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Secular Sunday: Or, to summarize…

January 18, 2009

25 Comments
  1. Drew Mazanec permalink

    Hey, now. Tolerance goes both ways.

  2. Dorkman permalink

    Please define “tolerance,” and explain why you believe it applies here.

  3. TheGamut permalink

    I’m the person on the left (right politically, but that’s neither here nor there).

    However, the people on the right aren’t all bad people. I’m surrounded by those who follow that flow, and they’re the best people I know, and they’re happy.

    My brother is one of the ones on the left (like me), but he’s miserable. I think he wants to go back to the linear flow, but you can’t once you pass those borders.

    Some people just can’t hack the infinite loop. If it makes them miserable or impedes their social function, would that make Atheism worse than their faith (that many Atheists say is supposed to make them unhappy)?

    There are people on the dead-end flow that do horrible things, but in the end, it’s their choice to ignore what “makes sense”. There are people on the infinite loop that do horrible things, but in the end, it’s their choice to interpret the facts in front of them.

    I, as an Atheist, still say that it must be the individuals and not the religion to blame for someone’s actions, good or bad.

    I see the point in dismantling “The Case for a Creator”. It’s flawed logic. It should not have the opportunity to convince people of anything. It only provides the opportunity to make the people leave “Toyland”, opening the door to enlightenment for a few and misery for many. Though, that is just my opinion.

  4. Dorkman permalink

    What is it about not believing in gods that you contend would or does “make people miserable”?

    How long has your brother been “on the left”?

    The fact that certain things might make people unhappy doesn’t make them untrue, or mean that they shouldn’t be said. If someone you loved died, would you rather people lie to you about it than “make you miserable”?

    Here’s the issue: I agree that more often than not it’s the person more than the belief that is the issue. A good person will generally choose to follow a form of religion that conforms to their idea of what is good (though they will of course claim the opposite). A bad person will generally choose to interpret religion in such a way that excuses their pre-existing prejudices.

    But this is not always the case.

    For example, I really think that a large swath of the population that voted for Proposition 8 in California was composed of “good people.” They’ve just been taught, by their religious traditions, to hate and fear homosexuality. They didn’t know better.

    I think a large percentage of slave owners back in the day were probably “good people.” They had been taught that owning other human beings was okay (and/or that they weren’t human beings). They didn’t know better.

    Plenty of the Aztecs were probably “good people,” but they still tore out each others’ hearts to make sure the sun would rise. They didn’t know better.

    I think a lot of people on both sides of the Gaza crisis are generally “good people.” They both just believe that their God said the land belongs to them, so they’re willing to kill over what is a strategically and agriculturally useless plot of land.

    Religion and religious attitudes can make good people do bad things. I have never seen a case of the reverse (making a bad person do good things they wouldn’t otherwise).

    The best religion can be is neutral, and the worst it can be…well, any history book can tell you.

    False ideas need to be falsified. Even though your friends and family are only using the ideas as a cognitively-dissonant security blanket, other people are using those same ideas or related ones to excuse or motivate violations of human rights.

    Insisting religion and faith to go unquestioned for the reason that it “makes people happy” is dangerous and wrong, because it means that religion and faith must always go unquestioned, including when it is harmful to themselves and others. Protecting the moderates protects the extremists.

    Ask yourself: in your argument, what changes if I substitute “heroin” for “faith”? It makes them happy and they’d be miserable if it were taken away, right?

    We lock people up for thinking that they’re Napoleon. If someone in their 40s told you that they honestly believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or something else, you’d think they were nice but weird, and you probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with them. And if they said they would fight you for not believing, that you deserved death and torture for not believing, you’d call the cops.

    And yet if they’ve got a certain flavor of delusion, and enough of them share it, we insist that they’re the only people qualified to run our country. That seems right to you?

    I’m not arguing that we should lock up believers, or take away their right to believe what they want. But IMO, the time that religion can strut around unchallenged and unassailable needs to end. If it makes a few people “unhappy,” then so be it.

    Because you know what? They’ll get over it. Atheism =/= nihilism. They may need some time to mourn the loss of the spiritual sugar-daddy they’ve put so much of themselves in, but when they realize that it’s been them all along, that all the strength they’ve gained through prayer has been their strength, all the wisdom has been their wisdom, then I think most people would actually probably feel more happy and fulfilled once they let go of their belief in false ideas.

