The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism

Feb 18, 2015

Sam Harris responds to the charge that “militant” atheism is responsible for the murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina.

147 comments on “The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism

  • The world according to Garp > @

    Some good insight on the situation(s), Sam.

    Once again, I wonder about women’s views (not mentioned). A probable moot point (very unfortunately) but am still curious, as females each do their own thing, sans spotlight.



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  • A thoughtful and interesting response to a terrible tragedy. Given the easy access to weapons Sam talks about, is he prepared to reconsider his stance on guns?



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  • is he prepared to reconsider his stance on guns?

    That would be nice.

    Michael Shermer has come to his senses over libertarian dogma in the face of evidence. If Harris shows susceptibility to evidence in like fashion for the general principle of gun banning despite his understandable fear of personal attack then he will broaden his appeal considerably. His current claim to be driven by reason is badly damaged at the moment.



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  • If somewhere were murdering Muslims, I would think it was motivated by the American unprovoked attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Many Americans have come to see their victims as highly dangerous enemies. It would not be over theological issues. Even people like nominally rational Sam Harris are guilty of extrapolating the sins of individual Muslims to all Muslims. To be fair, you must separate the behaviour of run of the mill Muslims, extremists, and what the Qur’an says.

    The west like to blame every terrorist attack on religion. That cannot be true. The attacks are recent. They are primarily revenge for the attacks by the west on the middle east including Israel apartheid. It is just that Muslims like to clothe their attacks in religious righteousness.



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  • Roedy Feb 18, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The west like to blame every terrorist attack on religion. That cannot be true. The attacks are recent. They are primarily revenge for the attacks by the west on the middle east including Israel apartheid. It is just that Muslims like to clothe their attacks in religious righteousness.

    Then there is the collection of foreign instigated, financed, and armed revolutions, named the “Arab Spring” by the western media!
    This is the stupidity which undermined the “repressive governments”, which were holding the jihadists in check, thus staring civil wars in which fanatics are winning and terrorising the locals in huge areas!



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  • so Obama just said “he doesn’t refer to ISIS as Islamic extremists because, “They are not religious leaders, they are terrorists.”

    Something that is not correct at all. These terrorists are abiding by the Quran and doing exactly what the quran says they should do. To say ISL is not islamic is to say islam is not islamic.

    The hardest part of going against any ludicrous ideology, is trying to keep the house of cards that religion is built on from falling down. To say that the quran does not contain the guidelines for successful slave ownership, child rape and abuse, and the call to kill all infidels , is just plain stupid. But you can’t go after a religion and claim their prophet made a mistake when he ordered jihad and sharia. Because in islam you simply can’t.

    Just recently some imam finally rejected what the quran said about the earth being the center of our solar system or the universe.. I suppose at some point people need to get on board with the evidence or risk losing credibility .

    The only way towards peace on this planet is if gods can be proven to exist, or accept their non-existence and move forward…



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  • Sam Harris responds to the charge that “militant” atheism is responsible for the murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina.

    I seems the confrontation was over a parking dispute!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-31499161

    .A grand jury in the US state of North Carolina has indicted a man on three counts of murder in the shootings of three young Muslim students.

    *Police say that Craig Hicks, 46, carried out the shootings as a result of a parking dispute.

    But they have not ruled out the possibility that the killings may have been motivated by religious hatred.

    At least 12 firearms were taken from Mr Hicks’s home after he handed himself in to be arrested, police say.

    He is reported to have described himself online as a “gun-toting” atheist.

    Family members reported that Mr Hicks had previously “picked on” the married couple.

    However, his wife Karen said the incident, which has drawn international condemnation, had nothing to do with religion and her husband treated everyone equally.

    I wonder if the media (and police “not ruled out” ), speculations would have been the same if someone who described himself online as a “gun-toting Republican”, had shot 3 Catholics in a dispute between neighbours?



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  • We should be careful to define those who are the terrorists and the promoters of terrorism and fundamentalism.
    Remember they attack greater numbers people from rival Muslim sects than westerners!

    A Muslim poster put this link on another thread, and it is well worth a read for background information on the sources of fundamentalist terrorism.

    It seems to have an unsurprising link to OIL!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html



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  • It is also necessary to distinguish between what the Qur’an as a whole says when you read it cover to cover, and what it says if you cherry pick for bits that contradict the general flow.

    It is not very long compared with the bible, especially if you exclude the hadith (commentary). However, few westerners have waded through the thing. I have.

    It is quite boring. Most of it says “God is wonderful” or “If you don’t believe the Qur’an, you will be really really really sorry when you roast yourself alive after death.” They have a strange way of looking at this torment. Allah is not responsible. He is merciful.

    The rest is an Emily Post — the rules of conduct for everyone in an all-Muslim society. Compared with the bible, it is quite rational and sensible. It has strict rules on seeking revenge that I consider quite reasonable given the time. You are not allowed to just go off half cocked. You have to try repeatedly for reconciliation. It gives rules for dealing fairly with Jews and Christians (people of the book). It also suggests avoiding socialising since that would weaken faith.

    The most barbaric thing is calling for locking up lesbians in a house. They don’t say so explicitly, but I presume without food and water.

    In general it says nothing about scientific topics. But since it was written relatively recently, it does much less violence to science than the bible does. It even got right the moon shines by reflected light. There are a few verses that praise science and knowledge. They look on science as exploring Allah’s creation in detail. These may have encouraged the Islamic era of scholarship the preceeded the Renaissance.



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  • @GFZ: “Just recently some imam finally rejected what the quran said about the earth being the center of our solar system or the universe.”

    Slightly off topic, but do you have a source you can cite for that story? I’m curious to know how his followers and community have reacted.
    This is definitely the sort if thing that must happen to improve the situation, but the nature of Islam(ism) and the culture that comes with it suggest that it’s more likely to be met with rejection and violent protest than understanding.



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  • As Sam Harris said, Islam is “a” motherload of bad ideas. I have read the Koran cover to cover and there is very little that is rational and sensible. Let’s take women, for instance. You can punch your wife if she has the temerity to disobey you. You should leave only a third of your wealth to your daughters. A woman’s testimony is only worth half that of a man. You can divorce your wife by just saying “I divorce you” three times, but if she wants to leave you, she has to wait three months before remarrying because she might be pregnant with “your” child. In that case, she has to wait until the baby is born, hand it over to you and then she can remarry. These are all right in the Koran. You either didn’t read it like you said, or you are intentionally trying to misinform readers here or even worse you consider this quite rational and sensible.

    I repeat what I have said elsewhere, Islam is being defended by Marxists who are so peeved that their plans for overthrowing capitalism failed and so hate the West for allowing it to fail that they will defend the only “movement” which is militantly attacking the West and capitalism, the old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” principle. This support is shortsighted in the extreme. The Marxist heads will be bouncing in the streets too when the jihadists take over.



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  • That’s unfair bonnie, he talks expressly about the treatment of women throughout the Muslim world; and anyway, men shouldn’t speak at length about women’s issues, that’s for them to do, our job is to be supportive, and only pipe up when invited to do so.

    Are Azlan and the others being wilfully disingenuous by conflating the doctrines of the religion with its followers, or do they simply fail to grasp the argument?

    As I have said here on tediously numerous occasions, the individual who has been unfortunate enough in their infancy to be made to suffer under the yoke of manufactured and elaborate superstition, has quite enough problems without being “bullied” by people like me.

    I employ the “B” word advisably, because a Catholic friend of mine has accused me of doing that very thing to her in an exchange we had.

    And again, for the umpteenth time, I’d like to emphasize that our next door neighbours are, on the one side Muslims, and on the other Jews, and for 22 years we’ve been mutually supportive.

    I’ve never spoken to them about my world view because I don’t need to, but if asked I’d certainly express it.



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  • Please remember this is coming from a gay Jew living safely outside
    the Muslim world, who would be hurled from a rooftop any place within
    it.

    Brilliant from Harris, shame this line isn’t on video since it would be prime highlight material.



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  • 17
    Friedrich says:

    Comment:For those out there saying ISIS is Unislamic,I find that quite ridiculous.All they do,how they kill is in their ‘holy books’.Any of u guys disputing this should read The Atlantic’s essay on ISIS.Fundamentally,it is an islamic group or end-time cult which has some interests in oil,money and the likes..



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  • Judging by this (from your link) , I don’t think al-Razi was in fact a muslim; merely one who lived amongst them but was infinitely more rational.

    “On the Qur’an, Razi said:
    You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: “Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.” Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. … By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: “Produce something like it”‽



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  • Friedrich Feb 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Comment: For those out there saying ISIS is Unislamic, I find that quite ridiculous.

    Ah! But we need to remember the trooooo theists’ favourite fallacy!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman
    .No True Scotsman is a logical fallacy by which an individual attempts to avoid being associated with an unpleasant act by asserting that no true member of the group they belong to would do such a thing; this fallacy also applies to defining a term or criteria biasedly as to defend it from counterargument which can be identified as a biased, persuasive, or rhetorical definition. Instead of acknowledging that some members of a group have undesirable characteristics, the fallacy tries to redefine the group to exclude them.



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  • 20
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi to all of my friends.
    Being Violent or Militant is primarily a specificity for human beings, regardless of their ideas but sometimes an Idea can be used as a tool for violence. Religion as an idea is one of those tools.
    Why religion is a Good tool for Militants? Here are two reasons:
    1. Religion, when it comes to motivating someone to do something is very powerful. If you need a tool to do something as serious as a terror attack, you should get a powerful one.
    2. Religious books can always be interpreted in different ways some of them useful to terrorists and militants.
    But here is a fact that religion fits to a useful tool because it is a System of Ideas. In fact any Idea cwhich is Systematic enough to be used as a tool is dengerous. It has been shown in history that Atheism or Anti-theism can reach to that level. Sometimes in a government like Albania.
    So what I’m trying to say is that if an Atheist person kills Muslims because they are religious it has nothing to do with Sam or Richard or…, and if ISIS is using my religion to do I don’t know what, it has nothing to do with me either.
    As a matter of fact like I said in previous posts about so called Violent Muslims, ISIS should be identified as Wahhabi or Salafi, Not just Muslim, because Wahhabi represents them well but calling them Muslim as people like Sam always do will cause the present confusion.
    Thank you for your time



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  • 21
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Olgun.
    I am a Muslim. And I just reported your comment because I believe it is aainst the terms of use of the site.
    You mentioned Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi in your post. Can I offer you a link too?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avicenna
    Persia polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age. He has been described as the “Father of Early Modern Medicine”.



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  • 22
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Alan.
    I found you interested in reasoned and definite facts. If you want other more accurate sources to know the difference between Wahhabism (which is responsible for almost every Violence in the name of Muslims) and Other Sects of Islam better, I’d be happy to offer you more.
    Thank you for your attention.



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  • @ Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth)

    ” But here is a fact that religion fits to a useful tool because it is a System of Ideas. In fact any Idea cwhich is Systematic enough to be used as a tool is dengerous. It has been shown in history that Atheism or Anti-theism can reach to that level. Sometimes in a government like Albania. ”

    Atheism or anti-theism did not have much to do with whatever happened in Albania, or whatever happened elsewhere. Ideas ideology ) did have something to do with this and other happenings, but atheism is not an idea in the sense you would think and I am an anti-theist, along with the vast majority of anti-theists, who would be shocked to be included in whatever happened in Albania or elsewhere.

    Look to the no true Scotsman fallacy and do not confuse anti-theism with a much more active ideology. Communism, or some such ideology.



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  • Hi Reza,

    I am from a Muslim family too. Sorry you misunderstood my post. It was poke at people with, a much loved word around here, Islamaphobia. 😉



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    It has been shown in history that Atheism or Anti-theism can reach to that level. Sometimes in a government like Albania.

    I think you will find that when people who were atheists killed (other than as self defence), it was because they were ideologists, not because they were atheists.
    Some of the worst examples had ideological personality cult forms of communism which they promoted with religion-like zeal, and with elitists party-members and committees almost like a priest-hood.

    Atheism is usually a lack of religion and a lack of belief in gods, although Buddhism IS a religion without a belief in gods.

    As with your examples it is important to recognise the mentality and nature of the terrorist.

    I would suspect there are other mentally unstable gun toting fanatics in that neighbourhood who are not atheists. The gun culture is why there are so many shootings in America.



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  • 27
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Neodarwinian.
    Thanks to my friend Alan4discussion we all can avoid that fallacy. I did not and will not include any reasonable human being like you my new friend in a terrible act like what happened in Albania, but I want you to know, if you get shocked by that imagine how terribley we, Muslims, are dealing with a High Voltage shock on a daily basis when some Wahhabi (Salafi) person kills people against our religion and we are being called responsible for that.
    Lots of love to you my friend.



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  • 28
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    “it is important to recognise the mentality and nature of the terrorist.”
    That is exactly what I’m talkin about.



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  • 29
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Olgun.
    If you are a muslim or from a muslim family you probably know by yourself the stands of Islam and prophet Mohammad on how to deal with critiques or even insulters and do not need me to talk to you about it.
    But I can not found that POKE here:
    “Muslims are animals and always have been………Animals”
    Maybe it is because my English is not that good after all.
    Thank you fr your reply.



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  • 30
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Friedrich.
    I have a question. If some Muslim saves your life because of his beief in the verse of Quran which says: “If anyone saves one life it is like he saves lives of all of the people”, will you consider going out and saying that ISIS is a group of people like my saviour. A group based on this very verse that saved my life?
    Thank you my friend.



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  • Yes, my apologise again and it will be your English Im afraid. I am of muslim background but an atheist. That does not prevent me from speaking up against islamaphobia. I posted the link to show that whilst the church was stopping medicine in the west, the muslim world was founding many ideas and remedies. So the poke is the link. Thanks for your link also. It shows that civilisation goes in fits and starts and cannot be claimed by one or the other of the participants. I have even spoken up against name calling if other religions. My technique is a western one I am afraid. That is where I grew up.



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  • 35
    nomorewoo says:

    Hello Reza,
    Good of you to stop by… breaks up a bit the incessant preaching to the choir which tends to go on in these parts 😉

    I was wondering if you can help me with a question I’ve never seen answered with any degree of intelligibility, if answered at all, by Muslim scholars, theologians, media talking heads, talk show participants, imams and professional Islam apologists and the like (to be fair -nor is the question often asked in a clear cut way if at all):

    There are more than 100 sura’s (verses) in the Koran which prescribe, threaten, condone, order, justify and describe extremely unpleasant outcomes for non-believers – people like myself.

    Can you point out a verse that indicates that all the aforementioned (brutalizing) verses are historic and were only in effect during the prophet’s (luip) lifetime and thereafter retracted? I couldn’t find any such verse and, apparently, neither could ISIS.



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  • Thanks for that, Reza, but that seems to be describing a “sheikh” (is that the same as an “imam”?), and he seems to be claiming something different than GFZ suggested. This man seems to agree with the quran.



