More Ungodly Goodness

If you prefer not to have your theological debates from Nightline, check out an every-so-slightly higher-brow source--excepts from Christopher Hitchens' new book, which Slate offers under the subtle billing: "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything."

Some choice bits:

We [atheists] do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful. (In fact, if a proper statistical inquiry could ever be made, I am sure the evidence would be the other way.)

And some sideways snark at C.S. Lewis and Aztecs here:

While some religious apology is magnificent in its limited way—one might cite Pascal—and some of it is dreary and absurd—here one cannot avoid naming C. S. Lewis—both styles have something in common, namely the appalling load of strain that they have to bear. How much effort it takes to affirm the incredible! The Aztecs had to tear open a human chest cavity every day just to make sure that the sun would rise.

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  • ||

    Read those excerpts on Slate while holding your nose. Even confirmed atheists are likely to be turned off by Hitchen's putrid brand of vitriol and compete unwillingness to give his subject a fair shake.

  • ed the atheist||

    no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful

    But...but...but...Stalin was an atheist!
    So was Mao! And Pol Pot!
    And...and...Dan T is an idiot!

  • ktc2||

    There is a difference between giving an idea a "fair shake" and coddling the delusional.

    It's way past time to point out the emperor wears no clothes.

  • Russ 2000||

    I pretty much agree with Hitchens, but God has he become a boring writer.

  • VM||

    more on religion
    time for a merry haiku
    spreadsheet bad today.

    kicks pebble quite far
    proceeds to bite self on taint
    more fun than excel

    why doesn't slope fit?
    fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck
    oh! hey! hai, Dan T!

    he's in my spreadsheet
    trollin for TRx score
    why doesn't slope fit?

    *head explodes

  • ||

    gospel music is still great, and much of the greatest music and art of the world is inspired by spirituality...I'm as much of an athiest as any dickhead, but does mean I have to ask those people to stop?

  • ||

    You know, rubbing the noses of the faithful in a big pile of "You're so stupid! Why can't you see how fucking stupid you are you medieval, invisible-superhero-worshipping asshole?!" isn't going to make you any friends, and will not win you an converts.

    Hitch is preaching to the choir.

  • ed||

    Hitchens haiku. Yay!
    Droll wit, British accent. Hey!
    Dan T is so gay.

  • ||

    Let's see...

    Ill-sourced (if sourced at all) 'facts', illogical jumps from information to conclusion, and an emphasis on begging the question, all wrapped up with a call to action little more complex than crude word choice. Self-contradictions don't help -- he's content to go to religious events, but asks to be left alone regarding religion?

    Whoever decided to format a web page text directly as he or she would a pen-and-paper novel should also be shot -- double the number of paragraphs involved and it might not make the human eye water.

    If this excerpt is any indication of the remaining text in his writing, it should be noted that many agnostics and atheists could do significantly better than this, and do so for free thanks to the wonder of the world wide web.

    I suppose I shall take the most logical course : use Mr. Hitchen's concept and ask that, in return, he simply ignore my religion or lack thereof alone, regardless of where I choose to think or talk about it.

  • Bee||

    We do not hold our convictions dogmatically: ....we shall resolve it by evidence and reasoning and not by mutual excommunication

    Anyone who has ever worked in academia knows exactly how hilarious this statement is.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Funny thing about that, I know a lot of the faithful and none of them have committed a crime of greed or violence.

    While I'm happy to see the Aztec religion depicted as it was instead of as Nirvana that was destroyed by that PF Chris Colombo, it is also instructive to note that there is no Aztec religion any more. That was a long time ago and nobody in the semi-civilized world is ripping out anyone's heart. Well, there are those pesky suicide bombers, so maybe I have to retract. Course I did say semi-civilized

    Bitching out the Catholics for the Crusades is something like saying Amerikka is poisoned because Jefferson owned slaves.

    Not saying religion is good, I'm saying that perspective is important and context is entirely relevant.

  • SugarFree||

    If I see one more "Nietzsche is dead -God" T-shirt on this damn campus...

    God is not dead. Fictional characters can't die.

    Just ask Jean Grey.

  • ||

    As an agnostic, I have to say Hitchens is probably the last prominent public intellectual I'd want making arguments for "our side". He has proven (even when sober) to be so utterly susceptible to delusion himself that he is rather discredited on the subject generally.

  • ||

    I think it's well-written, and I'm enjoying it so far.

  • ||

    Aztecs rip out hearts
    Christians worship the holy cross
    Mel made films of both

  • ||

    Gattsuru: "Ill-sourced (if sourced at all) 'facts', illogical jumps from information to conclusion, and an emphasis on begging the question, all wrapped up with a call to action little more complex than crude word choice"

    Sounds like most religions. I know you're talking about Hitchens, which makes it even more aptly ironic.

  • JS||

    I'm getting really sick of stupid pompous assholes like Hitchens speaking for those of us who do not believe.

  • ||

    Sugar free,

    That was almost a hiaku, but you have to edit out some syllables.

  • ||

    Hitch on religion
    I have nothing to say Yay!
    And yes, Dan T. gay

  • ||

    Nietzsche is dead -God
    I wear black on the outside
    Inside same color

  • ||

    "Nietzsche is dead."
    -- God

  • ||

    Abdul, you have eight syllables in the middle.

  • ||

    If slope does not fit
    Then you must simply acquit
    So says J. Cochran

    If you seek answers
    Look no further than Noam doll
    Ask magic 8 balls

  • ||

    We [atheists] do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful.

    We atheists include such dignitaries as Hitler, Stalin and Mao...roughly 60+ million killed within the last 100 years by just those assholes alone.

    As an atheist I think we should not be so blind of faith to wash these atrocities from history.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    A broken clock is right twice a day, and so is Dan T.

    Hitchens makes the same errors in cause-and-effect reasoning about religion that are so obvious to libertarian atheists when they are made about pornography, marijuana, or guns.

    My imaginary friend in the sky is getting pissed off about your inconsistency.

  • ||

    If only Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had known the grace of God's love those massacres would have never happened.

  • VM||

    The magic 8 balls
    and noam doll make very good
    BATIN BATIN fun

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    If only Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had known the grace of God's love those massacres would have never happened.

    Which particular religious person is that a parody of? Or is it your guess about how religious people think?

  • ||

    God save me from insufferable, self-righteous atheists.

  • SugarFree||

    Adbul,

    God cannot be dead
    Fictions aren't allowed to die
    Just ask Marvel Girl

  • Lichtenberg||

    SugarFree, what campus is that? More importantly, what are its gun laws?

  • VM||

    What about Tank Girl?
    Insufferable atheists
    like driving in tanks!

  • Lichtenberg||

    The other excerpt Slate published in this series--the one about Islam--is better. Of course, I'm biased: I love a good slam against "Judaism, Part 3 (The Revenge)"

  • Lichtenberg||

    Yahweh is dying
    No one will defend him now
    But he was a god

  • SugarFree||

    Lichtenberg,

    Let's just say that the T-shirts that flippantly refute an abstract idea with an empiric fact attributed to a fictional character is the least of the silk-screened clothing stupidity on display here.

  • ||

    Brian Sorgatz,

    It was a response to Joshua Corning. Keep your panties on.

  • Lichtenberg||

    Once we worshipp'd him
    Attibuted him our best
    Now we bury him

  • Lichtenberg||

    (Ach! Attributed! I forgot the "r")

  • ||

    A nun at prayer
    A Muzzein calls
    My girlfriend and me screwing.

  • Lichtenberg||

    And what shall we be
    Now we have kill'd our greatest
    Better or lesser

  • ||

    I find it curious that the one thing that most hard core libertarians share with hard core communists is a strain of militant atheism.

    Historically, this wasn't always the case. In the libertarian camp, this seems to be due primarily from the influence of Rand.

  • Lichtenberg||

    I thought it was 5-7-5

  • ed||

    I'm getting really sick of stupid pompous assholes like Hitchens speaking for those of us who do not believe

    What makes you think he's speaking for you, JS?

  • ||

    I find it curious that the one thing that most hard core libertarians share with hard core communists is a strain of militant atheism.

    Hey, I'm an agnostic. I just can't get worked up to give a shit enough and be an athiest.

  • ||

    Be Jedi next week.
    May the Fourth talk like Yoda
    the whole day we should.

    Thanks, Russ R!

  • ||

    "Nietzsche is dead."
    -- God"


    God sure has a lot of humans putting words into his mouth these days. Perhaps if he were allowed into school, he wouldn't be such a helpless, boneheaded illiterate....

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    It was a response to Joshua Corning. Keep your panties on.

    It wasn't clear without an italicized quotation.

  • ed||

    the one thing that most hard core libertarians share with hard core communists is a strain of militant atheism....In the libertarian camp, this seems to be due primarily from the influence of Rand

    Har har. Most libertarians can't comprehend Rand and therefore despise her. But nice try.

  • ||

    "We do not believe in heaven or hell, yet no statistic will ever find that without these blandishments and threats we commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful. (In fact, if a proper statistical inquiry could ever be made, I am sure the evidence would be the other way.)"

    I don't think this was intended to mean that atheists don't commit some crimes. I think he was speaking statistically. I also think he meant that despite being immune from threats of eternal damnation or promises of eternal reward, atheists are (generally speaking) well-behaved.

    Regarding Hitler, Stalin, etc., I think Hitch would suggest that these guys killed for the sport of it, not because they believed they were on the religious high ground and therefore had the moral authority to do so.

    But in general I'd agree: I find it annoying when one atheist tries to speak for all atheists.

  • ||

    'God sure has a lot of humans putting words into his mouth these days. Perhaps if he were allowed into school, he wouldn't be such a helpless, boneheaded illiterate...."

    Lamar, this made me think of that scene in the movie Smokin' Aces where the one hillbilly brother leans over the body of *not gonna spoil it* and uses his fingers to make it look like he's talking.

    "It sure is pretty up here in heaven. I forgive you for killin' me like that."

    Utterly trash movie, but that was just a hilarious moment.

  • ||

    God sure has a lot of humans putting words into his mouth these days.

    I've often wondered myself why religious people weren't offended by all those "Keep using my name in vain and I'll make rush-hour even longer. --God" and the like billboards that you used to see everywhere.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Har har. Most libertarians can't comprehend Rand and therefore despise her. But nice try.