    I know I have.

  5. TheGamut permalink

    He was Atheist a few years before I started thinking about it.

    Re: Death.
    A death is still a moment in time that passes. A system of beliefs encompasses one whole life for the rest of their lives.

    Re: Prop 8
    Prop 8 is not a worthy source for the desire to wipe out all religions. (I won’t mention the demographic that made an unusual appearance this time around that tipped the scales far enough that would have failed Prop 8 otherwise.)

    Now, I must contest the whole bad people do good thing. An area that truly believes in Hell has statistically less crime by USA standards of “crime”.

    But to side with you: Challenge is good. It’s required for progress. Challenge is one thing. Beating dead horses in front of their owners is another.

    We should challenge people, but we should also make sure we do it respectfully. The attacks on the book might lead some to believe you’ll do the same to everyone.

    I think I understand that you attack the book because it lacks principles while presenting itself as authoritative. I also think I can now surmise that you likely won’t go out and verbally take a bat to random theists. While you don’t answer to me (as nobody should), that’s fine with me.

  6. TheGamut permalink

    Now that I have a moment to breathe:
    (One of those days)

    Heroin isn’t a proper analogy. Heroin has one outcome. Faith isn’t defined like that.

    To the issue of indiscriminate preaching of “the Truth” of Atheism to “non-believers” (sound familiar?), it will be met with the exact same resistance as any other faith versus any other faith. It doesn’t solve anything. Everyone believes they have “the Truth” on their side. Worse, forced conversions of faith have the numbers saying it makes people miserable to the point of near-invariability.

    If someone is willing to listen, give them answers and options. If they are not, it is best to just move on to the next. You could cause a lot more harm than good.

    Religion can co-exist with us Atheists and even us homosexuals. We, here in the Deep South, are living proof. That’s just the first step. Equality will come as acceptance does. We don’t force people to accept us as that’s the quickest way to be denied it.

    To deal with Prop 8 directly, Prop 8 isn’t the end-all-beat-all. It’s just another hurdle. It’s a hurdle that I think is unfair, but we work with what we got. We’ll have to take it to the next level, now. I have faith [sic] that justice will win in the end… as long as we don’t try to force it against the system. If we work with the system to get things done, they stay done. If 6 people try to tell an entire state what to do, it gets undone.

    Okay. Now, I’m hungry. πŸ˜›

  7. Dorkman permalink

    I’m not interested in “wiping out” religions. I’m interested in people abandoning religion of their own accord by realizing it doesn’t add anything of genuine value to their lives, or at least nothing that couldn’t be achieved through secular means.

    To the issue of indiscriminate preaching of “the Truth” of Atheism to “non-believers” (sound familiar?), it will be met with the exact same resistance as any other faith versus any other faith.

    Atheism is not a faith-based stance, in fact it is by definition the very OPPOSITE of a faith-based stance, so I reject your attempt to equivocate them.

    In an argument between two sides, the truth does not necessarily lie somewhere in the middle. One side can be flat-out right and the other flat-out wrong.

    Atheism has facts and reason to back it up; religion has emotion, at best (even you, in defending it, are talking about how it makes people “feel good”, not any particular merits to it).

    You understand my issue with this book, but you don’t seem to understand that I have the same issue with ALL religious preaching: it presents itself as authoritative when it is not. People can believe whatever they want to believe. They can’t go around stating it as fact without being willing or able to back it up.

    I’m not going to interrupt a church service with my dissent. They have the right to peaceably assemble and the right to believe whatever absurd thing they want.

    But once they move out of their peaceable assembly and start trying to tell me how to live my life, once they start regulating their beliefs on other people, once they start murdering their children through gross negligence (i.e. not getting them medical care because of their “faith”), once they start flying planes into buildings for the glory of their God, that’s when the time comes to say that enough is enough.

    That’s the concept of faith in general. The only time I engage believers on an individual level is if either they start the conversation with me, or they attempt to pass off an article of religious faith as an article of proven fact or universal morality.

  8. TheGamut permalink

    But:
    Is a system of beliefs not a faith? Didn’t we cover this already? (I think I mentioned something along the lines of “walking is an act of faith”.) Atheism is faith-based. “Facts” are assumed to be true, but the truth is more complicated than that.