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  • 37
    Friedrich says:

    Comment:Dear Reza,
    I definitely won’t find any big problem with muslims who have a peaceful Quran that prohibits violence and respect fundamental human rights.My only problem will probably be they basing their beliefs on dogna and not by substantial evidence.But the state of the Quran today,is a book mixed good,bad and more often than not barbaric practices which is ambiguous.There is no set manual for interpreting the quran therefore leading to different interpretations of the quran which is a result of different perspectives.Also there is no standard interpretation of the quran by all muslims.The problem is a lot of what ISIS does can be traced to the quran.Isis kills other shiites because they believe they are apostates.Isis sometimes levy heavy taxes on the people of the book,i.e christians and jews.The actions of Isis are quite predictable when you read the quran literally from the fundamentalist point of view.Why doesn’t it attack and terrorise western countries like similar islamic terror groups like al-Qaeda which was the most successful terrorist group in recent times?Though they have the people and resources to attack the West by bombing trains,suicide bombings and the ilk,they refuse to do it?Why is Syria so important to them?These are questions whose answers are allegedly found in the quran.The quran is a book which whether I like it or not is the foundation of faith of billions of people and if it contains texts of violence and suppression of human rights which can be translated in any way,i CONDEMN it as a number of people probably will get the violent part right leaving all other not soooo bad and okay parts.



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  • 38
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Your welcome man.
    1. Sheikh and Imam are (in these cases) the same. They mean a leading cleric.
    2. Our friend GFZ is wrong. The person in video says the sun revolves around the earth and earth is steady and I wanted you to know how Imams in Saudi Arabia , where Wahhabism is supporting terrorists like ISIS around the world, think about science.
    3. How on earth do you think that Quran says something like that. Gimme the adress to the verse or verses please.
    4. You as a westerner might not believe me but have a little search about Muslim scientists like Abu Reihan Biruni and how they pointed out what Galile and Copernicus are famous for way before them.
    Thank you my friend.



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  • 39
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi GFZ dear.
    It seems that you know very little about Quran and Islam.
    The Saudi Arabian cleric has said Earth is steady and Quran has never said that the Earth is the center of the world.
    So here is a rational conclusion:
    You have not even found out properly what a cleric has said in this era of Internet and Communication. How come you can make comments about what Quran is about?
    Please my friend, get your facts straight.
    Thank you.



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  • In fact any Idea cwhich is Systematic enough to be used as a tool is dengerous. It has been shown in history that Atheism or Anti-theism can reach to that level. Sometimes in a government like Albania. So what I’m trying to say is that if an Atheist person kills Muslims because they are religious it has nothing to do with Sam or Richard or…, and if ISIS is using my religion to do I don’t know what, it has nothing to do with me either.

    Hi Reza,
    I’ve not seen you on the posts before so welcome to the site, I hope you stay.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you or even most Muslims have anything to do with terrorist activities. Most of us happily accept that most Muslims do not take a literal view of the Quran, in the same sense that most Jews and Christians ignore most of the bible.

    The issue is that some extremist Muslims take your holy book too literally, which they are encouraged to do in the book (and yes I have read the Quran). You may find regimes that ban or restrict religion, but this does not mean that their evil has anything to do with the absence of a belief in a God, many countries don’t believe in Santa Clause and no-one blames genocide on an absence of belief in Santa. Atheist is not a belief but is only a statement of non-belief. It can therefore not be blamed on directing any behaviour good or bad. All the Holy books of all the monotheisms have passages that condone or direct violence towards apostates. You can therefore look at a group like ISIS and say that they are inspired by an interpretation of the Quran, the example of the Prophet or the Hadith’s. Neither I or anyone else on this site can be expected to decide on which interpretation is correct most of us think they are all invalid, however I’m glad you are a moderate and I hope you succeed in spreading your moderation far an wide.

    Kind regards



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  • 41
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Nomorewoo. Hi.
    Thank you for your request and I am glad to be at your service:
    1. A Sura is the assumption of Verses.
    2. ISIS is Muslim. Ok. But I am muslim too. So please Identify them as Wahhabi and Salafi section of Islam which they are, not just Muslim. I should not be responsible for their act. I just have to prove that Quran is not the source of Violence which I am proud to do.
    3. Because Quran is a big book and you may ask alot of questions about alot of verses I think it’s better if you point out one of those 100 verses then we can deal better with it. For example take a look at a Q&A between me and our atheist friend Captain Zep here (the last conversations): https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/lets-talk-about-islam/



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  • 42
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi my new friend and thank you.
    First I have to say that I am not Moderate! Islam is a good thing to me so I want to be an exteremist in Good. 😉 BUT, my Islam says this: Leave me if you found evidence against me!
    Anyway. I respect you and all my friends here and I can not imagine if I had you guys in my neighbourhood how happy I would be. Thus I never say an Atheist kills someone because of his Atheism. As I dont want to be blamed for Islam if ISIS is killing innocents. What I just mentioned is that when an Idea in mind got Systematic and Powerful can effect someone actions and thoughts.
    For example if I say in public that corporate media are responsible for hiding the truth about 911 and George Bush was behind that, a father who has lost a son in that tragedy may believe in that. Then he starts to ask questions. Then he runs a website about it. Then he calls for demonstrations. and some they when the Idea is systematic enough he may kill GWB! At that time no one can prove him you are wrong about that. Same goes with ISIS and same goes with a person who may have Atheism on his agenda.
    It is human which is violent. Islam and Atheism are not. They just can be used as tool for hate crimes.
    And I ask again, Please call ISIS and Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram and… Wahhabi and Salafi which they are, not just Muslims which we are too.
    Thank you.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 5:02 am

    Anyway. I respect you and all my friends here and I can not imagine if I had you guys in my neighbourhood how happy I would be. Thus I never say an Atheist kills someone because of his Atheism. As I dont want to be blamed for Islam if ISIS is killing innocents.

    Atheism is commonly misrepresented by preachers, as some sort of religion.

    It is not. It is the absence of a religion.

    Atheism is “a religion” in the same sense that “bald” is a hair-colour, or OFF is a TV channel! It is an absence!

    While some TV channels may preach hatred, denial of science, or lie about all sorts of events, to make this accusation against the channel which is OFF is just silly imagination.



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  • 44
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear friend Friedrich, Hi.
    First, you did not answer my question and I wanted to get to something by that which I can’t now.
    Second, I’m afraid I didn’t get you when you said: “These are questions whose answers are allegedly found in the quran”.
    What?! ISIS is not attacking west and is interested in Syria based on Quran?
    Please show me eveidence about it. I am begging of you. And untill you provide that:
    ISIS is interested in Iraq and Syria because they believe their worst enemies are Shias like me, Iran, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. They call for murder of us because they think of us as Infidels (Kafir).
    But the most interesting part is that We as Muslims should ask western governments that question my dear friend. People around the globe including Muslims are shocked why the so called Exteremist Islamists are killing Muslims but never fire a single bullet toward Israel, which is the most obvious enemy to Muslims, yet you are saying that it is based on Quran?
    That was the strangest comment I have ever read or heard about the problem of ISIS! I don’t want to talk about Conspiracy, I don’t want to get off the subject of the thread but my dear friend I am waiting for your evidence about those allegations.
    Best wishes.



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  • 46
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hello everybody.
    I think it’s better for me to introduce myself a little.
    I am a 31 years old Shia muslim boy from Iran. I am a Specialist in Internal Medicine.
    Although it’s my ultimate pleasure to be here among you nice people, I have to say since I registered here a few days ago I encountered several subjects related to Islam which is natural these days but there is no other Muslim here and I am kind of alone. That’s when I see alot of people here ask friendly for informations about Islam. I am glad to be of help but my main reason to join here was not that. it was:
    Desperately searching for INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION.
    I want to be critisized. If Islam is not the religioun of truth I want to leave it as soon as possible. so I want questions to be trigerred in my mind.
    I hope dear moderator let this be on the wall because I think it helps the discussion I believe.
    Thank you my new Friends.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Dear Alan!
    I have a simple question:
    Atheism is an Idea. True or False?

    Atheism is the ability to build a world view without needing a belief in gods.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities

    All thoughts are “ideas”.

    Atheists simply do not accept the mythologies of all the gods as any more than ancient stories, which may or may not contain anything of value, whereas theists reject all gods except their own.

    Many of the Greek myths are interesting stories – some with moral lessons in them, but I would not suggest they are true, even if some characters or actions, may have existed.

    When atheists criticise religions, it is the actions of their followers and their motivations which are being criticised. Interpretations of role models in holy books can strongly influence these actions, but there is a general trend to “interpret” and cherry-pick bits of texts as meaning what people “want to believe”.

    That is a main difference between religious thinking and scientific thinking, which accounts for the thousands of different “interpretations” by various sects, of the same myths or histories.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Hello everybody.
    I think it’s better for me to introduce myself a little.
    I am a 31 years old Shia muslim boy from Iran. I am a Specialist in Internal Medicine.

    You will find many people here who regard scientific methodology as the route to finding truths about the Universe, the earth and living things.

    If you are working in medicine, then you will be in regular contact with the world of science. You may find some of the discussions on biology interesting – including some critical of religious viewpoints.

    Although it’s my ultimate pleasure to be here among you nice people, I have to say since I registered here a few days ago I encountered several subjects related to Islam which is natural these days

    Beliefs are particularly strong in Islam and particularly so in those from Islamic theocracies which repress other viewpoints.
    Whereas many are cultural Christians who have token beliefs, Muslims tend to put their religion as a top priority.

    I recall an occasion, when I escorted a Muslin out during a university exam to pray, before escorting him back to continue the exam. It was a medical exam to become a doctor, but he rated timing his prayer a greater priority.

    but there is no other Muslim here and I am kind of alone.

    As Olgun has pointed out there as some ex-Muslins here.

    Many atheists were brought up in families with various religions, so often understand these as well or better than believers.

    Desperately searching for INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION.
    I want to be critisized. If Islam is not the religioun of truth I want to leave it as soon as possible. so I want questions to be trigerred in my mind.

    In understanding religions, looking at other religions you have not previously encountered can be enlightening, in understanding how the psychology and social interactions work.



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  • Hi, Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth)

    You are most welcome. I hope you find useful things here.

    We each come here for different reasons. Some are concerned first and foremost with truth and the getting of it, some for the creating of a common substrate for all of humanity, a world where we can talk about things in a properly share-able way and, then, some for the creation of a more honest morality for all of the living.

    Atheism, the lack of a belief in god or gods, is just one possible input into all these different aspirations, but it is akin to simply taking off a pair of sun glasses, removing something, to see if you can see your way to your chosen answers more easily.

    Enjoy.



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  • 51
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Thank you sir for the warmest welcome.
    I hope we can reach our goals here which I think is quite the same. I think you can know more about Islam and I can learn more about Atheism.
    Best Regards.



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  • Dear Mr. Harris,

    As to the murders in North Carolina, I agree it’s implausible to think that you, Sam Harris, caused it. Think of this counterfactual: what if you had never written or publicly said anything, ever, or never even been born. Would Hicks still have murdered his neighbors? Probably yes.

    There must be some other, more causal factors that could have been otherwise. Here is at least one: if Hicks had not been born, he could not have murdered anyone, and Mr. Barakat, Ms. Abu-Salha, and her sister would most likely still be alive. What are some other factors that could have been different, factors causal enough that they might have saved these students from being murdered?

    If the students never lived next to Hicks.
    If they lived in Canada instead of the U.S.
    If the U.S. had stricter gun control laws.
    If the students had moved once they realized their neighbor was an angry and violent person.
    If they had bowed to Hicks’ parking spot demands.

    But what about if they hadn’t been Muslims? Is it possible that that would have been enough to save them, too?

    You mention the “psychological reality of being a militant atheist.” The unexamined life is not worth living, so please listen again to this recording that you have made, and listen especially to the tone of your voice when you say such words as “Muslim”, “Islam”, or “Aslan”. Sometimes, you say these words plainly and reasonably, and other times, to my ears, your tone is full of contempt. I was a kid in the 80’s, and learned to say “handicapped” instead of “cripple”, and “gay” instead of “fag”, but this in no way prevented other kids from ubiquitously turning both formerly neutral words into schoolyard insults. Listen, as if to a stranger, to yourself as you say “Muslim” at 5:00, 5:48, 8:47, or 11:52, imagine that mild negative emotion multiplied by 100, combined with a bad temper and low impulse control, and maybe that is what it feels like to be Hicks.

    I’m not saying that you’re as bad as Hicks, nor that the murders are your fault, nor that you’re an evil person, nor that you caused yourself to have these unconscious negative associations. Consider what implicit attitudes the U.S. media expresses to us, especially since 9/11, consider what it is about our society that produces so much violence, murder, and war. Consider how this bias can affect not just one’s tone of voice, but, over time, one’s reasoning and conclusions as well, for example, on the legitimacy of torture.

    I have said that I don’t think anything you have said made a causal difference in the North Carolina murders. I can further say that even your harshest critics ought to find some perspective. I suspect that 24 aided our government in achieving its plans for war and torture with far more force and reach than anything you have written, and were I gifted with such a bit of moral luck, I would be forever thankful. I used to be a militant atheist, too, but these days, I think that rather than wonder whether my words might incite more bigotry and more violence, I would rather aspire to incite mutual respect and peace.

    -Webb



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  • 53
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Alan.
    Yes I’m looking forward to discussions about Biology and Medicine and I think a religious person can contribute so much to them from the religious viewpoint which is usualy absent in here.
    Religion is “The way of Living” and is all about Devotion because it deals with absolute and concrete things. One can not say that for example, I am a Christian but I don’t believe in Bible saying…! Because being a Christian needs believing in absolute authenticity of Bible, at leaset as I have been told. Those Christians are in fact some kinds of “Spritually thinking Atheists”. If a religious person finds a flaw in his book he/she should just say: This religioun is not RIGHT, so I LEAVE it. That is my view about religion. If I see asingle flaw in Quran I have the courage to leave it all to Mohammad!
    This is of course a problem with religion because if you are not a logical person and get it wrong you can end up beheading people by that!
    I agree that some Atheists as polls show in US or I can Experience in Iran are more knowledgable about religion than religous persons. It’s painful and wierd to me but I confess it’s true.
    And again I agree that freedom of thought is lacking in religious communities esspecially in Muslim countries of Meadle East. This is why I joined this site after all.

    Best wishes.



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  • 54
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Alan.
    you didn’t answer my question I think. Olgun said Atheism is not an Idea which I ask him so what is this and do not tell me “a Lack of Idea” because it would be wrong. So I ask you Again is Atheism an Idea or not?
    If you say Yes, then I say if this Idea got powerful enough in someone’s mind then that person can use it as an excuse or tool to do bad things.
    For example if an Atheist who has power of Media and Money calls for invading Muslim countries because they follow a book which commands our murder, don’t you think there will be lots of people who are ready to fight for his Army? The Army which calls itself “Atheist State of Europe and America” or ASEA! Something like ISIS! 😉



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Yes I’m looking forward to discussions about Biology and Medicine and I think a religious person can contribute so much to them from the religious viewpoint which is usualy absent in here.

