Thursday, May 03, 2012

Believers

I have a slightly askew relationship with the "organized atheism" movement, not so much ideologically but tactically - I think some facets of the movement can be a little petty and mean-spirited sometimes (re: the "you know it's a myth" billboards that amount to a neener-neener against various faiths during their holidays); and I'm unable to subscribe to the tenet that "All religions are bad." Sorry, I can't go there - they're all a little silly, conceptually, sure... but not only are most self-identified persons of faith either decent or at least harmless; the vast majority of the world's hundreds of thousands of organized-religions are fairly benign.

That having been said, I'm fairly comfortable in my infrequent calculation that while not ALL religions are bad... between three and four of them (the religions) ARE bad - or, at the very least are a net-negative influence on the modern world as a whole to a degree that is not offset by whatever good is done by individual adherents. And this kind of shit is WHY...



That's Pastor Sean Harris, rather explicitly suggesting that parents should - upon witnessing their children behaving in homosexual and/or gender-non-normative ways - essentially beat the behavior out of them. Charming.

He has, of course, offered a toothless apology on his blog.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Thinkers and Believers. This fellow, and the cheering/clapping ignoramouses hanging on his every word, are Believers; and that designation has NOTHING to do with their being religious and EVERYTHING to do with the words coming out of his mouth.

Oh, and have you heard? Activision has hired right-wing folk hero Col. Oliver North - convicted (later overturned on appeal) in the Iran-Contra Affair - to do commercials shilling next "Call of Duty" video-game.

Yeah, things are goin' swell...

155 comments:

Anonymous said...

inb4 James somehow relates this to Liberals and Obama and blah blah blah BOB PLEEEEZE PAY ATTENTION TO ME HNNNNNNGGGH!

Mads said...

ironically, the dichotomy you keep presenting, "thinkers and believers", and the way you assert it's truth and what you mean by it...

...it still comes off as a little bit of a belief.

Anonymous said...

Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.

What carries the negative connotation is not that people have belief in thing A or thing B. It's that there are some people (I'll add probably a shrinking number but I don't have any hard numbers) will deny any and all reality contrary to that belief. Much like how people believe any 'paranormal' video they see on the internet, and some people believe that any and all 'paranormal' activity is a 100% fabrication.

Believers, in the content as someone unwilling/unable to change their world view, become increasingly rabid in times of change. It doesn't help when a profit motivated jerk pokes their insecurities and make them feel like an issue they may never deal with in their whole lives is suddenly a big deal. (honestly, of people who listen to that preacher would you wager even 2% would ever have to deal with a situation he describes?)

As far as Oliver North, I'm much angrier that another CoD game is being made than him being involved in anything.

Taylor said...

No, this guy is not a believer. A believe is someone who looks to something and has faith that following its tenets will guide his actions even if he feels uncomfortable.

This guy is a thinker, a rationalize, a man who hates Gay people and will do whatever it takes to figure out how to make his religion hate what he hates.

The Offender said...

For years I tried to have faith. At a very young age I started to doubt the existence of a higher power. Now I am without faith. I wish I could imbue this gift on to others.

Anonymous said...

"Activision has hired right-wing folk hero Col. Oliver North - convicted (later overturned on appeal) in the Iran-Contra Affair - to do commercials shilling next "Call of Duty" video-game."
As they say on The Codex, DAY ONE BUY

Ahuviya Harel said...

So does this mean you disagree with Dan Savage calling a room full of high school students "Pansy-Ass" in this rant?

Isn't public ridicule of children the same thing as bullying?

James said...

Bob, YOU are not a thinker. You're a believer who poses as a thinker. And you're an arrogant douchebag. So go fuck yourself.

Thorbs said...

@Ahuviya Harel:

A room full of "journalism" students... who walked out when he started talking about the bible. If you look closely, you'll notice they start to walk out before he starts to even say anything that might offend their delicate sensibilities.

Also, everything he said about the bible and how the religious use it was true. If the students found the FACTS offensive, maybe they should do something about it?

Also, they ARE "pansy-ass". A journalist who walks out when someone says something he/she dislikes is a coward, and a very poor journalist.

BTW... the public ridicule of stupid ideas is called "free speech".

@moviebob:

The genral reason atheist activists state that all religion is bad, is because while it may be the fanatics that cause all the evil, it is the moderate religious followers that give them legitamacy. Remove the moderates, and the fanatics would no longer have any power.

ANImaniac said...

The funny thing is Bob in my personal experience most (if not all) of the Atheists that I've ever had to deal with have shown me that Atheists are just as hateful, bile spewing and ignorant and in many, if not most cases far worst then any militant religious fanatic. Yes it is reprehensible for a religious leaded to advocate violence towards gay teens (and it also speaks volumes about his understanding of the word of Christ, as spoiler alert Christ spoke of loving them and TO NOT FUCKING JUDGE THEM) But just because this guys an asshole doesn't exempt the other side form being the same way.
The recent Dan Savage incident in which a full grown man verbally attacked the Christian students of a Seattle high-school (Ironically while give an Anti-Bulling speech)
illustrates my point perfectly.


Bob I am a Thinker and Believer, I am a born again Christian with an IQ of well over 120.
Honestly Bob you seem more like a hardcore believer whose in denial.

Megabyte said...

Bob... what kind of mental gymnastics did you have to make to draw a connection between these two points?

I agree, if someone is spewing hate in their church (don't care who), they are a net negative... but I could EASILY draw a much more connected line to this and other figures in the public for SIMILAR actions.

Randomly pointing at someone who had charges against them in something entirely unrelated to either preaching hate or beating anyone for not being in line to whatever reason in your last two sentences is... well... not really related. At all.

Just makes you look overtly like you have a political ax to grind.

Megabyte said...

Hell, ANImaniac did draw a better line... to Dan Savage. There is just no connection here. (He just didnt mention a toothless apology, which he also made)

Ahuviya Harel said...

@Thorbs
"BTW... the public ridicule of stupid ideas is called "free speech"."

Ridiculing children with the purpose of making them feel socially ostracized from their peers isn't bullying?

James said...

Megabyte: Bob does have an ax to grind. He thinks anyone who doesn't have the same ideology he does is evil/stupid and needs to be demonized, lumping in good people with bad simply for their belief systems. He's a dick, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

"The funny thing is Bob in my personal experience most (if not all) of the Atheists that I've ever had to deal with have shown me that Atheists are just as hateful, bile spewing and ignorant and in many, if not most cases far worst then any militant religious fanatic"


Word.

I have no problem with Atheists as a whole. I do have a problem with the ones who are all in-your-face, militant, and use every breath they take to mock theists and anyone who believes in a Higher Power, not to mention mock that Higher Power themselves, whom while they badmouth the RR and certain segments of Christianity and Islam for being preachy and trying to shove their beliefs down people's throats, turn around and do the exact same fucking thing.

What really irks me about them, and makes them worse in my eyes than any hardcore religious fundie, is that I think they should really know better. It's hypocritical.

Billy said...

@ANImaniac
So you're disagreeing with his assertion that as a whole Christianity has done more harm to civilization than good (pretty easy thing to argue), by pointing out that atheists are also people? Because saying you've met some nasty atheists is like saying you met some rude teenagers or that the sun is hot. Atheism doesn't define a person's character or behavior. It's not a set of rules or a moral code. It refers to anybody who doesn't believe in any god, that's all. (a=lack of, theism= belief that a deity exists) And before you point it out without thinking, I know there are some people who sadly use it to define themselves... but that doesn't somehow redefine the broader meaning of the word.

Also, though I'm sure I can't change your mind by pointing this out, you might want to switch the argument up from the "do not judge" thing. I mean, consistency isn't really the bible's strong-suit, and there are plenty of times where God disagrees with his son. Also this guy is not JUST an asshole, when religious extremism reaches a level that people might get hurt or have their rights in jeopardy you get upgraded from "Asshole" to "dangerous fucking lunatic".

Atheists are the least trusted minority, which is funny because they're some of the only people who might have a shot at making rational decisions ever. Maybe once or twice. Maybe. They are still people.

And "you sound like a believer in denial" stopped being a good fallacy to use in 8th grade. The "honestly" at the beginning is really cute too.

I am not, as demonstrated, against using condescension as an argumentative tool. It's too much fun.

ANImaniac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"So you're disagreeing with his assertion that as a whole Christianity has done more harm to civilization than good (pretty easy thing to argue),"
I don't see how it could be an easy thing to argue, given how that statement is uses TWO vague and undefined abstractions, namely "Chirstianity as a whole" and "harm to civilization".

ANImaniac said...

@Billy

Agreed, your are right ANYONE who advocate abuse ether physically or psychologically of a child for ANY reason is automatically upgraded from Asshole to dangerous fucking lunatic and should be striped of there ability to speak (in the medieval way)
But your assumption that ONLY an Atheist can make a rational decision is exactly what I mean you believe the your kind is superior because of your point of view.
And for the record I have met Atheists that where decent people that I would even call good friends. But that doesn't change the fact that the other 90% that I've met are straight up assholes, some of which where also upgraded to dangerous fucking lunatic when they vomited out there own special opinions (i.e. Children should be taken away from religious homes, people of faith should be rounded up and put in camps). Funny thing is I'm only counting people I've met in person NOT people met on the Internet, if I did that the I'd have to change the level from dangerous fucking lunatic to dangerous fucking lunatic borderline Nazi.

Sorry had to edit, I'm kind tried.

Daniel R said...

I would have absolutely no problem with Atheism as a movement if they used their influence to promote a life of reason and enlightenment.

Insulting religion and the religious as a whole just feels counter-productive to me. It makes Atheists look like jerks and doesn't help their movement in a significant way.

While, currently, I really have no specific name to describe what I believe -I just call it non denominational catholicism- I definitely think my beliefs have been a major force of good in my life. Both as a way to make me feel better when I'm really on the brink of madness, and as an encouragement to do good onto others.

Most of the good deeds I've done throughout my life have partly been the consequence of trying to be a good christian, and uphold the values that have been taught to me through it.

Not saying I don't occasionally find a huge flaw in my belief system (Closeted Bisexual Teenager Here!) but I am pretty sure religion has had a mostly good effect on my life as a whole.

Just, well... thought I needed to say my part.

lemonvampire said...

It kind of worries/sickens me that most of the comments here are arguing about the merits of Bob's criticism of religion, and instead of talking about the fact that the guy in the video is gleefully instructing people to violently abuse their children.

It also annoys me that when this kind of thing comes up, the immediate defense is "well those kind of people aren't 'real' Christians," no matter how many times prominent Christian leaders are the ones saying/doing this kind of thing. You could have the Pope, Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson leading an army of nuns as they overtake a pride parade with flamethrowers, and the first thing you would hear in the comments would be "Well, those guys aren't real Christians."
And no, they wouldn't be, and Sean Harris isn't, but maybe you should take a moment to consider that the problem isn't just isolated to this one particular person so you can just shrug him off as not being a 'real' Christian, and ask yourself whether Christians as a whole are real Christians.

Wendy said...

Hey Bob, nothing to say about the religions in the Middle East who ACTUALLY make it legal to beat your spouse? No?

What about the cultures of Africa that claims it's okay to mutilate pre-pubescent girls genitals without painkillers OR consent? Nothing?

And THIS dumb shit is what you're trying to get up in arms about? You need better priorities, Bob.

Anonymous said...

"So does this mean you disagree with Dan Savage calling a room full of high school students "Pansy-Ass" in this rant?

Isn't public ridicule of children the same thing as bullying?"

Uh, did you watch that video? Because Dan is 100% in the right. The Bible DOES cause children to bully each other and he says that that is bad. He is factually correct in that statement. I've been on the receiving end of that behavior. Dan's personally experienced physical attacks and social stigmatization from people who follow the Bible, people who he's done nothing to other than make a harmless lifestyle choice they disagree with. The system of belief that those teenagers ascribe to has ruined the lives of thousands of homosexuals, outright killing some of them. If they can't stand to here the infallibility of that system called into question, then they deserve to be ridiculed.

And don't give me that bullshit about "Christianity didn't hurt those people". The system legitimizes and provides an outlet for peoples' prejudices and places it's followers as intrinsically better than their out-groups. There's no better recipe for deplorable behavior that a person can feel completely justified in.


"Hey Bob, nothing to say about the religions in the Middle East who ACTUALLY make it legal to beat your spouse? No?

What about the cultures of Africa that claims it's okay to mutilate pre-pubescent girls genitals without painkillers OR consent? Nothing?

And THIS dumb shit is what you're trying to get up in arms about? You need better priorities, Bob."

He probably thinks those things are bad. And those people should stop doing that.

Also, where the fuck do you get off trivializing the abuse of LBGT children in america?

antecedentless said...

>The Bible DOES cause children to bully each other
Nope.

>"Pansy-Ass" => "Give him a good punch"
Nope.

Where is that documentary, I think it was on TLC or A&E about a sick Canadian psychologist who tried to prove that gender identity is arbitrary and artificial by gotcing a boy who was a victim of a surgical accident to be raised as a girl? The man "changed his gender back" (it never was changed in tue first place) and committed suicide not many years after.

Don't get me wrong, I do not support what this pastor advocates as a solution, but the problem is real. No other higher reasoning mammal tries to make boys into girls or girls into boys. There is no biological basis for such conversions.

antecedentless said...

>gotcing
forcing. I miss having a phone with a physical keyboard.

StudentOfB said...

Hey Bob, I think we need a good long and clear post about how you define Thinkers and Believers. I understand what you mean by that and a lot of the other subtleties that come along with that view, but I think that the titles can easily be misconstrued. Daniel Quinn had a similar problem when he labeled cultures as Leavers and Takers initially but he found it much easier to engage his audience in a reasoned debate after he spent some more time properly defining these terms in his later books. Although you've already posted what you mean by the terms, I think there are still plenty that can get lost when their definitions don't match your own. We all walk into a conversation with different dictionaries and it's up to us to make our definitions known in order to communicate ideas fully. Other than that, keep up the good work!

Dave from canada said...

@ANImaniac

So where are the videos of atheists blaming lesbians for 9/11? Calling on parents to beat their kids if they don't conform? Disowning their kids for not thinking like them?

For a christian to be called militant, he usually has to call for the death of someone, or stocklpile guns in a bunker. An atheist just has to write a book.

Furthermore, when atheist DO say and do stupid things, the atheist community is often the first to pounce on them for it. Whereas christians play no true scotsman or complain that we aren't saying these things about the muslims.


But yes, the supreme irony of bob's idiotic thinker vs believers dichotomy (I wonder where he'd put Francis collins on that scale. Or Bill Maher for good measure.) is that he thinks he would fall into the "thinkers" category.