    There is the truth — the absolute and undeniably real truth, but we can only interpret what we experience (through fallible, limited, organic means) and “have faith” that what we know is the truth. One view does not make the truth. No matter what input we receive on an event, it’s still one view: our own.

    People are saying you’re flat out wrong. You believe you know the truth. They believe they know the truth. (I believe I know what works for me, but I can’t prove it to theists any more than they can prove theism to me. Again, the criteria theists and I require as proof is incompatible.)

    As for the closing: Yes. You have every privilege to react in self-defense when someone comes to you and tells you “you’re going to Hell”. I believe that religion is a personal thing. If someone feels the need to seek out like-minded individuals, bully. If someone feels the need to tell everyone else what to think, they can (pardon the expression) “suck it”. (That’s why I despise so many of the news [aptly-named] “sources” [as they make the news and not report the news]. Politicians usually fall in this category IMHO, too. Yet, politics requires certain methods within the system that simply should not work outside among the people.)

    Just to clarify: You have said that you have no intent to tell everyone else what to think. Yes? People, who come here, choose to read. The assumption of intolerance is, therefor, an incorrect assumption though understandable when only one small part of the truth is presented here without further exploration. It’s not an easy thing to keep in mind when reading stuff online. After all, we must act on some level of faith that what we know is the truth (or else, we wouldn’t dare try to walk). πŸ™‚

    (Meeting people online is like trying to solve a sliding puzzle with mismatched pieces; hence, my avatar icon.)

  9. Master Darksol permalink

    @TheGamut: According to Dictionary.com and wikipedia, Faith is a belief without proof.

    A “system of beliefs” is closer to a definition of Religion than of Faith.

    Since “facts” require proof, they do not enter the realm of “Faith.”

    Belief (again according to Dictionary.com): “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof”

    Given the above, the statement “Atheism is faith-based” is quite the faulty remark. Non-belief =/= belief.

    Believing in something despite a lack of evidence is Faith.

    Not believing in something because of a lack of evidence is not faith.

    Also, the walking analogy is equally faulty. Walking is an activity that has been observed, recorded and performed successfully on multiple occasions. This “proof” in the possibility of walking makes it no longer an act of faith.

    An act of faith would require one to perform an action expecting an outcome that you have NO proof will occur.

  10. Dorkman permalink

    Is a system of beliefs not a faith? Didn’t we cover this already?

    I covered it in a previous post, which you may want to review since I do address most of this.

    People are saying you’re flat out wrong. You believe you know the truth. They believe they know the truth. (I believe I know what works for me, but I can’t prove it to theists any more than they can prove theism to me. Again, the criteria theists and I require as proof is incompatible.)

    It would appear that you are unfamiliar with the concept of the “burden of proof.”

    The person making a positive claim must prove the positive claim. If I come to you and I say that unicorns exist, is it your job to prove to me they don’t, or my job to prove to you they do?

    Likewise, in the question of whether or not there is a God, it is the responsibility of those who say there is to present evidence for their claim.

    The default position for any claim is — or should be — to not believe it. We only start believing a claim once sufficient evidence has been given to make believing the claim reasonable.

    And by the way — again repeating my post from last year — you’re making the mistake of conflating “evidence” and “proof.” They are not the same thing. We may not have proof that walking will work this time the way it has worked before. But we have mountains and mountains of evidence from which we can reasonably deduce that it will.

    I have no problem with saying that nearly everything is an act of faith if it’s understood that faith is belief without proof, NOT belief without evidence.

    I do NOT “take on faith” actions for which there is no evidence of likely success. I’m willing to skydive with a parachute because there is evidence that the parachute will prevent me from dying. There is no proof, and it might not, but statistically speaking it will.

    Religious faith is akin to jumping out of the plane sans parachute. Not only is there no proof that you will survive it, there isn’t even evidence that you will — in fact, there are mountains of evidence that you won’t.

    I can’t prove that there is no God, but I can show how what theists call “evidence” is not only insufficient for me, but in any other context besides religion, it is also insufficient for them.

    Not believing in something because of a lack of evidence is not faith.

    Exactly. If atheism is a type of faith, then “bald” is a type of hair color, and “healthy” is a type of sickness.

  11. TheGamut permalink

    Faith is a belief without proof. Okay. Sure.

    The criteria for proof is different for different people, though. So, Theists, who have all the proof they need, are not faith-based, either.

