PvM posted Entry 2293 on May 21, 2006 02:02 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2288

On Uncommon Descent, Dembski shows once again evidence of the historical roots of Intelligent Design and Creationism. In fact, he seems to be suggesting that ID and religious faith are quite intertwined, as much of the evidence already suggested.

Dembski is commenting on Richard Dawkins’ “Root of all Evil” documentary on Channel 4 in the UK.

Dembski wrote:

You’ve got to wonder what the staffers at the NCSE are thinking when they go to such lengths to assure the public that there’s no problem reconciling evolution and religious faith, only to have Richard Dawkins come along and utter the following (taken from his BBC program “The Root of All Evil?”):

So why this obsession with Dawkins? The answer is obvious, since the Dover trial, Intelligent Design has been exposed as being a religious concept. Which means that while ID cannot compete in the realm of science, it can at least attempt the obvious namely to make its religious foundations more explicit and try to taint science with religious faith or atheism. After all, their only chance may not be scientific acceptance but rather a theological acceptance of Intelligent Design and/or rejection of Evolutionary Theory a being irreconcilable with religious faith. While the latter approaches are as doomed as ID’s attempt to pretend to be scientifically relevant, it is all that is left. Dembski has returned to theology

Dembski wrote:

“Theology is where my ultimate passion is and I think that is where I can uniquely contribute … I am looking forward to engaging students and theological students have always been my favorite to deal with because for theology students, it’s not just a job, but a passion, especially at a place like Southern, because they want to change the world.”

Even more ‘shockingly’ is the following suggestion:

Dembski wrote:

Anyone who hasn’t seen this two-part program by Dawkins needs to see it. I understand it is not available in this country (and for good reason — given the sensibilities of Americans, it would be a public relations disaster for evolution this side of the Atlantic). I’ve got the two-part program as two 260Mbyte wmv files. If someone has unlimited bandwidth and is willing to upload the files (perhaps at lower resolution) on, say, a Cayman server (where there may be fewer worries about copyrights), let me know.

Oh well…

One may wonder about Dembski’s fascination with Dawkins. Is it because Dawkins beats Dembski in a Google fight 9 million to 700,000? Or is it because “Richard Dawkins” beats “William Dembski” 4.3 million to 370,000 ? Or is it because Dawkins’ books beat Dembski’s books in Amazon rankings?

For instance Dembski’s ‘seminal works’ “No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased without Intelligence (Hardcover)” ranks 240,000 or “The Design Inference : Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction and Decision Theory) (Paperback) “ ranks 280,000 versus Richard Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (Paperback) “ ranking 2,700 or even “The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (Paperback) “ which ranks 92,000.

In the end it seems clear to me that this is a battle of Dembski’s Christian Apologetics and Dawkins’ atheism and that it has little to do with science. But it surely helps solidify Judge Jones’ ruling on Intelligent Design.

Judge Jones wrote:

Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have
now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.

If ID was truly interested in the quality of education and teaching the controversy, it would have since long taken a stand on such concepts as ‘the age of the earth’. But that would only serve to damage creationism’s ‘big tent’. So much for the idea that this is all about the quality of science education.

Commenters are responsible for the content of comments. The opinions expressed in articles, linked materials, and comments are not necessarily those of PandasThumb.org. See our full disclaimer.

Comment #101656

Posted by PvM on May 21, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

I started viewing the Dawkins’ documentary and found it to be quite interesting. While I do not agree with all Dawkins has to say and while some of his statements are a bit too generic for my taste, I find his comments to be quite enlightening.
In addition, Dawkins has done more for science than much of any other ID activist as far as I can tell.

Comment #101657

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 21, 2006 8:17 PM (e)

Which means that while ID cannot compete in the realm of science, it can at least attempt the obvious namely to make its religious foundations more explicit and try to taint science with religious faith or atheism.

And Donald is kind enough to give us a demonstration of this, about once per month.

Comment #101659

Posted by Carol Clouser on May 21, 2006 8:31 PM (e)

PvM,

You apparently don’t know much about Amazon.com rankings. The sale of one book can catapult its ranking from 800,00 to 2,700 in the span of a few minutes as the rankings are based on hourly sales and are updated as such. You would have to be persistant enough to watch those rankings over a long period of time to be able to use them as a gauge of overall popularity.

Comment #101661

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 8:46 PM (e)

well, we did predict Carol would pop in soon,

just in a different thread!

LOL.

you just couldn’t resist, could you Carol?

Comment #101663

Posted by PvM on May 21, 2006 8:49 PM (e)

Perhaps Carol is the one unfamiliar with rankings on Amazon?

As an added service for customers, authors, publishers, artists, labels, and studios, we show how items in our catalog are selling. The lower the number, the higher the sales for that particular item. The calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated each hour to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com. We hope you find the Amazon.com Sales Rank interesting!

I am sure Carol understands the meaning of historical.

Or

Amazon’s sales rank is calculated as a rolling figure. It’s based on sales over a recent period. I can’t remember if the period is 60 or 90 days, though. It is, however, weighted by overall total sales (they put this back in after having dropped it for a couple of years), keeping long-term big sellers afloat even after their sharp sales peaks have leveled out.

Not all books are recalculated with the same frequency. The top 1,000 are recalculated hourly. The next block (up to 100,000, I think) are recalculated weekly, while the rest get checked monthly. However, a sudden burst in sales is enough to force an immediate recalculation on a 100,000+ book. This is probably based on a percentage of overall sales, but that’s just a guess.

I also hope Carol understands ‘tongue in cheek’

Comment #101665

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 9:06 PM (e)

c’mon! it’s obvious why she posted that. she wants to come up with a theory to explain the poor showing of Landa’s book, and to assure the rest of us (indirectly of course) that it really is doing quite well, despite anything you could determine from Amazon stats.

Comment #101668

Posted by mplavcan on May 21, 2006 9:12 PM (e)

Dembski’s obsession with Dawkin’s is almost pathalogical. He needs Dawkin’s to proove his assertion that evolution is atheistic. Sadly for Dembski (and his followers), they just can’t seem to figure out that Dawkin’s metaphysical views (or lack thereof) are his own, not officially representative of scientific thought in general (as far as atheism goes), and in that light, largely irrelevant to the validity of evolutionary biology as a science. Arguing that Dawkin’s prooves that evolution is atheistic is akin to arguing that all vegetarians are fascist genocidal lunatics because Hitler was a vegetarian. Really, I think we need to give Dembski the “Basil Fawlty” award for logic. Perhaps an endowed chair in intellectual burlesque?

Comment #101669

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 9:24 PM (e)

ahhh, another Towers fan.

brings back memories.

Comment #101670

Posted by Carol Clouser on May 21, 2006 9:31 PM (e)

PvM,

The Amazon.com system currently in effect, in simple English, places books sold in the most recent hour in the highest tier (lowest numbered rankings), those that sold in the most recent two hours in the next tier, and so on. Then, within those in a particular tier, such as those that sold in the last hour, the books are additionally ranked by sales in the last two hours, in the last three hours, and so on. THAT is the meaning of “historical” as practiced by Amazon. The net effect is that the sale of one book can take a book from a million to a thousand. Unless you watched Dembski’s and Dawkin’s books over time, you just do not know which has sold more books.

Comment #101671

Posted by PvM on May 21, 2006 9:34 PM (e)

I see, given Landa’s ranking, the statistics suggest 0.2 book/week sold. Not bad though :-)

#829,893 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
Yesterday: #821,225 in Books

Comment #101672

Posted by PvM on May 21, 2006 9:36 PM (e)

On closer scrutiny, the book seems to be marginally ahead of ‘currently unavailable ones’

:-)

Comment #101673

Posted by Adam Ierymenko on May 21, 2006 9:38 PM (e)

I’m an atheist, and unfortunately I’m not a big fan of Dawkins’ atheist evangelism. I saw his series and while it raised some great points I was underwhelmed with the whole.

Here’s why.

The problem as I see it is not religion. It is the *cognitive style* of *fundamentalist* religion. The problem is dogmatism, authority-worship, and excessive emotional attachment to ideology.

Actually, religion has a pretty good term for this cognitive style that I think can be safely appropriated: idolatry. More specifically, the cognitive style I’m referring to is the idolatry of dogma, doctrine, authority, and/or text. (pick any combination of those)

Militant Communists (mostly) did not believe in God, and yet they did many if not all of the same things that fundamentalists do: invading neighbors, killing infidels, waging a dishonest propaganda war, etc. They acted like fundamentalists because they *were* fundamentalists. They *thought like* fundamentalists!

The problem isn’t belief in God. The problem is a way of thinking. The cognitive style and psychology of fundamentalism is the problem, not religion per se. A basically rational and decent person can be a theist, but a basically rational person cannot be an “ideolater.”

Dawkins on the other hand claims that violence, irrational behavior, etc. is a result of theism and that the removal of theism would cure this pathology. I cannot disagree more. History has shown that when you take religion away from those who have a basically fundamentalist style of thinking they merely latch onto some other form of secular fundamentalism and resume the crusade.

If you could reach into Dembski’s cranium and remove his belief in God, I’m sure he would latch onto and start propagandizing for some other kind of all-encompassing ideological crusade. He would do that because that’s how he thinks. He views ideas like sports teams rather than tools, and will always apply his intellect merely to booster his side rather than to search for truth. He might become a Marxist, or a Green ideologue, or even a militant atheist!

There are a number of reasons I’m an atheist, first and foremost being that I see no evidence for an anthropic deity. However I don’t think that we must embark on some crusade to eradicate all belief in a God.

But, I do think that we *should* embark on a crusade to eradicate ideology-idolatry and fundamentalism. This style of thinking should be considered a mental illness and treated as such.

P.S. Don’t give me that “but you’re thinking just like this by arguing this!” baloney folks. That’s like saying that laws against rape are themselves a form of rape because they force people to submit to the absence of rape.

I’m also not apologizing for Dembski by any means. He’s basically a propagandist for fundamentalism as well as for an authoritarian political ideology.

Comment #101674

Posted by PvM on May 21, 2006 9:39 PM (e)

The Amazon.com system currently in effect, in simple English, places books sold in the most recent hour in the highest tier (lowest numbered rankings), those that sold in the most recent two hours in the next tier, and so on. Then, within those in a particular tier, such as those that sold in the last hour, the books are additionally ranked by sales in the last two hours, in the last three hours, and so on. THAT is the meaning of “historical” as practiced by Amazon. The net effect is that the sale of one book can take a book from a million to a thousand. Unless you watched Dembski’s and Dawkin’s books over time, you just do not know which has sold more books.