People are a mix of both.

Fett101 said...

@Daniel R
"I would have absolutely no problem with Atheism as a movement if they used their influence to promote a life of reason and enlightenment."

They do. The problem is their idea of reason and enlightenment is fundamentally the opposite of yours. A lot of groups are simply busy trying to just get the existence of atheists out there. It's quite an uphill battle considering something as non-confrontational as an ad that simply stated "Atheists" has been rejected.
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/02/28/the-most-inoffensive-atheist-bus-ad-ever-rejected/

"Insulting religion and the religious as a whole just feels counter-productive to me. It makes Atheists look like jerks and doesn't help their movement in a significant way."

It's impossible to criticize religion in a nice way when all criticism of religion is considered "insulting". Suggest that priests that molest boys should be punished and Rabbis shouldn't perform a ritual that could transfer deadly diseases to infants? "Stop insulting our beliefs".

biomechanical923 said...

It's kind of funny that this guy is "preaching" about enforcing gender stereotypes that weren't even invented until the 20th century.

Pink was a "boy's color" and blue was a "girl's color" all the way up to the 1940's.

And the whole "girls are supposed to be pretty and attractive and walk and talk like a girl" thing seems pretty subjective in general.

Uncle Tim said...

I think I'd have to agree with StudentofB that you need to clarify exactly what your definitions of Thinkers and Believers are if you're going to apply it to so many situations in the way that you have, which I have to say has not always been consistent.

Previously it did seem to be primarily about religion but since you've specified in the case of Harris it has less to do with religion than what they're saying, it would seem to be more a matter of world view, in which case it hardly seems to be a matter of belief and reason since it's reasonable to state that everyone does have some form of world view.

But giving it the benefit of the doubt by defining it as a world view based on ignorance or at the very least not based on facts, this would make the characterization of it as belief make more sense on the surface but then not all homophobia comes from a religious place. Some homophobics would cite what they think are logical reasons for their viewpoints, such as the unclear place of homosexuality in evolutionary theory and such. The same type of rationale has been used in the past for racism and sexism. In these cases, one could argue such disgusting points of view are be based on incorrect or false premises but not necessarily belief.

On the flipside, I'd note that one of the definitions of belief is, and I quote from Merriam-Webster, "the conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence," a definition that could arguably apply to any social view and even some scientific theories given the part about examination of evidence, in which case all of us are believers of some sort. While I know you've reacted negatively in the past to the word being applied to you in even the most basic, non-religious sense, it's nonsensical and irrational to deny its accepted meaning just because it irks you.

Getting back to the issue at hand though, the best argument against homophobia is one not based on fact or reasoning but the conviction that such discrimination is wrong and unjust.

And if it is a matter of right and wrong, I suggest it comes down to not a matter of belief and thinking but good and evil, as in Harris is an evil fuckhead.

Dave from canada said...

@ fett

You bastard! I was just about to post the billboard example. So instead I'll just agree with you.

The atheist movement has TRIED to be conciliatory. It doesn't work. Neither did silence.

Look at the Dan Savage thing. He specifically went out of his way to show how christians can ignore the stupid parts of their book by showing how they already ignore the even stupider parts. And he gets accused of bullying.

You aren't allow to criticize religion....(well, except scientology and islam) Why? Because you're not.


It's worth mentioning the reverse is not true. Someone can go on national tv and say that all atheists are immoral and there' no controversy. A major news network can discuss the issue of atheism without having any atheist take part in the discussion. What other group in modern society would EVER get that kind of treatment.

Wendy said...

gh

Anonymous said...

Bob's "thinkers vs. believers" seems most comparable to science versus creationism. A proper scientist looks at bio-diversity and asks: what made this? They gather data on all the extant species and look for similarities. They observe populations of species and chart the trends in their traits. They create a thesis, continually refine it, and come to a conclusion that can always be refuted if somebody else can come up with a better one.

A creationist already knows what causes bio-diversity: God made everything. Everything they do is an attempt to explain how god made everything and to disprove anything that does not conform to that belief. Despite their claim of being scientists, they spend pitifully little on research in any area but politics. Their basis is in deceiving people through fake authority, attacking anything that contradicts them, and playing to emotions rather than reason. Everything they do is to affirm one unchanging, unchallenged belief.

There's the crux of "thinkers versus believers". See also Carl Sagan's "Dragon in the Garage".

Elessar said...

Man, the things I miss when I get up late. *WARNING WARNING: WALL OF TEXT INCOMING!*

@Wendy: So what...he has to condemn EVERY bad thing in the world before he condemns the thing he wants? Christ on sale, do you WANT his posts to be 100 pages long?

Oh and while I'm at it @both Wendy and James: Why do you come here to post if all you're gonna do is get angry? Yes, I've been known to post some negative comments myself, but that's because I don't really feel a need to post if I agree with Bob (and I usually do), so I USUALLY only end up posting if I disagree. So if you're just coming here to get angry...why do you come here? Seriously, do you see me trolling Big Hollywood? No, cuz I don't need to irritation. If you want to engage Bob (or anyone) in serious discussion and try to change his mind...'go fuck yourself' is not a very persuasive argument. I'm just sayin.

Finally @Everyone, since the Atheist perspective is feeling a bit under-represented:

One of the reasons I think some atheists (they know who they are... *COUGHDAWKINSCOUGH*) can be kinda douchebags about it (and they can be) is because they automatically feel on the offensive. There is a STRONG bias against atheists in this country and it's so pervasive and unquestioned that it's actually a little disconcerting (and no, it's nothing on the order of the shit gay people have to deal with, or African Americans or Latinos but that's neither here nor there).

That feeling, the feeling of being cornered all the time, can make you kind of nasty when questioned about it. No, that doesn't excuse anything, but it's an explanation for why they might a little angry.

Oh and while I'm at it @ANImaniac: I'm an atheist myself, my girlfriend is an atheist, several of my closest friends are atheists, I'm active in the Atheist community, and I have never, but NEVER heard anyone say, suggest or suggest to suggest the idea of taking away kids from Religious homes, much less putting Religious people in camps. The fact that you say it happened in person (and is therefore hearsay) suggests to me that either A, that 90 percent is 1 person and the person was being sarcastic or B, you're...being creative with the truth, we'll say to be diplomatic. Either way, even if that did happen and that person was being sarcastic, judging all atheists by that person would be like judging all Christians based on the KKK or the Nazis (both Christian based groups). But I know that most Christians are good people, so I don't judge their entire religion based on those two groups, capiche?

Congratulations on making it to the end of my post. If you e-mail me, I'll mail you a cookie :)

john said...

Yes, because the fact that douchebag extremists exist within a movement (if one can really call an un-organized swath of loosely-related denominations with generally similar beliefs a "movement") totally makes the movement as a whole un-justified in existing. You know, like how PETA's chicanery completely invalidates the animal-rights movement as a whole, or how the fact that most opposition to Internet surveillance and censorship comes from people who want their piracy to remain unchecked means it's not a valid thing to be concerned about. That makes perfect sense!

john said...

Oh, and again: "Thinkers and Believers" as a philosophical dichotomy wouldn't pass muster in your local community college.

Anon1 said...

Wow, his apology is really full of shit. He claims that he doesn't advocate the use of violence but how could anyone one not get that impression from his speech. You could also tell during his rant about effeminate boys that "fag" was right on the tip of his tongue. Also the his laughter is kind of creepy cause it is like he is trying to play off the whole thing for laughs, but he really 100% means it.
@ James
"Bob, YOU are not a thinker. You're a believer who poses as a thinker. And you're an arrogant douchebag. So go fuck yourself." I see you put a lot of thought into that statement.
"Megabyte: Bob does have an ax to grind. He thinks anyone who doesn't have the same ideology he does is evil/stupid and needs to be demonized, lumping in good people with bad simply for their belief systems. He's a dick, plain and simple." Do I really have to point out the obvious hypocrisy here?
@Wendy
"Hey Bob, nothing to say about the religions in the Middle East who ACTUALLY make it legal to beat your spouse? No? What about the cultures of Africa that claims it's okay to mutilate pre-pubescent girls genitals without painkillers OR consent? Nothing? And THIS dumb shit is what you're trying to get up in arms about? You need better priorities, Bob"
So you believe that what this pastor said is okay because there are worse things going in the world? Just because it is not the worst thing in world it doesn't make it any better. Also couldn't I just make that argument for just about anything like "Hey, why are you complaining on the internet when there are children starving? Get your priorities straight!" You view Bob's blog post as being biased but have considered that he did this story because it is new and current?
@James and Wendy
Listen guys there is a difference between trying to start a fight and having a difference of opinion. It seems like you guys are less angry with any that Bob's post had to say rather that you are simply angry because Bob wrote it.

Anonymous said...

All this anger makes me think Bob could really do a good episode about what I've come to call the 'cover' effect. Where the worst people of an argument (choose one, they all apply) hold up the best examples of their side as a kind of bullet proof shield against criticisms of their own behavior.

Of course nobody is going to criticize the best parts of a community. The Atheists who are respectful of other peoples beliefs and Christians who actually follow their faiths to good moral lives deserve better than to be used as a moral rock for scum to hide behind. If you DO belong to a community that's criticized for something, please just stop trying to defend the scumbags that look at your beliefs as nothing more than moral justification to be a jerk.

Wendy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wendy said...

@Anon,

As is usually the case, my anger with Bob is not his opinion--to which he is entitled. It is the hypocrisy of selective rage wherein Bob always has the energy to bitch about us conservatives and Christians, yet finds nothing of fault about those he prefers or turns a blind eye to something far, FAR worse.

For example, Moviebob adores science and the exploration of space and I applaud his enthusiasm for both, yet such is his hypocrisy that I have yet to see him say a single thing about the president we currently have, in spite of this president ENDING our space program. I'd be willing to bet money if Bush had halted our space excursions, he'd have been decrying it all day and night. (Bush, BTW, wanted us to go to Mars. Obama, not so much.)

Selective rage = Hypocrisy. I won't stand for it or fail to call it out where I see it.

Anonymous said...

@ Wendy

MovieBob has already on his "The Big Picture" show in the past criticized Obama for ending the space shuttle program and not caring much about space exploration. Either you're new to MovieBob's stuff and his opinions, or not paying close enough attention to his words to get his opinion. Here's the link to his video about Obama ending the space shuttle program.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/2482-Once-Upon-a-Time-in-The-Future

- The Saarai'ari

Dave from canada said...

@ wendy

You are one to talk about hypocrisy. How is he turning a blind eye? Where is it written that whenever one decries christian atrocities one must mention the muslims as well?

Every time some example of christian excess comes up we get another whiner coming out of the woodwork about how them dirty A-rabs are even worst and why isn't the liberal media focused on them.

Talk about dishonesty. You know full well that the reason people focus more on christian extremism is that it is closer to home and actually affects their lives. And your whining about poor women's rights in the arab world ring hollow when you christians and conservatives are actively trying to roll back women's right in the us.

FFS sake the VAWA just made it through the senate. Every single nay vote was republican.

It's common sense that he is going to focus more on the fanatic jackholes trying to destroy his country than the fanatic jackholes who already destroyed their own.

Jake said...

@dave
The point is that he says because of the extreamists, it would therfore be better if Christianity never existed. Which is stupid.

Anon1 said...

@ Wendy
Hold here Wendy, Bob isn't exactly CNN, FOX, or MSNBC here. It is not like his blog is a news source that is expected to report on anything regardless of his own opinion. This is his own personal blog so why wouldn't he post things that he directly makes him upset or has a reaction to? Plus, if you happen to make a criticism of one side, you shouldn't automatically have to come up with a criticism of the other side just to not appear bias.
Now be honest here. Do you go to conservative blogs and tell them they are not pointing out all the flaws within their own party or people who share the same philosophy as them?
It seems like you are more angry at Bob because he has a different opinion rather than his hypocrisy.
"That having been said, I'm fairly comfortable in my infrequent calculation that while not ALL religions are bad... between three and four of them (the religions) ARE bad - or, at the very least are a net-negative influence on the modern world as a whole to a degree that is not offset by whatever good is done by individual adherents." Now that was a quote from him in the article. Does it basically say that he doesn't like religion and thinks a lot of aspects are bad? Yeah. But then he basically has to go out of his way to say that is some good people in there. The article wasn't about how every single thing about religion is bad. It was about the overwhelming negative aspects of religion that hates. I mean the priest is saying that you need to "straighten out" you kids if your son is acting a little girly or if you daughter is obsessed with trying to look pretty and acting manly (cause apparently all lesbians are ugly and butch). You can't find anything wrong with that?

john said...

@Anonymous (7): Who's defending? Of course this guy is scum. That goddamn goes without saying (though it certainly doesn't hurt to reiterate.) But taking issue with Bob's claim that Christianity as a whole is in a state of moral deficit simply because people like this asshole exist within it (while simultaneously claiming that the majority of religious folks are alright, however he reconciles these two claims) is hardly defending the scum.

And if we really want to get down into the dirt and start judging whole belief systems (or lack-of-belief systems, if you're the insistent sort) by the worst people to belong to them, I'd like to just note that atheism is hardly clean-handed on the abuse-of-homosexuals front. Stalin was an atheist and Hitler's only use for religion was as a tool for the state, and both of them were notoriously anti-gay. Just sayin'.

biomechanical923 said...

It really seems like a lot of the oppressed groups are going on a belligerent offensive right now.

The transsexual community has a pretty big movement going on called "Die Cis Scum". Basically all Transgender people think that Cisgender people are scum...and should die.... That sounds peaceful...

Thorbs said...

@antecedentless:

Please cite your sources for saying the bible does not cause children to bully each other. I'm calling bullshit unless you have some evidence.

As for gender in biology? The animal kingdom is far more creative in this respect than we humans have ever been. Check out:

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/04/14/animal-gender-roles-cartoons-humon/

http://carinbondar.com/2012/03/transvestites-in-the-animal-kingdom/


@Ahuviya Harel
"Ridiculing children with the purpose of making them feel socially ostracized from their peers isn't bullying?"

It's bullying to point out the religious-right encourages bullying on the basis of race, gender and sexuality? We wouldn't want to offend the sensibilities of all the bigots would we?

Besides, the religious-right is against anti-bulling legislation. Bullying isn't a big problem... the victims should just man up.

Accusing people of bullying you, while defending your right to bully others is not at all hypocrytical is it?

Don't believe me? check out:

http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/updated-big-bullies-right-wings-anti-anti-bullying-strategies

Zeno said...

