RIchard Dawkins— Atheists Should Be as Powerful as Jews in America?

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First, I am a great admirer of biologist Richard Dawkins. I thoroughly enjoy his fierce defense of evolutionary biology and his advocacy for atheism. However, I am dismayed by his recent comment on alleged Jewish power in the Guardian a couple of days ago. To wit:

"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told—religious Jews anyway—than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."

Naturally, this remark has been making the rounds of the blogosphere. One interesting comment comes from Chris Dillow's blog on Dawkins' resort to "social proof." To wit:

[Dawkins] seems to believe Jews are small but monopolize US foreign policy because others tell him so. But you could use exactly the same method to believe in God—or at least to be agnostic. God exists as far as many people can see—indeed, many more, for much longer, than believe in Jews' influence on foreign policy.

So, why is Dawkins happy to use social proof in one context, but reject it so violently in another? It would be too glib to say this is an example of how rational people cease to be rational in thinking about politics, because there's something to be said sometimes for the use of social proof.

The comment editor, Daniel Finkelstein, at the (London) Times writes:

So Dawkins, a liberal hero, believes, er, that Jews control world power. And, judging from the Guardian, it is now a part of mainstream debate to say so. Perhaps you think I am over-reacting, but I am a little bit frightened.

I think that's a bit overwrought; nevertheless, those of us who esteem Dawkins are right to be distressed by this uncharacteristic lapse in judgement.

Final note—there is now an atheist lobby in DC, the Secular Coalition for America.

Full disclosure: I have been an atheist since I was about 13 years old.

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  1. Full disclosure: I have been an atheist since I was about 13 years old.

    I knew it. Bailey’s shilling for Big Nothing.

  2. I can understand respecting Dawkins as a biologist, but his arguments against religion are just silly and are as amateurish as are many of the “scientific” arguments made by Creationists.

    As Bailey hints, although he really needs to take it more seriously, the real problem is that Dawkins is as intolerant about Jews, religion, and pretty much anything he disagrees with as he perceives people to be about atheism. Viewers of South Park would already know this.

  3. Oy vey’z mir, Richard! The tsurris you’ve given me!

  4. This is because rationality, like God, does not exist. Modern science is destroying both.

    Humanism is the next big religious scam. “Hey gang, we can act just as moralistic and rigid as the Xtians, but without the unsupportable metaphysical structure!”

  5. It’s fine to be question the existence the Jew’s deity, but whatever you do… don’t question the Jew’s mantle of perpetual victimhood.

  6. I’m right with Ron on this. I’ve been an admirer of Dawkins and have been inspired/heartened at his championing of atheism. However, he has lately shone signs of loosing his grip. It’s so dismaying, he’s in danger of undermining everything he’s built.

  7. Oh, and I nominate BakedPenguin as a first post threadwinner.

  8. Bailey,

    If I recall correctly Dawkins has been making arguments like this for some time. Correct me if I am wrong.

  9. Bailey’s comment shows just how powerful the Jewish lobby actually is:

    The FBI will only say a couple of things about 9/11; one they lack sufficient evidence that Bin Laden was responsible, and two the evidence linking Israel to the attacks is “classified

    Andreas von Bulow served on the parliamentary commission which oversees the three branches of the German secret service.

    Von Bulow believes that the Israeli intelligence service, MOSSAD, is behind the September 11 terror attacks. These attacks, he said, were carried out to turn public opinion against the Arabs, and boost military and security spending. “You don’t get the higher echelons,” von Bulow said, referring to the “architectural structure” which masterminds such terror attacks. At this level, he said, the organization doing the planning, such as MOSSAD, is primarily interested in affecting public opinion.

    The architectural level planners use corrupt “guns for hire” such as Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist who von B’low called “an instrument of Mossad,” high-ranking Stasi (former East German secret service) operatives, or Libyan agents who organize terror attacks using dedicated people, for example Palestinian and Arab “freedom fighters.”

    The terrorists who actually commit the crimes are what von Bulow calls “the working level,” such as the 19 Arabs who allegedly hijacked the planes on September 11. “The working level is part of the deception,” he said.

    “Ninety-five percent of the work of the intelligence agencies around the world is deception and disinformation,” von Bulow said, which is widely propagated in the mainstream media creating an accepted version of events. “Journalists don’t even raise the simplest questions,” he said adding, “those who differ are labeled as crazy.”

    On the day of the 9-11 attacks, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked what the attack would mean for US-Israeli relations. His quick reply was: “It’s very good??.Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy (for Israel)”

    A Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) surveillance team made a public spectacle of themselves on 9-11. The men set up cameras by the Hudson River and trained them on the twin towers. Police received several calls from angry New Jersey residents claiming “middle-eastern” men with a white van were videotaping the disaster with shouts of joy and mockery. “They were like happy, you know ? They didn’t look shocked to me” said a witness.

    They were seen by New Jersey residents on Sept. 11 making fun of the World Trade Center ruins and going to extreme lengths to photograph themselves in front of the wreckage. Witnesses saw them jumping for joy in Liberty State Park after the initial impact. Later on, other witnesses saw them celebrating on a roof in Weehawken, and still more witnesses later saw them celebrating with high fives in a Jersey City parking lot. “It looked like they’re hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park. One anonymous phone call to the authorities actually led them to close down all of New York’s bridges and tunnels. The mystery caller told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that a group of Palestinians were mixing a bomb inside of a white van headed for the Holland Tunnel. Here’s the transcript from NBC News:

    Dispatcher: Jersey City police.

    Caller: Yes, we have a white van, 2 or 3 guys in there, they look like Palestinians and going around a building.

    Caller: There’s a minivan heading toward the Holland tunnel, I see the guy by Newark Airport mixing some junk and he has those sheikh uniform.

    Dispatcher: He has what?

    Caller: He’s dressed like an Arab.

    Why would this mystery caller specifically say that these “Arabs” were Palestinians? How would he know that? Palestinians usually dress in western style clothes, not “sheikh uniforms”. What is really going on here?

    Based on that phone call, police then issued a “Be-on-the-Lookout” alert for a white mini-van heading for the city’s bridges and tunnels from New Jersey. When a van fitting that exact description was stopped just before crossing into New York, the suspicious “middle-easterners” were apprehended. Imagine the surprise of the police officers when these terror suspects turned out to be Israelis!

    According to ABC’s 20/20, when the van belonging to the cheering Israelis was stopped by the police, the driver of the van, Sivan Kurzberg, told the officers:

    “We are Israelis. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are your problem.”

    Why did he feel that Palestinians were a problem for the NYPD? No Palestinian suicide attacks have taken place in New York City, and none of the supposed 9/11 hijackers were traced to Palestine!

    The police and FBI field agents became very suspicious when they found maps of the city with certain places highlighted, box cutters (the same items that the hijackers supposedly used), $4700 cash stuffed in a sock, and foreign passports. Police also told the Bergen Record that bomb sniffing dogs were brought to the van and that they reacted as if they had smelled explosives. The Jerusalem Post later reported that a white van with a bomb was stopped as it approached the George Washington Bridge, but the ethnicity of the suspects was not revealed. Here’s what the Jerusalem Post reported on September 12, 2001:

    “American security services overnight stopped a car bomb on the George Washington Bridge. The van, packed with explosives, was stopped on an approach ramp to the bridge. Authorities suspect the terrorists intended to blow up the main crossing between New Jersey and New York, Army Radio reported. TCM Breaking News reported that the van was laden down with tons of explosives.”

    What’s really intriguing is that ABC’s 20/20, the New York Post and the New Jersey Bergen Record all clearly and unambiguously reported that a white van with Israelis was intercepted on a ramp near Route 3, which leads directly to the Lincoln Tunnel. But the Jerusalem Post, Israeli National News (Arutz Sheva) and Yediot America, all reported, just as clearly and unambiguously, that a white van with Israelis was stopped on a ramp leading to the George Washington Bridge, which is several miles north of the Lincoln Tunnel.

    There may have been two white vans involved, one stopped on each crossing. This would not only explain the conflicting reports as to the actual location of the arrests, but would also explain how so many credible eye-witnesses all saw celebrating “middle-easterners” in a white van in so many different locations. It also explains why the New York Post and Steve Gordon (lawyer for the 5 Israelis) originally described how three Israelis were arrested but later increased the total to five. Also, it is possible that the story was changed in the Israeli newspaper to discredit the original.

    Perhaps one van was meant to drop off a bomb while the other was meant to pick up the first set of drivers while re-crossing back into New Jersey? If a van was to be used as a parked time-bomb on the GW Bridge, then certainly the drivers would need to have a “get-away van” to pick them up and escape. And notice how the van (or vans) stayed away from the third major crossing -the Holland Tunnel- which was where the police had originally been directed to by that anti-Palestinian 9-1-1 “mystery caller”. A classic misdirection play. From there, the story gets becomes even more suspicious. The Israelis worked for a Weehawken moving company known as Urban Moving Systems. An American employee of Urban Moving Systems told the The Record of New Jersey that a majority of his co-workers were Israelis and they were joking about the attacks. The employee, who declined to give his name said: “I was in tears. These guys were joking and that bothered me.” These guys were like, “Now America knows what we go through.”

    A few days after the attacks, Urban Moving System’s Israeli owner, Dominick Suter, dropped his business and fled the country for Israel. He and his Israeli co-workers were in such a hurry to flee America that some of Urban Moving System’s customers were left with their furniture stranded in storage facilities.

    It was later confirmed that the five detained Israelis were in fact Mossad agents. They were held in custody for 71 days before being quietly released. Some of the movers had been kept in solitary confinement for 40 days. Several of the detainees discussed their experience in America on an Israeli talk show after their return home.

    Said one of the men, denying that they were laughing or happy on the morning of Sept. 11, “The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.” How did they know there would be an event to document on 9/11?

    Here is a possible scenario:

    1. The Israeli “movers” cheered the 9-11 attacks to celebrate the successful accomplishment of the greatest “false flag” spy operation ever pulled off in history.

    2. One of them, or an accomplice, then calls a 9-1-1 police dispatcher to report Palestinian bomb-makers in a white van headed for the Holland Tunnel.

    3. Having thus pre-framed the Palestinians with this phone call, the Israeli bombers then head for the George Washington Bridge, instead, where they will drop off their time-bomb van and escape with Urban Moving accomplices.

    4. But the police react very wisely and proactively by closing off ALL bridges and tunnels instead of just the Holland Tunnel. This move inadvertently foils the Israelis’ misdirection play and leads to their own capture.

    5. Helping to muddle things, the U.S. Justice Department rounds up over 1000 Arabs for minor immigration violations and places them in New York area jails. The Israelis therefore become less conspicuous as the government and media can now claim that the Israelis were just immigration violators caught in the same dragnet as many other Arabs.

    6. After several months, FBI and Justice Department “higher-ups” are able to gradually push aside the local FBI agents and free the Israelis quietly.

    According to a 61-page report, drafted after an investigation by the DEA and the US immigration service, the Israelis were organized into cells of four to six people. The significance of what the Israelis were doing didn’t emerge until after September 11, 2001, when a report by a French intelligence agency noted “according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida, from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells”.

    The report contended that Mossad agents were spying on Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehi, two of leaders of the 9/11 hijack teams. …

    A French intelligence report says the leader of the Mossad cell in Florida rented apartments “right near the apartment of Atta and al-Shehi”.

    Osama bin Laden was immediately blamed for the 9/11 attacks even though he had no previous record of doing anything on this scale. Immediately after the Flight 11 hit World Trade Center , CIA Director George Tenet said “You know, this has bin Laden’s fingerprints all over it.”

    The compliant mainstream media completely ignored the Israeli connection. Immediately following the 9-11 attacks, the media was filled with stories linking the attacks to bin Laden. TV talking-heads, “experts”, and scribblers of every stripe spoon-fed a gullible American public a steady diet of “Arab Terrorist” propaganda.
    But bin Laden strongly denied any role in the attacks and suggested that Zionists orchestrated the

    9-11 attacks. The BBC published bin Laden’s statement of denial in which he said:

    “I was not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States nor did I have knowledge of the attacks. There exists a government within a government within the United States. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; to the people who want to make the present century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. That secret government must be asked as to who carried out the attacks. …

    A number of intelligence officials have raised questions about Osama bin Laden’s capabilities. “This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he’s running this operation?” one C.I.A. official asked. “It’s so huge. He couldn’t have done it alone.” A senior military officer stated that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved.