    Saying that unicorns exist is one thing. Feel free to demand proof.

    It works both ways, though. Saying that unicorns do not exist is equally demanding proof. It is a positive claim. Again, the criteria for proof is different for different people. “God does not exist,” is an equally positive claim as “God is dead.” (A negative claim is merely a contrary positive one. Just say, “Okay. Prove it,” and make no other claim.)

    “I can’t prove there is no God.” Case in point.

    Non-belief makes no sense. One believes there is a God. One believes there isn’t a God. That’s not a non-belief. It’s a different belief.

    Proof is merely an interpretation of evidence. We interpret the evidence to our conclusions. Others interpret it differently.

    The problem I find with most other Atheists is that they set themselves above Humanity. They say: “We don’t believe.” “The evidence is proof.” “We claim God does not exist so the burden of proof is on you.”

    We believe something different. We see evidence as proof of something different. We have the same responsibility to prove our claim.

    We are no better nor worse than anyone else. (We are all animals. We’re no different than animals with the exception that we’re the only animal that can, in some way, accomplish any possible behavior exhibited in any other animal. Yet, there is nothing Humans can do that some animal somewhere cannot do in some way. Then again, we don’t know if animals lie to themselves.)

    Refuting proof only refutes it by the challenger’s own standards. When someone falls back on mysteries that are unknowable, what can you really do? You can’t prove the insufficiency then. That, unfortunately, is a core component of many religions. (Heck. I know someone who believes all previous and latter religions are damned to Hell for not recognizing and acknowledging the proof of His existence. She also believes that an infant that dies does not go to Heaven. How do you argue with that?)

    Bald is not a hair color. Hair color requires hair. Bald is the number of hairs. Hair color is a property of hairs. Individual properties of an object in a collection are incomparable to the collection itself.

    Sickness is a lower level of health. Healthy is a higher level of health. Values of a single property are not properties of each other. (There is a reason Object-Oriented Programming is equated to spoken languages.)

    I’m just logically pointing out the futility in preaching Atheism, even with proof such as it is to us. It’s the old horse-to-water scenario.

    One should go ahead and refute arguments if they wish, but it might help to remember that the burden of proof is also on the opposite claim, that evidence doesn’t bring the same conclusions to everyone and that the requirements for proof are different for different people. We will hit brick walls, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    So, we co-exist as they let us and defend ourselves when they won’t. We shouldn’t go out looking for fights.

    Michael has already stated he’s not looking for fights, and I agree with him. He is making observations on a publication (that IMHO is a poor publication even without the observations).

    Still, I am a little confused on the insistence that one person’s proof will overcome the proof of anyone else to the other person, especially when the opposite appears to be true. We are no different from them, after all.

    I guess what I consider as evidence of the futility of it all isn’t proof enough for others.

    In that case, case in point, again. πŸ™‚

  12. Master Darksol permalink

    As far as the futility of arguing with certain people due to the relative nature of what they individually will consider “evidence” I agree to an extent.

    “Non-belief makes no sense. One believes there is a God. One believes there isn’t a God. That’s not a non-belief. It’s a different belief.”

    I still don’t buy the attempt to equivocate atheism and theism as both faith-based.

    Choosing not to believe in the existence of an object due to a lack of evidence does not immediately categorize someone as believing in the mirror-opposite.
    It’s referred to as False Dilemma

    Many atheists have stated (and Michael has as well) that if sufficient evidence was put forth supporting the existence of God, that they would be willing to admit they were wrong. That doesn’t sound like “believing that God doesn’t exist” to me. Rather than choosing to believe the opposite, they choose not to believe the original claim.

  13. Dorkman permalink

    Theists, who have all the proof they need, are not faith-based, either.

    Wrong. They’ll tell you they don’t have proof. Many of them will even tell you they don’t have evidence. And they will tell you that “that’s where faith comes in.”

    You’re right that it’s not based in faith — what it is, is wishful thinking. But that doesn’t mean atheism is the same thing.

    “God does not exist,” is an equally positive claim as “God is dead.” (A negative claim is merely a contrary positive one.

    Wrong. A negative claim is a negative claim; by definition it is not a “positive claim.” You’re saying “Up is merely down in the other direction,” and that’s ridiculous. Up is by definition not down. Bald is not a hair color, it is a lack of hair, and atheism is not a faith, it is a lack of faith.