@biomechanical923:
"The transsexual community has a pretty big movement going on called "Die Cis Scum". Basically all Transgender people think that Cisgender people are scum...and should die.... That sounds peaceful..."

Crossdressing is the feminist equivalent of blackface.

Jake said...

@Thorbs
I doubt most bullys care about God and religion. It has more to do with being "different" then anything.

Thorbs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"Just out of interest, why is that stupid?"
Well for one, it actually makes a distinction between the existence and non-existence of an idea.

Thorbs said...

@Jake
"The point is that he says because of the extreamists, it would therfore be better if Christianity never existed. Which is stupid."

Just out of interest, why is that stupid?

"I doubt most bullys care about God and religion. It has more to do with being "different" then anything.

You don't think the fact that the bible tells the bullies that homosexuality is wrong, that woman are second-class citizens and so on, does not give the bullies a feeling of justification? That it doesn't feed the bullying?

Thorbs said...

@Anonymous
"Well for one, it actually makes a distinction between the existence and non-existence of an idea."

Sorry, I don't understand this in relation to my question.

I was asking why it was stupid to say that things would be better if Christianity never existed? I am not suggesting that things WOULD be better... I'm just interested in your reasoning.

Jake said...

@Thorbs
Because the existance of PETA doesn't mean torture of animals is ok. While I don't deny that it's indirectly correlated, bullys usually don't care about religion.

Jake said...

@Thorbs
The world if Christianity didn't exist: No hospitals, no univeristies, and if your a Christian, no access to heaven.

Zeno said...

"I was asking why it was stupid to say that things would be better if Christianity never existed?"
Christianity isn't a just a bunch of guys in costumes spouting specific Latin phrases over and over again. Christianity is an idea, and I think far too many people confuse ideas with institutions. But if it is an idea, how can one meaningfully quanitfy its "existence" or "non-existence". How can something that's just an idea "exist"?

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bob, someday you'll have to tell us how much Google AdSense money you make on posts like this.

Dave from canada said...

@ jake

Actually, he said the religions are bad.It wasn't a very well written sentence but at no point did he single out christianity. In fact people of other religions could make a case that it's unfair to them to be lumped in with christianity since this guy clearly doesn't represent judaism or buddhism.

He included most religion in the and category and you are only mad that yours was included. That says more about you than it does him.


And bullying can absolutely be caused by religion. I grew up squicked out by gays. You could label me as homophobic. I however wasn't religious, so sometime before puberty i determined that it was my issue, not theirs and if I was uncomfortable, that was MY fault, not theirs. Can you imagine hwo different that would have gone if instead I listened to a priest or read the bible?

Religion imposed artificial rules on people and demand that everyone, even nonadherents, take them seriously. That's a recipe for bullying if I ever saw one.


"The world if Christianity didn't exist: No hospitals, no univeristies,"

More likely better universities and hospitals. Those are institutions that were started by the church because they were the ones who had disposable income in the dark ages. No church means that they would likely have been founded by the nobility or wealthy merchants etc and by now we wouldn't have these idiotic discussions about contraception or stem cells or whether condoms prevent aids when used by black people.

There's also a bit where much of the death in the black plague might not have happened, the library at alexandria would still exist and certain minorities in europe wouldn't have started diappearing aroung the late 30s.

Anonymous said...

Shit like this is why i never want to visit america. if that guy had a beard he'd be an extremist

Jake said...

@dave
he said that there are 3 or 4 religions the world could do without, he's said this before and I think Christianity is implied. The other 3 I think are Judaism, Islam and Scientology.

They would be violent anyway, they were converted barbarians after all. At least they kept all the classics like Plato and Aristotle.

Thorbs said...

@Jake
"Because the existance of PETA doesn't mean torture of animals is ok. While I don't deny that it's indirectly correlated, bullys usually don't care about religion."

I think you are focusing too much on the thought that bullying is caused solely by one nasty/mean kid picking on someone who is smaller/different. There is much more involved than just the bully and his victim.

Probably the easiest way to explain is via a scenario:

Dan is gay. Mike bullies Dan because of this. Dan's classmates know that Mike is being bullied, but they don't help him or tell the teachers because Dan is gay, and as good christians they know that being gay is wrong... they can't possibly defend that behaviour.

Dan has noone to talk to about the bullying. His teachers and classmates don't want to know... they think it's he at fault for being gay. His parents are very religious too, so talking to them is dangerous... what if they can't accept it and throw him out of the house?

Everywhere Dan turns, everything reinforces the idea that the reason he is being bullied is because he is different, because he is not normal.

The bully is only a small part of the whole situation. The culture that Dan is raised in plays a much bigger part, and is much more likely to cause serious harm.

We can't do much about bullying - they'll always be mean-spirited kids and such - but we can sure do something about the culture that feeds it, and makes it so much more damaging.

Daniel R said...

@Fett

I understand that atheist are having a hard time getting through to the public consciousness, that billboard story is just preposterous and I hope something is done to better the public appearance of Atheists soon. But I honestly think that being assholes and attacking other religions is not a good way to go. There's gotta be a better way to spread word of your philosophy then simply riding on the controversy caused when you insult the beliefs of others.

Notice I said insult. Criticizing the Catholic church for the sexual harassment cases is, or at least should, be treated as an entirely appropriate response against the church. Hell, I did it myself. But, calling all religions myths and scams, thats just being jerks

American Atheists 'Scam' billboard
http://wp.patheos.com.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/files/2010/12/164878_484169682417_71352317417_5731639_1083390_n.jpg

It can't just be me who thinks there's gotta be some middle ground between doing nothing and calling everyone who believes in a God/higher power an idiot.

I get it. Atheists don't have that good a reputation with the general public. Atheists are by and large stereotyped as being immoral, and thats a problem. But you persevere and you work towards breaking that stereotype by encouraging the values you hold dear in that philosophy.
I have absolutely no problem with the "This season celebrate REASON!" line in those 'Myth' billboards, only with the rest of the ad that deems it fit to attack people's holiday traditions.
That line right there is a terrific way to market Atheism.

But thats just my opinion. Whatever floats you're boat man.

Daniel R said...

@Thorbs

Oh man!

I just love those gender role cartoons. They work perfectly at conveying their message and even do so with pretty pictures ^_^

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/04/14/animal-gender-roles-cartoons-humon/

Omorka said...

I don't care what faith a person is, or if they have none at all; if your religion or lack thereof leads you to believe that abusing a child is okay, you need a better one, right the fuck now.

Especially since most of the gender-signals he discusses in the odious sermon in question wouldn't have been seen anywhere close to the same way in Biblical times. I once tied to explain to one of the modesty-obsessed types that the Bible didn't prohibit women from wearing pants, because the only people who wore any pants in that part of the world then were "barbarian" horse archers of either sex (although of course men were more common).

Joey said...

I just wish that America could go to the way it was supposed to be. A place made up of all nationalities, races, beliefs, cultures, and ideals. A place where all people, no matter their origin, could live and coexist.

Dave from canada said...

@Jake

"They would be violent anyway, they were converted barbarians after all. At least they kept all the classics like Plato and Aristotle."

Wow, white man's burden much? Like a culture can't possibly be civilized unless it believes YOUR particular band of fables.

@ Daniel

"But, calling all religions myths and scams, thats just being jerks"

No, that's stating our position. You unintentionally demonstrated the point other have alluded to.

It is not possible for an atheist to state their position without people taking offence.

And even IF we as a group decided to try, the religious would NEVER reciprocate.

The basic premise of christianity is that if you don't give yourself to jesus, you deserve hell. A billboard saying that will never be marked as offensive. Muslims can demand that the rest of the world play by their rules and not show images of muhammed, and most will go along with it for fear of riots and getting van gogh'ed.

The "don't be a jerk" angle seems self evident until it becomes apparent that the other guy will label anything you say or do as being a jerk but will not hesitate to outright slander you in response.

There's a word for going up against a more powerful, better funded, more populous opponent that actively wants to destroy you and arbitrarily handicapping yourself: suicide.

The more shocking billboards serve an important purpose. They let people of faith know we exist and that their views are not due any special protection or privilege, and will receive none from us, and showing people in the closet that while their families and communities may abandon them, they are not alone.


By and large, change doesn't come from asking nicely, because the people who respond to asking nicely, don't let inequitable situations develop in the first place. They gays didn't say "we're here, we're queer, but not if its too much trouble for you."

john said...

@Dave from canada: You are correct in one sense, that any statement disagreed with by someone who is looking to take offense will be labeled offensive. However, that does not make it okay to be douchey and smug in pre-emptive response. Some people will indeed take offense at anything you say, but that should not be taken as a license to give offense. All that's going to do is alienate the only people who might have listened in the first place so that you can get in your digs at the people who'd never have listened anyway. Bit counterproductive, that.

MovieBob said...

@Jake,

Judaism is not (and would not be) on my "bad religions" list - of this I can assure you.

Daniel R said...

@Dave from Canada

Now this is just the way I usually go about life, I by no means am saying its the only way or the right way, I just think it's served me in the past.

If you say you know God doesn't exist, if you say that people ideally should hold a secular lifestyle free of superstition or belief in a higher power, if you say religion has caused many problems over the ages. Thats fine by me, you're being a perfectly reasonable Atheist.

If you say that I'm an idiot for thinking God exists, if you say that belief in a higher power is a primitive and weak minded idea that should be destroyed and cleansed from the Earth, If you say religion has caused all problems throughout the ages. You're being a Jerk.

By that same token,

If you're Christian and you say you think embracing Jesus Christ helps you find peace in life and death. You're being a reasonable Christian.

If you're Christian and you say people are going to burn in hell for all eternity because they don't take Jesus Christ as their lord and Savior. You're being a Jerk.

This is all really about phrasing. Even though both people think their factually correct, they need to have some tact and some human empathy to find a way to explain their beliefs in a manner that doesn't offend others. Atheism doesn't have a problem with its beliefs, it has a problem with public image.

An Atheist could walk up to a praying man and tell them that they are talking to nobody, that their isn't a God to pray to and he shouldn't waste his time talking to imaginary friends who aren't going to do anything. Ooooor, he could walk up to him and say "Hey, you know kneeling there isn't going to solve you're problem, why don't you get up and try you're best to find a solution. Also; here's some ice cream."

Both are basically the same thing, except one of them is understandable and tolerant to the man while explaining the Atheist's position and advice on what should be done without degrading the man's own, also; one has ice cream.

Stating you're position doesn't make you a jerk, stating you're position hurtfully and like a jerk makes you a jerk.


Finally,

"The more shocking billboards serve an important purpose. They let people of faith know we exist"

Is it really worth reminding everyone of you're existence if you're gonna be validating the stereotype that Atheists are jerks in the minds of many?

It is a tragedy that Atheists get profiled as jerks in society. But turning into that stereotype is the worst thing that could possibly be done by the Atheist community.

Dave from canada said...

@ Daniel

What I've been trying to illustrate is that for many, there is no way for an atheist to appear as reasonable.

It isn't the tone that is the issue with them. It's the basic message. That's what you aren't getting.

I've yet to run into a single person who fit your jerk description for atheist, but that won't stop people from calling us that regardless. Look at Dawkins. Gets compared to pat robertson (the guy who said america deserved 9/11 and who asked peopel to pray for more supreme court judges to die so they could put more neocons on the bench) and what did he do? He wrote a book where is explains why he believes there is no god.

Your scenario works great in a honest discussion. But there is little reason for religion to engage in honest discussion. They have a position where it is rude to criticize them. We are rude for existing. They have nothing at all to gain by being honest. But plenty to gain from say, blaming us for the holocaust.(which is what the current pope did..presumably in an effort to see if you could make a statement so ironic it destroyed the universe)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LjEnbMk1q4

Had anyone made that comment about christians, muslims (or if they wanted to completely murder their career) jews, they would have been fired.


I'm pretty sure most atheists in the US would love to be elevated to the same level as people who own bluetooth headsets and talk during movies. because the real stereotype is that they are evil and immoral.

And the reason that stereotype exists is because we said nothing. We were the quiet 'good atheists' the religious wanted and didn't do anything to rock the boat, and got slandered for our trouble. And why? Because while religious people may all have contradictory views of the world they at least share one thing in common which makes us the most convenient target to demonize and that will never change. They can cherry pick all the passages they want to include blacks, women gays, but our very existence is something their religion cannot abide.

Our current mess is a direct result of us being nice.

biomechanical923 said...

@ Dave
But the idea behind most social discourse is persuasion. How do you persuade a moderate to your side while also ridiculing them?
And if your interest is not in persuading moderates (because some Atheists say they're not interested in that) then what's the point of having a discussion with people that you can't persuade? It just feels like Atheists on the offensive are either:

1. Doing a poor job of persuading moderates,
or
2. Simply taunting religious people by a sentiment that basically says "I dont want you on my side, I just want you to hurry up and die"

Daniel R said...

Alright its getting late and I need to get up real early in the morning, so this is probably going to be my last comment for the night.

You're right in saying that their are people who are offended by you're mere existence or will always think of Atheists as an immoral and evil lot. These are those jerks I talked about. I'm not saying its not a problem

And just like they create a disgusting exaggerated stereotype for Atheists, some Atheists create an exaggerated stereotype for believers. Not all of us are intolerant or opposed to reason. About two years ago (Back when I still went to mass) I heard a local priest give out a sermon that basically amounted to; "We are all God's children, whether we know so or not, and it is our duty to be loving and understanding to all of our brothers and sisters"

It didn't specifically mention Atheists, but he did mention "even those who don't think they are" which was pretty telling.The point is; viewpoints, even deep within religion, are changing for the better.

There will be assholes who attack Atheism and call it immoral or evil. But the worst thing to do, is to prove them right, especially when it ends up being hurtful to others who didn't slander or attack Atheism.

It'll change. Time will pass, and so will the hatred of Atheism, eventually it all does.

Sidebar;
Not to start an entirely new argument but...
I read Dawkins' book when I was around 13 so its been a while and I can't really recall much of it, but I distinctly remember placing him nearer my jerk column, as I found the book to be a tad too abrasive and a bit backwards in its understanding of how the world works. But then again, I was a lot more sensitive to criticism of my faith back then as compared to how I am now, so I may need to give it a re-read.

Uncle Tim said...

@ Daniel R:

Kudos to you, sir, for offering comments that are refreshingly civil, well-written and I think quite fair-minded regarding the atheism / religion divide. Your efforts at polite discourse are highly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

What the Christian scum don't understand is that I am really the one true God and they will all be horrible raped by 10,000 rabid tigers for all eternity after they die for not worshipping me.

