian, nor would you believe in God.

    That was the part I directly represented you on and if my two sentence summary in your mind doesn’t adequately account for our 300 page correspondence to this point I honestly don’t care.

    Like I said to begin with, if you feel that my statement gives an impression, you’re welcome to correct it. I didn’t think I gave any impression at all, but you appear to have a great deal of pride on the line, so that even when you are alluded to anonymously, you feel like you have to make a scene.

    I will not admit to anything at all concerning a perceived impression that probably you, and only you, got.

    I will also say that in all this time which you’ve been seeking to save your honor, you could have just clarified exactly where you stand vis a vis the two relevant sentences and you would be on the record and the matter would be said and done.

    But everything is a shootout at the OK Corral with you. You put the worst possible spin on everything and aren’t even content with how I represent you, but your impression of the impressions left when I represent you. Honestly, I have better things to do with my time.

    Oh yea, in summary, why don’t you just save the righteous indignation and clarify your position. It would be tragic after all this not to have extracted an admission from me and have people still clueless about your ‘real’ position, don’t you think?

    • Robert on April 4, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    You seem to be offended by my comments about being a ’smart person’ and such, using such references sarcastically. You did read the original blog, did you not? My comments were far milder than his comments. You realize that, don’t you? It is a taste of his own medicine, and ‘part and parcel’ of the atheistic methodology is to ignore the context. The result: hypocrisy.

    Yes, I read the original blog and found his comments far less sensationalist than yours.

    And no, I was not so much offended by your comments as I was amused. Christians have been spewing far worse for far longer than that guy.

    What’s really hilarious, however, is that you return his (perceived) bellicosity with your own. Is this now the Christian way? Two wrongs make a right? You may wish to read Matthew 5:43-48 if the Gospels still hold sway with you.

    I don’t see you repudiating his approach.

    Why should I? I agree with him that your theism is a harmful delusion, just as you agree that our atheism is a harmful delusion. The difference is that we don’t threaten those who disagree with eternal punishment. Besides, according to Jesus, you’re actually being blessed as a result of this approach (Matthew 5:11).

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    This is the third time you’ve ignored my direct question.

    Once again, this is what you said: “I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand. ”

    How exactly your “approach different?” The answer you gave was that you prefer “explanations that are best supported” by the evidence. If your approach is DIFFERENT from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then this necessarily implies that my approach differs in that I prefer explanations that are NOT best supported by the evidence. In other words, I would prefer the non-divine explanation even IF the divine explanation was better supported by the evidence.

    I’ll ask again: will you admit that this absurdity you attributed to me is NOT my view?

    Regarding your Cavin citation, what was your point? Yes, I cited a PARTICULAR article Cavin wrote that gave the same argument I’ve made on the forums – an article you admitted to not having read.

    Moreover, that article had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Cavin’s “Twin brother” theory, so it’s really puzzling why you felt to need to bring it up, as if it advanced one of your points.

    “You don’t deny Cavin’s general point, do you? You don’t deny saying that he makes the case better than you, do you?”

    Once again, we need to be clear about what we’re talking about. The SPECIFIC article of his I referenced was “Is There Sufficient Historical Evidence to Establish the Resurrection of Jesus?”

    In that article, he makes the same general argument I made on the forums, but better. Have you even read it? If so, then you’d know that it has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with Cavin’s “twin brother” theory.

    “We don’t need you to answer my direct question because we already know the answer. It is absolutely true that even if you believed the resurrection happened (ie, that the evidence supported it) you would still not be a Christian, nor would you believe in God.

    It depends on what you mean by “resurrection.” If a “resurrection” implies the workings of a Divine Agent, then the above statement is false.

    “Like I said to begin with, if you feel that my statement gives an impression, you’re welcome to correct it. ”

    I did. Your characterization of my position implies that I would prefer a non-divine explanation over a divine explanation, EVEN IF the latter was better supported by the evidence, which is simply not the case.

    “I didn’t think I gave any impression at all,”

    I don’t understand how you can sincerely say this.

    Here’s what you said: “I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. MY APPROACH IS DIFFERENT…[I, UNLIKE that atheist] prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand. ”

    If your approach is “different” from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then the implication is that I would favor certain explanations even when they are NOT best supported by the evidence. Hence your inaccurate characterization of my position.