    To date, the most damning evidence against Bin Laden is barely audible fuzzy amateur video that the Pentagon just happened to find “lying around” in Afghanistan. The real Bin Laden has a thin face, is left-handed and does not wear gold rings on his finger (Forbidden by Islam). The Bin Laden in the video who “confessed” to being behind the 9/11 attacks had a fat face, is right handed, and is wearing gold jewelry, which is why a number of foreign intelligence experts say the video is a fake.

    Gen. Hameed Gul, head of Inter Services Intelligence, the equivalent of a CIA-cum-FBI combination of Pakistan, during the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, was interviewed shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and repeated the accusation that Mossad agents were involved in the operation.

    Asked to consider the possibility that bin Laden — or OBL as he is referred to in Pakistani conversations — was lying to him and is indeed guilty as charged by the United States, Gul said, “If Taliban are given irrefutable evidence of his guilt, I am in favor of a fair trial. In America one is entitled to a jury of peers. But he has no American peers. The Taliban would not object, in the event of a prima face case, to an international Islamic court meeting in The Hague. They would extradite Osama to the Netherlands.”

    Gul said that his friend bin Laden had sworn to him on the Koran that he was not involved.

    “From a cave inside a mountain or a peasant’s hovel,” Gul asked, how could bin Laden mount such a sophisticated operation? “Let’s be serious,” he said with a smile. “Mossad and its American associates are the obvious culprits,” he added by asking,
    “Who benefits from the crime?”

    Asked why Israel would benefit, Gul replied, “Israel knows it has a short shelf-life before it is overwhelmed by demographics (and it) has now handed the (Bush administration) the opportunity it has been waiting for to consolidate America’s imperial grip on the Gulf and acquire control of the Caspian basin by extending its military presence in Central Asia.”

    Asked if the United States was now his enemy, Gul replied, “Is the U.S. national interest in contradiction with the Muslim world? The U.S. needs oil, as do its European allies. You have between 6 and 8 million American Muslims and their ranks are growing. About the same number in Europe. Israel aside, we are America’s natural allies. Professor Sam Huntington in his (book) ‘Clash of Civilizations’ puts Confucius and Judeo-Christians in one corner, and us in the other. His prescription is wrong but is being adopted by Bush 43 who has now put 60 countries on his hit list. This is the diabolical school that wants to launch an anti-Muslim ‘crusade.’ Muslims understood what Bush meant when he used that word. We need a meeting, not a clash, of civilizations.”

    Horst Ehmke, who coordinated the German secret services directly under German prime minister Willi Brandt in the 70s, predicted a similar terrorist attack in his novel, Torches of Heaven, published last year, in which Turkish terrorists crash hijacked planes into Berlin.

    Although Ehmke had long expected “fundamentalist attacks,” when he saw the televised images from September 11, he said it looked like a “Hollywood production.” “Terrorists could not have carried out such an operation with 4 hijacked planes without the support of a secret service,” Ehmke said, although he did not want to point to any particular agency.

    “The most important thing in the struggle against terrorists, who are abusing religion, is the battle for the soul of the people and the nations,” Ehmke said. “If this isn’t resolved successfully, the 21st Century could be bloodier than the last.”

    A former Stasi agent who had warned the German secret service of terror attacks in America between September 10-20 told AFP that a high ranking Stasi chief named Jurgen Rogalla, who is “an airplane terror specialist,” was probably involved in the attacks of September 11 along with Abu Nidal.

    Both Nidal and Rogalla work with the Mossad, the former agent told AFP. Nidal, was said to be in Baghdad, and is a “leading officer for some Mossad agents.” The agent said that Nidal was “involved directly” in the events of September 11.

    On October 10, 2001, CNN made a briefly mentioned a foiled terrorist bomb plot on the Parliament building in Mexico. They promised to bring any further developments of this story to their viewers, but the incident was never heard of again in the mainstream U.S. media outlets. But the story appeared in bold headlines on the front page of major Mexican newspapers and was also posted on the official website of the Mexican Justice Department.

    Two terror suspects were captured in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. They had in their possession a high powered gun, nine hand grenades, and C-4 plastic explosives (great stuff for demolishing buildings!) Within days, this blockbuster story not only disappeared from the Mexican press, but the suspects were quietly released. The two terrorists were Salvador Gerson Sunke and Sar ben Zui Sunke. Gerson is a Mexican of Jewish origin, and Zui is a colonel with the Israeli Intelligence Services. (MOSSAD).
    The story in El Diario de Mexico went on to reveal that the terrorists possessed forged Pakistani passports. Israel worked diligently to secure the release of these two suspects, who were then quietly deported. Many Mexicans expressed outrage at their prompt release, but to no avail.

    The probable motive of this unsuccessful terrorist operation was to involve oil rich Mexico in the “War on Terrorism”. Mexico is no military power, but the psychological trauma of an “Arab” attack on Mexico would have encouraged Mexico to provide more cheap oil to her American “protector”, as well as aligning her more closely with Israeli against the “War on Terror.” Had the operation against Mexico succeeded, it is probable that the fake passports from an Arab country would have been discovered (in this case Pakistan), along with the usual copy of the Koran, or other references to “Muslim Jihad.” Most likely there would have been “connections” with Osama Bin Laden and “El Qaeda.”

    The following is a synopsis of the material which appeared in the Mexican Press:

    Two Israelis were arrested inside the Palacio Legislativo de San L?zaro (Mexican Congress) in Mexico City. Both were armed with 9 mm automatics and one was carrying a military hand grenade, electrical wiring and other bomb related materials. The Israeli Embassy at Sierra Madre 2155, colonia Lomas de Chapultepec has close its doors to the Mexican Press and are refusing to talk. The incident has been independently verified through Mexican diplomatic, press and other sources in Mexico City.

    The Chief of Legislative Security, Salvador Alarc?n, has also confirmed the arrest of the two Israeli terrorists. One of them Saur Ben Zvi is a confirmed citizen of Israel and the other, Salvador Guersson, recently immigrated to Mexico from Israel. It is has been determined by the Procuradur?a General de la Rep?blica (Mexican Department of Justice) that Guersson is a retired Colonel of the Israeli Defense Forces and that he may now be operating as a MOSSAD agent. It is not known how they were able to penetrate the extensive security system of the Mexican Legislative Palace.

    The two Israelis had entered through the highly secured front entrance of the Palacio Legislativo de San L?zaro. the two terrorists had taken advantage of a situation that occurred around 1700 hours of Wednesday October 10 when a large contingent of Sugar Industry Unionists were entering through the metal detectors. The two Israelis followed about 50 of the unionists to the office of the President of the Mexican Congress Beatriz Paredes. The two Israelis were first pretending to be press photographers but called the attention of the sugar unionists because of their nervous and out of the ordinary behavior. About ten of the unionists confronted them and observed that they were carrying guns and and what looked to them to be explosives. They held the two Israelis until Official Congressional Security personnel took them into custody. The head of Congressional Security Salvador Alarc?n verified that the Israelis had in their possession nine hand grenades, sticks of dynamite, detonators, wiring and two 9mm “Glock” automatics.

    The PGR has released the retired Israeli I.D.F. colonel with the official explanation that he had a legal permit to carry a gun. They also released the illegal Israeli immigrant on about $4000 bail and the case turned over to the Mexican immigration authorities. Mexican Congressional Press Secretary Lic. Adriana Lopez was surprised to hear from La Voz de Aztlan of the release of the two Israelis.

    The Israeli Embassy used heavy handed measures to have the two Israelis released. Very high level emergency meetings took place between Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Jorge Gutman, General Macedo de la Concha and a top Ariel Sharon envoy who flew to Mexico City specially for that purpose. El?as Luf of the Israeli Embassy worked night and day and their official spokeswoman Hila Engelhart went into high gear after may hours of complete silence. What went one during those high levels meetings no ones knows, but many in Mexico are in disbelief at their release. Guns and any kind of explosive is highly illegal for Mexican citizens and the fact that these two Israelis had them inside the Mexican Congress makes their release highly suspect. What is really going on?

    Jorge Gutman, the Mexican Foreign Secretary, has very strong political connections with Israel and himself is of Jewish descent. Mexican Army General Macedo de la Concha has strong connections to the U.S. Military Industrial-Complex and through this to the Israeli Defense Forces. Have any of these connections influenced the decision to release the two terrorists?

  10. S of S: Really? I haven’t seen if he has been. That would be bad. Have you any links to share?

  11. “When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”

    Judging by the quoted piece alone, this doesn’t strike me as implying that Jews control world power or monopolize anything. Just that their influence seems disproportional to their numbers and that if atheists could get their shit together in a similar manner, maybe the whole “Christian Nation” and “God Fearing Nation” shtick could be knocked down a peg

    Now maybe he has said other stuff that implies he thinks TEH JOOS control the world, but I don’t see to get it from this quote. In fact this quote seems downright reasonable and more of a knock on the ability of atheists to organize and lobby than anything else.

  12. Full disclosure: I have been an atheist since I was about 13 years old.

    This disclosure is inconsistent with previous disclosures. I thought you’d mentioned being methodist or something, then trying something else, until you just dumped the whole mess?

    Dawkins is a total jerk. Im shocked those who ‘esteem’ him took this long to get a glimpse at it.

    And why does a ‘Secular Coalition’ = Atheism? Is there no grey area here?

    “The Secular Coalition for America is the only organization in the nation whose primary purpose is lobbying Congress on behalf of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans”

    Self-described “Athiests” would represent the tiniest fraction of this constituency, so I think thats a little misleading.

  13. I don’t get what is so compelling about Dawkins in the first place. After reading his work, I always feel I am supposed to believe his view simply because his view is impregnated with smugness and pomposity. His remarks about the Jewish Lobby align exactly with his line of thinking on everything else I’ve read of his. Dawkins sees black and white in a world full of shades of grey, and frankly, I want my intellectuals to see in color. He is nowhere close…..nowhere.

  14. Full disclosure: I have been an atheist since I was about 13 years old.

    Damned child prodigies, always bragging about their prodigiousness. 😉

  15. Gould’s NOMA was the best response to Dawkins. Science can tell us the likely results of our actions, no more. There are valid theist and atheist sources for morality, but science is not one of them. The war on drugs shows what happens when people talk science but enforce morals.

  16. Ron Bailey,

    I think he made a similar comment at the talk he gave in Lynchburg. I’d have to watch the whole thing again to check, however.

  17. Mr. Westerman,

    Seek help.

  18. The Bush administration is full of Jews that hold dual Us-Israeli citizenship.

  19. I agree with Tom, it sounds like a reasonable, “This group is punching above it’s weight class.” Does anybody doubt that AIPAC is a fantastically successful group that has more influence than one would expect with the size of its constituency?

  20. Douglas Westerman | October 9, 2007, 11:48am | #

    (Warren, watch this…)

    Douglas: “I find your ideas intregueing, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter”

    See what I mean?

    As a side note, what the fuck. All you do is have to say something like “jewish lobby” and it’s like a super-powered asshole magnet. If we combined that power with the effect of “illegal immigrants” we could probably create some new form of energy… it might even be the key to unified field theory. Gravity is in fact a function of assholes.

  21. So, Douglas Westerman, 9/11, teh joooos did it, huh?

    That seems to be the gist of your long piece of crap rant.

    Not that anyone with any sense would bother to read it. The first couple of sentences give it away.

