33 comments on “Be One of Us

  • Greetings Fellow Secular Humanists,

    I am an active research astronomer and have been sympathetic to everything that Dawkins and his followers have to say. I do have one objection. Too many followers have become fundamentalists in their presentation and dialogue. And we all know where fundamentalism gets us. I do believe that there should be respectful and active discourse with religious leaders, in particular the the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. We should learn to advance ourselves through example not virulent promotion. Many people are converts to secular humanism from a childhood of strict religious and non-scientific propaganda. And we all know that such people retain anger for being coerced. I urge those with anger to give pause and consider the message instead of the emotion. After all, in the most strict sense of pure scientific endeavors, us scientists need to reign in our emotions as much as possible and see what the data is producing no matter what outcome we desire. This makes us special but it makes some of us violently against anyone who may have thoughts not in line with their own.



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  • P.S. I think it is appropriate to add that there should always be room for a reasonable doubt. Einstein said, “”I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a
    childlike one,” he wrote to a man who corresponded with him on the subject
    twice in the 1940s. “You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the
    crusading spirit of the professional atheist. … I prefer an attitude of
    humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of
    nature and of our own being.” In short, the greatest leader of “out of the box” thinking recognized that we are still evolving and noted the weakness and limitations of the human mind. Before the discovery of the quantum there was an entire half century that firmly believed that physics was finished and some dangling problems were a matter of a mop up endeavor. How wrong everyone was. And a century later our understanding of space-time is still lacking (inability to marry quantum mechanics with general relativity) plus the still mysterious appearance of dark energy and matter. So please remain open minded and try to reign in the smug attitude that everything you believe is correct. Science’s finest minds don’t agree with you.



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  • Michael
    Jun 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Greetings Fellow Secular Humanists,

    Welcome Michael.

    I am an active research astronomer and have been sympathetic to everything that Dawkins and his followers have to say.

    You may find participating in some of the space discussions interesting.

    I do have one objection. Too many followers have become fundamentalists in their presentation and dialogue. And we all know where fundamentalism gets us.

    This is a common assertion of theists who have had their anti-scientific claims debunked. While science reserves judgement at frontiers of knowledge, much work is heavily evidenced and supported to high levels of probability.

    I do believe that there should be respectful and active discourse

    There certainly needs to be a polite discourse with fellow citizens.

    with religious leaders, in particular the the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis.

    I think you are mistaken in that view. Talking to religious leaders is a waste of time. They are too heavily committed to their doctrines and positions within their religious cultures.

    Anti-science and destructive relions will not fade away from the yop-down. they are fading away from the bottom up! The average Catholic is more moral and more realist than their leaders in the Vatican.

    We should learn to advance ourselves through example not virulent promotion.

    We should certainly lead by example, but unless that example is seen in an honest light, by being promoted to where it is visible to masses of people, the lies about us from the pulpits and websites will block out the clear view.

    Many people are converts to secular humanism from a childhood of strict religious and non-scientific propaganda.

    Indeed so. It does take them quite some time to dump the additional baggage of assumed “default” beliefs and fallacious thinking processes, which have been indoctrinated into them as children or vulnerable adults.

    There does need to be some sensitivity in dealing with this, but scientific presentations cannot diverge from the principles of honesty, or descend into accommodationist fudge and pseudo-science waffle.

    This makes us special but it makes some of us violently against anyone who may have thoughts not in line with their own.

    There is no reason why it should, although unscientific dogmatists will usually play the offended card and try to save face, when nonsensical claims are refuted, or errors corrected.

    This is very evident in applied sciences and engineering.
    If some interfering opinionated idiot is given equal respect as specialist designers or service engineers, bridges and buildings fall down, chemical works, gas appliances and oil rigs blow up, aircraft fall out of the sky, and people die or are disabled by treatable medical conditions.

    Anti-science delusional faith claims made with Dunning-Kruger confidence, are not victimless crimes.



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  • Michael,
    I hope you don’t mind if I ask you for clarification on a few of your statements. I see that you are a science major and so am I. This saves me the trouble of explaining how important it is in science to communicate with as much precision as we can in order to avoid confusion. Based on this understanding, in your statement that I reproduced below, here are the questions that you prompted by being vague:

    Too many followers have become fundamentalists in their presentation and dialogue.

    How many followers is “too many”? This is very vague. Please use numbers. If you don’t have actual numbers then I find that people with all levels of education can understand quantities when expressed as percentages. Would you like to express your “too many” as a percentage?
    If you don’t mind, please give your definition of the word “fundamentalist” and then I’d appreciate an explanation of how an atheist could be a fundamentalist-by your definition of course. Then, since you have made this statement, why be vague and mysterious? You need to give examples of these many fundamentalist atheists. Who are they? Public intellectuals that we all know? Is Richard one of them? People from this website? There’s no need to beat around the bush here. Say what you need to say.

