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Cathy Young checks her blueprint of the wall between church and state.

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  • ||

    "The state should not endorse religious belief; it also shouldn't discriminate against religion. That seems a simple enough principle."

    Seems simple enough, but ain't gonna happen.
    State and religion have been co-evolving memes since the stone age.

  • ||

    Why do kids have to recite anything at all?


    Sorry to hijack the thread, but this bit could undermine the legitimacy of the Iraqi constitution referendum next week.

    Under the new rules, the constitution will fail only if two-thirds of all registered voters - rather than two-thirds of all those actually casting ballots - reject it in at least three of the 18 provinces.

    The change, adopted during an unannounced vote in Parliament on Sunday afternoon, effectively raises the bar for those who oppose the constitution. Given that fewer than 60 percent of registered Iraqis voted in the January elections, the chances that two-thirds will both show up at the polls and vote against the document in three provinces would appear to be close to nil.

    "This is a mockery of democracy, a mockery of law," said Adnan al-Janabi, a secular Sunni representative and a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's party. "Many Sunnis have been telling me they didn't believe in this democratic process, and now I believe they are vindicated."



    rest of the article here.

  • ||

    Good point a. Damn those multiplication tables, innumeracy for all!

  • ||

    In fact, if a religious organization applies for reimbursements and there is evidence that it barred volunteers of other faiths and/or engaged in aggressive proselytizing . . . I agree that they shouldn't get money . . . But unless there is such evidence, why not treat religious groups the same as secular ones?

    I agree -- treat them the same. Thus I join Cathy in asking that the religious groups not be exempt from Federal discrimination laws in hiring and firing.

  • ||

    Honest question, since I really don't know: are any non-religious groups exempt from discrimination laws?

    For example, could Planned Parenthood be sued for refusing to hire a right-to-lifer?

  • ||

    could Planned Parenthood be sued for refusing to hire a right-to-lifer?

    I don't know, but it seems to me that they'd be refusing to hire such a person not for his beliefs, but because he couldn't or wouldn't do the job--counseling women about abortions and contraceptive options.

  • ||

    Jennifer,
    I agree. But let's not give credence to discrimination laws. Shouldn't an organization be allowed to hire or fire whomever they want, for any reason (including their beliefs)?

  • ||

    Not if they're ponying up at the trough for a portion of my paycheck they shouldn't, Smalls.

  • ||

    I agree. But let's not give credence to discrimination laws. Shouldn't an organization be allowed to hire or fire whomever they want, for any reason (including their beliefs)?.

    Right now they can't, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon. The question is whether there should be exceptions or not.



    As to Cathy's article, I'm an atheist(we need a new term for those us for whom atheism isn't a religion), and it reimbursing religious groups for expenses incurred while helping with a disaster seems fair and logical. In fact, given that most of these are probably local groups, reimbursal is a better option than a centralized external group.

  • ||

    Shouldn't an organization be allowed to hire or fire whomever they want, for any reason (including their beliefs)?

    Actually, Smalls, in most cases I would say "no." (And let me save any respondents some time by saying that yes, I'm a wicked left-wing statist freedom-hating blah blah blah so why don't I go move to China.)

    If an organization is based upon a belief--like a religious or political organization--then yes, of course. I'm a good public speaker and well-versed in the Bible, but I'm also an atheist so no church should be forced to hire me as a minister. But I don't think employees should be fired for beliefs that have nothing to do with their jobs. So the RNC should be able to fire a worker who is Democrat, but a factory owner should not.

    That having been said, the religious organizations who provided aid after the storm should be reimbursed what they spent for food, clothing, medicine or shelter, but NOT anything they may have spent on Bibles or tracts. (Although if it turns out that any such organizations DENIED aid to people who were the wrong religion, that would be a different matter.)

  • ||

    Can I be reimbursed for the money that I gave to the Red Cross and Catholic Charities?

    I don't get it. Churches are, by their nature and mission, supposed to do charitable work with the donations from their parishioners. That's why I put money in the collection basket. So why should they be "reimbursed" by ANY outside entity (public or otherwise) for charitable works? I mean, a "reimbursement" usually means that you picked up an expense that you weren't really responsible for, and now the responsible party is compensating you. But charity IS the purpose of a church. Or one of the purposes.

    Or at least that's what Jesus said. Yeah, I know, most people here aren't Christian, etc. etc. My only point is that I don't quite get this whole notion of "reimbursing" a church for charitable expenses, when churches believe that charity is their mission.

  • ||

    Can I be reimbursed for the money that I gave to the Red Cross and Catholic Charities?

    You can write it off on your taxes.

    Good point about how churches should not be reimbursed for charity, but there's a pragmatic issue here--hurricane season is far from over. Suppose the churches spent all they had, and have nothing left to help the victims of the next one?

    Plus, you could make the argument that the churches had to spend more on charity than they ordinarily would, considering how spectacularly FEMA managed to drop the ball here.

  • ||

    Actually, I can't. I didn't get a receipt. I just put some money in the basket at church. The Red Cross money I did through Amazon. Maybe I can print a receipt or something there.

    But my taxes are already complicated enough for all sorts of reasons (an interstate move exactly half-way through the year being one of them). That's way more hassle than I need.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    it's only a guess of course, but I think the reason for the compensation/reimbursement might be that there was an extraordinary amount of charity necessary, not just your run of the mill sort -- you know, like shelter & food for the local homeless, help for the victims of accident & bancrupcy etc.

  • ||

    The churches stepped in and acted as government contractors. If you don't pay your contractors, they don't work for you anymore.

  • ||

    Thoreau,

    This may be a false dilemma, but given the choice between how FEMA(along with state and local governments) operates now, paralyzed by rules, procedures, and the egos of officials; and a FEMA who simply reimburses private actors for "altuistic" deeds, I'll take the latter.

  • ||

    there's a pragmatic issue here--hurricane season is far from over.

    I don't usually comment on my own comments, but I just wanted to give a warm round of applause to Tropical Storm Stan, who just upgraded to Hurricane! He'll probably hit Mexico, and leave us alone, but there's still two months left before hurricane season is over. (And even then, there's no ironclad guarantee that hurricanes will go away once the season officially ends.)

    So we'll probably be hit again this year. And FEMA will likely fuck up the aid process again, so by all means make sure the private, competent organizations have what they need to pick up the slack.

  • ||

    Jennifer, joe, and David-

    I see your points. But as a big fan of religious charity, I am suspicious of any attempt to intertwine it with the state. The secularists may fear the Christians, but this Christian fears what the bureaucrats might do to the religious charities in the long run.

  • ||

    Sorry, forgot to acknowledge polt.

  • ||

    Thoreau--

    Well, there is a difference between government offering after-the-fact reimbursement, versus paying religious charities beforehand to step in when needed. That, I would oppose as vociferously as you do, though not for the same reasons.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Maybe you'll get a receipt in the mail. Mine went thru Yahoo and I got a letter in the mail.

  • ||

    The secularists may fear the Christians, but this Christian fears what the bureaucrats might do to the religious charities in the long run.

    I'm sure they already have their share of bureaucrats and scam artists. I wasn't talking about just religious charities being reimbursed. I think any citizen or group might be more motivated to help if they wouldn't be financially destroyed by doing so.

    I also think that it's a more natural solution to help and be helped by your neighbors(while getting some money back from the gov't), than to wait for help from the great and powerful Oz. You'll almost certainly be disappointed in the form that the help takes.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    I dig. But in an emergency situation, there needs to be some lattitude. This sort of thing should be discouraged as standard procedure, but when there's a whole city underwater and you need help right now! there has to be a little more leeway.