Once again you seem to be wrong when compared to the facts. Is this the best you can do, ignore the factual evidence presented?
Support your claim… Buy Landa’s book and see what it does for its ranking :-)

In fact, a quick Google search would have saved you from making these silly claims.

Comment #101675

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 9:41 PM (e)

On closer scrutiny, the book seems to be marginally ahead of ‘currently unavailable ones’

lol

Comment #101676

Posted by Rich on May 21, 2006 9:41 PM (e)

Carol Clouser, thanks for the giggle of the weekend. Your haste to disagree with anything and everything on here exposes you yet again. With you pushing book(s) all the time, I would have thought you’d be familiar with how these things work.

Comment #101678

Posted by k.e. on May 21, 2006 9:42 PM (e)

mplavcan suggested Dembski be given a chair
Perhaps an endowed chair in intellectual burlesque?

Yes…. ever since the Ministry of Silly Walks was closed down the chances of developing an Anglo-American silly walk went out the door.

And on theology?

He’s worse at that than he is at pseudoscience.

In fact Dawkins IS A BETTER THEOLOGIAN than Dembski by light years.

Expect Dembski to retreat to trying to pick holes in theology from Lenny’s Pizza delivery boy.

Comment #101679

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 9:49 PM (e)

The problem isn’t belief in God. The problem is a way of thinking. The cognitive style and psychology of fundamentalism is the problem, not religion per se. A basically rational and decent person can be a theist, but a basically rational person cannot be an “ideolater.”

Dawkins on the other hand claims that violence, irrational behavior, etc. is a result of theism and that the removal of theism would cure this pathology. I cannot disagree more. History has shown that when you take religion away from those who have a basically fundamentalist style of thinking they merely latch onto some other form of secular fundamentalism and resume the crusade.

Myself, and I think most here would agree with the first paragraph (with notable exceptions). I also think the removal of theism won’t cure a fundie, or the psychology that leans towards this, by itself, anyway.

However, one could argue that removal of alcohol from an alcoholic is a good first step towards curing alcholism. the second step being a transitional program of some kind, combined with counseling.

Moreover, I wouldn’t recommend banning the sale of alcohol in order to cure alcoholics (that’s been tried before :) ). Instead, we remove the alcoholic from the influence, and go from there.

Comment #101680

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 21, 2006 9:50 PM (e)

The problem isn’t belief in God. The problem is a way of thinking. The cognitive style and psychology of fundamentalism is the problem, not religion per se.

I quite agree.

Comment #101681

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 21, 2006 9:55 PM (e)

But, I do think that we *should* embark on a crusade to eradicate ideology-idolatry and fundamentalism. This style of thinking should be considered a mental illness and treated as such.

I couldn’t agree more. have you checked out some of the recent trolls over in the ATBC area like AFDave?

a perfect case study for exactly what you are talking about here. go take a gander if you haven’t already.

Comment #101686

Posted by Matthew on May 21, 2006 10:58 PM (e)

If Dembski wants to make the argument that theism and evolution are incompatible, he’s going to have to do it philosophically. Because doing so based on the religious beliefs of biologists is beyond stupid. The fact is that biologists can be pooled from every religion on earth, and from nonreligious people. The fact is that IDists are all fundamentalists except save from maybe a Jew or two they have hidden away and perhaps a couple of muslims. Philosophically he at least has a chance to make the argument.

Comment #101689

Posted by Mike Walker on May 21, 2006 11:19 PM (e)

Hmm - facilitating the theft of copyrighted material (and illegal possession of the same). Has anyone contacted the FBI yet…?

Seriously though, I wonder what his supposedly morally upright paymasters at the Seminary think of this behaviour?

Comment #101690

Posted by Rich on May 21, 2006 11:30 PM (e)

Look, basically if you don’t believe in god then there’s nothing to stop you stealing and distributing other people’s intellectual property… heathens.

*cough*

It’s not theft, it’s “Street theatre”.

Comment #101692

Posted by Rich on May 21, 2006 11:41 PM (e)

some links:

http://www.reportpiracy.co.uk/reportit.htm

http://www.fact-uk.org.uk/site/useful_links/index.htm

http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/

Comment #101693

Posted by Andrew McClure on May 21, 2006 11:58 PM (e)

I’d really never heard of this Dawkins person before I started following the evolution/creation debate quite closely. (I had heard of the book The Selfish Gene, but was not clearly aware of its author.) Since Dawkins’ philosophical/theological (atheological?) writings seem, from what I have seen, to mostly be of interest to Christians (such as Dembski, who appears here to be exhorting the readers of his blog to watch a pro-atheism film… hm), I don’t really see any particular reason to read them or really care about them much.

I do find the larger situation quite fascinating, though. Rarely if ever can creation science proponents be convinced that there is something interesting about the fact that nearly all, if not all, important “Intelligent Design” commentators are on the record somewhere as saying that their motivations in promoting ID are religious. Even the media usually seems to shy away from directly addressing the religious entanglements of individual ID proponents– probably sensing that singling commentators out for their personal religion is a dangerous direction to head in. But one scientist, Mr. Dawkins, chooses to publicly speak on the subject of religion, and this by itself becomes this huge, scandalous thing, something which apparently reflects badly on the entire science community and which blogs on all sides of creation/evolution debate (as well as, apparently, Guardian columnists) write on at length.

Particularly interesting is the reaction of Dembski, who criticises the NSCE for the actions of a British scientist who does not work for the NSCE, because the latter scientist spoke out on the subject of religion in a way Dembski considers improper– while Dembski himself is working at a Southern Baptist theological seminary. Hm.

In other news, I notice that the newest post on Uncommon Descent begins with:

Woody Allen’s latest film, Match Point, illustrates the depths to which Darwinian nihilism is dragging popular culture.

Well that just says it all, doesn’t it?

Comment #101697

Posted by PvM on May 22, 2006 12:16 AM (e)

Sigh, yes… I have no idea what’s up with Dembski…

Comment #101698

Posted by Wheels on May 22, 2006 12:25 AM (e)

I try to make it a point NOT to read Uncommon Descent, but I distinctly remember a post up there some while back in which Dembski lamented that more theologists hadn’t taken up ID.
It really isn’t a mystery. Just as Paley’s argument, crystalizing the idea firmly and classically, and the resulting debate over it eventually quelched the intellectual basis for Design Argument in biology during and era of strengthening empiricism and scientific progress, so too did it largely knock the feet out from under Argument from Design in philosophical circles. If anything, this resurgence of Design Argument in the clothing of ID will probably just repeat that result on a lesser scale. I think we can optimistically say it’s already having that effect on anti-evolution Creationism in general, especially with the publicity surrounding the Dover decision.
As to the Dawkins/Dembski relationship, meh. One of the reasons why I like Dr. Pennock’s Tower of Babel is because he’s very hands-off when it comes to making personal theological assertions, and seems more interested in simply giving people the bare facts about the philosophy of science and evolution. In fact I’ve seen Creationists get frustrated precisely because he never made his personal religious beliefs known through his books, which is always a good thing in my book.

Comment #101699

Posted by Inoculated Mind on May 22, 2006 12:58 AM (e)

If you want to see Dembski do a really silly walk, see him in Horizon - War on Science. It came with my copy of The Root of all Evil and it talks about intelligent design. In it, demsbki is walking very intently down a railroad track toward the camera. A few cars pass in front of him. I could help but chuckle because it made him seem so serious. Then I imagined big red shoes…

Comment #101711

Posted by JMX on May 22, 2006 6:05 AM (e)

Well, his pants were too short already…

Comment #101713

Posted by Lou FCD on May 22, 2006 6:29 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

As an added service for customers, authors, publishers, artists, labels, and studios, we show how items in our catalog are selling. The lower the number, the higher the sales for that particular item. The calculation is based on Amazon.com sales and is updated each hour to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.com. We hope you find the Amazon.com Sales Rank interesting!

Yes, but if you read it in the original Hebrew…

Comment #101716

Posted by Popper's Ghost on May 22, 2006 7:40 AM (e)

Unless you watched Dembski’s and Dawkin’s books over time, you just do not know which has sold more books.

Only an utter moron would not know which has sold more books.

Comment #101717

Posted by Frank J on May 22, 2006 7:56 AM (e)

PvM wrote:

So why this obsession with Dawkins?

You know. Because the real thorns in their side, Kenneth Miller, Robert Pennock, John Haught (to mention 3 that testified at Dover) will not play their game of false dichotomy. Dembski et al know, and occasionally admit, that theistic evolutionists are their biggest problem - aside from the lack of an ID theory of course.

PvM wrote:

If ID was truly interested in the quality of education and teaching the controversy, it would have since long taken a stand on such concepts as ‘the age of the earth’. But that would only serve to damage creationism’s ‘big tent’. So much for the idea that this is all about the quality of science education.

Bingo. Which is why it’s long past time to cut back on the endless repetition of the obvious – that ID “is” creationism, sneaks in God, etc. And start exposing the well-kept secret – that ID and “teach the controversy” are bait-and-switch scams “designed” to cover up the fact that (1) “scientific” creationism has totally collapsed under its own weight of fatal flaws and contradictions, and (2) mainstream science is correct about evolution, common descent and a ~4 billion year history of life.

Comment #101719

Posted by Lamuella on May 22, 2006 8:29 AM (e)

Is Dembski suggesting PIRATING “The Root Of All Evil?”

How incredibly christian of him.

Comment #101721

Posted by Lou FCD on May 22, 2006 8:44 AM (e)

Stealing is Ok, as long as you’re Stealing For Jesus

Comment #101722

Posted by wamba on May 22, 2006 8:53 AM (e)

One may wonder about Dembski’s fascination with Dawkins. Is it because Dawkins beats Dembski in a Google fight 9 million to 700,000?

Ah, but to be fair, you would have to include various vowel variations. (Which, by the way, I do not consider to be ‘clever beyond measure’.)

Comment #101724

Posted by Googler on May 22, 2006 10:13 AM (e)

Adam Ierymenko wrote:

I’m an atheist, and unfortunately I’m not a big fan of Dawkins’ atheist evangelism.

