When I was very young, the biggest part of religion in my life was its most insidious and effective aspect: the fear. I feared that members of my family weren't religious enough, that they didn't go to church enough, and that they wouldn't be good enough in the eyes of Jesus to make it into heaven. I remember asking my mother if dad was going to end up in hell because he never went to church and I never saw him pray. She said she prayed every day that he would change.
Then I grew older, and as a pre-teen and teenager I often heard other churchgoers and friends talk about how Jesus talked to them. They spoke about transcendent experiences the likes of which you read about in schmaltzy novellas written by Jack Chick wannabes. The fear I felt for the eternal souls of my father and other family members was extended to cover my own. I had never had any such experience, and perhaps it was because my soul wasn't as good, as clean, as worthy as others.
It wasn't until college that I actually bothered to try reading the entirety of my New American Standard Bible.* It was the book that my entire "non-denominational" faith was based upon, according to my church and my mother, and so I figured that I should probably read the damn thing. In the span of a few months I became an atheist, but I didn't know it for a few more months thanks to the denial that came from the fear.
Now, I am an atheist with a non-standard sexuality. As an "outside observer", this is what I see:
1. Religion injects itself harshly into the government that is supposed to be of, by, and for us all.
2. Religion casts me as an immoral degenerate, telling its members that I am unworthy. I am the cause of the unequal yoke, the "den of vipers" (I was specifically called that once), the vast shadowy "other" used by Satan as a tool in his endless attempts to devour their souls.
3. Religion strongly encourages its members to spread the word, which combines with #2 to create many awkward and even dangerous situations.
So let's get back to your original question: How has religion hurt me? Well, leaving aside the childhood trauma and speaking strictly as an adult, religion has caused family members and friends to abandon or shun me, and has caused at least two instances of job loss. All of that due to the fear that religion instills in its members about people like me, and the fact that #3 above forces them to inquire if I'm "one of those".
Oh, to be British...
*Ask me again sometime about the church divide between KJV, NIV, & NAS.
You've just stated that if you give atheists free reign to do what they want and the backing of the state, they will most assuredly commit mass murder. And don't try backpeddling, because that is the only implication of this:
"Hardly. Atheist groups outside of Russia, China, and the satellite countries did not have the free rein that the Party might have given them."
is not only a Communist group, it's also a false transliteration. The League of Militant Godless, which is what their name actually translates to, has a very different meaning. Hint: The "militantly Godless" part means that they will forcibly remove God, at the behest of their Communist leadership, and in contrast to people who simply live without belief in any gods.
First, on the usage of logical fallacy:
You invoked a false dichotomy in 74, and I answered that false dichotomy thoroughly in 76. No straw man was invoked, and if you wish to continue claiming that I have invoked such a fallacy, I suggest you quote me and show clearly, as I did in 76, how anything I said is a straw man.
Second, on the idea of proving that "G-d" doesn't exist:
Once you define "G-d" thoroughly enough to create a theological structure wherein you can't even spell out his damn name, you create testable claims about that god's interaction with the real world. These testable claims have been put to the test and found lacking. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Every claim that has been made regarding the Biblical God's interaction with the physical world has been either invalidated (prayer works just like a placebo) or completely unsubstantiated. Furthermore, you even admitted above that is possible to "prove a negative" with logic. The God of a the Bible is a logical and physical contradiction. As such, he cannot possibly be real.
Finally, to demonstrate the problem with your shifting of the burden of proof, imagine a dialog as follows:
John: "When was the last time you struck your wife?"
Jack: "I have never stricken my wife."
John: "That's quite an absolute statement, Jack. How can you be sure you have never stricken your wife? Have you any proof?"
Jack: "How could I have proof of something that never happened?"
John: "You tell me, Jack. You claimed flatly that you had never stricken your wife. You must have some evidence to back this up."
Jack: "Well what about your evidence? Have you any proof that I've ever stricken my wife?"
John: "I'm not the one who made the blanket statement. Tell me, do you remember everything you've ever done in your entire life?"
Jack: "What has that got to do..."
John: "DO YOU REMEMBER everything you've ever done in your entire life?"
Jack: "Of course not! No one remembers everything they've ever done!"
John: "So are you telling me that it's completely impossible that you've stricken your wife and simply forgotten about it?"
Jack: "Of course it's impossible! I've never stricken my wife!"
John: "But you just admitted that you don't remember everything you've ever done in your life. If you can't remember everything, and you have no proof, how do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you've never stricken your wife and simply forgotten?"
Jack: "I guess, when you put it that way, I don't."
John: "There, you see? You're a wife-beater!"