  • ||

    Isn't the whole point of anti-discrimination laws to keep the government from getting involved in social and ideological disputes? The government doesn't discriminate because it doesn't endorse any specific philosophy other than what's in the US Constitution. I hate how politicians, activists, and others in each quadrant of the political compass get mad when the government enforces its own legal, and completely necessary, apathy.

    That said, yes, I think the religious organiztions should be reimbursed for the extraneous charity efforts they had to make for those effected by the hurricanes. I also think there should be strict limits to who qualifies for this reimbursemnt. I agree with Jennifer, if an orginization purposely discriminated against a hurricane victim because of race, religion, etc. they should not receive government money.

    Ideally, private citizens and private institutions would be able to care for their own without federal help, except on the periphery, for the really big things like power grids, highways, shipping lanes, etc. Then, it wouldn't matter if there was any discrimination, as long as there wasn't any criminal negligence like abandoning a stranded family because they wouldn't accept Jesus as their personal savior.

  • ||

    In the midst of chaos, how could anyone prove discrimination or proselytizing occurred in the first place? It would be far easier for the government simply to cut the checks rather than send groups of agents to investigate, gather witness testimony, make decisions after the fact, etc.

    I agree with thoreau, by the way. Religions teach that service and charity are their own reward. Nowhere can I remember reading or hearing that eventually you will get compensated for your troubles by the earthly powers that be. Isn't that what God's supposed to do when you (allegedly) get to heaven?

  • ||

    "Emergency situation" is redundant.

  • ||

    Yes, I see after re-reading my own post how complicated that makes things. Unless there was a fairly notorius and well publicized case of discrimination, how would the feds ever find out about it? Investigations just add more cost to the situation. I guess that's how it has to be when government gets involved in everything. Its things like this that often reaffirm why I've become more of a libertarian over the years.

    As far as the reason for religious charity, I don't see how modern churches and religious institutions can survive without being run somewhat like a business. Then again, don't religious organizations get tax breaks? Donatations?

  • ||

    Unless there was a fairly notorius and well publicized case of discrimination, how would the feds ever find out about it?

    How about, "Assume everything was legit unless we get complaints from people saying otherwise?"

  • s.m. koppelman||

    Even in the little things, Ms. Young brings a strawman to beat up on. When did the tussle over the ongoing use of the Cold War addendum to the Pledge of Allegiance become a choice between including the words "under God" and the words "without God"? Last I checked, it was just an effort to take the former two words out. And when did not invoking God become the same thing as attacking God?

    Does she know the difference between secular government and state atheism? The world isn't reducible to things that are diametrically anti-Soviet (and therefore good) or not diametrically anti-Soviet and (and therefore Soviet and bad).

  • ||

    And yes, the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance fall into that category. How would believers feel if they were a minority and had to pledge allegiance to "one nation without God"?

    The liberties we enjoy depend on the liberties of others, and that goes for fundamentalist Christians as well as everyone else.

    I suspect that atheists--in general--tolerate "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, etc. to the extent that they don't feel their liberties are threatened by religious folk in other ways. If religious people fight to infringe on the religious freedom of non-religious people, they shouldn't be surprised if non-religious people fight to squash the religious liberties of religious folk.

    ...There's a flip side, of course, and I believe Intelligent Design to be an expression of it. People who believe in a creator God shouldn't be forced to pay to teach other people's children--or their own--the theory of evolution, which conflicts with many people's religious convictions. If we ignore that injustice, we shouldn't be surprised by the backlash. ...and we shouldn't pretend that what's happening isn't a backlash--at least in part.

  • ||

    And when did not invoking God become the same thing as attacking God?

    Actually, according to your evangelical types, they are the same thing. Otherwise, why fight for the inclusion of "under God"?

  • ||

    S.M.,

    You may wish to re-read Ms. Young's last paragraph. She is not positing the strawman choice you indicate, she is using the example of "without God" as an illustration to theists why "under God" is offensive (to atheists). That's my interpretation, anyway.

  • ||

    s.m.koppleman,

    Maybe you should reread that last sentence?

  • ||

    I think we godless shoot ourselves in the foot by getting worked up over crap like the use of God in the pledge and on currency. Let's save the ammo for the big fights like ID and gay marriage. Us godless would do a lot better just to let some shit slide. I'm not into the Jesus thing and I don't want some prick cramming their beliefs down my throat, but I don't want to be the Grinch that stole Christmas. Besides, Christmas trees are pretty.

    That being said, I have a larger beef with the pledge than "Under God." I don't think American's of any age should have to pledge allegiance to anything. Isn't that what the whole revolution thing was about?

  • ||

    I think we godless shoot ourselves in the foot by getting worked up over crap like the use of God in the pledge and on currency. Let's save the ammo for the big fights like ID and gay marriage.

    Like I said, I don't think those issues are quite so disconnected.

    ...but I agree. I don't think a "broken windows" approach is the answer here. ...I think it's part of the problem.

  • ||

    The argument over FEMA reimbursement in this thread and Ms Young's piece seems to presuppose that the entire responsibility for post-disaster response resides in the Federal Government, so it should foot the bill for everything.

    How the hell did we get to the point where people accept that premise unchallenged even in a Reason forum?

    The Feds should be LAST on the chain behind Locals - City - State - and anybody else that wants to jump in. Anyone, saintly or secular, who helps others in a pinch should be applauded, but let's not fall into the trap of assuming that they're doing the Fed's job for them, because it's not Uncle Sam's (that is, US taxpayers)responsibility exclusively or primarily.

  • Hakluyt||

    David,

    By definition atheism can't be a religion.

    thoreau,

    Start writing checks.

    Tom Crick,

    I'd be inclined to take your comments on I.D. seriously if the I.D. movement was based largely on the idea of private education; but it isn't. The I.D. movement is perfectly happy to have public schools so long as they teach their anti-science crap.

    FatAssChick,

    How the hell did we get to the point where people accept that premise unchallenged even in a Reason forum?

    Yes, that was my thought.

  • ||

    Tom,

    Right there with you. I'm sick of this back at you crap. You say we can't have a Christmas tree at the kindergarten because it's publicly funded so we say you can't have Darwin in science class because it's publicly funded. My daughter can't do a book report on the Children's Bible then your son can't do his on Tommy Has Two Daddies. It's nanny nanny boo boo shit.

    You can only call people ignorant, bigoted, superstitious mouth breathers for so long before they say fuck you and do something about it. Now they may very well be ignorant, bigoted, superstitious mouth breathers - but that's all the more reason not to get them riled up. The next thing you know there at your science class door with pitchforks and torches.

  • Hakluyt||

    Jennifer,

    But I don't think employees should be fired for beliefs that have nothing to do with their jobs.

    I've got no problem with firing someone for their beliefs whether they are job related or not. Freedom of association is an important aspect of our liberty.

  • ||

    The argument over FEMA reimbursement in this thread and Ms Young's piece seems to presuppose that the entire responsibility for post-disaster response resides in the Federal Government, so it should foot the bill for everything.

    Or you could interpret it as: whether or not the government SHOULD do this, it's taking taxes out of our checks TO do this, so we should expect competency.

    I know a lot of hard-core libs who think all roads should be private, but since the government does the roads they have no problem criticizing the government for not fixing potholes.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    To paraphrase Chris Rock; I'm not saying I agree, but I understand.

    You're right to note that private school isn't on the I.D. agenda. What they are saying is that if their tax dollars support the teaching of things they don't agree with, then they should also support the teaching things that you or I don't agree with.

    Maybe if the godless had picked their fights better over the years the godly would have been content to keep denouncing Darwin in Sunday school. Now they see it as a point of pride in their struggle against the "secular agenda."

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    Maybe if the godless had picked their fights better over the years the godly would have been content to keep denouncing Darwin in Sunday school.

    I don't believe it would matter how we picked our fights (as if atheists are organized enough for that to happen to start with) - many theists simply don't like secular society.