CJ said...

I was going to read this whole thread, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

Anonymous said...

>I was going to read this whole thread, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

ITT: Shitty memes from shitty games.

TheAlmightyNarf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheAlmightyNarf said...

Bob, I'm going to have to remind you of Sturgeon's Law here... which I think is fairly humorous considering you're the one who first introduced me to it.

Yea, there happens to be Christians out there who are assholes. Or, more accurately, there are assholes out there who happen to be Christians.

Yes, I get that, and I'm never going to argue against it.

What I am going to argue, however, the same thing I always argue when you bring this up, is that assholery is not limited to any belief, region, race, affiliation, or gender. And, it's not particularly concentrated anywhere either.

Dave from canada said...

Daniel R

I don’t think you quite get it. You keep trying to break things down into two easily defined groups, one of jerks and one not, with the jerks obviously being the minority. That’s not really the case. In the video I showed, there was one asshole….and an entire studio of people who clapped or laughed. The appeal that most Christian are moderates rings hollow when said moderates are used as a shield by the fanatics, and generally can’t be counted on to protect their own religious rights, let alone those of others.
Look at the recent controvercy about contraception being provided by employers. The catholic league raised a fuss, and the government compromised between doing something they were well within legal rights to do….and what the fanatics wanted them to do. Something like 90% of catholic women in the USA use birth control. And I bet that their partners are ok with it as well. So where was this vast overwhelming majority when phil donohue and fox news were raising a stink over nothing? Largely silent.
Moderates would be great to have as allies if they were A) interested in something that didn’t affect them and B) in any way effectual.
And again, this offence at our existence is not limited to people you would identify as fanatics. Look up what happened to Jessica alquist. This happened in Rhode Island, not exactly the deep south. Look up Rep. Monique Davis and what she said. She’s a democratic rep from Chicago. These are the supposedly liberal Christians that we are supposed to be counting on to help us?
I can’t help but feel like you think the atheism movement just came inot being one day and decide that pissing people off was the best thing to do. We tried the friendly approach. It didn’t work. We tried the silent approach, it reall;y dind’t work. We tried the “donate half a million dollars to cancer research so people can see we give a damn about our fellow human beings” approach and holy hell did that one not work (The American cancer society actually REWROTE their rules so they couldn’t take our money.).
Exactly how long should we keep trying something that has failed every time we attempted it before we are allowed to use what we already know: that the very devout are unreachable, the moderates and liberals too ineffectual in the unlikely event they can be made to give a damn, and everyone else too ignorant to care, even when they are made aware of the issues.
“There will be assholes who attack Atheism and call it immoral or evil. But the worst thing to do, is to prove them right?”
Do me a favour….reread that sentence again and see if you can see what I can.
People who slander atheists get called assholes….but you imply that calling religions scams or being rude is being evil or immoral(hence proving them right)., Even you, who is trying to be conciliatory on some subconscious level will always judge us more harshly than those like you.
And THAT is why we can’t afford to trust you. Because if even the ones who might want to help can’t shake that ingrained prejudice how in the flying hell is everyone else?

RE: Dawkins.
You would be astounded at how often the “general jerk feeling from reading part of it when I was 13 but I can’t think of any specifics” reason comes up for people not liking Dawkins. It fits rather well with my earlier assertion that people get mad at us for pretty much anything, doesn’t it?

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

I've read through your post maybe a dozen times now and I'm really at a loss to try to help you here. I'm friends with (and have dated) several atheists and have never had any issues with any of them. They've never called me ignorant, and I've never called them heretics... we simply accept each others beliefs for what they are and go on with our lives.

Perhaps it's because none of us really define ourselves by our beliefs, perhaps we just subconsciously choose never to bring it up, or perhaps we're just a particularly enlightened group of people... I don't know.

What I DO know is like any other area of prejudice, this needs to be treated with an "end game" mentality. You have to start asking exactly what the goal is, and trying to figure out what the best way of reaching that goal is.

And, unless your goal is the alienate yourself from pretty much all non-atheists, acting like an contemptuous ass is never going to get you there.

Daniel R said...

@Dave From Canada

I just think that the Atheist community needs to try and appeal towards the moderate side of all religions. To find a common ground with them. After all, the most important part of both Atheism and a vast majority of religions is the same, be a respectful, kind, and good human being.

Instead, some -a small minority- Atheists insist on antagonizing all adherents to a higher power, including the ones who have neither hurt them directly and could in fact be a great ally in their cause, a fight against intolerance and ignorance.

Its also true that moderates in all religions should take initiative and remind others that the hate spewers that claim to represent them are not the true faces of their faith. They should, as you say, be a bit more effectual in the debacle. This is a problem, and one that needs to be addressed by followers of all religions.

I know that Atheists have tried the friendly way before and it didn't work. So they try it again, and again, and again until it does.
The boundaries we place between us can be brought down by hate and bile, but I believe their is a more gentler approach. Perhaps a longer, harder approach. But one that will only end with a stronger bond between all of us, one of love and respect, between believer and non-believer.

I am not an Atheist, so I can't understand how it feels to be unfairly prosecuted for being one.
But I am a Bisexual teenager attending high school.
Closeted, mind you, but I still get picked on for my more effeminate traits. So I get what it feels like to be harassed.

KevinCV said...

@Daniel Hear, hear! I'm a Christian, and I accept everyone unconditionally regardless of background, faith or sexual orientation. I'm sick of the hate spewers being the face of our faith. I never realized what an profound impact those assholes had until a few years ago a close friend of mine outed herself as a lesbian to me. I was surprised, but I told her it made no difference, as she was still my friend no matter what. She was really expecting me to condemn her for it, too. Needless to say, she was really happy that I wasn't one of those people.

Since then, I've come to the conclusion said hate spewers are nothing more than pretentious cowards who have decided to subvert our peaceful religion into a movement to justify hatred and bigotry. They don't really believe, they just use God as an excuse for their petty behavior since they know the ignorant will lap it up without a second thought.

Hell, My older brother is a Wiccan, and despite my Christain beliefs, he had me participate in a very crucial part of his wedding ceremony a couple years back simply because I was my younger brother and that he loved me. Is it really that much to ask for people of other faiths as well as Atheism to co-exist together peacefully? It probably is, if the media keeps giving this hate-mongering assholes the spotlight. I'm frankly getting really fucking sick of it.

KevinCV said...

"I was HIS younger brother". Sorry. I've been out in the sun working on the lawn, so I'm a little loopy. :D

Dave from canada said...

@ narf

Not sure the guy who throws a hissy fit like clockwork anytime anyone suggests there might be the slightest thing wrong with neo con Christianity really has much in the way of credibility when it calls to calling other people contemptuous asses.


@Daniel R

At this point I feel like we are just talking past each other because I already explained the reasoning for why your suggestion doesn’t work. And you don’t appear to have even read anything I wrote.

You keep breaking things down into black and white. Good atheists v bad atheists. Good Christians v bad Christians. But that hasn’t played out that way in reality. Even you can’t meet the very standard you set, and I doubt you’d consider yourself a ‘bad christian’.

You talk about antagonizing, but you don’t define what that means, and based on what you wrote earlier we can see that you’ll judge us more harshly even when you are trying to bridge the gap.


“Its also true that moderates in all religions should take initiative and remind others that the hate spewers that claim to represent them are not the true faces of their faith. They should, as you say, be a bit more effectual in the debacle. This is a problem, and one that needs to be addressed by followers of all religions.”

Glad to see you agree. Now what you don’t get is that the ‘hate spewers’ are not a limited self contained group consisting of the members of your religion you don’t like. People you would slot into the good category BECOME hate spewers when we are involved.

“Perhaps a longer, harder approach. But one that will only end with a stronger bond between all of us, one of love and respect, between believer and non-believer.”

That’s a really easy plan to have when it costs you nothing to do. Simply waiting is not an option. Injustice is happening now, discrimination is happening now and no oppressed group in history ever improved their lot by waiting to not be oppressed.

I return to my earlier statement, the gay community did not get respect and legal equality by asking nicely or hiding. We are simply following the same blueprint.

Markus Aurelius said...

Based on the conversation here, I feel this guy needs a shout-out.

http://www.stufffundieslike.com/

Yes, the blogger (along with most the commenters and forum community) is a self-professed Christian.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, as a gay-rights supporting christian, I would caution against making sweeping generalizations about what "Christianity" or "Christians" are like, lest you fall into the same trap of sweeping generalizations that many churches have inflicted upon homosexuals.

Daniel R said...

@Dave From Canada

I always read you're arguments, they're sound and I understand you're reasoning.

I just respectfully disagree with it.

I did not mean to offend you, the Atheist community as a whole, or imply in any way they are Evil or Immoral. But if you felt I did, then I sincerely apologize.

Which I guess, means we've reached an impasse. Since our disagreement is based on rather deep, core values held by the both of us.


and, to grossly over-simplify;
You believe action must be taken now to crush discrimination and injustice and ensure a safe and fair life for Atheists everywhere.
I believe that the action must be approached in a different manner by both the Atheistic and religious side of the argument.

I honestly think both those arguments have credence, although they are diametrically opposed in some aspects.

In any case, good discussion. Nice to see the argument from a different perspective. Learned a lot, certainly got me thinking.
Alas, I really don't see where else we can go from here.

Agree to disagree?

@Uncle Tim

Aww, thx!

@KevinCV

What a cool thing to do for you're brother ^_^

Dave from canada said...

@Daniel

You would have to try very hard indeed to offend me. That's not the point. You have been bending over backwards and making a positively herculean effort to try and be on my side here. More than I've seen anyone do.

And you still can't shake that ingrained prejudice that you religion (and culture at large) wrote into you without you even being aware of it.

I don't blame you for it. You almost certainly didn't know it was happening.

But it still bring up my point. Prejudice is so ingrained that even those who would try to be our allies (what few of you there are) still have these issues.

It's not your fault, but it means the best you can do is hinder us unintentionally.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"Not sure the guy who throws a hissy fit like clockwork anytime anyone suggests there might be the slightest thing wrong with neo con Christianity really has much in the way of credibility when it calls to calling other people contemptuous asses."

I think an important distinction to be made here is that while I am perhaps a bit quick to defend Christianity... I don't have to attack Atheism or any other belief to do so. I generally tend not to attack any other beliefs at all. I've never argued that Christianity is a better or superior belief to Atheism. Just that it's an entirely legitimate belief not deserving of much of the scorn it gets.

I don't see the universe as dichotomous... you don't have to be wrong for me to be right.

I return to my earlier statement, the gay community did not get respect and legal equality by asking nicely or hiding. We are simply following the same blueprint.

The gay community, however, is fighting for legal recognition and protection... Atheism is not. You already have that. "Freedom of religion" already provides Atheism with as much protection as any other belief.

What you're looking for is social recognition, and that's a different can of worms entirely.

john said...

@Dave from canada: And you still can't shake that ingrained prejudice that you religion (and culture at large) wrote into you without you even being aware of it.

I don't blame you for it. You almost certainly didn't know it was happening.

It's not your fault, but it means the best you can do is hinder us unintentionally.


And you wonder why religious people get a little pissy when talking to you? I really don't understand how you expect to gain any kind of social acceptance (and as TheAlmightyNarf says, it is social acceptance you're demanding) when you go around talking down to the very people who are trying to reach out to you. "Oh, that's cute of you, trying to be enlightened like me, but I'm afraid you poor moo-cows just can't reach beyond your simple programming to become true sentient beings! You're a dear and all, but you can only get in my way." No wonder you feel like people dislike you.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"The gay community, however, is fighting for legal recognition and protection... Atheism is not. You already have that. "Freedom of religion" already provides Atheism with as much protection as any other belief."

"What you're looking for is social recognition, and that's a different can of worms entirely."

Yes, we're after social recognition (which is a big fight in places like America), but maybe we're also after our governments and the religious to actually abide by that "freedom of religion" law.

Most Christians treat it as "freedom to not be bothered by anyone of another religion."

They still try to push for prayer in schools, push their mysoginistic and bigotted agendas to interfere in women's sexual health and gay marriage. Preachers openly defy the law to give politically motivated sermons.

I'm not just talking about America either. The exact same thing is happening in the UK, where I am, and the christians are in the damn minority here!

Oh, and let's not forget that in many parts of the world it IS illegal to be an atheist, and in some cases, punishable by death.

Dave from canada said...

@ Narf

So exactly at what point has mainstream christianity done enough crazy shit that the rest of us lowly heathens are permitted to complain? Please tell me because right now it seems like any attack on any individual who happens to be a part of your group conjures up another dose of christian persecution complex from you.

""Freedom of religion" already provides Atheism with as much protection as any other belief."

Which believers routinely attempt to violate. I'm fairly sure that mosta theists would be quiet content if we could just get christians to stop breaking the law in order to try and force their viewpoint on everybody else. Freedom of religion may be the letter of the law but getting that law enforced is an exercise in pulling teeth and not even the us government is terribly interested in it.

If we got that i think we'd be happy. And hey, everyone else would benefit as well.

We aren't demanding people like us. If we wanted that we'd smile and nod and never make waves and just quietly go along with the group regardless of what our own personal feelings were.

@John

You'd prefer perhaps I tell him he's a horrible person and that it IS his fault?

Gotta love peopel intentionally misinterpreting what i said to fit the narrative they are trying to create.

john said...
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john said...
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john said...

@Thorbs: Preachers openly defy the law to give politically motivated sermons.
Uh...what law would that be? You don't mention other countries until later in the post, so I assume you're talking about the US? Because there is no law (federally) that prohibits religious groups from being politically active. None whatsoever.

@Dave from canada: I'd prefer you not be a smug dick. I also think it might undermine your argument that atheists are people too and should be treated with common courtesy less if you weren't exemplifying the same kind of smarmy condescension that some religious people display towards atheists.

But, you know, that's just crazy talk. Clearly you're the wronged party here, therefore any level of petty rudeness on your part towards even the people who are trying to reach out to you is totally justified.

Dave from canada said...

@ john

Since you seem to define being a smug dick as anyone who disagrees with you, you are going to run into alot of those.

Have I suggested that believers were immoral or evil in some way? No, though can't say the same for your side, even when its representative was the one NOT acting out of a sense of prissy entitlement. Did I resort to childish namecalling? Nope, all you bro.

So how's about you define exactly what it is you mean, because right now it just looks like you are mad that i think you're wrong.

And upon reviewing your earlier posts (esp. the comment about stalin) it seems pretty clear that you are looking for reasons to dislike us, which kills your credibility.

Daniel posted over twice as much as you and not once did he pull that shit.

