Matt Young posted Entry 3252 on July 20, 2007 04:57 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3239

Well, at least someone is taking the recent threats against the Colorado biologists (http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/07/thre… ) seriously. (See also “Creato-terrorism update,” http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2007/07/crea… .) Today’s Boulder Daily Camera carries a signed editorial, “Fundamentalist threat not an isolated event” (http://www.dailycamera.com/news/2007/jul/20/fund… ), by Jennifer Platte. Ms. Platte notes

The packages containing veiled threats that were slipped under the doors of labs at the department of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado appear to be part of a larger campaign being waged by one man against the department.

Content on the blog www.pandasthumb.org suggests that e-mails that preceded the packages threatened to “take up a pen to kill the enemies of Truth,” and stated that the writer would file charges of child molestation against the professors for teaching evolution. The writer believes that these professors are “the source of every imaginable evil in our society: drugs, crime, prostitution, corruption, war, abortion, death…” He appears to have been inspired by the words of Pastor Jerry Gibson, who allegedly spoke at Doug White’s New Day Covenant Church in Boulder, saying that “every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”

Update 30 July 2007. A letter in today’s Boulder Daily Camera claims that Mr. Gibson “never said this or anything like it” and directs us to the New Day Covenant Church’s Web site.

The Camera’s editorial writer goes on to compare the threats with the recent interruption of prayers given by a Hindu chaplain on the floor of the Senate and notes

The American Family Association Web site pleaded for activism through e-mail and telephone to halt the prayer. It seems as if the three disrupters took that suggestion to heart, resulting in an occurrence that is an embarrassment to our country in general, and to Christians in particular.

These recent actions are the product of a force in America, often dubbed Dominionism, which is nurtured by highly placed and well compensated ministers, such as the late Jerry Falwell … and our own neighbor, James Dobson….

Ms. Platte concludes,

They [the religious extremists] draw distinctions between “us” and “them” that have no place in civil life.

On July 15 (sorry, I missed it), Jim Spencer, a former columnist for the Denver Post and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a blog column, “Religious Extremism Knows No National Boundaries” (http://spencerspeaks.com/2007/07/15/religious-ex… ), in which he says,

At the University of Colorado in Boulder, religious extremism came in the form of threatening emails and packages left for professors who teach evolution. In the U.S. Senate, it came as cat calls from the gallery trying to drown out a Hindu prayer.

Americans worry so much about religious extremism in other countries. Perhaps we should keep an eye on our own house.

I know; I know. America’s religious nut jobs usually use words, not stick and stones, much less explosives-laden suicide vests. But events in the past week remind us how religious zealotry can lead to ugly outbursts and possibly violence

and later,

The professor [Michael Grant of the EEB department] read to me from one of his recent messages. Here’s what it said:

“Every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”

Just substitute the word Muslim for Christian and you got yourself a call to jihad.

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Comment #189057

Posted by Warren on July 20, 2007 6:06 PM (e)

Just substitute the word Muslim for Christian and you got yourself a call to jihad.

There is no difference whatsoever in religious fuckwittery of any denomination.

All religious followers are deluded, slightly or entirely. There are no exceptions.

Comment #189061

Posted by Matt Young on July 20, 2007 6:34 PM (e)

Ahem. Pls avoid foul language and limit yourselves to substantive comments. I have no time for unenlightening pontifications, and I am sure others feel the same way.

Comment #189063

Posted by Tim Fuller on July 20, 2007 6:39 PM (e)

The ID nonsense is just an offshoot of the Dominionist (Christian Reconstructionist) movement.

Enjoy.

Comment #189071

Posted by raven on July 20, 2007 8:09 PM (e)

Suspect Missing in Evolution Death-Threat Case
Kristen Philipkoski 07.20.07 | 2:00 AM
An anti-evolutionary Christian extremist suspected of sending threatening letters to biology professors at the University of Colorado has gone on the lam, according to a staff member familiar with a police investigation into the matter.

Police at the University of Colorado say they know the identity of the individual who sent threatening letters to several biology professors who taught evolution. However, the police won’t name the individual until they make an arrest, said detective lieutenant commander John Kish. Continues at:

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/20…

According to wired today, the CU, Boulder Jihadi is on the run with an arrest warrant out on him. Dumb move, fleeing to avoid arrest or prosecution is another crime.

It isn’t known if he is part of a larger group or not. My impression so far is that he is a lone perpetrator with a network of sympathizers. Might be a few or might be a lot. This is how fundie terrorists work. The MD murderers like Kopp and Rudolph managed to run for years. It isn’t clear how they eluded capture for so long but it doesn’t take too much imagination to see that they probably had a lot of help along the way.

Comment #189078

Posted by Gerry L on July 20, 2007 9:24 PM (e)

Can anyone say “Ted Kaczynski”? That’s the first thing I thought of when this story appeared on PT a few weeks back. This needs to be taken seriously.

Comment #189085

Posted by Crudely Wrott on July 20, 2007 11:35 PM (e)

The first rule you learn as a child is the parent rule of a successful society, say, one like America.

Whatever is unpleasant or hurtful to you is exactly what you should not inflict on others.

Something like a “Golden Rule,” eh?

The second rule you learn as a child is that what you perceive as unpleasant or hurtful is not really that bad.

As you grow you learn to manage, mitigate, the discomfort you may feel on occasion. As you gain more experience at being a functional human being, you learn that the things that frighten or disgust you also affect others in a similar way. But not everyone.

Most people think the flesh of cattle is delicious and worth splurging on. Some don’t, instead granting to cows privileges that they don’t grant to humans . Just one example. You can think of more.

Maturity in humans, and in human societies are, I think, directly related. To hear the paranoiac rhetoric of this fool reminds me that the coarsening and floundering inefficacy of our federal government is guaranteed by the failure of the last couple of generations of parents to instill civics, the art of civil behavior (see above noted first lessons), and their importance to civilization, into their children.

Such mundanities as good manners, patience and the ability to converse intelligently and purposefully just seem to have slipped away.

The very reason that America exists is that enough people agreed at a point in time to not attempt to sanction the private proclivities of their neighbors!

OK, from the top:
Life: you are alive.
Liberty: you are happiest in that state.
The “purfuit” of happiness: follows, doesn’t it.

If you expect these things to be the foundation of your life and do indeed desire to live in such a state within a larger population, it is evident the the fulfillment of your desire is dependent upon the goodwill and approval of the rest of “the people.” Given that you are one of the people, it is (should be?) apparent that your own goodwill and approval is a commodity eagerly sought by the rest of the people.

In other words, a strong and free society, able to care for itself and all of its parts while avoiding intramural squabbles in favor of reasonable, substantive debate, is fully dependent on individual citizens behaving civily in their personal and public lives. As a matter of routine.