  • ||

    As a kinda-religious person, I find thoreau's concerns persuasive. I don't like the idea that the government is ultimately responsible for helping people, and therefore should reimburse churches for doing "its" job. Better for the churches to spend extra because helping people is one of the things churches are supposed to do. Then the churches can ask ask for extra contributions from their members to make up the cost -- better that than have the gov rachet up taxes from everybody to make up its spending.

    I'm kinda annoyed by the idea that the government gives a financial break to people for charitable contributions anyway. Yes, I see a practical side to it -- it encourages people to give, especially the really big givers. But it also taints the act of giving, IMO, if it's partly motivated by a tax write-off. If I give something to a charity, the tax-reduction factor seems to cheapen the act, and that pisses me off somehow.

    I don't usually deduct my contributions because it isn't worth it to me.

    Although I have to endure my dad rolling his eyes at me when he learns that I don't keep track of every dollar I toss in a cup, as if I'm some kind of sucker for not trying to go for the write-off.

    I guess my real point is, I don't like having to turn every spontaneous act of giving into a bookkeeping exercise. That's also one burden that gov't reimbursement would impose on churches, come to think of it.

  • ||

    David,

    By definition atheism can't be a religion.


    I disagree, Hakluyt. Some high profile atheists embrace all the same stupid trappings, proselytizing, and intolerance that the religious do. From despising agnostics for lacking the "courage of convictions" to freaking out at the slightest nod to religion. Lack of belief in a deity is the only difference.

    Why else are there atheist conferences? What do these people share except what they don't believe in?

    My atheism, on the other hand, is simple non-belief. A feeling that everything I was told as a child was something that was just made up to keep people in line.

  • ||

    I guess my real point is, I don't like having to turn every spontaneous act of giving into a bookkeeping exercise. That's also one burden that gov't reimbursement would impose on churches, come to think of it.

    Stevo,

    These days, everything is a either a bookkeeping, or compliance exercise.

  • ||

    I'm an agnostic, and there's nothing we can't do if we don't know whether we believe in anything or not.

  • Hakluyt||

    David,

    And these high profile atheists are?

    Why else are there atheist conferences?

    Heh. I've never been to one. Then again the fact that you think its wrong for people to assemble and express themselves is rather troubling.

    My atheism, on the other hand, is simple non-belief.

    And why, pray reveal, does this have to be the same for everyone?

  • Hakluyt||

    David,

    BTW, by definition religion entails a belief in a supernatural power that controls the fate of the world or at least some portion of the world. That is an anathema to every atheist I've ever met. Don't confuse religion with mere ideology or belief. Atheism isn't a religion and can't be one given our current understanding of what the term religion means.

  • Hakluyt||

    David,

    For these same reasons I don't consider numerous other ideologies, beliefs, etc. a religion even though they have high profile speakers, conferences, etc. A religion is a fairly specific thing.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    What they are saying is that if their tax dollars support the teaching of things they don't agree with, then they should also support the teaching things that you or I don't agree with.

    Well, the problem for the theists is that their ideas simply don't add up. As terrible an idea as public schools it doesn't seem to make matters better to teach psuedo-science as the unvarnished truth.

  • ||

    "I don't believe it would matter how we picked our fights (as if atheists are organized enough for that to happen to start with) - many theists simply don't like secular society."

    Hakluyt,

    You're probably right. But I think they would have been more content to mumble disapproval under their breaths instead of attempting to enact legislation. By picking on public Christmas displays and FCA meetings at public schools all we did is give them a feeling of persecution. And no one loves persecution more than a Christian. I'm not saying let it all slide. We should just save the showdowns for blatant acts of discrimination and proselytizing.

    And lay off David on his semantic slip. I have seen my share of atheist on various talk shows that deny God with a religious zeal. Just like religious nut cakes there seemed to be little room for compromise in their worldview. Granted, they do not represent the majority of atheists just as the religious zealots don't represent the majority of church going folk.

  • ||

    David-

    I know what you mean. Most atheists, just like most Christians that I know, are easy enough to get along with. But there are a few atheists out there who feel the need to be incredibly obnoxious about their lack of religion. Some of them feel the need to prosyletize.

    They're sort of a distorted mirror image of the worst that theism has to offer.

    Fortunately, most atheists are perfectly nice mirror images of most theists: Good people who don't try to beat you over the head with their views on religion (or lack thereof).

    Too bad that the loudest members of each camp give everybody else a bad name.

  • ||

    And these high profile atheists are?

    Can't give you any outside of Dr. Newdow as you only get statements from these people during court cases, but they almost uniformly come off badly when they're on tv. Whether that's MSM bias or not, I couldn't say. I wish I could remember the lady who used to be on PBS. She scared me.

    Then again the fact that you think its wrong for people to assemble and express themselves is rather troubling.

    That's a nice twist on my feeling that it's OK to ridicule people's reasons for free assembly.

    My atheism, on the other hand, is simple non-belief.

    And why, pray reveal, does this have to be the same for everyone?

    I don't recall saying that it did, but I reserve the right to think people who don't do things the way I would are wrong. Besides, isn't "believe what you will, leave everyone else alone" properly libertarian?

    Incidentally, since we've resorted to dictionary definitions. One of the secondary definitions of religion is " A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion."


    Still, being a fair guy I'm willing to amend my original statement if it offended you. How about this, Hak? Dogmatists of any stripe are fucking assholes who make life miserable for everyone else. I would think that covers it.

  • ||

    "Well, the problem for the theists is that their ideas simply don't add up. As terrible an idea as public schools it doesn't seem to make matters better to teach psuedo-science as the unvarnished truth."

    Hakluyt,

    No argument from me there. I just think that if I.D. weren�t a plank in their battle against the secular agenda then it wouldn't have the support that it does now. If we had let them keep their religious displays and FCA meetings then maybe they wouldn't be so hell bent in slipping religion in under the guise of science.

  • ||

    And these high profile atheists are?

    Although she's now 10 years dead (murdered) the shadow of Madlyn Murray O'Hair still looms large in some people's memories.

  • ||

    Thoreau:
    "Some of them feel the need to prosyletize"

    I don't mean to pick on you, as I doubt our views about atheism are diametrically opposed, but I've seen that statement once too often on this forum. While it would be unscientific of me to claim there are -no- prosyletizing atheists, it's silly to state that "Some atheists feel the need to prosyletize", as if it is in any way comparably to the xian religions. It's probable there are more pedophile priests than prosyletizing atheists.

    The bible specifically requests its believers to prosyletize, for christs sake. I missed that part in the atheists code of conduct. (I lost my copy, by the way, anyone know where I can get a fresh one?)

    I didn't pay much attention when I was a lad, but in the 30 years since I've been opening my own front door the score is about 45 to 0, xian to atheist prosyletizers. Well, I did get a couple moonies in the early 90's, not sure if they count as xian.

  • ||

    sm, I love your comments, and you are right that "Even in the little things, Ms. Young brings a strawman to beat up on," but I think you misread the paragraph you're referring to.

  • ||

    "And these high profile atheists are?"

    Jeez, there's a big list. Einstein, for one. Carl Sagan for another. But I missed the part where they made it their life's mission to convince people to give up their religion.
    Hell, even Ms. O'Hair just wanted the government out of the religion promotion business, like it was supposed to be.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    But I think they would have been more content to mumble disapproval under their breaths instead of attempting to enact legislation.

    Yes, that explains the long history of the religious-minded enacting their beliefs into law; its all the fault of atheists. :)

    And lay off David on his semantic slip.

    Semantics is part of the study of languages; why it gets such a bad rap and is used as a pejorative is beyond.

    David,

    Can't give you any outside of Dr. Newdow...