  22. What exactly does Dawkins want “Atheists” to use that power for? What would be an “atheist” political agenda? Jews, if you believe the Dawkins, have an agenda, saving Israel. I don’t see how many of the nuts and bolts political issues of the day have anything to do with Atheism. What about Atheism makes you say a communist or believer in the welfare state or radical libertarian or any a free trader or nativist? I can’t think of one pressing issue of the day where atheism would define one’s views on it. The only thing I could see that would be unique to atheists would be some kind of coordinated program to deny religious liberty and destroy religion as a force in society. If that is what Dawkins means, then yeah he is pretty creepy and has little or no respect for freedom. I don’t think he means that. I don’t think he knows what he means other than that he is smart and should be in charge of everything. He seems pretty certain of that.

  23. That Westerman rant is frightening. $5 to anyone that can read the whole thing and keep their sanity.

  24. Note to wingnuts: break your crazy rants into several shorter, more easily digested posts. You’ll get more readers and we’ll get more laughs.

  25. It’s so incredibly annoying when all people can say about Dawkins is that he’s a “smug” “arrogant” “jerk.” Actually, he’s quite a personable man, a brilliant scientist, and quite correct about there not being a God. Something besides ad hominems please, children?

  26. Ron Bailey,

    It was at Lynchburg, though the talk was hosted by Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (as i understand it the college is in a town around Lynchburg).

  27. Is anybody here saying that the Jewish lobby isn’t powerful? Or even that the Jewish lobby is less powerful than the secularists? Given the fact that the Jews have a country and the atheists don’t, is it surprising that they are more influential? Sure, the word “monopolize” goes too far. But surely you aren’t denying his fundamental point…that certain minority religions exert influence disproportionate to their population?

    You say the word “Jewish” and everybody stiffens up and thinks of the most PC thing they can say.

  28. I must admit that I don’t understand the religion of atheism. It’s like being a hardcore fan of a football team that you know will never win a game.

  29. Actually, he’s quite a personable man, a brilliant scientist, and quite correct about there not being a God

    Dude, i spit coffee on my mac.

    That shit is so funny i dont know where to start.

    Lets try here = maybe you dont find him pompous because… (guess? Hint – start with your username, then work backwards)

    har har

  30. Dan T scores a point =

    It’s like being a hardcore fan of a football team that you know will never win a game.

    I like that. Possibly because I’m a knicks fan.

  31. “I must admit that I don’t understand the religion of atheism. It’s like being a hardcore fan of a football team that you know will never win a game.”

    No. Religion is like going to the game, and even though there are no players on the field, you convince yourself that a game occurred. Atheism simply skips the game and goes duck huntin’.

  32. “Lets try here = maybe you dont find him pompous because… (guess? Hint – start with your username, then work backwards)”

    I happen not to find him pompous because I’ve seen him speak. From my point of view he’s objectively actually quite humble–since in comparison his adversaries are the ones claiming to know how the universe works sans evidence.

    But really my point is, pompous or not, his personality has nothing to do with the correctness or incorrectness of his ideas. It also indicates that those who engage in these ad hominems haven’t actually read his work but are just jumping on the sacred middle-ground bandwagon, which requires calling atheists pompous.

  33. $5 to anyone that can read the whole thing and keep their sanity.

    IT’S FOREVER IN THERE

  34. Hi all: The work I particularly admire are his books The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene.

  35. Look at the other things Dawkins says. He says

    “I would free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community”

    How would he plan to do that? Would Dawkins really want to make it illegal to take a child to church or for parents to teach their children religion? Note, he doesn’t say by the government he says indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or community. He is talking about real totalitarian control of parents and family life here.

    I don’t care how personable the guy is. Hell, even Hitler had a girlfriend. If you believe in freedom and personal choice that is really disturbing stuff.

  36. “From my point of view he’s objectively actually quite humble–”

    I am sorry but humble people don’t want to control the way people raise their children. There is nothing humble about saying that you know what is good for everyone else.

  37. Most of the colonial colleges started as seminaries. The science and humanities departments split from the seminaries so they could keep their funding after the 1st ammendment came arround. Humanities professors already get tons of government support to write papers about how we should live our lives. What more does Dawkins want?

  38. John sez

    The only thing I could see that would be unique to atheists would be some kind of coordinated program to deny religious liberty and destroy religion as a force in society.

    I agree… I think the main thrust would be to rewrite the establishment clause to more clearly mean “Freedom FROM religion” which many on the left are convinced it means… despite 1000s of judgements to the contrary.

    Dawkins is simply offended by humankinds inability to ‘advance’ to his level, where he can confront the void alone and contemplate the universe without the stain of mysticism or poetic-anthropomorphic interpretation of the way things work.

    basically, he wants everyone to be a boring shit like him. If Burroughs were alive he’d call Dawkins a True Shit for refusing to leave people to their own chosen myths. There’s always a busybody out to convince you to be more like them.

  39. To trot out the old quote yet again:

    Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  40. Anyway, I find Dawkins to be a rather humorous individual. Certainly he doesn’t pull any punches, but, from what I’ve seen of him in interviews, he’s seems quite witty and a conversation with him would likely be a heck of a lot of fun and informative.

  41. To deny that the Israel lobby has a great deal of power and influence is just silly. It’s not a conspiracy or some big secret, the facts are in plain sight. Some groups have influence and some (like anti-war groups or libertarians) don’t. And gov’t policy behaves accordingly.

  42. I don’t know anything about Dawkins other than the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone think he’s a smug asshole. However, as an atheist who refers to himself as an agnostic, all I can say is that I refer to myself as an agnostic so as not to be associated with athiests, many of whom are…smug assholes.

    One has to take care that we do not become the monsters we fight (thank you Nietzsche). If you are so absolutely convinced about how correct you are, you sort to resemble somebody that operates on–wait for it–faith.

  43. jtuf,

    As I understand it, religion was shunted off into its own department largely during the 19th century. That’s not particularly surprising as a materialistic outlook grew throughout that century.

  44. I must admit that I don’t understand the religion of atheism. It’s like being a hardcore fan of a football team that you know will never win a game.

    Better than being a hardcore fan of a football team that regularly kills people for beings fans of other teams.

  45. Interesting, recent below-the-fold on Mr. Bailey, the Jewish people and atheism:

    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/122721.html#796020

  46. “Now maybe he has said other stuff that implies he thinks TEH JOOS control the world, but I don’t see to get it from this quote. In fact this quote seems downright reasonable and more of a knock on the ability of atheists to organize and lobby than anything else.”

    I think Chicago Tom is correct in his analysis. That’s also my take.

  47. Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    Perhaps, but then again nobody refers to themselves as a non-stamp collector or attends meetings with other non-stamp collectors where they discuss not collecting stamps.

  48. “I don’t know anything about Dawkins other than the fact that Trey Parker and Matt Stone think he’s a smug asshole.”

    …and it turns out, both the pot and the kettle are black!!!

  49. “I would free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community”

    I am going to beat this dead horse some more because it really pisses me off. The assumption behind this seems to be that if you are indoctrinated into a religion as a child, you have no choice but to follow that religion as an adult. Of course Dawkins himself, at least according to wikipedia, admits to being raised Anglican. I guess only super beings like he can raise themselves beyond this indoctrination and know the truth. God knows it is just rare and unheard of for someone to be raised in a religious tradition to later renounce that tradition. The solution clearly is to free people from religious propaganda by curtailing their freedom of expression, assembly and thought through strict prohibitions against prophesizing religion, even to ones own children.

    Dawkins is a piece of shit. Thank God, he doesn’t hold any position of responsibility or power.

  50. Coraxo de Unepeh: Adraman, Arzulge, Belmagel, Paulacarp, Sendenna- niis pahmabet! Mahorela des Ors- de dosig od bagie od ciaofi. Quasbe Lucifitian od olprit! Chiso hami de cnila drix siatris od teloc. Chiso tibibp enay de Caosga der phama te eol nos ialpor drilpa lansh peh ors de.

    Vaoan arbepesa ar argedco!

  51. “Perhaps, but then again nobody refers to themselves as a non-stamp collector or attends meetings with other non-stamp collectors where they discuss not collecting stamps.”

    And this is the vast minority of atheists. I have to assume you know this, so what’s your ultimate point? That a not-stamp collector who browses through a stamp shop ruins it for everybody who couldn’t give a shit about stamps?

  52. Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    No, agnosticism is a religion is like not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism is a religion like agitating against stamp collection is a hobby (and wotta stoopid hobby!).

  53. “I am going to beat this dead horse some more because it really pisses me off.”

    Go for it. Dawkins is brilliant when discussing the existence of God. He is not very good when discussing the policies that should be borne by the non-existence of god.

  54. “And this is the vast minority of atheists. I have to assume you know this, so what’s your ultimate point? That a not-stamp collector who browses through a stamp shop ruins it for everybody who couldn’t give a shit about stamps?”

    If you don’t collect stamps, that is your business. But if you walk around claiming that those who do collect stamps are the root of all evil in the world and how stamp collecting and the teaching of stamp collecting to children needs to be stopped, you become a bit more than just a “non-stamp collector”.

  55. “Atheism is a religion like agitating against stamp collection is a hobby”

    No, that’s a small, but perhaps vocal, minority. If this weren’t the case, Ronald Bailey wouldn’t have to announce that he’s an atheist, because it would be pounded into our ears by now.

  56. Does the “Jewish Lobby” have a dispropotionate influenc on U.S. policy? Propbably. Jews are more educated than the average American. Jews are wealthier than the average American. Jews have valid historical reasons to desire influence on governmental policies. Add it up. It’s not a conspiracy any more than MADD is a conspiracy. Jeez.

  57. “Perhaps, but then again nobody refers to themselves as a non-stamp collector or attends meetings with other non-stamp collectors where they discuss not collecting stamps.”

    Atheism is a lack of a belief in the existence of a god or gods.

  58. John, I assume we posted 12:22’s at the same time. Perhaps my post clarifies.

  59. Hell, why couldn’t I be a vocal agnostic? Instead of saying there is no god, I could just as easily be shrill about ambiguous evidence or my uncertainty. The distinction between atheism and agnosticism is not defined by the number or loudness of cranks on the fringe of each belief system.

  60. And this is the vast minority of atheists. I have to assume you know this, so what’s your ultimate point? That a not-stamp collector who browses through a stamp shop ruins it for everybody who couldn’t give a shit about stamps?

    There are plenty of people, myself included, who are not religious one way or another. My point is simply anybody who self-describes as an “atheist” is religious as he’s adopted on faith a collection of subjective and unprovable beliefs.

    It’s strange that anybody would choose this religion as it doesn’t bother giving you a purpose or reason to live. Oh well.

  61. Had a post, but Rattlesnake Jake said it better.

  62. Dawkins argument doesn’t seem especially well thought out. Even granting his premise (with which I disagree), it is pretty obvious why there is no athiest coalition. Uh, athiesm in itself is insufficient common cause to become politically motivated? I understand saying that reasonable people need to ferret out policies proposed for religious reasons, but to identify all reasonable people with the sort of activist atheist Dawkins wants to see is probably unrealistic.

  63. Dan, I’m an atheist. I lack belief in the existence of a god or gods. What “collection of subjective and unprovable beliefs” have I adopted?

  64. In a lot of ways for an atheist there is something of a Catch-22 regarding the public discussion of atheism. If one discusses the matter publicly one is often labelled an evangelical atheist. On the other hand, staying in the closet on the matter doesn’t seem that great of an option either.

  65. …and it turns out, both the pot and the kettle are black!!!

    Ha, good point. However, I would say that Matt and Trey are more smart-ass punks than smug assholes. Shades of grey.

    More seriously, though, they had a point with their episode(s) regarding Dawkins, which was that once you get too sure about being right, you become intolerant of other viewpoints.

    John is right that any guy who advocates taking children away from their parents to be raised how he thinks they should be raised has serious problems, especially from a libertarian viewpoint. Just because you agree with his athiesm shouldn’t blind you to any authoritarian impulses he may have.

  66. Dawkins is being distorted behind comprehension intentionally by the very lobby in question. He should not have said Jewish lobby, he should have been more precise and said Israeli lobby, which indeed is very powerful in US politics. And they are unrelenting over two things 1) anyone who doesn’t toe the line on Israel and 2) anyone who mentions that the Isreali lobby exists. And they intentionally confuse opposition to the Isreali lobby with anti-semitism. It’s disgusting but it works.