For the record, you can't make any link between stalin's actions and atheism. Atheism is an answer to one question and has no teachings, directives, dogma etc. It has as much to do with his actions as his mustache or his hair colour or his gender- none.

Claiming otherwise is either ignorant, or dishonest.

john said...

@Dave from canada: Not that I want this to degenerate in a "nuh-uh!"/"uh-huh!" bickerfest, but I never said you'd suggested that religious people were immoral.

Since you seem to define being a smug dick as anyone who disagrees with you, you are going to run into alot of those.

No, I define it as being rude and smarmy for no good reason. It is entirely possible to express the ideas you've expressed (or most of them, at any rate) without being condescending and arrogant about it; you've simply chosen not to.

For the record, you can't make any link between stalin's actions and atheism. Atheism is an answer to one question and has no teachings, directives, dogma etc. It has as much to do with his actions as his mustache or his hair colour or his gender- none.

Which was basically my point; assholes and monsters come in every creed, and using them to impugn an entire wildly heterogenous but related group of belief systems is ridiculous. The examples given were to point out that similar arguments could (just as unjustifiably) be made against atheism.

Dave from canada said...

“No, I define it as being rude and smarmy for no good reason. It is entirely possible to express the ideas you've expressed (or most of them, at any rate) without being condescending and arrogant about it; you've simply chosen not to.”

Still not hearing an explanation. Just more accusation.

“Which was basically my point; assholes and monsters come in every creed, and using them to impugn an entire wildly heterogenous but related group of belief systems is ridiculous.”

Except you took the time to try and distance your belief system from Hitler, remember? And by salvage, I mean not so subtley imply he was an atheist despite his repeated assertions to being catholic. If it was about showing how these extreme examples didn’t matter then why try and make excuses? Seems to me like you are just trying to salvage a failed argument. But I’ll charitably meet you half way and assume that you were making the very argument you say you were….it still falls apart.

You can’t get from atheism to hating gays. There’s not path, you have to decide for other reasons.

You can get from Christianity to hating gays. The bible is rather specific about them. When you have a book that says gays are an abomination, and that unruly children should be stoned, it’s not hard to see how an adherent of said book would think that it is acceptable to beat the gay out of kids(like Bob’s post). Hell, by biblical standards, he’s a bleeding heart liberal.

You can’t get form atheism to hating jews. You can however get there from a religion that states that it is ok to kill the enemies of god (and then some. The old testament is one rape happy book), and a religious doctrine that says jesus was god and the jews killed him, which were all embraced by the catholic church in hitler’s time. He may have been the last Christian despot to use the bible

The entire Christian/jewish conflict only exists because of issues that are a direct result of religious teachings, like the blood libel and the belief that people without jesus are condemned to hell so really, anything you do to convert them is just tough love anyway, since you are saving them the lake of fire.

Arguing neither side is innocent is absurd when one has policies in place that directly result in atrocity and bigotry. As Dan Savage said, there’s nothing stopping people from ignoring the bullshit parts of their religion (the jews by and large pay far less attention to the rape and murder parts of their theology than most Christians do) but you don’t get to just white wash issues that are explicitly a result of said religion.

There will always be people doing bad things in every demographic, but the second you attach religion to it you grant it automatic legitimacy. This is only exacerbated when individuals such as yourself leap to its defence.

TheAlmightyNarf said...
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TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

"Preachers openly defy the law to give politically motivated sermons."

I'm fairly certain "Freedom of speech" allows them to do just that. Not that I think they necessarily should, mind you. But, I certainly don't see why preachers should be singled out for political censorship. Why should the church be treated differently than everyone else?

"Oh, and let's not forget that in many parts of the world it IS illegal to be an atheist, and in some cases, punishable by death."

As is Christianity, last I checked. But, let's focus on trying to solve the problems in our countries first.

@ Dave

"So exactly at what point has mainstream christianity done enough crazy shit that the rest of us lowly heathens are permitted to complain?"

Ok, first off, where is this "lowly heathens" bullshit coming from? No one here is calling you that. You make any claims of persecution all the less credible when you try to put words in my mouth like that.

Anyway... you know what? You are free to complain all you like. But, what good does that do? What does that get you? Tell me. You're the rationalist here... you're the proponent of the scientific method... Think about this scientifically. How exactly does complaining help you?

"I'm fairly sure that most atheists would be quiet content if we could just get christians to stop breaking the law in order to try and force their viewpoint on everybody else."

Could you, perhaps, elaborate on that?

Dave from canada said...

@Narf

It's called "exaggeration for effect".

Between bob and this creep, you spend more time calling out bob for daring to suggest there might be an issue with your religion. And you play out this same scenario so often by now you should have notice that the
"Christian does something monumentally evil on camera" isn't exactly rare. But instead of dealing with that, you rush to explain why it's not your fault and that bob shouldn't be bringing this up.

What good does complaining do? Hopefully it draws attention to injustices and wrongdoing. You complain so that problems will be noticed and fixed. In this case the hope is that by publicly shaming a man who suggested beating gay children (or rather, not sufficiently hetero looking) we can show people that it isn't ok, and prevent someone else from doing it. It won't work. His views aren't even terribly extreme. He just got caught on camera saying them.

"Could you, perhaps, elaborate on that?"

Sure. I'd like for the federal government to respect the constitution and remove reference to god from official documents. In god we trust and one nation under god were added in the 50s to piss off the communists and explicitly violate the separation of church and state.

I'd like for Christians in the southern US to accept that abortion is legal instead of forcing women to jump through increasingly degrading hoops/defunding planned parenthood and forcing a series of needless restrictions on abortion clinics that serve no purpose but to make them too expensive to maintain.

I'd like to see school boards not wasting taxpayer money to fight a losing legal battle to keep a religious banner up in the school., I'd like to see christians stop trying to put intelligent design in classrooms (it is merely renamed creationism, and teaching creationism is illegal in public schools) by asking people to 'teach the controvercy'.

I'd like to see christian officers in the armed forces stop using their positions of power to bully and discriminate against people of other faiths.

And while this isn't a legal issue, I'd like the christians that insist on complaining every time they are lumped in with the above to actually fucking do something to stop this if they truly oppose it.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"Between bob and this creep, you spend more time calling out bob for daring to suggest there might be an issue with your religion"

The "creep" doesn't post on this blog, and I don't feel anything's accomplished by calling him names behind his back. Trust me, I DO confront people like that whenever possible, just not here... because they don't come here (or, least I've never seen anyone like that here. I don't always pay especially close attention to the comment sections).

"But instead of dealing with that, you rush to explain why it's not your fault and that bob shouldn't be bringing this up."

It's not any issue that it's getting brought up. It should be brought up. Hell... I bring this sort of thing up. But, then Bob goes to say that Christianity is bad (or "net-negative influence on the modern world as a whole to a degree that is not offset by whatever good is done)" because of it...

What that pastor said has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity. Neither the teachings of Jesus or the bible as a whole has anything to say about gender identity issues or promoting heteronormativity. Jesus's teachings were always about loving and accepting everyone regardless of anything. He is just a hatefully man trying to disguise his bigotry as Christianity, and I really shouldn't have to explain that.

We can't treat this as an issue of "Christian bigots" spouting homophobic crap, but as an issue of "bigots, some of whom happen to be Christians" spouting homophobic crap.

"I'd like for the federal government to respect the constitution and remove reference to god from official documents."

I completely agree with that.

"I'd like for Christians in the southern US to accept that abortion is legal"

At the risk of taking this topic down a completely different track... Abortion is not a "religious" issue. It's not even a moral issue. It's a philosophical one: What makes us human? What distinguishes a person from not a person? Abortion is simply the "real world" consequences of those questions.

Both sides see this as a human rights issue, and both sides are correct... they just have two different ideas of what constitutes a human.

"I'd like to see school boards not wasting taxpayer money to fight a losing legal battle to keep a religious banner up in the school."

While I agree that Atheists would be completely with in their rights to have the banner taken down, I would disagree that it would be a particularly good idea for them to do so. Weighing the benefit of not having to look at a verse or prayer or whatever every day against the cost of hostile contempt from the rest of the school... It would do more to promote an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance to let the banner slide, and to also get a banner up in some way promoting an Atheistic view of the same idea. If the school were to fight against that, then we would be in agreement that the school is run by assholes.

In my mind, at least, I see tolerance as both sides having to actually tolerate each other views... not mutual censorship. That doesn't benefit anyone.

"I'd like to see christians stop trying to put intelligent design in classrooms (it is merely renamed creationism, and teaching creationism is illegal in public schools) by asking people to 'teach the controvercy'."

Shouldn't schools be exposing students to every view point?

john said...

@Dave from canada: I'd like for Christians in the southern US to accept that abortion is legal

Why? If you don't feel you have to accept the status quo, why should they?

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf:

"I'm fairly certain "Freedom of speech" allows them to do just that. Not that I think they necessarily should, mind you. But, I certainly don't see why preachers should be singled out for political censorship. Why should the church be treated differently than everyone else?"

I don't live in the US yet even I know this. It is against the law for tax exempt institutions (such as churchs) to participate in political campaigning. Some religious groups do this properly by setting up tax-paying political organisations... many just break the law.

If a preacher in a church advises you to vote a certain way due to following religious tenets, he is breaking the law.

Free speech does not supercede seperation of church and state.

"Shouldn't schools be exposing students to every view point?"

In religious studies maybe. Science class should only teach science. Evolution is science, whereas Intelligent Design is an absence of science.

Not all view points have the same value. The Christian desire to have Intelligent Design taught in the classroom is as silly to us as teaching Scientology, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Norse Mythology would be to you.

"[...] In my mind, at least, I see tolerance as both sides having to actually tolerate each other views... not mutual censorship. That doesn't benefit anyone."

Your viewpoint is very apparant here. We atheists should be tolerant when you Christians break the law and promote religion in schools. We should be tolerant when non-religious children are forced to abide to your religious principles, when the law clearly states this should not happen. For us atheists to object to clear violations of the law is intolerant, and damages relations between the two camps.

Basically, we are atheists are fine and tolerant as long as we say nothing?

Pfft... screw that nonsense.

"We can't treat this as an issue of "Christian bigots" spouting homophobic crap, but as an issue of "bigots, some of whom happen to be Christians" spouting homophobic crap."

"At the risk of taking this topic down a completely different track... Abortion is not a "religious" issue."

No. Just no. This is NOT what your Bible says. You need to read it, not just believe the cherry-picked family-friendly bits you hear at church every Sunday.

------

Moviebob may steer clear of calling all religion evil, but I'm not going to. Regardless of your views and morals, while you follow - and prop up - religions that promote hate and social injustice, you are a force of evil in this world.

If you truly believe in social justice, equal rights and so on, you should be FIGHTING the leaderships of these religions that promote the reverse. Either by being OUTSPOKEN within the religion, or by leaving the religion and creating sects that properly convey your true beliefs.

Staying silent in a hate-filled religion is - in my opinion - almost as bad as being a leader or fanatic of that religion who is spewing all the hatred. To maintain general acceptance in society, these religions require numbers, and that's all you are... another number on the "I agree with them" column. If the bigots and the assholes are truly in the minority, you guys to to actually act and fucking show that.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

"Free speech does not supercede seperation of church and state."

"Freedom of speech" and "separation of church and state" are the exact same thing. They literally come right out of the same sentence: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." The separation exists to promote free speech, not to quash it. It regulates what the government can do, not what the people can do.

"We should be tolerant when non-religious children are forced to abide to your religious principles,"

No, seriously? We're talking about a fucking banner on the wall... At least in the example Dave gave, no one's being forced to do anything. Non-religious children could just as easily ignore it if they like or, as I pointed out, could get their own banner up.

"For us atheists to object to clear violations of the law is intolerant"

To be intolerant of another's views is intolerance, yes.

"This is NOT what your Bible says."

I would love to see you back that up by pointing out actual scripture.

"If you truly believe in social justice, equal rights and so on, you should be FIGHTING the leaderships of these religions that promote the reverse."

Here's the thing I think a lot of non-Christians (and likely many Christians) don't seem to understand about "organized religion"... outside of Catholicism, it's not really all that organized. The majority of churches in the US are non-nondenominational and operate for the most part completely independently, while even in denominational churches, the denomination has almost no control over what's taught in the individual churches.

As far as I can tell looking through the church website from the preacher above... while calling themselves "Baptist", the church doesn't seem to be part of any larger organization (and, in just the couple minutes it took me trying to find that website, I came across quite a few Christian organizations that were speaking out against him).

At the national level, there really aren't any leaders influential enough to fight. The fighting really has to (and often does) happen at the local level.

Dave from canada said...

@ thorbs. Well you said pretty much what I was going o to the letter.

@ John. Can't help but notice the more I ask you to back your accusations up...the less you post. Almost like you know you've got nothing.

Regarding the driveby point you did muster the courage to make:

I'm not talking about not trying to change existing laws. They are within their rights to do that. I'm talking about when they try and FAIL to change the laws, they instead try to get around the laws by using their political power to harass individuals and organizations who support the existing law.


@ Narf. What he said.

"We're talking about a fucking banner on the wall... At least in the example Dave gave, no one's being forced to do anything. Non-religious children could just as easily ignore it if they like or, as I pointed out, could get their own banner up."

It's ILLEGAL. interesting how you support the law when you think it helps you but the second it doesn't you are ok with breaking it. Your solution is also...well incredibly stupid because that means that there would have to be a banner for every different group that wanted one. The only way to be fair is to not have any religious

You can easily ignore it when Bob said christanity is a net negative....and yet you throw a fuss every time and he's not breaking the law to do so. Again, you want us to ignore YOUR wrongdoing but won't follow your won advice even when no law is being broken. It speaks to the hypocricy Thorbs and I both alluded to. We have to make special allowance for you, and you get to do whatever you want.

"To be intolerant of another's views is intolerance, yes."

It's not the views that are the issue, it is the INTENTIONAL VIOLATION OF THE FUCKING LAW. This has been brought up repeatedly and both you and john seem incapable of responding to it. At this point I have to wonder whether you are juts dishonest, or have some bizarre learning disability.

"I would love to see you back that up by pointing out actual scripture."

Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Leviticus 20:13

I mentioned those before because they relate to the original post.

If you'd like I can post the ones about slavery, rape, cutting off a woman's hand for touching her husbands junk, biblical instructions for slavery.

And there is a very easy way to combat these disorgnazied religions of yours. Every time they say something stupid or evil or bigoted, you let them know it's bullshit and you won't go along with it.

You instead have chosen to complain about the people complaining. Despite your best efforts, it's pretty clear where your loyalties lie.