    In other words, you are talking out of your ass. I can't tell you last time I saw an atheist version of the "Hour of Power" on T.V. I mean my goodness, American society is permeated with religious authors, books, speechmakers, etc., but for some reason a few atheists making their ideas unknown brings about an apopletic fit by the religious.

    Stevo Darkly,

    Although she's now 10 years dead (murdered) the shadow of Madlyn Murray O'Hair still looms large in some people's memories.

    I see, so our great collective sin as atheists can be attributed to a woman now ten years dead. :)

    TJ,

    Maybe you ought to read what I was responding to.

    Some high profile atheists embrace all the same stupid trappings, proselytizing, and intolerance that the religious do.

    Einstein wasn't an atheit, BTW. He believed in a watchmaker God.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    If we had let them keep their religious displays...

    They still have their religious displays. The idea that religious displays have been eradicated from the public square is hogwash (numerous Supreme Court and Circuit Court opinions have upheld their presence).

  • Hakluyt||

    This is what ticks off theists: they no longer have a monopoly on things. Its not true persecution that they angers them, its that they don't command the following that they once did.

  • Hakluyt||

    David,

    Oh, and telling me that you recently discovered that the term religion has this tertiary meaning merely reinforces the fact that you weren't using it in that manner.

  • Hakluyt||

    Anyway, the idea that atheists are to blame for the anti-liberty tendencies of theists strikes as trying to deflect the true source of the blame. It reminds me of so many statements made by those who would rather blame a marginalized group than the vast majority who are committing the wrong.

    "If those damn gays, blacks, atheists, jews, etc. would just shut up and act like normal folks they wouldn't have so many problems."

  • ||

    TJ-

    I'm not comparing movements, I'm comparing people. Clearly prosyletizing atheists are fairly rare, definitely rarer than Jehova's witnesses. And I know that the prosyletizing Christian is supposedly acting on orders, while the prosyletizing atheist is just acting on his own asshole nature.

    Still, I really think that prosyletizing behavior has more to do with individual personalities than the ideology, no matter what might be written in the holy books. Allow me to offer some observations:

    First, a lot of Christians seem to de-emphasize the prosyletizing aspect of our faith, and only a handful of assholes make a point of doing it really aggressively.

    Second, consider a faith for which the missionary aspect is more explicitly obligatory: Mormons. They seem to run the gamut. I've met a lot of Mormons who spent a few years going door to door politely, never putting the hard sell on those who aren't interested, mostly biding their time until the obligation is fulfilled. And to be honest, I don't think I've ever encountered an aggressive Mormon missionary. (Yes, I'm sure there are a few, but they seem to be rare.)

    The most aggressive Christians that I've met have been from other denominations (or self-described non-denominational). And many of them explicitly chose their particularly aggressive brand of Christianity, whereas Mormons are usually born into it.

    So my own experience suggests that prosyletizing behavior is more of an individual trait rather than a response to the dictates of faith.

    Now consider atheists: None of them are under any obligation to convert. (Unless maybe there's some particularly cultish sect of Randroids out there with missionary obligations that I'm not aware of.) Yet a few of them get aggressive with promoting their non-belief, and get in your face about it. So for them that type of behavior clearly a matter of individual choice.

    So I think the analogy between evangelical atheists and the more obnoxious Christian missionaries is an apt one, since both behaviors seem to be determined by individual traits rather than an external dictate.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    Prostelytizing is common amongst Christians; it isn't among atheists. As a rule we atheists don't talk about our atheism because we're aware of the social consequences associated with such an admission.

  • ||

    Finally, I should emphasize that I'm just observing analogous behavior in two groups. Atheism is clearly not a religion by most (all?) definitions that I'm aware of. But the most obnoxious atheists have a lot in common with the most obnoxious theists (although the obnoxious theists are obviously much more common). And it's not just the mere fact of being obnoxious that's similar. The approach can be remarkably similar.

    And the most obnoxious atheists seem to really believe that:

    1) The world would be a better place if everybody shared their point of view.
    2) In particular, the world would be a better place if everybody approached atheism in the same way. (That's a really misguided belief, IMHO. Uniformity rarely leads to creativity, or even fun.)
    3) The people that they're trying to convert will feel so much happier if they just accept this new point of view.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    When I go to AutoZone I see car plates which have some Christian message of one variety or another. An atheist has to deal with and accept these sorts of messages every day; for a theist, well, they are rarely if ever confronted with atheist or atheist oriented products.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    The approach can be remarkably similar.

    In what way? I've as yet to see any atheist preachers on street corners. here, instead of writing in untested generalities, give me examples of specific individuals (say three?) you've met in your life which exhibit these traits.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    I'll note that when I was at Auburn, well, we had a "free speech" area (somewhat like what one can find in London) and it was constantly populated by various preachers of religion. Not one single atheist ever showed up to give his/her opinion.

  • ||

    "Semantics is part of the study of languages; why it gets such a bad rap and is used as a pejorative is beyond."

    It has gotten a bad rap and become a pejorative because people who are sticklers about it are as annoying as grammar Nazis.

    "Anyway, the idea that atheists are to blame for the anti-liberty tendencies of theists strikes as trying to deflect the true source of the blame."

    I never said us atheist are to blame for the aniti liberty tendencies of theists. My point was that in a protracted battle of ideas with a majority of the population perhaps the best tactic is to be selective in your choice of targets.

    As far as the religious displays, I was speaking mostly of within public schools, but you're right. The reality is far removed from their perception. But to them perception is reality. Every time an atheist scold raises a stink about some small towns courthouse nativity scene you just know it's going to be a lead item on O'Riley. More evidence of "The Secular Agenda." More proof we need to fight back to save God in America.

  • ||

    To expand on my points, some examples:

    1) In grad school I knew a Randroid who tried to persuade me that all religion is dumb. Come to think of it, I've met a few libertarian-ish types online who have tried to do the same.

    2) My father frequently berated and ridiculed my mother for being a Catholic.

    3) The Commies were officially atheist and big on spreading their message by force. Yeah, I know, atheism was a small piece of the total package. But religion is usually a small piece of the package in a theocracy. The religious leaders are busy enriching themselves off their subjects, kind of like commie officials.

    None of these examples are representative of atheists in general, but the crazy preacher on the corner isn't representative of Christianity in general either. The first two examples are more like the atheist analogue of crazy street preachers. The last example is the atheist analogue of theocracy.

  • ||

    My point is this:

    There's a fine line between freedom of expression and freedom from establishment. Whenever freedom of expression intrudes on freedom from establishment, there's a reaction by those whose interests lie with freedom from establishment.

    ...The opposite is also true. When freedom from establishment pushes against freedom of expression, those whose interests lie with freedom of expression, likewise, react--typically at the expense of freedom from establishment.

    Would you argue with the suggestion that intelligent design is--at least in part--a reaction to the teaching of evolution, etc.? ...Strike "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, and I bet you'll find a reinvigorated push for prayer in public schools.

    ...and if someone suggested that intelligent design is irrational and evolution is rational, I would reply that treating the general public--with its, by definition, average IQ--as if it was rational on such matters is entirely irrational.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    ...I knew a Randroid who tried to persuade me that all religion is dumb. Come to think of it, I've met a few libertarian-ish types online who have tried to do the same.

    Well, leaving aside the stupidity which is Randroidism, what exactly is wrong with holding the idea that religion is dumb?

    2) My father frequently berated and ridiculed my mother for being a Catholic.

    Ahh, now I see the root of your problem with atheism. Dude, you really need to get over your childhood.

    3) The Commies were officially atheist and big on spreading their message by force. Yeah, I know, atheism was a small piece of the total package.

    The problem with them was that they Communists; they could have been theists and their Communism would have led to the same result. "Godless Commie" is an insult I have had to deal with from time time though; I didn't realize you bought into that trope.

    But religion is usually a small piece of the package in a theocracy.