In this exercise, we saw several argumentative problems invoked by the antagonist. The burden of proof shift was only one of them. We also saw an appeal to ignorance, and the idea that failure to prove a negative due to lack of evidence automatically means that the positive claim is true. If this exchange had taken place within a courtroom, Jack's lawyer would be an incompetent ass if he didn't object several times to this line of questioning, chiefly but not entirely on the clear problem of supposition.
So tell me, John, do you still think your argument holds water?
Disclaimer: I do not want this thread to devolve into a discussion about DUers. I want to specifically talk about an issue that I think we've all seen.
A long time ago, in what was actually a surprisingly intelligent discussion, a hardcore conservative co-worker of mine said something that simply flabbergasted me.
"There is no hate like liberal hate."
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, took a deep breath, and reminded myself that this was an exchange of opposing viewpoints and not a mudslinging contest, I told him that he couldn't be more wrong. I told him that it was impossible to hate anyone as a liberal. I told him that in order to even be a liberal, a person who works hard for equality and shared prosperity, that you simply have to care about other people.
I was more naive, then. I didn't realize how easy it was for us to eat our own.
The left wing of this country really is the only group that gives a damn about equality. We are the ones fighting for gender equality, racial equality, religious equality, LGBT rights, and so much more. We are the ones who stand against laws that oppress women and homosexuals. We are the ones fighting for not just equal treatment under the law, but also equal treatment under the knife.
And yet, not just here on DU, we are the ones who have major fights over words like "bitch". We are the ones who constantly tell minority members "I see your point, but I wish you'd be nicer about it." We are the ones who are so determined to be inclusive and idealistic that we destroy conversations with semantics, like we're sitting in an amphitheater in a Monty Python sketch.
We eat our own.
People, even here on DU, have been asking lately why we seem to have only one party in the US. People have been asking why we, as a political party and also as a group in general, can't play politics as well as the right. Well here it is: In the face of a smorgasbord given to us again, and again, and again by the right...
We eat our own.
The real question is, why?
Tonight, while on a contract, I got to sit and listen to a two-hour session of "witness to the heathen." All of the major talking points were hit in barrage fashion as the witness talked over just about everything I might have said, but what struck me the most about this conversation was not its topic, but its setting. I was on contract helping out a business, and he was a client. So not only was I basically a captive audience as I sat there and listened to him jaw about Jesus, he managed to talk about politics and religion in a single session in the workplace.
To top it off, on the way there and back, I passed 5 billboards for Jesus. Not to mention the fact that I paid for my dinner with a bunch of paper that had a single god's name printed on it.
Tell me again, denizens of the board, how faith is a quiet and personal thing. Tell me again how the faith of others doesn't affect me if I choose not to believe. Tell me again how no serious, modern Christians believe in the idea of Hell or an invisible man who lives in the sky (his actual words, no bullshit). And somewhere along the way, as you repeat yourselves for what has to be the hundredth time, maybe you'll realize that faith isn't as quiet and personal as you make it out to be. Maybe, just maybe, you'll face the fact that you might just be the minority version of Christians, and that the "cartoon theology" you accuse atheists on this board of using as a straw man is wielded like a club by those non-Scotsmen you abhor so much.
I, and my fellow atheists, have legitimate complaints about the state of religion, and Christianity in particular, in this country. They will not be silenced, and they will not be debased, by those who would paint us simply as "angry atheists". We are citizens of this free country too, goddammit, and we will not be silent simply because our truth makes the majority uncomfortable.
I'm humbled by his humble nature."
Alanis knew what she was talking about. Ponder that, will you?
Also, while you may respect the faith of others, I'd be interested to know why you think that anyone else should? Why should faith be automatically more respected than political, sports team, or other ideological affiliations?
and a dog named Riley. They both live in the same house with her and my uncle.
Now cats and dogs are old and obvious adversaries, and in order to train the two of them to live together my aunt was very attentive and strict. Any aggressive behavior was immediately corrected, no matter which party it came from. But my aunt loves to tell (and so do I) an interesting story about how that correction backfired.
You see, Genevieve figured out 2 things about Riley: 1) He would attack immediately if provoked, and 2) he was incapable of attacking silently.
So one day, while standing in the kitchen, my aunt hears Riley snarl and bark, to which she immediately responds by turning and correcting him. With both animals looking at her with somber eyes, Genevieve put upon by the dog and Riley sorry to have earned his master's ire, she turned back to chopping her potatoes, and happened as she turned her back to the animals to catch some motion on the reflective glass oven door. Genevieve swatted Riley on the snout, and immediately, without being touched, flipped onto her back to cry woe, suffering, and persecution. It was then that my aunt realized that Genevieve had learned to goad her unwelcome opponent, and was feigning persecution in an attempt to see Riley punished, or even banished, and thus cement her place as alpha pet.