"It's a philosophical one: What makes us human?"

No it isn't. We know scientifically when high brain functions (ie the things that make us more than meat) develop.

The anti choice argument is based on life beginning at conception, in which case god is the greatest abortionist of all time since a considerable number of pregnancies last little longer than that.

There's also the issue where under no other circumstances is anyone expected to surrender bodily autonomy to another being. if I need blood, I don't get to take it form you, even if I will die. You right to bodily autonomy supercedes my right to life.


"Shouldn't schools be exposing students to every view point?"

Should we teach astronomy AND astrology? Should we teach that the holocaust may have happened or may be part of an international jewish banking conspiracy? Should we teach both psychology AND scientology?

Sorry, just because your religion wants it to be true, doesn't mean that we should be teaching it people without any evidence.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"[...] The separation exists to promote free speech, not to quash it. It regulates what the government can do, not what the people can do."

True. Free speech is not, however, a trump card that be played to excuse you breaking the law. For instance, you could not claim the government was restricting your rights to free speech if you were arrested for giving away state secrets.

I also fail to see why you are argueing that one line without any reference to the context in which it was given. Are you argueing semantics just for the sake of it, or in an attempt to invalidate the point I was making? Because I'm afraid it still remains illegal for tax-exempt organisations to be involved in political campaigning:

"Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity"


"No, seriously? We're talking about a fucking banner on the wall... At least in the example Dave gave, no one's being forced to do anything. Non-religious children could just as easily ignore it if they like or, as I pointed out, could get their own banner up."

I agree, a banner isn't a big thing, but it DOES violate seperation of church and state. And once every school has covered all their walls with Christian paraphernalia, what's next? Organised school prayer during assemblies, or before sporting events? Regular sermons from the local pastor? The children being taught Intelligent design, that the Earth is 6000 years old, homosexuality is a sin, women should be subservient to men, sex is bad, and if you don't believe in Jesus you'll burn in Hell for eternity? I mean, they're only breaking the law... what's the problem? /facepalm

And no, the atheists/buddhists/muslims etc can't get their own banner put up. Firstly, because I bet the school that defends that banner would be the first to object to the presence of a non-christian banner. But mostly because IT'S AGAINST THE FUCKING LAW.

Thorbs said...

continued...


"To be intolerant of another's views is intolerance, yes."

So basically everyone is intolerant of everyone they disagree with, by your definition. Your definition of intolerance has now become so broad it's a total waste of time to argue against, as you clearly believe that athiests are being intolerant just by speaking.

Martin Luther King was clearly intolerant when he argued for civil rights. The suffragettes were obviously being intolerent of male privilege when they asked for equal rights. The Bastards!


"I would love to see you back that up by pointing out actual scripture."

I'm not going to trawl through the hateful screed that is the bible just to win an internet arguement, so to google we go!

Homosexuality is obviously an easy one.

Abortion is not mentioned in the bible. This does not however stop Christians from saying that the bible forbids it.

However, abortion is only brought up as an issue by the religious as a means to subjegate women, of which the bible has plenty to say.

In honesty though, it'd be easier to list those parts of the bible that AREN'T sick and twisted.

"[...] At the national level, there really aren't any leaders influential enough to fight. The fighting really has to (and often does) happen at the local level."

I could possibly agree to this point if it wasn't for the pope, and the cardinals, and every other religious special interest group using your combined numbers to give their voices extra authority, and being allowed to get away with it, and to interfere in US government policy in the process.

We had demonstrations and petitions denouncing the pope last time he visited the UK (not enough though). Whereas in the US, you had many religious organisations working to keep the media in check during his whole visit.

I see very little opposition to the pope's outdated views from within the religious community. The media doesn't speak out, because they'd be crucified for doing so, and would get very little support from the supposed moderates if it did. All we atheists can infer from the overwhelming silence of the "relious moderates" is that they don't care enough to actually act on their beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Aside from his politics (which I don't happen to disagree with, usually), the thing I remember Col. Ollie North for most was the pretty awesome military history shows he narrated on History Channel. That and the William Shatner "Mute Marine" SNL skit.

(Ironic, considering that the man does have a helluva voice for narration. I don't think people give the people who happen to be right-wing folk heroes enough credit for their performing chops, sometimes.)

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"It's ILLEGAL. interesting how you support the law when you think it helps you but the second it doesn't you are ok with breaking it."

I never supported the banner being up. I never said it was "ok" for the school to break the law like that. I'm just suggesting that suing the school to have it taken down perhaps isn't the wisest way of dealing with it. It's not "wrong" for Atheists to do that, it just seems short-sighted to me.

You and Thorbs have got to stop putting words in my mouth because it really makes your complaints seem like little more than hyperbole.

"...there would have to be a banner for every different group that wanted one."

Would that be so bad?

"It's not the views that are the issue, it is the INTENTIONAL VIOLATION OF THE FUCKING LAW."

Well, I have trouble seeing this as just an issue of Christians following the letter of the law. I mean, the law is malleable, and hardly absolute in it's interpretations. I'm trying to look past the letter of the law to the outcome you want the law to lead to. If all you want is for Christians to not be breaking the law any more, than the easiest solution would be to change the law to legalize that sort of behavior. Would that make you happy? Of course not.

I think we can take it as a given that most Christians are not happy with the 1st amendment being used to censor them. Whether they are right or wrong to think so isn't really the point here. They, like you, are fighting a status-qua that they're not content with (again, whether they are right or wrong to do so isn't really the point... which apparently I need to clarify ever time I'm not condemning them). But, I don't think the ends they want and the ends you want are necessarily mutually exclusive from one another.

Lets go back to the banner again. Is this really nothing more than an issue of Christians breaking the law? If you have nothing against the banner itself, perhaps we could come up with a compromise that could make both sides happy.

"Deuteronomy 21:18-21 Leviticus 20:13"

Well, those verses don't have anything to say on gender identity or promote heteronormativity. But, beyond that I don't have a particular good reply for them, so I'm just going to leave that for now (reserving the right to bring it up again later after I've thought about it for a while).

"No it isn't. We know scientifically when high brain functions (ie the things that make us more than meat) develop."

So, it is your personal belief that brain function constitutes human. There are those who see the simple virtue of being alive as enough to qualify as human. There are those, like myself, who see brain function as just another chemical reaction of the body and that it doesn't actually make you any more than meat, and that there is no objective qualifier. That one is no more or less human as a single cell than they are as a fully grown adult.

"There's also the issue where under no other circumstances is anyone expected to surrender bodily autonomy to another being."

Well, once the fetus attaches to the uterus, they're not really autonomous anymore, are they? This isn't an issue of surrendering autonomy, but one of taking it back after it's already been lost. It's more akin to someone wanting to take their blood back after it's already been donated.

Though, I expect we're only a couple decades away from medical science making that a moot issue anyway.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbes

Wow, has that law ever actually held up in court? Because it's pretty blatantly unconstitutional.

"And once every school has covered all their walls with Christian paraphernalia, what's next?"

A "slippery-slope" argument is a complete non-argument. You have absolutely nothing to base that on.

"So basically everyone is intolerant of everyone they disagree with, by your definition."

tol·er·ance - a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

"I could possibly agree to this point if it wasn't for the pope, and the cardinals,"

I did say "outside of Catholicism".

"and to interfere in US government policy in the process."

Well, the inherent issue with living in a democratic country that people you disagree with will have a say in it.

Something to keep in mind is that in many areas of the US (and in the UK too if I recall) Protestantism and Catholicism are very much so seen as 2 completely different religions that share about as much in common with each other as they do Judaism or Islam. So most "Christians" aren't going to speak out against the pope mostly because they don't really see him as being representative of their religion at all.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"Wow, has that law ever actually held up in court? Because it's pretty blatantly unconstitutional."

Yes, many times, including in the Supreme Court (Regan v. Taxation With Representation). The intent is to prevent the federal government from subsidising political speech, not to stifle free speech.

"A "slippery-slope" argument is a complete non-argument. You have absolutely nothing to base that on."

I have nothing to base that on, except for the habit of Christian-filled school boards to continually push for these things in total ignorance or disdain for Seperation of church and state. There was no exaggeration in my statement... those are all things that various school boards have tried to do in the past.

Also note that in this case the only reason the school board was sued was because they refused to remove the banner after a complaint was made by a parent, and after the ACLU sent them a letter saying the banner was clearly in violation of the Establishment Clause.

No fuss was made until after the meeting where the school board decided they would fight to keep the banner despite the law being clearly against them. Who was making the fuss? The Christians, who were outraged at being called out for breaking the law. Atheist outrage was only sparked when Jessica Ahlquist started to receieve death threats from these pillars of the community.

"tol·er·ance - a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own."

Notice the words "fair" and "objective". I can have a fair, objective and permissive attitude towards your opinions without sharing them. The clue is in that bit at the end that says "that differ from one's own".

You, however, only appear to be tolerant of those who share your views. Do not project your biases onto others.

"Something to keep in mind is that in many areas of the US (and in the UK too if I recall) Protestantism and Catholicism are very much so seen as 2 completely different religions that share about as much in common with each other as they do Judaism or Islam. So most "Christians" aren't going to speak out against the pope mostly because they don't really see him as being representative of their religion at all."

It's funny bacause all 4 of those religions you mention appear very alike to me. They all say they are the ONLY true faith. They all try to suppress human, civil and equal rights. They all demand special privileges against being criticised. And not a single one has a shred of evidence behind it.

Anonymous said...

Correction to Anon #109: North narrated "War Stories with Oliver North", a military history show for Fox News, not History Channel.

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

Dave from canada said...

@ Narf

I won't bother with the bits Thorbs has so expertly handled but I'm honestly getting the distinct impression that you don't care about pesky things like rule of law or even reality itself because the sheer amount of double talk and what HAS to be intentional ignorance doens't support any other conclusion.

"I think we can take it as a given that most Christians are not happy with the 1st amendment being used to censor them....They, like you, are fighting a status-quo that they're not content with "

Firstly, it isn't being used to censor them. It's being used to prevent Christians (well everyone, but only one group is really trying) from forcing their beliefs on others (an in effect, censoring THEM).

They are allowed whatever beliefs they want. They are not allowed to use government institutions to preach said beliefs, or harass people who disagree. They want to CHANGE the law, and since they can't get that they are breaking it.

We just want them to obey the laws that already exist.


“Well, those verses don't have anything to say on gender identity or promote heteronormativity. But, beyond that I don't have a particular good reply for them, so I'm just going to leave that for now (reserving the right to bring it up again later after I've thought about it for a while).”

Are you proud of that? No seriously I’m curious, are you proud of that level of intellectual cowardice on display here? Or are you so monumentally mentally deficient that you don’t see the direct connection between the bible saying you should kill gay people, the bible saying you should kill disobedient children, and a pastor saying you should physically abuse children who appear gay. Unfortunately, I can’t think you are that superhumanly moronic. You know damn fucking well what those verse have to do with what the pastor said. You know damn fucking well that you don’t have a comeback and that the both myself and Thorbs have displayed a far better command of scripture in this regard than you, and instead of having an iota of integrity and admitting you were wrong (or even using some of the preexisting apologetics), you are clumsily sweeping it aside and hoping we don’t notice.

So I have to ask….does that make you feel good about yourself?

“There are those, like myself, who see brain function as just another chemical reaction of the body and that it doesn't actually make you any more than meat, and that there is no objective qualifier.”

Yet another attempt to weasel out of making a definitive statement. Brain function is what makes us who we are. Every shred of scientific evidence we have indicates that the brain is the only thing responsible for our memories, personality and thoughts. So aside form all the parts of your body which are rapidly becoming more and more obsolete as technology advances, the one part that can’t be replaced without making a new person, is the brain. That means that muscles, skin, nerves, don’t matter. The only thing separating a fetus from a benign tumour is brain activity. The only thing that makes it life worthy of preserving is brain activity. And unless you are more ignorant than you are dishonest, you already know that.

The only other argument is the one form the soul…which is a religious argument and thus has no value.




“Well, once the fetus attaches to the uterus, they're not really autonomous anymore, are they? This isn't an issue of surrendering autonomy, but one of taking it back after it's already been lost.”
au•ton•o•mous
-existing and functioning as an independent organism
- not subject to control from outside
Wow, that seems to completely contradict what you were saying. The only thing that isn’t autonomous is the fetus…and that’s why it doesn’t get a vote. The woman is capable of making decisions, the fetus is not.

Thorbs said...

Almost missed this one:

"So, it is your personal belief that brain function constitutes human. There are those who see the simple virtue of being alive as enough to qualify as human. There are those, like myself, who see brain function as just another chemical reaction of the body and that it doesn't actually make you any more than meat, and that there is no objective qualifier. That one is no more or less human as a single cell than they are as a fully grown adult."

By that rationale a sperm is human. So is an unfertilised egg.

When I take a dump, about a third of the waste material consists of living bacterial cells. Does that make my poop human?

If my appendix or my tonsils become inflamed, a doctor will cut them out and throw them away. As these organs consist of great masses of living cells, does this mean the doctor has just performed an abortion?

Far more zygotes spontaneously miscarry before the mother is even aware she is pregant, than are ever carried through to term. Doesn't that make God the biggest abortionist of them all if those zygotes are human?

Your arguement for personhood is far too simplistic and ill-informed to ever be logical or useful. I'd advise you to read up on some developmental biology before trying again.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

"The intent is to prevent the federal government from subsidising political speech,"

Then shouldn't that only apply to subsidized organizations? Because, I imagine very few (if any) churches actually receive government subsidies.

those are all things that various school boards have tried to do in the past

Then draw the line there. When some one actually being victimized. To draw the line at a banner makes you seem unreasonable.

I have to admit that I haven't being paying any attention at all to the Jessica Ahlquist case. It's a local issue that needs to be dealt with locally, and really shouldn't be getting so many people involved that have no business being involved. I can't be bothered to get invested in something that has no effect on me at all.

My arguments have been based only on how Dave worded his example.

"You, however, only appear to be tolerant of those who share your views."

How do you figure that?

"It's funny bacause all 4 of those religions you mention appear very alike to me."

And you wonder why you have few allies among moderate or progressive Christians?

Thorbs said...

@Dave from canada

"au•ton•o•mous
-existing and functioning as an independent organism
- not subject to control from outside"


Don't worry, the religious are working on women being subject to their control, so they can no longer be classed as autonomous.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

Continued, I guess...

"By that rationale a sperm is human"

A sperm is technically not alive. It can't metabolize, nor can it reproduce on its own. It's very similar to a virus in that regard, which are also not considered alive.

