Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Wendy Wright, not so bright

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on February 9, 2010

The following interview of creationist Wendy Wright by Richard Dawkins has been making the rounds online. Warning! Listening to Ms. Wright can cause insanity and the desire to jump out of the nearest and highest window.


There are seven parts to this interview. You can watch the rest of them here, and no I did not watch them all in their entirety. I’m now nursing a massive headache from the few clips I did suffer through. The funny thing is, judging by the still-frame shots on the video players above, you could get the impression that Wendy is totally into Richard and some boot knocking is about to take place (in the empty cubicle to the left). Sadly, Ms. Wright’s smile is a mask and not a true expression of admiration and love. I can’t put my finger on the right term to describe what hides behind the mask…

Advertisements

49 Responses to “Wendy Wright, not so bright”

  1. Robin said

    In the second video, she actually says at 6:30, “Why is it so important that people believe as you do?” Really, Christian lady?? REALLY?
    Then she scoffs at the Anglicans accepting evolutions with a “Well, of course.”
    GRRR.

  2. Ann said

    She’s a parrot. A person who repeats the ideas they’ve learned and heard throughout their lives, without any evidence to support them, is a brainwashed parrot. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. I’d like to knock her lights out (I write this facetiously of course). Some of the things she is fighting against: lesbian and gay rights, abortion rights, emergency contraception (even in cases of rape), sex education in schools, embryonic stem cell research, the cervical cancer vaccination, the teaching of evolution in schools…all under the guise of a group called “Concerned Women for America.” Well I’m concerned. These women want to live in Biblical times. Wendy not so bright is advocating for female subjugation and Biblical fundamentalism. She’s internalized her religion’s and culture’s sexism. This group should be called “Religious Women for Fundamentalism (RWF).”

    Some of the world’s most prominent and influential philosophers in our history, those with contributions that have hugely affected the world’s societies and perspectives, have woven sexism throughout their philosophies (their repute doesn’t make those ideas rational). Some notable offenders: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Weininger, Kant, Hume, Wittgenstein, Socrates, Buddha, Plato and Aristotle. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have great ideas, but some of their ideas were warped by their misogyny. Likewise, religious fundamentalists have ideas warped by their religion–Wendy Wright and CWA are a case in point. I admit I have a hard time finding an area I agree on with her, umm, well yes, human trafficking is a bad thing…

    “The mission of CWA is to protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.”

    The CWA Statement of Faith is as follows:

    We believe the Bible to be the verbally inspired, inerrant Word of God and the final authority on faith and practice.

    We believe Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose bodily from the dead on the third day and ascended into Heaven from where He will come again to receive all believers unto Himself.

    We believe all men are fallen creations of Adam’s race and in need of salvation by grace through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    We believe it is our duty to serve God to the best of our ability and to pray for a moral and spiritual revival that will return this nation to the traditional values upon which it was founded.

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

    • JN said

      No editing. 🙂

      • JN said

        I meant “!”…

        • Ann said

          How’s this: A person who repeats the ideas they’ve learned and heard throughout their lives, without any evidence to support them, is a brainwashed parrot.

        • Ann said

          And I don’t mean that facetiously.

        • JN said

          Sure. I don’t know if it needed to be changed the first time. We all know what you meant, even if “parrot” tends to imply a lack of authority, or a lack of real power.

          The parrot cannot hear the parroter;
          Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
          […]
          The best lack all conviction, while the worst
          Are full of passionate intensity.

          (Yeats is turning and turning in his widening grave)

  3. Jerry said

    You’re right, she’s a smiling parrot. I would respect her more if she were nasty and mean like Rush or some of the more hateful fundamentalists out there. There seem to be a lot of right wing Christians who are terrified of conflict so they end up sounding like idiots because they’re nothing but disingenuous. I managed to listen to her for about 15 minutes, which is pretty good for me. If I’m feeling a little crazy, I listen to Kenneth Copeland’s psycho rants for about 10 minutes and realize I’m really not all that insane after all 🙂

  4. Paulo said

    What this lady is saying is this:

    “Believing in a creator makes me feel good and I refuse to look at any evidence which does not support my views. Not only that, I resent you for dismissing my views as unscientific even though I can’t give you any real evidence to support them other than my opinion that ‘Darwinism’ creates Hitlers, but I still want my views to be considered real science anyway.”

  5. JN said

    Wendy, Wendy, not so bright
    Standing dumbstruck in the night…

  6. JN said

    To be fair to Wendy, her organization doesn’t appear to be too concerned with science. To have a world famous scientist like Dawkins come interview her must have been pretty scary. It’d be like Ken Davids (coffee expert) going into a Starbucks and debating with the barista about coffee. Of course the barista is going to look like an idiot. He couldn’t tell you whether the coffee being served came from Sumatra, Mexico, or Canada. He could, however, give the company line about coffee and rant and rave about the success of the company. That’s how Wendy sounded to me. She really doesn’t know the answers, but she has to say something. I’m sure she’s probably a fan of Sarah Palin, who uses similar techniques.

  7. Ann said

    Yes, but knowing something or not about coffee doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans in the grand scheme of things. Whereas, having the kind of influence Wendy does (between 250,000 to 750,000 members plus all the people who listen to and respect her opinions), and the power to destroy people’s lives with the policies she supports, is virtually criminal. Ignorant people with power are dangerous people.

    • JN said

      Actually, I thought the coffee analogy was pretty good. It may not seem to add up to a “hill of beans,” but it does (both literally and figuratively). Coffee has been destroying lives for years, often going beyond the “virtually criminal.”

      • Ann said

        You are comparing Dawkins to a coffee expert and Wendy Wright to a barista. It’s a false analogy.

        • JN said

          Most analogies are false to one extent or another. Your use of the word ‘parrot’ contradicts just about everything else you’ve said about Wendy Wright. So what.

  8. Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

    “Sadly, Ms. Wright’s smile is a mask and not a true expression of admiration and love” – This is such an arrogant statement. How can you propose to know this woman’s heart from the expression on her face? I thought fundamentalists were the only judgemental people in the world?

    Why are all of you so angry about this woman’s expression of faith, just because you don’t agree with her? Aren’t you all relativists? I’m assuming that you base your perception of truth on scientific proof, but that doesn’t answer moral questions. So, on what moral basis can you say that you’re right and this woman is wrong? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that you would use the argument that “what’s best for society is morally right”, but who/what determine’s what’s best for society? How is that measured? Where is your scientific proof that pro-choice abortion laws, for example, are beneficial for our society?

    I would love to come back to this blog from time to time and see some articles of positive reinforcement of your version of truth, because you can’t convince anyone that you’re right just by telling them that everyone else is wrong.

    • I fail to see how my statement is arrogant. You are taking my very specific statement, “Sadly, Ms. Wright’s smile is a mask and not a true expression of admiration and love” as a sign that I am “proposing to know this woman’s heart.” I don’t know anything about her heart — that is between her and her cardiologist — but I do know that she does not feel admiration and love for Dawkins. Are you claiming that she does feel those things? Of course you aren’t, so I’m guessing you are merely upset that I would dare disagree with a Christian. That is not arrogance, any more than your opinion that billions upon billions of people will burn in hell for all eternity is arrogant.

      I, personally, am not angry with Ms. Wright, but I do think she is a willfully ignorant person. The emotions I feel in relation to her are pity and sadness, not anger.

      No, I am not a relativist. I do not think there is a moral right or wrong in the Absolute sense (i.e. a supernatural deity who came up with morals) that you mean, so I cannot answer your question; it is a meaningless one to me. But that is a red herring anyway: the rightness of evolution is a question of evidence, not of moral Absolutes (for which you have no evidence, by the way). No, I would not use the argument “what’s best for society is morally right.” I would say that society does determine a lot of what IS CONSIDERED morally “right,” but much of that is also determined by our instinct, human biology, culture, etc. The people who determine what is best for society are the people with power in that society–as you well know. Our laws have been built up and modified over thousands of years. I do not understand your question about scientific proof for pro-choice abortion laws, since I have never claimed that morals have a basis in the scientific method. That is a question that makes no sense to someone who doesn’t agree with the assumptions underlying it. I think you are constructing straw men drawn from your assumptions and prejudices about what atheists think. As far as laws and ethics go, the topic has been covered multiple times on this blog. Feel free to browse the site using the “ethics” category.

      Frankly, I don’t think that very many humans above the age of 30, who still believe in the supernatural, are likely to be convinced that they are wrong about the nature of the cosmos. When you have that much of your identity invested in something, it is hard to admit it is all a lie. I am certainly not trying to convince you that you believe in ancient stories no more real than the myths of Zeus. You have no rigorous standard for evidence in the first place, since you believe that virgins can get pregnant and men can fly up into the sky in chariots, simply because a book says it happened, so what could possibly convince you?

      As for our “positive reinforcement” of our version of the truth, we non-believers have widely different philosophies and heuristics for life. These are discussed in most of the essays on this site. You will not find an essay titled “The Importance of Following Through on Your Promises,” simply because we have no central text with a list of beatitudes. You have to do more reading through the longer posts to get at how we think life should be lived. I would also suggest looking at the links listed on the right-hand side where some good key world-view-forming texts are located.

      • Ann said

        Science is the best method humans have for determining the truth. That doesn’t translate into science being a religion, or that morals only exist if there is a God. They have little to nothing to do with each other. When you take religion and God out of the picture, morals still exist. Why do religious people believe they have a monopoly on morality. I don’t need God to answer moral questions. If nothing else, it takes away responsibility for my moral decision-making.

        P.S. No rigorous standard for evidence–you left out talking asses, walking on water, multiplying food, resurrection from the dead, starving lions that won’t eat you, a raging fire that won’t burn you, walls that fall down when you walk around them and blow some trumpets, etc, etc, etc, etc. But if we don’t believe all of this, or don’t have faith, or don’t experience some kind of divine inspiration, with no evidence otherwise but the Bible, a book written by tribal MEN 2000 years ago (the New Testament–the Old Testament is even more ancient), we’re idiots and arrogant. I’m just sayin’…

        • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

          “Science is the best method humans have for determining the truth” – What basis do you have for making such a statement? The word “best” is another judgement call that insinuates that there is a “right” or “correct” way of determining truth and a “wrong” or “incorrect” way. How do you know that your way is “right”? What if there is more than one “right” way?