The story of Genevieve and Riley features strongly in my mind when listening to American Christians, of late. I wonder why...
That isn't to say that their atheism or their skepticism is the motivation for their actions. The desire for acceptance drives the group to be noticed. The desire to help people drives the group members to volunteer with any number of organizations that already have a secular support network in place.
As an atheist, I know I'm in the minority, so if I were to round up a posse and drive to Alabama with whatever we could carry to help out, I wouldn't restrict the membership. I also wouldn't tell people I help down there "remember, Jesus doesn't exist" as I handed them bread or clothes. I also wouldn't pass out copies of The God Delusion or other literature.
I'd say that puts my imaginary ad hoc charity at least one rung above the Salvation Army.
With Christmas and its supposed war approaching, and with the current crop of atheist billboards kicking the sticks found in so many asses, a great many claims are being made about atheists and atheism in general. I won't get into specifics with this OP, but if you've read any of the R/T posts lately or any of the GD posts regarding billboards you have seen many posters treat atheism as the motivation behind acts of cruelty, arrogance, intolerance, and indecency.
In this "festive" time, I'd like to more closely investigate the concept of motivation. Specifically, I would like to know how anyone suspects that the lack of belief in a deity can act as any kind of motivational idea or force.
For an example, let's take a look at the topic du jour: Billboards. What motivation do we suspect for these atheist billboards? If the billboards in question were meant to tell non-atheists what beliefs they should leave behind, then certainly the motivation behind these billboards would be atheism itself and nothing more. But if the billboards in question are meant to tell other atheists that they are not alone, not a freakshow, not anything being spewed about them by the religious right, then the motivation becomes something much more common: The human desire for inclusion, community, and support.
I see the motivation behind these billboards as being the exact motivation behind the gay pride parade: It's OK to be YOU, and other people should think that's OK too.
But while they are a good example here, let's not focus on just the billboards themselves. I'd like for everyone who reads this thread to ponder this question: How can the lack of a belief in a deity serve as motivation for anything by itself?
I'm calling it the "HE God Woman Haters".
Our founding ideas?
1. God created MAN first and in HIS image.
2. God created woman from MAN to be his companion.
3. MAN's fall is due to woman's indiscretion and impurity.
1. Women will be subservient to men. They will not work or speak outside the home. They will venture outside the home only when necessary, only under male escort, and only under modest coverings.
2. Women will be subservient to men. They will give themselves freely to their husbands, and they will bear and raise their children without complaint or option of termination.
3. Women will be subservient to men. A daughter may only leave the house of her father when she is married for profit to the man of her father's choosing.
4. Women will be subservient to men. Their virginity and fidelity to their chosen husband will be secured through female genital mutilation.
5. Women will be subservient to men. Should a woman KNOW a man other than her chosen husband, she shall be put to death. Her punishment shall only be stayed if 4 other men can testify that she KNEW the scoundrel unwillingly, and then the scoundrel shall be forced to pay damages to her husband for his trespass...
Oh, wait, somebody already beat me to this...
I want to make something perfectly clear: The First Amendment is not the ONLY amendment, and it is very important to understand its TRUE meaning.
The First Amendment guarantees the right of people to practice their religion in THREE very important ways. Free speech (for what is religion if not a special form of speech?), free exercise, and lack of Establishment. Taken together with the spirit and some of the letter of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, I propose that the Constitution lays down as the law of the land the following simple rule:
You are free to openly practice your religion anywhere within the US insofar as this practice does not deny to ANY others ANY of the rights, including religious, enumerated within the Constitution.
Oppression is indefensible. Denial of rights, of education, of medical care, of free reign over the small bit of turf contained within your own skin is IN. DE. FENSIBLE. And it is criminal to allow it, and it is disgusting to stand up for it, in a land of the ostensibly FREE.
And if saying so makes me rude, so be it. If the statement "anyone who believes in the principles of the He God Woman Haters is an awful example of humanity, a threat to themselves and to others, and shouldn't be allowed to EVER raise children" makes me intolerant, then intolerant am I.
On the surface, it makes perfect sense...people who simply lack belief in various supernatural things really have no reason to form a group based on their non-belief. It's almost elementary, and yet...
Do churchgoers spend all of their time in church talking about Jesus and the Bible?
Do the Jews who attend temple spend all their time within its walls discussing the Torah?
I could go on...
These groups, founded on a single idea regarding the supernatural, serve as much more than a simple echo chamber for the faith. By gathering together they create a place where like-minded people can converse and simply enjoy each others company in a social setting.