Admittedly, when it comes to multi-celled organisms like humans it can difficult to determine what constitutes a unique organism and what does not, especially when you introduce the idea of super-organisms.

My personal definition would be that one is a "person" if they are (A) genetically homo-sapien, (B) a complete organism unto themselves, and (C) are alive.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"Then shouldn't that only apply to subsidized organizations? Because, I imagine very few (if any) churches actually receive government subsidies."

As I've stated before, this is for tax-exempt organisations. Churches automatically qualify as tax-exempt organisations. Tax-exemption is considered a subsidy.

"Then draw the line there. When some one actually being victimized. To draw the line at a banner makes you seem unreasonable."

I draw the line at breaking the law. At promoting your religion in a school. Your position is unreasonable to me. The thing is... the law is on my side, not yours.

"How do you figure that?"

Everything you have said to this point has told me that. You have pretty much straight out said that you consider atheists to be intolerant purely for speaking out against religion.

"And you wonder why you have few allies among moderate or progressive Christians?"

You assume I want them as my allies. I'd be happy if they were the enemy of my enemy.

I don't need validation here. They don't need to agree with me. They merely need to stand up and do the right thing.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"My personal definition would be that one is a "person" if they are (A) genetically homo-sapien, (B) a complete organism unto themselves, and (C) are alive.""

So at around 23+ weeks then? I wouldn't consider a fetus to be a complete organism unto themselves until they are capable of living outside the womb. Otherwise I'm afraid a sperm would still qualify by your criteria.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

Sorry, missed your post in the middle of all the other ones...

"Firstly, it isn't being used to censor them."

I like how you took out the part where I said I didn't necessarily think they were and that it really wasn't important whether it was true or not.

Again, I'm not defending what they did. I've reiterated that in pretty much every post I've made. Perhaps my argument seems like "double-talk" because you keep trying to pretend I'm saying things I'm not?

"We just want them to obey the laws that already exist."

Fair enough. I just don't think anybody on either side would really be happy with that.

"Every shred of scientific evidence we have indicates that the brain is the only thing responsible for our memories, personality and thoughts"

Perhaps this is just my nihilism peaking through, but I just don't really see what difference any of those things have.

"And unless you are more ignorant than you are dishonest, you already know that."

Because I disagree with you, I must be ignorant or dishonest?

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

"You have pretty much straight out said that you consider atheists to be intolerant purely for speaking out against religion."

No, I consider YOU intolerant. I can distinguish between one bigot and and entire community.

Dave from canada said...

@ Narf



“I like how you took out the part where I said I didn't necessarily think they were and that it really wasn't important whether it was true or not.”

I ommitted it because it wasn't relevant. The law is the law. I don't care why they want to break it, the fact is they are. The law does not stop counting for us based on whether we like obeying it.


“Again, I'm not defending what they did. I've reiterated that in pretty much every post I've made. Perhaps my argument seems like "double-talk" because you keep trying to pretend I'm saying things I'm not?”

I’m aware you never say the words “I am defending what they did”. But your actions speak otherwise. Everything you have posted has been either an excuse for your people breaking the law or an attack on those who want the law enforced. Your claims to not fdefending them have all the credibility of a person saying “So I have this…friend who may have had something embarassing happen to him…”

“Fair enough. I just don't think anybody on either side would really be happy with that.”

I’d be happy with that. Also, it doesn’t matter if they are happy. It’s the law.

“Perhaps this is just my nihilism peaking through, but I just don't really see what difference any of those things have.”

I don’t actually believe you when you say that.If you seriously don’t get why the brain is important then I may have been wrong when I said you weren’t superhumanly moronic. The brain is where the personality, the self resides. It’s what makes you a person. Is a person with prosthetic legs less of a person? What about a pacemaker? What about the inevitable


"And unless you are more ignorant than you are dishonest, you already know that."

Now whose putting words in another’s mouth? No, not because you disagree with me. Because the reasons you give reveal you to be either incredibly ignorant or dishonest.

Your entire argument with me and Thorbs(who you now call a bigot for disagreeing with you, incidentally.) has consistent of you:

Not knowing what the laws are
Not understanding why breaking the law is bad
Not understanding why someone would want to uphold a law
Not knowing what the bible says
Not knowing how passages related to killing your children and gays could possibly be related to someone abusing their children for being gay
Not knowing elements of basic biology
Not knowing why BRAINS are important.

I have great trouble conceiving of even a small child who wouldn’t get at least some of this. That leaves me with the conclusion that you are either remarkably unintelligent for an adult…or being willfully dishonest.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

Well, when you can't accept I actually believe the things I'm saying, that pretty much ends the discussion there, doesn't it.

Dave from canada said...

@ Narf

Sorry but I'm not letting you off the hook that easy.

And if you think I'm being unfair then explain.

What is so difficult about any of these concepts that you find them so incomprehensible?

Thorbs said...

And thus is shown the problem with belief.

Belief is not a virtue. When you are pre-disposed to accept things as true without a shred of proof, no amount of honest discussion or evidence will ever sway your opinion.

As for calling me a bigot? My only response is that for the most part it has been a pleasure having this discussion with you, but I certainly won't waste my time talking to you further.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

You've given a pretty reasonable (and very entertaining) argument up until now. So, I'm going to give this another go. Let me try and step back and re-explain my position.

You and I have fairly close to completely polar opposite world views... You're an absolutest and a rationalist. I'm a relativist and occasional nihilist depending on my mood. We use completely incompatible forms of reasoning to reach our conclusions. So, let's just accept right now that you and I are never going to agree on any sort of philosophical matter and that neither of us needs to be "ignorant" or "dishonest" for that to be the case. Because, for the sake of this discussion, I'm hoping we don't actually have to agree philosophically.

Let's go back to the abortion thing for a second. I'm not trying to convince that my position is right, or that your position is wrong. Simply that my position exists independently from religion. Again, I'm a relativist... the idea that a position is either "right" or "wrong" doesn't really play into my thought process. Those positions simply exist for me, and I really don't care if you agree with mine or not.

So, the banner... When I say that "it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong", I mean that quite literally. Think of it like software piracy. It really doesn't matter whether you think it's right or wrong or whether you think game developers are in the right or wrong to try to stop it... it simply exists and always will. People trying to push the boundaries of what's legal and committing civil disobedience against laws they disagree with simply exists... It does not matter if it's right or wrong.

But, that doesn't mean we have to just accept it. We can turn this into a mutually beneficial situation. The goals of Atheists and at least Progressive Christians are not mutually exclusive. After all, laws are not absolute... they can be passed, amended, overturned, reinterpreted and repealed, and they are so all the time. Laws are tools, and nothing more. And they are tools we can use here.

What I want to find is a compromise that can make both sides happy. Because even in some remote off chance that you could get every Christian to stop pushing the boundaries, you're just stopping the symptom and not addressing the underlying causes of what's going on. Any solution that has both sides still in mutual contempt at the end isn't a solution at all.

Dave from canada said...

@ Narf

If you are arguing that the law is as optional as you seem to be then there's really nothing to discuss.


I care whether things are right or wrong. I care whether things are legal or not. If I disagree I try to get the law changed, but I don't break it out of raw petulance.


There IS no compromise between people willing top break the law to get what they want and people who want the law upheld.

Zeno said...

"If you are arguing that the law is as optional as you seem to be then there's really nothing to discuss.


I care whether things are right or wrong. I care whether things are legal or not. If I disagree I try to get the law changed, but I don't break it out of raw petulance.


There IS no compromise between people willing top break the law to get what they want and people who want the law upheld."

Hello, Thrasymachus.

TheAlmightyNarf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"If you are arguing that the law is as optional as you seem to be then there's really nothing to discuss."

*sigh*

No!

Read the fucking words that I type!

"People trying to push the boundaries of what's legal and committing civil disobedience against laws they disagree with simply exists... It does not matter if it's right or wrong."

I'm not saying it's ok! It doesn't matter if it's ok! It simply will happen and there is fuck all anyone can do to stop it! Reality is never going to simply morph to match your idealism... reality doesn't give a fuck about your idealism!

Reality is what it is and you have have to make the best of the situation that exists.

God, I can't believe I have to lay that out for an Atheist.

"There IS no compromise between people willing top break the law to get what they want and people who want the law upheld."

Tell that to all those people who've fought for civil rights through civil disobedience that you seem to want so much to be in solidarity with.

Dave from canada said...

@ narf

I am reading them. I'm just taking them to their logical conclusion.


You are suggesting that when a group doesn't get its way, and then breaks the law to get around the fact that they didn't get their way through legal channels we should just 'compromise' and give them SOME of what they want.

Why not let bank robbers get away with SOME of the money?

Why not make only ever second rape a crime. That's a nice compromise and if the laws aren't changed people are going to do those things anyway.

The fact that people will still try to break the law does not mean the law should be changed.

The current LEGAL situation works for everyone. Everyone has the right to their beliefs, and no religious beliefs are to be given any more weight than any other. That ensures equality.


There is no compromise between equality and discrimination, which is what they are after. At the very least they want the government to positively discriminate in favour of THEIR religion.

You keep going on and on about how you don't support them breaking the law or you don't support favouritism, and you keep making excuses for them nonetheless.


"Tell that to all those people who've fought for civil rights through civil disobedience that you seem to want so much to be in solidarity with."

Those civil rights people were fighting against the very compromise YOU seem to be in favour of. Coloureds only facilities, separate but equal WAS such a compromise.


What I am talking about is not civil disobedience. They aren't protesting to change the law. There's nothing wrong with that. They are actively trying to IGNORE the law.

MLK's dream wasn't about tricking white people into not noticing black people had rights. It was about getting legal recognition of said rights.

If we are to keep the comparison going, they are acting much like the southern educational staff who stood in front of their school with baseball bats to keep black students out, even when the laws had been changed to let them in. Don't like the law? Change it. Can't change it? Shut the fuck up and deal with it until you can.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"I'm just taking them to their logical conclusion."

Acknowledging that a cause for a problem can't be removed is not the same as supporting that cause.

I acknowledging that one can't be cured of Alzheimer... that doesn't mean I support Alzheimer.

"Those civil rights people were fighting against..."

Blah, blah, blah... Your entire argument up until now as clearly not allowed for any such exception.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:
"They are actively trying to IGNORE the law."

What's wrong with that?

Dave from canada said...

@ Zeno?

Are you seriously asking me what is wrong with people choosing to disobey the laws they don't like?

@ Narf

That's a terrible analogy. Just because you don't have a cure for something yet doesn't mean you don't try.

And If you are going to just dismiss arguments, at least try to do so in a method that isn't quite so seinfeldian? Becauuse this blah blah business really undercuts your claims to wnating honest discussion. Though granted, calling Thorbs a bigot for no reason while still playing at a congenial attitude with me already did that.

Meshi said...

The guy is obviously a tool. But there's a way to prevent, or at the very least marginalize this kind of crap.

I think a lot of the problems in this country would be solved if people started *discussing* issues. As it is now anyone who states the slightest bit of apprehension toward LGBT issues like same-sex marriage is almost instantly barraged with "OMG Y U SO HOMOFOBICK?!"

As soon as a confrontational statement like that is made, people tend to close off. Once that happens, they're no longer amenable to changing their stance.

That leaves the two diverging groups to set up their own camps and fling potshots at one another. As for the rest, they pretty much look at the stupidity from both sides, throw up their hands and stop giving a shit. Hence, there is stagnation, and we die a little as a culture.

All because no one bothered to stop and ask "Oh? Why do you feel that way?" then actually talk it out. I'm not saying you're going to convince everyone, but you'll likely convince *enough* people.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:
"Are you seriously asking me what is wrong with people choosing to disobey the laws they don't like?"

Yes.

Dave from canada said...

@ zeno

You mean aside from them being the entire foundation of human society.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:

Let's say that that statement is true. What does it even mean? Are you saying that if laws don't exist "human society" doesn't either? If that's the case then I don't see how illegal activity is immoral because laws exist whether of not people "break" them. Without further explanation your statement is a non sequitor and doesn't answer my inquiry.

This is of course, ignoring the questions of what "human society" is and whether its existence is moral or not, which are very important in their own right and my usual line of attack, but I've gotten bored of that.

Dave from canada said...

@ Zeno

It means that our civilization only works because we have laws. Guess what happens if murder is no longer illegal? Guess what happens when theft is no longer illegal?

And more than that, you are required to abide by them whether you like them or not. That's the price you pay for loving in said society.

Never thought I would seriously have to explain to a non toddler why we need laws.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:

"It means that our civilization only works because we have laws."

And again you completely fail to answer my question, which pertains not the the existence of laws but people's observation of them.

"Guess what happens if murder is no longer illegal? Guess what happens when theft is no longer illegal?"

I don't have to guess; They aren't.

"And more than that, you are required to abide by them whether you like them or not."

"Required"? It's certainly physically possible to break the law. Laws would be unnecessary if that weren't the case. If you mean required by a standard of ethics than specifing and proving said standard would answer my question.

"That's the price you pay for loving in said society."

If laws reflect virtuous conduct why should following them be paying a price? If they don't then why should we follow them?

"Never thought I would seriously have to explain to a non toddler why we need laws."

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Dave from canada said...

@ zeno


OK well you clearly have no interest in any conversation and are just going to spew nonsense. By aall means, try robbing a bank and put that "law's don't matter" idea of yours to the test.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:

I never said that laws don't matter.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"Just because you don't have a cure for something yet doesn't mean you don't try."

But, does not trying mean one "supports" the disease?

Let me ask you this, then: If I choose to abstain from voting in the upcoming election, am I supporting one of the candidates by doing so?

"And If you are going to just dismiss arguments, at least try to do so in a method that isn't quite so seinfeldian?"

The point was that this entire topic, and even after you replied to me, you continued to persist that one must obey the law always, under any circumstance, with out exception... But, then you support civil disobedience of oppressed minorities.

How do you reconcile that? It seems very paradoxical to me.

Dave from canada said...

@ Nard

"But, does not trying mean one "supports" the disease?"

If you actively attempt to stop people from finding a cure, yes.


"Let me ask you this, then: If I choose to abstain from voting in the upcoming election, am I supporting one of the candidates by doing so?"

One tortured metaphor is enough per conversation, i think.

The bottom line is that whenever someone criticizes the excesses of your religion, you attack them. You may begrudgingly admit the excess exists, but you always attack the person pointing it out. You actively attempt to discourage people from taking issue with members of your religion. That is the same as supporting the excess. I could say that even doing nothing lends them tacit sup[port as you are letting them peak for you, but you actively attack those attacking them.