I am not an atheist, and I am not a fan, big or otherwise, of Dawkins’ viewpoint. But I am also not a fan of Dembski and his kind, because to me their approach is both anti-science and essentially anti-religion.

Except for that, I am basically in agreement with your whole message.

Unfortunately, some of those who claim to be agreeing with you here are exhibiting exactly that fundamentalist viewpoint that you correctly criticize.

The problem isn’t belief in God. The problem is a way of thinking. The cognitive style and psychology of fundamentalism is the problem, not religion per se. A basically rational and decent person can be a theist, but a basically rational person cannot be an “ideolater.”

The problem with both Dembski, Dawkins, and others, as you point out, is fundamentalism [small f] which as you say can derive from any ideology. Some people naively think that fundamentalism is to be exclusively associated with religious views. That is both incorrect and dangerous.

The danger is that fundamentalism of any type is opposed to both science and religion, because it is essentially opposed to our way of knowing about reality.

Comment #101725

Posted by Flint on May 22, 2006 10:23 AM (e)

The problem isn’t belief in God. The problem is a way of thinking. The cognitive style and psychology of fundamentalism is the problem, not religion per se.

Carl Sagan summed this up quite succinctly, I think. He drew the distinction between those whose claims were tentative and based on currently available evidence (a small minority of people), and those whose claims were based on what they WANT to be True, and are impervious to evidence, changing only when wants change. Which means nearly everyone, *including* scientists in fields outside their specialty.

Comment #101728

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 22, 2006 11:23 AM (e)

As a christian I have to confess that I have a problem at times with Richard Dawkins. As I have said many times before this debate is not about whether or not God does or doesn’t exist. That is a philosopical arguement. This is about science, common sence, and reason. Sometimes however, I feel that because of his cavalier attitude Dawkins is guilty of handing the fundies ammunition. I make no appologies though, in posting this link again having seen this video:

http://www.skeptics.com.au/journal/1998/3_crexpose.htm

My minister on silence:”Wait untill you see this bit”

No wonder Dawkins is angry with them. I’m still surprised he hasn’t taken these people to court. The number of times I hear this quoted either by YEC’s, or people phoning into discussion programmes on creation shows that even after all this time it’s still having the desired effect !

I think Ken Miller’s approach is much better. Why alienate those in the church that accept evolutionary science ?

And by the way, Atheism has been tried as a state religion in at least one country in Europe - Albania. I actually visited the place a few years ago. What a mess!

Comment #101729

Posted by steve s on May 22, 2006 11:42 AM (e)

Dembski is god’s best gift the evolution. The man’s so dumb he falls for email hoaxes.

Comment #101730

Posted by steve s on May 22, 2006 11:44 AM (e)

to evolution

Comment #101731

Posted by steve s on May 22, 2006 11:47 AM (e)

And by the way, Atheism has been tried as a state religion in at least one country in Europe - Albania. I actually visited the place a few years ago. What a mess!

And it was a thriving metropolis immediately before that, I suppose?

Comment #101732

Posted by Todd on May 22, 2006 12:09 PM (e)

I’m not sure it is necessarily the case that Dembski is giving up the scientific argument and trying to win on theology. It is obvious that the birth of the ID movement was after the Edwards, when it became clear Creation “Science” would no longer be possible to teach without being quickly overturned by lower federal courts. Now the IDers are actively trying to distance themselves from Creation “Science”, accusing it of being religious but trying to say that ID is not connected.

However, after the rout at Dover this was shown to be nothing but overt rhetoric, the connection between ID and Creation “Science” was clearly demonstrated. Because of some testimony in the Dover trial it seems that they are abandoning ID and moving on to “Sudden Emergences Theory” (although they will probably have to rename it after the publicity at Dover). It may be possible that the Discovery Institute has figured that ID has no hope of succeeding in the inevitable supreme-court trial, and they are sabatoging it in hopes that they will be able to better distance “Sudden Emergence Theory” from ID when the time comes. I may be giving them more credit than they are due, but PR does seem to be their one and only strong point so I would not put it past them.

Comment #101733

Posted by PvM on May 22, 2006 12:09 PM (e)

As a Christian I do not agree with the strong version of Dawkins’ message namely that faith and religion are invariably leading to extremist behaviors. Nevertheless, he has a valid point that religion requires one to give up on independent and critical thought to some varying degree. I am quite familiar with YECism, where there exists a strong pressure to accept their reading of the Bible as the only correct version and dissent is not allowed. Understandably, YECism extends its control to outside of religion into science where it similarly requires reality to conform to their faith.

I have found that many ID activists are actually quite unfamiliar with the basic “foundations” of ID and although much of this may be caused by the use of conflating terms such as complexity, information and design, it seems to may that an uncritical acceptance of ID based on religious faith leads one to an even more uncritical understanding of its ‘scientific claims’.

No religion is not bad under all circumstances but it does provide for an environment which may discourage critical and independent thinking. And Dawkins makes an excellent case of that. Understandably, ID activists seem to be ‘up in arms’ against Dawkins, partially because of Dawkins’ strong claims and partially because the truth hits too closely for comfort.

Comment #101774

Posted by Kristine on May 22, 2006 3:34 PM (e)

I do wonder about Dembski’s obsession with Dawkins. One must remember that Dembski’s father was a biology teacher who taught evolutionary biology at the university level; I wonder about the potential of a similar rebellion against a father figure here. (I should know; I rebelled against my own father’s 6-day creationism and sought out role models in Sagan and Gould.) It seems to me that in some convoluted way, Dembski wants attention and acknowledgement from Dawkins.

One also cannot help noticing that Dawkins is a dashing figure; if I were a man I’d be jealous of him, too. (For the record, my sig other resembles Dembski rather than Dawkins, so that’s not intended as a personal slight.) This all has little to do with science and little to do with religion, since fights about religion are, in my opinion, just a smokescreen for personal, earthly concerns. (Earthly concerns! As if there were any other kind.)

Comment #101784

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 22, 2006 4:28 PM (e)

Kirstine wrote:
“One also cannot help noticing that Dawkins is a dashing figure; if I were a man I’d be jealous of him, too.”

He’s married to this very attractive lady:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/classic/gallery/ward/ward11.shtml

I suppose a lot of men would possibly be jealous !

Comment #101824

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 22, 2006 10:55 PM (e)

Peter says:

“And by the way, Atheism has been tried as a state religion in at least one country in Europe - Albania.”

That sounded as such a surprising claim - atheism isn’t a proper religion after all - so I tried to google Albanian history.

I can’t find any support to the claim.

Instead, on http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0898702208/102-4026621-7503344?v=glance&n=283155 there is a reviewer that claims:

“When communist leader Enver Hoxha finally consolidated his rule over Albania, a mountainous country on the Adriatic, one of the first measures he implemented was a ban on religion. Taking Marx’s adage that “Religion is an opiate of the masses,” Hoxha and his fellow travelers attempted to make themselves central to its citizen’s lives. The government deemed this action necessary because the communists saw Albania’s three faiths–Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Christianity–as an obstacle to national unification.”

Now, that I can understand. As many communist countries they ban or work against religions.

Communism isn’t atheism.

In fact, a good case can be made that for all practical purposes communism behaved like a religion. It even had a pseudoscience, “socialist science”, that was proposed to replace science to support the ideology. Much like “creationist science” replacing biology, geology and cosmology supports christian fundamentalist ideology.

The source of the mistaken claim seems to be described by the same reviewer:

“In an effort to make communism the new state “religion,” harsh measures of suppression and punishment directed against the representatives of these faiths took place. In “Banishing God in Albania,” Jesuit priest Giacomo Gardin outlines his personal encounter with the horrific measures taken by the communist government to turn Albania into the world’s only “atheistic state.” I considered this book a necessary read because surveys of Albanian history often mention that the communists banned religion without delving into specifics.”

“I actually visited the place a few years ago. What a mess!”

Yes, all communist states were.

Comment #101828

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 22, 2006 11:47 PM (e)

As a Christian I do not agree with the strong version of Dawkins’ message namely that faith and religion are invariably leading to extremist behaviors.

indeed.

Don’t those arguments remind you of the arguments made to ban the sale of alcohol in the US during the depression?

You can’t solve alchoholism by banning the sale of alcohol. It’s been proven not to work, and more than once.

Comment #101839

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 3:32 AM (e)

I did a quick google search on this as well. Here are just two articles that I found on the claim:

http://www.stormfront.org/whitehistory/hwr36iii.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/1004984.stm

From the first essay:

“In 1967 all religious bodies were banned, Christian and Muslim church property was confiscated, and Albania was formally declared the world’s first atheist state.”

and from the BBC:
“1967 - Violent clampdown on religious activity. Albania declared the world’s first atheist state.”

I had heard the claim being made in a number of church services I’ve attended.

OK, so some people do not see atheism as a religion, but in my opinion it is just as much a faith position as fundamentalist Christianity. I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?

Comment #101840

Posted by Andrew McClure on May 23, 2006 3:49 AM (e)

I realize it probably wasn’t intentional, but I really, really don’t think you want to be using Stormfront as a source under any circumstances.

Comment #101843

Posted by Frank J on May 23, 2006 5:11 AM (e)

Todd wrote:

Because of some testimony in the Dover trial it seems that they are abandoning ID and moving on to “Sudden Emergences Theory” (although they will probably have to rename it after the publicity at Dover)

Whatever they call it, sooner or later they are going to have to say “sudden emergences” of what and when.

Right now we have Behe “best guessing” that it was a complex common ancestor ~4 billion years ago, Meyer hinting that it it was more like independent “emergences” of ancestral phyla ~540 million years ago, and Nelson suggesting even more “emergences”, more recently.

If they were true scientists they’d be either trying hard to work toward the best hypothesis, or at least being very public about the disagreements. Instead they are downplaying their differences and retreating even further from committing to one of those potential alternatives, much less testing it.

Because, as you say, they have nothing but rhetoric, my guess is that they will stick to the fabricated weaknesses of “Darwinism,” and add more “what is science?” doublespeak. In individual debates, whenever defending ID “as science” becomes difficult (meaning that the audience as well as the critic is catching on), they pull out the “plan B” that science is just another religion. My guess is that we’ll see more of that.