    Religious viewpoints do turn up here quite often. Unfortunately they are usually poorly informed or wrong! – and that is just the honest ones! With young Earth Creationists, any deception is to be expected in their denials of science.

    Religion is “The way of Living” and is all about Devotion because it deals with absolute and concrete things. One can not say that for example, I am a Christian but I don’t believe in Bible saying…!

    Many do say just that! They cherry-pick the bits of the Bible they like and claim the rest are “metaphorical”.

    Because being a Christian needs believing in absolute authenticity of Bible, at leaset as I have been told.

    That is only the fundamentalist sects, who are usually full of know-it-al ignorance and are scientifically illiterate – denying evolution, cosmology, and radiometric-dating.

    Those Christians are in fact some kinds of “Spritually thinking Atheists”.

    They are atheistic about other religions, but that is only because those religions conflict with their indoctrinated preconceptions they learned as children from people they trusted.
    Very few have evaluated beliefs on a scientific basis.

    The neuroscientists are working on the roots of “spiritual thinking”.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm
    “Neuropsychology researchers consistently have shown that impairment on the right side of the brain decreases one’s focus on the self,” Johnstone said. “Since our research shows that people with this impairment are more spiritual, this suggests spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. This is consistent with many religious texts that suggest people should concentrate on the well-being of others rather than on themselves.”

    Johnstone says the right side of the brain is associated with self-orientation, whereas the left side is associated with how individuals relate to others. Although Johnstone studied people with brain injury, previous studies of Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns with normal brain function have shown that people can learn to minimize the functioning of the right side of their brains to increase their spiritual connections during meditation and prayer.

    In addition, Johnstone measured the frequency of participants’ religious practices, such as how often they attended church or listened to religious programs. He measured activity in the frontal lobe and found a correlation between increased activity in this part of the brain and increased participation in religious practice.

    If a religious person finds a flaw in his book he/she should just say: This religioun is not RIGHT, so I LEAVE it. That is my view about religion.

    There are so many flaws in the bible, it is difficult to list them all:-

    http://bibviz.com/



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  • “If I see asingle flaw in Quran I have the courage to leave it all to Mohammad!”

    Then you cannot be a Muslim, because the Koran is the perfect word of Allah, without flaw. Muhammad is NOT Allah and cannot make any judgment on Koran- he is merely the messenger of Allah.



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  • Reza,

    You are mixing so many things here that don’t necessarily follow. Atheism is not an idea because I didn’t wake up one morning and think ‘what is the alternative to religion’ and pick atheism. I didn’t even know there was a term for what I was until later in life. What I am is someone with less weight on his shoulders created by man. Yes the Koran and the other holy books have lots that make sense but I make sense about those things without those books and without the need for a god. Medicine makes sense without it. Take away god and the holy books and you still have a cure for things. Take away the cure and you are left in the hands of something that isn’t there. Alan described me as an ex-muslim but I can’t ever remember believing in any god so I can’t say I am ex anything so it cannot be an idea but a realisation. As phil has said, the taking off of sunglasses to experience the glare of the sun.

    Your other points I agree with. ANYTHING can be used as an excuse for violence and you asking people to identify who is being violent and why, is what I have been saying also. It is never a one size fits all situation but that the ‘idea’ theory of atheism is linked is wrong.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 8:28 am

    So I ask you Again is Atheism an Idea or not?

    It is an idea, but has no substance or philosophy.

    If you say Yes, then I say if this Idea got powerful enough in someone’s mind then that person can use it as an excuse or tool to do bad things.

    There is no dogmatic view or doctrine in atheism. There are numerous atheists here, but we have many different view-points on religion and politics. Atheism is an understanding of the improbability of gods. If you are looking for an atheist type philosophy Humanism is the nearest, but there are some Christian groups who claims to also be Humanists.
    https://humanism.org.uk/

    For example if an Atheist who has power of Media and Money calls for invading Muslim countries because they follow a book which commands our murder, don’t you think there will be lots of people who are ready to fight for his Army?

    It is very unlikely, unless there was some threat to the atheist way of life from that country.
    Naturally, we take a very dim view of theocracies where people are jailed simply for being atheists but atheists don’t have tribal or herd reactions like some religions.

    There are no such “atheist books”! You will find most of the Islamophobic nonsense in the US media comes from right-wing fundamentalist Xtians.

    The historical invasions have been instigated by Xtian or Jewish politicians. George W. Bush is among the most openly religious presidents in U.S. history, while Tony Blair was a closet Catholic – Now openly Catholic. I am sure, I don’t have to tell you, that the Israeli invaders were Zionists, not atheists. A little further back in history there was a nasty war between Greek Xtians and Turkish Muslims.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Dear Alan.
    you didn’t answer my question I think. Olgun said Atheism is not an Idea which I ask him so what is this and do not tell me “a Lack of Idea” because it would be wrong.

    You still don’t understand atheism as a lack of belief in (all) gods.

    So I ask you Again is Atheism an Idea or not

    I would expect you to have a “lack of belief” in Buddhist reincarnation as an animal, or a lack of belief in the collection of Hindu gods, or the Aztec or Inca gods requiring human sacrifices, or the Ancient Greek gods, or the ancient Egyptian gods.

    Atheists do not believe in gods.
    They don’t think, “Which god shall I not believe in?” and then pick one!
    Many theists think of atheism as “a denial of their local ‘default’ god”, but that is simply wrong. A Japanese atheist is not “in denial of Shinto” or an American atheist “in denial of Catholicism”.
    Atheism is an understanding that the universe works just fine by the laws of science without a need for gods or any particular religion.
    Gods are in the minds of believers. – Usually in relation to specific geographical locations and cultures.



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  • 61
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi dear Alan.
    Sorry for delay in response I was in a football match and we lost 6-0!!!
    I tell you that I am aware about how Atheists feel and see the world, what is their moral basis, how they deal with a world that many believers think is a dark hell without God and etc. I have Atheist friends. Even some day in my life, I was “almost an Atheist”!
    So I am not strange to the notion. But what I am trying to say needs us first to be clear about this question. Is Atheism an Idea or Not? You say Yes but our friend Olgun says No. How is this possible? It is or Is not! Can’t be both!
    Now that I am really alone here and should answer a lot of people above I invite you and Olgun to settle this down then we can talk about the rest of it.
    Thank you.



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  • 62
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi Olgun! Sorry for delay in response. And thank you for your Explanation about your previous comments that I misunderstood.
    You say Atheism is not an Idea, Alan says it is. One of you is wrong. I invited Alan to discuss it with you, then we can follow our Conversation because it needs the answer to that question.
    And I should say that I am not mixing things and don’t get my view on Atheism wrong. I am aware about how Atheists feel and see the world, what is their moral basis, how they deal with a world that many believers think is a dark hell without God and etc. I have Atheist friends. Even some day in my life, I was “almost an Atheist”!
    So I am not strange to the notion.
    I wait for you two good people to provide me an answer.
    Thank you.



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  • 63
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Hi JimJFox.
    I’m affraid I didn’t get you. If Quran has a flaw, It is not the word of God and I leave it to Mohammad. Which part of this sentence is wrong?
    Thank you.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    But what I am trying to say needs us first to be clear about this question. Is Atheism an Idea or Not? You say Yes but our friend Olgun says No. How is this possible? It is or Is not! Can’t be both!

    I suppose it depends of the interpretation of the word “idea”! – Then again – free thinkers have no dogmas and can have different opinions.

    I tell you that I am aware about how Atheists feel and see the world, what is their moral basis, how they deal with a world that many believers think is a dark hell without God and etc.

    As to secular views of determining “right or wrong” the last paragraph of this comment gives a widely held view.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/02/losing-faith-atheism-rising-in-britain-poll-suggests/#li-comment-169371

    I have Atheist friends.

    BTW: My (atheist) brother’s long term girlfriend is a Muslim, who accompanies him to some of our family events.



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  • Reza,

    Better to answer you here so you do not duplicate your post. As Alan says, it depends on your interpretation on a wholly philosophical question. But this is a three way conversation so I am happy to hear your version.



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  • 66
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear JimJFox.
    I think if I want to provide an answer about Quran being a Miracle of Mohammad and how easily you’ve got wrong information from Wiki…, it whould have nothing to do with “The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism”!
    So I don’t want to get off the subject here, but it doesn’t mean that I can not send you useful information about the relation between Quran & Science via email or in another post which is related to the subject.
    I’d be happy to have your email.
    Thank You my friend.



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  • Olgun Feb 20, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Reza – You say Atheism is not an Idea, Alan says it is. One of you is wrong. I invited Alan to discuss it with you,

    I think we should be able to agree that atheism is the idea that gods are unnecessary in the working physics of the universe, .. and nothing more than that!



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  • 68
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Guys thank you for not mentioning my loss in footbal match!
    I was wondering maybe the team of Moderators can conduct a new Post starting with comments of famous Atheists about the question, because I think it is very important.
    Dear Alan, I know that you and Olgun are freethinkers but even freethinkers can not have two opinions about the question, Is yoghurt white or black? ( I know it was not a perfect example)
    I ask it in another way. When someone asks you what is your Idealogy about life, what is your answer? Please tell me the very first thing which comes to your mind. Then we can analyse that. Is that an Idea or not.
    And please tell more about your opinions. Like Olgun said it is a three way conversation. You can disagree eachother.
    Thank you.



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  • 72
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Olgun please answer my new quetion.
    “When someone asks you what is your Idealogy about life, what is your answer?”
    Does it need to be defined?



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  • Not really Reza but I am not accustomed to giving answers to questions that are usually asked at beauty pageants 😉

    Be good! (Is my answer BTW)



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  • Dear Alan, I know that you and Olgun are freethinkers but even freethinkers can not have two opinions about the question, Is yoghurt white or black? ( I know it was not a perfect example)

    It depends on the interpretation of the question.
    (I quite like those purplish black cherry yoghurts!)

    I ask it in another way. When someone asks you what is your Idealogy about life, what is your answer? Please tell me the very first thing which comes to your mind.

    My philosophy of life is science, ecology, and Humanist based, but is quite independent of my atheism. It probably has a few residual cultural Xtian bits included which are compatible with the other three aspects.

    Then we can analyse that. Is that an Idea or not.

    My personal philosophy contains many ideas, but they are quite separate from atheism, which is an absence of supernatural ideas, and separate from my understanding of the religious ideas, which I consider irrelevant to my philosophy.

    My understanding of religions, is used in dealings with religious people.
    It has nothing to do with my personal objectives in life.
    Religions are irrelevant to these objectives.
    Religious people may, or may not, share some of these objectives, but that does not influence my choices.
    There are thousands of conflicting religious viewpoints and no evidence of any “default gods”.



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  • 75
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Olgun.
    I withdraw myself from your conversation because I asked a question and you did not provide an answer beacuse you think it’s Shallow. I leave you two nice guys alone to reach an agreement without me. Then let me know Is Atheism an Idea or not?
    Meanwhile I am busy typing a long answer to our friend JimJFox above. He has just pushed my red button of Intellectual Stimulation there.
    Be Best! (Is my Pray BTW)



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  • You need to be more honest with your questions Reza then you will get honest answers. Sorry you have taken offence but you have to understand you offend with your style of questioning. As I am from a Muslim background, it felt very much like I was haggling for something.



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  • 77
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Alan!
    I do not have a reply link below your comment above on my screen so I reply here.
    Why are you trying to explain about yourself ahead of the matter of the conversation. everything you are saying is right and I accept that about you and I also expect that.
    But here we are talking about “The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism”. Whether can atheism be Militant or not. We followed the thread and we reached to the question: Is Atheism an Idea or Not. The I asked you and Olgun to give me an answer. Which ever answer you want.
    Please let us stay on the subject.
    Thank you so much.



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  • 78
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Olgun. I was never offended by your words.
    I realy did not want to reach here. I liked the way we was promoting. I like it back. I just ask you a question which is Honest and also on the thread. We want to know if Atheism is sort of an Idea or not.
    Please forgive me if I said something wrong.
    Thank you.



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  • If I can muddle things a little by making this four way, I am very keen on having no ideologies as such. Not religious, not political. Ideology is imagining there is a solution before you even know what the problem is. Ideologies are interesting guides, but should be held very lightly and be always subject to question and doubt. An ideology is a view of the world. It is a model of it seen from a particular angle and will always be incomplete in its understanding of people, their hopes and fears and how they can be harmed.

    I am perfectly confident people are basically good and well intentioned, at the very least, to those nearest them. Societies of increasingly greater knowledge, wealth and kindness would not have come about otherwise. Societies should continue on our current path of disposable ideologies as we discover their shortcomings. Better, even, to not hold them close in the first place. We know instinctively what hurts us and others and how to negotiate with others to our mutual flourishing. Ideologies most often become a way of putting our minds into the control of others, most often self-serving others. Study them in detail but rise above every last one.



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  • 81
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    JimJFox, you just changed the playground!!!
    1. The link you just sent has lots of wrong informations. It seems that someone has cherry-picked the translation. For example, http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Scientific_Errors_in_the_Quran#Sun_is_a_Flat_Disk
    You can go to the link of the number of the Verse in the Right and Below and find other translations.
    2. Quran is not a science book and never claims to be. And it is an important message for both Muslims and Non Muslims. It contains very strict scientific predictions or facts but these were never a goal for Quran and the prophet himself has never mentioned this about Quran. Quran glorifies Science and Reason and Thinking. This is the exact relation between Quran and Science.
    3. If you say, Quran says we expanded the earth like a carpet so it shows Earth is Flat, Can you say when quran said we are expanding the Skies it shows the Theory of Big Bang and Expanding Universe?
    4. Although I have searched about alot of issues mentioned in your link and I have the answer, but I have to thank you beacause I realised there are alot of them that I had never noticed before. I will study and search about them and let you know if you just send me your email.
    Thank you again for the Intellectual Stimulation my friend.



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  • 82
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Phil Rimmer. I could not agree more. Wow thank you. You just saved me beacuse now I think dear Olgun can answer the question in the light of your definition of Ideology. But meanwhile I want to ask you this. I believe if an Atheist has an Ideology about the way of living his life without religion and calls it Atheism, it can be used as a tool for hate crime. Do you agree or not?
    Thank You



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I do not have a reply link below your comment above on my screen so I reply here.

    The posting system limits the string of side-stepping replies.

    But here we are talking about “The Chapel Hill Murders and ‘Militant’ Atheism”.

    “Militant atheism” is a figment of the imagination of those whose (destructive?) religions atheists challenge.

    Whether can atheism be Militant or not.

    Atheism itself cannot be “militant” as it is not a philosophy or an ideology. It is an understanding of an absence of gods.

    That does not mean that individual atheists cannot have their own philosophies or ideologies, but there is no reason to believe that they will be the same as those of other atheists.

    We followed the thread and we reached to the question: Is Atheism an Idea or Not.

    My personal philosophy contains many ideas, but they are quite separate from atheism, which is an absence of supernatural ideas

    The “idea” that the universe is free of gods, (atheism) is an idea, but is not a philosophy of life.