    Some of us see Rand's hyper-rationalism as another docrine of the Noble Savage. Thanks to

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    My message was cut off at the link...

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    As I was saying...

    Thanks to Steven Pinker and other enlightened cynics, we recognize unqualified Randianism as another utopian pipe dream.

    http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/tbs/index.html

  • dhex||

    "In the libertarian camp, this seems to be due primarily from the influence of Rand."

    alternate theory would be the history of religious statism, particularly before the progressive/christian split at the turn of the century. people mistaking the most annoying one percent (or five or fifty or whatever you want to think the percentage is) of american christians with the showman and charlatans and outright fucking assholes (pat robertson, et al), and in hitchens' case, writing books about it.

    seriously, rand was a walking human headwound and i don't think she has even .2% of the influence (margin of error +/- 103%) that people think she's had on anything, really. people could read stirner, relax, have a few larfs and not join a batshit crazy personality cult that unlike osho rajneesh (blessings of the charlatan be upon him) didn't even have a good angle on fucking for spiritual beauty and profit.

    (how's that for a thread hijack?)

    so maybe the issue isn't even beliefs, but taking beliefs seriously enough to take action?

    and now for haiku:

    i don't mean to hate
    but the haterade was free
    sorry to rand fans

    osho was a mack
    you cannot fuck with that hat
    it was pretty cool

    eris be, like, praised
    discordianism rocks
    no i am not high

  • dhex||

    also i think it would be cool if objectivists got into julius evola cause he's hardcore on the fascism thing and a little old fashioned but you get the distinct impression he read books and not just the spines.

    ok i should stop
    why am i to be a dick?
    a is a lolz gay

  • ||

    Ho-hum....

    So long as humans fail to distinguish between religion as a matter of personal belief, and religion as a matter of public/political doctrine, these debates will go on forever.

    It is pretty easy to ridicule a belief system which includes a gaseous being which created the entire universe but still gets upset (and takes revenge) if you have sex before engaging in the correct ceremony or with the wrong person.

    It is pretty hard to ridicule the efforts of countless religious persons to bring about better living for themselves and the less-fortunate and attain an inner peace that sustains them.

    As to mass murder, authortarian leaders use of beliefs to de-humanize others so that their human followers may more easily be convinced to kill their human opponents is as old as the human race and an indictment of EVERY dogmatic belief system.

    As to Hitchens, he purposely confuses the belief with the method in which the belief is used. But to his credit this is at least moderately useful in showing people how faith and belief are very dangerous principles upon which to build a social system.

  • dhex||

    "It is pretty easy to ridicule a belief system which includes a gaseous being which created the entire universe but still gets upset (and takes revenge) if you have sex before engaging in the correct ceremony or with the wrong person."

    or the wrong hole, mind you.

    personally, i don't worship gods who

    a) can't feed themselves and require sacrifices of food and/or money.

    b) aren't down with blowjobs.


    i think that's theologically lucid, no?

    i think that leaves me kali, eris and uh...zeus?

    finally:

    god hates on anal
    yahweh its not that messy
    don't forget the lube

  • ||

    "In fact, if a proper statistical inquiry could ever be made, I am sure the evidence would be the other way."

    I'm sure you are, Hitch.

    That's becasue you are bigot, blithely assuming that you and those who agree with you are better human beings than anyone who disagrees with your beliefs.

  • ||

    You know, rubbing the noses of the faithful in a big pile of "You're so stupid! Why can't you see how fucking stupid you are you medieval, invisible-superhero-worshipping asshole?!" isn't going to make you any friends, and will not win you an converts.

    What is does do is insight cries of "See! There they go again! Those damn close-minded, arrogant, know-it-all atheists!"

    Thanks for nothin', Christoper.

  • Lichtenberg||

    The problem with sister Ayn is that her works are incredibly boring and over-long. There isn't, but there should be a hell for such non-writers.

  • ||

    I just glanced at the title of the book quickly and thought it said "God is Not Great: How Belgium Poisons Everything."

    I love their wafels
    With chocolate and sugar
    Washed down with Leffe Blonde.

  • Untermensch||

    These mighty scholars may have written many evil things or many foolish things, and been laughably ignorant of the germ theory of disease or the place of the terrestrial globe in the solar system, let alone the universe, and this is the plain reason why there are no more of them today, and why there will be no more of them tomorrow.



    Actually, I though there were no more of them because they died... Faulting people for not knowing what they could not have possibly known in their time? That's like faulting Einstein for being laughably ignorant of the principles of string theory. I hope that those in the future cut us a little more slack than Hitchens cuts those in our past. Whatever position one may take on (a)theism, the tone and tack taken by Hitchens is not going to win any converts either way. This is just plain bad writing.

    I hoped the rest of the selections got better.But nope, on the second page of the Slate article he resurrects the most banal arguments of Christian anti-Muslim writers. Islam isn't a real religion? It's all derivative? Those were arguments made almost a thousand years ago in Christian vs. Muslim debates. They were crude and useless back then. They have not improved with time.

    His criticisms of Mormonism include quotes from Joseph Smith that apparently only Hitchens knows about (where does "Either the Al-Koran or the sword" come from) and cheap shots about Smith's lack of knowledge of Arabic grammar (as if Hitchens would not make equally idiotic statements about subjects he knows nothing about too). Many of his "quotes" are unclear in what they mean. His statement that Smith claimed to have "necromantic" powers (I assume here he is quoting Smith, not using scare quotes) is something I have not seen substantiated in any scholarship on Smith and his relationship to magic (and there is quite a bit that is far more interesting as fodder for atheists than anything he cites). He cites a court conviction about which there is serious scholarly question (and not just among Mormons), something which basic fact checking would have told him.

    These three pages of highlights(!) show him to be a boorish, sloppy writer prone to strident assertions. The show that he can't do basic fact checking. The arguments are shallow compared to those of other atheist writers and he dismisses what religious people have had to say without apparently bothering to actually know what he's dismissing (presumably because he knows a priori that it's wrong and therefore not worthy of actually engaging). Not encouraging.

    I'm not writing this to argue for or against a particular stance on religion (although I have one), but rather to point out that I think this book probably does more harm than good for the position he espouses. Unless there is more to it (substantively) than what Slate has posted, it seems that Hitchens really is preaching to the choir (irony intended). The book will only confirm each camp's opinion about the other side as stupid...

  • Apantokrator||

    I've often wondered myself why religious people weren't offended by all those "Keep using my name in vain and I'll make rush-hour even longer. --God" and the like billboards that you used to see everywhere.



    There are religious people out there who are offended by them...

  • ||

    NoStar,

    You can find a lot of "Christian libertarian" posting over at LewRockwell.com.

    I have no problem with those folks--if anybody is content to leave my life alone, I fine with them. Most Christians don't pass this simple test, however.

  • ||

    C.S. Lewis is a hell of a lot more interesting than Hitchens.

  • ||

    What is point writing
    About God's nonexistence?
    To gain some converts?

    Bible, Qur'an, more
    Are made to "teach" religion.
    Such is their purpose.

    Do anti-God books
    Push anti-God religion?
    What is the purpose?

  • GILMORE||

    I'm actually looking forward to hitchen's book. I'm sure I'll find something to disagree with (I always do in his work), but he's probably one of the smartest and most well-read writers alive today. People that take him to task for his style are boobs. People that take him to task for his Bill Walton-esque hyperbolic critique of everything that falls under his gaze are generally right, it's just they're not smart enough to articulate any defense that he cant immediately tear to shreads. He's really a blessing to American commentary, though few i think appreciate him without at least some reservation.

    It's not like I'd want him to be my upstairs neighbor or something.

    JG

  • ||

    Why all the god talk?
    Apatheist knows what's up.
    God does not matter.

  • ||

    Anti-God religion
    Is, of course, oxymoron
    To those who may care

  • ed||

    Rand was not a militant atheist like Hitchens. A good example of her actual views on the subject (as opposed to what her detractors say) can be found in the Playboy Interview. An excerpt:

    Playboy: Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

    Ayn Rand: Qua religion, no - in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man's life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very - how should I say it? - dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

  • ||

    Reasonoids seem to be agnostic when it comes to God but boy will you guys talk all day about "rights", an equally unprovable concept of faith.

  • GILMORE||

    Dan T. | April 27, 2007, 11:30am | #

    Read those excerpts on Slate while holding your nose. Even confirmed atheists are likely to be turned off by Hitchen's putrid brand of vitriol...


    "confirmed" athiests? Is that when you learn the catchetism of atheism, then are washed in the cleansing waters of reason, given your cowl, and renamed in the church of Smarter Than Thou?

    just being cute.

    I think it's just-deserts for the lefty athiests who revile hitchens for his uncompromising support for the Iraq war that he is now a cheerleader for their camp. Hitchens has a profound effect on people; whatever he supports, people flee from that position like rats from a burning spanish galleon. Even if he's right. No one wants to be associated with that sweating crank.

  • dhex||

    "C.S. Lewis is a hell of a lot more interesting than Hitchens."

    that's such a ridiculous lie your pants are on fire right now.

    have you ever read that dude's apologeticas? the sound of one brain farting?

  • ||

    Dan T.: Your statement would be slightly less asinine if we didn't acknowledge the fallibility of the Constitution and the fact that men wrote it. I would say the Constitution is founded upon experience, not faith.

  • ||

    Reasonoids seem to be agnostic when it comes to God but boy will you guys talk all day about "rights", an equally unprovable concept of faith.

    Serious question Dan, do your thoughts exist? Can you prove it?

  • ||

    Dan T, without rights
    It would be impossible
    To have any lefts.

    Without lefts, how could
    One possibly BATE and click
    For porn at same time?

  • ||

    "That's becasue you are bigot, blithely assuming that you and those who agree with you are better human beings than anyone who disagrees with your beliefs."

    joe,

    Doesn't that apply as well to do-good liberals, city planners, enforcement officers, and conservative moralists?

  • ||

    Hitch is preaching to the choir.



    Actually, he's trolling. But at least he has the excuse of doing it professionally. :)

  • ||

    dhex,

    I have. He's an interesting writer. You don't have to agree with what he says to appreciate it. I think it's funny that Hitchens calls him 'dreary'. Oy! There's little drearier in this day than an overwrought treatise on how (here comes the kicker!) religion is bad! What a bore. He may be right, I frankly don't care. He's like the kid at the zoo that can't wait to correct you for thinking snakes are slimey. Beat it.