    Also, I’m not asserting that “God does not exist.” I’m saying “No sufficient evidence exists to imply or require the existence of a God. Therefore I reject the assertion that God exists.”

    Non-belief makes no sense. One believes there is a God. One believes there isn’t a God.

    No, wrong. One believes there is a God, or one does not believe there is a God. One believes there is a Santa Claus, or one does not believe there is a Santa Claus.

    The idea that non-belief is a form of belief, that’s the argument that makes no sense.

    Bald is not a hair color. Hair color requires hair.

    Yes! Bingo! And therefore atheism is not a faith, because faith requires an active belief in a proposal, whereas atheism by its definition is a rejection of a proposal, not the active belief in an equal but opposite proposal.

    When someone falls back on mysteries that are unknowable, what can you really do? You can’t prove the insufficiency then.

    Yes, you can, by showing them that even by their own standards, if they were to apply to religion the same standards of evidence that they apply to the rest of their lives, it’s insufficient.

    Or you can point out that what they believe makes no fucking sense.

    They may not listen, but then again they might. The very act of asking questions they haven’t been asked before may drive them to do some research, and if they research honestly they may very well come to atheism on their own. That’s how it happened for me, after all.

    The fact that your attitude is defeatist is not the same as it being a futile situation.

    (Heck. I know someone who believes all previous and latter religions are damned to Hell for not recognizing and acknowledging the proof of His existence. She also believes that an infant that dies does not go to Heaven. How do you argue with that?)

    Point out the irrationality of an all-knowing, all-powerful omnipresent God being so small and petty that he demands people tell him they like him or he’ll punish them forever. The immorality of infinite punishment for finite crimes. The fact that a God of such an openly evil nature doesn’t deserve praise or worship.

    She might ignore you, but you might shake her up a little. It’s not going to happen based on one conversation, you have to continue having the conversation.

    I mean come on. You’re not going to say a kid can’t be potty trained after trying and failing once, are you? Or a dog can’t be housebroken? People’s thought patterns have to be trained the same way behavior patterns do, and the more ingrained they are the more work they take.

    One should go ahead and refute arguments if they wish, but it might help to remember that the burden of proof is also on the opposite claim

    No, it won’t help to remember that because you are wrong. The burden of proof is on the person saying “A is.” The person saying “I do not accept your assertion that ‘A is'” has no burden of proof on them, because they are simply rejecting the positive assertion.

    Do you believe in unicorns? If not, then if I asked you to prove there are no unicorns, what would you say?

    It’s a ridiculous question, because you don’t have to provide evidence for the non-existence of something — its non-existence is assumed because there is no evidence for it.

    The onus is on the person who wants to assert the existence of something to provide the evidence demonstrating it.

    I’m just logically pointing out the futility in preaching Atheism, even with proof such as it is to us.

    Except that your argument is completely illogical, based on fallacious reasoning and incorrect terminology.

    Also, I used to be a Christian. And from what you’ve explained, it sounds like you did too. So you’re flat-out wrong that it is futile, or that theists never listen, and if I’m not mistaken your own atheism is evidence against your case.

  14. TheGamut permalink

    Some theists say, “It’s faith.” Some theists say, “Look at all of this! It’s proof!” Some theists are faith-based. Some theists aren’t.

    Don’t think so linear. Logic isn’t linear. Up is a direction based on orientation. A different orientation could make up… well… down to the first one. So, yes. Up can be down. That’s not a good analogy to refute the situation.

    A negative claim is indeed a positive one contrary to another claim. Yet, you are saying that you are making a different claim altogether.

    What are we claiming when stating that we reject your assertion there is a God? We essentially make the positive claim of: “You’re wrong.” (A is wrong.) Again, the burden of proof is equally on us.

    You seem to be doing good on proving they are wrong, but why do it anyway? I believe you do it because you feel you have the burden of proof upon you to back your statement. Therefor, you have made a positive claim and not a negative one.

    There are no negative claims. It’s not possible to make a negative claim. You can only make a claim in another direction, but it’s still a positive one.

    Tell me what the difference is between the following two statements:

    “I do not believe there is a Santa Claus.”

    “I believe there is no Santa Claus.”

    What is the end result of those two statements? Are the results the same? If so, they are interchangeable. If so, it is a belief and there is no such thing as a non-belief.