    Just as the idea that the Moon is not made of green cheese is not a philosophy of life.
    Both are irrelevant to Humanist philosophies which are based on relationships between people.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    If I can jump in and anwer Phil’s question:-

    But meanwhile I want to ask you this. I believe if an Atheist has an Ideology about the way of living his life without religion and calls it Atheism,

    If someone calls their ideology “atheism” that is a misuse of the term.
    There is no ideology in atheism, although atheists can hold, communist ideologies, capitalist ideologies, vegetarian ideologies, global warming denial ideologies, homoeopathic ideologies, racist ideologies, Islamophibic ideologies, gun-toting ideologies, or any other ideologies, but those are nothing to do with their atheism.

    it can be used as a tool for hate crime.

    The ideologies could be used to motivate hate crimes, in the same way that those same ideologies could motivate religious people to commit hate crimes, but the ideologies are unrelated to atheism, and could well be unrelated to some of the religions.

    There are however certain hate crimes which are motivated by some religions:- such as Catholic fanatics murdering doctors who provide abortions and contraception, or religious sects blowing up the places of worship of rival forms of religion.



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  • Reza,

    Your question was answered way back with the sunglasses analogy. It is about shedding weight. Going back to basics.

    But your offering is much better. Honest. I have already said that anything can be used to justify violence given the right twisted mind. There are ways of living that say that all you have to do is reach enlightenment. A quite mind. My father goes crazy when he hears noisy children. I have learned from this and have a use tended my mind to this rage. The twins next door scream most of the night. I, sleep like a baby. If you read the link I posted above, you will read my thoughts on this shooting and the possible triggers given by me and others (Phil 😉 )…..



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  • Well I disagree ! As far as this atheist is concerned all God / gods are fictional characters. No basis in reality, including Allah. There are fictional characters I like and I loathe, but never would I want real human beings to do harm to others on the basis of a fiction ! Nor for any other reason.

    Reza’a view seems to be that speaking out about Mohammed and his behaviour, in say, marrying a ?9 year old girl, we are committing ‘hate’ crimes. Sorry Reza, I don’t buy it. I don’t care what the Koran says, it’s wrong to marry a 9 year old child, OK ?



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  • 87
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear Alan, it was in fact your question too.
    1. How can you describe these two sayings of yours:
    A: [Atheism] It is an idea
    B: There is no ideology in atheism
    Aren’t they opposite? But it is not important any more lets just focus on my No2.
    2. I think it’s better to go with the answer Yes to my question and not bring it back again. Yes Atheism is an Idea. Yes Atheism has an Ideology. Even if you say that I do not have an ideology about life and we believe that you don’t have any idea about life which is hard, Certainly there are people out there to disagree with you. Albanians based their State on the Ideology of Atheism. This is what they just announced.
    You can not say no they did not have an Idea. They based a country on Atheism man, How can You run a country on nothing.
    3. You said: “If someone calls their ideology “atheism” that is a misuse of the term.” And I will ask you why do you think your definition is right? The very same problem for Muslims like me defending their religion against the accusations of others who are relating us to ISIS.
    Thank you.



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  • 88
    Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) says:

    Dear DArcy.
    I don’t know how you reached that conclusion about me! it seem to me you haven’t read the entire conversation, which I never referred to Mohammad in it and because the topic is about ChapHill by hate crime I meant Killing not speaking out or critisizing which is the reason I’m here. To be critisized.
    So please don’t talk like that. I wan you to participate in the conversation. It is about Can Idea of Atheism be used as a tool for hate crime?
    Thank you.



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  • Reza (Muslim Who Loves Truth) Feb 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    You seem to be struggling with the language here!

    Dear Alan, it was in fact your question too.
    1. How can you describe these two sayings of yours:
    A: [Atheism] It is an idea
    B: There is no ideology in atheism

    Simple: – All ideas are not ideologies.

    Aren’t they opposite? But it is not important any more lets just focus on my No2.
    2. I think it’s better to go with the answer Yes to my question and not bring it back again. Yes Atheism is an Idea.

    All thoughts and concepts are ideas.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idea

    : a thought, plan, or suggestion about what to do

    an opinion or belief

    something that you imagine or picture in your mind

    Yes Atheism has an Ideology.

    No it has not! Not all ideas are ideologies.

    3.You said: “If someone calls their ideology “atheism” that is a misuse of the term.” And I will ask you why do you think your definition is right?

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ideology
    Full Definition of IDEOLOGY
    1: visionary theorizing

    2a : a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture

    b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture

    c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

    Synonyms: –
    credo, doctrine, dogma, gospel, creed, philosophy, testament

    In atheism’s lack of visionary theorizing about gods, , there are no “systematic concepts about human life and culture, there is no “group culture”, and no “sociopolitical program”.

    Also – none of the synonyms describe it.



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  • The plain fact that some nutter kills three people over a dispute about a parking space and that some other nutters chopped off the heads of some other people in Libya appals me. These people are the ones committing ‘hate crimes’, – not me.



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  • 92
    nomorewoo says:

    Reza, thank you for moving our exchange forward in the smart and effective way you recommend in #3! Yes, we should immediately narrow it down to one specific item and focus our attention on it step by step to deal with it most effectively.

    I reviewed your exchange with Cpt. Zep on verse 489. I would like to suggest we look at Surah 8, ayat 12, while taking to heart your recommendation to look at both the preceding and following verses.

    Before we do that let me for the sake of completeness just address your point#2: Yes, I’m aware of the existence of the different sects of Islam. Compare to the 38,000 and counting Christian sects! The Islamic sects do horrible things to each other today but no worse than the Catholics and Protestants did at the height of their holy depravity; it’s just that the weapons are much more destructive now.

    Re: ISIS, Not only should you not be held responsible for their acts, it would in fact be a crime -collective punishment- a violation of human rights- specifically the Geneva Conventions, to hold you responsible for crimes you did not commit. Moreover, people who attack you personally on account of your beliefs do not merit your attention and are not worthwhile or acceptable debate partners.



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  • Hi Reza,

    Again thanks very much for engaging in a friendly and constructive manner on this site. Please believe I have no instinct to offend (although I know as I am challenging your beliefs that may be an unintended side effect). I too (and most on this site) would welcome you into our communities as well, something I disagree with many of my fellow Australians about to my shame (for my country).

    I understand that you would not want to consider yourself anything but a Muslim in the complete sense. I am also happy be more aware of labelling specific actions when carried out by ISIS or Al-Qaeda etc. as carried out by those groups, and here I think is a place where you could be of enormous value on this site in helping many of us better understand the nuisances of these difference sects of Islam (some here are very knowledgeable about this, I however am not so much on these distinctions) , so I hope no-matter what opposition you get from myself and my fellow atheists on the site you stick it out.

    While I am happy to acknowledge your position in relation to Islam and that you consider ISIS a distortion of your version of Islam, they too, consider themselves as the only true Muslims and you as an apostate. Likewise the average Catholic I know would consider themselves as fully Catholic, although I cannot fail to note that no Catholic I know takes the specific Catholic prohibition against contraception seriously any-more, when growing up every Catholic family I came across had 6-8 kids and now every the largest Catholic family I know has 4 kids (This is anecdote but I’m fairly certain that the evidence would back up smaller family sizes in Catholic families over time). Clearly modern Catholicism is nothing like the Catholicism of say the 15th Century, I’d also suggest that Catholicism does not entirely map to the Bible, it ignores many commandments such as prohibitions on eating shell fish while insisting on following some of the Homophobic prohibitions to the extent that the law allows. Who am I as an atheist to decide what is a true or false Catholic?

    Clearly I cannot. I can however point to parts of their belief system that are inconsistent with reality, I can point out that an all knowing, all powerful God is unlikely to change his mind about what is and is not moral and therefore I can point to certain beliefs in the Bible or former Catholic teaching and ask why they are not following this or that commandment. Who are they to disagree with the word of God? This you can see leaves the ball entirely in their court. Of course I am very relieved to find that they can find an interpretation of the Bible (by ignoring many passages in it) that adhere to most tenets of secular morality and I can therefore day to day get on and enjoy the company of Catholic friends and work mates. And I can also see how more fundamentalist (read biblically or canonically literalist) Catholics can call themselves Catholic.

    So if I am criticising Islam in general it is because of what I have read in the Quran, and the fact that I can see how a literal reading of the text can lead to such violence and subjugation of women. I am however fully aware that most Muslims would have a different interpretation of those passages. So while I fully acknowledge that you and indeed most Muslims are not a threat to me, and as a child of the late 60’s and 70’s in Australia who remembers how dull food was before acceptance of our multiculturalism and the subsequent improvement in our diets and culture for which I (my mind) and my stomach will be eternally grateful. I worry that there are valid (from ISIS’s, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram’s point of view) interpretations of the Quran that can lead to violence. I hope we can make common cause is arguing against their actions. However we will probably have to come from different angles because I am very likely going to disagree with you about much of what is written in the Quran, but I hope we can engage in the discussion none the less and I genuinely wish to engage in disagreement without animosity.

    Kind regards



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  • Can Idea of Atheism be used as a tool for hate crime?

    I suppose, but then so too can the frozen leg of lamb I intended for my Sunday lunch.

    I think you have to do a lot more work to turn what for most atheist self-describers would be called the single concept of a null set of gods into the multiple tenets found in real ideologies.

    What are the hate-forming tenets?



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  • @Reza-

    Thank you for the clarification.
    Thanks for that. But do you think it’s possible that GFZ was referring to someone else? Surely there must be some imams who believe in heliocentrism.
    That’s my mistake. I didn’t mean to suggest that I “think” the Quran says anything in particular (because I don’t know the Koran well enough). I was just indicating that the video didn’t seem to support GFZ’s statement. I should have said “This man seems to agree with GFZ’s apparent understanding of what the quran said about the earth being the center of our solar system or the universe”. (But, based on some new posts, below, it appears that there may be some validity to that statement.)
    First, you shouldn’t assume I am a “westerner”. Second, I have no problem believing anyone who claims that there have been numerous people from the “middle east” who have contributed to the scientific understanding of the world. I take it for granted that all humans are capable of that regardless of where they are and despite any potentially conflicting religious beliefs or cultural barriers.

    Thank you for being willing to challenge your beliefs and those of others.



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  • What are the hate-forming tenets?

    I don’t think it’s “a lot more work [for some] to turn… the single concept of a null set of gods” into the “associated” belief that all of “them” who believe in (any) gods are wrong, bad, stupid, defective, inferior, [throw in your choice of negative attribute] people and therefore worthy of at least disdain, if not outright hate.

    Does that qualify as a “hate-forming tenet“?

    First we must answer the question of whether any tenet is capable of “forming” hate.

    The answer to that question seems to be where the disagreement lies.



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  • Marx never lived to see what future Marxists would do in his name. The principle of the “United Front” is a common tactic of Marxists to ally themselves with non-Marxists against the common “enemy” capitalism, but once in power, they soon got rid of the more moderate front members. If you would read my last paragraph again, you might understand that I am warning against such a united front strategy with jihadists.

    Oh, did anyone read that great lead article at The Atlantic “What does ISIS really want?”. It kind of deflates the Marxists’ attempts to squeeze jihadists into the Marxist dialectical straight jacket and confirms what Sam Harris has been emphasizing and what the jihadists have been saying all along. Jihadists are motivated by their religion which they feel is the purist form of Islam. Even Al-Qaeda doesn’t cut the mustard in their view.



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  • 98
    Gratiana says:

    I’m very late in this conversation, but I felt impelled to throw in my two-cents, particularly in response to Doug’s comment.

    Non-belief is not a hate-forming tenet in its own right. That is to say, it is not a means to an end. What you refer to when you mention the “associated” belief that one may be stupid, wrong, or inferior, is the process of dehumanization on the basis of disagreement, which is insane and in no way rooted in the absence of belief. In fact, non-belief is not associated with feelings of hatred, and it is certainly not a catalyst for violence; rather, what generates such strong feelings of hatred is (arguably) a lack of empathy and rationale. As an atheist, I do not lack affection and empathy for those that disagree with me simply because I do not believe in god(s), and they happen to attended church every Sunday. The same cannot be said for extreme religiosity, which often relies on medieval texts to dictate who deserves to be treated kindly / humanely and who does not.



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  • First we must answer the question of whether any tenet is capable of “forming” hate.

    The answer to that question seems to be where the disagreement lies.

    I think the question is about relative ease of conversion compared to say sacred texts advocating stoning and the like, which even discounted through modern eyes translates easily to a hatred of the despised object. The further consideration is the relative hatred of say a Christian and an Atheist for a Jew or a Muslim. The Christian has historically blamed the Jew for the death of Christ and waged holy war on Muslims. God is real and has been slighted. The passionate Atheist tends mostly to see religion as a mind virus that they themselves may have broken free of. The journey to hatred I would contend is far longer for the Atheist with no tradition of being trod, though claims are made that it is mostly by conflating criticism of ideas with criticism of people.

    We can never say never. My leg of lamb is a handy cudgel but compared to a gun or a knife is used to fatal less often.



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  • Can Idea of Atheism be used as a tool for hate crime?

    No, to tell you the honest Truth.

    Reza, firstly the warmest of welcomes to the newest and
    friendliest Iranian we’ve heard from for many weeks. Allow me to reciprocate and tell you that I love you very, very much (but not like That).

    When you first joined you claimed to be a creationist Muslim of the Shia sect. I can’t find the post but I remember it well. To paraphrase you said something like ‘While I was parying 5 times a day weighting 4 Ramadam 2 Cum 4 me‘ you also expressed grave “Doubt” inviting
    criticizm (sic) from friendly atheists. You claimed ‘2 swim in 2 the sea of Doubt totally naked 2 get 2 Truth 4 god Cuz it was the sweetest thing 4 U2 do‘ or something very similar if I remember correctly.

    Is that your basic Idea Reza?



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  • Isnt the only difference, the one that everyone jumps on the moment things get tough, the scriptures? Something to pin the crime on. The UK national anthem is another less used one along with some others. I argue that although there are no calls for harm in atheism, in the wrong mind, RDs accusation of theists being uneducated is enough to form a barrier and cause dehumanisation. It may be a fact but it can also be the leg of lamb or the Ass’s jaw bone.



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  • I think we should be able to agree that atheism is the idea that gods are unnecessary in the working physics of the universe, .. and nothing more than that!

    But it’s not really an idea is it? The idea of God(s) doesn’t qualify as a scientific hypothesis, so you won’t find it mentioned much at science conferences or in science papers. Except perhaps regarding developmental psychology, theory of mind etc where the likely origins of God beliefs may be investigated. If you reject the God idea, have you just thought of a new idea? Is it a chicken and egg situation – which came first, the atheist or the theist?

    What if I tell Reza that an unknown proportion of the world population appear just like the rest of us but they are actually reptilians, descendants of aliens who arrived on the planet millennia ago. If Reza doesn’t believe this, has he just come up with the idea that there are no reptilian aliens disguised as humans? David Icke (and many others) believe something similar to this with his Reptoid hypothesis. Icke’s reptilians are descended from a race of Gods and most world leaders are related to the reptilians, including Queen Elizabeth II. I doubt my disbelief in these Gods is any stronger than yours or Reza’s and none of us is likely to commit violent acts in the name of our disbelief.