          “That doesn’t translate into science being a religion, or that morals only exist if there is a God” – I’m not claiming that science is a religion. I’m also not claiming that you can’t make moral decisions unless you believe in God. Sorry if that wasn’t clear in my original post. What I’m really asking is this: Is there any such thing as absolute truth and, if so, how does this apply (if at all) to morality? How can you possibly object to Wendy Wright’s basis for morality, for example, unless you believe that there is such thing as absolute morality (i.e. unless you believe that there are “right” morals and “wrong” morals).

          “But if we don’t believe all of this, or don’t have faith, or don’t experience some kind of divine inspiration, with no evidence otherwise but the Bible, a book written by tribal MEN 2000 years ago (the New Testament–the Old Testament is even more ancient), we’re idiots and arrogant.” – I read over my original post, and still fail to see where I even came close to insinuation that you all were idiots. I personally perceive that you are all probably much more intellectual than I am. I appologize if I came across that way. And the “arrogant” comment was a comment about a statement, not a judgement of anyone’s character.

        • Ann said

          I think you are likely a good and intelligent person. My comment about atheists being considered idiots and arrogant was a general response to all theists who view atheists in a derogatory light. Theists believe God is real and there is something lacking, faith, that needs to be changed about any person who doesn’t believe—otherwise there would be no missionaries.

          That said, in regard to evidence based truth versus belief based truth, I understand you are convinced God is real despite the lack of evidence to support your belief. But wanting or believing in moral absolutes doesn’t make moral absolutes a reality. A need for and belief in the concept of moral absolutes stems from your belief in a deity. Morals have developed over time through the biological/psychological/social interaction of humans with their environment, and most human morals are pretty universal. How morality is applied can differ greatly though. Wendy’s decision-making is based on a belief that God exists, and believing in a religion that provides answers to what is right and wrong absolutely does have the potential to cause harm. She believes she has God on her side, but has no evidence for what she believes. She does not trust or have real knowledge regarding science. So when science refutes what she believes, she ignores the evidence. Her decision-making has been influenced fundamentally by her belief.

          Yes, it’s my opinion that relying on science lends to more moral decision-making. It provides us with foundational knowledge for making informed moral decisions. For instance, science provides us with the knowledge that the cervical cancer vaccination and sex education in schools does not increase sexual activity among teenagers but does prevent serious diseases and pregnancies, that a person’s sexuality is biologically based and has nothing to do with sinful nature, that evolution is a truth and should be taught in schools as thus in order to provide evidence based education for our children, that abortion should be a choice women make about their own bodies and lives since a fetus is not divinely breathed into at a molecular level. Once the idea of God and sin is removed, moral decision-making develops out of the knowledge that we are all godless humans. There is no eternal punishment or reward after this life. God is not in heaven watching over us. We alone are responsible for our lives and decisions, including how we treat, punish, and reward people. Merely believing in an idea does not make that idea real (that God exists, that Jesus was the son of God, that moral absolutes exist).

          The use of science as a method to increase our understanding of the world does not require belief. Science is a method that provides us with evidence for what is true about our world. And, if I’m to be honest with myself, I have to accept that at this point in time there is no evidence, there has never been any evidence, that God exists. This is not an opinion. This has nothing to do with any personal belief. It’s simply the truth.

          I recommend reading the following blog (in addition to this one): http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/

        • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

          “My comment about atheists being considered idiots and arrogant was a general response to all theists who view atheists in a derogatory light.” – Fair enough, but if we’re being honest, there are just as many atheists who consider theists to be idiots based on what they believe. I could point to at least three or four quotes on this thread alone to support this (look at the title of this thread for example).

          “I understand you are convinced God is real despite the lack of evidence to support your belief” – I can’t scientifically prove that God exists any more than you can scientifically prove that God doesn’t exist, but there is plenty of evidence to support the existence of God. It just doesn’t happen to be evidence that you accept.

          “But wanting or believing in moral absolutes doesn’t make moral absolutes a reality” – You’re making a lot of assumptions about what I believe and my motivations for believing. You’re correct in your assumption about my belief in God, but you couldn’t be more wrong about WHY I believe in God. It’s actually very inconvenient for me to believe what I believe. I would much rather do as I please rather than having to answer to a higher power. It would be really safe to believe that there is no such thing as hell. I would much rather feel like I am in complete control rather than believing that God is the one who is in control. It would be pleasant for me to be relieved of the burden of guilt and to believe that I was a naturally good person instead of a naturally sinful being.

          “Morals have developed over time through the biological/psychological/social interaction of humans with their environment, and most human morals are pretty universal” – This is a very interesting topic for me, so I appologize in advance if I am a little long-winded on this one. If morals are constantly evolving, then you have to grant that there is the possibility that something that is currently universally accepted from a moral perspective could some day be overturned. We could look at slavery for example. 150 years ago, slavery was universally acceptable from a moral perspective, and it is currently unacceptable. What if abortion is our current day slavery issue? What if 150 years from now, abortion is no longer unviversally acceptable from a moral perspective? If that is even a slight possibility, how can you argue that anything is “right” or “wrong”, knowing that could change? What you’re really saying when you make any statement of moral value is that BELIEVE that it is “right” or “wrong”. You seem to be supporting your argument by saying that it is universally accepted. But, how many people have to accept it before it becomes true for you? Is it “majority rules”, or is there some specific percentage required? Also, you seem to be supporting your argument by saying that morals have evolved over time, so they are much better now than they were in the past. What basis do you have for this type of argument? How can you proove that something is “good” just because it is “new”? Also, if morals are constantly improving, don’t you have to allow for the fact that morality would some day be “perfect” given enough time? If so, doesn’t that lend itself to the existence of moral absolutes?

          “it’s my opinion that relying on science lends to more moral decision-making” – I’m glad you used the word “opinion” and I’ll take that for what it’s worth

          “For instance, science provides us with the knowledge that the cervical cancer vaccination and sex education in schools does not increase sexual activity among teenagers but does prevent serious diseases and pregnancies, that a person’s sexuality is biologically based and has nothing to do with sinful nature, that evolution is a truth and should be taught in schools as thus in order to provide evidence based education for our children, that abortion should be a choice women make about their own bodies and lives since a fetus is not divinely breathed into at a molecular level” – This is shocking. I must have been skipping school to brush up on my catechism when this was being taught in my science class. How does science prove that a person’s sexuality has nothing to do with sinful nature? Science has nothing to say about sinful nature. How does science prove that abortion SHOULD be a woman’s choice? The word “should” doesn’t exist in the realm of science. It is a statement about your opinion, and nothing more. Again, this goes back to the topic of moral absolutes. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion regarding the issue of abortion, but how can you argue that you’re right and I’m wrong regarding this issue if there are no moral absolutes?

          “Merely believing in an idea does not make that idea real (that God exists, that Jesus was the son of God, that moral absolutes exist). ” – I’m going to agree with you here and just rephrase your quote: “Merely believing in an idea does not make that idea real (that God doesn’t exists, that Jesus wasn’t the son of God, that moral absolutes don’t exist). “

          • Ann said

            Evidence is evidence. The reason I won’t accept your evidence is because you don’t have any evidence to give me. There is no evidence of any miracle actually occurring or of a prayer actually working or of a revelation from God actually happening that can be verified. If there were real evidence, we would all know God was real–and evil considering how he treats people. It wouldn’t be a belief though since there would be evidence. I’m not sure why you think I’m making assumptions about why you believe in God since I didn’t write anything about why you believe in God. And I’m really not interested in discussing how inconvenient it is for you to believe in God. I don’t know you so I don’t care about your inconvenience other than to say religion does not keep people from doing what they please, since they are doing what they please to believe what they do. Something being inconvenient doesn’t make it real either. But I suppose it must be hard to believe you are such a bad person and experience so much guilt over being a sinful being.

            Regarding morals, I didn’t write anything about morals progressing toward a more perfect state. I wrote that morals change, just as humans change. Ideas about what is right and wrong change. We think through our decisions, but whereas I use evidence to avoid doing what I think is immoral–like attempting to prevent abortions or labeling sexuality as sinful–you use your religious teachings. I don’t have any desire to argue with you over what you think is right and wrong and trying to prove there are correct right and wrongs. Morals are generally universal, but we all have to use our personal judgment to make decisions. I simply don’t agree that religion promotes morality. I’d say religion promotes immorality. For instance, God promotes offering your daughters to men in your town for raping in order to protect male visitors from being raped (rape is rape). The Bible states homosexuality is to be thought of as sin.

            The idea of a sinful nature is purely a religious belief. There’s no evidence of sinful nature, but there is evidence of biology and instincts. We know from evidence that biology drives our sexuality, not a sinful nature (a religious belief). Science has shown us how a fetus develops from a sperm and an egg, that it is composed of a bunch of molecules, and that this fetus goes through a developmental process before becoming a baby. Science has provided us with the composition of a fetus, but we have absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it is divinely vested with a soul or a sinful nature (the later is creepy to think about).

            I’m not trying to convince you of anything since I am fairly certain you cannot be convinced. I don’t want to debate with you any further since this is redundant. I’ll sum it up. There is no evidence that God exists, there is no reason for me to believe that God exists, and why would I “believe” that God exists without legitimate evidence.

            • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

              Ann – I agree that his conversation is becoming redundant, so I will respectfully drop it, but I hope you don’t mind if I summarize a couple of final thoughts (since you were afforded the same):

              First of all, I think we need to define the word “evidence”. Evidence is defined as “that which TENDS to prove or disprove something” or “ground for belief”. I haven’t claimed (and never would) that anyone can prove with absolute certainty that God exists, but it sounds like that is the only thing that you would accept. The evidence that has been listed been listed by “Angry Calvinist” is real evidence that lends itself to the existence of God, the same way that fingerprints lend themselves to a guilty verdict in court. You wisely aluded to the fact that “belief” wouldn’t be “belief” at all if your definition of “evidence” existed.

              You (along with Jerry) misunderstood my statements about the inconvenience of faith. See my reply above to Jerry if you’re curious.