    Dawkins hedged what he said a couple of times. First he said “more or less monopolise” and he said “as far as many people can see.” Considering he is saying this how many people see it, and it is, what is the controversy? His statement is true on the face of it, many people do see it this way.

    He doesn’t say control foreign policy but “more or less monopolise” it which is different. Anyone who doesn’t think a disproportionate share of US foreign policy is centered on Israel hasn’t been paying attention. Isreal gets more attention in foreign policy than South America and Africa put together.

    Finkelstein was borderline insane with his analysis. He turned the statement into a claim of Jewish world control. That was just an outright lying interpretation of the statement. From saying that many people perceive there to be inordinate influence over US foreign policy to controlling the world is a leap not warranted by the statement but typical of partisans for Israel who frequently resort to such over-wrought, hand-wringing statements of woe.

  67. Atheism is a lack of a belief in the existence of a god or gods.

    No, agnosticism is a lack of affirmative belief. Atheism is an affirmative belief in the non-extistence.

  68. If I were an atheist, I’d want Dawkins off my team. He’s good on the science, but he’s a horrible PR guy on atheism.

    Note: Saying that he’s a horrible PR guy is not the same as saying he’s wrong. That’s a separate matter.

  69. “I am going to beat this dead horse some more because it really pisses me off. The assumption behind this seems to be that if you are indoctrinated into a religion as a child, you have no choice but to follow that religion as an adult. Of course Dawkins himself, at least according to wikipedia, admits to being raised Anglican. I guess only super beings like he can raise themselves beyond this indoctrination and know the truth. God knows it is just rare and unheard of for someone to be raised in a religious tradition to later renounce that tradition. The solution clearly is to free people from religious propaganda by curtailing their freedom of expression, assembly and thought through strict prohibitions against prophesizing religion, even to ones own children.”

    I bet the chances are about 99% that a person picks the religion he was born into.

    Dawkins does not say that people should not be free to teach their kids what they want to teach them. You’re setting up a strawman, John.

  70. Episiarch,

    In the episode isn’t it Ms. Garrison who is the one who is “too sure?”

  71. Oh, goodie: Another debate on the distinctions between different schools of atheism and agnosticism.

    What’s really funny is when the non-atheists jump in and try to help draw the lines. Me, I’m prepared to recognize whichever sects and divides the atheists agree on, or whichever sects and divides the survivors of the schism agree on. Whatever.

    There should be an Atheists’ Front of Judea and a Judean Atheist Front. With non-atheists leading the charge. That would be funny.

  72. “My point is simply anybody who self-describes as an “atheist” is religious as he’s adopted on faith a collection of subjective and unprovable beliefs.”

    Ahh, let’s stretch those definitions so far that language doesn’t mean much anymore.

  73. “I would say that Matt and Trey are more smart-ass punks than smug assholes.”

    Sorry, can’t be a smart-ass punk once you turn 30.

  74. I’m an atheist, freethinker, whatever you want to call it. All of you theists are free to believe in your fantasies and fairy tales. No skin off of my nose. Your claims that your “faith” is somehow superior, intellectually or morally, to my reasoning gets scoffed at.

    IMHO, Posters at H&R possibly should exercise caution before criticizing others smugness.

  75. thoreau,

    Will the Reformation be over any time soon?

  76. What’s really funny is when the non-atheists jump in and try to help draw the lines.

    Something to ponder next time you are tempted to call somebody a socialist, or a neo-con or anything else.

    Anyway, the line between agnostics and atheists (err, “secularists) were drawn before we were born and it is a bit late in the game to change definitions now.

  77. All this stuff about Jewish lobbies drives me nuts. Most Jews are not supporters of AIPAC, call it the Israel lobby.
    Richard Dawkins is one of the few dominionist atheists and believes that it is his (god given?)
    duty to cull religion from the world.

  78. Dave W.,

    There is a language problem with the words “atheism” and “agnosticism,” and the fluctuating definitions for each.

    I had a solution for that some time back, but it doesn’t seem to have caught on. Perhaps the words I selected lacked the appropriate gravitas.

  79. “distressed by this uncharacteristic lapse in judgement.”

    “he has lately shone signs of loosing his grip. It’s so dismaying, he’s in danger of undermining everything he’s built.”

    He seemed so reasonable and sensible when he was preaching militant atheism, but now he’s just gone off the rails!

    Seriously, why is it surprising that someone who vehemently denounces the monotheistic conception of God should have an animus against the people who introduced this God to the world?

    It’s quite common for those who reject the Jewish God to have low opinions of Jews, as well. Why do you think so many neo-Nazi types are into Odinism and the like? Why do you think the original Anti-Semites (the nineteenth century political movement) gave us the term “Judeo-Christian”? It wasn’t as a compliment to Christianity, it was a rejection of key theological concepts of both religions.

    Nietzsche denounced Christianity as a religion of the weak, which encouraged people to be compassionate to the poor and humble, thus crimping the style of the Supermen. It was Judaism which Nietsche blamed for this inexcusable weakness of Christianity.

    “Given the fact that the Jews have a country and the atheists don’t . . .”

    There’s Cuba and North Korea, and possibly Venezuela. I would probably add the PRC, still a nominally Marxist state.

  80. J sub D-

    I have no problem with you guys. I just think it’s funny when a vocal few insist on drawing fine distinctions between different variants of atheism and agnosticism. On the surface it looks like a religious schism.

    It’s especially funny when some theists try to jump in and lecture them on how to draw the lines. They have no dog in that fight.

    Me, I stay out, as do most atheists/agnostics/whatever that I know. Although I do reserve the right to laugh at the few who want to fight over lines.

  81. BTW theists, I don’t think you’re evil or stupid. You’re just wrong.

  82. AIPAC is definitely a powerful lobby–they’ll tell you so themselves–but Dawkins, like too many Brits (one is too many), loves to wax anti-Semitic, in part as a way of pissing off Americans. Particularly amusing/reprehensible is Dawkins’ use of the phrases “I am told” and “as far as many people can see” to cover his wrinkled Limey arse. “I don’t know this for a fact, but I thought I’d pass it along.” Classy, Mr. Scientist!

    (OK, I don’t know that Dawkins’ arse is wrinkled. That’s just an educated guess.)

  83. Oh, goodie: Another debate on the distinctions between different schools of atheism and agnosticism.

    The argument is really framed poorly. All people are religious by nature and “God” is a metaphor, not something to be denied or accepted.

  84. I just think it’s funny when a vocal few insist on drawing fine distinctions between different variants of atheism and agnosticism.

    thoreau, you and me both.

  85. J sub D-

    You and I may be laughing together, but I think it is important to recognize that there are different categories of people who laugh during these debates. There are the chucklers, the gigglers, the coffee sprayers, etc.

    I, for one, refuse to be lumped in with the coffee sprayers. It’s clearly a different type of laughter, despite the efforts of some to blur the lines. They persist in their irrational belief that these types of laughs have anything in common, when they are clearly derived from different foundations.

  86. I had a solution for that some time back, but it doesn’t seem to have caught on. Perhaps the words I selected lacked the appropriate gravitas.

    I have an easier solution:

    Those who are uncertain about the existence of god(s): “Smart”

    Those who are sure there are not god(s): “Fools”

  87. Chicago Tom has it right.

  88. *Sigh.* Do I really have to drag out the old quote again?

    Coffee-spraying is laughing like crapping one’s pants is farting.

  89. “You never know where anti-Semitic propaganda will pop up”

    http://www.slate.com/id/2080027/

    Makes the point that Jewish groups (and their friends) make more grandiose claims for Jewish influence than anyone.

    Ronald Bailey, what is your problem? This is your second “there’s a Nazi under my bed!” post in recent days. One more and you’ll be an honorary member of the ADL.

  90. Me, I stay out, as do most atheists/agnostics/whatever that I know. Although I do reserve the right to laugh at the few who want to fight over lines.

    Right, thanks for chiming in strictly to let us all know how above this you are. Duly noted.

  91. Those who consider coffee spraying a form of laughter: Dumb.

    Those who are unsure about the status of coffee spraying: Dumber.

  92. Right, thanks for chiming in strictly to let us all know how above this you are. Duly noted.

    It’s worth chiming in when the fight bears an ironic resemblance to a religious schism among the non-religious.

  93. I have an easier solution:

    Those who are uncertain about the existence of god(s): “Smart”

    Those who are sure there are not god(s): “Fools”

    Those who listen to lectures on proper use of language by Dan T. and Dave W.: “Hilarious”

  94. Mad Max,

    Seriously, why is it surprising that someone who vehemently denounces the monotheistic conception of God should have an animus against the people who introduced this God to the world?

    I don’t recall any discussion so far regarding Zoroastrianism.

    As for Jew hating, well, Christianity has a long and bloody history of such. As is often noted the Crusaders stated the First Crusade by slaughtering the Jews in their midst and then journeying to the Levant.

    Nietzsche denounced Christianity…

    Actually, he more than anything lamented the loss of Christianity. That’s what the whole “God is dead” line is about. Anyway, it is fair to say that Nietzsche’s views of Christianity were over his career more nuanced than say what can found in a particular work like the Anti-Christ.

  95. So where do people who think there is enough evidence to deny the existence of a god, yet can readily concede that there is no smoking gun proof of non-existence? By strict definitions, these would be agnostics, and indeed, it appears that Dawkins is using this definition to label himself.

  96. In the episode isn’t it Ms. Garrison who is the one who is “too sure?”

    Yes, but Dawkins goes along with her which seemed to me to be an indictment of his overconfidence.

    Sorry, can’t be a smart-ass punk once you turn 30.

    Maybe not, but when you are still producing top-notch work after 11 years while most other people’s comedy goes to total shit after just a few, you can sort of fake it.

  97. If you’re drawing lines, they might as well be invisible, pink lines.

    I’ve become comfortable with “atheist” over the years. Heathen and non-believer are also acceptable. But, seriously, if you’re the sort of person who defines yourself by what you don’t believe in: and I have known some people, particularly “free thinker” types for whom their non-belief is the central defining characteristic of their life…I think you’ve some sort of problem.

  98. Thoreau: I think you mean “hilarious resemblance”.

  99. Those who listen to lectures on proper use of language by . . . Dave W.

    Which reminds me. I gave a lecture on the purposeful miseuse of language, in song form, back in 2003 and called it “Grammarchy” (which is short for grammatical anarchy). Those who like my lectures can and should check it out at:

    ftp://www.farceswannamo.com/If_Not_Why_Not_mp3s/

  100. What Dawkins doesn’t realize is that the Jewish lobby’s power comes in large part from the rather large number of Christian evangelical wingnuts who are part of it — because they believe the modern state of Israel is the centerpiece of God’s ultimate urban renewal program.

  101. The only time I ever think about the non-existence of god (my not-stamp collecting hobby) is when threads like this come up, or some bible-thumper introduces some asinine religious legislation. Aside from that, I don’t really think about it. Given that it means eternal damnation and whatnot if we’re wrong, I tend to think that agnostics have made a decision about it whether they feel like arguing about it or not.

  102. So where do people who think there is enough evidence to deny the existence of a god, yet can readily concede that there is no smoking gun proof of non-existence? By strict definitions, these would be agnostics, and indeed, it appears that Dawkins is using this definition to label himself.

    Apropriate label: “Inconsistent”

  103. So anybody who formulates an opinion based on incomplete evidence, and recognizes that fact, is inconsistent? Isn’t that all of science?

  104. So anybody who formulates an opinion based on incomplete evidence, and recognizes that fact, is inconsistent?

    No, only people who purport to use reason (as opposed to faith) to draw firm conclusions based on less-than-firm evidence are inconsistent.

  105. So we’ve established that many people think that arguments over how one defines atheism, etc. have reached a point where such a discussion is no longer particularly useful (I myself think that it is useful up to a point).