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  • Hi, Phil-

    The passionate Atheist tends mostly to see religion as a mind virus that they themselves may have broken free of. The journey to hatred I would contend is far longer for the Atheist with no tradition of being trod…

    I agree with you that the (correct) definition of “atheism” contains no “hate-forming tenets” (assuming there are such things, of course). And the “journey to hatred” is clearly different for everyone and depends on a lot of variables, but the destination is always there, always reachable, because we are all human – the capacity to hate (among other things, of course) is part of the definition. We may break free of religion, but what about the tendency to hate (=fear+misunderstanding+anger…)? Take religion off the table and there are many other “mind viruses” that will be happy to move in to the vacant space under the right circumstances. Some of them may produce “beneficial” effects, but others will be “detrimental” (to self and/or society).

    …though claims are made that it is mostly by conflating criticism of ideas with criticism of people.”

    Can one (truly, honestly) criticize an idea without also criticizing the mind(s) it came from or the mind(s) that have accepted it as true?

    If we accept that there are such things as “hate-forming tenets”, then we must also accept that there are “love-forming tenets”. In that case, and assuming the latter is preferable to the former, would it be so bad if the definition of atheism contained one or two of these? It might help make atheism easier to swallow for many who clearly misunderstand it.



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  • Hi, Gratiana-

    Non-belief is not a hate-forming tenet in its own right. That is to say, it is not a means to an end.

    I agree to the first part (assuming there are such things, which has not necessarily been established yet), but I’m not sure if I agree with the second part. But, in any case, from this I take it that you believe there are such things as “hate-forming tenets” (in other words, that tenets can actually produce or induce hate).

    What you refer to when you mention the “associated” belief that one may be stupid, wrong, or inferior, is the process of dehumanization on the basis of disagreement, which is insane and in no way rooted in the absence of belief.

    I generally agree. (I’m not sure if the word “insane” applies, but I don’t really want to go off on that tangent.)

    In fact, non-belief is not associated with feelings of hatred, and it is certainly not a catalyst for violence; rather, what generates such strong feelings of hatred is (arguably) a lack of empathy and rationale.

    I won’t argue with that.

    As an atheist, I do not lack affection and empathy for those that disagree with me simply because I do not believe in god(s), and they happen to attended church every Sunday.”

    Understood.

    The same cannot be said for extreme religiosity, which often relies on medieval texts to dictate who deserves to be treated kindly / humanely and who does not.”

    Again, then from this I take it that you believe there are such things as “hate-forming tenets” (in other words, that tenets can actually produce or induce hate). Is that a fair conclusion? (And is that belief true? And what is the proof? I think that may be the question Reza has been trying to answer.)



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  • 107
    Gratiana says:

    Yes and no.
    I think you are right when suggesting that scriptures make a significant difference between what could be a tenet for hatred and the hatred that may be fuelled by irrationality and lack empathy. Still, it is not something to “pin” the crime on, but rather something that, in the wrong hands, facilitates crime. It is a most significant difference in that it dictates a worldview that is often upheld through fear of punishment, mandatory love of authority, and mandatory obedience. Conversely, non-belief must be paired up with some other system of thought in order to be traced to violence. An atheist must also believe that those people which RD deemed uneducated deserve to be harmed because they are uneducated. Non-belief cannot promote this idea on its own, and neither does RD: one must come to this (terrible) conclusion themselves. If we find that the world values the uneducated less, or values the poor less, or women less, this is not because RD stated that most uneducated people tend to be religious. This idea of what we value or deem worthy of freedom from harm comes from various ideologies (some of them religious, I’m sure). Fundamentalists do not come to any conclusions themselves, because scripture (which is of utmost importance) dictates what is right and what is wrong.



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  • Yes and no is the correct answer in my view. In the wrong hands the claiming of superiority over the uneducated, (just by claiming atheism does not make you intelligent ie, through fashion say) will then give a dehumanising effect. I repeat, in the wrong hands. I have asked the question before, do intelligent atheist accept not so intelligent atheists? What is the benchmark?



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  • 109
    Gratiana says:

    You’re right, but I would argue that the claim of superiority does not come out of non-belief (that is to say, atheism). The claim of superiority comes out of a separate worldview that suggests that those one deems uneducated deserve less sympathy, which may or may not manifest itself in a person that does not believe in a higher power. Still, as an atheist, I am unlikely to respond to confrontation with anger driven by the fear of God’s wrath, while the same cannot be said for the devoted, fundamentalist Catholic.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “accept.” I also think that we are now moving onto a discussion that is much more sociologically focused. Maybe the question should be, do intelligent people accept unintelligent people? I don’t think non-belief makes a difference.
    Perhaps you mean that intelligent atheists might question whether or not unintelligent atheists have the “rationale” to come to the conclusion of non-belief?



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  • Not the fear of gods wrath but the fear of not fitting into the intellectual elite of RD. I am not blaiming RD. Al I am saying is that irresponsible people can use the concept as justification just like anything else. Do we then wash our hands of these violent people? I agree that the scriptures offer much much more that can be used for violent purposes but I argue that it is secondary to the violence in most cases. Muslim on muslim violence, out of the same book, does not explain it any other way.

    I suppose that is what I am asking, rationale = intelligence. ie, ‘well, he can’t be an atheist because he did not understand……..and therefore killed these people’. There is no real easy answer. It us just a way to explain why not all Islam is ISIS.



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  • there are “love-forming tenets”… would it be so bad if the definition of atheism contained one or two of these? It might help make atheism easier to swallow for many who clearly misunderstand it.

    Doug, atheism lacks any tenets, good or bad. Atheism is not a religion. You can’t redefine something at a whim, to suit your own peculiar beliefs.

    This has been laboriously explained to Reza but he obstinately ignores the information which others have furnished for his benefit.

    I think that may be the question Reza has been trying to answer

    No. Reza was insinuating atheism was a religion, replete with good and bad tenets.



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  • 114
    Gratiana says:

    Right, but then we are talking about peer pressure, the need to belong, and assimilation, not non-belief per se. Also, the very real fear that one may experience an eternity of suffering cannot be equally compared to the fear of not fitting in (not unless the person already suffers from some psychological disorder). I get that you are saying that affiliation with “atheism,” or identifying with the term atheist, may spur feelings of superiority or warrant the claim of greater intelligence, which can then be used to justify unethical acts. Still, the problem is not non-belief (which is neutral), but the factors that lead to the unethical behaviour (i.e. the need to belong). I don’t think that we should “wash our hands clean” of the violent people. But I also don’t think that non-belief should be identified as a justification for hatred and aggression, because that simply doesn’t make sense. In this way, I suppose I’m saying that this is definitely a problem, but it is not exclusively an atheist problem. On the other had, many religious scriptures explicitly point to violence as a justifiable solution. While one can interpret religious text, picking and choosing passages that fit into an ethical worldview, non-belief does not come with a set of ideologies to choose from. It is simply the lack of belief in a higher power. Whatever other ideologies are attached to that lack of belief differs from person to person, and I cannot be held responsible for that aspect of an individual because it is simply out of my control.

    I think that is a much harder question to answer. From a humanistic perspective, rationale does equal intelligence. One can argue that the humanistic perspective is flawed and narrow in its definition of intelligence, but that is another discussion altogether. I do, however, think that you have to understand why you don’t believe in order to not believe (wow, that sounds more complicated than it should).

    That being said, I think that “he” can be an atheist and kill people, but his atheism is simply a coincidence, not a justification for violent behaviour.



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  • Not much there I can argue with. The biggest problem comes talking to the accuser. Justification becomes ‘apologist’….. It is not easy as you have already stated.



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  • Thank you, Len-

    [A] “…atheism lacks any tenets, good or bad.

    [B] “Atheism is not a religion.

    [C] “You can’t redefine something at a whim, to suit your own peculiar beliefs.

    I tend to agree with A, and have not previously suggested otherwise. However, I will now suggest that it would be more precise to say that atheism has no “explicit” tenets, as I think it can be proven that atheism has “implicit” tenets. (And let me clarify here that I’m using the word in the non-religious sense of “principle” or “belief”.)

    B also appears to be true and I agree.

    However, I don’t fully agree that C is true.

    I agree that it is usually not a good thing to redefine terms “at a whim”, or to suit any individual, “peculiar” (perhaps you meant “particular”?) belief. However, the term atheism has a definition because human minds (presumably without resorting to “whim”) have given it one (unless you’re suggesting the definition came from elsewhere, or maybe that atheism “defines itself” as the flip-side of theism, but maybe that’s better left for another discussion), so I don’t see why there would be any objection to re-defining it, particularly in an effort to make the definition “better” (to reduce potential for misinterpretation, for example), so long as the adherents of the “ism” (as a group) agree to the change (and despite the obvious complexities involved in getting such a diverse population to agree on anything). Isn’t it possible that belief in the truth of atheism “automatically” (undeniably) assumes, implies, or leads to other truths which may as well become part of the definition, if not of “atheism”, then perhaps of “atheists”?

    To have a “lack of belief in the existence of God or gods”, isn’t it first necessary to have other beliefs (e.g. beliefs about the nature of reality, consciousness, the mind, the self, morality, etc.) that lead to that “lack of belief”? What would be so bad about declaring that (explicitly) in the definition?



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  • @Doug
    Redefining atheism to conform with your peculiar misinterpretation isn’t acceptable.

    “I don’t see why there would be any objection to re-defining (atheism)…to make the definition “better”… so long as the adherents agree”

    Atheism isn’t a belief system and therefore lacks adherents. Atheism has NO “implicit” tenets to announce or to deny.

    …isn’t it first necessary to have other beliefs that lead to that “lack of belief”?

    No. We’re all born atheists.

    What would be so bad about declaring that (explicitly) in the definition?

    It would be misleading and inaccurate. There are no ancillary beliefs to atheism.



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  • 120
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    I also came late to this interesting tangent on what constitutes atheism and having read all the commentary, I’m surprised that nobody has used the term ‘conclusion’ instead of ‘idea’ or ‘tenets’ or ‘ideology’.

    I was born a non-theist during 1950 in Scotland and have never been indoctrinated into any sect of a faithism cult, or any statist or political ideology.

    I became an anti-theist from exposure to Protestant vs Catholic sectarian enmity and violence during the 1960’s on the Clydeside – who all hated secular humanists like my family & I, especially since we had lived for 7 years in Canada, making us multiple ‘outsiders’.

    I became an atheist in my late teens after reading secular and atheist books, which put into context the obvious problems of religionism, no matter which kinds of beliefs their sheepish mind-slaves held.

    To me, atheism is a rational conclusion from inquiries into the foundational supernatural precepts of religions, which have a gross lack of reality, facts, evidence, processes and explanatory theories to support their claims and assertions, which are full of illogical, inconsistent, contradictory, ahistorical, self-serving, power-wielding, fear-spreading, submission-demanding, out-group hating fairy stories.

    To me, since at most only 1 of 1000’s of man-made religions could be true, why can’t ‘your’ beliefs be wrong, since all religious folk are atheist to all but their own ‘one true faith’?

    Since religions are very much location and family specific, depending on their reinterpreted, often-revised dogmas and doctrines being infused into necessarily open-minded children who are evolved to believe their parents and peers to assure their survival, why would any specific sect of any cult be more true or worthy than all the others?

    I prefer to accept (not ‘believe in’) the universal findings of appropriately qualified, trained and skilled scientists and technicians, who are working to further humanity in the best way ever discovered for exposing reality as best we understand it so far in our universe.

    I will accept peer-reviewed, well-supported and mutually-buttressing facts, evidence and processes that support new hypotheses and theories – whether I like the implications or not, since reality doesn’t care if I’m pleased or comfortable with how it naturally functions, or whether I’ve been told under threats of divine punishment to reject them as a threat to the dogmas wielded by a specific, self-serving, faith mafia.

    BTW, hello from cold, snowy Toronto to my rational friends here at RDFRS…. 😎 Mac.



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  • 121
    Gratiana says:

    I need to retract a comment I made earlier, simply because I’ve realized that this isn’t true:
    I do, however, think that you have to understand why you don’t believe in order to not believe (wow, that sounds more complicated than it should).

    With everything I’ve said prior to this (i.e. atheism is simply the absence of belief), one is an atheist by default. That is to say, if one has not been exposed to magical thinking and ideas of the supernatural, one is an atheist. Ultimately, I don’t think that conscious rejection is necessary. Babies, or children that have yet to be “taught” religious belief, by all means lack belief, and would therefore be atheists. When we talk about the conscious rejection of bad reasoning and lack of evidence, we talk about “explicit” atheism. I would argue that explicit atheism exists as a term only because religiosity exists. It is, to reference Sam Harris, the noise that reasonable people make when faced with unjustified religious beliefs.
    As for deliberately partaking in the critique of religion on the basis that it is harmful or simply wrong (which is an active view against religion that is separate from non-belief, or atheism), I suggest that the semantically proper term would be anti-theism, which could, perhaps, become a ‘hate-forming tenet.’



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  • Again, not much to disagree with except, do we possess the means to create religion even in its absence? To give an example that has almost just happened. I was playing with our cat. She is just one year old. The toy is a pigeon feather at the end of a long piece of string. Whilst throwing it around for her to chase, the string fell in between two cushions and most of it was out of sight. I manipulated it so it was invisible right up to where I was sitting. I did all I could to hide my hand movements from our cat and tried to slowly slide the feather between the cushions. I fooled no one. She sat, poised, watching the feather but her gaze flitted from feather to my hand in spite of the tiny movements. She had worked it out. It would be useless for her to imagine anything magical in the wild. Does our artistic, creative intelligence give us a disadvantage?



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  • Redefining atheism to conform with your peculiar misinterpretation isn’t acceptable.”

    I get that you believe this statement (yours, not mine) is true, but you haven’t explained why the statement is true.

    In any case, please do your best to understand that I have not suggested that the term ought to be redefined to conform to “my” or to any other single individual’s interpretation (“mis”, “peculiar”, or otherwise). I won’t restate what I actually suggested in my previous comments, as they are still there for you to re-read, if you choose.

    Assuming you (or others who may read this) can understand what I’m actually suggesting, what would be the argument against such a proposition? (Hint: saying it is “unacceptable”, without some reasoning to back it up, is not sufficient, for reasons I would hope are already understood.)

    Atheism isn’t a belief system and therefore lacks adherents.”

    Atheism, like all other “isms”, certainly is a belief system, and it certainly has adherents, two of whom are currently engaged in this discussion (though one of them appears to be a bit more skeptical than the other).

    From http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/ism_2

    “[-ism suffix] used to form nouns that refer to social, political, or religious beliefs, studies, or ways of behaving.”

    If people can claim to be atheists, and if by this they mean that their behavior is guided by the definition of atheism, then atheism must be a belief system and it must have adherents.