  • ||

    If rights ran the world
    batin' and clickin still here
    underground market

  • ||

    I have no problem with those folks--if anybody is content to leave my life alone, I fine with them. Most Christians don't pass this simple test, however.

    I think you're wrong about the "most", henry. It's just that the motivated ones make themselves more noticeable.

  • ||

    Back when I called myself a Christian, C.S. Lewis was my favorite Christian writer. He is excellent.

  • David (no not that one)||

    For those who just can't work up enough interest to actually be atheist, I offer The Church of the Apathetic Agnostic. Our motto is "We don't know, and we don't care."

  • ||

    I love Hitchens. You can tell he drinks too much (mostly because he says so himself), and he writes some whacked out books, but I love the crotchety old guy. Why Orwell Matters was superb.

  • ||

    Serious question Dan, do your thoughts exist? Can you prove it?

    They do exist, and no I can't prove it. At least to anyone other than myself.

  • ||

    They do exist, and no I can't prove it. At least to anyone other than myself.

    Now you understand "rights".

  • ||

    NoStar,

    I'm sure it applies to some of those people.

    To figure out who, I'm afraid you'd actually have to do the hard work of looking at people individually, rather than lumping them into categories and damning them in toto.

    You know, like you and Hitchens do.

  • dhex||

    hitchens is witty and interesting, at least before his brain turned to stone. i'm not defending this book, which seems about as interesting as a pile of rocks. (one good thing about libertarian thought is that you can sidecut all the "what does belief xyz mean!" with "does belief xyz allow people to fuck with other people for no good reason?" which is far more useful)

    on the other hand, i'm still scarred by having read mere christianity. one can only read page after page of "dude my premise is AWESOME!" before the brain seizes.

    aside: man i shoulda trademarked "apagnostic" when i had the chance!

  • ed||

    Mother Teresa,
    Soon a saint. Is this a joke?
    Nappy-headed Turk.

  • ||

    "Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason."

    Amen!

    ...wait...

  • ||

    "Hitch is preaching to the choir."

    Hitchens has a choir?

    ...Hitchens is preaching in the street, and I always stop and listen.

    I can't think of any issue I agree with him on, including this one, but I always stop and listen.

  • ||

    We atheists include such dignitaries as Hitler, Stalin and Mao...roughly 60+ million killed within the last 100 years by just those assholes alone.

    Bullshit.

    Hitler*, Stalin, and Mao did not kill millions because they were atheists, or in atheism's name. These men were psychologically unbalanced individuals who embraced life destroying political and racial ideologies. Do you honestly believe that these tyrants killed only believers, or do you think that that Stalin would have spared a dissident from the Gulag if he discovered that he didn't believe in God?

    Meanwhile the leaders and followers of the world's so-called "great religions" have always justifies it's atrocities, from the Crusades to 9-11, with the phrase "God wills it." Compared to the religious, our hands are clean.

    *How many times do we have to tell you, HITLER WAS NOT AN ATHEIST!

  • ||

    They do exist, and no I can't prove it. At least to anyone other than myself.

    Now you understand "rights".


    I suppose we also understand "God" as well.

  • ||

    Faith and reason are not exclusive. Faith and uncertainty are opposites. Beware of everyone, atheist or otherwise, who is sure that they're right.

    ...blah, blah, blah. I've said it all here a hundred times before--or at least twenty. All is vanity.

  • ||

    "Faith and uncertainty are opposites."

    Speaking of people who don't always get it right, that was supposed to be, "Faith and uncertainty are not opposites."

  • ||

    The thing about religion is that it asks a basic question ("is this all there is?") which has two equally probable and equally unprovable answers (yes or no).

    If you pick "yes", then there's not much point is discussing it any further.

    If you pick "no", then you will probably want to imagine what else is there. What you imagine will probably not be totally right but it probably won't be totally wrong, either.

    The point of all this is that Hitchens is an ass, and based on the excerpts from his crass and vulgar book he has nothing to say of value on this topic.

  • ||

    The thing about religion is that it asks a basic question ("is this all there is?") which has two equally probable and equally unprovable answers (yes or no).

    "Equally unprovable" I'll grant you. There is no reason to believe they are equally probable, though.

  • robc||

    Got to agree with kohlrabi and mackie. I was a christian before I ever read C.S. Lewis. Reading him is one of the main reasons Im a libertarian.

  • ||

    I'll ask again, only in non-haiku this time...

    Is there a reason behind books such as these? Do authors of these books expect to convert theists into atheists based on their "logic"? Or are they merely written to satisfy some self gratification / 15 minutes of fame type of thing?

    What do they expect to gain by these writings?

  • ||

    "I think you're wrong about the "most", henry. It's just that the motivated ones make themselves more noticeable."

    Perhaps--but if that is the case, then I think this non-coercive majority you posit needs to take back their religion, because "the motivated ones" are giving the rest of Christians (and their inspiration) a really bad name.

  • ||

    "Equally unprovable" I'll grant you. There is no reason to believe they are equally probable, though.

    What's your evidence that one answer is more likely than the other?

  • ||

    Read those excerpts on Slate while holding your nose. Even confirmed atheists are likely to be turned off by Hitchen's putrid brand of vitriol...

    Yes. their is a word for those "confirmed atheists" are "turned off" by Hitchins as well as Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al make :

    "Cowards."

    Face it. In this religious society, a "militant atheist" is anyone who makes their disbelief in "God" public knowledge and you are not helping when you side against one of your own to score points with someone who hates you in the first place. No matter how we atheists package ourselves. The believers will never like us, they will never listen to us, they we will accept us as part of this society. Hiding in freethought society meetings or speaking of religion in only the most milquetoast manner in hopes that if you don't offend the theists they will think kindly of you is pointless.

    It's about fucking time we atheists made our presence known and that we are not going to let the religious--no matter what faith--drag this world down into another Dark Age without a fight.

  • ||

    joe,
    No one has ever lumped me with Hitch before.
    I love flattering insults.

    But really, the primary thing Hitch and I have in common is a fondness for Johnny Walker Black Label scotch.

    I understand we share a liking for Columbia Crest wines. If you ever come out west to Washington where it is bottled, I'll share some with you.

  • ||

    EDIT: Yes. their is a word for those "confirmed atheists" who are "turned off" by Hitchins as well as Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al.:

  • VM||

    "But really, the primary thing Hitch and I have in common is a fondness for Johnny Walker Black Label scotch."

    that sounds like a good thing as a single thing to have in common with that d00d.

    skål!

  • Sean Healy||

    "The G-d the atheist doesn't believe in, I don't believe in either." - Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch

    What amazes me is how little Hitchens seems to know about the actual complexity of religious concepts. It's embarrassing how easily he's trapped himself in this infantile notion of G-d as a supernatural human. As anyone who's read Milton knows - and top humanists like Hitchens surely have! - we represent the divine to ourselves in familiar, provisional terms because our language and understanding are too limited to grasp G-d's totality. This is a lot like the Kantian sublime, actually, and also lots of other quasi-mystical ideas (like the deconstructive foundations Derrida derived from Levinas) Hitchens probably finds plausible in philosophical or literary contexts. What he doesn't seem to like is the imperatives of moral agency that follow logically from religious premises - and that's fine - but he's acting like religion exists at the level of playground taunting that he's chosen to engage in and, well, that's not true to anyone who's bothered to take even a semi-serious look at belief.

  • Sean Healy||

    I'm an atheist, by the way.

  • ||

    "What do they expect to gain by these writings?"

    A big pile of little slips of paper which in part read "In God We Trust."

  • ||

    Just wondering: is it possible to be both a Christian and a Libertarian? In fact, isn't libertarianism, with its utopian fantasies and unquestioning faith in the free market a kind of religion all its own?

  • ||

    Dan. T.:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/christianity-arch.html

  • ||

    "Face it. In this religious society, a "militant atheist" is anyone who makes their disbelief in "God" public knowledge and you are not helping when you side against one of your own to score points with someone who hates you in the first place. No matter how we atheists package ourselves."

    Yeah, I was totally reading this other thread where Stevo Darkly and thoreau were talking about all you atheist jackasses need to be thrown into the pit of despair and tortured mercilessly.

  • ||

    PS Dan. T:

    Your caricature of libertarianism is inane.

  • ||

    If only Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had known the grace of God's love those massacres would have never happened.

    And what comparable in history do you have for such massacres of comparable scale being perpetuated by those perceiving themselves to be under gods grace?

    I mean the vast majorities of the worlds populations are religious right and stupid for being that way right? Then why are they not killing each other to the scale atheists have?

    I am not saying the religious are free of massacres only that in the scale of things the numbers have a tendancy to rise when a good secular athiest is prosideing over them.

    If you have trouble with this I suggest you go back and read some more Hayek.

  • ||

    All this of Pot and Potter--Tell me then,
    Who is the Potter, pray, and who the Pot?
    - The Rubaiyat (st. 87),

    Or, more succinctly:

    "God made Man in his own image
    and Man returned the complement."

    [George Bernard Shaw, I think, but I'm too lazy to look it up.]

  • H L Mencken||

    After all, no human being really knows anything about the exalted matters with which all religions deal. The most he can do is match his private guess against the guesses of his fellow-men. For any man to say absolutely, in such a field, that this or that is wholly and irrefragably true and this or that is utterly false is simply to talk nonsense. Personally, I have never encountered a religious idea -- and I do not except even the idea of the existence of God -- that was instantly and unchallengeably convincing, as, say, the Copernican astronomy is instantly and unchallengeably convincing. But neither have I ever encountered a religious idea that could be dismissed off-hand as palpably and indubitably false. In even the worst nonsense of such theological mountebanks as Brigham Young and Mrs. Eddy, there is always enough lingering plausibility, or, at all events, possibility, to give the judicious pause. Whatever the weight of the probabilities against it, it nevertheless may be true that man, on his decease, turns into a gaseous vertebrate, and that this vertebrate, if its human larva has engaged in embezzlement, bootlegging, profanity or adultery on this earth, will be boiled for a million years in a cauldron of pitch. My private inclination, due to my defective upbringing, is to doubt it, and to set down any one who believes it as an ass, but it must be plain that I have no means of disproving it.