    Historically speaking that is wrong. The examples we have of theocracies show a sincerity and fervancy in belief. See Masschusetts colony in the 17th century for an example.

  • ||

    "When I go to AutoZone I see car plates which have some Christian message of one variety or another. An atheist has to deal with and accept these sorts of messages every day; for a theist, well, they are rarely if ever confronted with atheist or atheist oriented products."

    Darwin fish with legs bumper stickers are one example I can think of. I've also seen other bumper stickers with atheist themes. Can't quote them though

    "Instead of writing in untested generalities, give me examples of specific individuals (say three?) you've met in your life which exhibit these traits."

    Any of the atheist morons O'Riley baits into stupid statements on his show. Sorry I can't tell you their names. I'm usually on the treadmill at the gym when he's on.

  • ||

    I'm confident that the people that I'm willing to argue with were capable of reading the last paragraph of my post at 5:52 pm.

  • ||

    Oh. I just thought of one more. Hakluyt.

  • Hakluyt||

    Tom Crick,

    I am protected from the general public purely because its well known that the general public can be quite irrational.

    I'd say I.D. is part of a phalanx of reactions to secular society and modernity seen across the world.

    thoreau,

    BTW, I think you are also wrong re: Communism as well; Communist leaders, etc. did tend to actually believe in the superiority of Communism, etc. It would have been difficult for the system to actually last as long as it did if that weren't the case.

  • ||

    Darwin fish with legs bumper stickers are one example I can think of.

    I think that's supposed to be a Coelacanth.

    ...I saw a bumper sticker today, which read, "You don't have to believe what you think."

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    A Darwin fish isn't a specifically atheist sign. And I've as yet to see them on sale at AutoZone. I bought mine off-line.

    ralphus,

    Any of the atheist morons O'Riley baits into stupid statements on his show.

    Those aren't specific individuals. If these atheist prostelytizers were so common you'd think you could give me a name.

    thoreau,

    I'm comfident you don't know what you are talking about.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    Note that atheists really don't have a specific, recognizeable symbol. Part of the problem is that atheists are fairly individualistic folks. Another issue is that "A" was taken by the anarchists.

    I have seen a circle made with words like atheist, freethinker, etc. before, but that tends to raise the ire of some atheists because it looks like the symbol of a snake eating itself which is so common in Hinduism, etc.

  • ||

    No one was saying they are common. We are saying are simply saying that atheist that approach their lack of faith with a religious zeal exist. Sheesh! Talk about a strawman.

    A snake eating it's tail would be a good symbol for an argument with you.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    We do have our own parade honoring 'atheists in foxholes' though: http://www.atheistfoxholes.org/

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    Sorry, I might have grabbed a better tag line, but "And these high profile atheists are?" was in multiple use, and I thought you would see my comments were not against yours.

    However, "Einstein ... believed in a watchmaker God" I ain't buying. He used god as a metaphor, as do many atheists. This quote should do it:
    "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my
    religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have
    expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    I believe these atheists you keep talking about are simply folks who make it known that they are atheists.

    thoreau,

    But religion is usually a small piece of the package in a theocracy.

    This seems like your way to deflect from the evils committed by religionists. When the Catholic Church was slaughtering Cathars, Muslims were committing atrocities against Jews and Christians, anabaptists were being burned alived, atheists were being drawn and quartered in France, etc. it was mostly not about religion you are telling me. Sorry if I don't buy into your propaganda.

  • Hakluyt||

    TJ,

    A personal God differs from a watchmaker God.

  • Hakluyt||

    My religiosity consists of a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we can comprehend about the knowable world. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.

    Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein, the Human Side p. 66

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    From what I can tell your main purpose is to blame atheists for the totalitarian stances of theists.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    Which points out a problem; if it really is all our fault, if the intended victims of the theistic onslaught are really just bringing it on themselves, what was the point of being free to exercise one's beliefs in the first place?

  • ||

    thoreau:

    "Still, I really think that prosyletizing behavior has more to do with individual personalities than the ideology, no matter what might be written in the holy books."

    Yeah, right. You contradict yourself seconds later by mentioning the mormons. Not aggressive? Well, sure, they just have pamphlets in hand, not weapons. I wonder, have you -ever- had a cold call from an atheist?

    Your blather about "evangelical atheists" continues to imply that this is in some way comparable to religious prosyletizing. In kind, perhaps, but that's a pedantic point. In volume, which is the -real- issue, many orders of magnitude different. Incomparable, really.

  • Hakluyt||

    TJ,

    Remember everything that theists do is really the fault of atheists.

  • ||

    "A personal God differs from a watchmaker God."

    Yup, understand that. I am suprised to read your Einstein quote. I wonder if it is really representative of his worldview. I wonder how difficult it will be to find out.

    Off to do a little research...

  • ||

    "Remember everything that theists do is really the fault of atheists."

    I almost see it as something of a zero sum game. ...and I didn't argue this point to assign fault and blame. ...It's a question of strategy.

    ...Like I said, the "broken windows" strategy is, I think, bad strategy here. Let them keep their "under God", concentrate on keeping prayer and intelligent design out of public schools. Push for vouchers as an alternative to evolution in the classroom maybe.

    Pointing out that attacking the "under God" in the Pledge is likely to provoke reactions from an opponent with stronger numbers in our democracy isn't the same as blaming atheists for everything theists do. ...no more than pointing out that our military presence in Saudi Arabia increased sympathy for Al Qaeda is the same thing as increasing sympathy for Al Qaeda.

  • ||

    "A personal God differs from a watchmaker God."

    Well, when asked by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein about his beliefs, Einstein responded:
    "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."

    Ok, but still a bit confusing, because Spinoza believed (among other things) that:
    "God is the natural world and has no personality."
    "The natural world made itself."

    If the natural world made itself, what did the watchmaker do? Put the ingredients together, and watch them self assemble?

    Vector Stenger wrote:
    "When modern scientists such as Einstein and Stephen Hawking mention 'God' in their writings, this is what they seem to mean: that God is Nature."

    I'm afraid it's going to be difficult to suss out just -exactly- what Einstein felt about god. Clearly he had a reverence for the mysteries of nature (so do I). For sure, he spoke in a period where publicly denying god entirely was not a wise thing to do. Still isn't, I suppose. It's doubtful that he believed in the same sort of "ID" that is proposed today. That wouldn't be a Spinoza-like view.

  • ||

    "From what I can tell your main purpose is to blame atheists for the totalitarian stances of theists."

    Hakluyt,

    Then you are a simplistic boob. Check my posts. Specifically 5:49.

    Yes theists can be dicks that wish to force their way of thought on others. But, so can atheists. No one even attempted to say that atheists have the same share of voice in this country as theists. Or the same share of power. Like Tom Crick I'm talking tactics. I merely suggested that perhaps instead of getting steamed rolled by popular opinion we might think of smarter ways to fight the good fight. Never once did I say we're the reason theocrats exist. I was just pointing out that if you upset enough sacred cows you could eventually cause a stampede.

    The simple contention of thoreau, Tom Crick and myself is that many of the people who take pains to ID themselves as atheist tend to be as annoying as theist zealots. A contention that you reaffirm with your every straw man laden post. Like I said arguing with you is like a snake eating its tail. You just go in circles.

  • ||

    I was away from a computer for a while after my last post. While running errands I concluded that my analogy between theocracy and Communism has some defects. However, my basic points remains that there are incredibly annoying atheist zealots out there who bear a striking resemblance to religious zealots. Less numerous, but no less annoying on a per capita basis.

    Thankfully, most people, theist or atheist, aren't like that.

  • ||

    "The simple contention of thoreau, Tom Crick and myself is that many of the people who take pains to ID themselves as atheist tend to be as annoying as theist zealots"

    And in other breaking news, people in group "A" who are assholes are as annoying as the assholes in group "B". Thanks for the hot tip.