    I do believe that there should be respectful and active discourse with religious leaders, in particular the the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis.

    Ok, so Michael, I see that you’re worried about these religious leaders getting their feelings hurt by a bunch of badass atheists but I wonder what level of success we will have in getting religious leaders to stand up for what’s right if we don’t apply a certain amount of pressure on them. Do you think these leaders are nice and benign? Or do they support policies that made countless millions of people suffer in misery and then died because of those same policies? And you would like us to be nice and polite…You know Michael, this doesn’t sit well with me because I’m one of these:

    people retain anger for being coerced.

    Guess what the clerics, congregation and family of these coerced people say to them-be polite, don’t make waves, you have to respect- see what I mean? Do you think it’s ok to tell victims of any type to be nice and polite and respectful to the entities that have harmed them substantially? You don’t have the right to tell us that. On the internet we call people like you “tone trolls”. No one told you to go out on the front lines and fight for us. If you want to be a quiet, behind the scenes type then go ahead and do your thing in your own way. No judgement here. Just don’t tell us angry ones to put on our pearl necklaces and sensible shoes and plaster a vacant smile on our faces and get back into our closets. I won’t do it.

    We should learn to advance ourselves through example not virulent promotion

    Again, define “virulent promotion”, give examples and state who did it, otherwise you’re just pissing into the wind.

    scientists need to reign in our emotions as much as possible and see what the data is producing no matter what outcome we desire.

    Now this is something we can agree on. I’m counting on you to familiarize yourself with the datathat is readily available on the crimes of religious organization that have been going on for centuries. Try not to let your emotions come to the front of your mind though…total objectivity Michael, right?

    it makes some of us violently against anyone who may have thoughts not in line with their own.

    “violently”? Really? Who was violent? When? Again, be precise in your statements. If you make a statement that is vague then I have the right to demand references. That’s how science is discussed, as you must know, unless things are done very differently in the Astronomy department. I have no problem with speculation and quite enjoy engaging in that but when we speculate it’s important to say- “I’m speculating”, but I don’t think you’re speculating in these comments. I think you’re tone trolling.



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  • Michael,

    So please remain open minded and try to reign in the smug attitude that everything you believe is correct. Science’s finest minds don’t agree with you.

    Smugness and closed minds are not typical of people with university degrees in science. I’ll tell you where you can find untold numbers of these smug closed minded people* every Sunday morning though..yep that’s right. In churches, synagogues and mosques!

    *also self righteous, judgmental, hypocritical, puritanical, and in many cases, delusional-by the textbook definition.

    I’ll tell you how the science bunch are open minded. We’re open minded while we’re doing the math. It all comes down to the math. Do we have significant results? Better than chance? If yes then we’ve got something to say. Even so, it’s always prudent to reserve a molecule of doubt because if a better explanation comes along then it’s a very good thing to turn on a dime, dump the wrong idea and surge forward with the newer better way to go. Now you tell me Michael, when did the religiously afflicted bunch ever do that? Your smarmy Pope Francis is still towing that bad old line that caused untold suffering to millions and hasn’t changed a damn thing about it. Women, for example, we’re still domestic and reproductive slaves in his opinion. That’s a lot of people and a lot of harm right there.



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  • Michael, if the news bulletin comes in tomorrow that the griffin Grypos aquilaleo has been discovered alive and well in Greece, or someone deduces its existence in Ancient Greece by discovering fossils of them, then I will willingly nod and revise my agriffinism to acknowledge this scientific discovery. I say this in all agnostic agriffinist seriousness and with not a flicker of sarcasm or irony.

    Until then, people who claim griffins exist on flimsy – or non-existent – evidence, and who can offer nothing stronger than poor and unsound arguments to justify their belief, and especially who try to avoid intellectual responsibility and resort to making excuses why they don’t have to justify their views for whatever reason, will no more have my “humble respect” or a “reasonable benefit of the doubt” than the millions of other believers and promoters of myths, fantasies, inventions, lies, and general untruths that don’t and in some cases can’t pass muster. And I certainly won’t be emotionally blackmailed into giving it to them, especially in such a passive-aggressive and implicitly libellous manner, by someone who resorts to shop-worn tropes and stereotypes against atheists as a group.

    They will naturally have all the usual treatment and courtesy that I would muster for any other fellow human being, since I can tell the difference between a person’s ideas and their character. If they want their religious beliefs to be taken seriously, then they will not receive any unearned credit or privileges, any more than I shall use the history of scientific advancement to give a griffinist undue respect and airtime.