    In view of this uncertainty it seems to me sheer vanity for any man to hold his religious views too firmly, or to submit to any inconvenience on account of them. It is far better, if they happen to offend, to conceal them discreetly, or to change them amiably as the delusions of the majority change. My own views in this department, being wholly skeptical and tolerant, are obnoxious to the subscribers to practically all other views; even atheists sometimes denounce me. At the moment, by an accident of American political history, these dissenters from my theology are forbidden to punish me for not agreeing with them. But at any succeeding moment some group or other among them may seize such power and proceed against me in the immemorial mannner. If it ever happens, I give notice here and now that I shall get converted to their nonsense instantly, and so retire to safety with my right thumb laid against my nose and my fingers waving like wheat in the wind. I'd do it even today, if there were any practical advantage in it. Offer me a box of good Havana cigars, and I engage to submit to baptism by any rite ever heard of, provided it does not expose my gothic nakedness. Make it ten boxes, and I'll agree to be both baptized and confirmed.

  • ||

    I love the assumption that the Nazis were not, in fact, largely Christians. What other fairy tales do you believe in?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,405922,00.html

    http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=paul_23_4

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/Hitler1.htm

  • ||

    "Face it. In this religious society, a "militant atheist" is anyone who makes their disbelief in "God" public knowledge and you are not helping when you side against one of your own to score points with someone who hates you in the first place. No matter how we atheists package ourselves."

    It would be interesting to atheists make their case sans the degradation and ridicule.

    ...and when we do hear about atheists, it's usually has something to do with makin' a big stink about something that most people like and don't think is a big deal. How much time does the average person have to spend on a lawsuit to screw with the city's nativity scene or the prayer they say before football games?

    I'm not saying atheists aren't right on those issues, only that it doesn't surprise me that people slip "militant" in as a word to describe them. Most religious people think of atheists as a mix of the ridicule religious figures have sometimes received during, say, a gay pride parade, that, and the kind of press PETA or Greenpeace gets when pulling a stunt.

    ...people who ridicule people's religious convictions and make a big stink about the city's Christmas tree--if not "militant" what word would you have them use?

  • ||

    "What do they expect to gain by these writings?"

    Besides making money and unburdening themselves, I think they wish to persuade, and there are a fair amount of doubting Christians who are persuaded.

  • Good Xtian||

    Game theory and Christianity

    Good website for you doubters.

  • ||

    Sean:

    You and the Rabbi are making the mistake in thinking that an atheist would be less inclined to disbelieve in a God, if that deity were sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows as the believers do. We don't. There is no more evidence for the existence of a kind God than there is for a wrathful one, just as there was never ever evidence for Zeus, Shiva, Ishtar, Ra, Izanagi, Cernunnus, and all the other gods of the past.

    The problem isn't just "God" here, it's belief in he supernatural that is the problem with humanity. All manner of superstitious shit is accepted a fact. Sylvia Browne and John "The Biggest Douche In The Universe" Edward get's to bilk the public of millions by pretending to speak to the dead while hit TV shows are made about mediums and ghost whisperers. Millions of people believe that prayer, crystals, or "homeopathic" remedies will cure disease while mistrusting treatments derived from evidence and scientific testing. Over half the American people believe that the Earth was created in six calender days and that humanity's progenitors were created with divine breath and mud and lived in garden with a talking snake.

    Religion is just a very large part (perhaps the largest) of a very grave human problem: Credulity.

    Here are the facts. Deal with them. Those who can't should give Dr. Kevorkian a call so those who can don't have to listen to your whining:

    *When you die. You are dead. No heaven. No Hell. No reincarnation. That's it. What you mistake for a "soul" and "free will" are nothing more than a organic computer programmed by millions of years of evolutionary trial-and-error that you keep between your ears.

    Further more, there is no cosmic judge, jury, or executioner. No "sin" or "redemption." Beyond this existence, there is no "justice." Ultimately the "guilty" CAN get away with and the "innocent" CAN be wrongly punished.

    *Eventually humanity will become extinct, either fading away entirely, or evolve into some other species. The Sun will die and the Earth with it taking everything that we were with it. Ultimately the universe itself will die and unless Stephen Hawkings or some future cosmologist finds more information in that arena, it will be end of everything.

    Take that reality for what it is, because it's the only one anyone is going to get.

  • ||

    Good Xtian,

    I pray (almost) you are joking--fucking Pascal's Wager again?

    And, again, magically, the only choice is between non-belief and belief in your dumbass God. Why shouldn't Pascal choose Allah, or Vishnu, or [fill in the blank]?

    Answer: the arbitrary accident of birth that makes the God of Christianity the default deity of your culture (Christmas, Easter, blah blah blah).

    How compelling! What a great source of eternal truth!

  • ||

    Akira-

    As a libertarian type, you seem overly concerned with what people personally believe (without forcing you to do anything), what sort of media they consume (without forcing you to watch), and what they choose to spend their money on (which is presumably not being taken from you.)

    I've got enough stuff to take care of in my own life such that I really don't give a shit if someone wants to buy the DVD collector's set of The X-Files.

  • ktc2||

    Henry,

    Yeah, always cracks me up that so many believers cite the Nazis as "atheists".

    It doesn't take much digging to find out they were doing "gods work".

  • Good Xtian||

    You doubt "Diamond" Jack Holgroth?
    Fool!
    You are damning yourself to hell!
    Save yourself. There is precious little time.

  • ||

    What's your evidence that one answer is more likely than the other?

    True story:

    I came home from work one day, and my deadbolt was unlocked. When I got inside, the living room window had been forced, and about a thousand dollars of electronics was gone.

    Now, I'm inclined to think that someone forced open the window, undid the deadbolt, and walked out the front door with my stuff. It's also possible that someone who had a key to my place (like the landlord), simply came in, took my stuff, then broke open the window to make it look like a burglar had done it.

    I can't prove which scenario happened. Are you seriously suggesting to me that I should assume both to be equally likely until new evidence arrives? Not every two-possible-outcomes event has 50/50 odds.

  • ||

    "I'm an atheist, by the way."

    Noted. I am, too. Wouldn't it be a charming scenario if Hitch found religion after giving up the drink, and wrote eloquent apologetics? Good analysis, thanks.

  • ||

    Gott mit uns!

  • ||

    Good website for you doubters.

    Game theory! Yay! I love game theory, and I happen to know something about it! How fun!

    Oh, wait. That website isn't really game theory. One of the things you have to do is figure out all of the options, not just the first two that spring to mind (Pascal's Wager is not a solution for this reason). He also needs to explain where his weightings come from (for example, why do both parties in his "Golden Rule" solution get double points if they choose "Do Unto Others"? If 1 is "you get what you want," then it should be a 1,1 box). Also, it's important to figure out the relative probability of each option being true, something that the website assumes is 50/50 all the time.

    I don't think this guy is a very good game theorist. Or if he is, he's suppressing it here.

  • ||

    Aw, crap, I just looked at the rest of the website. I've been gulled. It's parody.

  • ||

    You didn't have to spoil my fun, Jake.

  • ||

    Is man merely a mistake of God's? Or God merely a mistake of man's?

    --Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

  • ||

    Is it possible to tell the difference between parody Christianity and true Christianity when men like Pat Robertson and James Dobson are held up as example of the latter?

  • ||

    Sorry, highnumber. But I had to announce that I'd caught my error before someone else did. If I didn't say anything, people all over the world would be saying, "Oh, that Jake Boone. He falls for anything, then pretends he already knew about it."

    That's true, actually, but I don't want the world knowing it.

  • ||

    The Hitchens I admire:

    http://www.theliberal.co.uk/hitchens.htm

    He delicately dissects Ann Coulter's 'Godless', And gentleman that he is, throws her a bone.

  • ||

    It would be interesting to atheists make their case sans the degradation and ridicule.

    Just as they see ANY atheists as "militant," a believer will see ANY criticism of their religion as "degradation and ridicule."

    Speaking of "degradation and ridicule" why should religion and the religious be afforded the the degree of "respect" that most claim it has? To put in in another way, I quote the late, great, Douglas Adams:

    Religion...has a certain idea at its heart that we call sacred, holy, or whatever. What it means is "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not supposed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not? - because you're not!" If someone votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument buy nobody feels aggrieved by it. If someone thinks that taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says "I mustn't love a light switch on a Sunday," you say, "I respect that."

    What are we supposed to think and call adults who talk to an imaginary friend OTHER than delusional? What are we supposed to say someone who thinks that we should be made to lives our lives around the commandments of some moldy old holy book regardless of or own wishes? What are why should we respect people who are will fully ignoring reality to the detriment of all? Why should this religious PC keep anyone from pointing out that is it stupid for someone not turn turn on a light switch on a Sunday, or a Friday, or a Tuesday, just because their "faith" tells them so?

    ...people who ridicule people's religious convictions and make a big stink about the city's Christmas tree--if not "militant" what word would you have them use?

    "Right."

  • V Moose in deh haus||

    Jake - don't worry. your secret is safe for us.

    pppssssttt! Crane - check out what Boone said!

    omg lolz gtfu!

  • ||

    Is it possible to tell the difference between parody Christianity and true Christianity when men like Pat Robertson and James Dobson are held up as example of the latter?

    This is the line that finally clued me in (on the page for the organization's resident exorcist):

    "Whether it be the challenge of exorcising demonic possessions or simply the act of shooing away a gaggle of neighborhood Druids eyeing my cat, Milton, with perverse hunger [...]"

    The "Whether [serious thing] or [absolutely ludicrous thing]" formulation is a dead giveaway that you're looking at parody. I don't think that phrasing occurs in the wild - it has to be hand-reared. Next time you listen to Robertson or Dobson, though, watch for it. It would explain a lot.

  • ||

    As a libertarian type, you seem overly concerned with what people personally believe (without forcing you to do anything), what sort of media they consume (without forcing you to watch), and what they choose to spend their money on (which is presumably not being taken from you.)

    You can't have a free society when people are too stupid and deluded with mystical shit to make it work.

    Besides, I thought "fraud" was one of the few acts that most libertarians thought government intervention could be justified. As far as reality is concerned, "psychics," UFOs, faith healers, and Holy Mother Church constitute fraud in the best sense of the word.

  • Xanthippas||

    "Hitch" only hates religion because so many people have it. If everybody was an atheist, he'd be praying to moon and sacrificing goats once a day.

  • biologist||

    Mackie | April 27, 2007, 3:26pm | #

    The Hitchens I admire:

    http://www.theliberal.co.uk/hitchens.htm

    He delicately dissects Ann Coulter's 'Godless', And gentleman that he is, throws her a bone.