This type of social setting, where like-minded people come together just for fun, is craved not just be theists but by many atheists as well. For atheists, though, it becomes problematic to find such a setting outside of a church. Some join Universalist churches, some join political groups, some follow their interests into myriad possibilities including book clubs, dance clubs, and everything in between and beyond.
In the end, though, most of these groups are not as like-minded as churches and synagogues tend to be. Atheists are still the most unaccepted minority in the USA, and in places like political groups there's always the possibility that another member will be an incredible bigot toward any atheist members. The tension and discord caused by this bigotry is something we all wish to avoid.
When you think about it, then, it almost seems natural that, in a world where religious language and religious ideas dominate so much of the public discourse, those who wish to avoid such things might wish to create their own group or their own place where they know they will not be judged for their lack of belief.
In short, atheist groups, small and scattered as they are, are not about getting together and checking a list to make sure it contains all the gods we don't believe in. They're not about getting together and talking about how we can convert people to atheism and stick it to religion. They're about social creatures getting together with other social creatures in an environment where no one thinks it would be funny to tell the joke about the atheist and the bear.
With thanks to the originator, one John Palzer, Adjunct Professor of Writing, RIT, c. 2002. Best. Lecture. Ever.
One day in my Writing and Lit class, long ago, my professor walked into the room and threw down with an old cliche: He wrote "Sex" on the whiteboard. As the class quieted, he moved slightly to the left, obscuring my view, and when he stepped away, he revealed:
I'll never manage to deliver the lecture that Mr. Palzer did that day, especially not in this medium, but I feel I must at least attempt to describe what happened. It started with this paraphrased quote from Mr. Palzer himself:
"Look at these two words. Either one, by itself, has only a few meanings, most of them mundane. But when you combine them in either order, incredible possibilities unfold. This is the job of a writer."
A full hour of dynamic discussion followed, wherein we as a class not only investigated many of the farther fetched meanings of the phrases "snow sex" and "sex snow", but also got the chance to discuss other short phrases that could be loaded with interpretive meaning.
What was important, though, was that everyone in the class, at one point in the discussion, had managed to come up with a different way to interpret that simple two-word phrase. This was by design, and Mr. Palzer poured fire on this discussion, changing its direction in the process with one question:
"Now what did I PERSONALLY mean by it?"
(I swear, after he asked this question, he suppressed a nearly uncontrollable snicker.)
Mr. Palzer had finally done, with his own simple nonsense phrase, what discussion of books, poems, and short stories had failed to do: He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt in the minds of his students that authors have NO say in what their writing really means.
It bears repeating: Authors have NO say in what their writing really means. Meaning is in the eye of the interpreter. There is no correct interpretation of any text.
The implications of this with regard to religion are far-reaching indeed. How many religions, and how many factions of religions, are based on the idea that one group has the correct interpretation of an ancient text? Are there any religions that have been perpetuated through any length of time that don't fall prey to this problem of interpretation?
Your existence doesn't disprove a thing, since you have failed in reconciling any true scientific endeavors with any faith. Those who attempt to do so always find ways of distorting or destroying one or the other.
As to your quotes from Nobel Laureates, they prove only that far too many of us are succeptible to the god of the gaps. Furthermore, I would challenge you to look into the lives of some of these men, and you'll find that my earlier assertion in this post stands firm. When confronted with scientific evidence, those with faith either must change their faith (as many have done), or they must reject the evidence. This is why so many past scientists and thinkers have travelled the road from Christianity to simple Creator-Deism, and why so many so-called "Creation Scientists" are so incredibly and provably full of shit.
The questions that should be asked are these: Why have so many great thinkers travelled the road from Christianity or other faiths to simple Deism? Why did they stop there?
I have simple answers:
B. Fear of the unknown.
Natural explanations have been sufficient to explain most of the strange phenomena we used to consider either mystical or magical. Natural explanations that we are currently aware of may not explain EVERYTHING about the universe as it stands, but that is no excuse for claiming that supernatural explanations are required. There isn't even sufficient reason to assume that anything supernatural exists. (Before you scoff at that statement, I suggest you ponder and research the meaning of the word supernatural.)
Now let's get something straight: Myers uses these simple points and more to answer the claim of believers that something supernatural exists, and that it is required. Your offerings here have done nothing more than parrot the claims of the believers that Myers already answered. Ad infinitum, indeed...and you complain that the conversation never gets off the ground.
The ball is in your court, rug, and in the court of your believer fellows. You've made the claim for generations that supernatural explanations are required, but none of you have the wit or the werewithal to back it up with REAL proof. All you've done is play a shell game, trying to hide your false assertion under fallacy, circular reasoning, and when all else fails, ad hom.
I would say that I await your answer to these charges, and your proof that supernatural causes are required to explain human existence, but I know better than to expect you'll do anything but one-line your way out of this.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.