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  • Michael, you are setting up a false and insidious dialectic. You cannot be a “fundamentalist” or closed-minded about NOT believing is something whose existence has no rational evidence to support it. NOT believing is not believing; it is NOT believing. Unless you can present a plausible, respectable theory that something does exist, is real, then the denial of that existence is simply that. Examine this passage of dialogue. (It is a ridiculous exchange, but I am making a point):
    “You see that fairy over there?
    “No. I see nothing.”
    “No? Then you are being rigid and fanatical! How can you deny what I believe? Fairies are real and exert influence on every aspect of our lives”
    Dawkins’ argument (and he is right) is that non-theism is simply the absence of belief in something whose existence has had no rational evidence to support it. Moreover, it has been and continues to be educationally pernicious.
    I would say this, however (and many of my scientist friends have argued with me to the ground): the realm of the metaphysical is something that I am open to and I think everyone should be. The metaphysical is not God or anything supernatural. I don’t have the time or energy to elaborate further.
    But it is unreasonable and muddled thinking to say that rejection of that which has no rational foundation constitutes a belief or an orthodoxy or is rigid or narrow thinking. Think about it. (By the way, faith, according to Kierkegaard, is non-rational. If it were not it would not be called faith. Let us not conflate faith with what is rationally based.—Two different processes.
    And I do not think that we have to be polite at all costs. Sometimes we need to not respect other people’s beliefs. (Their right to have beliefs is a different matter. That right must always be respected.)



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  • How’s your garden, LaurieB?

    I had a long exchange with a scientist recently on the subject of perception. I experienced this scientist (and his is the voice of legions) as extraordinarily knowledgeable and rigid. He refused to acknowledge that the great subject of the antithesis between the Real and the Ideal is even a problem. Absolute realism (which is NOT to be confused with non-theism!!) is a belief of a kind. It is a belief that objective phenomena exist without a mind to perceive it. It may indeed, but it then ceases to be objective—(Do you see what I mean? There’s a problem there.)

    I have gone into this complex and important subject (which I – and I am a serious, self-educated student of philosophy – know a lot about) at length on a different thread (The “masturbation causes pregnancy” thread) and do not wish to say anything else right now.

    But I basically agree with what everyone is saying about non-theism not being a belief – religious or otherwise. (See my excellent comment below.)

    -Dan (who want to be validated, feels invisible on this cold site)



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  • hi Dan,

    I read/skimmed your discussion on the masturbation thread. I sure do wish I had an impressive comment or two to contribute there but truth be told, I’m not up to speed on your topic (that would be the perception topic over there. I’m absolutely competent to discuss masturbation.). If you want to draw me in to that discussion you would need to dumb it down greatly and I hope you won’t do that as you would surely become aggravated in short order. Trust me it’s not worth it. 🙂

    But just quickly, I think you’re saying that there are scientists who are extremely rigid and defensive about their pet theories and ideas, is that right? I think this is true since I’ve seen a person or two who when their entire career is built on a way of thinking from a couple decades ago, that they fought to establish in the field, feels that idea under fire, fights to defend it to the death because they have a strong personal stake in the idea staying alive and well. Sorry, that was a long awkward sentence but what I mean to say is that yes, there are rigid scientists out there but they must be the exception or we’d still be in the dark ages, wouldn’t we? There is no shortage of those holy crap! I’ve got it! moments in the history of science.

    I am a serious, self-educated student of philosophy – know a lot about)

    Here’s the problem with this. I take your word for it that you know a lot about it but what good is this endorsement coming from a self described philosophy dumbbell? The other commenters here who are competent to converse with you on that topic will be the judge of that and I’m pretty sure they will let you know what they think. It’s how this website rolls, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉

    -Dan (who want to be validated, feels invisible on this cold site)

    Awe, come on now Dan, lighten up. Even if you get gushing validation today, there’s always a swift kick in the ass waiting for you first thing tomorrow morning. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and drop a few more comments like nothing ever happened. I speak from experience. Years ago after a few guys steamrolled over me, I stated my exasperation and they told me to grow a thicker skin. Maybe I did just that but we also got a moderator here at about the same time so I can’t be sure about my conclusion because you see I’m dealing with confounded variables. But if this need for constant validation continues much longer perhaps you should run it by your Mommy for an explanation. Didn’t you mention that she is a shrink?

    My garden is looking spectacular and I’m sure my neighbors are jealous which pleases me greatly. I planted twenty English Boxwoods yesterday and I’m now wracked with pain having overdone it as usual. 🙁

    This was a superb comment.



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  • Thanks for your reply. I guess I exist after all. You can be extremely funny, by the way.