    I would think that if any gentleman had thrown Ann Coulter a bone, she'd be considerably less angry and shrill.

  • ||

    "Religion is just a very large part (perhaps the largest) of a very grave human problem: Credulity."

    Actually, I'd say it's a large part of a human problem--uncertainty.

    The universe is full of uncertainty. Deal with it.

  • ||

    She's insatiable.

  • ||

    Actually, I'd say it's a large part of a human problem--uncertainty.

    That's why we have scientists, Ken.

  • David Ross||

    Slate hasn't told us if Hitchens's lack of footnotes reflects his book, or else Slate's excerpting method from the book; I also don't know how much influence Hitchens had into what Slate excerpted. But Hitchens's facts are generally right.

    That bit about "the Alcoran or the sword" comes from Fawn Brodie's book; which Hitchens does cite in this essay, repeatedly. As for necromancy, please don't look to The Hobbit and your D&D manuals for the definition; the term means communing with the dead, which is exactly how Smith claimed to have got the golden plates, viz. from the once-mortal-chieftain-now-angel Moroni.

    Hitchens's account of Islam's early years entirely echoes the polemics of Ibn Warraq's books. He is however too simplistic about Ibn Ishaq. Even Ibn Warraq admits that the bulk of Ibn Ishaq's narrative is also preserved in Tabari's history. Moreover, Ibn Ishaq's anecdotes are independently preserved in other works of tradition, which show that Ibn Ishaq did rather well by his sources. Hadith analysis is possible (c.f. Harald Motzki) although I agree that most ahadith reflect doctrinal debates within the early Marwanid era (c. 700 AD) more than they reflect what Muhammad did (c. 620).

  • ||

    That's why we have scientists, Ken.

    You're not suggesting that inductive logic can't be applied to questions of theology, are you Akira?

    I'd argue that it can be. It's just that the conclusions drawn are less certain than those drawn from many scientific experiments.

  • ||

    Besides, I thought "fraud" was one of the few acts that most libertarians thought government intervention could be justified. As far as reality is concerned, "psychics," UFOs, faith healers, and Holy Mother Church constitute fraud in the best sense of the word.

    If everyone enters into the contract willingly...

  • Untermensch||

    ...people who ridicule people's religious convictions and make a big stink about the city's Christmas tree--if not "militant" what word would you have them use?

    "Right."



    If that isn't begging the question…

    Akira, I am curious how would you distinguish the practical outcome of your position from that of religion in terms of everything that Hitchens asserts religion does to people? It would give you just as much reason to think people are stupid and, in the hands of anyone but libertarians who would refuse to impose their certitude of being right on others, would turn to just as much oppression as religion can deliver. Unless atheists have a fundamental difference in their nature from religious folks, such unwavering (dare I say dogmatic) certainty of the rectitude of one's position will inevitably lead to someone trying to do in the people who disagree... Or is the difference that you are right?

  • ||

    "Besides, I thought "fraud" was one of the few acts that most libertarians thought government intervention could be justified. As far as reality is concerned, "psychics," UFOs, faith healers, and Holy Mother Church constitute fraud in the best sense of the word."

    I could be persuaded to believe in psychics and UFOs. I could be persuaded to believe that the sun orbits the earth. It would have to take the evidence to the contrary to task--indeed, it would take some mighty definitive evidence. ...but I could be persuaded.

    As a general rule, I don't waste a lot of time talking to people who can't be persuaded by the evidence.

  • Untermensch||

    That bit about "the Alcoran or the sword" comes from Fawn Brodie's book; which Hitchens does cite in this essay, repeatedly. As for necromancy, please don't look to The Hobbit and your D&D manuals for the definition; the term means communing with the dead, which is exactly how Smith claimed to have got the golden plates, viz. from the once-mortal-chieftain-now-angel Moroni.



    I was wrong (I had forgotten the quote), but then he's been rather careless in quoting No Man Knows My History as the spellings have changed, which did make it rather difficult to find. In any event he totally decontextualizes the quote, always something to be careful about.

    As for necromancy, please don't look to The Hobbit and your D&D manuals for the definition; the term means communing with the dead, which is exactly how Smith claimed to have got the golden plates, viz. from the once-mortal-chieftain-now-angel Moroni.



    Actually my issue had to do with the use of quotes, not with the term itself, although if Smith's theology were correct, it would not in fact be necromancy. As far as I know Smith did not claim he had "'necromantic' powers" in 1826 (to quote Hitchens), but his quotes make it appear that Smith was blabbing this to people in a court case. It's just plain sloppy to use quotes in this way to make it appear that put words in Smith's mouth. In any event if you read Quinn's work on the subject (or Brooke's historically problematic book) you get all kinds of interesting stuff, but not anything that I recall to do with necromancy.

    Thank you for the reference to Ibn Warraq. I wasn't that specific. The broad outlines of his argument were common in European discourse at the time, but they just don't hold water...

  • Russ 2000||

    The problem with religion is that 99% of its adherents live in fear and unhappiness even though their theologies all pretty much guarantee eternal bliss.

    The problem with atheism is that 100% of its adherents are generally angry and bitter, with only sporadic bouts of happiness. But at least that's the essence of their dogma.

    Athiesm is really just a procrastinated suicide for the humorless. You are certain you'll get no return on your investment, but you keep investing anyway, a kind of self-flagellation. Religion is a sucker's bet like the lottery, mostly because its investors have tons of belief in time but not an ounce of faith in eternity and the ones who actually do have faith find no need to make any investment in the business whatsoever.

  • ||

    "You can't have a free society when people are too stupid and deluded with mystical shit to make it work."

    Funny, I've heard Marxists say the same thing.

    "Besides, I thought "fraud" was one of the few acts that most libertarians thought government intervention could be justified. As far as reality is concerned, "psychics," UFOs, faith healers, and Holy Mother Church constitute fraud in the best sense of the word."

    How does watching Touched by an Angel constitute fraud?

    For that matter, how does *insert harmless religious belief here* constitute fraud?

    If someone well and truly believes that they've had a supernatural experience, or if having a supernatural belief helps them to live their life, why is it such a huge hang up?

    To blithely assume that every person who holds a religious belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make, and you know it.

  • ||

    For that matter, how does *insert harmless religious belief here* constitute fraud?

    "Harmless"?

    To blithely assume that every person who holds a religious belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make, and you know it.

    To insist on believing in things for which there is zero evidence seems pretty stupid to me. I wouldn't go so far as to call it unfathomable, but it's definitely stupid.

  • David Ross||

    Untermensch: first off, I must thank you for your measured and considerate reply.

    On Mormonism, I haven't read Quinn; but I did read Abanes's "One Nation Under Gods", which was very well researched and - hooray! - foot-noted (especially impressive considering that Abanes was, in effect, moonlighting from his day-job of writing bad evangelical apologetic).

    I wasn't sure if Moroni counted as "necro" enough to be "manced" either. But here on Reason, we can always concede the point and move the goalposts! In that spirit, I found some witness testimony that, before seeing Moroni, Smith saw a VERY dead ghost of a pirate (scroll to page 80). That's necro enough for most, IMO. :^)

    I do have to concede that Hitchens has presented to the reading public a collection of third hand heresiology. I can't budge THAT goalpost. Hitchens is generally right, but he's not original, and readers are better off reading Abanes and Ibn Warraq. (And Brodie, Bagley, Hawting, Crone, Hinds, Motzki, etc)

  • ||

    "To insist on believing in things for which there is zero evidence seems pretty stupid to me."

    Subjective evidence is still evidence.

    People take the Quran or the Bible or the Sermon on the Mount and apply it to their own lives. They test the teachings they find there against their experience of the world, constantly. ...many of them actually use the word "test"--especially when they get sick or a loved one dies...

    ...and you dismiss their observations as not even being evidence? On what basis? ...subjectivity?

  • ||

    As far as reality is concerned, "psychics," UFOs, faith healers, and Holy Mother Church constitute fraud in the best sense of the word.

    Many of their claims are unfalsifiable (thus, "matters of faith"), making it difficult to bring a fraud action against them.

  • ||

    Akira, I am curious how would you distinguish the practical outcome of your position from that of religion in terms of everything that Hitchens asserts religion does to people? It would give you just as much reason to think people are stupid and, in the hands of anyone but libertarians who would refuse to impose their certitude of being right on others, would turn to just as much oppression as religion can deliver. Unless atheists have a fundamental difference in their nature from religious folks, such unwavering (dare I say dogmatic) certainty of the rectitude of one's position will inevitably lead to someone trying to do in the people who disagree... Or is the difference that you are right?

    Did we just cover the whole "atheism equals totalitarianism" bullshit above? Is making sure church and state is separate is "dogmatic?" Is fighting superstition, credulity, and bigoted notions of reality a prelude to dictatorship? Which atheist is calling for theists to be lined up in the street in be shot? Me? Hitchins? Dawkins? So far the only things we're guilty of is having the guts to call God a "delusion" and point out the flaws in his belief and his believes As far as I know, no atheist is talking about ending religion by force:

    Compare that with:

    "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called to by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

    "Or Goal is simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the Ten Commandments. No Apologies."

    --Randall Terry,
    Operation Rescue

    Or how about this:

    "When the Christian majority takes over the country, there will be no satanic churches, no more free distribution or pornography, no more talk of rights for homosexuals. After the Christian majority takes control, pluralism will be seen as immoral and evil and the state will not permit anyone the right practice evil."

    --Gary Potter,
    President,
    Catholics For Christian Political Action

    And WE are the people you're afraid of?

  • ||

    "Harmless"?

    Is there some sort of downside to church pot latch dinners and praying that I'm aware of?

    And if there is a downside, could you clarify how it's fuckin' up your Christmas?

    "To insist on believing in things for which there is zero evidence seems pretty stupid to me. I wouldn't go so far as to call it unfathomable, but it's definitely stupid."

    As well it may be. But does it render these people incapable of balancing their checkbook? Of safely operating a motor vehicle? Or holding down a steady job?

    Jesus Christ. lighten the fuck up.

  • ||

    The problem with atheism is that 100% of its adherents are generally angry and bitter, with only sporadic bouts of happiness. But at least that's the essence of their dogma.

    This is entirely untrue.

  • ||

    "I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good..."

    I get a very similar vibe from pretty much all of your posts about religion.