  106. Right, thanks for chiming in strictly to let us all know how above this you are. Duly noted.
    Dan T. Sometimes posts are just conversation and not part of a moral crusade. Lighten up for Chrissakes.

  107. I re-read Dawkins’ quote and it doesn’t strike me as anti-Semetic, but it isn’t exactly reasoned out too clearly. I don’t know how many individuals in the ‘Jewish Lobby’ are particularly religious, or at least devout.

    So it’s at least possible that people who are more or less atheist or agnostic are influential in the aforementioned lobby.

    And even though Dawkins is absolutely right that religious thinking is almost invariably deleterious to rational and scientific thought, there is this quote, which is more or less unsupportable:”So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”

    Why? Even though the atheists I know are moral and decent people, I see no proof that they are invariably *more* moral than Agnostics, Deist, Mormons, Catholics, etc. simply because of their superior capacity for rational thought.
    Even though many religious people *are* immoral, I have never been convinced that believing in God somehow destroys a person’s ability to draw fine moral or philosophical distinctions.
    Sorry, some of Dawkin’s views do seem arrogant.
    Having the voices of atheism become more prominent is a fine thing, I suppose, but what political solutions would an atheist lobby really offer?

  108. “only people who purport to use reason (as opposed to faith) to draw firm conclusions based on less-than-firm evidence are inconsistent.”

    Ehhh, I’m not convinced. We draw conclusions from less-than-firm evidence all the time. The key is to be open to revising your conclusions. I don’t see that as inconsistent at all.

  109. This will surely be ignored by the “saved”. Don’t waste your time. I don’t even listen to your sophistry anymore.

  110. German intelegence cheif, critical of Isreal? I can’t be sure but it seems like their might be some history there?

  111. Agnostics are fence-sitters, meekly refusing to use their brains and thereby safely evading the only logical conclusion a rational person can arrive at: that there is simply no evidence that a god exists or has ever existed.

  112. ed sez: Agnostics are fence-sitters, meekly refusing to use their brains and thereby safely evading the only logical conclusion a rational person can arrive at…

    Gee, way to make a blanket statement.

    I like the theory, supported by both evolutionary psychology and millenia of philosophy, that things are a little more complicated than that. In fact, I think the words, ‘premise,’ ‘God’, ‘sense’, ‘consciousness’ and ‘nature’ are pretty loaded.

  113. Ehhh, I’m not convinced. We draw conclusions from less-than-firm evidence all the time. The key is to be open to revising your conclusions. I don’t see that as inconsistent at all.

    Not exactly. To give the slightly longer vers, Dawkins (as you characterize him) is inconsistent because the degree of firmness of his conclusions is highly disproportionate to the degree of firmness of his evidence.

    Really, what he has is a faith-based belief that there are no god(s). Because he effectively claims that his faith-based belief is based on something other than faith, that is the key thing that makes him an atheist and a fool.

    I am not sure how I would label someone who said that they believed there was no god(s), but believed so based on faith, rather than reason. Fortunately, I have never met a person like that. Generally speaking, if a person affirmatively believes that there is no god(s), then they are sure to claim that that conclusion is driven by scientific evidence, reason and syllogistic logic.

  114. You either conclude from the evidence of your senses that existence exists, or you don’t. Atheists (and theists too, for that matter) choose to question nature. They come to very different conclusions, however. Agnostics take the coward’s way out and admit to the world that they are incapable of evaluating the evidence of their senses. Their catch-phrase is: “Who am I to judge?” What they are admitting is: “Who am I to think?”

  115. ed,

    Well, first off, one would have to ask whether the senses can be trusted? Which gets us back to Descartes, brains in vats, etc.

  116. Agnostics take the coward’s way out and admit to the world that they are incapable of evaluating the evidence of their senses. Their catch-phrase is: “Who am I to judge?” What they are admitting is: “Who am I to think?”

    Or perhaps they just conclude that there is some room in their existence for self doubt?

  117. wow I went to lunch and this thread took some HGH

  118. ed | October 9, 2007, 1:03pm | #

    “Agnostics are fence-sitters, meekly refusing to use their brains and thereby safely evading the only logical conclusion a rational person can arrive at: that there is simply no evidence that a god exists or has ever existed.”

    Anybody that insinuates that hard scientific evidence can be found to prove or disprove a purely faith-based belief has their head in their ass. I used my brain to formulate that statement. Up yours.

  119. It’s fine to be question the existence the Jew’s deity, but whatever you do… don’t question the Jew’s mantle of perpetual victimhood.

    Are you trying to be hurtful?

  120. HGH?

    High Gructose HornSyrup?

    Agnostics take the coward’s way out and admit to the world that they are incapable of evaluating the evidence of their senses.

    some of us just get bored of the whole “be a man! agree with me!” routine because some of us don’t care one way or the other. and because the ineffable is pre-rational and well, out there somewhere (above, beyond or within, or all three, or none, or whatever) so it could conceivably be outside of my sense abilities. either way, whatever, non serviam etc etc and so forth…

    a while back – like three years ago – i had to go through the whole pre cana thing and someone here on hit and run, in a thread much like this one (oh deja vu) did the whole “you’re a coward and collaborating with the enemy thing” which i still think is both grossly out of bounds and totally inaccurate – i’m *sleeping* with the enemy, bruh!

  121. I am garish, with velvet wallpaper, chintzy fake-gold chandeliers, excessive drapery. Yep, that’s me.

  122. “Dawkins does not say that people should not be free to teach their kids what they want to teach them. You’re setting up a strawman, John.”

    Read the damn article Jake. Read the quotes that gave. What part of “I would free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community” is so hard to understand? You can’t free children from being indoctinated by their parents and community without controling what the parents and community are teaching them. Fucking a I can’t see how the guy could be more clear about it. What strawman are you talking about? The guy is an authoritarian fruitloop.

  123. “Dawkins (as you characterize him) is inconsistent because the degree of firmness of his conclusions is highly disproportionate to the degree of firmness of his evidence.”

    Oh, I get it. He’s inconsistent with your views. His evidence isn’t up to your standards.

    I’m surprised that you would base your argument on the conclusion (negated by your own post) that Dawkins is purely faith-based. You admit that he has evidence supporting his ideas (i.e., you don’t believe that evidence is sufficient which means you admit he has some evidence). If you admit he has evidence, how is it purely faith-based?

    I guess you could be referring to having faith in testable phenomenon as an indicator of “truth”. I really don’t understand how requiring evidence is purely faith-based, unless there is some sort of faith in evidence. Are you trying to pull some switcheroo of definitions here?

  124. jewish lobby wins the thread.

    then again, they win *all* the threads, don’t they…

  125. Maybe ‘Pro-Israel lobby’ is more appropriate a phrase?

  126. dhex said: jewish lobby wins the thread

    hear, hear!

  127. Oh, I get it. He’s inconsistent with your views. His evidence isn’t up to your standards.

    No, he is being objectively inconsistent here. I was using a “reasonable person” standard for consistency in rendering my judgement here.

    If I were to use my own personal subjective standards then inconsistency’s net would be deemed to ensnare a lot more people than just Bailey and the Dawk.

  128. Everybody knows that the Corn Syrup Lobby runs the world.

    They even control science. Which means that Dawkins is under their thumb. Which means that they must have told him to act anti-Semitic.

    Arbeit macht corn. I’m telling ya, the corn lobby is evil!

  129. “My point is simply anybody who self-describes as an “atheist” is religious as he’s adopted on faith a collection of subjective and unprovable beliefs.”

    The burden of proof is on the person who makes a claim. If you claim there are unicorns, it’s not up to me to prove they don’t exist. Until I see evidence of the existence of a god or gods, there’s no need to believe in their existence.

  130. Anybody that insinuates that hard scientific evidence can be found to prove or disprove a purely faith-based belief has their head in their ass. I used my brain to formulate that statement. Up yours.

    Not what I said, knuckle-dragger. Rational atheists don’t attempt to disprove a negative. That would be stupid. Like your statement.

  131. “I really don’t understand how requiring evidence is purely faith-based, unless there is some sort of faith in evidence. Are you trying to pull some switcheroo of definitions here?”

    You either get it or you don’t Lamar. The older I get the more Calvinistic I become in that I more and more see things as pre-destined. Some people will never believe and others can’t help but believe. I really don’t think there is a way to bridge between the two. The idea that I can convince someone to believe in God is just laughable. He might change his mind, but it will be because of him and God not me. What is important, in this life at least, is making sure that no one tells anyone else what they can and cannot believe and what they can and cannot say. It is only when Dawkins starts talking about freeing people from religion that he loses me. Truthfully, what should an atheist care what people believe? Yeah, people do a lot of evil in the name of religion, but people do a lot of evil in the name of just about everything. Surely, Dawkins isn’t as stupid as to believe that man would cease to be evil or that the world would be something than what it is if only man ceased to believe in religion? After a century in which 100s of millions died in the name of utopian atheistic pseudoscientific movements, communism and facism, anyone who believes that is as dumb as the worst backwoods snake handler.

  132. On religious belief:

    Hume was right. So was Russell.

    The End.

  133. Rattlesnake: I’m with you there. But you have to realize that most people have been brought up with the opposite burden of proof. They believe in God until they realize that they don’t. They believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy until they become wise to it. For many people, the burden lies on those who want to disprove. I think that’s part of the fundamental disconnect here.

  134. “Truthfully, what should an atheist care what people believe?”

    Zero, until it affects that particular atheist.

  135. “Truthfully, what should an atheist care what people believe?”

    Zero, until it affects that particular atheist.”

    I agree. The idea that you should waste your time crusading to bring people to side of “atheism” seems pretty ridiculous to me. Yeah, if a particular atheist feels strongly about this or that policy, then write about it. But the idea that an atheist should have it in their minds to save people from the evils of belief for its own sake is laughable. Christians try to convert because they believe they are saving people from hell. Atheists try to convert for what; to save people from mistakes? Are there different forms of eternal nothingness for the mistaken?

  136. In defense of Dawkins, while his comments probably seemed misguided, it is true that the Jewish lobby does hold a lot of power. Explain the US’s unwavering support for Israel in spite of the fact that according to most experts it raises the risk of terrorism.

    While they might not monopolize it, there was a paper put out by two IR heavy weights–Mearshimer and I think Walt–that essentially argued that, yes, the Jewish lobby is dispropotionately powerful.

    Call him whatever you like, but he does have a good point.

  137. Rattlesnake: to tack on to my last post about burdens of proof:

    Who are atheists to say that the burden must lie on everybody else to disprove God? We say that we are born without beliefs and others should provide evidence to support a development of a belief. I adhere to that idea. But many say that we are born into a world full of beliefs, that beliefs have been a part of our culture for millenia and that beliefs give us a framework to live by. These people think the burden should be on somebody else (to the extent that they think beliefs can be proven wrong). Who are we to say that they are wrong?

  138. They believe in God until they realize that they don’t. They believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy until they become wise to it. . . . fundamental disconnect here.

    The fundamental disconnect is that most believers in God don’t claim their belief is based on scientific evidence and reason. Rather, they acknowledge that they engage in magical thinking (although they generally prefer the less loaded term “faith”).

    It is only when atheists claim to be drawing conclusions based on scientific evidence and faith that puts the burden on them. Of course, they can’t meet the burden so they resort to the kind of shrill invenctive you get out of Dawkins, or the smuitude you get out of a Bailey.

    You almost feel sorry for them until you realize that all they have to do is go agnostic and they can not believe in God in an intellectually honest way. I mean they still get to criticize believers who act silly or violent — it is not like I aim to rob them of that pleasure.

  139. I bet the chances are about 99% that a person picks the religion he was born into.

    Actually no… you’d be surprised. I think Pew has some surveys on this, but in general, amongst people who consider themselves ‘faithful’, there is surprising hopscotch between denominations (usally intra-christian) as people mature and want different things from their practice.

    This might be a good reference for you

    http://www.adherents.com/people/pb/George_W_Bush.html

    “Though he was raised in Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches, Mr. Bush has been an active Methodist since quitting alcohol and finding God in 1985;

    Har. Bush.