    My contention is that people who continue to point this out are pedants. We have a large class of people who are trained to prosyletize, and a small class of people who aren't. This small class has an even smaller subset who prosyletize, due to some personality flaw.

    Conclusions? Religion encourages an inate, annoying personality flaw.

  • ||

    Yeah, right. You contradict yourself seconds later by mentioning the mormons. Not aggressive? Well, sure, they just have pamphlets in hand, not weapons. I wonder, have you -ever- had a cold call from an atheist?

    So, I'm thinking back to my experiences with Mormon missionaries. They have never tried the hard sell. I've known Mormons who admitted that missionary work is frustrating, and it seems more like a rite of passage for some of them than anything else. OTOH, religions that rely more on recruiting than breeding have been much pushier. LA Church of Christ comes to mind. The various campus Christian fellowships put on a much harder sell than the Mormon missionaries that I've encountered.

    Obviously these are anecdotes, but if somebody knows of a more comprehensive analysis of recruiting techniques I'd be interested in seeing it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if such an analysis showed that people born into a faith tend to be less aggressive about promoting it than people who converted.

    Anyway, my hypothesis is that the zeal of a missionary has more to do with individual personality traits than with religion itself.

    Your blather about "evangelical atheists" continues to imply that this is in some way comparable to religious prosyletizing. In kind, perhaps, but that's a pedantic point. In volume, which is the -real- issue, many orders of magnitude different. Incomparable, really.

    I've never suggested that evangelical atheists are more common than evangelical Christians. What I've said is that both groups have a small percentage who simply will not leave you alone about religion (or lack of religion). The Randroid that I knew spent a good amount of time trying to persuade me to give up religion, before giving up.

    And he seemed pretty convinced that the world would be much better off if everybody was an atheist. Me, I'm pretty sure that converting the entire world to my religious views (not just Catholicism, but my particular take on Catholicism) wouldn't solve too many problems. We'd still find lots of reasons to fight wars and treat each other like crap even if we were in unanimous agreement on matters of religion.

    So, to me, the common traits of evangelical theists and evangelical atheists are:
    1) A conviction that the world would be a better place if everybody agreed with them.
    2) An inability to shut the fuck up about religion or lack thereof.

  • ||

    I just noticed your latest post after making my latest post. I have to respond to this:

    And in other breaking news, people in group "A" who are assholes are as annoying as the assholes in group "B". Thanks for the hot tip.

    Assholes come in many flavors. As I said, the common themes between these two particular types of assholes are:
    1) A burning conviction that the world will be a better place if everybody just embraces their belief system (or unbelief system).
    2) The inability to shut the fuck up about religion (how great their religion is, or how awful reliion is).

  • ||

    "...my basic points remains that there are incredibly annoying atheist zealots out there..."

    More pedantry.

    More to the point, there are incredibly annoying fundamentalist suicide bombers out there killing people. Wonder how many are that annoying atheist zealot type?

  • ||

    "I've never suggested that evangelical atheists are more common than evangelical Christians.

    Nope, just implied that it's a comparable problem, which of course is silly. The only relevant point to be made is that there are far, far more prosyletizing xians than atheists on a per capita basis.

  • ||

    And he seemed pretty convinced that the world would be much better off if everybody was an atheist.

    I've always had a strategy issue with Objectivists. ...The ones I knew seemed to want the whole world to embrace not just atheism but reason as their guiding principle in life. Strategy wise, I'm not willing to wait that long for change.

    ...They used to canvas big on college campuses too. ...I understand they still do.

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=events_index

  • ||

    TJ-

    The main reason for making the comparison is not so I can play moral equivalance and pretend that theists don't cause problems. Rather, it's because many people (myself included) are fascinated by irony. And there are few things more ironic than the occasional atheist who imitates all the worst traits of Christians.

  • ||

    TJ,

    You've made the point in multiple posts that fewer atheists are annoying zealots than theists. So in other breaking news you're as pedantic as any of us.

    And what the fuck is your point? There are more fundamentalist suicide bombers than atheist ones? Who fucking argued otherwise?

    The Einstein posts however were quite enlightening. I have heard the argument put forth by I.D. proponents that he would have supported the theroy. Thanks for the ammo.

  • ||

    "The main reason for making the comparison is not so I can play moral equivalance and pretend that theists don't cause problems."

    Wow, I waited till 6:01pm for that?

    And don't you really mean "...pretend that theists don't cause --far more-- problems."? Hmmm?

    "there are few things more ironic than the occasional atheist who imitates all the worst traits of Christians."

    Who'd a thunk it? People, go figure.

  • ||

    The Einstein quotes in this thread suggest that his viewpoint couldn't be easily pigeonholed. From what I've read in other sources, that seems to be the case. He had a reverence for the universe that might be described as religious in some respects. Then again, I'm no expert on Einstein. I'm sure that any detailed characterization of his religious views would probably require a time-dependent approach.

    Me, I mostly know about his work on diffusion and the photoelectric effect (his most important works). I also know a little bit about special relativity (fairly important) and almost nothing about general relativity (not at all important unless you're working on GPS).

  • ||

    TJ,

    You must be pretty thick headed, because I picked that up around 4:30 pm.

  • ||

    "You've made the point in multiple posts that fewer atheists are annoying zealots than theists. So in other breaking news you're as pedantic as any of us."

    Ralphus, the definition of pedant is one who emphasizes minutiae to the exclusion of the bigger picture. Just trying to be helpful here, in case you were confused about that. Additionally, no one had acknowledged the point. I just assumed you all were thick, as us atheists are known to do. I note that since you think my "Einstein" posts are "ID" ammo, at least my assumption about you is correct.

  • ||

    "because I picked that up around 4:30 pm."

    Ralphy, you moron, no posts around 4:30 shared that view, you must have divined it. Or projected it.

  • ||

    "And what the fuck is your point?"

    Ralphy goes ballistic at 6:07pm.
    Kind of a touchy feller, isn't he?
    Heh.

  • ||

    TJ,

    "Ralphus, the definition of pedant is one who emphasizes minutiae to the exclusion of the bigger picture."

    You mean like pointing out repeatedly that theist zealots cause more problems than atheist zealot? Thanks for the "hot tip."

    "I note that since you think my "Einstein" posts are "ID" ammo, at least my assumption about you is correct."

    As is mine about you. You're a douche bag. I was thanking you for the ammo against I.D. - Einstein.

  • ||

    Not talking about when it was posted, just when I picked up on it. And if you think using the fuck is going ballistic then you're the touchy one. I just wanted to know what the fuck your point was. Fundamentalist do more crazy things than atheists? Got it. What the fuck is your point?

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    I have checked your posts. You are blaming atheists for the totalitarian aspects of theism. You do it again in the last post to me:

    I was just pointing out that if you upset enough sacred cows you could eventually cause a stampede.

    The simple contention of thoreau, Tom Crick and myself is that many of the people who take pains to ID themselves as atheist tend to be as annoying as theist zealots.

    No, that's really not your contention; your contention is that atheists upset Christians and that Christians react to being upset. Read through the remarks of you three and you'll find that this is indeed your contention.

  • Hakluyt||

    ralphus,

    Compare this

    I was just pointing out that if you upset enough sacred cows you could eventually cause a stampede.

    to this

    Honey, its your fault that I beat you. You just make me so upset by voicing your opinions.

    Honestly, dweebs like you expect atheists to act like second-class citizens so as to not upset the poor, irrational theists into a frenzy.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    However, my basic points remains that there are incredibly annoying atheist zealots out there who bear a striking resemblance to religious zealots.

    How are they annoying?