This knucklehead, the quasi-human, was never taught. Or, if he was, he is apparently unable to comprehend. In the latter case, more is the pity. He is not only an asshole, but he is perfectly happy being so. His mother must weep.

Comment #189087

Posted by Crudely Wrott on July 20, 2007 11:47 PM (e)

Thanks to raven.

We now know that the punk ran away like the playground bully when the teacher shows up.

Comment #189106

Posted by Popper' Ghost on July 21, 2007 2:41 AM (e)

“Every true Christian should be ready and willing to take up arms to kill the enemies of Christian society.”

Just substitute the word Muslim for Christian and you got yourself a call to jihad.

Um, it’s a call to jihad (religious war) without the substitution.

Comment #189115

Posted by Vyoma on July 21, 2007 5:12 AM (e)

Uh, Clarissa, you’re making a completely unimportant and, frankly, stupid distinction. The point is that both Kaczynski and Korn are ideological extremists who pose(d) a threat to others and to the fabric of society. The specifics of what they believe in aren’t important, except to those who sympathize with the goals of one or the other.

Kaczynski made up his own religion; Korn buys into someone else’s. So what?

Comment #189129

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on July 21, 2007 7:33 AM (e)

Warren wrote:

There is no difference whatsoever in religious fuckwittery of any denomination. All religious followers are deluded, slightly or entirely.

There is only two things wrong with these statements. First, the first statement is likely not true. Second, the second statement doesn’t support the first one.

On the first statement, there are always the mentally ill, which we are likely discussing here. In the real ill, religion does seem to be a preferential choice to explain away the voices et cetera, but it is likely that any religion fit. For the more functional nutcases, like Kaczynski and Korn, there could perhaps be a slight difference depending on how aggression is handled by the party/religion.

For religion in general, I would like to see numbers. Major religions may or may not be equally hijacked by socio-political activists or similar trouble rousers, but I doubt that really minor religions lend themselves equally to such contexts.

On the second statement, we are discussing bounded rationality here. A belief can be perfectly internally rational, so that would hardly promote “fuckwittery” even if the particular belief happen to be a delusion. But there is a risk of this if there will be major tensions with other bounded rationalities and/or reality. Fundamentalism is always a problem in all walks of life. (If you are trying to say that religious fundamentalism is a more common problem than fundamentalism in other areas, I guess that is correct though.)

Comment #189134

Posted by Frank J on July 21, 2007 9:06 AM (e)

Tim Fuller wrote:

The ID nonsense is just an offshoot of the Dominionist (Christian Reconstructionist) movement.

Unfortunately it sells to many outside that fringe movement, such as the many non-fundamentalists who belong to religions that have long embraced evolution. Unfortunatly those people, often hardly even religious, have a very confused view of science and are unaware of how slickly it’s misrepresented - with unwitting assistance by a sensatonalist media. That combination, plus a public distrust of science, creates a market, and the scammers exploit it to the fullest.

Comment #189136

Posted by raven on July 21, 2007 9:19 AM (e)

Wikipedia:

Efforts by family to help Seung-Hui Cho
Cho’s mother, becoming increasingly concerned about Cho’s inattention to classwork, his time spent out of the classroom and his asocial behavior, sought help for Cho during summer 2006 from various churches throughout the Northern Virginia community.[24] According to Dong Cheol Lee, minister of One Mind Church – a Presbyterian church in Woodbridge, a community in Prince William County, Virginia, Cho’s mother sought help from the church for Cho’s problems. Lee added that “[Cho’s] problem needed to be solved by spiritual power … “[t]hat’s why she came to our church – because we were helping several people like him.” Members of Lee’s church even told Cho’s mother that “[Cho] was afflicted by demonic power and needed deliverance.” Before the church could start its work, Cho returned to school to start his senior year at Virginia Tech.[24]

Speaking of fundie cult killers. Can’t forget Seung Cho who killed 33 people in a few minutes. The demonic possession theory of mental illness is left over from the middle ages. Zyprexa and intensive therapy would probably have worked better.

Comment #189151

Posted by George Cauldron on July 21, 2007 12:14 PM (e)

Unless, of course, you argue that atheism is a religion in its own right.

I see ‘Emanuel’ Goldstein/Legion is back.

No, ‘Emanuel’, it’s only you idiots who claim that.

Comment #189205

Posted by Flint on July 21, 2007 5:42 PM (e)

He of course had extremist political views, but that simply demonstrates that any system can be used to excuse violence.

Atheism, of course, isn’t a “system” anymore than not believing in the Great White Handkerchief is a “system”. Beyond this, the statement is surely correct. The human ability to rationalize our desires has no logical limit that I’ve ever seen.

Again, in this particular case, I don’t see it as a religious issue, but rather as a mental health issue, with religion arbitrarily used as the delivery vehicle. I think it’s a mistake to regard Kaczynski and Korn as ideological extremists as distinct from disturbed people. At the very least, brain malfunction issues are the cause, and ideological extremism of any kind is the effect, not the other way around.

Comment #189215

Posted by Robin on July 21, 2007 6:44 PM (e)

Laarson wrote: On the first statement, there are always the mentally ill, which we are likely discussing here. In the real ill, religion does seem to be a preferential choice to explain away the voices et cetera, but it is likely that any religion fit. For the more functional nutcases, like Kaczynski and Korn, there could perhaps be a slight difference depending on how aggression is handled by the party/religion.

I have often wondered if the mentally ill that are driven to violence in the name of religion would be violent if there was no religious justification. If lunatics didn’t know anything about demonic possession, would they kill their wives, husbands, children (Andrea Yates), anyway? Or would they find some other reason to justify their predilection for murder? Is there something about religious fervor that makes people violent? What is the cause and what is the effect here? Has this been investigated? Has research been done on this?

Comment #189219

Posted by Gerry L on July 21, 2007 6:57 PM (e)

What Flint said. My original comment about Kaczynski was about the danger that people like Korn pose to society. Doesn’t matter whether Kaczynski was an atheist or a buddhist. Doesn’t matter whether Korn is a religious rightwingnut or supplicant to the FSM. It’s not what his rationalization is. It’s the fact that he feels justified in sending his messages and openly threatening people.

Comment #189225

Posted by Gerry L on July 21, 2007 7:10 PM (e)

Robin asked “If lunatics didn’t know anything about demonic possession, would they kill their wives, husbands, children (Andrea Yates), anyway?”

Maybe the Andrea Yates situation could be equated to reliance on bogus cancer treatments that cause people to forego more effective treatments. Yates needed help for severe post partum depression, but her family relied on their religion instead of seeking medical intervention.

Comment #189232

Posted by raven on July 21, 2007 7:26 PM (e)

I have often wondered if the mentally ill that are driven to violence in the name of religion would be violent if there was no religious justification.