    “I think you’re saying that there are scientists who are extremely rigid and defensive about their pet theories and ideas, is that right?” No. I am referring to a very specific and large question: the real versus ideal question.—although I am sure that there is rigidity of the kind that you mentioned too. That doesn’t concern me, however.

    If a tree falls in the forest and there is nothing to hear it does it make a noise? That popular question is actually a very profound one. That is THE problem of modern philosophy. My position is that it does not. Most scientists (and this is the “rigidity” I referred to) start from the object and forget us poor subjects. They define sound as vibrations and colors as wavelengths, and insist that these sounds and colors (defined precisely that way) exist independently of the mind. To them I would ask, can a vibration be heard? can a wavelength be seen? No! Sounds are heard. Colors are seen. I am perception-oriented (as is my great teacher Schopenhauer – and his beloved Goethe who wrote a great book on the theory of color, btw). They (the realists) say that this is just “semantics”, but it isn’t!

    So that’s it in a very, very small nut shell. (I am not dumbing it down for you, just giving you a general and brief introduction to a most interesting and important problem. Maybe it’ll inspire you to read Schopenhauer. You won’t regret it.)

    Yes, my mother is a psychoanalyst. I’ve been in and out of therapy. I always burn out after a few months, and you spend half the session talking about why you’re late. Moreover, it’s a psychic bloodletting if you ask me.

    Thanks for the advice. You’re right. I need a thicker skin,—and self-reliance, as Emerson said…uh, did you like this comment?



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  • Dan,

    I guess I exist after all

    Cogito ergo sum. And that’s all the philosophy I’m really capable of (said with head hung low and downcast eyes). It’s even worse than that; it wasn’t me who came up with the material it was Descartes of course. I only copy and pasted it over from Wiki. :'(

    If a tree falls in the forest and there is nothing to hear it does it make a noise? That popular question is actually a very profound one.

    Oh! I’m starting to get this now! And the dawn breaks over Marble-head…

    To them I would ask, can a vibration be heard? can a wavelength be seen? No! Sounds are heard. Colors are seen. I am perception-oriented

    So, based on that above quote, if that tree-in-forest popular question is profound then what about that other related question – Does a bear shit in the woods? And to tie it in with your whole perception thing, I need to ask, Does the shit smell bad if there’s no one there to smell it? Based on your examples, the answer must be NO.

    I think I’m making great progress but only if someone else perceives it.



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  • I think I’m making great progress but only if someone else perceives
    it.

    Why the flippancy, LaurieB? I will have to go back into therapy now. I am devastated. (Kidding.)

    Most philosophy (according to all the smug scientists: sorry; I am actually a little annoyed) consists of asking the wrong questions.

    Maybe so,—but this question is not a silly or fruitless or irrelevant question to ask. Read Kant’s famous introduction to his Critique of Pure Reason. He explains why it is important to establish what we can and cannot know. He wanted to rid the world of “freethinking and [undue] skepticism,” modes of thinking that presuppose or lead to a crass materialism. He also wanted to rid us of “fanaticism and dogmatism.” These tendencies of the mind can be applied to the religious and to the non-religious (which includes myself). God is “real”, according to religious dogmatists. The tree is “real”, according to the scientific realists.

    The point of departure for achieving enlightened perception, philosophical discernment, is an understanding of the true nature of the empirically real world. You may think this is a silly thing to be thinking about, but Schopenhauer’s philosophy has a very old and respectable lineage. It goes back to Plato and to the “sacred” writings of the Hindus and the Buddha. Transcendence and resignation (the ultimate ends which true philosophy, or what I consider to be true philosophy, leads to) requires a purification of the mind (in the former case) and a release from the will of certain desires (in the latter case). Starting from the object and forgetting the subject (which is something most people do) bars the way to a true understanding of the nature of reality (which is analogous to a dream). Realism is one of many obstacles – it is a mental obstacle – that make the acquisition of an ethical quality of life based on compassion (identification) and transcendence of egotism (which is like a wall between the self and others) more difficult than it already is. If there is no non-physical quality that unites us then there may be no room for any real sympathy or compassion. (This is not superstition.—and I am NOT a theist.)

    Because of the constraints of time and space I probably sound like Deepak Chopra. There is no possible way that I (in spite of my prodigious intellect and facility with language) can possibly do justice right now to this subject and its many aspects.

    Descartes.

    Prior to the publication of the Meditations, thinkers felt no hesitation to dogmatically start from the object as they sought to understand the nature of the perceived world. What Descartes demonstrates is that activity of some kind is taking place inside our head. In his case, he is doubting. The doubt as to his own existence is activity, conscious activity. So he concludes that if there is activity in the form of doubt, then there is existence. Thought is (and as Parmenides said, that which is must be). That thought is primarily and originally internal, is self-conscious thought. If you follow Descartes you will see that you can never gain awareness of existence of external things directly—only indirectly. The I as thought has to come first. Therefore, I would describe the Cartesian “I” (which cannot be known as a thing-in-itself either) as that which is and can never be IT.