    But seriously, id done some consumer market research work on the ‘christian’ market, and it’s much more fluid than you’d think. The highest number of people who ‘remain’ one thing tend to be people who identify themselves as something (e.g. Catholic) but are totally non-practicing.

    The fastest switchovers these days are from catholicism to Pentacostalism, or baptist to pent. Reason? Blacks & hispanics, growth of Pentacostal megachurches, etc.

  140. “We say that we are born without beliefs and others should provide evidence to support a development of a belief.”

    I don’t see how you can say anyone is born without beliefs. Doesn’t evolutionary biology tell us that people are born with the genetic pre-disposition to act certain ways consistent with the survival of the species? I guess it depends on what you mean “born without beliefs”. Yeah, you are not born a Christian or a Jew, but you certainly have ideas and ways of experiencing things hard wired so to speak. Religious experience and belief in God is a real phenomenon. I think the burden lies on atheists to explain why that is and not just dismiss it as fairy tail. Some biologists have argued that religious belief and the belief in God is genetic and people have evolved this predisposition to believe in God because doing so creates more successful societies. I don’t think I buy that, but it is at least a solid try at meeting the burden.

  141. I am sure there is no God. However, I’ve been sure about other things and been completely wrong.
    Art-P.O.G., Occasionally a firm faith in God causes some to stray off the ritious path. Also, God gets used to get into kid’s pants and men’s wallets all the time.

  142. Sorry, can’t be a smart-ass punk once you turn 30.

    Oh shit. That explains a lot now.

  143. DanT: instead of football team that won’t win a game, how about “Cubbies Fan”…

    then you have your entire spectrum:

    *)actual baseball fans
    *)people there who are okay on baseball but want the “cool” experience”
    *)people who wouldn’t go to a game any other place, due to said “cool” experience
    *)people who don’t know where the hell they are, but they think they’re getting some sort of social capital out of the experience
    *)Ronny Whoo Whoo.

    (those assorted of bad platinum-dyed trixies who somehow manage to pull off the thin but flabby look and start cheering for players who aren’t even playing that day, or even on any of the teams represented are your assorted of gawd-knows-whats that rant and rave about things like korn syrup, or what not)

    there you’d have a nice continuum of “atheism” from which people cherry pick to make their “arguments”.

  144. This isn’t an “uncharacteristic lapse in judgement” on Dawkins’ part.

    Not that long ago, he signed a petition for making religious upbringing illegal, although he retracted his signature upon criticism.

    Libertarians of all people should be wary of counting Dawkins among their heroes.

  145. Seriously, why is it surprising that someone who vehemently denounces the monotheistic conception of God should have an animus against the people who introduced this God to the world

    You mean the Zoroastrians??
    Har har.

    From what I remember monotheism was imported from the Indian Aryans or something… or at least the earliest versions of it started there. A lot of people think jesus was biting someones style just to make a market.

  146. James Ard said: “Art-P.O.G., Occasionally a firm faith in God causes some to stray off the ritious path. Also, God gets used to get into kid’s pants and men’s wallets all the time.”

    I understand this, and agree with you. I am, like a lot of people, skeptical of the assertion that secular authority has not at times been abused in a way similar to religious authority.

  147. You shall all bask in the everloving light of my spray

    or, this =

    “Bereaved? Come Bathe In The Healing Light Of My Cock”

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33430

  148. religious thinking is almost invariably deleterious to rational and scientific thought…

    I’ve been to your classes. You understand absolutely nothing about my work.

  149. Yeah, what Dawkins said.

  150. Spinoza (ha ha) said: I’ve been to your classes. You understand absolutely nothing about my work

    How so?

    By the way, I read the part of Bodanis’ “Electric Universe” where Faraday (a religious fellow) was able to conceive of ‘invisible’ lines of (electromagnetic) force when few of his contemporaries could. Thus, the “nearly”.
    Yeah, I do need to read “your” work, though.

  151. ‘Those who are uncertain about the existence of god(s): “Smart”

    Those who are sure there are not god(s): “Fools”‘

    The standard Dawkins response to this pedantry is that nobody is really agnostic about the existence of fairies. True, one must withhold judgment on all things until there is sufficient evidence. But when there has never been evidence in the history of humanity (and there sure has been a lot of attempts by religious people in that time), then there is no rational reason to believe in the proposition. Dawkins, and I, are atheists for the same reason we’re afairyists. There’s just no point in sitting on the fence about something for which there is no reason to believe in the first place. God deserves no special distinction just because it happens to be a delusion shared by many.

  152. Er, I mean whence the “”almost” invariably”.

  153. Considering the number of atheists and agnostics here who demand proof for everything, I sure do read a lot about this invisible, all-powerful “free market”, not to mention constant references to the “rights” that we all possess.

    I’d be interested in seeing the scientific proof of either…

  154. You should sue for your college money back

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Spinoza

    Baruch de Spinoza (Hebrew: ???? ????????, Portuguese: Bento de Espinosa, Latin: Benedictus de Spinoza) (November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, Spinoza is also considered one of Western philosophy’s definitive ethicists.

  155. I have to disagree with you Mr. Marx.

  156. Given the fact that the Jews have a country and the atheists don’t…

    Atheists have China and North Korea, two offficially atheist countries.

  157. “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

    Well said, Dick.

  158. Edward: We’re beyond that type of kiddie argument.

  159. They believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy until they become wise to it.

    What….what are you saying?? My magic tooth-pennies dont bring me any luck?!? Where the HELL DID ALL THAT EGG SHAPED CANDY COME FROM>??>? MY UNIVERSE IS A MEANINGLESS EMPTY VOID NOW!!! DAMN YOU AND YOUR MAGIC FREE UNIVERSE!!

  160. Dammit Spinoza, by “religious thinking”, I didn’t mean “religious thought”. The former to me, is inherently irrational, like ‘magical thinking’, while the latter is very critical.

    Spinoza had no time for ‘dogma’ as I understand it. Perhaps I should state my position better for you.

    Incidentally, I am a huge fan of Spinoza, but know very little about his work that I didn’t read on Wikipedia (weeks ago).

  161. Torquemada, you are simply a historical expression of material realities and economic injustice. So go fuck yourself and your funny hat. Dawkins and me be running shit now. Our pogroms kick your pograms ass man!

  162. “Who are we to say that they are wrong?”

    It depends on how they arrived at those views. Did they arrive at them only by being taught them by their parents or did they arrive at them through a critical analysis? I have more respect for somebody who has thought his viewpoint through rather than accepting things just because his parents taught him those ideas. If the person has some evidence for the reality of his belief, let me hear it. Otherwise, I have no reason to believe what he says is true. It’s up to him to prove the reality of his belief if he expects me to believe it.

  163. Believe in proportion to evidence.
    Believe in proportion to evidence.

    That’s all there really is to it. The lack of sophistication on the subject of atheism on this site is disheartening, since it’s not really THAT hard to understand what Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. are saying. A freshman logic course should be enough to clue anyone in.

  164. Dammit Spinoza, by “religious thinking”, I didn’t mean “religious thought”.

    Like I said, get a lawyer and hit your college up for restitution. You got boned.

  165. “DAMN YOU AND YOUR MAGIC FREE UNIVERSE!!”

    I live in Orlando and would give 10 years of my life to live in a universe free of the Magic.

  166. I live in Orlando

    Dude, I have one letter, a hyphen, and a word for you:

    “U-Haul”

  167. “Like I said, get a lawyer and hit your college up for restitution. You got boned”

    Maybe if you took the time to re-examine my position…oh wait, you’re a great philosopher, never mind.

  168. The lack of sophistication on the subject of atheism on this site is disheartening, since it’s not really THAT hard to understand what Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. are saying. A freshman logic course should be enough to clue anyone in.

    Yeah, Dawkins isnt pompous… like… I totally dont see it….where would people get that notion? It’s unfathomable. I mean, people must be like really stupid or something cause they Just Dont Get it. So unsophisticated they is.

  169. “And even though Dawkins is absolutely right that religious thinking is almost invariably deleterious to rational and scientific thought, there is this quote, which is more or less unsupportable:”So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.”

    I think what he was getting at was that if atheists were more influential in spreading nonbelief, there would be less religiously motivated wars that are influenced by religious intolerance.

  170. “I have more respect for somebody who has thought his viewpoint through rather than accepting things just because his parents taught him those ideas.”

    I respect people that do right by their fellow man. We talk about Christian violence, but there are many who do good works in the name of religion. I respect them as much as I respect the atheist doing his good works. It’s the religious folks that want impose their will, and the atheists that sit on their asses and do nothing that lose my respect.

    It’s about doing stuff, not the belief system that got you there.

  171. Kum ba ya, my lord…..

  172. Yo, you want to step to me, bring it homie…

    Early Jesuit Scientists

    Jos? de Acosta, S.J. – 1600: Pioneer of the Geophysical Sciences

    Fran?ois De Aguilon, S.J. – 1617: and his Six books on Optics

    Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. – 1787: and his atomic theory

    Christopher Clavius, S.J. – 1612: and his Gregorian Calendar

    Honor? Fabri, S.J. – 1688: and his post-calculus geometry

    Francesco M. Grimaldi, S.J. – 1663: and his diffraction of light

    Paul Guldin, S.J. – 1643: applications of Guldin’s Rule

    Maximilian Hell, S.J. – 1792: and his Mesmerizing encounters

    Athanasius Kircher, S.J. – 1680: The Master of a Hundred Arts

    Francesco Lana-Terzi, S.J. – 1687: The Father of Aeronautics

    Francis Line, S.J. – 1654: the hunted and elusive clock maker

    Juan Molina, S.J. – 1829: The First Scientist of Chile

    Jer?me Nadal, S.J. -1580: perspective art and composition of place

    Ignace Pardies, S.J. – 1673: and his influence on Newton

    Andrea Pozzo, S.J. – 1709: and his perspective geometry

    Vincent Riccati, S.J. – 1775: and his hyperbolic functions

    Matteo Ricci, S.J. – 1610: who brought scientific innovations to China

    John Baptist Riccioli, S.J. – 167I: and his long-lived selenograph

    Girolamo Saccheri, S.J. – 1733: and his solution to Euclid’s blemish

    Theorems of Saccheri, S.J. – 1733: and his non Euclidean Geometry

    Johann Adam Schall von Bell, S.J. – 1669: Astronomy and the calendar

    Christopher Scheiner, S.J. – 1650: sunspots and his equatorial mount

    Gaspar Schott, S.J. – 1666: and the experiment at Magdeburg

    Angelo Secchi, S.J. – 1878: the Father of Astrophysics

    Joseph Stepling, S.J. – 1650: symbolic logic and his research academy

    Andr? Tacquet, S.J. – 1660: and his treatment of infinitesimals

    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S. J. – 1955: and The Phenomenon of man

    Ferdinand Verbiest, S.J. – 1688: an influential Jesuit scientist in China

    Juan Bautista Villalpando, S.J. – 1608: and his version of Solomon’s Temple

    Gregory Saint Vincent, S.J. – 1667: and his polar coordinates

    Nicolas Zucchi, S.J. – 1670: the renowned telescope maker

    etc.

    And I’m out

  173. “I think what he was getting at was that if atheists were more influential in spreading nonbelief, there would be less religiously motivated wars that are influenced by religious intolerance.”

    What wars are those? Seriously, do you think that the Palestinians and Jews would stop killing each other if only they stopped believing? Look around the globe and where are the “religious wars”? Iraq has religious component but it is equally driven by ethnic and nationalistic strife as well. North and South Korea want to kill each other for anything but religious reasons. Darfur maybe, but again that is a ethnic as well as religious issue. Look at the last 100 years, there have been a lot of murder in the name of scientific atheism and utopianism, and even more murder in the name of tribalism, but not nearly as much in the name of religion. I don’t see one shred of evidence that non-belief in God makes man less violent or prone to murder, despite atheists claims to the contrary.

  174. I think what he was getting at was that if atheists were more influential in spreading nonbelief, there would be less religiously motivated wars that are influenced by religious intolerance.