You don’t have to be mentally ill to be a mass murderer. Religion can do that all by its little old lonesome self. Just look at Iraq. Every study I’ve seen has said the countless terrorists and suicide bombers are not crazy. They’ve simply embraced an ideology that makes what is unthinkable to western eyes normal.

Christianity did the same thing. Catholic Protestant wars, crusades, witch burnings etc. Don’t forget that the C-P wars finally wound down in Northern Ireland a whole 7 years ago. What is different is that amazingly enough, christianity has grown up. Sort of.

The culture of ignorance, violence, and murder of the fundie cults is a fertile soil for individuals predisposed to those activities. They grow their own too.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call Korn insane. He is clearly unbalanced mentally but probably isn’t going to fit any legal or medical definition of insane. There is a lot of clever, long term planning in what he has done. And he is smart enough to figure out that the cops are after him and elude capture. What is worse, I’m sure he has a lot of sympathy in the creo circles and will be regarded as a martyr and hero. He may well have a small or large network of followers who will help him evade the police. This isn’t fitting the model of lone kook very well at all.

Comment #189257

Posted by fnxtr on July 21, 2007 9:06 PM (e)

The demonic possession theory of mental illness is left over from the middle ages. Zyprexa and intensive therapy would probably have worked better.

Or a guitar with an amp that goes up to 11. Very therapeutic.

I think it was after Spinal Tap came out that the new Marshalls’ volume knobs were calibrated from 1 to 20. “That’s 9 louder.”

Comment #189374

Posted by Popper' Ghost on July 22, 2007 7:25 AM (e)

They’ve simply embraced an ideology that makes what is unthinkable to western eyes normal.

Indeed, resistance to a U.S. invasion is unthinkable to many Americans.

Comment #189377

Posted by harold on July 22, 2007 8:11 AM (e)

I want to be very, very clear in this post, because I don’t want what I say to be perceived as laying blame on Cho’s family, who have endured enough tragedy.

Cho’s mental illness probably has a very strong biological component, and likely would have expressed itself in any circumstances.

Nevertheless, certain aspects of the US environment may have contributed to the tragedy.

Not only did Cho’s mother respond to his mental illness with fundamentalism rather than modern scientific medicine, but Cho’s sister works and has worked in various Bush administration State Department jobs since 2004, and was active in campus “Christian” activities in college and beyond.

These facts suggest (strongly suggest, actually) that Cho may have been exposed to the current US right wing media, such as Fox News and its fellow travelers. It’s highly plausible that the family may self-identify with the “religious right”.

Also supporting this conjecture is the lack of attack on the family by the US media. Had Cho had a sister who attended peace protests, for example, the US media would surely have strongly implied that this caused the massacre.

Is this relevant? Of course it is. For the past ten years, and especially for the past five years, US “conservative” commentators have tended to claim allegiance to the fundamentalism, and also to peddle a message of implied (or outright) threats of violence toward “liberals” and others they dislike. I would, of course, include claims that God will use the weather to kill homosexuals in this category. This is a general trend, with some exceptions, of course, but it is the trend. The rigidly ideological/authoritarian/anti-intellectual/violence-promoting tendency of a “movement” is a historically familiar one, of course.

It is not unreasonable to conjecture that this aspect of US society may have pushed an unbalanced, undertreated mentally ill individual in the direction of severe violence. It would be ureasonable to suggest the opposite, actually. If, in fact, a mentally ill young man was raised in an environment in which mainstream care was resisted, and propaganda urging violence as the way to deal with opponents, directly or through clear implication, was frequently in the background, the probability of a tragedy may have been enhanced.

This is not the “fault” of any one individual or family, although public speakers who call for unjustified violence, and “journalists” who seek to give such calls “respectability”, can hardly be described as “responsible”.

Comment #189424

Posted by Hamlet on July 22, 2007 12:09 PM (e)

I know I’m going to flamed for this, and possibly called a troll, but whatever.

Reading what has been posted on previous pandasthumb articles, its obvious that from an intellectual standpoint, the guy isn’t hi up on the food chain. But, we do have the first amendment.

Also, last time I checked, he is allowed to consult an attourney on firing whatever charges he wishes. Now, would any competent attourney allow him to do so? No. But he can consult with them.

Finally, unless he’s a ninja master, I doubt a pen in his hands is a highly deadly implement. Moreover, he apparently quotes Doug Whites New Day Covenant Church, and then immediately afterwards says he is NOT going to do that.

As far as actual death threats, I’m not seeing it from this guy.

Alright, let’s have the flaming commence.

Comment #189436

Posted by Anna Z on July 22, 2007 2:07 PM (e)

The guy is obsessed, unhinged and persistent. He is escalating. He thinks nothing of trespass and defamation.

If you really care about his freedom, quick pass an amendment protecting the rights of stalkers.

Comment #189447

Posted by harold on July 22, 2007 2:57 PM (e)

Hamlet -

I don’t think the issue is just this guy personally.

I think this particular guy is clearly very mentally ill, which doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous. He needs treatment, although tragically, he may have a type of disorder that makes that almost impossible. So far he seems to have committed relatively minor crimes, and the time to stop him is NOW, before a real tragedy unfolds.

The broader issue is the irresponsible use of, and tolerance for, constant threats of violence, by creationists and their political allies.

A common trick is to imply and let dittoheads interpret. On the internet, this can be accomplished by having a “post” by the “blogger” that merely rails against the unpardonable treason of “materialists” or “liberals” or “feminazis” or whatever, without quite mentioning violence. Then it can be followed by thread of near-anonymous comments that rave about specific violent acts, and the “blogger” can laughably deny responsibility.

Other media use other, but similar, techniques.

Of course, the most imbalanced and vulnerable among the audience are the most likely to destroy their own lives by acting this stuff out. Everybody knows that. Pastor Jerry Gibson knows that, Ann Coulter knows that, they all know that. The apparent point of a lot of commentary, unless this group of commentators is far more naive than I imagine (and it is a large group), is to indirectly provoke some vulnerable, mentally ill, lower status individuals to act out such fantasies, while being able to deny any role.

Comment #189476

Posted by Moses on July 22, 2007 6:31 PM (e)

I don’t think religion has much to do with the behaviors of crazies like Korn though it does help focus their craziness. Though something being missed here is that when you have religious zealots/crazies who commit these kinds of acts, or threaten to commit these acts (like Korn), they can often find succour in the ranks of their religious compatriots. You generally won’t find that among the atheists.

Comment #189477

Posted by the pro from dover on July 22, 2007 6:38 PM (e)

This is a test

Comment #189493

Posted by raven on July 22, 2007 8:14 PM (e)

what has been posted on previous pandasthumb articles, its obvious that from an intellectual standpoint, the guy isn’t hi up on the food chain. But, we do have the first amendment.

Also, last time I checked, he is allowed to consult an attourney on firing whatever charges he wishes. Now, would any competent attourney allow him to do so? No. But he can consult with them.