Comment #101855

Posted by wamba on May 23, 2006 8:26 AM (e)

As a Christian I do not agree with the strong version of Dawkins’ message namely that faith and religion are invariably leading to extremist behaviors.

indeed.

Don’t those arguments remind you of the arguments made to ban the sale of alcohol in the US during the depression?

I can’t tell if you’re being intentionally ironic with that remark. Prohibition was driven by religious groups, notably the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Comment #101860

Posted by AC on May 23, 2006 9:18 AM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?

Surely. After all, before Genesis was written, the human race existed in a perpetual global state of murder, theft, coveting, and idol-worship.

Comment #101866

Posted by Dan on May 23, 2006 9:53 AM (e)

So only those civilizations that grew with the benifits of knowing Genisis (the book, not the band) had prohibitions against murder?
Yes, I remember learning how poorly it served the natives of the New World to live without the Bible.

Comment #101867

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 23, 2006 9:54 AM (e)

the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc.

I am sooooo sick of this claim!! All civilizations since before Moses was born have had laws against murder, theft, and perjury (that’s “bearing false witness” in case you hadn’t figured it out). It even supports this in the Bible itself, as Moses was sent into the wilderness for killing Vincent Price (oh, wait, that was the movie). Anyway, in these three cases, the ten commandments merely echo and re-enforce basic tenants of civilization that had already existed for a few millennia.

This point usually comes up when people claim that US law is based on the ten commandments. The next part of that argument is pointing out that, except for a rapidly dwindling number of state and local adultery statutes and blue laws, the other seven commandments are law nowhere in the US. (Know of anywhere in the US where it’s illegal to worship idols or dishonor your parents?)

Comment #101869

Posted by Anton Mates on May 23, 2006 10:15 AM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?

Indeed. That’s why regions where the book of Genesis is given little attention, such as Japan and India, are plagued by murder, theft and chaos. Conversely, regions where the book is venerated, such as Africa and the Middle East, are stable near-utopias.

Comment #101872

Posted by Moses on May 23, 2006 10:27 AM (e)

Comment #101659

Posted by Carol Clouser on May 21, 2006 08:31 PM (e)

PvM,

You apparently don’t know much about Amazon.com rankings. The sale of one book can catapult its ranking from 800,00 to 2,700 in the span of a few minutes as the rankings are based on hourly sales and are updated as such. You would have to be persistant enough to watch those rankings over a long period of time to be able to use them as a gauge of overall popularity.

Stunningly inaccurate. Too bad you didn’t spend just one-minute with google to get even vaguely familiar with the subject:

http://www.frugalmarketing.com/dtb/amazon.shtml

1. Until Amazon sells at least one copy, that book has no rank. Once Amazon sells a copy, the book is ranked. Currently, one sale will rank the book in the 1,700,000 - 1,800,000 range.

2. Amazon’s rankings reflect both amount of copies sold, and recency of sales. A book with some recent sales may outrank another book that sold more copies, long ago.

Also:

The Amazon rankings are known to be fairly logarithmic.

If you’ve sold just one book, you’re in the 1.5 million range.
Two books - 500K range.

One a week - 60K range.
10-15 a week - 10K range.
25-50 a day - hundreds range…

Comment #101873

Posted by wamba on May 23, 2006 10:35 AM (e)

I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?

Nope, nothing of the sort in Genesis. Perhaps you meant Exodus? That’s not true either, but it’s one degree less false.

Comment #101885

Posted by Kristine on May 23, 2006 10:57 AM (e)

Peter wrote:

“He’s married to this very attractive lady”

A gorgeous lady, Ms. Ward! (Are they not the perfect couple?) Who, by the way, once traveled in the TARDIS time machine with Dr. Who. Which reminds me: William Dembski once tossed out that the Intelligent Designer could be a “time-traveling biologist.” Dembski also told Dawkins that he [Dembski] “thanked God for him” [Dawkins] because Dawkins was allegedly hurting the evolutionist cause with his atheism.

Hmmm. A biologist, perhaps with an endowed seat at Oxford, who has access to a time machine through his wife, possibly being the Intelligent Designer? That Dembksi himself thanks the Designer for? Does Dembksi realize what a gaffe he’s made? He just prayed to Richard Dawkins! ;-)

Comment #101887

Posted by Moses on May 23, 2006 11:04 AM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?

The “Ten Commandments” are a really more of a classification system for the 613 Mitzvot than they are what they’re represented to be. They are broken down into two groups of five: Five for how you must relate with God and five on how you must relate with others.

Christians aren’t taught this. Rather, they’re taught as if they’re the only commandments. Which is pretty far from the truth. Let’s look at “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

“Thou Shalt Not Kill” covers all the commandments of when it is and is not permissible to kill. It is not a blanket prohibition on killing. Consider Deuteronomy Chapter 13 and the punishment for idolatry:

For example, if a city falls into idolatry, you’re commanded to kill the inhabitants (and their livestock) “with the edge of the sword” and burn the city and all the possession of the inhabitants and never rebuild the city. If a false prophet arises and proclaims other gods, you are to put him to death (method not directly given but it’s probably stoning). If anyone, including your wife or parents or children, entices you to idolatry, you’re to rat them out and kill them by stoning.

And there are many other times you are allowed to kill. And who may do it:

The courts must carry out the death penalty of stoning Deut. 22:24 (Rape & Adultery get a lot of play in here.)
The courts must carry out the death penalty of burning Lev. 20:14 Bestiality, homosexuality and sleeping with the mother of your wife get some good play here.)
The courts must carry out the death penalty of the sword Ex. 21:20
The courts must carry out the death penalty of strangulation Lev. 20:10 (More sex issues.)
The courts must hang those stoned for blasphemy or idolatry Deut. 21:22 (After you stone them, hang their corpse up as a warning, but not over night.)

Lots of permissible killing going on there. And there is a lot more. Like it’s okay to kill all male POWs and take their women, children and goods for your own use…

Comment #101905

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 2:25 PM (e)

I can’t tell if you’re being intentionally ironic with that remark. Prohibition was driven by religious groups, notably the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

you got it. not only intentional irony, but a case in point of how the draconian measure of attempting to remove the influence for a particular illness from an entire society has never worked before.

It’s a response to the notion that simply removing religion will cure the mental illness that rampant creobots suffer from.

that approach simply doesn’t work.

Like banning alcohol only created far worse avenues for the distribution and sale of it, banning religion would do the same.

and, just as with alchol, not everyone who imbibes becomes an alcoholic.

We treat alcoholics by treating the individual. What we need to do for fundies is get them to see that they have a particular problem first, then encourage them to seek treatment for dissonance.

banning religion will only make the problem worse, not better.

Comment #101915

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 23, 2006 3:05 PM (e)

I was not aware that Dr. Dawkins advocated the banning of religion. Are you sure about that? AFAIK, he advocates the abandonment of religion, which is a totally different kettle of fish.

Comment #101919

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 4:10 PM (e)

“I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?”

I knew this would provoke a reaction !

Anton wrote:
“Indeed. That’s why regions where the book of Genesis is given little attention, such as Japan and India, are plagued by murder, theft and chaos. Conversely, regions where the book is venerated, such as Africa and the Middle East, are stable near-utopias.”

I detect more than a touch of sarcasm in your statement Anton. I’d hardly say that the three countries you mentioned are examples of politically stable regimes. When India gained Independence there was widespread sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims. Many also died when Pakistan split from India in the mid seventies. Japan’s torture of ailed prisoners during the second world war is now legendary, and China’s
record on human rights from the start of the cultural revolution, through to the present day is surely not something we in the developed world would envy !

Aureola wrote:
“I was not aware that Dr. Dawkins advocated the banning of religion. Are you sure about that? AFAIK, he advocates the abandonment of religion, which is a totally different kettle of fish.”

I agree Aurola, but Carl Marx probably never intended Communism to turn out the way it did. I’m sure some totalitarian dictator will pick up on Dr Dawkins ideas and distort them in the same way.

Comment #101920

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 23, 2006 4:23 PM (e)

Carl Marx probably never intended Communism to turn out the way it did. I’m sure some totalitarian dictator will pick up on Dr Dawkins ideas and distort them in the same way.

I’m sure you’ll explain next how the Inquisitors of the middle ages, and some of the early Popes before that, were not at all like “totalitarian dictators,” and, besides, even if Christian doctorine can be (and has been) distorted to justify man’s inhumanity to man in all sorts of ways, we should not hold the ideas themselves or their authors responsible.

And, BTW, it’s “Karl” not “Carl.”

Anyone else having trouble with the “Check Spelling” button?

Comment #101922

Posted by Moses on May 23, 2006 4:37 PM (e)

Comment #101919

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 04:10 PM (e)

“I know many people criticize the fundies etc. for being dogmatic, but one thing the book of Genesis did give us was our moral guidelines such as “Thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal” etc. Surely without these the world itself would be in chaos ?”

I knew this would provoke a reaction !

Of course it is! People get sick and tired of the false-witnessing Christian propaganda machine taking credit for stuff in which they are, at best, just contributors.

Christians act like Hammurabi’s Code, which pre-dates Exodus and the Ten Commandments by over 500 years, didn’t exist. They ignore all the Pharaonic laws of ancient Egypt, a civilization that precedes the Israelites by at least 1200 years and the Ten Commandments by 1800 years. And there are laws from many other cultures that also preceded the Ten Commandments that have had impacts on our legal system and Western Civilization in general.

Comment #101924

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 23, 2006 4:45 PM (e)

I think you’re treading on thin ice here. There has been widespread overt sectarian violence within Christian civilizations as well, both in Northern Ireland, and IIRC at various times (well, maybe not widespread) in the US, and between Christians and other religions. The Crusades of course spring to mind. My understanding is that that the violence in India between Muslims and Hindus was an outgrowth of the departure of the British (although I’d like some scholars of that time and place to comment if that isn’t true). And Japan, although in the throes of a facist/religious leadership during WWII, is much less violent overall than the US today, with substantially similar religion but a different government.

I think we could all come up with violent Christian communities or civilizations and peaceful (relatively) non-Christian ones (I think of Australian Aborigials and Native Americans as relatively “moral” groups). I do agree with you that Anton had “a touch of sarcasm” :-) I think that the point is that the Judaeau-Christian tradition has no monopoly on “moral” behaviour, and (as other posters have shown) that pretty much all civilizations (including predating the OT) have had bans on murder, theft, adultery, etc. I bet even Albania had those laws!