              I wrongly assumed that you believed that moral were progressing towards a more perfect state (my appologies). But, you did state that you use evidence (I’m assuming scientific evidence) to make moral decisions, and scientific evidence is constantly progressing, so you can see how I would make this assumption. I would continue to argue that this belief in ever-shifting morality is a bit flimsy. Based on this belief, you would be justified in arguing that slavery is morally acceptable, especially since it was once widely considered so.

              As for your argument that religion promotes immorality, you are, again, basing this on your perception of morality outside of the existence of absolute morality, so it’s really just your opinion. You would be better off saying that you find some of God’s actions distasteful. Also, when you make a statement like that, I think you’re overlooking a lot of what the Bible teaches about “love, joy, peace, patientce, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (the “fruit of the spirit”).

              I hope you don’t think I’m just trying to get the last word in here, but I just wanted to make sure I was clear on a couple of these points. Of course, I’d be happy to continue the conversation and hear your arguments if you don’t feel like we’re just going around in circles.

              • Ann said

                Keith–When I communicate with you it’s like having a two-way mirror between us. You are communicating, but don’t know I see, hear, and understand you. From your side, you cannot see or hear me, let alone understand me. The debate could be, and is with many Christians, endless. Communicating with religion/mysticism believing people in general means not being able to have a straight conversation about things. Belief clouds perspective. I personally prefer directness and rationality. Among the things I’ve learned about myself, I know I suck at manipulative and passive-aggressive behaviors. I generally find manipulative behavior distasteful. I deal with it enough on a daily basis at work. So I am going to tell you directly what I’m thinking.

                Due to your belief system, you believe I’m a bad (sinful) person. I need God to make me a good (saved) person. You don’t think I’m telling you the truth. For me, having a conversation about the mythical being God would be like discussing Santa with you, only God is used to justify ideas and actions that I know are immoral and have harmed untold numbers of people. You believe in something with no evidence of its existence to begin with and are trying to place responsibility for disproving it on me. This is completely illogical thinking. Regarding defining terms, I recommend using dictionary definitions to improve communication. I don’t want to continue a conversation that will go in circles, but I do want the last word…by definition, if you are brainwashed, you don’t know you are brainwashed.

                • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

                  Ann – I detect a little touchiness in your writing voice. Maybe this two-way mirror that you perceive is a result of me answering questions and being very clear about what I believe (penetrating the mirror for your comprehension), and you dodging all challenging questions, making few positive assertions, and, instead, resorting to name calling (staying on your side of the mirror, leaving me in the dark).

                  I won’t ask you to disprove the existence of God, but I will ask you to acknowledge some of the challenging questions that you have failed to address. If you have understood me as well as you claim, this shouldn’t be any trouble for you:

                  1. Without absolute morality, you can’t make a moral argument of any value.
                  2. Evidence for God exists, but you reject it because it doesn’t fit nicely into your world view. If you would like to discuss specifics, we can.
                  3. You’ve claimed that “the use of science as a method to increase our understanding of the world does not require belief”, but ultimately, your rejection of God and your reliance on science is a belief system in and of itself. How do you know that scientific observation is reliable, for example? How can we scientifically prove that we even exist? You really can’t claim anything with certainty without some element of belief.

                  I’m sure you’ll say that I just keep repeating the same arguments, and you’re right. I will continue to do so until I hear any compelling counter arguments.

                • I’m sure you’ll say that I just keep repeating the same arguments, and you’re right. I will continue to do so until I hear any compelling counter arguments.

                  No, you won’t, because there are NO arguments that will convince you. I believe Ann said she wanted the last word. I’m sure she’ll be back to get it, and if you continue to repeat arguments that have already been refuted and responded to, I’ll kick you off the site. This blog is not a democracy–I’m sure a Christian who follows the “King” can understand what it means to obey and follow orders.

                • Ann said

                  Maybe you could post comments on another blog with people who don’t mind repeating themselves? I’ve addressed the 3 points pretty clearly–reading my previous comments over and over would provide the same effect.

      • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

        “I don’t know anything about her heart — that is between her and her cardiologist — but I do know that she does not feel admiration and love for Dawkins. Are you claiming that she does feel those things?” – I’m not claiming to be able to know her personal feelings towards Dawkins based on her facial expression. No one can. Of course, I don’t have any problem with you having an opinion about this woman. To be honest with you, I probably tend to agree with you about my personal OPINION about this woman’s feelings for Dawkins, but it is simply an opinion. My problem is that you present it in such a way (with arrogance) that suggests that you know with absolute cerntainty how this woman feels towards Dawkins. It would be like me observing you in a verbal argument with your spouse and proclaiming with certainty that you don’t love him/her. It would obviously be presumptious of me to make that assumption.

        Anyway, we’re splitting hairs on that issue and it’s probably not worth arguing about. On to the bigger issues…

        “I do not think there is a moral right or wrong in the Absolute sense (i.e. a supernatural deity who came up with morals) that you mean, so I cannot answer your question; it is a meaningless one to me. ” – I fully admit (which is why I asked you to “correct me if I’m wrong” in my original post) that I don’t have a good understanding for the basis of your moral judgement. We can agree (I hope) that you make “moral” decisions every day. You may use a different term to describe them, but you certainly have a personal opinion or belief that certain actions are “right” or “good” and other actions are “wrong” or “bad”. If we cannot agree on that, there’s probably no sense discussing this any further. If we can, however, then I would ask you to explain how the “rightness” or “wrongness” of an action doesn’t exist in an Absolute sense, but at the same time is not “relative” (since you are not a relativist). This is not a leading question…I don’t propose to know your answer to this (I’m genuinely curious).

        “As for our “positive reinforcement” of our version of the truth, we non-believers have widely different philosophies and heuristics for life.” – How are these philosophies and heuristics measured? Why would your philosophy/heuristic, for example, hold any more weight than anyone else’s? What if, for example, I based my philosphy on Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” and adopted a “live and let die”, cutthroat lifestyle, crushing anyone that got in the way of my success. I think both you and I would object to this lifestyle. We would object for different reasons, but we would both object to the way that type of person treated others around him/her. Based on my perception of your statement above, you can fundamentally disagree with this person’s lifestlye, but I fail to see how you would have any basis for an argument against this type of lifestlye, other than your personal opinion.

        • Keith, I have already replied to these questions numerous times on this blog. Later on today, I will post links directly to the areas that address your questions. (In case you feel like browsing before then, my discussion with Angry Calvinist answers all of the questions you’ve asked.)

        • I’m not claiming to be able to know her personal feelings towards Dawkins based on her facial expression. No one can. Of course, I don’t have any problem with you having an opinion about this woman. To be honest with you, I probably tend to agree with you about my personal OPINION about this woman’s feelings for Dawkins, but it is simply an opinion. My problem is that you present it in such a way (with arrogance) that suggests that you know with absolute cerntainty how this woman feels towards Dawkins. It would be like me observing you in a verbal argument with your spouse and proclaiming with certainty that you don’t love him/her. It would obviously be presumptious of me to make that assumption.

          Anyway, we’re splitting hairs on that issue and it’s probably not worth arguing about. On to the bigger issues…

          Sounds like you are responding to my writing voice. I assert what I think, and I imagine that you find my opinions and thoughts distasteful. That does not equate with arrogance. Or, if it does, it pales in comparison to the arrogance of someone who claims that an old book of myths they believe in reveals the meaning of life, the universe and everything, and anyone who thinks differently deserves to be tortured for eternity. Now THAT is arrogant. It is equally arrogant for missionaries to go to foreign countries to tell folks how wrong they are about what they believe, and how evil their cultural values are. I think your scale for measuring arrogance is out of whack. You’re absolutely right, it’s not worth arguing about, but—yet—you did argue about it.

          – I fully admit (which is why I asked you to “correct me if I’m wrong” in my original post) that I don’t have a good understanding for the basis of your moral judgement. We can agree (I hope) that you make “moral” decisions every day. You may use a different term to describe them, but you certainly have a personal opinion or belief that certain actions are “right” or “good” and other actions are “wrong” or “bad”. If we cannot agree on that, there’s probably no sense discussing this any further. If we can, however, then I would ask you to explain how the “rightness” or “wrongness” of an action doesn’t exist in an Absolute sense, but at the same time is not “relative” (since you are not a relativist). This is not a leading question…I don’t propose to know your answer to this (I’m genuinely curious).

          I decided that posting the links to what I already said is more time consuming than simply writing my thoughts again—since they are my thoughts, and since I have a bit of time, I’ll go ahead:
          I guess I should begin by pointing out that the word “morality” never appears in the Bible. Instead, what we have is law. Arbitrary law at that. For instance, it’s okay for God to order babies dashed on rocks, but if I felt like doing that right now, it would be wrong. Simply put, the Bible does not present morals (things that are good in and of themselves), it presents laws whose goodness or badness change depending upon what value God decides to imbue them with at the time.

          Back to your comments: yes, I do make decisions based on my personal system of ethics and morality that just so happens to overwhelmingly align with the system used by many in our modern society. That is no coincidence. You don’t go around not owning slaves because the Bible says its wrong (since, as you know, it’s perfectly okay to own slaves, and beat them lightly, in the Bible)—you don’t own slaves because our modern society says it’s wrong. It’s called the spirit of the times: the zeitgeist. So of what value is the Bible as a moral guide when it is filled with so many contradictions and shifting ideas of what is “moral”? and when many of those morals are abhorrent to us now? Well, I think it’s useless. It should have gone the way of other ancient religions a long time ago, only it hit the religion jackpot (along with the other major religions in the world). It was in the right place at the right time, and it had some great salespeople and thinkers along the way who erected a house of theological cards to accompany it on its journey from the more ignorant and superstitious past to our age (an age in which only a few hundred years of the application of the scientific method has created more knowledge of the world than thousands upon thousands of years under the reign of religious superstition and outright falsehoods about the nature of the cosmos and humanity posited by “holy” texts).

          The reason my ideas of rightness or wrongness are not relative is because they have their root in something: human biology. As an analogy, look at human speech. There are limits to what can be done with language, orally and grammatically, due to the fact that the human mouth can only make so many types of sounds, the human ear can only hear certain sounds, and the human mind can only grasp so many grammatical units. There are thousands of languages, yes, but grammars only deviate so far. There is an underlying universal grammar that is based in human biology. Note that none of this has anything to do with supernatural Absolutes. These limits come about not because of a supernatural entity placing a hand of influence on language. Rather, that limit comes about from the limitations of the human mouth and brain. So let’s go back to ethics. They have actually done studies of people where they present them with moral dilemmas and ask what actions (that would result in the death of another human) are justifiable ethically speaking. Regardless of the person’s religious belief or lack thereof, something like 98% of the people made the same call in very difficult moral choices. We are talking about a sampling of people who are Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, atheists, agnostics, etc.