    In fact, you seem to dwell on your dislike of religious people to an exceptional degree.

  • ||

    As an atheist, I find that religion is so little a part of my life that I relate just fine to people for whom religion is also a small part of their life. Discussing the Bible is fun, and the book has good things and bad things. Do I think people who run their lives by it are schmucks? Depends what they've done in life, not whose church they go to.

  • ||

    And WE are the people you're afraid of?

    No.

    Let's not confuse the enemy with the battlefield. People who want to use Christianity, or any other religion, as some kind of justification for some kind of authoritarianism, they're the enemy.

    Those innocent and gullible souls who might follow the enemy if convinced that the champions of liberty are the enemies of religion, they're the battleground.

    ...and if atheists want to hold strategic points on the battleground, then it would help if they'd stop shooting at those who would champion liberty for being religious.

  • ||

    Don't you people know - if this entry hit 164 comments, Urkobold will appear!
    Refrain, please refrain from commenting!

  • ||

    Funny, I've heard Marxists say the same thing.

    ...and I hear Christians say that man is too "sinful" to be allowed freedom. What's your point?

    How does watching Touched by an Angel constitute fraud?

    There are no angels.

    Fiction is one thing. As long as it's realized that it's fiction. You'd be surprised how many people don't see that line.

    For that matter, how does *insert harmless religious belief here* constitute fraud?

    HARMLESS???? Were the Crusades harmless? How about the inquestion? Were Eric Rudolph and the 9-11 Hijakcers harmless? To be less dramatic, can "psychic surgeons" in the Philippines remove "tumors" (i.e. Chicken guts and blood) from gullible patients by called "harmless?" Were Peter Popoff's antics harmless given how much money he bilked from them (Sadly, he's still around)? Are the bigotries and policies of the Christian right HARMLESS?"

    To blithely assume that every person who holds a religious belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make, and you know it.

    So, when someone claims to talk to an invisible fairy who makes the grass grow and the ran fall most people call them "insane." When they talk to an invisible man in sky who rules the universe, they call him "religious?"

    That makes perfect sense to me... not.

  • Russ 2000||

    Discussing the Bible is fun, and the book has good things and bad things. Do I think people who run their lives by it are schmucks? Depends what they've done in life, not whose church they go to.

    That's exactly why I stopped calling myself an atheist and go with irreligious instead. Too many people with have a rigid dogma and a closed mind have coopted the term "atheist" that I find it describes incorrectly more than correctly. In fact, taking smatterings of spiritual texts, picking and choosing to find a peaceful way of coping from them used to be called catholic, another coopted term.

  • VM||

    Oh great Urkobold!!!

    Pandora is playing "Barbarism Begins at Home" right now. hmmmmmm.

    So grunteth the Urkobold!!!!

  • ||

    Grrrraaaagggghhhrrrrr!!!!!

    Who has summoned Urkobold?
    Urkobold was sleeping.

    I AM YOUR GOD, LOSERTARIANS!!!
    BOW BEFORE ME AND TREMBLE!

    and bring me a piece of cake. Chocolate.

  • ||

    Akira-

    I'll grant you your wish.

    You're totally right about all of that stuff.

    There.

    Now.

    Why the hate? What's it accomplish for you?

  • ||

    Ken Shultz:

    Subjective evidence is still evidence.

    I disagree. I once saw Penn and Teller shoot each other in the face. Since neither died, did I witness a miracle? Or is it rather that my subjective experience was based on an incomplete understanding of what's going on?

    They test the teachings they find there against their experience of the world, constantly. ...many of them actually use the word "test"--especially when they get sick or a loved one dies...

    See, I think you have this one backward. I think when people use "test" in this context, what they're really testing is their ability to keep believing, not so much testing the validity of the actual beliefs. There's a presumption that the belief is valid, it's just whether you can accept it or not.

    mediageek:

    First off, props for the mc chris reference.

    Secondly, I apologize for failing to explain myself, but I found it odd that Ken Shultz felt it necessary to qualify "religious beliefs" with "harmless". I couldn't help but wonder if this was a tacit acknowledgment that there are harmful religious beliefs (which opens a whole can of worms about how one determines which are which). I probably should've skipped that bit.

    Finally, please don't resort to strawmen. I didn't claim religious people can't balance their checkbooks. I said I thought it was stupid to believe in something without evidence. Surely you can accept that sometimes, smart people believe stupid things. I mean, look at me: I'm incredibly smart, and apparently I believe all kinds of stupid shit. This sort of thing isn't all-or-nothing.

  • ||

    I get a very similar vibe from pretty much all of your posts about religion.

    I'm sorry, are you saying we should tolerate intolerance as long as it wraps itself up in the excuse of "faith?"

  • biologist||

    Akira:

    take a deep breath. now let it out slowly.

    those examples you give aren't "harmless" religious beliefs (nor are they beliefs, they are actions), and therefore don't meet the stated criteria.

  • ||

    LET FURY HAVE THE HOUR.
    ANGER CAN BE POWER.
    DON'T YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN USE IT?

    So sayest Urkobold the Fantastic.

  • ||

    "I'm sorry, are you saying we should tolerate intolerance as long as it wraps itself up in the excuse of "faith?"

    No, I'm asking you what it gets you.

  • ||

    What's wrong with preaching to the converted? By this logic, libertarians shouldn't bother writing books because they'll mostly be bought by other libertarians who already agree with them, and libertarians shouldn't read books by libertarians because they're already enlightened enough.

    I love Hitchens, even though he's infuriatingly wrong about some things (Iraq, Bill Clinton). If you think he's a "boring writer", you have no taste.

  • VM||

    *putting up posters saying 'we earn more than you'
    *practice twisted speech

    No chocolate cake for breakfast. Mrs. Urkobold will have a conniption...

  • ||

    Urkobold?

    this+this?

  • Untermensch||

    And WE are the people you're afraid of?



    Actually, no, I'm not afraid of you. It is that certainty that God/science/(insert whatever) has legitimized one viewpoint and that any other viewpoint is by that token stupid that worries me. It is a small step from saying "these people are stupid (but I'll let them be alone)" to saying "I need to save these people" (evangelical zeal) to "I know best and can force them to do what is right."

    As far as I know, no atheist is talking about ending religion by force



    It has happened and will happen again in this world:

    I had a close friend in Hungary (now deceased) who, during the period called vádkommunizmus (Wild Communism) had several classmates in college be taken out and shot for the simple act of stating that they believed in God during the final examination in a Marxism-Leninism class. My friend escaped only by saying, "I believe as is written in the book," which the instructor took to mean the Marxism-Leninism text (which my friend thought was full of crap). Forty years after the fact he still thought of himself as the fraud who was unwilling to stand up for what he believed. So yes, Akira, there are atheists willing to use force against the religious and I see precious little difference between the religious slimeballs you cite who want to stomp out gays and destroy anything they don't like and the breed of non-religious scum that killed my friends classmates.

    I don't fear you or atheists in general, but I fear absolute certainty of one's rectitude, whether one is atheist or religious. Any ideology can lead to such things and to the extent that religion is guilty of such things it is because it is an ideology, not because it is religion.

  • ||

    "I once saw Penn and Teller shoot each other in the face. Since neither died, did I witness a miracle? Or is it rather that my subjective experience was based on an incomplete understanding of what's going on?"

    I was responding to a comment that held that religious beliefs are held without any evidence.

    The subjective evidence you site is...um...evidence.

    I'd argue that considering the people involved were Penn & Teller, that it remains uncertain that they actually shot each other in the face, but that doesn't mean your eyewitness account isn't evidence.

    I'd argue that amid uncertainty, deciding what to assume and how to behave isn't inherently irrational.

  • ||

  • ||

    "To blithely assume that every person who holds a religious belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make, and you know it."

    To blithely assume that every person who holds a socialist belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make. But it's still worthwhile trying to convince those non-stupid people that they're wrong on this particular point.

  • ||

    "No chocolate cake for breakfast. Mrs. Urkobold will have a conniption..."

    Urkobold is great! Give us the chocolate cake!

  • ||

    Urkobold?

    this+this?


    Not funny, mediaGEEK.
    (snicker, snicker)
    You will suffer more than most.
    (Tears rolling down cheeks)
    Urkobold will gnash your bones with his teeth.
    (dear lord, that was funny!)

  • ||

    The subjective evidence you site is...um...evidence.

    IDEOT! LURN TOO SPEL!
    AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO WRITE "UM." YOU ARE WRITING, NOT SPEAKING. FOOL!

  • ||

    To blithely assume that every person who holds a socialist belief is unfathomably stupid is an utterly silly assertion to make.

    YOU MAY NO LONGER USE THE LETTER "Y"

    Urkobold has spoken.

  • ||

    "But it's still worthwhile trying to convince those non-stupid people that they're wrong on this particular point."

    Why?

    Again, stipulating religious people who aren't of the bomb-throwing variety, why is it so important to convince them that they're wrong to go to church on Sunday, sit through a sermon, and then have a cup of coffee and a bear claw after service?

  • ||

    Actually, no, I'm not afraid of you.

    YES, YOU ARE.

  • ||

    Akira:

    take a deep breath. now let it out slowly.


    DON'T LISTEN TO HIM. TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND HOLD IT.

  • VM||

    Between "this + this" and Bart Savagewood, MediaG wins the day!!!!!!

    Urkobold - we beg of you! Please grant MediaG winning status!

    oh great Urkobold! May you have live streaming access to all of the Dead Boys work. May THE JAM always serenade you!!

  • ||

    Many of their claims are unfalsifiable (thus, "matters of faith"), making it difficult to bring a fraud action against them.

    R C Dean,

    You are spared my wrath.

  • ||

    mediageek,

    You will be declared "Winner" if you can answer this one question:

    What are you wearing?

  • ||

    The subjective evidence you [c]ite is...um...evidence.

    No, it isn't. Because I didn't actually see them shoot each other in the face. I saw a series of events which created the illusion of two people shooting each other. What I "witnessed" never actually happened. That's why "subjective evidence" is nothing of the sort. If something can't be independently verified, there's no way to separate "what I saw" from "what I think I saw." [heard/smelled/felt/whatever]

    The brain has an annoying tendency to "fill in the blanks" of an experience in such a way that you can't tell which parts were actual and which were assumed.

  • ||

    ANSWER URKOBOLD!!!