  • Hakluyt||

    Tom Crick,

    Randroids don't view atheism as the centerpiece of their philosophy. Its a conclusion come to because of the fundamental aspects of Randroidism, not vice versa.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    The Einstein quotes in this thread suggest that his viewpoint couldn't be easily pigeonholed.

    Actually they point that he wasn't an atheist. The terms polytheist or pantheist are the most applicable. Then again Einstein is hyped way more than he deserves credit for.

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    Jesus! Are you running a straw man factory? Dweebs like you are a perfect examples of the annoying atheist of which I speak. I never suggested not fighting, I just suggested fighting smarter. I apologize. I had no idea I was dealing with the Malcom X of atheists.

  • ||

    Interesting facts about Einstein:

    Everybody knows he figured out that space and time are relative. Big whoop. Very few scientists, even very few physicists, make use of relativity (special or general) in their work.

    However, what most people don't know is that special relativity explains the origin of the magnetic field.

    Most people don't know that the GPS system requires Einstein's General Theory of Relativity to run accurately.

    Very few people know that Einstein figured out how to calculate the diffusion coefficient of molecules, a crucial calculations needed to understand biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, etc.

    Very few people know that Einstein figured out the quantum theory of light without the benefit of modern quantum mechanics. His simple phenomenological theories can be used to model (quite accurately) a wide range of experiments in optics and solid-state physics, including the operation of practical lasers.

    Very few people know that Einstein figured out (with the help of Bose) the quantum statistical properties of half of all matter. (Fermi and Dirac worked out the statistical properties for the other 50%.)

    Not everybody knows that his formulation of the local hidden variables notion, although debunked by Bell, has provided a crucial intellectual notion and experimental framework that people continue to study fruitfully to this day.

  • ||

    I invented the omelet.

  • ||

    I invented the internet fan site for "Love Story."

  • ||

    "You're a douche bag. I was thanking you for the ammo against I.D. - Einstein."

    Ralphy, I missed the "however" in your last paragraph and misconstrued. So sorry. However, you're still mostly a vulgar idiot.

  • ||

    My last comment on religion is: there's nothing like a friendly religious discussion to bring people closer together.

    "Most people don't know that the GPS system requires Einstein's General Theory of Relativity to run accurately."

    Or that the military had a switch put in the sat software to turn off the relativistic correction in case the theory was wrong! :-/

  • ||

    "However, you're still mostly a vulgar idiot."

    And you're still mostly a douche bag.

  • Hakluyt||

    thoreau,

    Very few people know that he spent the latter half of his toiling away in scientific obscurity and outside the mainstream of the physics community. Then there is his personal life, which was a nightmare for any woman he happened to be involved with.

    ralphus,

    Are you running a straw man factory?

    No, do you know what a strawman is? Apparently not. I have as yet to make any sham arguments. Do quit running away from the implications of your weak-willed statements. Dweebs like you keep atheists back and in the closet.
    _______________________

    Atheists could have as individuals or as a group (atheists don't act as a group, but we'll pretend that they do) done nothing different than they did. Theists were going to react to modernity, secularism, etc. the way they have no matter what. You are simply kidding yourself if you think that there was some other strategy (the mere fact that thoreau, ralphus and Tom have failed to instruct us on a different strategy illustrates this point). These are two different worldviews and they will naturally clash, especially given the commands to evangelize found in the various religions. That coupled with the loss of believers is enough to make theists have fits.

  • Hakluyt||

    Tom Crick,

    There's a flip side, of course, and I believe Intelligent Design to be an expression of it. People who believe in a creator God shouldn't be forced to pay to teach other people's children--or their own--the theory of evolution, which conflicts with many people's religious convictions. If we ignore that injustice, we shouldn't be surprised by the backlash. ...and we shouldn't pretend that what's happening isn't a backlash--at least in part.

    I.D. is a reaction to one aspect of modernity; it would have come about whether we had public schools or not. Some folks just can't take the idea of a naturalistic universe. Oh, and guess what, the fight over I.D. in the absence of public schools would be over something else - like whether one has the right to believe in evolution or to teach it in private schools. It would merely be shifting the locus of debate to another aspect of the nation's social, etc. life. For some reason you seem to think that absent public schools theists would leave atheists, those who accept or study evolution, freethinkers, etc. alone - you're deluding yourself.

  • ||

    Tom Crick,

    Also, I'd be curious how you think that one could avoid a vicious fight over the right to die, or the other innumerable areas of the culture wars where theists show what they are really made of?

  • ||

    ralphus,

    I don't think American's of any age should have to pledge allegiance to anything. Isn't that what the whole revolution thing was about?

    Er, yes. Uh, no.

    Ever heard of deism? It was a significant religious movement around the time of the American Revolution. Deism is where God becomes a watch maker.

    Deism as a movement died out, after not too many generations. It died because it eschewed all such formalities as orginized churches, an official priesthood, or anything remotely comperable to the pledge of allegiance.

    It's a funny truth that people need a certain amount of old fashioned dogmatism to keep them on track over the long haul.

    The pledge of allegiance represents, to me, American dogmatism. "We're free dammit, and we mean it!" I decided that this is okay, maybe you won't agree.

    I'm side stepping the "under God" part of the pledge here, which isn't relevant.

    Call it dogmatism, or call it ritual. But ritual has been an essential part of civilization since the beginning of recorded history. People need some kind of frame work to be free within, if that makes any sense to you. What would your freedom be worth if all you could do with it was wander around the Sahara?

    Also, I definitely agree with you here.

    My point was that in a protracted battle of ideas with a majority of the population perhaps the best tactic is to be selective in your choice of targets.

    It is, however, true that Christians consider themselves the "in" group in this country. A fact which very much disturbs me, being an atheist.

    But while we should choose our battles carefully, that tactic will not alter the fact that the Christians will probably always consider themselves on the inside track. Because, after all, "freedom of religion in the consitution means that you are free to be some kind of Christian, not an atheist".

    I know because I grew up listening to my parents spout this stuff.


    We are ... simply saying that atheist that approach their lack of faith with a religious zeal exist.

    This is a true statement, atheists are as dogmatic as believers. Incidentally, I used to live in Atlanta and there was a atheist group that was fairly in-your-face evangelical about their atheism. I went to one of their meetings and never went back.

    I have entirely too many things to do with my time, to waste it trying to convert Christians. I will be most happy with those Christians who adopt the same attitude.

    I apologize. I had no idea I was dealing with the Malcom X of atheists.

    You're learning the hard way here, aren't you?

  • ||

    Hakluyt,

    no offense, but when I read your musings, going on, and on, and on, I always think: "Heh, man, you might actually be right, but you are so obnoxious I just don't care!"

  • ||

    ralphus,

    PS: Hak seems to be in a particularly ornery mood tonight, for some reason. But he has something approaching a cult following around here. Some people seem to nearly worship the ground He walks.

    I have remained unable to grok following somebody who's primary argumentative tactic amounts to: logic ad absurdum (and I think I know somebody else who made that same kind of mistake....).

    Formal logic is a tool. It has specific uses, and specific contexts where it is useful. It can, however, be abused, a fact which few people seem appreciate. But you have recent experience. :)

    I must admit that I frequently agree with Hak, though I immensely dislike his argumentative tactics. I think he resembles the Rand that he so vehmently hates and loves to bash, far more than he could ever admit.

  • ||

    Kahn,

    But he has something approaching a cult following around here.

    I seriously doubt that.

    Some people seem to nearly worship the ground He walks.

    They might want to walk (stomp?) on the ground that they put me under, but I don't think that is a form of worship. :)

    I think he resembles the Rand that he so vehmently hates and loves to bash, far more than he could ever admit.

    I'd have to be serious in order to be like Rand. :)

  • ||

    polt,

    My musings are strictly for my benefit, so...