The first amendment covers a lot. It doesn’t cover death threats, stalking, outing a covert CIA agent, slander, libel, posting nuclear warhead designs on the internet, etc..Sometimes one right conflicts with another and lines are drawn.

Korn went beyond the 1st amendment into harassing, stalking, menacing, probable cause of danger to himself and/or others, libel and slander, and cyberstalking among other illegalities. That is why he has an arrest warrant out on him.

Anyone can sue. But bogus lawsuits can fall under the laws against malicious prosecution, abuse of process, abuse of the legal system, and especially in these cases SLAPP suits. And boomerang pretty quickly so that the frivolous suer owes lots of money for the victim’s lawyer and court costs plus damages, maybe.

Plus judges really hate wingnuts clogging up the court system with nonsense cases. Summary judgement time.

There are also the questions of legal standing and jurisdiction.

Malicious prosecution
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Malicious prosecution is a common law intentional tort. While similar to the tort of abuse of process, its elements include (1) intentionally (and maliciously) instituting or pursuing (or causing to be instituted or pursued) a legal action (civil or criminal) that is (2) brought without probable cause and (3) dismissed in favor of the victim of the malicious prosecution. In some jurisdictions, “malicious prosecution” is reserved for the wrongful initiation of criminal proceedings, while “malicious use of process” refers to the wrongful initiation of civil proceedings.

Comment #189523

Posted by George Cauldron on July 23, 2007 12:17 AM (e)

Of course, Korn hasn’t been convicted on anything, but it looks like the judgments are in.

And with a flick of the wrist, you can argue that therefore all Christians are insane, (delusional per Dawkins), child abusers (per Dennet AND Dawkins) and that therefore they belong in jail (Zoos, per Dennet.)

It an elegant approach, and demonstrates the beauty of the atheist mind.

Your whiny martyrdom isn’t especially compelling, Emanuel.

Comment #189577

Posted by Hamlet on July 23, 2007 9:58 AM (e)

Let me try this again.

Looking through the letters that have been posted on this site, I do not see the death threat. If there is a death threat, or even the threat of violence, perhaps someone can point that out to me.

He has not even filed any lawsuit yet. I could be wrong, but threatening to file a lawsuit isn’t illegal. Perhaps actually filing the law suit might be illegal (malicious prosecution), but you can’t charge someone with something they might do, but haven’t done yet.

Like I’ve said before, I don’t think this guy is the most intelligent guy out there… (he’s not even close), but again, prosecuting him because of that doesn’t work.

For those who think he should be arrested, charged, convicted… whatever, I would appreciate you quoting exactly what he’s said that makes you think so.

What has he done? He’s sent e-mails, and slipped letters under doors. Has he even “stalked” anyone?

Comment #189579

Posted by harold on July 23, 2007 10:40 AM (e)

Hamlet -

I took you seriously and gave you a serious answer. Now I see that you’re willing to be deliberately obtuse, which is a form of dishonesty I find very annoying.

I already agreed that legally, the actions represent trivial offenses; they are also obviously threatening, and partly provoked by violent right wing preaching; I’m not making that last bit up, that’s what Korn himself said.

Naturally, one of the people harmed most by this type of preaching, and disingenuous enabling, is Korn himself.

Whatever -

You are a borderline illustration of exactly what I’m talking about.

Of course, Korn hasn’t been convicted on anything, but it looks like the judgments are in.

Correct, at least in my case. Based on the available information, it is my current judgment that Korn is mentally ill, that he is being manipulated, and that his actions should be taken seriously. No-one is suggesting that he be convicted of crimes that he hasn’t committed, nor that his mental illness not be considered. However, it would be very stupid to do nothing and permit him to escalate.

And with a flick of the wrist, you can argue that therefore all Christians are insane,

This is a complete non-sequitor.

This is also an example of a vaguely coded hateful comment. No-one said any such thing. But imply that they did, and perhaps some vulnerable mind will be worked into a rage. You also, of course, imply coded support for Korn’s action with this comment.

(delusional per Dawkins), child abusers (per Dennet AND Dawkins) and that therefore they belong in jail (Zoos, per Dennet.)

Who cares what they say? Dawkins and Dennet are utterly irrelevant to this thread. However, two things are worth noting.

1) Neither Dawkins, Dennet, nor any associated “follower” of theirs has been associated with significant harrassment of or violence against any religious individual or institution that I know of. Generalized insults, which they certainly release, are not the same thing as targeted threats - I don’t call the police every time I hear someone insult some large general group that I happen to belong to.

2) Laughably, the biggest Dawkins fans of all are the likes of you - self-pitying, narcissistic pseudo-martyrs, eagerly looking for something to be offended by (an attitude not endorsed by the Biblical Jesus, I might add).

It an elegant approach, and demonstrates the beauty of the atheist mind.

Again, the typical nonsensical and overgeneralized, yet seething, non-sequitor.

You take a story about a pitiful disturbed man worked up by rabble-rousers into making a dangerous public nuisance of himself, and you twist into an excuse for - a new rabble-rousing, hateful rant. Ah yes, those dastardly “atheists”, calling all “Christians” “insane” with a “flick of their wrist”. What punishment could be severe enough for them?

Comment #189593

Posted by Hamlet on July 23, 2007 11:14 AM (e)

Harold, I actually agree with everything you said, except for two things:

I don’t find his actions “threatening” right now.

The idea that we shouldn’t do nothing and then have the situation escalate, is basically the same idea that Bush used to justify Iraq. Sure, they didn’t do anything yet… but they might have WMD’s, and the might use them… and so we should do nothing and wait for the situation to escalate.

Comment #189610

Posted by harold on July 23, 2007 12:17 PM (e)

Hamlet -

I guess I was a bit harsh above. I do sympathize with the fact that you are speaking out in favor of this guy’s rights. In a sense, I agree with you, since I also think that his rights should be respected.

I agree with your opinion of the invasion of Iraq, also. However, the analogy doesn’t fit, on two grounds. One, he is doing something. And two, no-one is suggesting that we lie about what he is doing and react in a grossly out of proportion way.

I think you are missing the implied threats. I also think that there is already a pattern of escalation, and of building up his nerve to do more and more.

Also, although not yet serious crimes, his actions are already a serious nuisance. Do you want somebody doing this type of stuff at your workplace?

I’m not a lawyer, and the closest I’ve ever lived to Colorado was Albuquerque, quite a few years ago. Nevertheless, I’m going to suggest that he has already earned a restraining order and a mandatory psychiatric evaluation, at the very least.

Taking appropriate rights-respecting legal action NOW will benefit Mr Korn himself almost as much as it will benefit the victims of his irritating crusade.