Comment #101925

Posted by GvlGeologist, FCD on May 23, 2006 4:48 PM (e)

Jeeze, I type a simple message and 2 more relevant posts come up before mine! I was, of course, responding to Peter.

And to continue, I think most people would agree that most of these laws are necessary for any civilization to flourish, regardless of religion or the lack thereof.

(PS spell check worked for me)

Comment #101933

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 5:29 PM (e)

I was not aware that Dr. Dawkins advocated the banning of religion. Are you sure about that? AFAIK, he advocates the abandonment of religion, which is a totally different kettle of fish.

you may be right. to tell the truth, i never bothered to follow the social commentary of Dawkins. I’ve always been more interested in the science, so I might have been mistaken about that.

consider it a pre-emptive argument then.

Comment #101945

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 5:56 PM (e)

Bill wrote:
“And, BTW, it’s “Karl” not “Carl.””

I did check this before posting. Seemingly you can use either spelling:

http://www.geocities.com/lenin17n/database/marx/biography.html

Comment #101947

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 6:05 PM (e)

Re:”besides, even if Christian doctorine can be (and has been) distorted to justify man’s inhumanity to man in all sorts of ways, we should not hold the ideas themselves or their authors responsible”

Entirely agree with you Bill. That’s what I meant when I mentioned Marx !

Comment #101956

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 23, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

I agree Aurola, but Carl Marx probably never intended Communism to turn out the way it did. I’m sure some totalitarian dictator will pick up on Dr Dawkins ideas and distort them in the same way.

It’s very difficult to distort someone saying “leave me alone and bother me no longer with your fantasies” to mean “you are forbidden from thinking and believing whatever nonsense you prefer”. This is not a distortion; it’s complete reversal.

Sorry James, totalitarian dictators are in the business of controlling what other people think, say and do, not of opposing such mind- and behaviour-control.

It’s not a matter of unintended consequences: you are suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to Dr. Dawkins because an entirely hypothetical someone else might take his words to mean exactly the opposite of what Dr. Dawkins says?

That’s EXACTLY like saying that one should not follow Jesus’ advice because very well known historical figures have unleashed the Crusades, the Inquisition and countless bloody religious wars upon humanity.

Think about it.

Comment #101957

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 6:34 PM (e)

Know of anywhere in the US where it’s illegal to worship idols or dishonor your parents?

Just you wait till the Reconstructionists take over.

Comment #101964

Posted by ben on May 23, 2006 6:56 PM (e)

I knew this would provoke a reaction !

To paraphrase:

“I made a stupid statement. You said my statement was stupid. Ha! Played you like a fiddle.”

A gotcha of Springerian proportions.

Comment #101965

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 23, 2006 7:04 PM (e)

“Think about it.”

I have thought about it. The consequences of Marx’s ideology were: millions slaughtered and tortured, millions carted of to labour camps in Siberia where many probably died, millions who probably just disappeared etc. etc. etc. Half the world had to endure this in totalitarian dictatorships for the best part of the last century. Lets not forget there are still countries like this even today ie North Korea for example.

Marx probably never intended any of this. I’m sure he was probably trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Comment #101967

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 7:11 PM (e)

Marx probably never intended any of this. I’m sure he was probably trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

You’re “sure” are ya? then why are you attributing mass murder to his philosophy?

why that’s like attributing the mass genocide of Hitler to Christianity (or Darwin, for that matter)!

Idiot

You’d be well served by reading some of Marx’s published works, and checking out a bit of his history:

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/marx.html

Comment #101972

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 23, 2006 7:49 PM (e)

Marx probably never intended any of this. I’m sure he was probably trying to make the world a better place for everyone.

Sure he did. Also, probably rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef, if he ever existed, thought the same, and never envisioned the absurd distortion of his Jewish teachings that would lead to the birth of the monstrous wedding of totalitarian religion and absolute temporal rule that first Paul (the self-appointed and blatantly lying “apostle of the Gentiles”), and then Constantine (the first in the seemingly never-ending line of murderous rulers who used Christianity as an instrument of control) generated.

So what’s your point? Yet another argumentum ad consequentias?

Pitifully fallacious, I’m afraid.

Comment #101974

Posted by Coin on May 23, 2006 8:00 PM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

I have thought about it. The consequences of Marx’s ideology were:

What follows in your post after this quote is a list of consequences of the Russian Revolution.

These consequences were made possible because of a very large nation full of angry, hungry, disenfranchised people, and some naive or unscrupulous people among them who knew how to leverage populist philosophy to gain personal power. Which populist philosophy these people used isn’t really important to the way things turned out, except in terms of which vocabulary got used in some empty propaganda speeches. You could go back in time to 1900 and substitute Marxism for practically anything else, from Nietzche to Narodnikism to radical libertarianism, and none of the events in your list would have turned out any different.

There are a variety of valid criticisms of Marxism which naturally follow from observing the disaster that was the Soviet Union. You do not have one of them. Should we perhaps next blame John Locke for the horrors of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars which followed?

I’m sure some totalitarian dictator will pick up on Dr Dawkins ideas and distort them in the same way.

This sounds exactly like an argument Dr. Dawkins himself uses to denounce the idea of religion. It strikes me as a stupid argument in both cases, for the same reasons.

Comment #101978

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 23, 2006 8:13 PM (e)

You could go back in time to 1900 and substitute Marxism for practically anything else, from Nietzche to Narodnikism to radical libertarianism

don’t forget Darwin!

:p

Comment #101981

Posted by Coin on May 23, 2006 8:22 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

don’t forget Darwin!

Redundant. As far as I can tell from listening to creationists, Darwin is responsible for the existence of Marxism, Nietzcheism, Narodnikism, radical libertarianism, and Russia. As well as some other things.

Comment #101982

Posted by Anton Mates on May 23, 2006 8:45 PM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

Anton wrote:
“Indeed. That’s why regions where the book of Genesis is given little attention, such as Japan and India, are plagued by murder, theft and chaos. Conversely, regions where the book is venerated, such as Africa and the Middle East, are stable near-utopias.”
I detect more than a touch of sarcasm in your statement Anton. I’d hardly say that the three countries you mentioned are examples of politically stable regimes. When India gained Independence there was widespread sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims. Many also died when Pakistan split from India in the mid seventies.

Sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims? Odd, that. The poor benighted Hindus might never have worked this out, but shouldn’t the Muslims at least know, from the Book of Genesis*, that they’re not allowed to kill?

Japan’s torture of ailed prisoners during the second world war is now legendary, and China’s record on human rights from the start of the cultural revolution, through to the present day is surely not something we in the developed world would envy !

That doesn’t really demonstrate that all (or most) non-Judeo-Christian societies are currently chaotic and permissive of murder and theft, does it?

Still, if you want to go to general unpleasantnesses, let’s see…in the last century alone, I believe a Christian country known as “Germany” did some legendarily nasty things to quite a few people in that same second world war. Indeed, weren’t most of the major participants in both world wars nations dominated by Abrahamic faiths? (The USSR included, in spite of its official stance on religion–the people weren’t all atheists, you know.)

And there’s been quite a bit of sectarian violence between fellow readers of Genesis in the Balkans, and the Middle East, and Africa, hasn’t there?

*wamba, I’ll just stick with Genesis until Mr. Henderson suggests switching books.

Comment #101983

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 23, 2006 9:26 PM (e)

Marx probably never intended any of this.

But Lenin and Stalin did.

That’s why so many Marxists opposed them.

And were shot for it.

Comment #101995

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on May 23, 2006 10:11 PM (e)

Peter,
“I did a quick google search on this as well.”

Yes. When googling the claim itself it seems well supported, by albanian sites for example. You were right.

“OK, so some people do not see atheism as a religion,”

What I was mainly claiming is that communism isn’t atheism. You can see a lot of arguments why in my former comment, or in others comment here.

So what if they called themselves the first Atheistic state? Technically, they were right. But factually, they were a communistic state. They didn’t want religion to compete with their own ideas.

In no way was that an atheistic state. If you look at atheistic organisations home sites they usually want a secular government and free religion, like most moderate religious people. Like US is.

Atheism wasn’t responsible for the ills of the communistic states, it was a political system which main problem was that it used faith instead of evidence based politics. In fact I think atheism was more wronged than religion. They demanded belief in Marxism and the holiness of guys like Stalin which was blamed on atheism. It was both victim and called victimizer.

Comment #102000

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 23, 2006 10:23 PM (e)

But Lenin and Stalin did.

Debatable. The two guys were very dissimilar, in theory and in practice, and conflating them confuses the issue. Anyway, I think we are drifting way off topic.

Comment #102006

Posted by Henry J on May 23, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

Re “Darwin is responsible for the existence of Marxism, Nietzcheism, Narodnikism, radical libertarianism, and Russia.”

Wow. How’d that guy find time to do all that stuff and all the biology research about which he wrote? Wow.

Henry

Comment #102100

Posted by wamba on May 24, 2006 9:55 AM (e)

*wamba, I’ll just stick with Genesis until Mr. Henderson suggests switching books.

Heh. Hopefully he’ll actually read those books before he imposes them on others.

No point in going into the incompatible versions of the commandments in Exodus 20 and Exodus 34 at this point.

Comment #102101

Posted by wamba on May 24, 2006 9:57 AM (e)

Who, by the way, once traveled in the TARDIS time machine with Dr. Who.

But no, Who’s on first(?)

Comment #102126

Posted by AC on May 24, 2006 2:24 PM (e)

Peter, regarding comment #101947, I think Bill’s statement implies that he does not agree with you on that point. Though, of course, the nefarious actions of church leaders bear no more resemblance to the biblical teachings of Jesus than the murderous actions of totalitarian dictators do to the theories of Marx. Ideology was just their tool for gaining power and exerting control.

Comment #102146

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 24, 2006 5:12 PM (e)

I think Bill’s statement implies that he does not agree with you on that point.

True, sort of. Irony is lost on some people. Peter seems to be attempting to denigrate Dawkins or his ideas by bringing up the point about someone in the future misusing Dawkins’ ideas, then agrees that in general ideas and their authors are not to blame for that sort of misuse. Kind of like blaming the Beatles for Charles Manson. Also lost is the irony that the Christianity that exists today, like the communism that existed in the Soviet Union, is the distortion and not the author’s original intent.