    Then the warriors would find other motivations.

    There is no atheistopia. Evil people exist, always have, always will. I can’t conclude that a belief in God has any influence on evil people’s behavior. It follows that a non belief in God has no influence on evil people’s behavior.

    Religion is just a waste of time energy and resources. Like soccer.

  175. I can’t conclude that a belief in God has any influence on evil people’s behavior. It follows that a non belief in God has no influence on evil people’s behavior.

    “Evil” is a religious term. You can’t scientificly prove evil.

  176. yeah the whole thing about stopping people from raising their children this religion or that – i mean, even when i think about it on the subway, and i feel badly for little hacidic jewish girls or those being raised in strict muslim or christian households…what business is it of mine?

    if people can’t raise families as they would choose on such a fundamental level, what is left? giving a further sense of martyrdom to a memeplex that is already conditioned for martyrdom on many levels is fundamentally insane.

  177. Mea culpa, I am against dogmatic, uncritical thinking, secular or religious, it’s just that **I think that religious/superstitious people have historically been more frequently guilty of it than the heretics**.

    However, I explicitly stated earlier in the thread that **being religious DOES NOT destroy a person’s faculty for rational thought** unless a person takes pains to be intellectually lazy.

    Spinoza-Pope, try to understand my beliefs within a context. I am a Deist, but I find a *literal* interpretation of the Bible incompatible with my Weltanschaaung.
    I admire Spinoza, because he articulated so many things, metaphysically, that I’ve felt to be true for a very long time.

    I am an advocate, however, of keeping metaphysics and physics in different courses.

    I appreciate Dawkins, because even though he makes many good points, some of his arguments ultimately remain unpersuasive to me, which just makes my faith stronger.

    Any ambiguity you’d like to resolve?

  178. Dan T. sez: “Evil” is a religious term. You can’t scientificly prove evil

    Perhaps. But I don’t trust a *sociopath* or a pedophile whether he’s Catholic or Atheist.

  179. “Read the damn article Jake. Read the quotes that gave. What part of “I would free children from being indoctrinated with the religion of their parents or their community” is so hard to understand? You can’t free children from being indoctinated by their parents and community without controling what the parents and community are teaching them. Fucking a I can’t see how the guy could be more clear about it. What strawman are you talking about? The guy is an authoritarian fruitloop.”

    In everything I’ve ever read by him, I’ve never read anything by him denying that parents have freedom to teach their kids as they choose. I think what he’s talking about is that it would be good if kids weren’t influenced by their parents and society into having harmful beliefs. I just don’t think he would support taking kids away from their parents or isolating them from society or force-feeding them atheism against the wishes of their parents. At least, I’ve never read him advocate anything like that in anything I’ve ever read by him.

  180. Full disclosure: I have been an atheist since I was about 13 years old

    What took you so long?

  181. “Maximilian Hell, S.J. : and his Mesmerizing encounters ” now there’s a novel title for you.

  182. those of us who esteem Dawkins are right to be distressed by this uncharacteristic lapse in judgement.

    or maybe he just unzipped his fly. Y’know, if I came out and said that I strongly believe that the black man is a’takin’ over, and I was right disturbed by the prospect, I’m not sure I’d classify this statement as ‘lapse in judgement’. A ‘lapse in judgement’ is going out with that hottie at the end of the bar who you know will probably be trouble. A lapse in judgement is driving home after four beers when you feel fine. Revealing a (at my estimation) well thought out and fairly developed line of thinking is not a lapse in judgement. Telling the world about it? Yeah, a lapse in judgement.

  183. “I just don’t think he would support taking kids away from their parents or isolating them from society or force-feeding them atheism against the wishes of their parents. At least, I’ve never read him advocate anything like that in anything I’ve ever read by him.”

    Here is what he said after he signed the petition to make “religous indocrination” illegal.

    “I signed it having read only the main petition: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.” I regret to say that I did not notice the supporting statement with the heading, “More details from petition creator”: “In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.” If I had read that, I certainly would not have signed the petition, because, as explained in The God Delusion, I am in favour of teaching the Bible as literature, and I am in favour of teaching comparative religion. In any case, like any decent liberal, I am opposed to the element of government coercion in the wording. Furthermore, the Prime Minister, thank goodness, does not have the power to ‘make’ anything ‘illegal’. Only parliament has the power to do that.”

    That is an incredibly confused response. He says that he signed it after only reading the first part, “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.” He apparently agreed with that statement, but then finishes his explination by saying he is opposed to government coercion. Then, why doesn’t he object to making religious indoctrination illegal? Isn’t making something illegal pretty damned coercive?

    There is no way that Dawkins is as confused as he sounds there. He gives away the game in his first sentence where he says that he signed it after only reading the top part about making religous indoctrination illegal. Everything after that is just him smarming his way around the fact that he would support making religion illegal in society.

    Again Jake, see the quote from this article about making children free from it. Dawkins is not talking about forming a social movement. He wants a poltical movement. What is the point of a political movement if not to achieve a political end, namely the use of government power to ban religion.

  184. “After a century in which 100s of millions died in the name of utopian atheistic pseudoscientific movements, communism and facism, anyone who believes that is as dumb as the worst backwoods snake handler.”

    The hate in Communism was aimed more at successful people than it was towards the religious. Atheism just happened to be part of the intellectual trappings of Communism. True, Christians were persecuted, but it was mostly because Communists couldn’t accept people who would not be loyal to Communism, as people would be more committed to their religions.

    Fascism was not atheistic. Hitler was not an atheist, in fact he supported prayer in public school.

  185. hier is a story about an “Iranian-born German [who] refuses to play in Israel”

    BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s main Jewish group has criticised the decision of an Iranian-born German international footballer to refuse to play in Israel for political reasons.

    Ashkan Dejagah, 21, said he feared his family in Iran would be a target for reprisals if he played against Israel in an under-21 international match in Tel Aviv on October 12.
    […]
    Dejagah told the BZ tabloid: “I have more Iranian than German blood in my veins, that must be accepted.

    “I am doing this out of respect. At the end of the day, my parents are Iranians.”

  186. yeah the whole thing about stopping people from raising their children this religion or that – i mean, even when i think about it on the subway, and i feel badly for little hacidic jewish girls or those being raised in strict muslim or christian households…what business is it of mine?

    I agree with this.

  187. “The hate in Communism was aimed more at successful people than it was towards the religious. Atheism just happened to be part of the intellectual trappings of Communism.”

    It was more than part of the trappings, it was essential to it. Communism was at its base crude materialism. It was replacing God with the state. The state through science and increasing political consciousness would create a new socialist man, usher in the death of the capitalist system and then fall away as the new man and new society, now purged of all oppressive elements entered a communist utopia. We all make fun of it now, but it was serious. People believed it and believed that by participating in the movement they were ushering in utopia.

    Does being an atheist necessarily mean that you are a communist? Of course not any more than believing in God makes you a fanatical Muslim. The point is that man doesn’t become less violent when he denies the existence of God. He just finds new excuses to be violent. Such is the nature of the human existence.

  188. “Again Jake, see the quote from this article about making children free from it. Dawkins is not talking about forming a social movement. He wants a poltical movement. What is the point of a political movement if not to achieve a political end, namely the use of government power to ban religion.”

    I admit I didn’t read the article. I am disappointed and disgusted in him if he truly does believe religious indoctrination by parents should be illegal.

  189. “Communism was at its base crude materialism. It was replacing God with the state.”

    I’m personally opposed to both worshipping religion and worshipping the state. Both can infringe on individual freedom. I became free when I gave up Christianity. It was a big load off me to stop following all those silly rules. I can tell what’s morally good and wrong without having to have a book tell me. I believe liberals are just as bad in that they don’t think people can run their own lives. They think big government is necessary to take care of everybody. As Hillary said, “We can’t trust people to make those kinds of choices for themselves”.

  190. St. Heraclitus has proclaimed that we must all follow the teachings of the Dan T: The Alpha and Omega 3 fatty acid of trolls. ALL HAIL DAN T!

  191. “yeah the whole thing about stopping people from raising their children this religion or that – i mean, even when i think about it on the subway, and i feel badly for little hacidic jewish girls or those being raised in strict muslim or christian households…what business is it of mine?”

    I agree with this except for when kids are being denied life saving medical care.

  192. Dan T.,

    The term “evil” is a term used in ethics. An ethical system need not be religious in nature.

  193. I live in Orlando and would give 10 years of my life to live in a universe free of the Magic

    Living in Florida and not being on the coast is like living in hell and not…well, it’s like living in hell.

  194. Thanks SoS. I was going to post a dictionary definition. Your way, much simpler.

  195. “Religion is just a waste of time energy and resources. Like soccer.”

    Religion is self delusion to give yourself a sense of security. Soccer is good physical exercise.

  196. * Whew! *

  197. Religion is self delusion to give yourself a sense of security.

    even for someone as irreligious as i am – and that’s pretty fucking irreligious on a scale of 1 to 10 – i can’t help but feel that this particular idea is the root of all small-e evil in this regard:

    see it’s an issue of meaning (or values) versus cause (or mechanics) and it is wholly misunderstood and misrepresented by nearly everyone involved. and perhaps there is no profit into wading into this particular pit face-first, what with all the vipers and tree demons and all, but is it not the soul of arrogance to stand up from a pretend on high and say “but at least i’m not deluded” ?

    people create all sorts of meaning frameworks to give their lives structure. i mean, where do rights come from? trees? if there’s no god, are they just inherent because, well, we want them to be? or are they consensual delusions, like money, in that they are given life so long as all the players believe?

    i tend towards that last explanation. my neighbor’s religion does not, by and large, harm me or my life, and is none of my business. so long as they recognize the converse is true, everyone is largely happy.

  198. John, I didn’t say that all wars are religiously motivated. Some are, such as the conflict in Northern Ireland, Lebanon’s civil wars, the Crusades, the religious wars in England between Catholics and Protestants. Also, look at religious intollerance of Christians towards Jews throughout history. Look at the Spanish Inquisition. All these are cases of religious inspired hatred and intolerance.

  199. to clarify: the creationists make the same mistake going from the opposite direction (not just the errors of their understanding of biology) – they seem to feel that all sorts of morals (i.e. values and meanings) come from a set of ideas that don’t necessarily have fuck-all to do with values or meanings.

    (as an aside, it is perhaps from that same place that you get the racist faux-darwinianism of sailer and co…faux because they’re not suggesting we breed the really smart white women with asians, because they’d be smart and take less resources because they’d be smaller and easier to store…)

  200. jake, as a sidenote, boiling northern ireland down to purely religious issues ignores the larger issues of colonialism, which tends to trump religious beliefs. (i.e. presbyterians getting shipped off)

  201. dhex, I don’t begrudge anybody their religions either, but I do believe they are living in delusion to better cope with life.

    You mentioned rights as a delusion. I don’t see that. I don’t see them as God given either. I think they are a contract that we have agreed on to promote freedom which promotes happiness.

  202. When Dawkins gave up evolutionary biology and took up atheism I knew he had lost it.

    I saw him talk on C-span recently and I only could think about what an asshole he has become. Just 10 years before he had spoken on evolution at my University and I had been fascinated.

    Sad really.

  203. I think they are a contract that we have agreed on to promote freedom which promotes happiness.

    meaning they exist because we all agree to believe they exist.

    which is great until the government decides they don’t exist, in which case sadly, they cease to exist.

    i would love for rights to actually exist in some even semi-concrete form, but i can’t find any way to justify that belief. rights are a delusion, as it were, it just happens to be a delusion i’m happy to see shared and saddened to see curtailed.

  204. “It’s about doing stuff, not the belief system that got you there.”

    That’s a big problem that I have with the Christian belief, salvation through faith. It’s more important what you do than what you believe.

  205. to the original article,
    The statement,
    “When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told – religious Jews anyway – than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see.” does not seem to me to mean that Dawkins himself necessarily beleivs that Jews control public policy, but that many people have this vision that the Jews do. This does strongly suggest that he is so paranoid, but it is not clear and Dawkins does dserve a chance to clarify his beleifs.