He shouldn’t be charged with crimes he didn’t commit, his rights should be respected, he should be treated humanely, and his obvious mental issues should be taken into account, but that’s a far cry from saying nothing should be done.

Doing nothing does nobody any favors, with the possible exception of right wing ghouls who might want to see a mentally ill person act out their fantasies and take the consequences. It certainly doesn’t benefit Mr. Korn.

The issue of when we can intervene in the case of a mentally ill person is a very, very complex one, but in this case, it is less complex, because he is already breaking some laws.

Comment #189622

Posted by raven on July 23, 2007 12:48 PM (e)

Hamlet has a reading comprehension problem at least. Korn’s threats are covered in several Panda articles.

The facts.
He has an arrest warrant out on him. The courts and the police don’t do this unless they have probable cause.

He has fled to avoid prosecution. This is in itself telling. It is another crime, a dumb move, and it isn’t anything that is going to make him look innocent. It is also ominous that he hasn’t been caught yet. Bet he is in a xian terrorist safe house somewhere.

Korn will certainly have all legal rights of any citizen including legal representation by as many lawyers as he can dig up. No one has ever said he shouldn’t or wouldn’t. We are all equal under the law.

CU, Boulder and the police really can’t afford to wait on someone like him until there are a dozen or two bodies on the ground. They tried that at Virginia Tech and Columbine and it didn’t work very well.

This is playing out like I predicted at the beginning. Korn and the other Xian terrorists are heroes and martyrs to the lie and violence cults.

The DI lied as usual and tried to claim Korn wasn’t really a xian terrorist and maybe was a manufactured plant by those heinious criminals at the NSF. Since then, they have been conspicuously silent. If the worst occurs, expect a celebration in Seattle.

Comment #189640

Posted by harold on July 23, 2007 1:53 PM (e)

This is playing out like I predicted at the beginning. Korn and the other Xian terrorists are heroes and martyrs to the lie and violence cults.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with this, and the fumbling Korn is not going to be the worst of it.

Once people get used to something and then have it taken away, they really flip. Even if a Republican is elected in 2008, it won’t be someone who panders to the nuts as much as “Dubya” did. There are going to be a lot of unstable, unhappy campers.

Comment #189706

Posted by paul fcd on July 23, 2007 11:16 PM (e)

Harold said:

2) Laughably, the biggest Dawkins fans of all are the likes of you - self pitying, narcissistic pseudo-martyrs, eagerly looking for something to be offended by (an attitude not endorsed by the Biblical Jesus, I might add).

Was that the “harsh part” in response to Hamlet’s post?

Comment #189708

Posted by Hamlet on July 23, 2007 11:57 PM (e)

While I might quibble about psychiatric evaluation (though it certainly couldn’t hurt to have a sit down with a therapist), I think your idea of a restraining order is a great idea.

Comment #189755

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 9:14 AM (e)

But Harold, Dawkins DOES say that Christians are delusional.

I rarely read Dawkins directly, so I have to be careful, but that does sound accurate.

And both Dawkins and Dennet say they are child abusers.

I’ve dealt with this in another thread. I don’t consider including children in traditional religious practices to be abuse. I personally think that children should be raised in an environment of tolerance and respect for others, but some deviation from this can occur, without legal “abuse” taking place. Although I consider myself religious, I don’t believe in hell, but I don’t consider occasional mention of traditional concepts of hell to be child abuse in most cases.

I think that Dawkins is guilty of hyperbole on this point, if I understand his views and communications correctly.

I certainly consider terrorizing children, physically harming them, denying them an education, isolating them, etc, examples of abuse, whether done in the name of religion or for some other reason.

And Dennet does say that religion should be preserved…in a cage.

You haven’t provided a reference; I could check this with google but it doesn’t really matter. Obviously, the language you report, which may or may not be an accurate quote, sounds like a joke.

And what punishment could be servere enough for delusional child abusers?

It depends on what you mean by “delusional” and on what you mean by “abuse”. If we lower the definitions of those words to include everyone who practices a traditional religion and includes their children in the rituals, then no punishment whatsoever would be appropriate in the vast majority of cases.

Although I respect Dawkins in some ways, in this circumstance, his hyperbole may tread close to the kind of insinuations that I complained of in you and others like you, I will concede. However, from a pragmatic point of view, Dawkins chooses forums and audiences which make a violent reaction unlikely, which is the opposite what right wing fundamentalists do, and also, hyperbole seems to make up a modest fraction of Dawkins’ output, not the bulk of it.

Not one pro-science poster I have ever seen here has ever endorsed “punishment” for being religious. I’m using the present tense here; I can’t control the future behavior of trolls to any great degree, but so far, it just isn’t happening.

Also, you seem to be implying that “somebody else did it too” is a defense for violent behavior. That’s flawed logic. What’s wrong is wrong, no matter what “Dawkins” or “Dennet” do.

Would putting them in ZOOS (jail?) be ENOUGH?

I’m very sorry, but no, you’re not a martyr. No, you’re just not. Nobody is persecuting you for your religion. I know it’s a hard fantasy to let go of. I know you have problems, we all do, but they’re not due to persecution of your beatific holiness and religious faith. No-one here is suggesting any sort of punishment for “religion”. I know that, for some reason, you wish they would, but they’re not.

Comment #189760

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 9:22 AM (e)

WHOOPS -

I wrote something that could be ambiguous.

But Harold, Dawkins DOES say that Christians are delusional.

I rarely read Dawkins directly, so I have to be careful, but that does sound accurate.

I do NOT mean that it is accurate that Christians are delusional, that is NOT my point of view.

I mean that it sounds accurate that Dawkins says Christians are delusional.

Delusional is a word with a strong clinical meaning, and it certainly does not apply, in my view, to otherwise normal people who hold a mainstream religious belief, whether I agree with their belief or not.

However, I think Dawkins might well use the word delusional in a way that I do not.

I am not anti-Dawkins by any means, I even own one of his books, but I don’t consider his words to be infallible.

Comment #189768

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 9:35 AM (e)

One More Comment -

I’m sure I’m not alone in noticing that every time creationists and their right wing fellow travelers behave in a violent or otherwise morally wrong way, someone tries to “defend” them by quoting or paraphrasing some mildly hyped up snippet from Dawkins or Dennet or some other such figure.

This is stupid for several reasons -

1) It’s a false and unfair analogy. Dawkins isn’t acting in a venue where violence is being stirred up, and Dawkins isn’t perceived as an “authority figure”, nor as having supernatural communion with God, by his listeners and readers. He insults, but pragmatically, he doesn’t threaten, and that’s a major difference.

2) It’s irrelevant - even if Dawkins were a terrible person who was trying to stir up violence against innocent people, that would just make him one more terrible person. Irrelevant bad action by Dawkins don’t justify independent evil actions by creationists, obviously.