          But human biology is not the only thing affecting our ideas of right and wrong: there is also the effect of human culture. The Bible falls under that category, but so does the law system, ideas of rightness and wrongness expressed through society-wide moral tales (I’m sure, as a missionary, you know that moral tales in Africa are different from those in America, France, China, etc.) So biology (instinct) and culture get mixed up with the chemical wiring in the brain of the individual—all of that contributes to each individual’s sense of right and wrong. I should point out that there is no value placed on morals that have their roots more in one camp (instinct, culture or the individual’s brain wiring) than another. Also, it is, at this point in time, impossible for us to separate out the influence of instinct, culture, etc. So a person would never be able to say, “Well, my idea to feed the poor is more “right” than your idea to tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps , since I’m listening to instinct and you are listening to culture.” The truth is ALL moral decisions have their root in our biology and culture—ALL OF THEM. That means both the “moral” and “immoral” decisions we make are equal in the eyes of nature. There are no morals in nature (ask the recently gutted gazelle). This means that morality is a human construct. We get to create the world we want to live in. I, personally, want my kids to grow up in a world where they are loved and nurtured, and where they don’t have to see people being raped or murdered on the way to work. Why? Because there are real harmful affects from it (Post traumatic stress disorder, etc.), but also because I am a child of my society’s zeitgeist. I can imagine a better world, but I can also imagine a worse one. I’m appreciative of the positive and hope to change the negative—but many of those things are culturally based whereas others are tied more to long-lasting biological drives.

          Simply put: morals are human constructs or are derived directly out of the demands of instinct and biology. As such, they MUST be run by humans who are very thoughtful and thorough about why they are applying law and whether it must be applied. It is the height of irresponsibility to hand over those important decisions about human civilization to a book of myths (written by humans who didn’t even know the world was round!) Let’s make decisions off of the best information we have—not off of books that treat slavery and harems as if they ain’t no thing.

          – How are these philosophies and heuristics measured? Why would your philosophy/heuristic, for example, hold any more weight than anyone else’s? What if, for example, I based my philosphy on Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” and adopted a “live and let die”, cutthroat lifestyle, crushing anyone that got in the way of my success. I think both you and I would object to this lifestyle. We would object for different reasons, but we would both object to the way that type of person treated others around him/her. Based on my perception of your statement above, you can fundamentally disagree with this person’s lifestlye, but I fail to see how you would have any basis for an argument against this type of lifestlye, other than your personal opinion.

          These heuristics are measured by humans in society (and those humans are constrained by their biology and culture as they make those evaluations), and, when they are valued by those who are able to gain power, they become law. Throughout history, we see people placing positive moral value on some pretty violent and disturbing things: witch burnings, etc. Values evolve, just like everything else in this universe. Values have evolved from the times of the Bible to now. Or are you going to argue that we should be executing people for working on the Sabbath? You really do have to throw out logical consistency to make the horrifying things condoned in the Bible seem “moral.” You might not like that values evolve, but all the evidence of history shows that they do. Whether or not you like something has nothing to do with whether your God exists. In other words, simply because you would prefer that morals are based on supernatural absolutes doesn’t mean that “poof” your God exists out of your personal preference for the roots of ethics.

          In your mention of Darwin, you are actually describing something known as Social Darwinism. It is a form of thought that takes the theory of Natural Selection, a descriptive theory, and turns it into a chauvinistic PRESCRIPTIVE theory with a dash of racism thrown in there. Social Darwinism has its roots in the racist theories of the superiority of White men that predates Darwin, but that’s a side point. But let me ask you this: would you really go around doing those things to people? If you were to actually sit down and think about what your life would be if you did those things, I think you would discover that you would probably destroy some important aspects of human interactions. You would become a pariah. None of this has anything to do with supernatural absolutes—people don’t act like that because society’s zeitgeist doesn’t find it acceptable. How dictatorial king’s acted in the past would be seen as immoral today—that is the evolution of values. My objection to a Social Darwinist’s behavior is not simply my personal preference: it is the preference of the vast majority of my society and the moral zeitgeist. Let me prove it by asking you a question. Keith, would you own slaves, or would that be morally wrong? If it is morally wrong, how do you know that? It can’t be because your God says it’s wrong, since He clearly condones it by telling the Israelites how to treat slaves. Here is another: Is it morally wrong to dash the infants of your enemies on the rocks? Again, in your holy book God orders the Israelites to do this. So remind me why your belief in Absolute morals is correct while my understanding of morals is wrong?

        • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

          “it pales in comparison to the arrogance of someone who claims that an old book of myths they believe in reveals the meaning of life, the universe and everything, and anyone who thinks differently deserves to be tortured for eternity” – I hate to keep arguing about this, but I have a couple of things to say. You’re absolutely right in stating that I was responding to your writing voice (I detected a hint of arrogance). Let’s agree to disagree on that one, since it’s just my opinion and I fully admit that I could have misinterpretted your writing voice. I would ask you to kindly explain the arrogance involved in believeing what I believe. How would it be any more arrogant of me to believe that the Bible reveals the meaning of life than it would for you to believe that your science books can provide the meaning (or lack thereof)? It sounds like you consider faith to be something that is “attainable” by human effort, and is therefore an accomplishment, when the Bible clearly teaches otherwise. It I was sitting here patting myself on the back and insinuating that I was better than you because I worked hard enough to accomplish my own salvation, I could see the validity of your argument, but that’s not what I believe. I just wanted to clear that up, since it seems to be a common misconception about christians.

          “So of what value is the Bible as a moral guide when it is filled with so many contradictions and shifting ideas of what is “moral”? and when many of those morals are abhorrent to us now? Well, I think it’s useless” – Are you claiming that morality outside of a bilbical perspective is any different? Let’s take your example of slavery. It was once considered acceptable and is now abhorrent. So, I could say “of what value is our modern society as a moral guide” just as easily.

          “There is an underlying universal grammar that is based in human biology” – What is this underlying universal grammar that you speak of? Conscience? I’ve never seen this in a biology textbook.

          “Regardless of the person’s religious belief or lack thereof, something like 98% of the people made the same call in very difficult moral choices” – This is a very interesting study. Do you have any more information on it? Regardless, it doesn’t suprise me, as it correlates with a lot of Christian theology and a lot of the writings of John Locke and John Calvin. It sounds like you think that Christians are claiming to be the only ones with a conscience as their guide. You won’t find that anywhere in the Bible. In fact, the very idea of the existence of a conscience in every individual is often used as an argument for the existence of God.

          “That means both the “moral” and “immoral” decisions we make are equal in the eyes of nature” – Take this for what it’s worth, but this idea is very unappealing to me. Obviously I’m not using my opinion as an argument against the validity of your belief. Maybe I’m just trying to appeal to your innate sense of “right” and “wrong” that you mentioned above. Why would we all be born with this common concept of morality to help us distinguish between “right” and “wrong” if both are equal?

          “Let’s make decisions off of the best information we have—not off of books that treat slavery and harems as if they ain’t no thing.” – What information are you using to make your decisions? Unless I missed something, I still haven’t heard an answer to this question. Based on your previous statements, the decisions you make a more of a product of your biological makeup and your culture than a product of your intellect or any information that you’ve gathered.

          “You might not like that values evolve, but all the evidence of history shows that they do” – I might not disagree with you as much as you think on the topic of values evolving over time. I would probably describe them as “changing” rather than “evolving”, with the important distinction being that I don’t necessarily believe that values are better today than they were in the past. But, it’s important to note that we’re talking about cultural values, which is completely separate from the idea of moral aboslutes. The two concepts are not mutually exclusive. Certainly, the “common practices” of a society have changed over time, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be moral absolutes that can tell us with absolute certainty whether or not these cultural values are “right” or “wrong”.

          “In other words, simply because you would prefer that morals are based on supernatural absolutes doesn’t mean that “poof” your God exists out of your personal preference for the roots of ethics.” – Again, I think you and Ann are both off on this one. God set the bar a lot higher than our society when it comes to morals. It would be a lot easier for me believe that morals are based on the ever-changing tide of popular opinion, rather than being based on supernatural absolutes.

          Thanks for taking the time to post all of this information. It was very well-written and very enlightening. I’m sure we’ll eventually have to agree to disagree, but in the meantime, this is giving me a much better understanding of what you believe and why you believe it. My intentions here were really to gain a better understanding of what you believe and why you believe it, and maybe to challenge you a little in the same way that you all continue to challenge christian theology.

      • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

        One more thing on the issue of moral absolutes: Obviously, we have one of two options here…either there are moral absolutes or there aren’t. It’s not something that can be scientifically proven, so what basis would you have for arguing against the existence of moral absolutes, other than personal belief? I would assume that one of your objections is that the belief in moral absolutes goes hand in hand with the belief that “I’m right and everyone else is wrong”. In fact, I’ve seen those very same objections against statements of moral absolutes on this blog. But, if you’re using personal belief as a basis for your argument against moral absolutes, you yourself are fundamentally arguing that you’re right for believing so and I’m wrong for believing otherwise. How is that any different?

        On the other hand, if there are no moral absolutes, then there is chaos. Any statement about the moral value of an action is completely subjective and meaningless. In the words of the Big Lebowski, “that’s just, like, your opinion man”.

        • It’s not about right or wrong in the moral sense; it’s about right or wrong in the factual sense. An awareness of the fact that morals are social constructs (with biological and cultural roots) means that those morals are placed in brackets with an understanding that many of them will continue to evolve. How could a person like me argue that I am correct in an absolute sense for all eternity about a moral precept? I never would. When I say that something is wrong, I am leaving unsaid the fact that that moral might change. In your worldview, you act as if morals do not change, despite the fact that they change within the pages of the Bible!

          I think you are equating “no supernatural moral absolutes” with “chaos.” Christians do this often–I was also taught to equate the two. Think about it for a minute. Why should they be equated? Using that Christian logic, areas of the world that did not have the Bible should have been in utter chaos. Were they? Absolutely not. All civilizations and communities had laws–or they wouldn’t have functioned as communities. Ergo, your equation is false. The Big Lebowski is a great film, by the way!