  • ||

    Kahn,

    I also believe that unless you are willing to explore the outer boundaries of your ideology, etc. you're don't really know if you accept it or not. I believe that a lot of people do that here because its a "no harm" environment.

  • ||

    Or that the military had a switch put in the sat software to turn off the relativistic correction in case the theory was wrong! :-/

    Serious? Wow!

    Makes sense, though. GPS is, in its own way, a test of relativity. Never a good idea to bet too much on the outcome of an experiment.

    Of course, the "Intelligent Falling" advocates will stress to us that all these things are just tests of "microgravity", which has been observed on a daily basis. Nobody has directly observed "macrogravity" (defined as the things not yet directly tested), so there are still "gaps" for their "Intelligent Falling" theory.

    ;->

  • ||

    "Very few people know that he spent the latter half of his life toiling away in scientific obscurity and outside the mainstream of the physics community."

    You go lay the foundations of a few major areas of science, then we'll talk about achievements. Or at least type a sentence that I won't have to correct for you.

    I'm dead and I still managed to hit the "preview" button. That's an achievement few on this board can rival!

    "Then there is his personal life, which was a nightmare for any woman he happened to be involved with."

    Unlike you, the easiest person in the world to get along with.

  • ||

    Hak,

    "I see, so our great collective sin as atheists can be attributed to a woman now ten years dead."

    Strawman. No one argued that atheist had committed a great collective sin. Simply that they could choose their battles batter.

    "Then again the fact that you think its wrong for people to assemble and express themselves is rather troubling.'

    Strawman. No one said that atheist didn't have the right to assemble. Just that they did have conferences, which suggest at some level there are organized atheists

    "These atheist proselytizers were so common you'd think you could give me a name."

    Strawman. No one said they were common, just that they exist.

    That's all I have time for now. Gotta run to a meeting.

  • ||

    ralphus,

    None of those are sham arguments. A strawman is a sham argument by definition. None of those statements are sham arguments. Please try again.

  • ||

    Einstein's Ghost,

    Thoreau, do give it up. Einstein was a misogynistic pig even by his own time's standards.

  • ||

    ralphus,

    No one argued that atheist had committed a great collective sin.

    Sure they did; this the beratement over the actions of atheists to stir up the theists. Honestly, the idea that atheists have caused theists to be what they are is stunning in its stupidity.

    No one said that atheist didn't have the right to assemble.

    It was most certainly implied that such assemblies made atheism a religion and that this in turn was part of the problem.

    No one said they were common, just that they exist.

    The implication was that they existed in large enough numbers that they were causing trouble by stirring up theists who would otherwise remain quiet (a stunningly stupid idea). Of course you're probably going to keep on insisting that the only thing that you (and Tom, etc.) are commenting on is that prostelytizing atheists exist, which is clearly false.

  • ||

    ralphus,

    If you are so embarressed by atheists holding forth their views on subjects, advocating policies, etc. (which you clearly are), why don't you joined up with thoreau's twisted religious group? Honestly, we really don't need a person like you who insists that the key to being a happy atheist is the closet.

    Oh, and I am still waiting for the altenrative strategies you keep on insisting exist. Waiting... Waiting... Waiting...

  • ||

    For some reason you seem to think that absent public schools theists would leave atheists, those who accept or study evolution, freethinkers, etc. alone - you're deluding yourself.

    I've heard the same argument from the other side. ...that I was wrong if I thought that atheists and others would leave fundamentalist Christians alone.

    Evangelical Christians are just as fearful of atheists and others dominating our institutions and our laws as atheists and others are that evangelical Christians will dominate our institutions and our laws.

  • ||

    Also, I'd be curious how you think that one could avoid a vicious fight over the right to die, or the other innumerable areas of the culture wars where theists show what they are really made of?

    I think there are cases in which we shouldn't give an inch. ...I don't think the "under God" in the Pledge is one of them.

    I used to work with a number of gay men. I once questioned them about the benefits of ridiculing Catholic icons in gay pride parades. ...in a predominately Catholic city like Los Angeles, that seems like bad strategy to me.

  • ||

    Tom Crick,

    I think there are cases in which we shouldn't give an inch.

    As that's the case then you are going to antagonize them, and thus "cause" the problem, no matter what you do.

    Evangelical Christians are just as fearful of atheists and others dominating our institutions...

    That's called paranoia. Atheists are a small, marginalized minority in this country; Christians are a large, much acknowledged and smiled upon majority.

  • ||

    Tom Crick,

    I once questioned them about the benefits of ridiculing Catholic icons in gay pride parades.

    You likely question gay men taking on cops at Stonewall as well. The Catholic Church views homosexuals as a mortal threat to human society, indeed, JPII nearly equated homosexuals terrorists as I recall, and yet, ridiculing Catholics is viewed as a bad thing? Come on!

  • ||

    That's called paranoia.

    Yet the state continues to teach their children evolution.

  • ||

    You likely question gay men taking on cops at Stonewall as well.

    That's just silly.

    The Catholic Church views homosexuals as a mortal threat to human society, indeed, JPII nearly equated homosexuals terrorists as I recall, and yet, ridiculing Catholics is viewed as a bad thing? Come on!

    If the point is to show that homosexuals aren't a mortal threat to humanity--in fact they're very much like the rest of us--then why ridicule Catholic icons like a bunch of terrorists?

    ...and I didn't say that ridiculing Catholic icons is bad per se, I said it was bad strategy.

  • ||

    That's called paranoia.

    Yet the state gives their children abortions without their parent's consent or knowledge.

  • ||

    Tom-

    Some of us American Catholics have no problem with gays. Ridiculing aspects of our faith unrelated to teachings on homosexuality probably isn't the best way to win us over.

    Is there a serious person here who would like to argue that Einstein gets way more praise than he deserves? I'm pretty impressed by the things he did, but if somebody could show me that other people were basically doing the same thing, or that some of his more celebrated findings were more of a fluke than anything else, I'd reconsider my evaluation.

    For instance, in grad school, when I studied quantum optics in detail, I learned that it is actually possible to understand the photoelectric effect without invoking the concept of photons. And the calculation is even correct if you're working in the limit of a strong field. However, the calculation is quite involved, and it uses ideas that in 1905 would have seemed much, much crazier than even relativity.

    Besides, Einstein was right on the photoelectric effect. And he was right in a very simple and elegant way.

  • ||

    Hak,

    I'd have to be serious in order to be like Rand. :)

    Hmm, 'k. So does this mean I'm missing an element of sarcasm here?

    I also believe that unless you are willing to explore the outer boundaries of your ideology, etc. you're don't really know if you accept it or not. I believe that a lot of people do that here because its a "no harm" environment.

    Exploring the nether limits is always good, and this is a good place to do it.

    You make a lot of good points. But the way you make them, I think you often distract people's attention from the exploration project. Unless, it's your own boundaries you're playing with?

  • ||

    "If you are so embarrassed by atheists holding forth their views on subjects, advocating policies, etc. (which you clearly are), why don't you joined up with thoreau's twisted religious group?"

    Fifty-foot tall strawman dressed in a tutu twirling sparklers. Never said anything of the sort. I never once said that atheists should stay in the closet. I never said that we should be embarrassed of our beliefs or lack there of. I said that we should choose our battles.

    "Oh, and I am still waiting for the alternative strategies you keep on insisting exist. Waiting... Waiting... Waiting... "

    Just scroll up to 2:23 and 3:55.

    "Honestly, we really don't need a person like you who insists that the key to being a happy atheist is the closet."

    Besides being another strawman, I never insisted anything of the sort; this statement begs the question; who is this we you keep referring to? I thought there was no organized atheist movement. If there is, do you sit on the membership committee? If you do, have no fear. You won�t see me at any of the mixers.

    You are an amusing fellow. It's been real. Peace out Malcolm.

  • ||

    *turning the lights out*

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