    If not, please to tell me what is the difference in their result.

    You also assume people apply the same standards of evidence and proof to their lives as we do ours. I will assert that the evidence I see shows that they would already be Atheists if they applied the same requirements of proof to their lives as I do mine. You are trying to prove something to them on your terms and not theirs. You can’t prove it on their terms.

    People are so used to doing everything without giving a second thought. They don’t bother with the whole imbalance of force to make anything happen. They just breathe, walk, eat, write, etc. They don’t think about the evidence of it all. It’s inconsequential to them. To me, it makes all the difference in the world. It’s two completely different ways of living. I can’t live like they do. I doubt they could live like I do. Some have grasped the concept, but it seems to just get shelved away as something they’ll never use.

    Still, you have agreed on one of my points: Some people won’t listen.

    You have not agreed on another point: Some people just can’t understand.

    You also have not agreed on another point: Theism doesn’t hurt us. People hurt us.

    You say: It is defeatism to not try. (Did you get that from my MySpace?) πŸ˜›

    I say: Is it necessary?

    You say: Yes. It is a lie.

    Here’s where the trap springs: (A is) “It is a lie.” Prove it. Prove that “God exists” is a lie.

    You’re refuting someone else’s arguments with this book examination, but you are not proving “God exists” is a lie. You’re only proving one guy is wrong.

  15. TheGamut permalink

    PS. Yes. She believes and all-knowing entity would indeed be petty. I believe her scope of “all” is limited and trying to expand that would require resources I do not have. She, however, makes a poor spokesperson for her beliefs because of such.

  16. TheGamut permalink

    Just thought of something to demonstrate a concept:

    “I believe there is a Santa Claus.”

    “I do not believe there is no Santa Claus.”

    These two statements result in the same thing. What this proves, technically, is that the negative aspect in a transitive statement is commutative between the subject and the object. Simply, you can move no between two places without changing the result of the statement.

    Therefor:
    “I do not believe there is a Santa Claus.”
    is the same as
    “I believe there is no Santa Claus.”

    Therefor:
    A negative claim can always be re-rendered into a positive claim without changing the result of the claim.

    or

    There are no negative claims that cannot be re-rendered into a positive claim.

    πŸ™‚

    Tada! Every negative claim is just a positive claim in a different way. Proven!

  17. Dorkman permalink

    Saying that I do not accept an assertion is not the same as saying that I actively believe the opposite assertion. “I do not believe there is a god” is not the same as “I believe there is no god.”

    One is making an assertion. The other is rejecting an assertion without making a counter-assertion. The fact that you are trying to conflate the two is wrong.

    You’ve put words in my mouth and argued against them, and that’s what’s referred to as a “straw man argument.” You haven’t proven anything more than your need to brush up on the rules of logic.

  18. TheGamut permalink

    Bah. I’m putting no words out there that aren’t already out there.

    You have, however, rejected basic grammar as a means to defend your argument. 😦

    If you wish to defend, please to tell me how the rejection of a concept does not implicitly state the opposite.

  19. Dorkman permalink

    You have, however, rejected basic grammar as a means to defend your argument. 😦

    I’m not the one saying “not having faith is a kind of faith.”

    If you wish to defend, please to tell me how the rejection of a concept does not implicitly state the opposite.

    Concept: “All Mexicans are lazy.”

    If I reject this concept, that doesn’t mean I’m arguing that no Mexicans are lazy (that being the opposite assertion). I am merely rejecting the concept as stated, due to a lack of evidence and/or evidence to the contrary (some Mexicans are very hard-working).

    If someone says there is a God, my rejection of their assertion does not implicitly mean that I believe actively that there is no God. I am merely rejecting the assertion due to a lack of evidence and/or evidence to the contrary (the universe behaves as we would expect it to if no God existed).

    I guess those are the key words: active vs. passive. A passive rejection of a concept is not the same as actively asserting its opposite.

  20. TheGamut permalink

    In that case, I will concur with the “all Mexicans” argument. For the God argument, there is a singular entity involved. There is no all of these and some of these. There is this, or there is not this.

    When you say “I reject that all of these exist”, you leave the options that “some of these exist” and “none of these exist”. Since neither was stated, your stance is ambiguous and noncommittal.