  9. Jerry said

    Keith, you’re just repeating a form of the moral argument for the existence of God. In fact, I would argue that evolution and biology have wired us in a way to understand that certain activities are right or beneficial for the species and that other activities are wrong or harmful. What’s so bad about that?

    Here’s your circular argument: God as I have defined him is the only one who can guarantee an ethical certainty about the world, therefore, in order to live in the world I see around me, God must exist and that ethical certainty must exist.

    The fact is, neither your moral absolute nor your god exists. And if your god did exist, then he has done a pretty lousy job of maintaining order in a world so full of chaos at all levels. You fail to see the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of the moral decisions that your god has made throughout the history of Judaism and Christianity. You would probably suggest that however God chooses to behave is the definition of morality, so it can’t be questioned. In fact, if you would actually read critically through the Bible you would find that your God has acted in an arbitrary and childish way throughout the course of human history. The Bible is not only a collection of bad literature, but a moral and ethical minefield.

    And of course, you will probably say (as you already said) that if this is true, then “anything goes.” Well, what people actually imply when they argue in that manner is that they don’t trust themselves to make moral or ethical judgments about the world, which is sort of silly. The fact is that you use your powers of reason to make judgments about all kinds of things all the time.

    If you’re driving down the road and see that the bridge is out just ahead, do you keep driving straight ahead based on faith that God is in control of the world and that God will save you? No, I would suspect that you use your powers of observation and reason 99.99% of the time to make rational decisions about how you will live — except when it comes to something you have been brainwashed into believing. So when it comes to questioning God or his decisions, those are off limits. Why is that? Because you’ve stacked the deck — God (who was created and defined by you and by others like you) can’t be questioned and God isn’t really responsible to any humans for what he does or how he behaves (actually, this is the central question the author struggles with in the Book of Job). And you haven’t even shown me any evidence at all that your god exists any more than Baal or Zeus did.

    If you really want to talk with atheists about this issue, then you will have to start thinking for yourself because parroting what some minister or Christian apologist says just won’t cut it.

  10. cirquedemoi said

    “have you seen homo erectus?”

    huh huh…..huh huh.

    get you some richard!

  11. Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

    Apparently, between me and Wendy, we’re really chirping up a storm with all of our parroting. I must have forgotten to renew my subscription to the Atheist Newsletter because I didn’t know that “parroting” was the word of the month. Let’s see how many more times that word can be used in this thread.

    But seriously, are you really claiming that most of what you’re stating here isn’t aped (no pun intended) from Darwin and Dawkins? Or, did you come up with the theory of evolution all by yourself? And all of these arguments against Christianity? They just popped into your head out of nowhere from all of that free thinking that you’ve been doing? The fact is that most of what you’re arguing here has been argued ad nauseum by people like Dawkins, but you already know that because you’re obviously a very intelligent person that has read most of those arguments against christianity, which you’re now repeating in one form or another. That doesn’t diminish your argument (or mine), so let’s leave that alone.

    “I would argue that evolution and biology have wired us in a way to understand that certain activities are right or beneficial for the species and that other activities are wrong or harmful.” – You would argue this, but can you back it up with any real proof?

    “What’s so bad about that?” – Nothing, it sounds great. But I’ll go ahead and paraphrase The Chaplain by saying that whether or not you like something has nothing to do with whether or not it is true.

    “Here’s your circular argument: God as I have defined him is the only one who can guarantee an ethical certainty about the world, therefore, in order to live in the world I see around me, God must exist and that ethical certainty must exist.” – I never came close to making this argument. In fact, I haven’t come close to trying to prove that God exists. So, this argument does not apply to anything that I have said so far. Have you read my posts?

    “In fact, if you would actually read critically through the Bible you would find that your God has acted in an arbitrary and childish way throughout the course of human history” – So, you’ve read critically through the Bible? Out of curiousity, what do you find arbitrary and childish in God’s actions as taught in the Bible? Regardless, you’re entitled to your opinion about God’s actions, but, again, just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    “Well, what people actually imply when they argue in that manner is that they don’t trust themselves to make moral or ethical judgments about the world, which is sort of silly” – That’s sort of close to what I’m saying. I trust myself to know right from wrong (for the most part), but I don’t trust myself (or people in general for that matter) to make good decisions. Do you? Watch the evening news on any given night and you’ll find countless examples of people making awful moral decisions. I also don’t trust that everyone will always agree on what is right and what is wrong. How do you handle those disputes? The problem I have with moral relativism is that it becomes impossible to argue that any action is “right” or “wrong”. How can you argue that the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were morally objectionable, for example? How can you argue with absolute certainty that slavery is wrong?

    “I would suspect that you use your powers of observation and reason 99.99% of the time to make rational decisions about how you will live — except when it comes to something you have been brainwashed into believing” – True, I’m sure I use reason to make most of my decisions, but I don’t trust reason to always lead me in the right direction, and I don’t trust the ability reason to answer all of my questions. You can go ahead and reply with the “God of the gaps” criticism, but let me just say that I don’t suddenly abandon reason when it comes to matters of faith. The fact is, no one knows with absolute certainty whether or not God exists. You can’t prove that he doesn’t, and I can’t prove that he does. So, both of us believe in something that we don’t know for sure (you believe God doesn’t exist, and I believe that God does exist), and we use our reason to support that belief. There you go again using words like “brainwashed” to place judgement and to assume that you know why I believe what I believe.

    “And you haven’t even shown me any evidence at all that your god exists any more than Baal or Zeus did.” – For evidence, see the thread with “Angry Calivinist”. I could list all of the same arguments here, but I would suspect that none of you would find the evidence acceptable, so it would be a complete waste of time. As “Angry Calvinist” asked repeatedly, what evidence would you find acceptable?

  12. Jerry said

    When it comes to debating about religion or the existence of God, most likely “there is nothing new under the sun.” You obviously are upset at my use of the word “parroting”, but I suspect it’s not the insinuation that you are just repeating what you’ve read as much as it is the suggestion that Christians are birdbrains. My point is this: if I’m going to spend time blogging with someone, I’d like to hear something different than the same crap I’ve heard for years, and that only comes from what an individual believes because, based on my own experience as a fundamentalist, the variations in belief, even among fundamentalist Christians — if told honestly — would be pretty interesting, esp. to those who think they control orthodoxy.

    My atheism was came from my own reading of the ancient texts of the Bible and by comparing those texts to other literatures. I have never read more than a random paragraph or heard a random one-minute excerpt from Dawkins or any atheist, for that matter. Most of us humans are rarely original, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to be a little more creative in our styles of presentation. Don’t assume we are all atheists on this site — look at the name of the site. My own skepticism began during many years of formal training in biblical studies. If you want to know what started it all, read Bernard Anderson’s “Understanding the Old Testament.” It may not do the same for you, but his book made me realize how the ancient Israelites derived so much of their tribal theology from their neighbors for the purposes of nation building and military conquests, and I began to see it was all just shared mythologies.

    But you haven’t said much of anything about what you believe.
    There are some themes, though:

    1) Indignation at this article’s attack on your “allies” (used loosely)

    “Why are all of you so angry about this woman’s expression of faith, just because you don’t agree with her? Aren’t you all relativists? I’m assuming that you base your perception of truth on scientific proof, but that doesn’t answer moral questions.” and
    “Fair enough, but if we’re being honest, there are just as many atheists who consider theists to be idiots based on what they believe.”

    You really shouldn’t worry about what others think about you. I know some extremely intelligent people who are devout fundamentalist Christians. I don’t agree with them, and personally think their religion is harmful and foolish, but it doesn’t mean I don’t respect their intelligence. There are also idiots on both sides, so the ad hominems don’t go very far here. Why do you care if I think you’re brainwashed? Go ahead and feel free to think I’m a ______ or whatever. It does speak to your motivation, though.

    2) Your need for morality to be “absolute”

    “What I’m really asking is this: Is there any such thing as absolute truth and, if so, how does this apply (if at all) to morality? How can you possibly object to Wendy Wright’s basis for morality, for example, unless you believe that there is such thing as absolute morality (i.e. unless you believe that there are “right” morals and “wrong” morals).”

    You seem to be fixated on this “absolute morality” you speak of. If you don’t define absolute morality in terms of God himself, then how are you thinking about it? This is my point about your (unknowing) reference to the moral argument and confusing a collective agreement about what constitutes many things right or wrong with something you call “absolute morality.” BTW, this moral struggle sounds awfully personal to you.

    3) Insisting that atheists don’t have proof for what we say. I’ll paraphrase your own words here: “I could list all of the same arguments here, but I would suspect that (none of) you would(n’t) find the evidence acceptable, so it would be a complete waste of time.” We atheists do not have a Great Commission like Christians do, so we spend most of our time simply trying to keep religious nuts from jailing us, outlawing us, or otherwise interfering in our lives. Nevertheless, nothing I say will change your mind; it will only come from your own doubts within you.

    4) A expression of uneasiness with your own beliefs.

    “You’re correct in your assumption about my belief in God, but you couldn’t be more wrong about WHY I believe in God. It’s actually very inconvenient for me to believe what I believe. I would much rather do as I please rather than having to answer to a higher power. It would be really safe to believe that there is no such thing as hell. I would much rather feel like I am in complete control rather than believing that God is the one who is in control. It would be pleasant for me to be relieved of the burden of guilt and to believe that I was a naturally good person instead of a naturally sinful being.” and “The fact is, no one knows with absolute certainty whether or not God exists.”
    Actually, a lot of fundamentalist Christians do exactly as they please; they make God in their own image to justify as many of their behaviors as possible. And from my point of view, it looks like you’re taking what you see as the “safe bet” so you won’t end up going to hell. I thought you were supposed to be motivated to obey God out of your love for him. You have revealed a side of yourself that I struggled with when I was a Christian also — that I really didn’t love God, I just didn’t want to end up in hell (I personally thought God was a little crazy, at best).
    But this is perhaps the most enlightening statement you’ve made about yourself. It speaks volumes about how miserable it must be for you to be a Christian (if that’s what you are — you haven’t really made it all that clear). Most people I know are just trying to live their lives, get an education, a good job, have a family they love, stay healthy, maybe take a vacation every year — where’s all this “sin” that you seem to be so fixated on? What terrible things has your religion taught you about yourself? I doubt they are true, honestly. This is one of my themes — that Christianity fundamentally teaches us that we are evil beings and that our natural state is so depraved that we only deserve an eternity of hell. What an awful way to look at human beings! What does your inner “moral sense” tell you about a religion that teaches such awful things? Are we all serial killers or rapists? I mean, really, what a vicious thing to teach children about themselves. If true, then God really is the most vile being I can think of (and what makes you think he’s in control of anything? It sure looks like evolution and the universe are in control, if anyone is.)
    But there is something even more important about what you’re saying here. There is an uneasiness in your words with your own personal faith — an uneasiness that I and others like me felt for many, many years as grew up and was indoctrinated by Christian theology. And that tiny crack of uneasiness grew over time.