    He does clearly beleive that the Jewish lobby has been very successful, but that is not the same thing as being paranoid about Jewish power in America.

  206. Side note to Smacky: actually, banning is very 2006 — you just don’t see it that much anymore as a way of stifling dissent — so this is a problem that we probably won’t have so much in the future. I imagine even ol’ dee Watz is fixing to unban me these daze.

    Side not to Hexie: Try “Pine Needle” or “Litigate The Question” — those are easy ones to pick out all the words and have simple melodies. “Pine Needle” is about something my sister ingested. “Litigate The Question” contains the phrase “Christ’s agapic love” and takes a clear-eyed, if somewhat spiritual, look at the institution of marriage.

  207. “Considering the number of atheists and agnostics here who demand proof for everything, I sure do read a lot about this invisible, all-powerful “free market”, not to mention constant references to the “rights” that we all possess.”

    “I’d be interested in seeing the scientific proof of either…”

    I think there’s plenty of evidence that “The Invisible Hand” in economics works and that government intervention in the free market doesn’t.

  208. There is a very powerful retirees lobby in the US. Look at AARP.

    There is a very powerful gun owners lobby in the US. Look at the NRA.

    There is a very powerful Jewish lobby in the US. Look at AIPAC.

    Why is one of these statements treated so differently from the others?

  209. Jews are an ethnic group, some of whom are religious and some not. As such, religion has precious little to do with the question of Israel, apart from the rationalizations of a few.

    I believe that superstition, among other things, forms a “software patch” that helps our minds deal with our heightened awareness of self and of time, both of which seem to be unique to humans.

  210. And check out those GUNS!

    joe has been hittin it!!!!! oh yeah

    [runs off]

  211. Um, VM?

    Next time, you might want to adjust your package before you sit down at the keyboard.

    Just a suggestion.

  212. *adjusts*

    WILLIE ADJUSTED!!!!!

    hay – Skoal – good call. I was BATIN while POSTIN. um over at this other, um, real rockin site. Yeah. There was like, all sexy stuff and all. um

    LOOK OVER THERE!!!
    [sneaks off]

  213. Rsnake Jake,

    “”…what business is it of mine?”

    I agree with this except for when kids are being denied life saving medical care.”

    Dawkins thinks religious indoctrination is a form of child abuse. He gives many reasons for why he thinks so in his writings- I believe they’re convincing.

    Personally I was very angry when I realized I didn’t believe in the supernatural and felt abused. All of these “Adults” spouting BS, wasting portions of my life on what is essentially D&D with a large crowd.

    It makes me sick to my stomach when I attend a wedding, etc. and I hear some asswipe telling fairy tales to some child.

    And this tripe about Dawkins being smug! Really? I don’t think I ever met a religious person who wasn’t. Watch Dawkins’ “The Root of all Evil” and it’s pretty apparent who’s smug.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Root_of_All_Evil%3F

  214. It makes me sick to my stomach when I attend a wedding, etc. and I hear some asswipe telling fairy tales to some child.

    yeah see…like, i think this makes you an asswipe, too. and it’s the problem with dawkins. it ain’t his fucking business either.

  215. Why is one of these statements treated so differently from the others?

    Because you hate jews and gun owners…we don’t know why you love old people so much.

  216. It makes me sick to my stomach when I attend a wedding, etc. and I hear some asswipe telling fairy tales to some child.

    Yup you are an asswipe.

    How can telling fairy tales to children make anyone who is not an asswipe sick to their stomach?

  217. Here’s a call out for anyone who wants to start a National Apatheists Society. It’s for anyone who doesn’t care if there’s a god or not, and who wishes Dawkins, Hitchens, et. al., would just shut up, along with the fundamentalists whose arguments are just as smug and self righteous.

    But seriously, as much as I enjoy some of Dawkins’ antireligious writing, it is often incredibly un-subtle. There’s a lot of really smart, nuanced people who have interesting things to say on both (or more) sides of the God issue. Dawkins just seems to be talking right past them (“Well, if there’s no God to begin with, why bother responding to the arguments of ‘higher’ or nonfundamentalist theologians?”)

    Dawkins and his neoatheist ilk often seem guilty of a logical fallacy I’ve identified: the argumentum cum baculo (to be distinguished from the more traditional argumentum ad baculum). Pioneered by Ayn Rand, this method is calculated to bludgeon your opponents into submission through a combination of heavy-handed “rational arguments” and ad hominem attacks.

  218. Dawkins makes some good points but poisons the debate unfairly against Jews in general when he calls it the Jewish lobby rather than what it is, the Israel lobby. (Or more precisely, the “Israeli government lobby”) There are more than a few Jews who oppose it.

    The Israeli government lobby promotes many policies that are not in this nation’s interest and the Israeli government lobby is easily the controlling influence on our Mideast foreign policy. However it’s also manifest that they do not control our whole government. Cuz if they did, two of the lobby’s pre-eminent members would not be preparing to go on trial, charged with spying on us on behalf of the Israeli government:

    http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=11695

    BTW, Antiwar.com is libertarian, not lefty. And Justin Raimondo is brilliant.

  219. Religion is just a waste of time energy and resources. Like soccer.

    Death to the Infidel!!! Ayayayayayayayayyayyayiii

  220. BTW. On Judaism and Atheism; Note that, more than most religions, Atheism and Judaism are not so mutually exclusive. Since Judaism is more a religion of practice not belief, even a belief in God is more optional.

    Full disclosure: I’m an atheist and neither ethnically nor religiously Jewish.

  221. Dawkins is apparently confusing the Israel lobby in the U.S. (which is powerful because it is supported by a large number of evangelical Christians) with a “Jewish lobby.”

    Orac has a good take on this at ScienceBlogs, where there are many heated comments.

  222. BTW. On Judaism and Atheism; Note that, more than most religions, Atheism and Judaism are not so mutually exclusive. Since Judaism is more a religion of practice not belief, even a belief in God is more optional.

    Aren’t the Unitarians/Universalists accepting of atheists in their flock? Maybe I’m confusing their practices with the criticisms leveled with them. Any help would be appreciated.

  223. Any help would be appreciated.

    Ach, ze sin vedge into vich ve drife ze schtake of zooperschtition!

  224. dhex,

    Religion is fairly central to the problems in Ireland. While it is true that the English were messing about in Ireland prior to the Reformation, it is with the sectarian divisions coming about during the Reformation that the various communities in Ireland were formed. Of course I am not talking about religion in any doctrinal or “intellectual” way, but as a community’s shared religious sense.

  225. I’m an atheist, freethinker, whatever you want to call it. All of you theists are free to believe in your fantasies and fairy tales. No skin off of my nose. Your claims that your “faith” is somehow superior, intellectually or morally, to my reasoning gets scoffed at.

    IMHO, Posters at H&R possibly should exercise caution before criticizing others smugness

    … J sub D said, smugly.

    😉

  226. “I don’t think I ever met a religious person who wasn’t [smug]”

    Really? Maybe it’s just that the smuggest religious-types are the quickest to proselytize, just like the smuggest Atheists are the quickest to condescend.

  227. What’s quite ironic in all this hemming and hawing about atheism vs agnosticism and where Dawkins stands….is that Dawkins made this very clear where he stood and why in The God Delusion. It’s one of the clearest explanations of that concept I’ve ever seen.

    When he comes out and talks about government force to eliminate religion, I’ll condemn him. In the meantime, he’s one of the most pleasant people involved in the debate, and the ad hom aspersions of smugness, arrogance and condescension are just silly.

    Is there any way people could read “more” into a simple statement and get so worked up over what might be nothing of consequence at all?
    And what Chicago Tom said.

  228. J sub D,

    Unitarian Universalists include people self-identified as atheist, deist, Christian, Buddhist, humanist, theist, what-the-hell-have-you-ist, etc.
    We don’t have any dogma. We share certain beliefs, but they have nothing to do with a belief in any god.

  229. My experience in the Unitarian Church has been that some are rationalists like me and some are new agers. Most of them are left of center in their political views, but in Oklahoma City where I used to attend a Unitarian singles organization, on politics we were divided between leftist teachers and right wing oil company employees.

  230. S of S,

    I think you are incorrect. The Loyalist/Republican fight in Northern Ireland is a nationalist struggle. Religious identity is just an overlay.

    The Loyalists don’t march under a religious banner, but under the Union Jack. And the Republicans – cripes, half of them are Marxists, and the Catholic clergy used to exommunicate Fenians.

  231. J. Corning,

    “Yup you are an asswipe.

    How can telling fairy tales to children make anyone who is not an asswipe sick to their stomach?”

    There’s only so much time for children to learn how the world works, then they’re out on their own armed only with the skills and knowledge those responsible for them are supposed to equip them with. Wasting this time filling their heads with bunk is irresponsible.

    One reason it concerns me is I have to deal with the results. Ex. people afraid of playing god(whatever the hell that means) lobbing to slow down certain research/technologies.

  232. While it is true that the English were messing about in Ireland prior to the Reformation,

    yeah see, that’s kinda the rub right there. particularly with the penal laws and related strivings/fuckupperies/cockfuckeries.


    There’s only so much time for children to learn how the world works, then they’re out on their own armed only with the skills and knowledge those responsible for them are supposed to equip them with. Wasting this time filling their heads with bunk is irresponsible.

    does how the world work include poetry or love? does it include aesthetics and other pre-rational modes of being? does it include communal bonding between non-kin and communities ties?

    now your last bit comes closer to answering why you think it’s any of your business, but surely you recognize that the leon klass’s (??) of the world will not slow the future down completely.

    none of which has anything to do with a little kid at a wedding.

    let me give you another example: i think the closed border people are wrong on many levels, including morally. i know that some people teach their kids that “we are this and this is good; they are bad” and other related stuff that’s only peripherally related to nationalism and racism (two other ideals based on fairy tales, btw) and mostly related to class (which is far less of a fairy tale) and culture (which is the source of all fairy tales).

    this may sadden me, and i think it may cause a small incremental bit of harm to many disparate groups of people, but at the end of the day what business is it of mine? fight them politically, sure, but what people teach their kids – even when it’s the heinously homophobic shit that leads to suicides – is still not my fucking business.

    fight speech with speech. that whole marketplace of ideas thing. but good luck convincing people they’re bad for giving their children moral instruction.

  233. I’m not sure what the problem is saying that the Jewish lobby holds much power while being a small fraction of the population. Simply type in Jewish Lobby on a Google search and the first few links discuss exactly what Dawkins was talking about in great detail.

    I don’t think it was Dawkins’ point to say that the Jews hold much power as much as it was to say that, proportionally, atheists and secularists are more numerous but have little say in what happens in foreign affairs.

    I think the problem here is that many Americans feel that any criticism of Israel will result in them being labeled an Anti-Semitist. It’s an unfortunate that sometimes the actions of a madman in the 1940’s gets in the way of rational debate concerning foreign policy today.

  234. “does how the world work include poetry or love? does it include aesthetics and other pre-rational modes of being?”

    I was referring to magical thinking. Teaching that faith is virtuous, etc. I used a wedding as an example because they’re often held in churches and I’ve had to suffer through many.

    Poetry, love, aesthetics, etc. are certainly phenomena that exist- although the value of each is subjective. What do you mean by pre-rational modes of being?

    “…is still not my fucking business” what does that mean? I haven’t advocated anything, I’m judging the act but so what? Should my concern for injuring a parent’s fragile ego stop me from saying I think they’re being selfish and putting their wants above a child’s needs?

    I’ll say this to parents. You don’t own a child you own a responsibility. I don’t see what’s so controversial about saying that filling a kid’s head with all of your emotional baggage and farked up escape mechanisms is bad.

  235. “but good luck convincing people they’re bad for giving their children moral instruction.”

    I don’t think religious instruction = ethical instruction. Don’t do this or god will smite you doesn’t seem like a good foundation for ethical behavior.

  236. Isn’t 13 a little young to be allowed to believe in not believing? According to Dawkins you should be kept from making that decesion until later…

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