Comment #189816

Posted by Joshuasgrandma on July 24, 2007 1:08 PM (e)

I hope these terrorist threats have been reported to the Dept of Homeland Security and the FBI since they are terrorist crimes and should be thoroughly investigated including using the provisions of the Patriot Act to wiretap to uncover financial supporters of these terror cells, posing as religious organizations. This isn’t freedom of speech; this is inciting criminal acts and should be treated as such.

Comment #189830

Posted by Moses on July 24, 2007 2:56 PM (e)

Comment #189737

Posted by Whatever on July 24, 2007 6:22 AM (e)

But Harold, Dawkins DOES say that Christians are delusional.

They are delusional. At least if you accept the common frame of just what a delsion is: A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception.

Christians are pretty darn ignorant, too. They know virtually nothing of the evolution of their religion and wilfully remain ignorant to preserve their beliefs.

However, the delusion is cultural, for the most part, and not psychological. So it’s not like it’s a mental illness, per se. But instead is a mere continuation of ancient fairy stories, mythologies and what-not used by primitives to explain the workings of the universe and ally their fears of death.

And both Dawkins and Dennet say they are child abusers.

Once again, in a common understanding: Child abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment or neglect of children by parents, guardians, or others.

I think these individuals are arguing that subjecting them to Christianity is emotional & intellectual maltreatment. Religion, especially Christianity, is quite nihilistic, rigid, judgmental and oppressive. Even in the more benign forms that are relatively non-oppressive, like the UCC churches (where we, occasionally, take our children to expose them to religion and show them not all Christian denominations are not populated by a bunch of blood-thirsty, raving lunatics there is the omnipresent nihilism.

And Dennet does say that religion should be preserved…in a cage.

Which is a metaphor. Making this point:

And what punishment could be servere enough for delusional child abusers?

Would putting them in ZOOS (jail?) be ENOUGH?

A childish leap into absurdity.

Comment #189850

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 4:01 PM (e)

Moses -

I don’t want to start a pointless fight, since we’re obviously on the same side in terms of scientific education.

In the strict interest of fairness…

They are delusional. At least if you accept the common frame of just what a delsion is: A delusion is commonly defined as a fixed false belief and is used in everyday language to describe a belief that is either false, fanciful or derived from deception.

In any clinical source this would be qualified so as not to include widespread cultural beliefs as delusions.

Also, most non-creationist religious beliefs don’t qualify anyway, even if they aren’t widespread or mainstream. A delusion is not merely unsupported, it must be definitively false. I don’t believe in reincarnation, for example, but there is no way for me to conclusively show that it does not occur. People who believe in reincarnation are not, for that reason alone, delusional.

Furthermore, although creationism/ID is either a delusion or con game in the case of someone like Michael Behe, who has access to full information, for a less educated person, it is possible to believe in creationist ideas without being delusional. Ignorant, yes, delusional, no. The evidences for an ancient earth and evolution are not intutitively obvious to most people, they must be learned.

Many genuinely delusional people make grandiose religious claims, but that is another issue.

Christians are pretty darn ignorant, too. They know virtually nothing of the evolution of their religion and wilfully remain ignorant to preserve their beliefs.

This statement would be accurate if preceded by a qualifier “some” or “many”.

Without such a qualifier it is a very unfair overgeneralization. Many of the world’s most educated experts on the complex evolution of Christianity are Christians themselves. Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins are obvious examples of successful biologists who are active Christians.

I just don’t see any value in using clinical terms like “delusional” or “mentally ill” as insults, nor in overgeneralizing from politically motivated peddlars of extremism to every single person who self-identifies as an adherent of any type of Christianity on earth.

I realize Dawkins did it first, and you merely concurred with him.

By no means am I disputing the perfect right of Dawkins, Dennet, or anyone else to express themselves. But the rest of us have a right to view their works with unbiased and critical eyes as well.

Comment #189851

Posted by Matt Young on July 24, 2007 4:11 PM (e)

From our “Everyone’s an editor” department: I think the word you guys are looking for is “deluded.” Tho delusional and deluded are arguably synonyms, delusional has come to be a stronger term that implies mental illness or belief in defiance of evidence. You can argue that people who believe in reincarnation are deluded because (you think) their belief is false, but they need not be delusional, especially if their culture believes in reincarnation.

Comment #189862

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 5:27 PM (e)

Matt Young -

It’s not the word I’m looking for.

You are correct, though, that “deluded” carries no clinical connotations.

Thus, it could indeed be logically acceptable, although in my view pointlessly rude, intolerant, and presumptive, to refer to all people with religious opinions different from one’s own as “deluded”.

As I’ve said before, other peoples’ private mental lives are not my business, unless I’m asked to share in them.

If someone vocalizes or otherwise behaves in a way that impacts on me, I respond to that.

Declaring myself superior to others because they differ from me on some irrelevant axis is something I try to avoid. Although it is a very mild form of bigotry when not combined with economic or social discrimination, it is still somewhat bigoted. The fact that those to whom I try to show tolerance may express this mild bigotry toward me is not relevant.

It occasionally strikes me that there may be class overtones to the more overgeneralized commentary on “religion” that appear here. It often seems to be presumed that atheists are educated and members of an above average socioeconomic class. This is probably true on average, but not at an individual level. “Religion” is often stereotyped as consisting entirely of fundamentalist monotheism, and that, in turn, is often stereotyped as a characteristic of people with lower amounts of education and resources.

Comment #189863

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 24, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

… unbiased and critical …

Heh heh.

Comment #189864

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 5:31 PM (e)

Matt Young -

Not meaning to give you a hard time or anything.

I don’t believe in reincarnation, I don’t think that belief, in isolation, is ever delusional, and I personally wouldn’t call it deluded, with some possible extreme exceptions.

It’s just common belief that I don’t share.

Comment #189869

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 5:49 PM (e)

Steviepinhead -

Yep, unbiased and critical.

Funny, you didn’t include any examples of me actually being biased or unfair toward Richard Dawkins. That would have strengthened your post. I wonder why you didn’t.

Lots of people do make unfair verbal attacks on Dawkins. Actually, he probably wants that. He’s a “controversial” author. He’s made a lot of good points, but recently he mixes them with hyperbole, exaggeration, and what I subjectively perceive as something that may be just a tad of upper class British snobbery. And to some degree, consciously or unconsciously, he may be aware that he sells more books that way.

Now, I understand that some quite reasonable people see it as terribly, terribly unfair, and an example of persecution, for anyone to even express an idea that could be construed as casting any utterance from Dawkins in anything less than a worshipful light.

Just as others (generally less reasonable) see it as terribly, terribly outrageously unfair to fail to castigate him as virtually demonic.

I don’t fall into either of these categories. I bought one of his books, I still have it, and my only complaint was that he pussyfooted around any discussion of molecular biology, even though it was aimed at an educated audience.