    Are you claiming that there are no such things as atheists? If so, please explain how this can be true. If not, is the definition of atheist somehow not related to the definition of atheism?

    Atheism has NO “implicit” tenets to announce or to deny.”

    As I said earlier, I think it can be proven that atheism has “implicit” tenets that are “self-announced” and cannot be (rationally) denied. (Please see below for further developments.)

    No. We’re all born atheists.”

    Yes, I’ve heard this before, and I understand its basis, but I don’t see how it helps us better understand atheism and atheists. If one takes the “standard” definition of atheism as “absence of belief in a god or gods”, then, yeah, I guess we are all born with that absence of belief. But is that all that is required to be considered an atheist? We’re also born with an absence of belief in just about everything else there is to believe in (including skepticism, science, the nature of the universe, etc.). All other “sentient” animals on the planet are also born this way. Is that the sort of “atheist” that we want to identify with? Isn’t it necessary to understand the definition and find that it is meaningful and valuable before one can be considered an atheist?

    To push this statement as a way to better understand atheism fails, and worse, undermines the meaning and value of atheism. The statement can only be true if it is true that atheism is not a belief (system or otherwise) and that the word atheist does not mean “one who finds meaning and value in (adheres to) the definition of atheism”. And if those statements are true, then atheism is meaningless and of no value.

    [To my statement: What would be so bad about declaring that (explicitly) in the definition?, you replied:]
    It would be misleading and inaccurate.”

    Please explain this statement. (An example, perhaps?) Because I would think that any attempt to fill out, enhance, improve, a definition could not possibly mislead or decrease accuracy. The purpose of doing so would be precisely the opposite.

    There are no ancillary beliefs to atheism.”

    Well, I guess I can’t expect you to prove a negative, so I’ll attempt to prove a positive: there are ancillary beliefs to atheism (and to being an atheist).

    Speaking of which, wouldn’t the beliefs that the burden of proof is on the claimant, and its corollary that you can’t prove a negative, be “ancillary beliefs” that you would have to hold to give atheism any value? How about belief in the “laws” of logic or the value of evidence, the value of objectivity vs. subjective interpretations?

    In certain attempts to help explain atheism, I’ve encountered statements like this: “If you do not think that at least one god is real, then you are an atheist.” Okay, that sounds reasonable, as long as I first believe that it’s possible to determine what is “real” and what is not. (See what I’m getting at?)



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  • “There are no necessary ancillary beliefs to atheism.”

    When ancillary beliefs appear they turn you variously into a secularist or a humanist or an “atheist+” (shudder) or an anti-theist. But these additional qualifiers can be as much qualifiers for theists (latterly anti-theist-but-one) and therefore not revealing of the necessary nature of those who are simply atheist. More to the point you find many who are atheist fighting tooth and nail not to be grouped for precisely this lack of a coherent additional characteristics. The newly god bereft may well huddle together for warmth. Those attacked reviled and denied rights might well form political groups to fight this, but these are the groups you could see formed for any such denial of rights or seeming affliction. Their characteristics are informed by ostracism and do not flow from being atheist per se.

    The only claim you could make that would be logical and a direct consequence the condition is that, lacking God, the atheist will naturally be less moral or fair or lack knowledge of proper and necessary processes. Theists can make claims about the nature of the atheist, believing what they do.

    Their may be some anti-theists that suit your purpose, Doug, but even we break down into a mix of additional desires and intentions…



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  • Doug Feb 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Atheism, like all other “isms”, certainly is a belief system, and it certainly has adherents, two of whom are currently engaged in this discussion

    I think you are looking for common beliefs which are simply not there.

    A lack of belief in gods, does not require any beliefs in common with others who do not believe in the local gods of their cultures.

    Indian Buddhists do not believe in Hindu gods or any other gods, but believe in reincarnation as animals an many other supernatural superstitions. Such people have little in common with scientific atheists.

    If people can claim to be atheists, and if by this they mean that their behavior is guided by the definition of atheism, then atheism must be a belief system and it must have adherents.

    Atheism is diverse and does not “guide behaviour”. It simply means atheists do not necessarily see a need to follow the local religious behavioural patterns, required by dogmas.

    If you are looking for secular codes of behaviour guiding conduct, that is humanism. https://humanism.org.uk/

    If one takes the “standard” definition of atheism as “absence of belief in a god or gods”, then, yeah, I guess we are all born with that absence of belief. But is that all that is required to be considered an atheist?

    Yes!

    We’re also born with an absence of belief in just about everything else there is to believe in (including skepticism, science, the nature of the universe, etc.).

    These are learned behaviours, where learning is more likely in those without religious “god-did-it” preconceptions inhibiting their investigative curiosity, and in those who can see successful role models using these skills effectively.

    All other “sentient” animals on the planet are also born this way. Is that the sort of “atheist” that we want to identify with?

    I don’t see why not! chimps, bonobos, capuchins whales and dolphins also have social structures within their groups, just like uncontacted human tribes.

    While humans are more intelligent than other species in SOME of their capabilities, it is purely a religious claim they are special in the evolutionary order of things.



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  • Thank you, Phil.

    In asking these questions I really have no other “purpose” than to better understand the words atheism and atheist. My concern is that if atheism is truly just a lack of belief in a god or gods, and cannot be considered a system of belief, then it is essentially worthless and the term atheist is a misnomer, at best, definitely misleading, and possibly complete nonsense.



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  • Gratiana,

    I lost track of your comments in this string of responses to Olgun, but I recently saw this one and wanted to let you know that I appreciate them as they have helped me to understand that “anti-theist” is probably what most people really mean most of the time when they use the word “atheist”. “Anti-theism” must surely be a belief system, complete with tenets and adherents. True?



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  • See what I’m getting at?

    Yes Doug, I believe I do.

    When I explained that we’re all born atheists you fearfully complained: “But is that all that is required to be considered an atheist?”

    Yes, that’s about it.
    Most sentient animals are atheistic Doug; a fact that appears to threaten your creationist foundations, which insist humans are somehow special. We’re not. We’re primates who occasionally feud over territory like parking spaces. Such feuds can become fatal when they occur in violent cultures where guns are convenient. Atheism wasn’t involved, so far as we can tell, in the Chapel Hill homicides.

    You reject “identifying” with the standard definition of atheism because it doesn’t include the “meaningful and valuable” tenets which your ambitious quest for an “improved” (and peculiar) belief system would provide.

    Instead of modifying atheism to suit your particular needs why not consider converting to Jainism, or become a Quaker perhaps?

    You’ve failed to convince me to convert to your fanciful version of atheism.

    Speaking of which…How about…?

    Moot points Doug, unless we’re discussing your peculiar enhanced atheism. It’s your responsibility to pursuade atheists to adopt it first. Authentic atheism isn’t nearly as complex as you imagine it to be.

    “It would be misleading and inaccurate.” Please explain this
    statement. (An example, perhaps?)

    Sure. If, for example, a confused creationist who was afflicted with cognitive dissonance wanted to convert to atheism, but was dissatisfied by the lack of “values” involved, he could try to modify atheism by selecting tenets for us to preach.



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  • My concern is that if atheism is truly just a lack of belief in a god or gods, and cannot be considered a system of belief, then it is essentially worthless.

    Not to those who discover themselves atheist in a sea of theism. Like being Aspie in a sea of emotional extrovertion, finding other Aspies, in a collective of Aspiedom, can be reassuring. Atheism at base is atheistdom a home from home for the atheist that says you are not alone. Beyond that, those other political aspirations mentioned in the earlier post, none of which are necessary to an atheist nor are they exclusive to atheistdom, have good descriptions and understood tenets and quite their own groupings.

    A better source for you of negative political tenets might be found amongst we anti-theists, though take care not to presume people-phobia as a part of this. Don’t be fooled by those sellinging nonesense conflations like “Islamophobia”, either. It is Muslimophobia (an irrational fear of Muslims) rather than Islamophobia (an irrational fear of the ideology of Islam OR as those wishing to silence discussion have it “a fear of Islam and Muslims”) that is the your and my real worry that needs vigorous rooting out. Anti-theism targets ideologies and only engages the activities of folk who are active evangelisers.



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  • @Len Walsh-

    “Yes Doug, I believe I do.”

    You might believe you do, but that doesn’t make it true. Your words indicate that you don’t (at least not entirely). But that’s okay. No big deal.

    “When I explained that we’re all born atheists you fearfully complained…”

    You didn’t so much “explain”, as simply made a statement, which I didn’t disagree with. My question was neither “fearful” nor a complaint. The question and the discussion accompanying it were meant to suggest that there’s more than one way to understand the statement, if one is willing to admit it.

    “Most sentient animals are atheistic Doug; a fact that appears to threaten your creationist foundations, which insist humans are somehow special. We’re not. We’re primates…”

    We may be primates (a fact I learned and accepted long ago, despite my “creationist foundations”) but that doesn’t mean we aren’t “somehow special” (your words). To say that we share a lot of characteristics with other members of the “animal kingdom” does not mean that we don’t have some characteristics that none of the others do. (If this were not true, what would “human” mean?) Aren’t primates somehow special compared to non-primates? Do I have your permission to call these uniquely human and/or primate characteristics “special”? (Even if I don’t, I don’t need it.) Does recognizing observable, measurable scientific facts make me a creationist? (It appears that it may depend on the mind making the judgment.)

    “…who occasionally feud over territory like parking spaces. Such feuds can become fatal when they occur in violent cultures where guns are convenient. Atheism wasn’t involved, so far as we can tell, in the Chapel Hill homicides.”

    Yes, I get it! Atheism wasn’t the cause of this guy’s behavior. I never said it was. He isn’t an atheist. I never said he was. Cool out.

    “You reject “identifying” with the standard definition of atheism because it doesn’t include the “meaningful and valuable” tenets which your ambitious quest for an “improved” (and peculiar) belief system would provide.”

    Is finding value and meaning in life somehow anti-atheist? Do we have to believe in a god (or gods) to find (or create our own) meaning in this one life we have to live?

    “Instead of modifying atheism to suit your particular needs why not consider converting to Jainism, or become a Quaker perhaps?”

    Thanks for the suggestion, but I don’t think they are what I’m after.
    I’ve never suggested modifying atheism to suit my particular needs. The suggestion was that atheists might consider it as a way to improve the understanding of atheism, more for outsiders than for insiders, but potentially to benefit both.

    But, again, I get it. You (and presumably others like you) will have nothing of that. Not a big deal.

    “You’ve failed to convince me to convert to your fanciful version of atheism.”

    I haven’t asked anyone to convert to anything, fanciful or otherwise. Discussion is really all I was after.

    ‘It’s your responsibility to pursuade [sic] atheists to adopt it first.”

    The idea is still not complete in my mind. This question and answer process is part of my attempt to develop it. I apologize for wasting your time, but I do appreciate your feedback.

    “Authentic atheism isn’t nearly as complex as you imagine it to be.”

    Understood. It’s the atheists who are complex.

    “Sure. If, for example, a confused creationist who was afflicted with cognitive dissonance wanted to convert to atheism, but was dissatisfied by the lack of “values” involved, he could try to modify atheism by selecting tenets for us to preach.”

    Funny… “convert to atheism”? I thought we were all born atheists. (Yeah, I know, I’m just a confused creationist.)
    Atheism = absence of belief in a god or gods.
    If you do not think that at least one god is real, then you are an atheist.
    I don’t think that at least one god is real, yet I’m not an atheist because I perceive value and look for meaning.
    Does that make any sense?
    Perhaps the meaning of atheism should also include lack of meaning and value?



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  • …and just so Mr. 4discussion doesn’t think I’m (still) ignoring him:

    “I think you are looking for common beliefs which are simply not there.”

    Not really. I’m only struggling to identify beliefs that must exist for sentient beings to declare that there is such a thing as atheism (to define it) and to declare that one is (or is not) an atheist (an adherent of atheism).

    “A lack of belief in gods, does not require any beliefs in common with others who do not believe in the local gods of their cultures.”

    I understand what you mean by this statement, but it doesn’t address my concerns. Everyone here seems to want to deny that there are actually (at least) two modes of atheism; two ways in which and by which a lack of belief in god or gods is experienced. There is the (oft-quoted) “passive” atheism that we all (apparently) have (experience) simply by being born, but there is also the (oft-denied) “active” atheism that is deliberately (or accidentally, I suppose) chosen in rejection of “theism”. (And, no, I most certainly don’t mean “anti-theism”.) I think there is a meaningful difference between the two, much like the undeniable difference that exists between being born blind (and therefore never experiencing what it means to be sighted) versus becoming blind after having experienced what it means to be able to see.

    “Atheism is diverse and does not “guide behaviour”.”

    With all due respect, saying “atheism is diverse” is inconsistent with other statements you have made about it and its “standard” definition. And in terms of “guiding behavior”, let’s just say my observations (including the current one) lead me to a different conclusion. If “absence of belief in a god or gods” isn’t (directly or indirectly) guiding your reactions to my words here, then what is?

    “If you are looking for secular codes of behaviour guiding conduct, that is humanism. https://humanism.org.uk/”

    I am not, but thanks for the info.

    “While humans are more intelligent than other species in SOME of their capabilities, it is purely a religious claim they are special in the evolutionary order of things.”

    So, if I think you are special (compared to other animal species) because of your uniquely human (or individual) characteristics, then I have just made a religious claim? Well, isn’t that special! (Apologies to Dana Carvey.)



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  • Doug Feb 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    I lost track of your comments in this string of responses to Olgun, but I recently saw this one and wanted to let you know that I appreciate them as they have helped me to understand that “anti-theist” is probably what most people really mean most of the time when they use the word “atheist”.

    Many of them just soak up demonised strawmen images, preached from pulpits by know-nothing fundamentalists.

    “Anti-theism” must surely be a belief system, complete with tenets and adherents. True?

    False! Anti-theism is the debunking of unevidenced and false, religious claims, which are frequently useless, exploitative, and destructive – regardless of which religion makes those claims.

    Anti-theists usually use scientific evidence and reasoned arguments to identify the harmful effects of many dogmas based on blind faith.



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  • @alan4discussion-
    (Unfortunately I don’t get notifications of replies to my posts – and this one might not have registered as a reply to me anyway, thanks to the limited depth of indents – but I did happen to come back here to review some things and discovered that you had posted these unsolicited but interesting comments in response to my statements directed to @Gratiana.)

    Many of them just soak up demonised strawmen images, preached from pulpits by know-nothing fundamentalists.

    I much prefer the know-it-all anti-fundamentalists.

    When I wrote:

    “Anti-theism” must surely be a belief system, complete with tenets and adherents. True?

    You replied:

    False! Anti-theism is the debunking of unevidenced and false, religious claims, which are frequently useless, exploitative, and destructive – regardless of which religion makes those claims.