    “You put the worst possible spin on everything and aren’t even content with how I represent you,”

    How am I spinning anything? Once again, here’s what you said: “MY APPROACH IS DIFFERENT…[I, UNLIKE that atheist] prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.”

    How exactly is your approach “different” from mine? If you prefer explanations that are best supported by what the evidence demands, and my approach is different, then it follows necessarily that I do NOT prefer explanations that are best supported by what the evidence demands. How is this “spin?” This is what you’re unequivocally asserting.

    You’ve clearly made a blatant error here and are too proud to admit it (and you accuse me of being prideful!).

    • Spencer on April 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    http://richarddawkins.net/article,118,Religions-Real-Child-Abuse,Richard-Dawkins

    Here is Dawkins’ article on the harmfulness of religious mental-abuse. I completely agree with him.

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 8:42 am
      Author

    “Yes, I read the original blog and found his comments far less sensationalist than yours.”

    You found his comments less sensationalist than mine? lol. Well, then I’m glad we’re having this conversation. I think more objective eyes will see it differently. It would seem that at this point we will submit final judgment to them.

    “What’s really hilarious, however, is that you return his (perceived) bellicosity with your own. Is this now the Christian way?”

    My (perceived) bellicosity was much, much more mild than his. In fact, I dispute your perceptions completely.

    “Why should I? I agree with him that your theism is a harmful delusion, just as you agree that our atheism is a harmful delusion.”

    Hmmmm. Where did I say that atheism is a harmful delusion?

    “The difference is that we don’t threaten those who disagree with eternal punishment.”

    Technically, it would be God doing the threatening while Christians are just passing along the message.

    But you don’t go to hell because of disagreement, my friend.

    “Besides, according to Jesus, you’re actually being blessed as a result of this approach”

    Which is no reason not to oppose it.

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 8:49 am
      Author

    Spencer, the perceptive reader will see that I was entirely right in my assertion that you would not find even a resurrection compelling. It truly does not speak well of you, my friend, that you would not simply seek to clarify your own position but chose instead to mount an inquisition.

    Thank you for endorsing Dawkins’s views. It is good to know where you stand and what camp you belong to. I think it helps demonstrate my concerns admirably.

    And just to balance out Dawkins’s views on this matter, I am aware of at least one more place he wrote:

    http://www.thehumanist.org/humanist/articles/dawkins.html

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 9:46 am
      Author

    One more point to Robert:

    “I agree with him that your theism is a harmful delusion, just as you agree that our atheism is a harmful delusion.”

    I asked you where I said that because of course I did not say that. I carefully singled out so-called ‘militant atheists’ and indicated that not all atheists were militant. I even repeated it at the end:

    “The content of militant atheism needs to be examined. It needs to be exposed. It needs to be called to task. Now, while we still can.”

    So again, it is clear that I had a certain brand of atheism in mind. In your self-righteous snickering you failed to grasp the point of the entry…

    That said, I want to address the question of atheism being a delusion and harmful. In the first place, I believe that all ideas have consequences. If you plant a tomato seed you get a tomato plant. If you plant a ‘belief X’ seed, you’ll get a ‘belief X’ plant.

    Certain atheists are advancing beliefs that are dangerous to the rest of us 6 billion inhabitants on the planet because they seek to plant ‘tyrannny seeds’ under the belief that no ‘tyranny plant’ will emerge.

    Advocating a particular set of beliefs that obviously have certain conclusions but denying those conclusions has potential for great harm, depending on that set of beliefs.

    So, when we turn to a comment like this of yours: “The difference is that we don’t threaten those who disagree with eternal punishment.”

    We need only look at the last century to see how shallow this ‘difference’ really is. For there was a time when people who believed that certain ideas were ‘harmful to the species’ were not content to leave it at that. They aimed to do something about it. The result were gulags, purges, concentration camps, re-education camps, etc, some of which are still with us (ie, in China). It is a delusion to believe that those days could never return.

    Some seeds take generations to bear fruit, but bear fruit they will, unless something is done.

    If the blogger really thinks that religious belief is harmful to the person and to the species but he has in mind nothing more than posting entries on the blog, then the ‘harm’ he thinks is being done is meaningless, pointless, and superficial. In other words, the relative harm is minor if a blog calling on people to ‘grow up’ can remedy the situation. Me thinks he thinks the harm is more severe than that.