    And the dawn breaks over Marble-head…”

    What’s that from?

    By the way, I wrote a very funny parodic comment on another thread (Revenge Porn). Check it out. (please?)

    Dan

    P.S. I have been sitting so long my coccyx is sore. Is that normal?



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  • Your comment (posted June 13 at 10:12pm) was a good comment. Your second one (about the bear) was awful, dismissive, flippant; were you trying to be funny? And my attempt to explain why the real-ideal question is important sucked too.
    But at least I tried.



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  • Dan,
    Ok I apologize for being flippant. I can easily see that you love your topic and you have put a lot of thought into it. As I mentioned before, I can’t possibly judge whether or not you are correct or completely off the track. I don’t know! The attitude that comes through in my comment is because as I said above, I have nothing of value to contribute on this topic! By the way, we are way off topic on this thread and the mods have the right to delete every one of these posts by the rules of the website, you know that, right? So don’t take things so personally. There are plenty of topics we will run into here that you and I can have a real productive discussion of but Philosophy will not be one of them.

    To turn the tables just for a moment, what would happen if I tried to engage you in a discussion of the merits of hand quilting vs machine quilting of a new quilt that I’ve just finished? There are many factors to consider and it all has bearing on the final worth of the quilt. I could write a comment that is one foot long on this page explaining these factors and my feelings all around them and then sit here and expect you to engage in conversation with me about things like the impact of machine quilting on the monetary value of a Victorian era crazy quilt, (it would be a cruel devastation!), (only a dunce would do that!) but how is it fair to you? I’m just betting that you would eventually come back with comments revealing your (completely excusable) ignorance on this subject. When that happens, should I get defensive and feel sorry for myself?

    Oh, and sorry if I threw you with the “dawn breaks over Marble-head”. I now think this must be a “Bostonism”. We have a costal town just north of Boston that is, shall we say, somewhat high-end wealthy and historic, where anyone would be happy to sit on the lovely beach and watch the dawn break. But this saying has come to mean that someone with a dense head made of marble has finally just understood something after excessive repetitive explanations, if you get my drift. This does not imply that the good folk of Marblehead are stupid. I’m very sure they are not.



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  • By the way, we are way off topic on this thread and the mods have the
    right to delete every one of these posts by the rules of the website,
    you know that, right?

    Thanks. Your points are all well taken. This (above), however, is not likely to happen. The moderators understand that discussions will gear off the topic from time to time. They intervene when the members become abusive or are doing harm in some way. Going off the topic in itself (within reason—pun intended, I guess) is not a violation of the terms and conditions. I can’t find where it’s written but I did read that they understand that this can happen and it’s okay (can be a good thing actually) if it does.

    My mother had a friend / colleague who was a consummate quilt maker; she took great pride in their “authenticity.” (Unfortunately she got early onset Alzheimer’s and eventually died. Scary.)

    On the Tim Hunt thread I said something funny: “If there was no one to hear his comments, would they still offensive?” That was for you.

    Take care.



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  • Dan

    Going off the topic in itself (within reason—pun intended, I guess) is not a violation of the terms and conditions.

    Oooh yes it is! It’s just that we don’t enforce it as rigorously as we used to back in the days when users could start their own discussions. These days we’re unlikely to worry about it too much unless the digression occurs so early in the thread that it distracts from the actual topic before it has had a chance to be properly discussed; or unless it is going off at a complete tangent; or the digression has become (or, in our experience, is likely to become) hostile, aggressive, bad-tempered, etc; or unless it comes under the heading of “People who have one particular drum that they just keep on banging over and over again”.

    So far none of those things apply in this case. This was just for clarification.

    The mods.



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  • Congratulations and thank you for taking up the fight for reality so vigorously which brings me to my mild objection to your negative use of the word Anarchy in an Aussie TV show I watched recently. If you know what the true meaning of Anarchy is you would realise that like the “C” word it is often taken out of context by our tainted popular culture to mean something terrible, when in reality they are the best things humanity has to offer!
    Anarchy and chaos are not the same thing, anarchy is our ancestral way of life which was in no way a chaotic landscape of immoral cave men.
    However I do realise that we are all victims of our religiously tainted culture to some degree so I will forgive you, and I will continue to support the cause for reality with my music which is currently in the making. Anarchy is not a dirty word by The Truth, Peace.