  • ||

    The brain has an annoying tendency...

    SO DO YOU!

    Thus spaketh Urkobold.

  • Untermensch||

    And since Mormonism in particular was bagged on by Hitchins and seems to "enjoy" a reputation as unadulterated lunacy here, I would point out that freedom from force (but not from consequence) is perhaps the most central aspect of Mormon theology. In it the reason the devil is the devil is that he tried to force his will on others and deny them agency and freedom. Joseph Smith taught "Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves," which seems reasonably like a Libertarian statement, even if he and his followers have not always lived up to it (something I chalk up to them being human and not the "saints" they styled themselves).

  • ||

    "What are you wearing?"

    Chainmail and night vision goggles.

  • VM||

    what about those assless chaps we got for you last Festivus?

    *snif.

    /runs off, wailing

  • ||

    URKOBOLD WILL BE IN VM'S BUNK.

  • ||

    "What are you wearing?"

    We're supposed to wear clothes?

  • Untermensch||

    Thus quoth David Ross:

    Untermensch: first off, I must thank you for your measured and considerate reply.



    Thank you for filling in some blanks. I realized after you posted that, due to Slate's strange page formatting that requires you to scroll down and down and down, I'd actually missed half of Hitchins' comments on Mormonism. I still think his criticism is about as sharp and sophisticated as my hillbilly neighbors whose children have crossed eyes and I have a real problem with anyone who wants to argue against something he has obviously not bothered to understand. (Of course, I don't think that "sharp" is exactly what Hitchins wants to go for. Blunt force trauma is more his style...)

    I visited your home page. Interesting stuff. I get the feeling I'd enjoy talking to you, even if we disagree about some things.

  • ||

    Again, stipulating religious people who aren't of the bomb-throwing variety, why is it so important to convince them that they're wrong to go to church on Sunday, sit through a sermon, and then have a cup of coffee and a bear claw after service?

    I realize I wasn't invited to speak on this topic, but I actually have an opinion.

    I'd say the problem is that it encourages "slacktivism". If praying is useless (and as long as we're stipulating for the sake of a hypothetical, why not assume this, too?), then when something bad happens, and religious people pray to their gods to come fix it, they're absolved of any need to actually do something about it.

    Why donate to cancer research when you can just ask god to make cancer go away? It alleviates guilt, which removes motivation to take action.

    Of course, live by the sword, die by the sword. Getting cranks to argue on the Internet probably serves to keep them marginalized.

    Hypothesis: If Cho Seung-Hui had spent more time arguing online, none of us would know his name today.

    SO DO YOU!

    Oh, snap!

  • ||

    LAMAR,
    YOUR PUNISHMENT IS TO BE VIKING MOOSE'S SADDLE. THE BAD NEWS IS THAT HE DOES NOT WEAR THE SADDLE. HE USES IT TO RIDE MR. STEVEN CRANE.

  • ||

    "what about those assless chaps we got for you last Festivus?"

    Um...they're at the assless chap drycleaners?

  • ||

    Oh, snap!

    URKOBOLD SHALL SNAP...YOUR BONES.

  • ||

    URKOBOLD WILL LEARN TO CLOSE TAGS

  • VM||

    oh. okay. at the cleaners. of course. they can get soiled. that's right. and you'd need them to be clean. so ofcoursethey'dbeatthecleaners. cleaners. CLEANERS!

    *wipes eyes, blows nose (PTGDHFEGEGTFTTTT)*

    OH GREAT URKOBOLD! YOU ARE NEEDED! hier

  • ||

    I wouldn't get anywhere near Stephen Crane with VM's saddle horn.

    Mediageek: Don't worry. I just found a pair of double-assed chaps in highnumber's boudoir. They look like they could go to the cleaners as well.

    8)

  • ||

    I'd say the problem is that it [religiousness] encourages "slacktivism". If praying is useless (and as long as we're stipulating for the sake of a hypothetical, why not assume this, too?), then when something bad happens, and religious people pray to their gods to come fix it, they're absolved of any need to actually do something about it.

    Why donate to cancer research when you can just ask god to make cancer go away? It alleviates guilt, which removes motivation to take action.


    I think that's an overgeneralization. Although there are certainly fatalistic strains of religion, there are also those who have such proverbs as "God helps those who help themselves" and "God works through us." And you may have also heard the term "Protestant work ethic."

  • ||


    Why the hate? What's it accomplish for you?


    I don't know if I would call it "hate" as I would "disappointment."

    We humans boast about our rationality and our accomplishments. We landed a man on the moon, virtually eliminated small pox and polio, created Coca Cola, and we created the largest, most successful nation in human history based upon (largely) individual rights.

    That said, we've got a significant portion of Americans believe that the sex lives of this nation's citizens are the business of the state, that all American's must acknowledge and finance the worship of a particular deity (or any), that Bronze Age creation myths should be taught as science, and who voted for a President who sends U.S. troops into an Iraqi meat grinder because his God told him to.

    After all that history and politics have taught us, and despite the half-hearted reassurances that things will get better after 2008, I want to open up the damn window and scream GORRAM IT! WE OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER THAN THIS!

    Now I grew up a very conservative Catholic, yet despite it all, there was something in neural web that kept saying bothering me. Eventualy the so-called miracles, the Gospels, the homilies, and everything else the priests and my father said began to make less and less sense. When I went to college, I was exposed to many new people and ideas, many of which contradicted my religious upbringing. I discovered that is was alright to doubt, so I started to do so in earnest. Eventually I because an atheist.

    Of course, I quickly learned that such a decision gets you branded a pariah in this country. Originally I made the mistake that all you had to do was present the evidence to people and they would come around. Just like I did: How can people NOT see things this way? It's rational. One point logically follows from another. Why can't anyone see that "faith" is a non sequitor? Didn't I just give them the evidence to so why it couldn't' happen that way? What do you mean "God works in mysterious ways?" How can you believe God is all good when... etc. etc. etc.

    It's like banging me head against the wall. There are times I want to shout, COME ON PEOPLE! THE ANSWER IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, WHY CAN'T YOU SEE IT? However, I now realize it's a moot point. They can't see. They don't want to see.

    And that's what burns me up about the faithful most of all; Willful ignorance. While it is humanity's fate to die out one day, I don't believe--not for an instant--that we can make what time mankind has left worthwhile as long as willfully ignore reality which is what religion does. Western history has had one Dark Age already, and I care not to see another in my life time if the Dobsons or the Robinsons (who I believe are far more mainstream than most people would admit) get their way.

    We have shown ourselves to be a species with great potential. I really and truly believe that if we did not squander our resources (time, money, effort) on maintaining mysticism and supernaturalism we can accomplish so much more.

    That's why I'm disappointed in the faithful.

  • ||

    highnumber HAS 4 ASS CHEEKS.
    DO NOT POKE FUN (OR ANYTHING ELSE) AT HIM.

    Urkobold has laid down the law.

  • ||

    And you may have also heard the term "Protestant work ethic."

    URKOBOLD WAS RAISED CATHOLIC.
    STEVO'S PUNISHMENT IS TO KICK AKIRA IN THE TAINT.

  • ||

    those examples you give aren't "harmless" religious beliefs (nor are they beliefs, they are actions), and therefore don't meet the stated criteria.

    It's is belief that lead to and tries to excuse them. If were are willing to condemn Marxism do in large part to the actions of 20th Century Communist States, then why can't we condemn relgion belief by its outcomes?

  • ||

    Edit: It is...

  • ||

    NO EDITS!

  • ||

    I love the way people resolutely goad atheists into an impassioned defense of their position, then sweetly and gently ask them why they're so angry and bitter.

    When I was married to a man like that, my therapist called it passive-agressive emotional abuse.

  • VM||

    but... but... but oh great Urkobold! Stevo and Akira were also raised catholic.

    So should there be lots of taint kicking! Also to URKOBOLD'S FOUR TAINTS OF POWER????

    Akira - 6:07 post. interesting. Although there might be a distinction between "religion as individual's belief" and "religion as political force" - those don't have to be the same. Marxism in politics in the 20th century sure has had terrible consequences. We can also see historical examples of religion and politics ("political religion"?) wreaking havoc, too.

    Look at Stevo's discussions yesterday - apolitical (not as much as Opus wearing the Marlyn Quail wig, but still), interesting, and very well thought out.

    I do realize that you've seen some pretty fucked up shit in the name of an individual's political religion, and that you have a good data set of how those beliefs lead to wishes for certain actions!

    Now if the religious beliefs weren't political - person enjoys aspects {x,y,z} associated with his particular church (golf outings, pot luck suppers, movie night, some philosophical questions raised) but maintains a voting and political set different from those positions proscribed by a church, you'd have a different data set altogether. (much as it's an entirely different kind of flying)

  • ||

    I love the way people resolutely goad atheists...

    YOU ARE DISINGENUOUS.
    YOUR PUNISHMENT IS TO BE GOADED IRRESOLUTELY.

    WITH A WILLOW SWITCH.

    So tooteth Urkobold.

  • ||

    URKOBOLD MUST LEARN TO CLOSE TAGS OR TROLL SELF.

  • biologist||

    Akira:

    Because religion doesn't inexorably lead to those actions. Much good as well as much evil have been accomplished in the name of religion.

    By the way, I'm an agnostic (in the vernacular sense, or an agnostic atheist sensu Grotius).

    Imagine modern-day Akira yelling at young, devout Akira for believing. Would young Akira have listened, or just become more devout? What are the actual effects of your behavior? Are you accomplishing your goal of getting people to behave rationally?

    If you're just sounding off here, fine. I have to do that also at times.

  • ||

    As an atheist myself, I see enough religious nonsense, ignorance, and outright fraud going on around me that, if I had not spent seven years dealing with real, personal, in-your-face abuse, I might be goaded into saying a few impolite things as well.

    Just sayin'. Akira may not be the most popular kid in school, but he can sit at my lunch table anytime, y'all. :)

  • The SAT Moose||

    URKOBOLD:not closing tags::Mere mortal: batin!

  • biologist||

    weekend here
    going home to BATE
    great, great joy

  • ||

    "I love the way people resolutely goad atheists into an impassioned defense of their position, then sweetly and gently ask them why they're so angry and bitter."

    This was not my intention, and I apologize if it came across as such.

  • ||

    LET'S TALK ABOUT ABORTION NOW.

  • ||

    That seems to have done the trick.