    Now, you it humorous that I don’t use soft, gentle language in response to that blogger’s inflammatory ranting. Truly, this is absurd. It would not be unreasonable or unloving to speak the hard truth about the Nazis, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Castro, pick your tyrant. You don’t think the Christian Scriptures require Christians to send Hitler birthday cards with pleasant greetings, do you?

    When the Nazis came to Corrie Ten Boom’s door and demanded that she turn over the Jews hiding there she should have said, “Oh, well, yes of course. I have every care and concern for your eradication efforts of the Jews. Yes, the Jews are up in my loft. Please send Hitler my regards and tell him that I’m praying for him.”

    If Corrie lies to them, or in an argument with fellows about the Nazi programme describes it in harsh, uncompromising words, Robert will rise to say “Aha! What about turning the other cheek! Don’t you know you are blessed by this!”

    Now, this blogger, and you and Spencer and Dawkins are a ways off from Hitler. No question about that. It is not you I am worried about but rather the next generation raised up under your ideology who have an entirely different idea about what to do with ‘child abusers’ and people ‘harming the species.’

    As far as I’m concerned, in light of the events of the last century, anyone spouting off about another group being ‘harmful’ to the species requires strict scrutiny and had better be prepared to be opposed, for there is much at stake… and it would be a delusion to deny it.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 10:31 am

    “Spencer, the perceptive reader will see that I was entirely right in my assertion that you would not find even a resurrection compelling.”

    Once again, it depends on what you mean by “a resurrection.” I’ve clarified my position on this many times already, but you continue to refuse to clarify your statements one bit.

    “It truly does not speak well of you, my friend, that you would not simply seek to clarify your own position but chose instead to mount an inquisition.”

    How about clarifying your statements?

    You wrote: ““I have an atheist that frequents this board who is willing for the sake of argument to concede even that Jesus rose from the dead, but he insists we should still prefer a naturalistic explanation. My approach is different: don’t presume to favor either naturalistic or supernaturalistic explanations, but rather prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand. ”

    How exactly is your approach different? (Will you ever answer this question?) The answer you gave was that you prefer “explanations that are best supported” by the evidence. If your approach is DIFFERENT from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then this necessarily implies that my approach differs in that I prefer explanations that are NOT best supported by the evidence. In other words, I would prefer the non-divine explanation even IF the divine explanation was better supported by the evidence.

    I’ll ask again: will you admit that this is NOT my view?

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

    “Thank you for endorsing Dawkins’s views. It is good to know where you stand and what camp you belong to. I think it helps demonstrate my concerns admirably.”

    Dawkins hasn’t said anything controversial. It’s a fact that mental abuse can be worse than physical abuse.

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 11:07 am
      Author

    Hi Spence, my last comment should have made it clear that I don’t really care about your accusations, finding them completely without merit, and that furthermore I am content to let anyone who does care do their own research into your positions if they like.

    My forum would be a good place to start: http://www.sntjohnny.com/smf.

    After so many attempts to coerce ‘admissions’ from me and failing in most cases you might want to think about a new tactic. For someone who has been most insistent on ‘charitable’ readings, you are the least ‘charitable’ person I have ever met.

    For example, in this case if, instead of leaping out in righteous indignation and chest thumping demands for concessions and admissions you would have been more charitable, and simply said something like:

    “Hi Sntjohnny, I think I know what you’re saying but I think it gives the wrong impression about my views. Could you clarify?”

    Given that opportunity, I would have been more than happy to offer some clarifications and if you were any other person I think you would have accepted those clarifications. Instead, you leapt to the attack with knives out and guns blazing and insisted from the outset for an ‘admission of guilt.’

    Now, in general people don’t respond very well to that sort of approach. They respond to it even less when they think little of the merits of the accusation, especially if they aren’t given the opportunity to clarify what is meant before the leap to accusation.

    So, in the future, you may want to consider something of this tact. You should have noticed by now that I perceive the tactic you actually employ as petty bullying and you rarely get what you want. You know that after you spending an hour typing and me spending an hour typing we’re going to be left with you demanding yet again “Will you admit this is not my view” and me yawning, stretching my arms, and saying, “There goes Spencer again, playing the judge jury and executioner” and heading off to lunch, vowing not to devote another 10 minute long blog entry in response to a person who carries on in such fashion.

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 11:08 am
      Author

    Btw, on my forum Spence goes by ‘cutupmaster’ in case anyone cares.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 11:33 am

    “Hi Spence, my last comment should have made it clear that I don’t really care about your accusations, finding them completely without merit, ”

    Then perhaps you can point out for me (and for your readers) just where my accusation went wrong. You DID say that your “approach” is different from mine, since you “prefer the explanations that are best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.”