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  • The ‘c’ word in the above blog does not refer to chaos, ill leave it up to your imagination but if I use the correct word the mods wouldn’t approve.



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  • Its easy to say we can spread the news and idea we hold to be true, but upon presenting to religious people, its a fallacy and almost impossible to convince them of anything opposite of their views. A quote comes to mind, “If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn’t be religious people.”
    The reason religions were successful in the past, was because “back then” religions used violence to forcefully convert people.
    Being an theist isnt a religion and I dislike when people claim it is, but regardless of that, its much harder to spread our ideas of atheism, because unlike the past, we dont use violence, And should not use it in any case.
    I’m a physician, and I work with many other doctors and healthcare practitioners who are very religious, Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, etc. And while I can debate with them till I’m blue in the face, and despite these people being trained in medicine and science and especially knowing the biology and genetics within science and how diseases are and how tragic that the human body is to its own self, these people still believe in the religions despite all the overwhelming contradictory evidence. And if I were to talk to them which I have, it does not change a thing even if I point out 1 million contradictions, they will still interpret even contradictions as proof of religion or God; it is an uphill battle for sure. I just continue with the idea that maybe I can reach at least one person who will “get it.” because with even one person, they can then tell one person or more, and spread what I consider is an obvious truth and overwhelming evidence of no God, and if there is no God, there is no religion, and should not be religion anywhere. If people need moral guidance, there are several great places to obtain that moral guidance other than religious books and propaganda, or at least a better word for religious outreach materials than propaganda. That is all.



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  • Some very intellectual and deep discussions and commentary I see. For me growing up as an orthodox Christian was great even though I never believed that a God ever existed. I met some great people, was never told I would go to hell for any reason, was never forced to go to church and thoroughly enjoyed the fun and frivolity around Orthodox Easter. Richard has stated that the Church of England is fairly benign. He forgot to mention that so is Orthodoxy which by the way influenced the creation of this church. Chalk and cheese with the Catholics really. I know Orthodox Christians who went to Catholic schools and went to Orthodox church on the weekend. I have never heard of a Catholic attending an Orthodox school. I do know Muslims who attended Catholic schools.

    For me the most concerning part of religion is how every body derived their morals and what to do from a bunch of books. What if any of these books told them to jump off the nearest cliff at the age of 40, would they just go and do it? Don’t they have the brain nor sense to read these fairy tales and then just dismiss them for what they are…pure folly! Really, ascending into heaven on a winged horse.



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  • Michael
    Jun 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

    P.S. I think it is appropriate to add that there should always be room for a reasonable doubt.

    There is however, negligible room for well debunked unreasonable doubts or unreasonable doubt-mongering, as a fallacious attempt at promoting “default” unevidenced claims.

    Michael
    Jun 13, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I am an active research astronomer and have been sympathetic to everything that Dawkins and his followers have to say.

    Perhaps you could contribute to clarifying doubts and certainties in these discussions:-

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/07/earth-2-0-nasa-says-scientists-have-found-closest-twin-outside-solar-system/

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/07/nasa-is-seriously-considering-terraforming-part-of-the-moon-with-robots/



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  • I am an active research astronomer and have been sympathetic to everything that Dawkins and his followers have to say. I do have one objection. Too many followers have become fundamentalists in their presentation and dialogue. And we all know where fundamentalism gets us. I do believe that there should be respectful and active discourse with religious leaders, in particular the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis. We should learn to advance ourselves through example not virulent promotion.

    Michael makes a perfectly reasonable criticism in my view because it resonates with actual behavior. I’ve read several commenters on this site who argue (among other absurdities) that parents who indoctrinate their children in a faith tradition are committing child abuse. No qualification. Heinous child abuse, regardless of method and message, that raises a score for the police to settle in a dark jail cell where no one can hear the screams of parental miscreants getting a comeuppance. Michael is right. No one can simply use a verbal flame thrower against other decent human beings igniting frustrated rage with a mad-at-the world shrieking, searing hate and expect to make any progress. People will understandably just tune you out. We argue our world view vigorously using science and reason laced with clever humor, satire and ridicule but we never forget that we are also humanists and that our opponents are human.

    By the way, I wish the blogosphere would lose that most self-serving, self-righteous of cliches – tone trolling– used as an all purpose justification for resorting to rude and crude invective.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 9, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Michael makes a perfectly reasonable criticism in my view because it resonates with actual behavior.

    Not really. Asserting that rational criticism of deluded thinking is” virulent promotion”, is not evidenced reasoning.
    If anything, it is psychological projection on to critics, of the position of religious leaders virulently promoting their irrational woo.

    I’ve read several commenters on this site who argue (among other absurdities) that parents who indoctrinate their children in a faith tradition are committing child abuse. No qualification.