    That’s a nice definition, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a belief system with tenets (principles or beliefs) and adherents (followers, supporters, defenders, devotees), and not just because I have said so. For example, from the following website:
    http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismatheiststheism/a/AntiTheism.htm

    [In comparison to atheism] Anti-theism requires more than either merely disbelieving in gods or even denying the existence of gods.
    Anti-theism requires a couple of specific and additional beliefs:
    first, that theism is harmful to the believer, harmful to society,
    harmful to politics, harmful, to culture, etc.; second, that theism
    can and should be countered in order to reduce the harm it causes. If
    a person believes these things, then they will likely be an
    anti-theist who works against theism by arguing that it be abandoned,
    promoting alternatives, or perhaps even supporting measures to
    suppress it

    You, sir, are an adherent of anti-theism. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

    Anti-theists usually use scientific evidence and reasoned arguments to identify the harmful effects of many dogmas based on blind faith.

    Yes – usually – I’m sure that’s true. (And often when it’s not necessary to do so.)



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  • “…the fact that it is a belief system with tenets (principles or beliefs) and adherents (followers, supporters, defenders, devotees)”, [simply and simplistically] “because I have said so.”

    Doug, pardon me for intruding with my unsolicited explanation of militant agnosticism.

    Your note reminded me of a recent contribution from a militant theist to another topic (faith schools), where he deployed precisely the same argument you’ve attempted to use here. Similarly, he strenuously insisted that anti-racism (along with opposition to sexism and homophobia) was a novel belief system complete with new ideology, adherents, followers and devotees.

    Believers struggle with the concept of non-belief. Militant agnostics are fundamentally confused creationists, clinically speaking. Opposing racism, cannibalism or theism is simply civilised behaviour.



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  • @LenWalsh-

    …pardon me for intruding with my unsolicited explanation of militant agnosticism.

    No need for pardon. However, I see no “explanation of militant agnosticism”, unsolicited or otherwise. What I do see is a misinterpretation and a misquoting of my comments.

    My comment regarding anti-theism (a term brought into the conversation by others, not invented or introduced by me) was:

    That’s a nice definition, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a
    belief system with tenets (principles or beliefs) and adherents
    (followers, supporters, defenders, devotees), and not just because I
    have said so.

    Believers struggle with the concept of non-belief. Militant agnostics are fundamentally confused creationists, clinically speaking. Opposing racism, cannibalism or theism is simply civilised behaviour.

    You can call it whatever you like, Len – “militant agnosticism”, “opposing theism”, or “civilized behavior” – but just as roses surely do exist (in many different varieties, in many different settings and contexts), and given any other name they would still smell as sweet, anti-theism (in all of its varieties, contained in all of the minds that have conceived it, and manifested in all the human behaviors it affects) is still what it is – a belief system with tenets and adherents.



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  • Doug Mar 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

    “militant agnosticism”, . . . . . . . . . anti-theism (in all of its varieties, contained in all of the minds that have conceived it, and manifested in all the human behaviors it affects) is still what it is – a belief system with tenets and adherents.

    I see you have still not addressed the issue of “which of the thousands of religions” the militant agnostics are agnostic about, or which of the thousands of conflicting religions, the alleged “anti-theist belief systems and tennets”, are supposed to cover!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/03/4-important-things-that-atheists-wish-everyone-knew-about-them/#li-comment-172361

    Most atheists simply regard theist belief systems as irrelevant, unless their theist followers make a nuisance of themselves.

    The rest of “anti-theism” is simply pro-science, debunking false and damaging theist claims!

    I am a scientist – if science happens to debunk particular theist claims or irrational thinking, – so be it!



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  • “Anti-theism” must surely be a belief system, complete with tenets and adherents. True?

    Not for me. It is an unchosen aesthetic disposition. The idea of gods in the universe somehow saps the greatest pleasures from it.

    I am anti-religion as a specific subset of being anti-ideology. You cannot prescribe behaviours/solutions before knowing the facts of a case. (The singular tenet needed.)



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  • I see no “explanation of militant agnosticism”

    I’m sorry you missed it, despite quoting it back to me. I’ll repeat it for you Doug.

    Militant agnostics are fundamentally confused Creationists.

    Radicalized biblical agnostics will happily denounce leprechauns and ghosts because they don’t conform with their underlying creationist beliefs. They know for certain that leprechauns didn’t create the Universe which they imagine was made by Yahweh the biblegod.
    Anyone opposing racism, sexism, homophobia or theism can be called anti those particular things. Anti-theists are merely thoughtful atheists who have considered the issue and adopted an ethical stance.

    Indifference to racism or theism is inadequate; inimical to civilized society. Militant agnostics readily admit their own ignorance and arrogantly assume others must share that knowledge deficit, when many of us clearly don’t.



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  • I appreciate all the responses.

    @alan4discussion-

    I see you have still not addressed the issue of “which of the thousands of religions” the militant agnostics are agnostic about…

    I was not aware that it was necessary for me to address it.

    …or which of the thousands of conflicting religions, the alleged “anti-theist belief systems and tennets [sic]”, are supposed to cover!

    Any and all of them (of course).

    Most atheists simply regard theist belief systems as irrelevant, unless their theist followers make a nuisance of themselves.

    I can’t disagree, but I also can’t agree. To accept the word “most” I would have to see evidence. I could agree if the word “many” replaced “most”.

    The rest of “anti-theism” is simply pro-science…

    I prefer the lesser-known term “pro-anti-theism”. (Or is it simply “anti-anti-science”? Two negatives make a positive, right? Hint: that’s humor.)

    …debunking false and damaging theist claims!

    Tenet #1 –“theist claims are false”.

    Tenet #2 –“theist claims are damaging”.

    Tenet #3 –“debunking is good”.

    I am a scientist – if science happens to debunk particular theist claims or irrational thinking, – so be it!

    So from this I conclude that “anti-theism” can be (perhaps must be) a subset of “scientism”, and therefore, “scientist” (or “pro-scientist”, if you prefer) can be synonymous with “anti-theist”.

    Got it.

    @phil rimmer-

    Not for me. It [anti-theism] is an unchosen aesthetic disposition. The idea of gods in the universe somehow saps the greatest pleasures from it.

    Unchosen? Any “ism” that begins with “anti-“ cannot be a default, “unchosen” position. I can accept that “atheism” can be “unchosen”, as the prefix “a” simply denotes “lacking” or “without”. But, “anti-“ indicates “against”, which clearly connotes active, deliberate choice.

    I am anti-religion as a specific subset of being anti-ideology. You cannot prescribe behaviours/solutions before knowing the facts of a case. (The singular tenet needed.)

    I’m reminded of the non-sense (self-defeating) phrase “never say never”. (In saying it, I’ve just broken the rule twice!) The term “anti-ideology” strikes me as confused (and therefore confusing). “Anti-ideology” is itself an ideology, so if one is “anti-ideology”, then one should be against one’s own ideology. How’s about we just say you are “anti-religious ideology” (as I think that is what you mean). This strikes me as just another way of saying “anti-theism”, perhaps with broader coverage.

    @Len Walsh-

    I’m sorry you missed it [my explanation of militant agnosticism], despite quoting it back to me. I’ll repeat it for you Doug.

    Militant agnostics are fundamentally confused Creationists.

    Gotcha, Len. Again, I often see simple statements (which don’t necessarily “explain” anything) where others see “explanations”. Thanks for pointing out the “explanation” and expanding it further in your latest comments (below).

    Anyone opposing racism, sexism, homophobia or theism can be called anti those particular things.

    Agreed.

    Anti-theists are merely thoughtful atheists who have considered the issue and adopted an ethical stance. Indifference to racism or theism is inadequate; inimical to civilized society.

    I have no problem with your definition, other than that it may not be complete (for instance, it may be possible to be an anti-theist and be neither thoughtful nor an atheist), but it would be helpful to me (and possibly others) to know what is the basis of the “ethical stance”. Why is it true that “indifference… is inadequate”? How does an atheist (or atheism) or an anti-theist (or anti-theism) define “civilized society” (and why)? (Hint: could it have anything to do with “values”, or “meaning”?)

    Militant agnostics readily admit their own ignorance and arrogantly assume others must share that knowledge deficit, when many of us clearly don’t.

    Clearly I was confused by your last reply as to why you decided it was necessary to insert your “explanation” of “militant agnostic/ism” into what I thought was an admittedly tangential discussion about the nature of “anti-theism”. Now I see that what you were trying to do (and have done more effectively with this comment) is label me as a militant agnostic, and by (your) definition, one of the “fundamentally confused Creationists”. Although I don’t consider myself “militant” in any sense, and I would deny that I’m a “creationist”, I guess I can’t escape the fact of my agnosticism. I see it as an essential part of being open-minded.

    The use of the word “ignorance” (despite its technical accuracy) immediately puts people on the defensive because it is nearly always (in the vernacular) given and taken as a derogatory. I think it is more productive (and accurate) to describe agnostics (militant or otherwise) as readily admitting their own inability to be certain, which of course would be contrasted by the description of scientists, anti-theists (and perhaps atheists in general) as admitting (claiming) their own ability to be certain.

    So, as far as “arrogance” goes, it strikes me as equally arrogant (if not more so) to “assume others must share that [supposed] knowledge” surplus (which is precisely what it is). To make the positive statement that “no god/creator/transcendent being/what-have-you exists” requires one to synthetically produce (jump to) an answer (conclusion) to an unanswerable question.

    Adieu.



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  • Doug Mar 22, 2015 at 10:29 am

    @alan4discussion-

    “I see you have still not addressed the issue of “which of the thousands of religions” the militant agnostics are agnostic about…”

    I was not aware that it was necessary for me to address it.

    It really ought to be if you are making claims shifting the burden of proof to atheists on the issue of god – no-god claims. You should at least be defining which god(s) you are referring to when you invoke the negative proof fallacy asking atheists to “disprove it/them”!

    “…or which of the thousands of conflicting religions, the alleged “anti-theist belief systems and tennets [sic]”, are supposed to cover!”

    Any and all of them (of course).

    So you expect atheists to “disprove”the existence thousands of gods, but you are not prepared to say which gods you are agnostic about!!!!!

    “Most atheists simply regard theist belief systems as irrelevant, unless their theist followers make a nuisance of themselves.”

    I can’t disagree, but I also can’t agree. To accept the word “most” I would have to see evidence. I could agree if the word “many” replaced “most”.

    You could just say you don’t know!

    “The rest of “anti-theism” is simply pro-science…”

    I prefer the lesser-known term “pro-anti-theism”. (Or is it simply “anti-anti-science”? Two negatives make a positive, right? Hint: that’s humor.)

    I had noticed your flippant comments and semantic shuffles, when dodging issues.
    What language you may prefer, has no bearing on the validity of the arguments.

    “…debunking false and damaging theist claims!”

    Tenet #1 –“theist claims are false”.

    WRONG! I did not say all theist claims are false!

    Tenet #2 –“theist claims are damaging”.

    WRONG! I did not say all theist claims were damaging!

    Tenet #3 –“debunking is good”.

    WRONG! Debunking damaging false claims is honest science! Debunking for the sake of debunking is not good.

    “I am a scientist – if science happens to debunk particular theist claims or irrational thinking, – so be it!”

    So from this I conclude that “anti-theism” can be (perhaps must be) a subset of “scientism”,

    WRONG! No blanket judgement can be made from the flawed tenets you have listed.

    “scientism”, and therefore, “scientist” (or “pro-scientist”, if you prefer) can be synonymous with “anti-theist”.

    WRONG! Science has no anti-theist “beliefs”. It depends on the theist claims and the merits of the evidence.

    “Scientism”, is of course an ambiguous term which can simply mean using reputable scientific methodology, but it also has a theist innuendo anti-science second definition involving exaggeration.

    Got it.

    YEP! You score no marks for addressing issues or attempts at logic!



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  • @Doug

    “Not for me. It [being anti-theist] is an unchosen aesthetic disposition. The idea of gods in the universe somehow saps the greatest pleasures from it.”

    Fixed for you. I make common cause with others of that aesthetic bent (Hitchens et al.) the which could, possibly, be a celebratory -ism, appreciating this world view rather than that. (For me, always, the -ist precedes the -ism.) But this is not of any intellectual choosing. In like fashion I find myself atheist and I speak on the benefits of secular states , of reason, science, individual moral authorship and the like but not for atheism. I am part of the phenomenon of an explosion of atheists, which may be identified as an -ism. I shun -isms and if I am an -ist it will not be because of any conscious choosing.

    I am, as you can see from the foregoing, indeed anti-ideology and just in the same way as I am intolerant of intolerance. These paradoxes are more your problem than mine. Is the scientific method an ideology? No, its a work in progress. All ideologies, equally? No, some grow and change and don’t suit the essential definition as well as others.



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  • Doug Mar 22, 2015 at 10:29 am

    The use of the word “ignorance” (despite its technical accuracy) immediately puts people on the defensive because it is nearly always (in the vernacular) given and taken as a derogatory. I think it is more productive (and accurate) to describe agnostics (militant or otherwise) as readily admitting their own inability to be certain,

    There is a big difference between being uncertain of probabilities and being uninformed about readily available information. Personal incredulity is not a rational argument!

    their own inability to be certain, which of course would be contrasted by the description of scientists, anti-theists (and perhaps atheists in general) as admitting (claiming) their own ability to be certain.

    This strawman claim that others (particularly scientists) hold views with absolute certainty, is quite comical in the context of you refusing to identify specific god(s) {Peace be upon His noodly appendages} about which you are agnostic, so that their relative probabilities can be rationally discussed!

    Unless you are informed about the evidence, you are in no position to criticise the levels of uncertainty (probability) in the views of others.

    So, as far as “arrogance” goes, it strikes me as equally arrogant (if not more so) to “assume others must share that [supposed] knowledge” surplus (which is precisely what it is).

    “Assume”? The knowledge of numerous claims is there for those who open their eyes and investigate.

    Uncertainty due to failure to look at evidence has no merit. Similarly the ignorant making allegations of “arrogance” about informed opinion, is laughable!

    To make the positive statement that “no god/creator/transcendent being/what-have-you exists” requires one to synthetically produce (jump to) an answer (conclusion)

    What can be asserted without definition or evidence, can be dismissed without definition or evidence!

    The conclusion, is that you have made no case to answer, but have illustrated fallacious thinking by way of stawmen and negative proof fallacies.

    to an unanswerable question.

    You have not even posed a coherent question.

    Adieu.

    So many words, but still no answers about your actual position on these issues of probabilities.

    It is simply not credible to believe (due to the use of logic) that you are equally agnostic about all the thousands of contradictory religions and deities, or about the workings of science and pseudo-science contradictions of evidence.
    That would mean you have no knowledge whatever about science or reasoning, and no capability to evaluate probabilities about physical reality!

    So it seems you are just indulging in gratuitously sniping, while avoiding stating any evidence based viewpoint.
    The message seems to be:- “Knowledge does not exist and Ignorance is bliss!”!!



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  • Doug Mar 22, 2015 at 10:29 am

    The use of the word “ignorance” (despite its technical accuracy) immediately puts people on the defensive because it is nearly always (in the vernacular) given and taken as a derogatory.