Comment #102204

Posted by Stephen Jones on May 25, 2006 2:17 AM (e)

Dawkins is personally an atheist, but what he is arguing in his books is that God is not necessary to explain creation.

That is to say he is denying that the universe presents objective proof of God’s existence.

This seems an intelligent position to take even for a believer. To have your whole spiritual infrastructure balancing precariously on the result of a minuscule measurement in quantum theory does not seem very prudent.

And, as I have heard a leading Islamist say on Kuwaiti television, to claim that scientists need God because they can’t explain the first tenth of a second after the Big Bang, somehow isn’t going to lead to my immediate conversion. A tenth-of-a-second God, however venerable he may be, somehow doesn’t inspire enough awe and wonder.

Comment #102261

Posted by wamba on May 25, 2006 9:22 AM (e)

Also lost is the irony that the Christianity that exists today, like the communism that existed in the Soviet Union, is the distortion and not the author’s original intent.

Yes, but no one has questioned the very existence of Karl Marx.

Comment #102265

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 25, 2006 9:43 AM (e)

…possibly because we actually have evidence of Karl Marx’s existence?

Comment #102289

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 25, 2006 12:34 PM (e)

Wamba said:
“Heh. Hopefully he’ll actually read those books before he imposes them on others.”

Nothing of the sort Wamba. I’m not trying to impose anything on anyone. Although I am a christian I AM DEFINITELY NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST !

Bill said
“Peter seems to be attempting to denigrate Dawkins or his ideas by bringing up the point about someone in the future misusing Dawkins ideas, then agrees that in general ideas and their authors are not to blame for that sort of misuse.”

Again nothing of the sort Bill. All I was trying to point out was that fundamentalist ideas of any sort lead to the examples I quoted above whether it is Socialism, Christianity, Islam, or even Atheism. With regard to Atheism the only country I could think of was Albania and preachers often refer to this. I’m not blaming Richard Dawkins for the situation in that country, but Marx’s views on religion was certainly one of the factors that led to it.

The fundies/YEC’s often mention that evolution leads to people becoming Atheists. There was an article on the AIG website some time ago, that referred to the author of the book “Farewell to God” (can’t remember his name !) but apparently he was once a well known evangelical preacher. AIG implied that it was his acceptance of “millions of years” and belief in evolution that led to his present position. I actually would argue the other way around - that belief in Young Earth Creationism, has led to many Christians either becoming agnostics or atheists. The problem that I have with Richard Dawkins is that he can sometimes alienate those Christians who do accept evolutionary science (ie the theistic evolutionists). In an article in the Daily Telegraph a while back Dawkins himself even admitted that. “It would have been better if we (the atheists) had kept our big mouths shut” he said.

OK, so I mentioned Genesis and morality, but maybe the Atheists here could answer this query. What benchmark do you use for moral/ethical issues ? Maybe the rules laid down in the ten commandments do predate Genesis, but I would imagine that at that time atheists would have been very thin on the ground, if not non-existent. Natural events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, or floods would have been put down to “the Gods being angry” etc, whether they were Christian or not. Even those “evolutionary” Greeks had their Gods ! I’ve often wondered how Atheists know why it is wrong to lie or kill etc.

Comment #102295

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 25, 2006 1:35 PM (e)

Peter, considering that:

a) atheists are not going on murderous rampages of rape and pillage (at least, not at any noticeably higher frequency than theists); and

b) they don’t refrain from such acts out of Fear of God™;

Don’t you think it would be time to retire the old “how can you guys behave well if you don’t believe in a Big Invisible Cop in the Sky Constantly Looking at You” canard?

Let me give you one hint to one possible reason (many more, of course, exist, as “atheism” is nothing more than the lack of belief in gods of any kind, and does not necessarily imply anything else):

Self-preservation, in a gregarious animal species, in enhanced by co-operative behaviour, and jeopardized by antisocial behaviour.

Comment #102296

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 25, 2006 1:37 PM (e)

Darn non-self-activating spellchecker!

*is enhanced…

Comment #102305

Posted by wamba on May 25, 2006 2:41 PM (e)

OK, so I mentioned Genesis and morality, but maybe the Atheists here could answer this query. What benchmark do you use for moral/ethical issues ? Maybe the rules laid down in the ten commandments do predate Genesis, but I would imagine that at that time atheists would have been very thin on the ground, if not non-existent. Natural events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, or floods would have been put down to “the Gods being angry” etc, whether they were Christian or not. Even those “evolutionary” Greeks had their Gods ! I’ve often wondered how Atheists know why it is wrong to lie or kill etc.

You do have some Fundy characteristics. For example, although you have been clearly proven wrong on numerous points, you simply keep digging yourself deeper rather than admit you were wrong.

Atheism goes back at least as far as the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, and the Indian Carvaka scholl is possibly even older (~ 600 BCE).

Plato established in his dialogue Euthyphro, written about 2400 years ago, that god(s) cannot be the source of morality. Atheists get their morality from the same source as everyone else (culture and reason), they are just willing to admit it.

Tell me, how do theists know it is wrong to lie and kill (except when God tells them to do otherwise, such as in the numerous genocidal episodes of the Old Testament?) Is it because they consult the same source that tells them slavery is OK, but eating shellfish or mixing meat and dairy isn’t?

Comment #102316

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 25, 2006 4:59 PM (e)

Re “You do have some Fundy characteristics. For example, although you have been clearly proven wrong on numerous points, you simply keep digging yourself deeper rather than admit you were wrong.”

It’s living all my life in Northern Ireland Wamba. Some of it must have rubbed off ! Seriously though, I wouldn’t describe myself as a fundie, and I would probably be quite open minded about most things. I certainly feel that I have become more liberal as time has progressed. Spending a lot of time in hospital over recent years, quite ill at times, and witnessing some people who were dying, has changed my mind on a lot of issues. My upbringing, although in a christian home, was not overly strict either ( there was no Sunday observance for example !)

Re:
“a) atheists are not going on murderous rampages of rape and pillage (at least, not at any noticeably higher frequency than theists); and”

I do realise this and I’m sure that most atheists are morally upright people, probably more so than a lot of the so called Christians, (I find much of the Christian TV rubbish from the US that we can view in the UK now, offensive and corrupt).

I do accept evolutionary science. I think most Christians do, and this is why I feel that the debate shouldn’t become an issue about whether or not God does or doesn’t exist. As I said in my original post, this is a philosophical argument, not a scientific one. It’s really, really important that scientists realise this. Groups such as AIG like to tell Christians that “millions of years” and evolution are atheistic concepts and they frequently cite Richard Dawkins as an example of this. Hence, those Christians who accept conventional science are really compromisers, according to them (AIG etc). This isn’t true of course, but it’s vitally important that Christians like myself are not placed in an awkward position regarding the existence of God.

I hadn’t realised Atheism was that old Wamba so thanks for clearing that up for me. I had thought it came to the fore in the 18th century, when geologists like Hutton and Lyell proposed that the Earth was shaped by natural processes over long periods of time and not by devine intervention. It must be all that YEC propaganda !

Comment #102317

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 25, 2006 5:09 PM (e)

“I had thought it came to the fore in the 18th century”

Woops. I should have said the 19th century !

Comment #102319

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 25, 2006 5:17 PM (e)

Peter wrote:

The problem that I have with Richard Dawkins is that he can sometimes alienate those Christians who do accept evolutionary science (ie the theistic evolutionists).

If one knows what science is and conflates neither religion and science, nor the scientific and personal opinions of any particular scientist, then this would not be a problem.

Peter wrote:

I actually would argue the other way around - that belief in Young Earth Creationism, has led to many Christians either becoming agnostics or atheists.

Agreed, most heartily. And we’re not alone:

“It may be true that scientism and evolutionism (not science and evolution) are among the causes of atheism and materialism. It is at least equally true that biblical literalism, from its earlier flat-earth and geocentric forms to its recent young-earth and flood-geology forms, is one of the major causes of atheism and materialism. Many scientists and intellectuals have simply taken the literalists at their word and rejected biblical materials as being superseded or contradicted by modern science. Without having in hand a clear and persuasive alternative, they have concluded that it is nobler to be damned by the literalists than to dismiss the best testimony of research and reason. Intellectual honesty and integrity demand it.”
CONRAD HYERS, “THE MEANING OF CREATION: GENESIS AND MODERN SCIENCE”

Peter wrote:

I’ve often wondered how Atheists know why it is wrong to lie or kill etc.

Pure pragmatism works: Telling the truth is easier, since you don’t have to remember who you told what lies to. Fear of the law works. And failing all else, a conscience and empathy for one’s fellow man works quite well. We are, after all, social animals, and we need each other. The “golden rule” is not just for the religious and can be justified without reference to a deity.

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879-1955)

Given the level of ethical behavior we have seen in recent decades by supposedly (at least loudly self-proclaimed) good Christians, not to mention Muslims, I would almost be tempted to “argue the other way around” as you say, and wonder how theists can know why their religions and the consciences seem so often in conflict. Personally, I’m not convinced that faith can move mountains, but I’ve seen what it can do to skyscrapers.

“With or without [religion], you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”
STEVEN WEINBERG (Nobel Prize winning physicist)

Comment #102334

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 25, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

(sigh) Is this gonna turn into yet another pointless holy war?

Comment #102337

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on May 25, 2006 6:47 PM (e)

“Anarcho-syndicalism is a way of preserving freedom. If only people would listen…”
Dennis, MP&THG

Comment #102340

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 25, 2006 7:27 PM (e)

As I said in my original post, this is a philosophical argument, not a scientific one.

Worse than that – it’s a POLITICAL argument, not a philosophical or scientific one.

It’s about political power, who gets to have it, and what they get to do with it once they’ve got it.

The fundies want theocracy, with themselves as “theo”. Either we will let them establish a theocracy, or we won’t.

And since they won’t stop willingly, we need to stop them UN-willingly.

Comment #102341

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 25, 2006 7:28 PM (e)

“Love is all you need.”

–Lennon and McCartney

Comment #102368

Posted by Anton Mates on May 26, 2006 12:19 AM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

Nothing of the sort Wamba. I’m not trying to impose anything on anyone. Although I am a christian I AM DEFINITELY NOT A FUNDAMENTALIST !