    Well, once again, if your approach is different from mine, and you prefer explanations that are best supported by the evidence, then the IMPLICATION in your statement is that I would not prefer explanations that are best supported by the evidence (if they’re supernatural ones). There’s no denying the absurd implication in your statement.

    1. Sntjohnny favors explanations that are best supported by the evidence.
    2. Therefore, if a supernatural explanation is better supported by the evidence than its rival naturalistic one, then sntjohnny will favor the former.
    3. Spencer’s approach is different from sntjohnny’s.
    4. Therefore, even if a supernatural explanation is better supported by the evidence than its rival naturalistic one, then Spencer will favor the latter.

    There is no other way of interpreting your statements, but you will never admit that you misspoke, will you?

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 11:38 am

    “After so many attempts to coerce ‘admissions’ from me and failing in most cases you might want to think about a new tactic. For someone who has been most insistent on ‘charitable’ readings, you are the least ‘charitable’ person I have ever met.

    For example, in this case if, instead of leaping out in righteous indignation and chest thumping demands for concessions and admissions you would have been more charitable, and simply said something like:

    Being “charitble” means interpreting another’s statements in the best light possible. But in your case, I am unable to find an alternative interpretation that avoids attributing to me the absurd implication I mentioned.

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 12:03 pm
      Author

    Toodles, my friend.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    You won’t admit your error, or deal with my arguments, but what did I expect from an apologist?

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 12:31 pm
      Author

    http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2385.0
    http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2385.msg41197#msg41197

    Cutup is speaking.

    In another thread, sntjohnny wrote the following:

    “Let’s assume that you do know with confidence that Jesus said and did X, Y, and Z. He raised people from the dead, he walked on water, he fed five thousand people just with a few loaves and had leftovers, he predicted his death, and his resurrection, and did rise from the dead. Assume it. Now answer the question: is that enough to compel you to be a Christian or not?”

    The answer is ‘no’; even if Jesus performed all those acts, those events by themselves would not rationally compel one to believe he’s God (an infinite being).

    Seems pretty clear to me.

    Clearly, the evidence is irrelevant, if even granting the asserted facts as actually happening you still don’t believe the ‘divine inference’ is justified.

    Or, http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2385.msg41228#msg41228

    Quote from: benjdm on September 10, 2007, 03:02:08 PM

    A finite being bound trillions of time more powerful and knowledgeable could properly be labeled a God, I think. I am assuming by ‘more powerful’ we mean something inherent – not the result of technological application of ordinary matter and energy.

    No, technological application is a possibility, but I’m leaving it open. If there were an alien civilization that was highly technologically advanced, would people 2,000 years ago be able to tell the difference between the powers of this civilization and God? A better question: would people 2,000 years ago be able to tell the difference between ‘genuine magic” and ’21th century sophisticated illusions?’

    Such comments seem to answer your accusation that I left the impression that you didn’t care about the ‘evidence.’ These comments illustrate very clearly that you can conceive of no evidence that could justify the ‘divine inference.’ In fact, that was another one of your threads.

    Since you so reluctant to link people back to your own argumentation (for good reason) let’s link to that one, too:

    http://sntjohnny.com/smf/index.php?topic=2394.0

    Between half a dozen other threads posts on variations of the same theme consisting of hundreds of posts, I think people will see that I was in my rights to characterize you as I did .

    If they can stomach watching you drone on about being misrepresented in every other post and in later threads pepper your posts with demands that I admit this and admit that, I think they’ll get a better idea of the type of argument I was making to JUSTIN, referring to a larger trend that is illustrated by a certain unnamed atheist, but they do not by any means exhaust my experience with such folks.

    My attention to your allegations is now finished.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I stand by those arguments I made. But you seem to think that BECAUSE I stand by them, I am committed to favoring the non-divine explanation EVEN IF its rival divine explanation was better supported by the evidence. Clearly this is not my view.

    I WOULD NOT favor the non-divine explanation if the divine explanation was “best supported by what the evidence seems to demand.” Again, the implication you’ve attributed to me is a blatant falsehood.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    “Clearly, the evidence is irrelevant, if even granting the asserted facts as actually happening you still don’t believe the ‘divine inference’ is justified.”