    When you say “I reject that the one thing exists”, there is no other alternative than that one thing not existing. The passive stance is merely passive aggressive here. One thing minus that one thing is no thing. This is what one cannot prove, though the burden of proof would be equally on that unspoken, implied statement. Because there is no means to prove that implied statement, we must take it on faith when we challenge faith.

    Yet, the point stands: Demanding proof to your satisfaction will not work against those who believe proof is evident to their satisfaction, which is a lot of Theists. So many believe such a level of proof is all they need. It’s all they really care to need.

    Also, I have to wonder the reasons behind the need to prove these people wrong. While you did not explicitly say “It is a lie,” you did use lying as analogy. (What word is used to describe a retort such as that?)

    The mention of homophobia and religion has been brought up more than once in this blog. That is a symptom of bitterness against certain religions and their stance of our situation. Perhaps, the blame lies before homophobic beliefs were introduced into religion.

    In one common scenario: Consider the situations the people were in when Moses supposedly came up with his edicts: Slaves were brutalized. Their property was not theirs to keep. Pork made people sick. The men’s partners were raped. They were raped. Etc. This stuff made the men feel bad, and by being “chosen” as a requirement to belong to a group, feeling bad must have been against the Creator’s wishes. If such a Creator was supposed to punish someone for the crimes (like they likely wanted — yes, revenge was a motive required to make such beliefs popular), He would have to get angry about stuff. Since there is no feedback to what this Creator wants, it’s anyone’s guess what makes Him mad and why (as with the Commandments).

    Pigs made people sick: They must be unclean. Why? Probably because their hooves and cud habits.

    Men were raped: Men must not lie with men as they do with women. Why? It made the chosen feel violated.

    Their women and wives were raped: Men must not have sex before marriage and must not have sex with other people’s wives. Why? The chosen didn’t want someone else enjoying their property (and their ever-prized virgins), which also led to the whole “no stealing” stuff, too.

    (For another religion in the limelight these days, Nomads were getting robbed and their concubines raped: Men must not wear jewelery, and women must cover themselves. After all, the desire to have sex with women should not have to be resisted, but it’s easy enough to put away the gold as it brings no real pleasure.)

    Now of course, these situations no longer exist, and I believe people know it. Yet, they continue to crusade the same as people did in the past, but they have an easier avenue to pursue. They don’t have to lift a finger in order to give themselves some kind of purpose. While religion may have made the decree, it started before the decrees, and the people are the ones who continue the war without knowing or caring why. If you took away religion today, you would not stop homophobia. You would remove one excuse that they would quickly replace with another.

    The thing to do IMHO is to change the image of homosexuality. That requires changing the exposure of us. We’re portrayed as strange people, as odd people and even as villains, but rarely (and usually in off-mainstream) as normal people.

    The real homosexual agenda is “Leave us alone.” That’s no different than most other people. Yet, the people getting the attention are the “in your face” people who promote their differences over what makes us the same. That’s the quickest way to meet resistance.

    And back to the topic: We Atheists should promote what makes us the same over what makes us different. We have ages of momentum against us. You like to make people look in the mirror and examine themselves. How about making them look in the mirror and see everyone, including us, staring back at them?

    Just a thought…

  21. TheGamut permalink

    Consider the situations people were in…” should have been “Consider the situations people had…”

    Es demasiado temprano por la maΓ±ana por mΓ­. Mexicans rock! πŸ™‚ (Though, I’m Spanish and not Mexican.)

  22. Master Darksol permalink

    When you say “I reject that the one thing exists”, there is no other alternative than that one thing not existing.

    You are telling me that there is no Gray, only Black or White.

    Again, you’re dealing with a logical fallacy: False Dilemma.

    If Someone makes an assertion that A exists, yet there’s no evidence … one can reject that claim without having to make an opposite claim. That extra step is one that you are trying to force as necessary.

    Let’s imagine a choice regarding the existence of A. Through your research, you have found no evidence showing A exists. I, on the other hand, make the claim “A Exists” yet offer no evidence. You respond with “Hang on, you don’t have the evidence to make that claim. Let’s not be hasty.” and continue your research.

    What just happened? Did you just claim that A does NOT exist? No. You simply rejected my claim as baseless. What if I were, in the case above, to turn to you and say “Oh yeah? Why don’t you prove that A doesn’t exist! You can’t, can you? I guess that means I’m right!”