This thing is supposed to be a web site dedicated to the discussion of science, science education, and creationist attacks on scientist education. It’s not dedicated to propounding the superiority of upper class atheists in the rich countries of the world over everyone who differs from them on any cultural belief or trait. And until the day they kick me off, it won’t be.

As it happens, I’m a big proponent of the values endorsed by secular humanism, and I wish people all over the world would embrace them. Yet somehow, I don’t see running everybody else down as one of those values.

Sorry if this is a lot more of an earful than you deserve, but every now and then, I have to vent this.

Comment #189873

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 24, 2007 6:34 PM (e)

Vent away.

Pinheads are hard to offend.

Comment #189890

Posted by harold on July 24, 2007 8:50 PM (e)

Pinheads are hard to offend.

I’m working on that myself. An extremely useful trait. Are you a fan of a certain proto-punk band that came out of Forest Hills in the mid-seventies, or is the name a coincidence (in which case what I just wrote looks like the meaningless ramblings of a madman)?

Just to prove that I really do try to be fair…

It’s not dedicated to propounding the superiority of upper class atheists in the rich countries of the world over everyone who differs from them on any cultural belief or trait.

I’m not going to back down on my general gist that a “religion as a surrogate for social class” vibe may be detectable in some written works.

But to be fair, I have never seen anyone on PT run down any of anybody’s cultural traits except religion, and for the most part, that’s been mild and sometimes deserved (always deserved in the case of educated, politically motivated creationists).

Still, given the generally high intelligence of people who post here, the rather obvious point that some people, to use one example, go to Wiccan ceremonies and give their kids some kind of Wiccan coming-of-age ceremony thing, and yet are not delusional nor child abusers, should perhaps not require quite as much constant reiteration as it sometimes seems to.

Comment #189893

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 24, 2007 9:36 PM (e)

harold:

Are you a fan of a certain proto-punk band that came out of Forest Hills in the mid-seventies, or is the name a coincidence (in which case what I just wrote looks like the meaningless ramblings of a madman)?

There are no coincidences.

But to say that I’m a fan may be stretching it.

Comment #189895

Posted by raven on July 24, 2007 9:37 PM (e)

Harold:

As I’ve said before, other peoples’ private mental lives are not my business, unless I’m asked to share in them.

Got it. I and I’m sure virtually all of us, don’t give a rat’s ass what other people believe. Wiccans, fundies, atheists, flat earthers, germ theory of disease deniers, etc..

The problem with the lie and violence creationist cults, is that they are attempting to sneak their religious mythology into our childrens schools. They also frequently mention that they would like to overthrow the US government and set up a theocracy. They threaten other groups they don’t like a lot, and occasionally kill them. They are attempting very overtly to impose their bizarre world view on the rest of us.

If they didn’t try to impose their views on everyone else and tell them what to do, who to fall in love with, how many kids to have, whether and when they can get divorced, which god(s) are OK, and on and on, no one would care about them in the least. Let them practice voluntary ignorance and loony, self defeating behaviors.

It’s not about opposing world views and never has been. It is about one group of cults trying to force the rest of us to do and think what they want.

PS: If someone posts dangerous delusional nonsense in public about germs including HIV not causing disease, bicycle helments and seat belts being for wimps, or cigarettes being safe, we have the same right to disagree with them in public. And from a morally higher ground if the facts are available.

Comment #189902

Posted by George Cauldron on July 24, 2007 10:39 PM (e)

But Harold, Dawkins DOES say that Christians are delusional.
And both Dawkins and Dennet say they are child abusers. And Dennet does say that religion should be preserved…in a cage.

And what punishment could be servere enough for delusional child abusers?

Would putting them in ZOOS (jail?) be ENOUGH?

Um, Emanuel, are you really dumb enough believe that the wicked atheists want to put all Christians in jail, or is it just that you’re so unimaginative that hysterical silliness like this is the only way you can think of to win an argument?

Comment #190007

Posted by harold on July 25, 2007 8:08 AM (e)

Raven -

Got it. I and I’m sure virtually all of us, don’t give a rat’s ass what other people believe. Wiccans, fundies, atheists, flat earthers, germ theory of disease deniers, etc..

The problem with the lie and violence creationist cults, is that they are attempting to sneak their religious mythology into our childrens schools. They also frequently mention that they would like to overthrow the US government and set up a theocracy. They threaten other groups they don’t like a lot, and occasionally kill them. They are attempting very overtly to impose their bizarre world view on the rest of us.

If they didn’t try to impose their views on everyone else and tell them what to do, who to fall in love with, how many kids to have, whether and when they can get divorced, which god(s) are OK, and on and on, no one would care about them in the least. Let them practice voluntary ignorance and loony, self defeating behaviors.

It’s not about opposing world views and never has been. It is about one group of cults trying to force the rest of us to do and think what they want.

PS: If someone posts dangerous delusional nonsense in public about germs including HIV not causing disease, bicycle helments and seat belts being for wimps, or cigarettes being safe, we have the same right to disagree with them in public. And from a morally higher ground if the facts are available.

Obviously I strongly agree with all of this. So much that I reduntantly copied and blockquoted it, even though the original is right above this post :-).

Comment #190066

Posted by Matt Young on July 25, 2007 1:27 PM (e)

Just for the record, tho I think that a belief in a deity or reincarnation is objectively wrong, I did not mean to imply that believers therein are necessarily deluded. It merely seemed to me that delusional was too strong a word and you might have agreed more closely if you had used the weaker form, deluded, instead.

That said, when someone believes a claim that is contrary to fact, then that person is deluded, even if the underlying motivation for the belief is religious.

Comment #190067

Posted by Matt Young on July 25, 2007 1:30 PM (e)

Hmmm. Let me clarify that, before I get into trouble. I do not know whether a belief in a deity is a delusion. The belief that the earth is 6000 years old is a delusion.

Comment #190268

Posted by Raging Bee on July 26, 2007 8:22 AM (e)

And if teaching creationism and the like is child abuse, as Dawkins and Dennet claim no matter how you spin it, how can that be allowed to go on?

The answer is, it IS a form of abuse – specifically, betraying kids’ trust by lying to them, and thus denying them the education they need to function as responsible adults in a modern society. Just like teaching them that the Earth is flat, or that babies are dropped down the chimney by storks. And, as we’ve all been saying here from the get-go, it SHOULDN’T be allowed to go on.

Comment #190288

Posted by Matt Young on July 26, 2007 10:27 AM (e)

Was Dawkins delusional or lying? Certainly not delusional, but possibly deluded, tho those are not the only possibilities. I haven’t read Dawkins’s book, but I’d say that anyone who thinks that science can or has conclusively disproved supernaturalism is at best mistaken. As I try to show in my own book, all you can do is make a circumstantial case against supernaturalism. The case I make has disproved supernaturalism, especially the belief in a benevolent god, to my satisfaction. That is a far cry from saying it is conclusively disproved, and I think that people who think their case is that good are deluded (but not delusional).