    • Keith [Angry Calvinist's younger brother] said

      “his book made me realize how the ancient Israelites derived so much of their tribal theology from their neighbors for the purposes of nation building and military conquests, and I began to see it was all just shared mythologies” – I’ll have to check out that book, but based on your description, I’m sure I would draw different conclusions. The fact that some people throughout the course of history have misused religion for their own selfish purposes does not, by any logical standard, prove that they invented a set of mythologies and called it religion for that purpose. That would be like saying that cavemen used wood to build fires, so they must have invented trees.

      “But you haven’t said much of anything about what you believe.” – I’d be happy to, if you’re interested. You’re probably right in a lot of your assumptions about my belief, but I do think there are a couple of key theological beliefs that you’ve misunderstood about me (which I’ll explain below).

      “You really shouldn’t worry about what others think about you” – I confess that this has always been a weakness for me, and I will take your advice to heart. I disagree that it speaks to my motiviation, though. After all, the safest bet would have been to keep my mouth shut if I was really THAT concerned about what you thought of me.

      “If you don’t define absolute morality in terms of God himself, then how are you thinking about it?” – This is a great question. I’ll admit, it’s very difficult to think about the existence absolute morality without the existence of God. The two go hand in hand. This would only reinforce my belief that God exists, since I also logically believe that absolute morals exist (again, I’m not using the moral argument here, because I’m not trying to use the concept of absolute morality to prove that God exists). I’m assuming that would only reinforce your belief that people invented God because of their need for absolute morality. We’re just drawing two different conclusions here, and ultimately, we’re choosing two different sets of beliefs.

      Actually, it’s practically impossible to think about absolutes in general without the existence of God. So, in reality, it’s impossible to be absolutely certain about anything without the existence of God, which is why I have an easier time understanding agnosticism than atheism.

      “confusing a collective agreement about what constitutes many things right or wrong with something you call “absolute morality.” – How have I confused a “collective agreement” with “absolute morality”?

      “BTW, this moral struggle sounds awfully personal to you.” – Shouldn’t it be VERY personal to everyone? It’s a very important question.

      “Insisting that atheists don’t have proof for what we say” – I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think you have a lot of evidence to support what you believe, but ultimately you are making claims based on a set of beliefs or assumptions. If you trace all scientific claims to their roots, they eventually end up making assumptions. For example, most scientific “proof” is based on observation, but on a really basic level, how can we even be certain that what we are observing is actually happening? How can we be certain that our senses aren’t misleading us? So, it is impossible for any of us to know anything with absolute certainty.

      “A expression of uneasiness with your own beliefs” – You’ve misunderstood two arguments that I’ve made:

      1. The (Real) Inconvenient Truth: My statements about the inconvience of faith were not personal statements about my reluctance to believe in God. I was merely trying to suggest that, faced with the choice of believing in God vs. believing that God doesn’t exist, on a purely selfish level it would be much easier to believe that God doesn’t exist. I was only making this argument to demonstrate that it isn’t very realistic to assume that christians only believe in God because they want to believe in God. It would actually be more realistic to assume that atheists believe that God doesn’t exist because they want to believe that God doesn’t exist.

      If you’re interested in my personal beliefs, I happen to believe in the christian concept of predestination, so there was no “choice” for me. In other words, God changed my heart and convinced me of the truth in such a way that I was willing and able to follow Him instead of chosing the alternative. The natural choice (and easier choice) would have been to become my own god and reject the existence of a real God.

      2. Knowledge vs. Faith: When I say that no one knows with absolute certainty whether or not God exists, I’m trying to make the point that this isn’t something that can be proven. I did not mean to suggest that I have my doubts. It might not seem logical to be certain of something that you can’t prove, but that’s what faith is all about.

      “Christianity fundamentally teaches us that we are evil beings and that our natural state is so depraved that we only deserve an eternity of hell…What does your inner “moral sense” tell you about a religion that teaches such awful things?” – I’ll be honest with you, it’s a tough pill to swallow. I’d much rather not believe in hell. I’d much rather believe that I’m a naturally good person and that I don’t need salvation. But, again, just because I want to believe something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

      Thanks for taking the time to post.

  13. Al [Angry Calvinist impersonating a Criminal Justice professor] said

    Keith makes some excellent points here. Any rationally thinking person would have to see that the attempt at logic and the unfounded skepticism demonstrated by the parroting regulars on this website is complete folly and certainly does not demonstrate independent thought. As Keith points out, NOTHING is positively asserted in the posts on this website. Those who post here have decided to allow the very faith that they’ve now turned from to in fact define them to the point of dedicating a whole website towards making negative assertions against the opposing viewpoint instead of asserting anything positive or new. I’ve even seen that The Chaplain has identified in some of his past postings that this as a weakness in his writing, as he has held summits for the authors on this site to strategize on new ideas and has built new websites to try to say something more positive, but always comes back to the negativity as if drawn to it as lifeblood. I’ve heard people joke about this as the “angry ex-girlfriend” syndrome. You know the one, that lady that always wants to tell you how so over her ex-boyfriend she is. It’s easy to play the skeptic; anyone can do it (every grad school student is a wonderful skeptic). Of course every human being also has a skeptical dial that they turn up or down depending on how they feel about the premises and conclusions they are reacting to. Because those on this site do not like the premises and/or conclusions being asserted by theists, they turn their skeptical dial way up to a level that they could never live with if they applied the same level of skepticism to their routine, everyday life. So while you folks wanna play psychologist with Keith and try to untangle his motives and thinking (as if you should even care, but you obviously do because you actually took the time to write about it), assert something positive and stick to evidence.

    Since Keith raises the moral argument for the existence of god, let’s start there. A good argument is defined as: a) one in which the conclusion logically falls from the premises (i.e., a logically valid argument), and b) one in which the premises are more plausible than their negation. Let’s be careful how we throw around the word evidence. The reality is virtually nothing in life can be proven in the mathematical sense (for example, how do we know that the world didn’t just start yesterday with an appearance of age?). So we are looking for logically sound arguments with premises that are more plausible than their negation. We’re dealing in terms of probability and odds. There obviously is some subjectivity to how one see’s plausibility, since the typical writer on this site views it highly improbably what I think is quite plausible and likewise I see it patently absurd what the typical writer on this site finds plausible (although I can’t say for sure what the typical writer on this site finds plausible, since again virtually no positive assertions are made). So let’s look at the “moral argument”. Here’s the formal argument:

    Premise 1: If a god does not exist then objective moral values do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values do exist.
    Conclusion: therefore a god exists.

    Does it pass the first test? Yes, most certainly. This is a formally valid argument in terms of logical validity. Now to the second test…are the two premises more likely than their negation? I think Keith has done the legwork to demonstrate that these two assertions are more likely and sensible to believe. What objective frame of reference for right or wrong is there if a god does not exist? Who cares in any ultimate sense if I own slaves, or kill Jews, or steal from the cash register at work? This is exactly what nihilist writers like Nietzsche realized when they had the courage to take their thinking to its logical conclusion. If the man next to me is nothing more than dirt in the grand scheme of it, then who’s to criticize me for sending him back to dirt a little early if I can get something out of it? What worth does anyone have? I’m sorry but there is just nobody that can tell me that whatever I want to do is wrong. It may be the minority view. It may land me in jail. The next person (or even 99.9% of people) may think it’s mean-spirited, hurtful, etc., But you can’t tell me I’m wrong (of course you can tell me whatever you want, but why should I listen to you anymore than you should listen to me about my ideas of what I think is right or wrong).

    So the moral argument is a completely plausible and compelling argument providing evidence for the existence of god. But as Keith also points out, what will the likes of Jerry and Ann accept as evidence? I suppose that the folks here are so close-minded that no amount of evidence will ever suffice. So the mantra keeps getting repeated that there is no evidence for god. But wishing this is true and repeating it over and over does not make it true. You dismiss real evidence as not being real evidence and then parrot (there’s that word again) the phrase “you have no evidence” over and over again.

    Another common technique I’ve noticed with you types are that you jump to the particulars at the expense of good hermeneutical techniques for interpretation (e.g., jumping to Bible stories like the destruction of sodom without utilizing literary tools of interpretation of the text). Anyone who has studied and is familiar with literature should be versed in these basics. Again, a double-standard applies. These rules would be applied to the interpretation of some other ancient text but are not applied to the Bible. My suspicion is the writers on this site were victims of poor theological teaching and training (by parents, educational institutions, or otherwise) in their former lives as Christians. This is unfortunate. Sloppy theology is prevalent in the modern evangelical church and does tend to drive people away from the church due to all of the holes that can be poked in it. It also seems as if the writers on this site take pride in grabbing low-hanging fruit by attacking the theologically weak. The equivalent would be me taking to task an impressionable young college freshman who read “The God Delusion” once and now wants to argue against the existence of god before even taking a Logic 101 class or reading the classical arguments against the existence of god. It’s just not a fair fight.

    It’s funny too how the same points brought out by several writers on this site can easily be thrown right back at them. Here’s one I hear often…in so many words, every person is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. In other words, I’ve heard it said that I might not like that god doesn’t exist but that doesn’t change the fact of whether he does or doesn’t exist. The same rules apply. The writers here don’t like it that god hates homosexuality. But if god exists and god has made plainly clear that he hates homosexuality then what the readers on this website do or don’t like matters little. Again, this is an example of turning the “skeptical dial” up on the premises because one doesn’t like the conclusions.