That’s good, since if you attempted to impose Biblical law on us and used Genesis as your primary reference we’d be rather confused. :)

All I was trying to point out was that fundamentalist ideas of any sort lead to the examples I quoted above whether it is Socialism, Christianity, Islam, or even Atheism. With regard to Atheism the only country I could think of was Albania and preachers often refer to this.

Seriously? That’s awesome. I need to start attending more sermons. “And God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from Albania…”

OK, so I mentioned Genesis and morality, but maybe the Atheists here could answer this query. What benchmark do you use for moral/ethical issues ?

Some of us follow a particular moral philosophy such as (off the top of my head) secular humanism or objectivism, some of us try to live up to the standards of our parents or other role models. Some of us just try to behave in a way that makes us content rather than guilty. My moral feelings seem to formalize pretty well as utilitarianism, but not always.

It’s much the same spread of benchmarks that Christians have, I believe. Sure, you have a god who’s laid down assorted rules and commandments, but it remains your moral decision whether or not to obey them, and you make that decision for all sorts of reasons. Some Christians say they’re obligated to obey the being who created them and maintains their existence, some say the perfection of Jesus demands that they try to follow his example, some say God’s just telling them what they already knew they should do in the hearts. Some (relatively few, I hope) seem to focus on the practicalities of attaining heaven and avoiding hell. Everyone’s got their own particular moral axioms.

Maybe the rules laid down in the ten commandments do predate Genesis, but I would imagine that at that time atheists would have been very thin on the ground, if not non-existent. Natural events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, or floods would have been put down to “the Gods being angry” etc, whether they were Christian or not. Even those “evolutionary” Greeks had their Gods !

Many of those gods weren’t considered morally infallible, though. Sure, Zeus punished people who were uncharitable to guests and that sort of thing, but he also punished people because he was a jerk, and humans were allowed to recognize that fact. And there are modern religions not generally classed under “atheism,” such as Buddhism, that still don’t have a big guy telling you what to do. As far as I’m aware, the claim that all moral/ethical rules derive their validity from the authority of a single divine ruler is found in only a small minority of historical religions. (For that matter, there are Christians who don’t agree with that.)

Comment #102379

Posted by Registered User on May 26, 2006 1:26 AM (e)

OK, so I mentioned Genesis and morality, but maybe the Atheists here could answer this query. What benchmark do you use for moral/ethical issues ?

A good answer is: none of your freaking business.

If you have a problem with my behavior, though, explain to me what your problem is and we can talk rationally about it.

Or try to.

Or I can talk rationally and you can point to some invisible “spirit” who rewards “good” people with golden harps and puffy clouds and allows “bad” people to suffer eternally.

Comment #102424

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 10:06 AM (e)

Re”A good answer is: none of your freaking business.”
and

“If you have a problem with my behavior, though, explain to me what your problem is and we can talk rationally about it.”

THERE IS NO NEED TO GET NASTY REGISTERED USER! It was a genuine query as most of my friends are either Christians or agnostics. I don’t have any contact with atheists and I always wondered what the rules where and what they where based on.I was trying to have a rational discussion on the subject since Richard Dawkins is frequently referred to as an Evangelical atheist by many fundie groups.

However, if your attitude is typical of atheist’s attitudes towards Christians then maybe I’m better not to bother since there’s no point. No wonder fundies are the way they are !

Re Lenny: there are many, many Christians, even in this country (NI) who are not fundies, and who hold a liberal view on the creation/evolution controversy (if you could call it that). For want of repeating myself, these are the very people that have to be kept on board. As I have said, the existence of whether or not God exists is not the issue here.

Comment #102430

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 10:37 AM (e)

Peter:

maybe you were distracted when I wrote that

…“atheism” is nothing more than the lack of belief in gods of any kind, and does not necessarily imply anything else.

I wonder why you avoided several replies concerning the source of atheist ethical outlook, such as mine (social behaviour as enhancer of self-preservation in gregarious species), to concentrate on Registered User’s own.

And fundies are what they are regardless of how polite or impolite atheists are towards them.

Comment #102446

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

Sorry if I was Aureola. It’s just that registered user’s reply threw me. Probably better to ignore him !

The closest I think, that I’ve come to knowing that someone was an atheist was one of my ex-bosses (his name was Frank). Frank was genuinely a really nice person, although he professed no faith in God despite probably being preached at by some of the fundies over the years. He was one of the better people that I’ve worked with . Sadly he passed away a few months ago but the thing that surprised me was that his funeral was conducted by a minister. I had always thought he was an atheist. Perhaps he was really an agnostic or maybe that was his wife’s idea ! I suppose there are both good and bad people no matter where you go.

However, I have listened to many testimonies from people whose lives were falling apart, and who, in many cases were morally corrupt, until they were “saved”. I’m not sure if they became nicer people as a result of this experience, but they certainly claim their lives would have gone “down the tubes” had it not happened. In some cases that I’ve heard, the outcome would have been certain death in the end. (drug abuse for example !)

As I say , it was a genuine query and not an attempt to “preach” at anyone. Christian’s lives revolve around biblical principles (like forgiveness for instance, especially when we feel like taking revenge) so I had wondered how people who were atheists had come to their moral conclusions.

Now I know !

Comment #102448

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 11:54 AM (e)

Peter:

I, too, have known people who were “saved” that way. Alas, I’ve also known people who were destroyed by fundamentalist religion; the obvious conclusion, to me, seems to be that religion neither saves nor destroys per se, but rather we do.

You know, when I was a kid, my Catholic parents taught me that behaving well while observed was a nice thing, but not really indicative of my moral fibre; that could only be tested when nobody was watching me.

Well, I suppose now I know. I don’t think there is anyone “watching me from above”, and yet I still behave in such a way as to minimize suffering in my fellow naked apes.

Are good Christians good only because they are afraid of Big Daddy and his Holy Belt Buckle? Somehow, I don’t think so. Actually, those who are most full of Fear of God™ seem to be some of the loudest, most obnoxious botherers on the face of Earth.

Comment #102454

Posted by Anton Mates on May 26, 2006 12:30 PM (e)

Peter Henderson wrote:

It was a genuine query as most of my friends are either Christians or agnostics. I don’t have any contact with atheists and I always wondered what the rules where and what they where based on.

Surely your agnostic acquaintances have pointed out that they don’t derive their morality from divine rules either?

Comment #102460

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

It was a genuine query as most of my friends are either Christians or agnostics. I don’t have any contact with atheists and I always wondered what the rules where and what they where based on.

Yes you do. They’re just in the closet because they don’t want to lose friends, their job, etc.

Comment #102466

Posted by Joe the Ordinary Guy on May 26, 2006 2:37 PM (e)

Regarding the relative abrasiveness of Dawkins, here’s my take on it:

Dawkins is to “all atheists” as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are to “all Christians”.

Comment #102468

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 26, 2006 2:46 PM (e)

Dawkins is to “all atheists” as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell are to “all Christians”.

not hardly.

Comment #102469

Posted by Andrew McClure on May 26, 2006 2:48 PM (e)

I don’t think I’d consider that fair. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think Prof. Dawkins has ever called for his enemies to be killed.

Comment #102470

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 2:49 PM (e)

Hmmm. Is “vocal” a synonym of “abrasive” nowadays?

I don’t think we atheists should hide in the closet, in fear of “offending” thin-skinned theists. We need more, not fewer, people like Dawkins or PZ.

I’m afraid that what offends certain people is the very existence of atheists; at the very least, we should shut up and disappear. Well, no, sorry, not everybody is a theist, and some of us think we have very good reasons for not believing in gods.

Why should we be intimidated into not explaining those reasons? It’s not like anyone is forcing theists to renounce their beliefs.

Comment #102471

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 2:50 PM (e)

Re “Yes you do. They’re just in the closet because they don’t want to lose friends, their job, etc.”

First of all Steve, an employee can’t loose their job because they are an atheist, at least not in this country (NI) as there is now very stringent fair employment legislation in place. It is now against the law to discriminate against a person because of their religion or lack thereof, colour of skin, race, or sexual orientation etc. !

I’ve worked in Power Stations for most of my life and even those folk that I knew who did not make any profession of faith often talked about so and so going to “the great power station in the sky” when someone had died. This implied that the person making this statement was agnostic rather than atheist since it seems to be assuming an after life. This is the way most people talk here, even those who don’t attend church, and apart from the colleague I mentioned above I don’t think anyone I’ve met has admitted that they were an atheist. I would say that most people who are not Christians in NI are probably agnostics.

Northern Ireland is a very religious country of course (as is the ROI) so perhaps atheists are less common here than in other parts of the UK

Comment #102475

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 2:59 PM (e)

Peter. I’m an atheist. In the American South. I know all about why people should and shouldn’t be able to lose their jobs, but reality is different.

Comment #102476

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 3:01 PM (e)

I was being America-centric, though, because so many people here are Americans, I just assumed you were, too. I hope it’s better in NI than it is here, but if you lived here, you’d absolutely know some atheists who wouldn’t admit to being such.

Comment #102477

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 3:08 PM (e)

Re”Surely your agnostic acquaintances have pointed out that they don’t derive their morality from divine rules either?”

Most of my agnostic friends are genuinely good people Anton. Many are involved in noble pastimes such as charity work etc. I think most non Christian people here don’t really think about where they derive their morality from. I reckon they probably feel that doing good gives them a better feeling than doing wrong. I would also imagine that they’ve been taught the difference between right and wrong by their parents when they were children !

Comment #102478

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 3:14 PM (e)

Believe it or not Steve, in this country you could be either a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist ! I’m serious. That would affect the level of discrimination that you would experience.

Comment #102479

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 3:22 PM (e)

Here, they only care that you believe in Jesus in some way. If you’re a jew they’ll be skeptical of you. Muslim, they’ll be damn skeptical. Atheist, outright hostile.

Not everybody, of course. There are some very fine people here. But also some raging assholes who will treat you about the same way they treat child molesters.

Comment #102480

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 3:23 PM (e)

Peter:

I think most non Christian people here don’t really think about where they derive their morality from. I reckon they probably feel that doing good gives them a better feeling than doing wrong. I would also imagine that they’ve been taught the difference between right and wrong by their parents when they were children !

When I read this, I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. How on Earth can you say this about “most non Christian people” and then fail to apply the same reasoning to atheists???