In other words, I think that atheists are most probably right, but they are deluded if they think they have conclusively proved their case. I am not sure if that answers the question, but we are drifting off task, and I do not want to go much farther in this direction.

Comment #190315

Posted by harold on July 26, 2007 12:57 PM (e)

Whatever -

I’m going to bother to respond this nonsense.

Chld abuse can include mental abuse. It does not have to be physical.

Although I would agree with this statement, it is too vague and non-specific to be meaningful here.

And if teaching creationism and the like is child abuse, as Dawkins and Dennet claim no matter how you spin it, how can that be allowed to go on?

Why can’t you guys ever avoid being dishonest? No-one was talking about “teaching creationism”.

If you want my opinion - “teaching creationism” at home or in church is legal, and need not constitute abuse, but will put a child at a severe educational disadvantage if he or she is interested in science or applied science. However, in isolation, it need not be “abuse”, that is, behavior so severe that legal authorities are obliged to remove children to another environment. You are free to teach your children claptrap if you desire to. In many cases, they’ll figure out later that you lied to them.

“Teaching creationism” in a tax-payer funded school is outright illegal, as it should be.

If they had control, they would have to take steps to stop it…or be complicit in it.

Who’s “they” (Dawkins and Dennet?) and what do you mean by “had control”?

If you want to be a whining martyr so much, why don’t you just move somewhere where you actually might be persecuted for for your religion? Maybe Somalia? I’ll bet lots of people would even be happy to pitch in for a one-way ticket.

Who ya kiddin?

This line wouldn’t look clever even if you did make a valid point.

Comment #190324

Posted by GuyeFaux on July 26, 2007 1:35 PM (e)

In other words, I think that atheists are most probably right, but they are deluded if they think they have conclusively proved their case.

No atheist I know (including Dawkins) would say that. Let me know if you have evidence otherwise.

Comment #190325

Posted by Steviepinhead on July 26, 2007 1:44 PM (e)

Matt, with all due respect, you need to at least read your own blog once in a while:

I haven’t read Dawkins’s book, but I’d say that anyone who thinks that science can or has conclusively disproved supernaturalism is at best mistaken…

One hopes it’s clear from this, then, that you’re not really in a very good position to assert that Dawkins has asserted “that science can or has conclusively disproved supernaturalism…”.

In fact, as any number of threads on this blog have pointed out, Dawkins instead asserts that supernatural interventionalism, of the kind and on the scale attributed to the Old Testament deity, is entirely lacking in evidence. Thus, like Bertrand Russell’s hypothetical teapot orbiting the sun at the distance of Jupiter, all science can say is that a given, sufficiently-specific notion of a deity is extremely unlikely.

It’s not clear to me how this differs significantly from your view.

Nor is it clear to me why–admittedly not having read the book and apparently lacking any other authority for the proposition that you attribute to Dawkins–you would position yourself on this particular limb with the saw betwixt yourself and the tree trunk.

Comment #190332

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 26, 2007 2:11 PM (e)

In other words, I think that atheists are most probably right, but they are deluded if they think they have conclusively proved their case.

Dawkins, Chapter 4 of The God Delusion: “Why there almost certainly is no God”.

Also, good response, Guye.

I would add that Russell’s “teapot around Mars” analogy was composed in order to respond to the demand that evidence be produced to show that God does not exist, when for most issues the burden of “proof” is assumed to rest with those who make a positive claim.

True, Russell tended to call himself “agnostic” when he was being more philosophical, because God cannot be demonstrated not to exist. But even he tended to think that there was no practical difference between agnosticism and atheism, hence the “teapot around Mars” analogy. Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and the other “new atheists” just aren’t concerned about the perhaps meaningless distinction (meaningless in epistemological terms) between agnosticism and theism, adopting the only useful epistemological position—that used by science and the judiciary—and putting the burden of supplying sufficient evidence on those who claim that God exists.

Sensibly, Dawkins is not arguing ontology. He’s arguing about what can be meaningfully (observationally) asserted. And he is atheist, or anti-theist, instead of being post-theistic only because theism remains an ongoing presumption of society despite the fact that the affirmative case for God remains an abject failure. He denies God in the same way that science denies meaningless hypotheses, as that we “have no use for that hypothesis.”

I am, perhaps, idealizing Dawkins there (I haven’t read his book either). But no matter, that’s the proper case for atheism, or anyway for what is sometimes called “weak atheism” (which has taken over for the term “agnosticism” for many). And at the least, Dawkins is not very far from the position I laid out. As noted above, chapter 4 of his The God Delusion is, after all, titled “Why there almost certainly is no God,” not “Why there certainly is no God.”

In a sense, it is worth noting that we can’t conclusively show that there is no God. But no one has really demonstrated that ontology has any meaning beyond epistemology (hence ontology appears superfluous), and epistemologically we don’t have any real cause even to begin to address the issue of “God”. Only culturally and historically do we have reason to do so, and in those areas we almost certainly have much more reason to see theism as an understandable mistake by past humans than as a meaningful claim. That is what we do with animism, and we don’t generally take the trouble to distinguish the fact that we can’t rule out animating spirits operating in the weather and in “sacred groves”, from the fact that such a hypothesis is superfluous and meaningless by what we currently know.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #190333

Posted by Glen Davidson on July 26, 2007 2:14 PM (e)

Oops, I really ought to correct a mistake I made here:

Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, and the other “new atheists” just aren’t concerned about the perhaps meaningless distinction (meaningless in epistemological terms) between agnosticism and theism

The last word there was supposed to be “atheism”, not “theism”.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #190401

Posted by Matt Young on July 26, 2007 10:42 PM (e)

One hopes it’s clear from this, then, that you’re not really in a very good position to assert that Dawkins has asserted “that science can or has conclusively disproved supernaturalism…”.

No, I didn’t say that, tho I can see why you might have drawn that inference. The question was whether Dawkins is delusional. Not having read the book, I cannot comment, but I thought that the thrust of the question was whether anyone who thinks “that science can or has conclusively disproved supernaturalism…” is deluded, so that is the question I addressed. If that was not the intention of the question, I cannot see why the questioner suggested that Dawkins is delusional.

Comment #191067

Posted by Jason P on July 30, 2007 1:57 AM (e)

Chld abuse can include mental abuse. It does not have to be physical.

And if teaching creationism and the like is child abuse, as Dawkins and Dennet claim no matter how you spin it, how can that be allowed to go on?

Teaching creationism isn’t the primary form of child abuse that religion is guilty of.

Teaching children that there’s a hell and that they’re going to burn in it for all eternity if they don’t submit to God’s (read: the denomination of the parent’s) authority is most certainly child abuse.