    But you didn’t make that claim, did you? Why should you have to defend a claim you didn’t make, when it is actually my inability to produce evidence that is the heart of the matter?

  23. TheGamut permalink

    “Shades of gray” is a terrible analogy, here. There is existence and oblivion (non-existence). There is no such thing as partial existence.

    You’re saying that Atheism is not the rejection of the assertion that there is a God, but the rejection that there is enough evidence to prove any god exists.

    That is not what Michael has stated.

    If you have redefined Atheism in that manner, you prove my point again: “enough evidence”. Who decides what is enough evidence? Each of us individually decides what is enough evidence. We have decided what level of proof we need just like they have.

    Yet again, there is a positive assertion of its own: [A is] There is not enough evidence. To prove there is not enough evidence, one must try to prove the evidence is not there, which is a paradox.

    You can say,: “Your evidence is wrong,” and prove that statement (and as a positive assertion, one must prove it). One cannot say “there is no evidence to find” and be able to prove it.

    To some, the fact that the sole alternative and challenge to the assertion of the existence of any god(s) cannot be proven, it is proof enough for them, just like the fact that nobody has come up with “enough evidence” is proof enough for Atheists according to your definition of Atheism.

    We cannot prove that the evidence is not out there to find, so we take it on faith.

  24. Master Darksol permalink

    You’re saying that Atheism is not the rejection of the assertion that there is a God, but the rejection that there is enough evidence to prove any god exists.

    You continue to miss the point, and you seem to favor putting words in others’ mouths to fuel your arguments.

    Rejecting the assertion that there is a God

    IS NOT THE SAME AS

    Making the assertion that there is no God.

    You offer me only two choices; by rejecting “there is a God” you would force me to the opposite assertion “there is no God.” The truth is in between. I reject “there is a God” without making the opposite assertion “there is no God.” My reason: no evidence.

    Black and White analogy holds. You’re telling me that if I say “It is not White” that it is the same as saying “It is Black.” Not true, there are viable options you are simply not considering.

    If you have redefined Atheism in that manner, you prove my point again

    You began your post by setting up a straw-man of my argument, and are now attacking that straw-man. Congratulations. I haven’t redefined Atheism. You simply haven’t grasped the concept of rejecting a claim =/= making an opposite claim.

    Yet again, there is a positive assertion of its own: [A is] There is not enough evidence. To prove there is not enough evidence, one must try to prove the evidence is not there, which is a paradox.

    Seriously, you are talking in circles. I imagine you could have an entire conversation with someone not versed in debate or logic and completely blow their minds.

    one doesn’t have to prove the evidence is NOT there. That’s retarded. “No evidence” is the reason why person B is rejecting person A’s claim. Person A needs to produce evidence supporting his/her claim. Person B doesn’t have to produce evidence proving the non-existence of evidence Person A DIDN’T provide in order to reject his/her claim. It’s ludicrous.

    We cannot prove that the evidence is not out there to find, so we take it on faith.

    This comment right here is making me feel more confident that you are, like Strobel, playing the role of an Atheist instead of actually being one.

  25. Dorkman permalink

    You’re saying that Atheism is not the rejection of the assertion that there is a God, but the rejection that there is enough evidence to prove any god exists.

    That is not what Michael has stated.

    If you have redefined Atheism in that manner, you prove my point again: “enough evidence”.

    Except he hasn’t defined atheism that way, and neither have I.

    “Enough evidence” are YOUR words. Not his, and not mine. Again, you’re constructing a straw man.

    In point of fact, we have said that there is NO evidence for ANY god at ANY time EVER.

    And we have not said that there is “no evidence to find,” because as you say, that is not only an assertion, but an insupportable one.

    Seriously, for fuck’s sake, did you even read this post? I know it was a while back, but I’ve linked you to it before.

    Not only do I address the issue of faith, but I address the issue of agnosticism — i.e. the acknowledgement that we cannot know anything with 100% certainty. Not only have you spent days telling me something that I’ve already said, but you’ve done it with poor argumentation and completely faulty logic.

    If there is evidence for a god out there, then it has, to date, not been found — or if it has been found, it has certainly never been presented.

    I’m not saying the evidence isn’t there, but the onus is on the people saying it is to prove it. It’s not my job to prove it isn’t — if they can’t prove it is, I win by default.

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