    I think it has been pointed out frequently enough on this site, that indoctrinating a lasting mental disability, is just as destructive as the Indian parents who physically cripple their children to make them more effective at getting sympathy as street beggars. It is child abuse which you seem to fail to grasp. The fallacious, bigoted and anti-science ranting of fundamentalists who have become incapable of learning, is evidence in its self!

    By the way, I wish the blogosphere would lose that most self-serving, self-righteous of cliches – tone trolling

    The term “Tone Trolling” used properly, is just as valid as the term “pseudo-science”. It points out the fallacy of style over substance, where a usually dishonest emotional argument, lacks evidence and reasoning.

    used as an all purpose justification for resorting to rude and crude invective.

    Do you have examples? I have generally observed the reverse to be the case, where the tone troll is denigrating a valid argument with emotive fallacies, selected to appeal to the cognitive biases of like thinkers.



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  • Asserting that rational criticism of deluded thinking is” virulent promotion”, is not evidenced reasoning.

    The evidenced proposition is that “rational critiicism of deluded thinking” is different from “virulent promotion.” I cannot thin slice Michael’s diction choices but I take him to mean: trying to bludgeon opponents with a verbal tantrum full of sound and fury will get you nowhere in a world populated with believers.

    It is child abuse which you seem to fail to grasp. The fallacious, bigoted and anti-science ranting of fundamentalists who have become incapable of learning, is evidence in its self!

    Not every religious parent is a bigoted ranting fundamentalist. Faith informed child-rearing takes many forms. There are ample statutory laws to cover child abuse and other crimes whether motives are secular, religious or a combination of both. Sending an implicit message to civil society that secular humanists are out to criminalize all religion, ban sacred scriptures because of irrational violent content, and entertain strategies involving the police and courts in matters of freedom of religion and conscience is self-defeating. Excesses of sound convictions can turn anyone into a monster. Phrases like “incapable of learning” in this context imply punishing incorrigible thugs and “is evidence in itself” implies self-righteous circular reasoning. Atheists and agnostics are a tiny minority who should engage the religious majority in intellectual, civil debate. Individual minds may not be subject to change but the collective mind, world social consciousness is being changed slowly but surely over time. Why impede progress by raising sympathy for believers seen to be the victims of vicious attacks filled with blanket vilification and invective?

    As for tone trolling I grant that there are contexts for proper usage though most of these may be considered gray areas. The dilemma of usage is that the term provides pseudo authority for condemning views and people without having to engage in argument. The problem I have with people who justify their positions with extreme anger is that I suspect they may likely be troubled people harboring grievances that have little to do with the issue at hand. When we defer to such people because we think we “agree” with them and admire their reasonable passion, we are sometimes disillusioned later when we find the brave new leader has a pretty nasty agenda for role models like Richard Dawkins. For me. For you.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 9, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Asserting that rational criticism of deluded thinking is” virulent promotion”, is not evidenced reasoning.

    The evidenced proposition is that “rational critiicism of deluded thinking” is different from “virulent promotion.” I cannot thin slice Michael’s diction choices but I take him to mean: trying to bludgeon opponents with a verbal tantrum full of sound and fury will get you nowhere in a world populated with believers.

    This, as I pointed out, is usually psychological projection.

    It is the preaching from the pulpit which is “virulent promotion”. Critics legitimately debunking these delusions and promoted falsehoods, may well be perceived as “virulent”, but that is the nature of the believer’s psychotic reaction, NOT the nature of the criticism.

    Not every religious parent is a bigoted ranting fundamentalist. Faith informed child-rearing takes many forms.

    Teaching “faith-thinking” in place of evidenced reasoning, is inflicting a mental disability.

    Sending an implicit message to civil society that secular humanists are out to criminalize all religion,

    This is pure strawman! I have no more suggested criminalising all religion, than I have suggested criminalising all mental disabilities!

    ban sacred scriptures because of irrational violent content, and entertain strategies involving the police and courts in matters of freedom of religion and conscience is self-defeating.

    It is no more self-defeating than incarcerating the dangerously criminally insane to protect the public.

    Excesses of sound convictions can turn anyone into a monster.

    This is of course a fallacious tautology!
    Sound convictions based on solid evidence, indicate a rational intellectual, although god-delusions under threat of being demoted to their true status,
    will try to pretend critics are monsters.

    Phrases like “incapable of learning” in this context imply punishing incorrigible thugs and “is evidence in itself” implies self-righteous circular reasoning.

    Of course it doesn’t! When I state that Ken Ham is “incapable of learning” the age of the Earth or the age of the Universe, and that his persistent statements are “evidence in its self” of his inability, that is a description OF his self-righteous circular thinking, although his followers will no doubt try to project that image on to the scientists debunking his 6000 year claims.