    Challenging fallacious arguments often outs irrational thinkers on the defensive.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

    I think it is more productive (and accurate) to describe agnostics (militant or otherwise) as readily admitting their own inability to be certain,

    That is just a front behind which you are hiding an argument from ignorance and an unwillingness to address the issue of probabilities.

    as readily admitting their own inability to be certain which of course would be contrasted by the description of scientists, anti-theists (and perhaps atheists in general) as admitting (claiming) their own ability to be certain.

    Scientists are open to new evidence (but not whimsical unevidenced and refuted claims of magic), but are confident where the evidence is consistently supported by objective observations.

    To make the positive statement that “no god/creator/transcendent being/what-have-you exists”

    That is a negative statement, the onus of proof, the requirement for a clear definition, and supporting evidence, is on those positively asserting that “a creator god / transcendent being/what-have-you, exists”.

    requires one to synthetically produce (jump to) an answer (conclusion) to an unanswerable question.

    It does, – and you have produced no definition and no evidence of such a creator entity!

    Although I don’t consider myself “militant” in any sense, and I would deny that I’m a “creationist”,

    And yet you have just asserted the existence of a creator! That is the definition of “a creationist”!

    I guess I can’t escape the fact of my agnosticism. I see it as an essential part of being open-minded.

    “Open minded”???? when you strongly assert the serious possibility of a “creator god”, and hide behind a refusal to produce a definition or evidence, try to fallaciously shift the onus on to the sceptics, make strawman claims that scientists and atheists, hold views with absolute certainty, and won’t even discuss the relative probabilities of a diversity of god-claims from the different religions.

    That, is a clearly an irrational dichotomous position (My chosen god or the wrong view) position, of refusing to look at evidence or discuss the issues, which simply hides some (perhaps doubted) belief in some chosen god behind a façade of rhetoric and fallacy.

    I’ll stick with the highly probable evidenced view, that god-delusions are a physical feature of human brains, and that those who desperately don’t want them recognised, examined, or identified, will frantically do all they can to divert attention away from their actual place of existence, to the gapology of the distant parts of universe.



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  • It really ought to be if you are making claims shifting the burden of proof to atheists on the issue of god – no-god claims. You should at least be defining which god(s) you are referring to when you invoke the negative proof fallacy asking atheists to “disprove it/them”!

    I was not aware that it was necessary for me to address it, because I don’t speak for the “militant agnostics”. I haven’t invoked the negative proof fallacy.

    I don’t know how you got the impression that I’m agnostic about “the thousands of religions militant agnostics are agnostic about”. To be clear: I am not.

    So you expect atheists to “disprove”the existence thousands of gods, but you are not prepared to say which gods you are agnostic about!!!!!

    To be clear: I would expect anti-theists to do whatever they can do to disprove the claims of those who support “any and all” religious beliefs.

    You could just say you don’t know!

    Okay: “I don’t know”. If you had provided any support for your statement, I might’ve been able to agree or disagree. But at this point, I doubt anyone cares.

    I had noticed your flippant comments and semantic shuffles, when dodging issues.
    What language you may prefer, has no bearing on the validity of the arguments.”

    I have never claimed it has, sir. I’m sorry that you don’t appreciate my sense of humor.

    WRONG! I did not say all theist claims are false!

    Neither did I.

    WRONG! I did not say all theist claims were damaging!

    Neither did I.

    WRONG! Debunking damaging false claims is honest science! Debunking for the sake of debunking is not good.

    Of course it is. Of course it isn’t.

    WRONG! No blanket judgement can be made from the flawed tenets you have listed.

    The only flaw in the tenets I listed was a failure to apply a clarifying adjective. (Hint: it would not have been “all”.) I thought it would be obvious that I did not mean “all”.

    WRONG! Science has no anti-theist “beliefs”. It depends on the theist claims and the merits of the evidence.

    My statement referred to “scientist”, not science. Surely there must be at least one scientist who has anti-theist beliefs.

    “Scientism”, is of course an ambiguous term which can simply mean using reputable scientific methodology, but it also has a theist innuendo anti-science second definition involving exaggeration.

    Thanks for the information.

    YEP! You score no marks for addressing issues or attempts at logic!

    Not even for my “attempts”, huh? You’re a tough one.

    There is a big difference between being uncertain of probabilities and being uninformed about readily available information. Personal incredulity is not a rational argument!

    So true! Anyone who uses personal incredulity as an argument is certainly not being rational. And that applies to me, too!

    This strawman claim that others (particularly scientists) hold views with absolute certainty, is quite comical…

    It’s particularly funny because I don’t recall using the word “absolute” as a qualifier for the certainty I attributed to scientists (or who-have-you). (Would that be something like a “straw man claim”?) I am absolutely certain that I did not mean “absolute certainty”. If you insist on attaching an adjective to my use of the word “certainty”, perhaps “sufficient” would be sufficient.

    …in the context of you refusing to identify specific god(s) {Peace be upon His noodly appendages} about which you are agnostic, so that their relative probabilities can be rationally discussed!

    You are so right! I did neglect to indicate here that I believe in the same god(s) that you do (but only because I didn’t think it was necessary, as I’ve stated it in prior discussions.) When I admitted to being “agnostic” in my reply (to Len Walsh’s comments, by the way, not yours), I was not specifically referring to the existence of god(s), but to the existence of “something” (“what-have-you”) beyond what our five senses (plus technological aids) can detect. But you couldn’t have known that because, again, I neglected to say it. Sometimes the things that are in my mind fail to get on the page. I am an imperfect human being.

    Unless you are informed about the evidence…

    (I think you meant “lack of evidence”.)

    …you are in no position to criticize the levels of uncertainty (probability) in the views of others.

    I don’t think I criticized anyone’s “levels of certainty”. I merely stated, without judgment, what I have observed.

    “Assume”?

    The word “assume” was not mine (as indicated by the quotes).

    The knowledge of numerous claims is there for those who open their eyes and investigate.
    Uncertainty due to failure to look at evidence has no merit.

    Yes, sir, I understand. And (sufficient) certainty based on lack of evidence (which may be due to inability to detect rather than non-existence) is the highest of virtues.

    Similarly the ignorant making allegations of “arrogance” about informed opinion, is laughable!

    I am encouraged to see you use the word “opinion”.
    As far as “arrogance”, I merely borrowed the word that Len Walsh used to describe agnostics.

    What can be asserted without definition or evidence, can be dismissed without definition or evidence!

    Yes, I’ve heard and read this before, and I tend to agree with it. And I do apologize about the apparent lack of definition (but I hope that’s cleared up based on prior statements). But I have a question: in dismissing such an asserted claim, are you not also making an assertion without (sufficient) evidence? This strikes me as a bit of a conundrum. (And, yes, I know about the spaghetti monster argument. Reminder: I’m not claiming that spaghetti monsters or gods or creators of the universe exist.)

    The conclusion, is that you have made no case to answer, but have illustrated fallacious thinking by way of stawmen and negative proof fallacies.

    You may be right, yet you continue to offer answers.

    You have not even posed a coherent question.

    I thought the question was understood (see previous comments).

    So many words, but still no answers about your actual position on these issues of probabilities. It is simply not credible to believe (due to the use of logic) that you are equally agnostic about all the thousands of contradictory religions and deities, or about the workings of science and pseudo-science contradictions of evidence. .

    As I indicated above, I thought my position was already understood. I hope I have cleared it up.

    That would mean you have no knowledge whatever about science or reasoning, and no capability to evaluate probabilities about physical reality!

    You are probably right.

    So it seems you are just indulging in gratuitously sniping, while avoiding stating any evidence based viewpoint.

    I admit to a certain amount of “sniping”, but I think I have tried to keep it light and “playful” rather than mean-spirited. I also must admit to feeling like the victim of a certain amount of sniping which hasn’t seemed to be anything like playful.

    The message seems to be:- “Knowledge does not exist and Ignorance is bliss!”!!

    Things are not always as they seem.

    Challenging fallacious arguments often outs irrational thinkers on the defensive.

    Another salient observation in defense of rational thinking.

    That is just a front behind which you are hiding an argument from ignorance and an unwillingness to address the issue of probabilities.

    Again, you are probably correct. Thank you for pointing that out.

    Scientists are open to new evidence (but not whimsical unevidenced and refuted claims of magic), but are confident where the evidence is consistently supported by objective observations.

    No doubt.

    That is a negative statement, the onus of proof, the requirement for a clear definition, and supporting evidence, is on those positively asserting that “a creator god / transcendent being/what-have-you, exists”.

    It’s not a negative statement. It’s a positive claim about the nature of the world. But I do agree about the onus of proof stuff.

    It does, – and you have produced no definition and no evidence of such a creator entity!

    (Please see previous comments regarding what I’m agnostic about. Again, I apologize for any misunderstanding my omission has apparently caused.)

    And yet you have just asserted the existence of a creator! That is the definition of “a creationist”!

    Actually, no, I haven’t. I apologize if I gave that impression, but I thought it was understood.

    “Open minded”???? when you strongly assert the serious possibility of a “creator god”, and hide behind a refusal to produce a definition or evidence, try to fallaciously shift the onus on to the sceptics, make strawman claims that scientists and atheists, hold views with absolute certainty, and won’t even discuss the relative probabilities of a diversity of god-claims from the different religions.

    (Please see previous comments regarding what I’m agnostic about, as well as other stuff you’ve already complained about earlier.)

    ”That, is a clearly an irrational dichotomous position (My chosen god or the wrong view) position, of refusing to look at evidence or discuss the issues, which simply hides some (perhaps doubted) belief in some chosen god behind a façade of rhetoric and fallacy.”

    (Please see previous comments regarding what I’m agnostic about, as well as other stuff you’ve already complained about earlier.)

    ”I’ll stick with the highly probable evidenced view, that god-delusions are a physical feature of human brains, and that those who desperately don’t want them recognised, examined, or identified, will frantically do all they can to divert attention away from their actual place of existence, to the gapology of the distant parts of universe.”

    (Please see previous comments regarding what I’m agnostic about.)



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  • In reply to Doug

    When I admitted to being “agnostic” [about Jehovah] in my reply (to Len Walsh’s comments, by the way, not yours)…Sometimes the things that are in my mind fail to get on the page.

    Doug, I’ve followed all the thoughts and ideas you’ve revealed with complete fascination.

    It’s particularly funny because I don’t recall using the word
    “absolute” as a qualifier for the certainty I attributed to scientists
    (or who-have-you)

    and yet you (clearly) wrote a couple of days earlier

    I think it is more productive (and accurate) to describe agnostics
    (militant or otherwise) as readily admitting their own inability to be
    certain, which of course would be contrasted by the description of
    scientists, anti-theists (and perhaps atheists in general) as
    admitting (claiming) their own ability to be certain.

    Agnostics are merely hesitant theists who haven’t bothered to consider their beliefs rationally. Militant agnostics insist the reality of their creator Jehovah is uncertain, although they’re absolutely certain about Zeus and Thor being mythical.

    Clearly I was confused by your last reply as to why you decided it was
    necessary to insert your “explanation”…

    Fair enough Doug and the reason I didn’t respond was because I’ve already done the very best that I can. I’m sorry. Also I thought Alan’s patient effort to enlighten you was excellent. Do you mind me asking about your childhood influences Doug? It’s not important but I’ve been curious about the milieu in which you were raised.

    I’m not persuaded by your zealous support for Unanswerable Synthetic Creationism.



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  • Len Walsh Mar 31, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    In reply to Doug

    I’m not persuaded by your zealous support for Unanswerable Synthetic Creationism.

    Mmmmmmm!
    Evasion of questions about comparisons of probabilities of assorted conflicting gods, but vague persistent assertions of an undefined “existence”.

    Agnosticism at a disguised, Dawkins’ spectrum of theistic probability, level 2, (at a stretch 3) methinks!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_theistic_probability#Dawkins.27_formulation



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  • Hi guys!

    @Len Walsh

    You have misquoted me again:

    …admitted to being “agnostic” [about Jehovah] in my reply…

    I can’t imagine why you thought it was necessary to insert the bracketed part. Here’s the actual statement I made (to alan4discussion):

    When I admitted to being “agnostic” in my reply (to Len Walsh’s comments, by the way, not yours), I was not specifically referring to the existence of god(s), but to the existence of “something” (“what-have-you”) beyond what our five senses (plus technological aids) can detect. But you couldn’t have known that because, again, I neglected to say it. Sometimes the things that are in my mind fail to get on the page. I am an imperfect human being.

    And this is the earlier quote from a response to you:

    Now I see that what you were trying to do (and have done more effectively with this comment) is label me as a militant agnostic, and by (your) definition, one of the “fundamentally confused Creationists”. Although I don’t consider myself “militant” in any sense, and I would deny that I’m a “creationist”, I guess I can’t escape the fact of my agnosticism. I see it as an essential part of being open-minded.

    If you read this carefully, you will note that I did not state the subject of my agnosticism. To be clear, I am not agnostic “about Jehovah”; I am sufficiently certain there is no such being.

    Doug, I’ve followed all the thoughts and ideas you’ve revealed with complete fascination.

    Well, I hope for your sake (assuming there is such a thing) that you enjoy fascination. If so, then I’m happy for you, as complete fascination must be a joy indeed! If not, then I apologize.

    and yet you (clearly) wrote a couple of days earlier

    You’ll notice in that instance I also did not use the word “absolute”. If you need an adjective to make it clearer, then please insert “sufficient”.

    Agnostics are merely hesitant theists who haven’t bothered to consider their beliefs rationally.

    Some agnostics may fit that description. Some do not, because not all agnosticism involves god(s) or creator(s).

    Militant agnostics insist the reality of their creator Jehovah is uncertain, although they’re absolutely certain about Zeus and Thor being mythical.

    It’s not so difficult to be “absolutely certain” (or “sufficiently certain”, if you prefer) about imaginary (non)beings that are clearly mythical. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, as far as I’m concerned all of those you have mentioned here and elsewhere are in that category.

    Fair enough Doug and the reason I didn’t respond was because I’ve already done the very best that I can. I’m sorry.

    Apology not necessary and therefore not accepted. (And I don’t believe you’ve done the best you can.)

    Also I thought Alan’s patient effort to enlighten you was excellent.

    Yes, the patience in his effort was indeed palpable.

    Do you mind me asking about your childhood influences Doug? It’s not important but I’ve been curious about the milieu in which you were raised.

    I don’t mind you asking, but if it’s “not important” to you, then I‘m not motivated to answer.

    I’m not persuaded by your zealous support for Unanswerable Synthetic Creationism.

    I do not support any form of creationism.

    @4discussion:

    Agnosticism at a disguised, Dawkins’ spectrum of theistic probability, level 2, (at a stretch 3) methinks!

    Thank you for that link. I read that book some time ago, but had forgotten about the “spectrum”. Here’s my favorite quote from the Wikipedia article:

    Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that [sic] would place themselves as “1” due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves “7” because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person’s mind.

    Whereas you, sir, are clearly a 7 (perhaps the only one), I am comfortable claiming a 6 for myself:

    De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for [sufficiently] certain but I think God[/gods] is[are] very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he[they] is[are] not there.

    Thank you both for listening.



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