    [crawls back under bridge, hiding self-satisfied smile]

  • Kevin Parker||

    "You know, rubbing the noses of the faithful in a big pile of "You're so stupid! Why can't you see how fucking stupid you are you medieval, invisible-superhero-worshipping asshole?!" isn't going to make you any friends, and will not win you an converts."

    I don't know, maybe it will win some converts. At least this is an empirical question.

  • ||

    God I'm sad for them
    their intellect blinded them
    they burn forever

    Praise you holy God
    Your word did convey the truth
    I accept your will

    Libertarian
    your big brain is your downfall
    you will burn in hell

    I pity all of you
    bring on your snarky comments
    matters none to me

  • ||

    brotherben: Poetry is for fags. And God hates fags. So, you know, watch your step.

  • ||

    brotherben,

    YOU WILL BE PUNISHED FOR FAULTY HAIKU.
    YOUR TV WILL SHOW ONLY "FULL HOUSE" FOR ALL OF ETERNITY.
    YOUR GOD HANDED YOUR FATE TO ME. HE ADDED, "HOW YA LIKE ME NOW?"

  • ||

    Dave2,

    GOD CALLED. HE HATES YOU.

    Urkobold has prophesied.

  • ||

    Urkobold®,

    You have been invited to lick my sack and/or my wee-wee. Do not forget to eat my butt, which may or may not contain a longish green turd.

    Yours, etc.
    Jesus Christ, King of Kings

  • ||

    brotherben shall burn
    for the sin of judgemental
    self-righteousness. Yea.

  • ||

    Dave2/Jesus Christ, King of Kings,

    INVITATION DECLINED.

  • dhex||

    "Of course, I quickly learned that such a decision gets you branded a pariah in this country."

    if you live in 'merica, sure. sodom by the sea, however, is another story.

    i got a lot of shit in middle school and high school, to be sure, for being the town atheist and all, but i still find it hard for the most part to take overt bigotry towards atheists seriously. and yeah, i've seen the cnn stuff, and i can imagine small town social sanctioning obviously, but is it really that much of a deal?

    this may very well be a function of geography. i can't imagine having to live in a place where the neighbors were that up in my bizniz, as it were, that my theological inclinations or lack thereof were fodder for the foozball table.

  • Jim Bob||

    Apo pantos kakodaimonos.

    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

    The study of this Book is forbidden. It is wise to destroy this copy after the first reading.

    Whosoever disregards this does so at his own risk and peril. These are most dire.

    Those who discuss the contents of this Book are to be shunned by all, as centres of pestilence.

    All questions of the Law are to be decided only by appeal to my writings, each for himself.

    There is no law beyond Do what thou wilt.

    Love is the law, love under will.

    The priest of the princes,

    Ankh-f-n-khonsu

  • Harley||

    Akira was raised conservative Catholic, that explains a lot. The most ardent atheists are usually the kind that were raised in a very religious household. They were told to be ashamed of their genitals and to hate faggots and when they got older and realized how stupid it was, they decided to become atheist. The problem is they still carry their zeal over from their religious days. At one time they would shake their head and refuse to except Evolution as fact or would accept that the non-religious have ever contributed anything of value, now they refuse to believe that religion doesn't always lead to Crusades and suicide bombings.

    Hey, I'm an atheist and I grew up in a household with an agnostic mother and a mostly non-religious Christian father. Another person who had a lot influence on me was my Grandma who was very skeptical (although not an atheist) of religion and superstition. I never had religion forced on me and I was always taught to look at religion from an intellectual standpoint.

    Does religion always lead to violence and closed minds? No. Judaism has a history of intellectualism and philosophy. The Reform Church and the United Church of Christ openly accept homosexuals and fight religious intervention in science. Buddhism is hardly dogmatic or inherently violent. And when is the last time you saw some Taoists holding signs saying "The Universe Hates Fags"? The problem is not religion in and of itself, but rather dogma in all its forms.

    What about Communist attempts to wipe out religion? Remember all the historic churches destroyed? Remember priceless artwork burned? Remember clergymen shot? What about how the Soviets refused to teach Evolution because competition and survival of the fittest sounded a little too much like capitalism? Sounds pretty dogmatic to me. Not all atheists support that, shit, a vast majority don't. But it is an example of atheists killing people to further their own beliefs. Wanting to stamp out religion using anything other than facts, data, and logical arguing is inherently dangerous. Just don't act like their are no atheists willing to kill or distort science to further their (ir)religious beliefs.

    As for Hitler being an atheist, the arguments for him being one are not about his entire life, but rather during the war years. Most of the quotes supporting his Christianity are during the 20s and 30s. It seems that in the late 30s Hitler became convinced that all religion was a "Jewish fairy tale" and decided to bring back Germanic paganism after the war. He felt it would be better suited for the society he envisioned (it was purely for political purposes, not religious ones). The Nazi top brass was made up of a weird mixture of Catholics, neo-pagans, and atheists with each group having their own reasons for supporting Nazism. Does it matter if Hitler was atheist, Christian, or pagan? No, it does not. Because the Holocaust and war were conducted for reasons that had nothing to do with religion. He hated Jews and wanted to expand Germany. Simple as that. He used every method possible to incited hatred for the Jews including "They killed Jesus", "They control all the banks", "They eat infants", "They are Communists", and pseudoscience claiming that Jews were the vermin of the human race. He covered his based to make sure that no matter what your beliefs were, you had a reason to hate and fear Jews. Hitler wanted what he wanted and would have done/said anything to get it.

    -Harley

  • ||

    you folks are so fun.
    How was my haiku faulty?
    there's a difference between judgement and prophesy.
    Oh yeah, and between prophesy and bat-shit crazy


    BTW. Little house is fine family programming.


    Love you lost!

    I guess you libs are fine with freedom of everything except the freedom to believe in whatever deity I choose. Just cause ya kant understand it , doesnt mean it cant be. for example, women.

  • ||

    Just cause ya kant understand it , doesnt mean it cant be. for example, women.

    Women are easy to understand:

    TANSTAFPBYASTSSBIHTF - There Ain't No Such Thing As Free Pussy But You Aren't Supposed To Say So Because It Hurts Their Feelings!

  • ||

    I guess you libs are fine with freedom of everything except the freedom to believe in whatever deity I choose.

    brotherben: The libertarian creed says 'no aggression', it doesn't say 'no making fun'. Last I checked, no one said "let's send cops to brotherben's place to take away his Chick tracts and Hal Lindsey comic books."

  • ||

    Now I grew up a very conservative Catholic, yet despite it all, there was something in neural web that kept saying bothering me. Eventualy the so-called miracles, the Gospels, the homilies, and everything else the priests and my father said began to make less and less sense. When I went to college, I was exposed to many new people and ideas, many of which contradicted my religious upbringing. I discovered that is was alright to doubt, so I started to do so in earnest. Eventually I because an atheist.

    Really? Given your comments in the past, I thought it was the fact that your family used religion and sundry abuse to screw you the hell up, forcing you to displace the deep anger you feel for them onto religion rather than hating the people who wronged you. But, if the above is the story you're decided to go with, then hey, that's cool too.

  • ||

    I tap three times and implore Urkobold® to reconsider and declare Mediageek the thread-winner on the strength of this comment

    Most astute comment on the subject ever.

  • ||

    "But it is an example of atheists killing people to further their own beliefs."

    There are no "atheist" beliefs that tie atheists to each other or to people like Stalin and Mao. Atheism is the LACK of a specific belief: theism. It isn't a core set of ideas shared amongst all unbelievers.

    "Wanting to stamp out religion using anything other than facts, data, and logical arguing is inherently dangerous."

    Agreed.

    "Just don't act like their are no atheists willing to kill or distort science to further their (ir)religious beliefs."

    Of course there are. NOT being religious doesn't mean that you can't be a jerk, or violent, or a woman, or a baseball player, or anything other than not being religious. But again, the attempt to paint atheism as some sort of unifying philosophy that has to answer for those who try to do bad things is even less coherent than trying to condemn all religion for the act of a few sects of one particular religion. At least the latter has some potential for a grain of truth, even if in practice there rarely anything worthwhile to such criticisms. There is no potential for that in "atheism" because there is nothing that makes atheists have likeminded views on anything. We are an outgroup, not a membership with specific beliefs.

    "As for Hitler being an atheist, the arguments for him being one are not about his entire life, but rather during the war years."

    Look, for the last time, the argument that Hitler was an atheist is just stupid. He wasn't. Even in his final days he still believed in God, it just had by then apparently ceased to be the Christian God. For every quote you can find with him declaring many Christian beliefs to be fairy tales (and note that this is silly, since many CHRISTIANS believe many of these stories are mythical too) we find him still ranting about God's great purpose for himself and Germany.

    "Because the Holocaust and war were conducted for reasons that had nothing to do with religion."

    Again, this is far far too weak of a statement. The antisemitism Hitler was drenched in and, perhaps more importantly, effectively played upon was Christian in origin, with a long long pedigree. Nazism was larger than just Hitler, and in the rank and file, religion had a HECK of a lot to do with things. Read "On the Jews and Their Lies" by Martin Luther, and you will find a virtual blueprint of the development of Holocaust policies. Antisemitism is one of the great historical sins of Christian society which, to its credit, virtually every Christian denomination outgrew and repudiated (in part because of what Hitler did).

  • ||

    Shem,

    mediageek WAS ALREADY "WINNER." ACCOLADES WILL NOT BE PILED ON.

    YOUR PUNISHMENT IS TO EAT LUNCH AT ARBY'S.

    YOU HAVE URKOBOLD'S SYMPATHY.
    URKOBOLD DOES NOT LIKE TO DISH OUT PUNISHMENT SO HARSH.

  • THUNDERCHICKEN||

    *seen in the distance, through the fog*

  • ||

    THUUUUUNNNNNNNDERRRRRRCHIIIIIIICCCKKKKKKKKENNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!

    WHY MUST YOU TORMENT Urkobold?

    SHOW YOURSELF!

  • THUNDERCHICKEN||

    *knows value of Not Being Seen. Will appear again sometime later

    *throws Arby's Extra Value Roast Beast (sic) meal off balcony

  • ||

    GRRRRR!!!!

    STOMP STOMP STOMP!!

    *gets Anthrax song stuck in head. Very distracted. Craves Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich, leaves tag open

  • Nike Dunk Low||

    thanks

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