    As for tone trolling I grant that there are contexts for proper usage though most of these may be considered gray areas.

    Not grey areas at all! They are either an accurate description of style and rhetoric without substance, or they are unevidenced assertions.

    The dilemma of usage is that the term provides pseudo authority for condemning views and people without having to engage in argument.

    That is what tone trolling is!
    It is not what the accurate description of tone trolling is!
    There is no more problem with pointing out the fallacious nature and unevidenced posing of tone trolls, than there is in calling out any other form of false posturing!
    Science does not recognise “offensive facts”!



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  • Alan4: I generally find myself sympathetic to your qualified views. I believe that in different ways we are trying to get at how to communicate intellectual criticism to believers in a multitude of different contexts populated with a multitude of different persons. For example when you say: “It is the preaching from the pulpit which is “virulent promotion”. Critics legitimately debunking these delusions and promoted falsehoods, may well be perceived as “virulent”, but that is the nature of the believer’s psychotic reaction, NOT the nature of the criticism. I’ve shared almost the identical sentiment but I’d be sensitive to the way a believer would hear himself described with the phrase “psychotic reaction” imputing serious mental illness to a mentally healthy person. I would be content to use the neutral term “psychological” instead.

    Tone Trolling: There is no more problem with pointing out the fallacious nature and unevidenced posing of tone trolls, than there is in calling out any other form of false posturing!
    Science does not recognise “offensive facts”!

    All this proposition does is beg the question under debate in one’s own favor. It is the process of civil debate that permits the audience to consider or decide, with or without consensus, what is fallacious , unevidenced or false without settling the matter upfront by fiat. Science may not recognize “offensive facts” but people engaged in discussion do. If I tell someone the offense he takes from my criticism is a “psychotic reaction,” I’m likely insulting him or otherwise practicing psychiatry without a license.



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  • Perhaps my comments took a wrong turn when I engaged Alan4 in argument. I intended to express two main opinions:

    1) Michael’s comment was civil, reasonable and insightful from my point of view based on my observations.
    No one is obligated to agree.

    2) In my view “Tone Trolling” is frequently misused especially in combination with other obnoxious comment practices on some websites where dogpiling and ostracism are the vicious norm. (NOT HERE)



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  • Melvin
    Aug 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    For example when you say:

    “It is the preaching from the pulpit which is “virulent promotion”. Critics legitimately debunking these delusions and promoted falsehoods, may well be perceived as “virulent”, but that is the nature of the believer’s psychotic reaction, NOT the nature of the criticism.

    I’ve shared almost the identical sentiment but I’d be sensitive to the way a believer would hear himself described with the phrase “psychotic reaction” imputing serious mental illness to a mentally healthy person. I would be content to use the neutral term “psychological” instead.

    You assert that the deluded are mentally healthy! Delusions are not an indication of mental health!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/08/indiana-public-school-punishes-7-year-old-with-banishment-for-not-believing-in-god-lawsuit/

    There is little point in debating with the psychotic. They need to be handled by others who recognise their problems, after others being made aware of their antisocial activities in the name of “(self)righteousness”!
    I do not care if this deluded teacher denies the child abuse, or feels insulted.
    I will call it as it is, back up the diagnosis with evidence, and require enforcement of decent conduct in managing children – requiring reform or dismissal.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    There is no more problem with pointing out the fallacious nature and unevidenced posing of tone trolls, than there is in calling out any other form of false posturing!
    Science does not recognise “offensive facts”!

    All this proposition does is beg the question under debate in one’s own favor.

    Not where scientific evidence is available to back up views.

    It is the process of civil debate that permits the audience to consider or decide, with or without consensus, what is fallacious , unevidenced or false without settling the matter upfront by fiat.

    Scientific facts are not subject to audience opinion, and while scientists do their best to explain the evidence clearly and logically, the opinions of bigoted, ignorant or perverse audiences make no difference to the validity of the evidence presented.

    That is the difference between science and the cheer-leaders of pseudo-science. Science does not recognise facts as being offensive, or the taking of offence by bigots, as having any bearing on the validity of information.



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  • Melvin
    Aug 10, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Perhaps my comments took a wrong turn when I engaged Alan4 in argument. I intended to express two main opinions:

    1) Michael’s comment was civil, reasonable and insightful from my point of view based on my observations.
    No one is obligated to agree.

    . . . . . . and anyone is entitled to challenge, on the basis of evidence , making counter arguments, – especially challenging misconceptions, unsupported assumptions, psychological projections, and fallacious thinking [asserted to be “reasonable”] which challenge more rational, well informed views, by parroting theist rhetoric.



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