    I’d like to just once read some original thought on this website. I’m with Keith. There just isn’t anything original being written here. Just like Jerry might want to hear something new from a Christian every once in a while, I’d like to hear something new from a writer on this site every once in a while. We’re ultimately just talking over one another if we keep repeating the same played out arguments. So that’s the challenge to the writers here. Posit something new.

    • Keith makes some excellent points here. Any rationally thinking person would have to see that the attempt at logic and the unfounded skepticism demonstrated by the parroting regulars on this website is complete folly and certainly does not demonstrate independent thought.

      Yes, yes, we are all irrational and full of folly—I get it.

      As Keith points out, NOTHING is positively asserted in the posts on this website.

      I’m not inclined to accept your assertions without evidence—just as I am not inclined to accept your claim that a Jewish man flew up in the sky and was God, without evidence.

      Those who post here have decided to allow the very faith that they’ve now turned from to in fact define them to the point of dedicating a whole website towards making negative assertions against the opposing viewpoint instead of asserting anything positive or new.

      My former beliefs define who I am not by my own choice. I was raised in Christianity, so, for better or worse, that whole legacy of myths will color my life until I die. Blame my parents, not me.
      As for your second charge, I disagree. Almost every post on here refers to, or directly states a better heuristic for life: a non-superstitious one. You are probably focused on what you see as the negative part (statements that your religion’s claims are false), because you reject the many alternatives out of hand. By the way, I don’t see stating the truth about believing in myths to be a negative thing. That is your perception.

      I’ve even seen that The Chaplain has identified in some of his past postings that this as a weakness in his writing, as he has held summits for the authors on this site to strategize on new ideas and has built new websites to try to say something more positive, but always comes back to the negativity as if drawn to it as lifeblood.

      You might want to perform a closer reading of the entries where I touch on this subject, as your summary of them presumes things I have not thought or stated. It is true that I briefly had another site that ignored Christianity to a certain extent. The problem with it was that it was focused entirely on what I think. Non-believers have different philosophies (that’s why they’re called free thinkers), so it was becoming a difficult task to design a site that could reflect the philosophies of other non-believers while also staying true to the particularities of my philosophy. And, on a bare practical level, I just didn’t have the time to design and write for another site. The free time I do have is more than eaten up by this site.
      P.S. Summits whose goal is to come up with new ideas? Lol! The only “summit” I ever had involved a lot of drinking, eating, and TV watching. Methinks you are looking for tattered cloths to attach to your theory of this site.

      I’ve heard people joke about this as
      the “angry ex-girlfriend” syndrome. You know the one, that lady that always wants to tell you how so over her ex-boyfriend she is.

      Clever name-calling, but you have failed to think your analogy all the way through. If you had, you would know that that makes my “ex-girlfriend,” the lovely, long-haired Jesus!

      It’s easy to play the skeptic; anyone can do it (every grad school student is a wonderful skeptic).

      Quite the opposite: if it’s so easy you go ahead and do it. Devastate your family and friends by telling them you don’t think like they do about Jesus. See how “easy” it is. You’re just talking out of your ass here. You don’t have a clue. And what do you know about grad students? It doesn’t mesh with the grad students I know or knew.

      Of course every human being also has a skeptical dial that they turn up or down depending on how they feel about the premises and conclusions they are reacting to. Because those on this site do not like the premises and/or conclusions being asserted by theists, they turn their skeptical dial way up to a level that they could never live with if they applied the same level of skepticism to their routine, everyday life. So while you folks wanna play psychologist with Keith and try to untangle his motives and thinking (as if you should even care, but you obviously do because you actually took the time to write about it), assert something positive and stick to evidence.

      Actually, I live life as a skeptic. My dial stays fixed at the same level everyday. Mission already accomplished.

      Since Keith raises the moral argument for the existence of god, let’s start there. A good argument is defined as: a) one in which the conclusion logically falls from the premises (i.e., a logically valid argument), and b) one in which the premises are more plausible than their negation. Let’s be careful how we throw around the word evidence. The reality is virtually nothing in life can be proven in the mathematical sense (for example, how do we know that the world didn’t just start yesterday with an appearance of age?). So we are looking for logically sound arguments with premises that are more plausible than their negation. We’re dealing in terms of probability and odds. There obviously is some subjectivity to how one see’s plausibility, since the typical writer on this site views it highly improbably what I think is quite plausible and likewise I see it patently absurd what the typical writer on this site finds plausible (although I can’t say for sure what the typical writer
      on this site finds plausible, since again virtually no positive assertions are made). So let’s look at the “moral argument”. Here’s the formal argument:

      Premise 1: If a god does not exist then objective moral values do not exist.
      Premise 2: Objective moral values do exist.
      Conclusion: therefore a god exists.

      Does it pass the first test? Yes, most certainly. This is a formally valid argument in terms of logical validity. Now to the second test…are the two premises more likely than their negation?

      Are you serious? You are wasting my time, as it is clear you know nothing about logic. What you have discussed above is a syllogism. It is not a valid one. For one, your first premise presupposes that the existence of a deity (I’m guessing your deity of preference and not the Hindu ones) would result in absolutes. The truth is, the first cause would need an explanation too. Your second premise has no evidence. Imagine a similar syllogism to see your flaws:
      Premise 1: If the king of fairies does not exist, then pixie dust does not exist.
      Premise 2: Pixie dust does exist.
      Conclusion: therefore the king of fairies exists.
      Seriously, does the syllogism you created really convince you? You must be convinced of the existence of the fairy king now as well then.

      I think Keith has done the legwork to demonstrate that these two assertions are more likely and sensible to believe. What objective frame of reference for right or wrong is there if a god does not exist? Who cares in any ultimate sense if I own slaves, or kill Jews, or steal from the cash register at work?

      Why do you assume an objective frame of reference exists? You obviously think it does need to exist, but your need does not prove the existence of a God. Again, you Bible condones slavery, so, using your logic here, not even it could get things right with the Absolutes that you claim it holds the key to. Next argument please!

      This is exactly what nihilist writers like Nietzsche realized when they had the courage to take their thinking to its logical conclusion. If the man next to me is nothing more than dirt in the grand scheme of it, then who’s to criticize me for sending him back to dirt a little early if I can get something out of it?

      You can’t even work out a simple syllogism without getting lost in the maze of your muddled mind. You expect me to believe you understand Nietzsche’s writing? That’s hilarious! Nietzsche is dense and damn-near indecipherable: I don’t think it’s unfair to liken you to a parrot. Is it Ravi’s assessment of Nietzsche you are parroting? Dobson’s perhaps? Which of Nietzsche’s writings are you referring to?

      Apparently, nothing is stopping you from killing other people, except for your belief in false myths of past cultures. I’ll remember to steer clear of you!

      What worth does anyone have? I’m sorry but there is just nobody that can tell me that whatever I want to do is wrong. It may be the minority view. It may land me in
      jail. The next person (or even 99.9% of people) may think it’s mean-spirited, hurtful, etc., But you can’t tell me I’m wrong (of course you can tell me whatever you want, but why should I listen to you anymore than you should listen to me about my ideas of what I think is right or wrong)

      I’m disturbed that you would have to ask what worth people have. I think it’s simply a reflection of the fact that your religion tells you people are disgusting, miserable and evil things. You don’t have to listen to me or anyone else. Those absolutes simply do not exist. I still fail to understand why you would want to go out and hurt and kill people simply because your beliefs are myths. When I recognized the falsehood of my belief system I didn’t feel like doing anything evil. Cultures without the Bible exist just fine without killing each other–they didn’t need a list of Absolutes handed to them by some folks in the Middle East in order to set up their cultures and civilizations. You have been told that all hell will break loose without Absolutes, but that kinda HAS to be an argument your religion makes. Otherwise, of what use is it? Well, it would be useless–which it is.

      So the moral argument is a completely plausible and compelling argument providing evidence for the existence of god.

      You were convinced of this from the start, and you never provided any evidence to support this. Let’s not pretend that you actually performed an honest mental exercise with a tentative hypothesis and falsifiable evidence. That would be lying, and Jesus hates liars. In fact, He burns ‘em in hell.

      But as Keith also points out, what will the likes of Jerry and Ann accept as evidence? I suppose that the folks here are so close-minded that no amount of evidence will ever suffice.

      Yes, in your bizarre world, Jerry and Ann are closeminded. LOL!!! I’m still waiting for the evidence you keep referring to. And no, your ignorant use of the worse syllogism ever constructed does not equal evidence. Where is your falsifiable evidence? Did Jesus whisper in your ear? Did you get a tingly feeling in your extremities in church the other day? Did you find a bag of money on the bus with your name on it? I need evidence!

      So the mantra keeps getting repeated that there is no evidence for god. But wishing this is true and repeating it over and over does not make it true.

      Irony.

      You dismiss real evidence as not being real evidence and then parrot (there’s that word again) the phrase “you have no evidence” over and over again.

      I keep repeating it, because you still haven’t provided it. Give me just one piece of evidence that God exists—not an attempt to use a logical tool you don’t comprehend. Keep it simple, so you don’t get confused: just give me one piece of evidence that your God exists. And I mean your God, not Zeus, or some other deity.

      Another common technique I’ve noticed with you types are that you jump to the particulars at the expense of good hermeneutical techniques for interpretation (e.g., jumping to Bible stories like the destruction of sodom without utilizing literary tools of interpretation of the text). Anyone who has studied and is familiar with literature should be versed in these basics. Again, a double-standard applies. These rules would be applied to the interpretation of some other ancient text but are not applied to the Bible. My suspicion is the writers on this site were victims of poor theological teaching and training (by parents, educational institutions, or otherwise) in their former lives as Christians. This is unfortunate. Sloppy theology is prevalent in the modern evangelical church and does tend to drive people away from the church due to all of the holes that can be poked in it. It also seems as if the writers on this site take pride in grabbing low-hanging fruit by attacking the
      theologically weak. The equivalent would be me taking to task an impressionable young college freshman who read “The God Delusion” once and now wants to argue against the existence of god before even taking a Logic 101 class or reading the classical arguments against the existence of god. It’s just not a fair fight.