"How do you reconcile that? It seems very paradoxical to me."

Instead of perpetually trying to weasel out of any personal responsibility here, how about you do something shocking and make a definitive statement, how about YOU tell me when laws should and should not apply and when they do and do not count. You have a line to the supreme arbiter of right and wrong after all.


So instead of asking spurious loaded questions, YOU answer me this:

-Should people obey the law?
-Is religious discrimination alright?

Yes or no. No equivocation, no evasions, no terrible metaphors. Answer the questions.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

"If you actively attempt to stop people from finding a cure, yes."

You're not trying to find a cure, though. You're attacking the symptoms.

Ok, I may need to explain that metaphor a bit better...

Christians putting religious symbols in places they probably shouldn't isn't the problem in and of itself. It's just a symptom of the larger problem that Christians tend not to understand why they shouldn't be overtly religious even if they're not hurting anyone in the process.

That's the problem you're not really doing anything about. Or at least Atheism as a community isn't doing anything about. You just keep playing whack-a-mole.

"but you always attack the person pointing it out"

I've only made a single personal attack this entire debate, and that was against Thorbs because he was twisting we words even worse then you do, and it was getting on my nerves.

"You actively attempt to discourage people from taking issue with members of your religion."

I discourage people from attacking the religion as a whole, when the act was committed by a single person.

"Instead of perpetually trying to weasel out of any personal responsibility here..."

As you completely avoid my question...

"Yes or no. No equivocation, no evasions, no terrible metaphors. Answer the questions."

See, the idea that something is absolutely "right" or absolutely "wrong" is a completely alien concept to me that I can not even comprehend. I can not force myself to see black and white when everything is so clearly grey. You're asking me to deny the universe around me for the sake of idealism and I just can't do that.

See, this is what I was trying to explain earlier when I said that your were an absolutist and I was a relativist... I will never see the world the same way you do. Can we get past that at least?

I will say that in my opinion religious discrimination as wrong, I just don't consider a banner on the wall religious discrimination.

Zeno said...

@Dave from canada:

"If you actively attempt to stop people from finding a cure, yes."

Do the ends justify the means?

"So instead of asking spurious loaded questions, YOU answer me this:

-Should people obey the law?"

As if that wasn't loaded. Please tell me you wouldn't equivocate a "no" answer to that with an affirmative support of law-breaking for law-breaking's sake.

Dave from canada said...

“Christians putting religious symbols in places they probably shouldn't isn't the problem in and of itself. It's just a symptom of the larger problem that Christians tend not to understand why they shouldn't be overtly religious even if they're not hurting anyone in the process.”

Wrong. No one is saying they can’t be religious as they want to be. They don’t get to FORCE THEIR BELIFS ON OTHERS. I don’t care if they want to be fundamentalist. But when they start inserting their religion into public policy then they’ve crossed a line. That’s the issue, stop trying to make it something else. It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they don’t care.

“I discourage people from attacking the religion as a whole, when the act was committed by a single person.”

A single person following the dictates of your religion’s holy book. Which has been explained to you and you keep conveniently forgetting.

“As you completely avoid my question...”

Oh please, I’ve answered far too many of your evasive questions already. Even now you refuse to actually make a definitive statement because then you aren’t free to reinterpret things to suit your purpose.

“ I can not force myself to see black and white when everything is so clearly grey.”

It isn’t grey. One group is breaking the law. One is not. There is no grey area here. The only variable is whether you support the people breaking the law, or the ones upholding it.

Make a definitive statement. Stop trying to avoid having to tell me what you stand for and stand for something. This has nothing to do with relativism or absolutism. This has to do with a basic understanding of the rules of society. The law applies whether you like it or not. So the question is whether you think a person’s religion should let them break the law or not.

If you do, they which religions get this treatment, and where does it end and why should anyone go along with it. If not then you admit that you have no real case here. Take your bloody pick but don’t try to obfuscate the issues.

“I will say that in my opinion religious discrimination as wrong, I just don't consider a banner on the wall religious discrimination.”

Then you don’t know what discrimination is. And you should, because it has been explained to you multiple times. But you know that. And that’s why I think you’re dishonest. You aren’t actually interested in law or fairness, you are interested in getting as much for your side as possible regardless of whether it is legal or just and will go to great lengths to try and excuse any wrong doing on their part.

I cannot conceive of a person who seriously needs to have so many things that are this bloody simple explained over and over again and it has long since become obvious that you have no interest in any kind of reasonable discussion. The only real point in arguing with someone willfully dishonest is to make sure that they aren’t giving anyone else bad info. I’m confident anyone who cared has moved on.

Unless you can man up and actually state a position that isn’t just an amorphous mass of noncommittal phrases, and can answer the questions I asked honestly instead of avoiding them, my duty to the truth has long been satisfied.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

I said I wasn't going to respond to you any further, but I think you've raised a very valid point that bears some discussion.

I'll attempt to hold off on my pedantic dickweed-ery this time. :-P
In my defence, I was getting annoyed at you evading the whole context of what I wrote, and just picking at little nippets of what I was saying.

"You're not trying to find a cure, though. You're attacking the symptoms.

Ok, I may need to explain that metaphor a bit better...

Christians putting religious symbols in places they probably shouldn't isn't the problem in and of itself. It's just a symptom of the larger problem that Christians tend not to understand why they shouldn't be overtly religious even if they're not hurting anyone in the process."


This I think is very good explanation of the problem. I'm not sure I fully agree with everything you say (I'll need some more time to mull it over), but I think it does get down to the meat of the issue.

I think a lot of us atheists believe that the reason many Christians are constantly trying to push their religion down our throats is a lack of understanding of "Freedom of Religion". We assume that they are thinking "the constitution tells me I have freedom of religion, so why aren't I free to create prayer groups in school, or proudly display tokens of my faith?".

As a result of this, I think our method of combating this is to rely on the courts to hammer the point home that that's not what "Freedom of Religion" means.

Possibly this is not the best method of addressing the issue. I'm not entirely convinced though that we immediately jump to getting the ACLU involved. I think we do try to resolve these issues with discussion first.

What would you suggest is a better approach?

Also, would you concede that much of the time the Christians get so defensive when we point out they are violating seperation of church and state, that we are left with little choice but to go the legal route?

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Dave

Ok, I've been thinking about this a bit today and I think I've come up with a good answer... or, more accurately, I'm going to rephrase the question as one of formal logic.

Is the statement "Everyone should always obey the law" true?

For a statement to be true it would need to always be true in all cases. I don't think this statement is. For instance, I don't think even you would argue that disenfranchised minorities shouldn't commit civil disobedience against laws that discriminate against them. There are clearly at least some instances where that statement is not true.

Therefor, the statement "Everyone should always obey the law" is false.

@ Thorbs

Oh my God, someone is actually willing to find common ground with me! Perhaps progress can be made!

That's actually almost exactly the point I was making way back when I got into the discussion. Atheists may be fully in the right to sue over this sort of thing, but it's not really helping them.

So, I have to return to the same question I was asking then... what is it exactly Atheists want? I mean, last I checked we all agreed that the banner itself was a non-issue. What want to find is a compromise that would allow Christians to be overtly religions (in as non-discriminatory a way as possible), but would make Atheists and non-Christians in general happy as well.

"Also, would you concede that much of the time the Christians get so defensive when we point out they are violating seperation of church and state, that we are left with little choice but to go the legal route?"

I would wholly agree that there are occasions that it really is the only option available. Though, I do think it tends to be over-used... as law suits in general are.

But, I think the reason Christians get so defensive is that many, including myself occasionally, get the impression that some Atheists would out right ban religion if they could, but schools and government buildings are jut the only places the law is behind them. And this is not helped by the (what I'm willing to assume is a very small minority) Atheists who say they want exactly that.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

What do atheists want? For Christians to not try to use state institutions to proselytise. We want them to stop trying to foist their values and prejudices on the non-religious.

By all means pray at school if you want to... just don't force non-christians to pray with you.

Form religious clubs or whatever in schools... just don't object if non-christians form groups too.

Teach your children that they shouldn't have sex before marriage... but don't object if the schools teach more comprehensive sex education. The same goes for Intelligent design... if you want your child to learn about Intelligent Design, feel free to supplement their education. Don't expect the schools to do the job for you.

Don't expect the law to prohit behaviour that your religion says is wrong, but is acceptable in mainstream society.

Don't expect non-christians to hold your beliefs in the same regard as you do. Also don't expect us to stay silent about practices that your religion promotes that we believe to be harmful.

I think those are the main points. As to how Christians can be overt in their faith without breaking some of those principles, I don't know.

Some atheists want rid of religion altogether, this is true (I am one of them, to a degree), but mostly not through banning it. The great majority of atheists respect your right to believe whatever you want. They'll just push for the teaching of critical-thinking and so on, and for people to be able to make up their own minds. We'll settle for you all practicing your religion in peace, and not causing evil in it's name.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

None of what you said sounds in any way unreasonable to me. So, here are a couple suggestions I think will go a long way toward that:

1) Hold Atheism to the exact same standard you want Christianity held to. I realize that you may to think it should be because you don't think of it as a religion, but I'm telling you right now that the day a group of Atheists and the ACLU go after a teacher ranting about how god absolutely doesn't exist to their class is the day a large segment of Christianity will start taking that standard more seriously.

2) Pit moderate and conservative Christianity against each other. When you attack Christianity as a whole you force moderates to pull in closer to conservatives simply because they have no other true allies. But, if you make allies of moderate Christianity, the complete incompatibility of beliefs the two have right now will drive them apart. Having moderates simply be the "enemy of your enemy" will never help you as long as they see Atheism as an even worse enemy.

And on that note...

3) Stop being dicks to Christians. If even Bob can't get on your side because of that, it should tell you something. You're never going to win over the extremists, the least you can do is stop scaring everyone else away.

And on even that note...

4) Be just as scornful to hateful Atheists as you want moderates to be of hateful Christians. The fact the Dan Savage got so much support from the Atheistic community should sicken you just as much as the support for Preacher Jackass up there sickened me.

And finally...

5) Don't sue over trivial things. It makes the whole "separation of church and state" issue seem like hyperbole, and gets real infringements taken less seriously.

Perhaps not all of those, but at least some of those would probably go a long way to Atheists getting to live in the sort of tolerant society they want and should be.

Thorbs said...

@TheAlmightyNarf

"1) Hold Atheism to the exact same standard you want Christianity held to."

Easy. The majority of atheists would no more support an atheist teacher telling children God does not exist than we would support a religious teacher preaching their religion. Again the Establishment Clause should cover this, and the ACLU should totally get involved. Teach the children our best, current knowledge of the world around us, and let the children make up their own minds.

I have great difficulty believing this happens to the same degree as with Christians though, to be honest.


"2) Pit moderate and conservative Christianity against each other."

There are many atheists trying to do this. They gain nowhere near the same level of media attention as what you would call the "hateful atheists". They have limited success, mostly due to the reasons I'll mention when I address point 3.


"3) Stop being dicks to Christians."

This is where it all falls apart, because, for the most part, we are not being dicks. A minority may insult christians as a whole, but mostly our criticism is focused towards particular church policy, or particular fundamental behaviour or people.

The thing is, in almost all cases, ANY critcism we make of your religion is percieved as offensive. Whenever we try to open a public dialogue about church policy, we immediately get labelled as being intolerant of your religion. It's exactly the same as when non-Muslims over here in the UK try to discuss the practices of Islam we are immediately accused of Islamaphobia. Even mentioning our existence is deemed as being offensive... just look at all the issues with atheist billboards being defaced and denounced by Christians, or banned by advertising companies because they may cause offense, regardless of how mild they are (A billboard with just the word "Atheists" and the contact details of an atheist organisation was deemed too "offensive" to be run). Proper public discourse is made impossible in these circumstances, and when we are effectively being silenced are you surprised that the bits you do get to hear tend to be dickish?

Thorbs said...

...continued (damn 4096 character limit!)


"4) Be just as scornful to hateful Atheists as you want moderates to be of hateful Christians."

Firstly, there IS much arguement and discussion between the moderate and militant atheists. These arguements are commonplace throughout the atheist community. In honesty, atheists spend almost as much time argueing with each other as they do argueing with the religious.

Mainly though, these things are not the same.

At most militant atheists will insult you or your religion. We do not issue death threats, try to legislate our beliefs, abuse children due to our beliefs, withhold medical treatment due to our beliefs, seek to limit the rights of others, defend child-molestation, bomb health clinics or call women who use them "sluts" and "whores", cause additional suffering to mourners by protesting at funerals, gloat and tell people they'll burn in hell (including children!), carry out acts of terrorism, mutilate the genitalia of our children, stone or behead people for not following out religious teachings (or just "offending" the religion), or commit genocide.

These things are not the same.


"The fact the Dan Savage got so much support from the Atheistic community should sicken you just as much as the support for Preacher Jackass up there sickened me."

Dan Savage made some remarks that Christians found insulting while discussing how Christian's reasons for opposing homosexuality are hypocritical. The points he made were correct. The Preacher was advocating the beating of children. These things are not the same.


"5) Don't sue over trivial things."

What you consider trivial may not be considered trivial by others. Also, don't force us to sue by completely disregarding complaints and advice.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ Thorbs

1

I really don't think it happens nearly as often as it used to in the 70s and 80s, but we're talking PR here. At least once there needs to be some big media circus covering that exact sort of thing.

2

Welcome to the same club moderate Christians are in. :/

3 & 4

Perhaps both moderate Christians and Atheists alike should make a conscious effort to make these sorts of internal conflicts more public?

It's interesting you the mention the billboard because a few months ago there as a big Atheistic convention of some sort not far from me and there were billboards all over the place advertising it, yet I don't recall the Christian community making any fuss about it... At worst it was a passive aggressive apathy, and a confusion as to why people would need to have a convention about not believing things.

I mostly just mentioned Dan Savage because he was a recent example, and yes, there are Christians out there who say far more harmful and hateful things. But, the point still stands. I mean, if Savage's goal was to convince Christians to be more accepting of homosexuality, do you think he actually helped that goal at all?

What I'm starting to realize may be our biggest hurdle at all is, as you mentioned, the media isn't interested in portraying moderates and will always go out of their way to find the most vile, hateful people they can to drum up viewership. As much as Christians may be hurt by that harming their public image, it hurts them all the more by making them apathetic to the worse parts of their community. And, of course, this hurts Atheists because moderates very well may not have any other way to make their voices publicly heard.

This, unfortunately, I don't have any solutions for.

5

I would actually love to hear your advice as to what I may be able to do from my end.