    Can you reproduce, in your own words, my reasoning for why the ‘divine inference’ is unjustified? What is my argument? Are you capable of representing it clearly and charitably?

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 1:04 pm
      Author

    My attention to your allegations is now finished.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    You won’t admit your error, or deal with my arguments, but what was I expecting from an apologist?

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 1:33 pm
      Author

    *yawn.* That assumes that there is an error, or that your arguments haven’t been addressed. We’ve now corrected that deception for all to see, haven’t we? People can make up their own minds… if they care, but really, Spence, I don’t think they do.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    “*yawn.* That assumes that there is an error,”

    My arguments support that assumption.

    ” or that your arguments haven’t been addressed.”

    They haven’t.
    I wrote:

    “If your approach is DIFFERENT from mine, and you prefer explanations that are BEST supported by the evidence, then this necessarily implies that my approach differs in that I prefer explanations that are NOT best supported by the evidence. In other words, I would prefer the non-divine explanation even IF the divine explanation was better supported by the evidence.”

    And here: “Well, once again, if your approach is different from mine, and you prefer explanations that are best supported by the evidence, then the IMPLICATION in your statement is that I would not prefer explanations that are best supported by the evidence (if they’re supernatural ones). There’s no denying the absurd implication in your statement.

    1. Sntjohnny favors explanations that are best supported by the evidence.
    2. Therefore, if a supernatural explanation is better supported by the evidence than its rival naturalistic one, then sntjohnny will favor the former.
    3. Spencer’s approach is different from sntjohnny’s.
    4. Therefore, even if a supernatural explanation is better supported by the evidence than its rival naturalistic one, then Spencer will favor the latter. ”

    “We’ve now corrected that deception for all to see, haven’t we?”

    Only if the reader were blind.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Instead of copying and pasting what I said before, can you reproduce, in your own words, my reasoning for why the ‘divine inference’ is unjustified?

    • Anthony on April 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm
      Author

    Toodles, my friend. You can have the last word. I know how important that is to you.

    • Spencer on April 6, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    You seem to think that matters to me, instead of, say, the absurd implication you attributed to me, which was unfair and utterly without warrant. But, things like that apparently don’t matter to you. Is it really a stretch to conclude that you’re not interested in honest dialogue?

    • Robert on April 8, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    My (perceived) bellicosity was much, much more mild than his. In fact, I dispute your perceptions completely.

    Right. My fault. It was, instead, a loving response, as Jesus commands you to make (Matthew 5:43-48).

    With Christian love like this, who needs scorn and derision?

    Hmmmm. Where did I say that atheism is a harmful delusion?

    If atheism is not a delusion, then what is it?

    Harmful because, well, hell is not exactly a nice place to end up in, we are told.

    Technically, it would be God doing the threatening while Christians are just passing along the message.

    And to be real technical, it would be an early first century (real or imaginary) Jewish rabbi doing the threatening.

    Advocating a particular set of beliefs that obviously have certain conclusions but denying those conclusions has potential for great harm, depending on that set of beliefs.

    I agree.

    How have you responded to the beliefs of the individuals I posted above?

    We need only look at the last century to see how shallow this ‘difference’ really is. For there was a time when people who believed that certain ideas were ‘harmful to the species’ were not content to leave it at that. They aimed to do something about it. The result were gulags, purges, concentration camps, re-education camps, etc, some of which are still with us (ie, in China). It is a delusion to believe that those days could never return.

    I agree here also, which is why we should oppose communist ideology for what it leads to.

    Some seeds take generations to bear fruit, but bear fruit they will, unless something is done.

    Which explains the burgeoning opposition to faith-based beliefs like Christianity, Islam, Scientology, etc. We’ve tasted the fruit of their seeds and found it not exactly healthy.

    You don’t think the Christian Scriptures require Christians to send Hitler birthday cards with pleasant greetings, do you?

    No, Christians preferred to present their greetings to Hitler in person.

    It is not you I am worried about but rather the next generation raised up under your ideology who have an entirely different idea about what to do with ‘child abusers’ and people ‘harming the species.’

    What is my ideology? I have not identified it, as far as I can tell.

    As far as I’m concerned, in light of the events of the last century, anyone spouting off about another group being ‘harmful’ to the species requires strict scrutiny and had better be prepared to be opposed, for there is much at stake… and it would be a delusion to deny it.

    We’ve been pointing these people out for years, but few seem to listen.

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