Really, exactly what do you think we atheists are?

Comment #102482

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 3:35 PM (e)

I’d say more christians don’t think about where they get their morality from. If they’d read the bible, they’d know it’s not from their god, who commits outlandish crimes throughout the old testament.

Comment #102483

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 3:48 PM (e)

Re:”When I read this, I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. How on Earth can you say this about “most non Christian people” and then fail to apply the same reasoning to atheists???”

It was a collective term Aureola. I was referring to all people who don’t make any profession of faith. It’s just that in the conversations that I’ve had with these people, they don’t generally point me to Greek philosophers of several thousand years ago etc. as a reason for their beliefs. I didn’t intend to cause any offence.

Comment #102486

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

Peter:

I was not offended. I was just wondering, since atheists are “non Christians” (just as much as we are “non Jews”, “non Hindus”, “non Pagans” etc.), why you failed to realize that we, too, basically do what society expects and rewards, what our peers expect and reward, what our elders taught us, etc.

It is a minority of atheists who explore the philosophical, historical, logical premises and consequences of our stance. Most atheists simply live, exactly like most theists. (Hence, I suspect, Registered User’s “MYOB”, rude as it may have appeared to you: why should we have to ‘justify’ our lack of a particular belief?).

Comment #102487

Posted by wamba on May 26, 2006 4:03 PM (e)

Re Lenny: there are many, many Christians, even in this country (NI) who are not fundies, and who hold a liberal view on the creation/evolution controversy (if you could call it that). For want of repeating myself, these are the very people that have to be kept on board. As I have said, the existence of whether or not God exists is not the issue here.

I invite anyone to search this thread and find out who introduced the Book of Genesis (or whichever book you intended) into the discussion.

Comment #102489

Posted by wamba on May 26, 2006 4:12 PM (e)

As I say , it was a genuine query and not an attempt to “preach” at anyone. Christian’s lives revolve around biblical principles (like forgiveness for instance, especially when we feel like taking revenge) so I had wondered how people who were atheists had come to their moral conclusions.

There you go again. We have already established that your knowledge of the Bible is so weak you don’t know which book the 10 commandments are in, and you fail to acknowledge that the Bible condones slavery, stoning, killing of witches, etc., and yet you continue to maintain that your life revolves around “Biblical principles”.

If reading comprehension is a problem for you, take a look at the Brick Testament to find out more about the morality in the Bible.

Comment #102493

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 4:29 PM (e)

that Brick Testament thing is pretty neat.

Comment #102496

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 4:47 PM (e)

“your knowledge of the Bible is so weak you don’t know which book the 10 commandments are in”

Genesis. Don’t patronise me Wamba. Christians take many of their principles from the teachings of Jesus (hence the name Christian)

“the Bible condones slavery, stoning, killing of witches, etc., and yet you continue to maintain that your life revolves around “Biblical principles”.”

So notable atheists down through the years haven’t committed any of these crimes against humanity ? What about the great pagan empires around the same time such as the Babylonians, Romans, Alexander the great etc.Don’t forget that many of these practices eg slavery were abolished by Christians such as Wilberforce etc.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/REwilberforce.htm

Most Christians would find your comments offensive Wamba. Now I know how Carol feels !

“There you go again”

There you go again Wamba ! You are obviously a very bitter person !

Comment #102498

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 5:18 PM (e)

Peter:

I am very sorry for you, but you won’t find the 10 commandments in Genesis. That was Wamba’s point, and your failure to recognize this elementary mistake is telling.

By the way, neither Genesis nor the rest of the Old Testament contain “the teachings of Jesus” (that’s what the four Gospels claim to do).

Also, the point is not what atheists have done or failed to do (although you are labelling as “atheists” empires that most certainly weren’t: Babylonians, Romans and Macedonians were polytheistic, not atheistic); the point is that you claim to draw moral inspiration from a book which includes many vile moral teachings (those Wamba listed, for instance); and the fact that eventually even Christians recognized that slavery was immoral hardly compensates for the fact that for many, many centuries Christians took slavery for granted, since it was in the Bible.

Peter, I must concur with Wamba: you don’t appear to know the book you claim to use as the source of your guidance.

Comment #102499

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 5:22 PM (e)

Oh, and by the way, the Roman Empire became unofficially Christian in 313 AD, and officially so in 380 AD. Do you think that public executions, slavery, etc. etc. ceased, or diminished, after that?

Not one iota, I’m afraid.

Comment #102502

Posted by Peter Henderson on May 26, 2006 5:46 PM (e)

“I am very sorry for you, but you won’t find the 10 commandments in Genesis. That was Wamba’s point, and your failure to recognize this elementary mistake is telling”

OK Aureola. So it’s Exodus. I have read both books and I was being silly. I see now what now you are both getting at. Point taken Aureola and Wamba ! However, there’s no need to get nasty. The man who never made a mistake never made anything as they say !

I wasn’t saying that Christianity did make any difference. All I was trying to point out was that this was the norm at the time and probably the Isrealites weren’t doing anything different from anyone else when they were in control.

Comment #102505

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 5:58 PM (e)

Peter:

I wasn’t saying that Christianity did make any difference. All I was trying to point out was that this was the norm at the time and probably the Isrealites weren’t doing anything different from anyone else when they were in control.

Exactly. Christianity did not make any difference. So much for the supposed “source of morality”.

As to the Israelites, I agree once again with you. They did nothing different from anyone else.

So, to recap:

1) the Old Testament did nothing to enhance morality for the Israelites;
2) the Bible (OT + NT) did nothing to enhance morality for the Roman Empire.

And that’s the “Good Book”, the moral compass for eternity, the Greatest Story Ever Told?

Boggles the mind, really.

Comment #102519

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 26, 2006 7:12 PM (e)

OK Aureola. So it’s Exodus. I have read both books and I was being silly. I see now what now you are both getting at. Point taken Aureola and Wamba ! However, there’s no need to get nasty. The man who never made a mistake never made anything as they say

hey, no offense, but it does suggest that maybe you should re-read the thing.

maybe look at versions other than the King James one, too?

maybe check out what’s happened in biblical research in the last 20 + years as well.

new “gospels” discovered, etc.

think about the innerancy of the KJB in light of the history not only of how it came to be, but in the light of recent discoveries as well.

All I’m saying is, as a scientist i really rely on the primary literature to form the basis of my opinions on things scientific, rather than second-hand textbooks.

relying on the KJB is a bit like relying on a very outdated textbook.

Comment #102524

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 7:24 PM (e)

Re Lenny: there are many, many Christians, even in this country (NI) who are not fundies, and who hold a liberal view on the creation/evolution controversy (if you could call it that). For want of repeating myself, these are the very people that have to be kept on board. As I have said, the existence of whether or not God exists is not the issue here.

Preachin’ to the choir here, dude. ;)

Comment #102525

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 7:27 PM (e)

think about the innerancy of the KJB in light of the history not only of how it came to be, but in the light of recent discoveries as well.

There is, of course, a growing movement amongst fundies to dump the King James Version, since King James was a homosexual.

The bigots might have to find another idol to worship.

Comment #102526

Posted by Sir_Toejam on May 26, 2006 7:37 PM (e)

There is, of course, a growing movement amongst fundies to dump the King James Version, since King James was a homosexual.

The bigots might have to find another idol to worship.

LOL, yeah the bible is a little too much to include under that big tent of theirs.

Comment #102530

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 7:50 PM (e)

The ironic thing is - fundies usually discard the really nice parts of the Bible (by that, I mean the parts that I would have no compulsion in letting my own children read) in favour of the foulest parts, those rooted in late Bronze - early Iron age “my sky daddy is bigger than yours, nyaah, nyaah, nyaah” mentality.

Comment #102532

Posted by Aureola Nominee, FCD on May 26, 2006 7:51 PM (e)

…instead of “compulsion”, read “hesitation” there.

Fingers much too fast, as usual.

Comment #102533

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 7:56 PM (e)

Well, people tend to create god in their own image. Talk to all the touchie-feelie liberal Christians, and they like to talk about “love thy neighbor” and “how you treat the least of them is how you treat me”, whose message is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

The fundies prefer their god to be a harsh, judgemental, intolerant prick, whose only message is “do what I tell you, or ELSE”. Just like *they* are. (shrug)

Comment #102534

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 7:57 PM (e)

There is, of course, a growing movement amongst fundies to dump the King James Version, since King James was a homosexual.

Seriously? If so, that’s awesome. I love intolerent fundies. I just saw in the News and Observer yestidy, the state baptists aren’t going to recognize churches which allow gays. No, not as preachers or whatever, allowing them in the congregation.

Comment #102537

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 8:10 PM (e)

Seriously?

Seriously:

http://members.tripod.com/~MPHAWAII/Religion/KingJamesBible.htm

Comment #102538

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 8:15 PM (e)

state baptists aren’t going to recognize churches which allow gays. No, not as preachers or whatever, allowing them in the congregation.

Apparently the fundies don’t want to, uh, eat and drink with, uh, publicans and sinners…. .

I remember someone saying something about that, once ……

I guess the fundies never read that chapter.

Comment #102539

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 8:23 PM (e)

I’m going to look for another source on that. I want to believe it, but I need a little assurance. It’s impossible to know if stuff like this

Speaking at a press conference Gary Bauer said, “I feel uncomfortable that good Christians all over America, and indeed the world, are using a document commissioned by a homosexual. Anything that has been commissioned by a homosexual has obviously been tainted in some way”.

is real or a spoof, without side information.

Comment #102544

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 8:50 PM (e)

Well, as I’ve often noted, it’s hard to tell the spoof from the real. There is NOTHING so idiotic or silly that can be said as satire, that hasn’t been said by one fundie or another in all seriousness.

Comment #102546

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on May 26, 2006 8:56 PM (e)

I’m going to look for another source on that

I found it in:

Kimberly Blaker, ed, The Fundamentals of Extremism; The Christian Right in America, New Boston Books, 2003, p. 26.

Comment #102548

Posted by steve s on May 26, 2006 9:27 PM (e)

good enough for me!

Comment #104788

Posted by bdsm fem dom on June 9, 2006 7:28 PM (e)

i am happy mostly - though terribly sick at times - the medicine is not a perfect fix - i think some weed would help but caant find any - Kant find any…