      Arguing with you is definitely not a fair fight, I’ll give you that. This section of yours is difficult to decipher. Are you suggesting that other texts claim to be the Word of God? How could it be unfair to point out that God ordered infants dashed on rocks? Are you claiming that this order goes away when you use “literary tools of interpretation”? You are playing in a field with kids much more experienced than you. I actually have an advanced degree in literature, so don’t pretend to be able to school me with literary theory or interpretation. Another one of the people you are attacking went to one of the top theological seminaries in the world. You’ve got a bad case of the Emperor’s new clothes. You can fake your way through some things in life, but don’t let your emotions get the best of you—check yourself before you make yourself look more like a fool.

      It’s funny too how the same points brought out by several writers on this site can easily be thrown right back at them.

      And the irony continues…

      Here’s one I hear often…in so many words, every person is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. In other words, I’ve heard it said that I might not like that god doesn’t exist but that doesn’t change the fact of whether he does or doesn’t exist. The same rules apply. The writers here don’t like it that god hates homosexuality. But if god exists and god has made plainly clear that he hates homosexuality then what the readers on this website do or don’t like matters little. Again, this is an example of turning the “skeptical dial” up on the premises because one doesn’t like the conclusions.

      Except that the Jews who lived thousands of years ago hated homosexuality, not God. Unless you are also willing to concede that when God orders the babies brains dashed on the rocks, He is speaking for himself and not for someone else out of “literary interpretation.” And, actually, if I remember correctly, the word homosexual never appears in the Bible. The scholars will have to help me out on that one.

      I’d like to just once read some original thought on this website. I’m with Keith. There just isn’t anything original being written here.

      Good, then go away! I won’t miss you. Go share your hate with your hateful friends. Go practice your delusions and rituals with your equally deluded friends. I don’t need or want you around. Cheerio!

      Just like Jerry might want to hear something new from a Christian every once in a while, I’d like to hear something new from a writer on this site every once in a while. We’re ultimately just talking over one another if we keep repeating the same played out arguments. So that’s the challenge to the writers here. Posit something new.

      I’m not trying to say anything new. I’m simply saying, “Your God isn’t real.” If you don’t want to hear it, then piss off. ☺

      • Ann said

        “I keep repeating it, because you still haven’t provided it. Give me just one piece of evidence that God exists—not an attempt to use a logical tool you don’t comprehend. Keep it simple, so you don’t get confused: just give me one piece of evidence that your God exists. And I mean your God, not Zeus, or some other deity.”

        Just one.

        “I’m not trying to say anything new. I’m simply saying, “Your God isn’t real.” If you don’t want to hear it, then piss off. ☺”

        Eloquently expressed–and my thoughts exactly. If Al has such vehement dislike for the content of this website, then why is he reading it?

  14. Al [Angry Calvinist impersonating a Criminal Justice professor] said

    Usually when I don’t have time for somebody or want them to “piss off” or generally find them mentally inferior then I just ignore them. Obviously something has struck a chord with you since you took time out of your oh so busy schedule (which apparently has no concern for the likes of me) to actually provide a lengthy, point-by-point response to me. Since you like to repeat pet phrases over and over like “writing voice”, let me say too that your writing voice clear demonstrates a bitterness usually associated with unresolved personal issues. Whenever I read phrases like “you don’t have a clue”, “you are talking out of your ass”, “you’re wasting my time” (which again I’d have to point out that you chose to respond), “you know nothing about logic”, “your muddled mind”, “in your bizzare world”, “piss off”, etc., etc., then I know I am not dealing with a kind or rational person. Instead I’m dealing with a person who clearly has some unresolved anger issues and deep hostility. So it’s actually kind of funny that you would take the time to respond to both me and Keith. Let’s see just how much of your time we can waste.

    As to my outline of the moral argument for the existence of god (which by the way you seem to confusingly think I originated; it is actually a centuries-old argument for the existence of god), show me what logical fallacy has been committed by this syllogism? You may not agree with the premises but it’s an air-tight syllogism. Premise #1 does not pre-suppose a deity; it’s an “if” statement. It ties the existence of objective moral values to the existence of a god, so that if one goes away then the other goes away. You can dispute this premise by finding its negation more plausible (i.e., that the existence of a god and objective moral values do not go hand in hand), but it’s a valid premise that does not make any pre-supposition of a deity. Further, the “first cause” I think you’re referring to can be explained by another solid, logically valid argument for the existence of god, namely the “argument from contingency”. The first premise of that argument is that “every existing thing has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause”. I would argue that the explanation for the existence of god is in the necessity of his own nature. It’s a misapplication of the law of causality to hold that everything needs a cause; all that is required is that every effect has a cause. If god is the “unmoved mover” or the “first cause” or “self existent” then he requires no cause. But back to my Moral Argument syllogism. On the second premise, again, you find it more plausible that objective moral values do not exist. I find that implausible since I generally find statements like “rape is wrong” objective and not up for subjective interpretation. So our disagreement cannot be in the formal validity of my logical argument (for it commits no logical fallacy); instead our disagreement must be in how we see the likelihood of the two premises. What evidence do you have that the existence of god and objective moral values do not go hand in hand? What evidence do you have that there are no objective moral values? As far as your silly little syllogism about pixie dust, The problem with this is that it is easy to find the negation of premise #2 way more believable than the premise itself (i.e., I’m more inclined to believe that pixie dust does not exist than to believe that it does, so the argument is not convincing).

    Which verse are you referring to about God commanding the dashing of babies on rocks (and which popular book did you read to come up with this example?)? Regardless of which verse it is, it doesn’t matter because I don’t have a problem with it. If I believe (which I do) that God is omnipotent then I have to believe that he determines when and how every human being dies. And every human being does die, I hope we can agree. So if life is God’s to give, then it is his to take away at his whim. There is no moral evil there. In God’s ultimate plan, if he wants to have babies brains dashed on rocks then that’s his perogative. Who am I as a mere mortal man to question this? God owes me nothing. I and every other human being deserves condemnation. I believe in a holy and just God that cannot accept one single mistake or mark of impurity. Since there is no person I know of that meets the criteria of being perfect then we all deserve the worst and are fortunate to receive anything other from God. Without even reading the specific verse you are referring to, I will concede that God speaks for himself there. Not a problem for me. It seems to instead be a problem for you. Why is it a problem for you and what evidence do you have to support it being a problem?

    Just curious, you refer to one of you attending a “top theological seminary”. Which theological seminary did one of you attend?

    NOW…I need some evidence from you. Since you didn’t like me evidence, I want to see what evidence you can provide me (and I’m quite sure you’re pride is going to get the best of you and you’re going to fall right into my trap and respond to me, even though you don’t have the time for me). Here are some statements you make that I’d like a response to:

    – “almost every post on here refers to, or directly states a better heuristic for life: a non-superstitious one” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “I don’t see stating the truth about believing in myths to be a negative thing” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “non-believers have different philosophies (that’s why they’re called free thinkers)” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “I just don’t have the time to design and write for another site” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “methinks you are looking for tattered clothes to attach to your theory of this site” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “…you have failed to think your analogy all the way through” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “my dial stays fixed at the same level every day” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “you know nothing about logic” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “your first premise presupposes the existence of a deity” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “the truth is, the first cause would need an explanation too” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “your bible condones slavery” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – Nietzsche is dense and damn-near indecipherable” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “those absolutes simply do not exist” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “you have been told that all hell will break loose without absolutes” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “…the worse syllogism ever constructed…” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “not an attempt to use a logical tool you don’t comprehend” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

    – “arguing with you is definitely not a fair fight” I’M NOT INCLINED TO BELIEVE YOU WITHOUT SOME EVIDENCE

  15. Ann said

    Comment to myself: I highly doubt any formerly fundamentalist Christians become atheists because of a few influential people in their lives (such as the Chaplain, Jerry, Brandt, and Paulo–I’m a fortunate woman). Getting to where I am now was a long, arduous process involving a lot of reading, thinking, and holding my belief up to the light.

  16. Paulo said

    Premise 1: If a god does not exist then objective moral values do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values do exist.
    Conclusion: therefore a god exists.

    The moral argument stinks of Platonism.

    I have a problem with Premise 2. I’m not even sure we’ve established that objective moral values do exist. I certainly don’t think so. (What???) Yeah, most people agree with statements like “rape is wrong” (fortunately), but how does the opinion of the majority make a moral judgment objective? Why is rape wrong? The only thing we can all agree on so far is it seems to make the vast majority of us “feel bad.” Well, why does it make us feel bad? Explanations for the existence of shared moral values would involve reasons as to why we evolved (yes, evolved) similar reactions in the first place and why societies develop moral codes. Simply saying “because absolute morals exist” doesn’t cut it, it explains nothing.

  17. Al [Angry Calvinist impersonating a Criminal Justice professor] said

    Don’t worry Keith, the only way they can win in the exchange of ideas is by bullying and censorship. The fundamentalists here are just fundamentalists by a different name. They can kick us off this site but that won’t stop God’s truth from marching on. As Martin Luther said “the body they may kill, but God’s truth abideth still”. The purpose of this site apears to be some kind of support group (think along the lines of alcoholics anonymous). By their own behavior they’ve demonstrated that they’re close-minded. Close-minded people are not intellectually honest. They’ve never grappled with searching for the truth. Our time is best spent debating people who are intellectually honest and genuine. We’ve made our point here. We’ve revealed the folly of Chaplain and his cult-like followers. The only scary thing is that it’s probably close-minded folks like this who are running our academic institutions and teaching our children.

    • Is that the same Martin Luther who wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies”? Who wrote that the Jews are a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth,” “full of the devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,” and whose synagogues are an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut”? Him and Hitler would have best of pals. Is this another one of your examples of how moral the Bible and Christians are? Yeah, I’m the one full of folly, coz your religion is looking really open-minded and appealing right about now. I think it would be best if you turned away from this site and went “marching on,” as you yourself as suggested on numerous occasions but have yet to do.

      P.S. Don’t forget your hairshirt as you leave.

    • Ann said

      Al: “We’ve made our point here. We’ve revealed the folly of Chaplain and his cult-like followers.”

      The Chaplain: “Don’t forget your hairshirt as you leave.”

      This whole dialogue is hilarious!

    • I wonder if Al Tonry knows he’s being impersonated by a second-rate statistician and hardcore fundamentalist…wonder if he’d like to find out.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: