On the Satanic Neo-Nazi

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Tiassa, Aug 21, 2020.

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Would atheism really have forestalled this neo-Nazi's criminal schemes?

Poll closed Oct 1, 2020.
  1. Oh, absolutely yes.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. No, of course not.

    2 vote(s)
    66.7%
  3. Well … maybe, I mean … I mean, you never know.

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  4. I really need an, 「Other」 option, and maybe I'll tell you what that means.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    So, a neo-Nazi who happens to also be a Satanist, one Ethan Melzer, faces multiple counts of conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel, attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim overseas. And new charges unsealed this week included two counts accusing illegal transmission of national defense information; he is alleged to have given sensitive details about his own unit, including location and movement, to an international neo-Nazi organization, as well as an al Qaeda member abroad. Ethan Melzer apparently calls himself a traitor, and described his own behavior as tantamount to treason.

    Anyway, it's a really stupid mess, and we can dig into the details as needed.

    Still: If Melzer was an atheist, do you think he would have been a less dangerous neo-Nazi? If he was an atheist, would the former infantryman have betrayed his country? Would he have made better decisions?

    †​

    There are all sorts of reasons to ask. Perhaps I'm recalling a bizarre redefinition of religion, a political simplification, from once upon a time. More practically, there is the easily recognized point that atheism does not in and of itself prevent ignorance, prejudice, tribalism, and such. We might also consider an old canard about a dearth of morality in the absence of God; or another about moral relativism.


    †​

    Once upon a time there was a strange thread in which an atheist confessed to envy of religious belief. For many, this seems an easy enough sympathy; we might criticize religious belief as some sort of crutch, but for the faithful, sure, it brings some comfort. But this seemingly positive aspect of living experience was not what the one envied. Rather, he looked at cruel people who wielded their faith in God like a weapon against others, and envied that power to inflict against the weak.

    †​

    It could be that maybe Melzer might have gone with other groups, instead of occultists and al Qaeda, were he an atheist, but every once in a while it's fair to look past the religion. When considering Nazi and neo-Nazi creed, code, and cult, we're hardly going to wipe our brows in relief because at least it's not religion. To the other, Satanism, in this case, is a symptom.

    (Correction: I actually managed to weave a second case in there, about the napalm; believe it or not, that was another Satanic neo-Nazi, in a separate issue. While I'm embarrassed by the error, I'm also struck at the thought of having two Satanic neo-Nazi cases gong on at once; the other is the sad tale of Jarrett Smith. In either case, the question remains.)
     
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    If Charlie Manson was Buddhist would he have been less dangerous? This Melzer guy was a wack job (apparently). You can argue that he was mentally ill or perhaps he felt a sense of misguided detachment from society or whatever the combination of
    societal and mental issues that were involved. Throwing atheism into the mix seems pretty bizarre.
     
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Well ...

    • ... there are all sorts of reasons to ask. Perhaps I'm recalling a bizarre redefinition of religion, a political simplification, from once upon a time. More practically, there is the easily recognized point that atheism does not in and of itself prevent ignorance, prejudice, tribalism, and such. We might also consider an old canard about a dearth of morality in the absence of God; or another about moral relativism. It could be that maybe Melzer might have gone with other groups, instead of occultists and al Qaeda, were he an atheist, but every once in a while it's fair to look past the religion. When considering Nazi and neo-Nazi creed, code, and cult, we're hardly going to wipe our brows in relief because at least it's not religion. To the other, Satanism, in this case, is a symptom.​

    Meanwhile, it's true, I figured the 2014 book, by the scholar of theology and history, responding in some substantial manner to a generalization about religion causing wars, was probably overkill, and I could largely stick with considerations derived from my time at Sciforums.

    Was that somehow confusing?
     
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think my word was "bizzare". As you might say, to the one it was bizzare and to the other it was vague to refer to "the 2014 book, by the scholar of theology and history" without naming the book or the author.

    In any event, it's odd to throw atheism into the "mess" as you say.
     
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Could you please do us the basic courtesy of making sense?

    It's one thing if you're having trouble with the ideas, but you seem to be having some reading comprehension issues.

    Thou dost complain too much especially for being incapable of telling us what the problem is.

    Here, let's do this:

    a bizarre redefinition of religion, a political simplification ― As I recall, the assertion was that, "believing in God is religion", a simplification demanded in the moment by a religious critic who doesn't seem to know much about the religions he critcizes; as it is, he hopes to lighten his argumentative burden by dumbing down what religion is.

    easily recognized point that atheism does not in and of itself prevent ignorance, prejudice, tribalism — That's a point from a few years ago; it seems pretty straightforward.

    an old canard about a dearth of morality in the absence of God; or another about moral relativism — I would have thought the old line about no morality without God easy pickings, but this is Sciforums, so of course not.

    When considering Nazi and neo-Nazi creed, code, and cult, we're hardly going to wipe our brows in relief because at least it's not religion — No, really. When face to face with a Nazi plot against the Army, whose first reaction will be celebrating that it's not the ninety-some year-old pastor repeatedly arrested for feeding the hungry?

    the 2014 book, by the scholar of theology and history … was probably overkill — No, seriously, does anyone really need the quote about religion and wars from the introduction to the book in order to justify a thread?​

    "Bizarre" might better describe your need to complain without actually saying anything.
     
  9. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Seattle complains about typos and then he complains about the absence of typos. Isn't that kinda how the archetypal two-year-old behaves?
     
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    What's dangerous isn't so much ideas as actions. Ideas become dangerous when they inspire dangerous behavior.

    I've never heard of this individual, nor do I have any idea what his motivations were for whatever he's accused of doing, or plotting to do, or something.

    From the way you describe him, "satanist", "neo-Nazi", it makes me suspect some underlying psychological state that make this person feel socially alienated and prone to claiming adherence to what seemed to him to be rebellious ideas. So I'm not entirely convinced that his supposed beliefs (assuming he really believed them) were the motivators for whatever he was accused of doing.

    Hence, whether or not he claimed to be an atheist might not have made much difference in this individual's case.


    †​
     
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  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    ???

    At least I could understand Seattle's point, viz. he thought atheism probably had nothing to do with it.

    What your point may be escapes me, I'm afraid.
     
  12. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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    5,232
    Hitler used socialism like the christians use religion to bind people under 1 single leader and a mantra of autocratic facist state dictatorship
    so he could simply insert himself as the divine leader with absolute control over everything

    thus equally
    christinaity/satanism
    & socialism are equally the same as they are both used in the same way to create the end product

    people in the 1920's had little to no real common understanding of psychology
    they only knew what others told them

    they thought global war was some type of over seas experience
    they only lived to be about 40 years old maybe 50 if they were very lucky and rich


    i have a desire to unpick the region but i feel i may be missing your point
     
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Well, like Seattle, what you don't read tends to escape you.

    (No, really, at some point it all reads like a cheap excuse to duck out.)
     
  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    "No, really..."
    "To the one this is what I do and to the other...this is what I do"
    "No, really..."
     
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  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Tiassa, you speak in riddles. No, really.
     
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Not really. See, in this moment, the question, as I see it, is whether you actually want to know, or are just a bitter, trolling partisan. Because, really, the coincidence between someone finding something "bizarre"↑, yet being apparently unable to comment on the actual explanation, and utterly incapable of describing what their actual confusion is, piles up over the years.

    And you, apparently↑ understand, except like Seattle, you're just not up to the task of explaining what the problem is. Uh-huh.

    Do I need to reiterate↑ yet again? I mean, we get Seattle's point; he's just trolling for personal satisfaction, as he often does. Why you support that kind of behavior is entirely up to you.

    Meanwhile, there are all sorts of reasons to ask, even drawn from Sciforums history.

    Think of it this way: If you posture yourself as ignorant and dysfunctional, there comes a point at which I will believe you.

    Would atheistic beliefs have altered the decisions a person ostensibly made on behalf of religious sentiment?

    Is the problem that a question like this violates your safe space? Does the quetion somehow hurt your feelings? Seriously, it's a bizarre question? Well, says the troll, but what's your excuse?

    Come on, you decided to get into this, why not bring ... well ... at least something?

    Would atheistic beliefs have altered a person's decisions? Am I really supposed to believe the question is a confusing riddle?

    Really?
     
  17. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Would claiming to be a Christian have altered a person's decisions? (Got mit uns.) Obviously actions tell us much more than words...
     
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Do you have a point that you want to make with this thread? Is there something that you would like to discuss?

    One of the difficulties I have with reading your writing is that you always seem to be writing in circles around what you want to say, without actually saying it. There are Japanese cartoons, there are reveries of things that you recall... but never a clear thesis statement. Which leaves your readers always having to guess what you are writing about.

    An unnamed enemy that you may or may not be arguing against. I expect that you are aware that defining 'religion' is an outstanding problem in the philosophy of religion. The difficulty isn't that there is no definition, but that there are too many definitions, many of them inconsistent with others and all of them seemingly inadequate if the goal is to name a single essential quality that makes a religion a religion.

    As for me, I'm inclined to go with those who argue that 'religion' is a 'family-resemblance' concept. We label something a 'religion' if it shares enough (and that's in the eye of the beholder) qualities in common with other things we consider religions. This kind of family-resemblance naming process is actually quite common in human thinking, just think of the meaning of the word 'art'. The take-away is that there might not be any single essence that all religions share and that only religions possess.

    Another possible target - Those who argue that 'religion' is responsible for no end of evils throughout history and if religion were eliminated, the world might be a paradise. I'm with you on that one, I think that it's atheist foolishness.

    That's the exact opposite argument.

    You don't like neo-Nazis. (Defining who and what they are is going to be another problem.)

    I take it that you are referring to Karen Armstrong's Fields of Blood. I have a copy somewhere in my pile of books, picked up in a used book sale somewhere, but haven't read it. I've only skimmed through it and frankly wasn't tremendously impressed by that cursory examination. The impression that I got was that she was arguing that religion wasn't responsible for most of the historical atrocities that atheists attribute to it. Those were more the work of politics (I'm inclined to agree with her on that) and particularly politics of modernity. I'm less inclined to agree there. The Muslim wars of expansion in which most of the East Roman Empire and all of the Sassanid Empire were conquered in mere decades took place in the 7th century and had nothing to do with Western modernity.

    So how are we to tie those threads together? Defining (and misdefining) 'religion'? Atheist attacks on religion? Religious attacks on atheism? Neo-Nazis? And Karen Armstrong? I expect that many things could be said about all of them and about how they intersect. Some interesting and even important things.
     
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    You want me to believe that? Okay.

    If he was an atheist, would he have made better decisions?

    Reflecting on your criticism, we might note that, on this occasion, you spent a lot of words in an apparent attempt to reposture your relationship to the question:

    The first thing really is as simple as the question.

    From there, right. I really shouldn't need the citation nobody will pay attention to, anyway. Still, after all that effort, your pretense of confusion isn't really convincing.

    Look at how badly people want to parse out atheism and reserve it in safe space. And then take the note. That would be one of the subtleties of the question that we haven't really gotten to it, yet, because for years of fretting about how religion affects belief, ask if atheism would have changed the course of someone's decisions, and, well, watch people around here scratch their heads and get all confused and upset.

    Let's try it this way:

    • If Melzer was an atheist, do you think he would have been a less dangerous neo-Nazi? If he was an atheist, would the former infantryman have betrayed his country? Would he have made better decisions? (#1↑)

    ― "So how are we to tie those threads together? Defining (and misdefining) 'religion'? Atheist attacks on religion? Religious attacks on atheism? Neo-Nazis?" (#15↑)

    I mean, sure, you didn't just come out and say, "Duhhhhr ... what's the question?" Moreover, you did manage to get the general question correct the first time (#7↑). So it's true, watching you play political idiocy in the moment is a spectacle that drives another point.

    Let's give that a whirl, then:

    "An unnamed enemy that you may or may not be arguing against" — There is no profit in revisiting a discussion with a crackpot who flees scrutiny because he cannot demonstrate his point. Still, to what degree is a criticism invested in fallacious mischaracterization appropriate, or even rational? The whole point of the simplification was to allow the angry atheistic critic the behaviors of religion—cult, creed, and code—without the contradiction of being religious; it's intended as a dysmorphic innoculation against "family resemblances". Say what you will about unnamed enemies, but the point has to do with the fallacious politics; that particular atheistic critic becomes another religious zealot. The point circles around to our present thread: When considering Nazi and neo-Nazi creed, code, and cult, we're hardly going to wipe our brows in relief because at least it's not religion. On the outstanding problem of defining religion, yeah, actually, that's my line, too. I can tell you, at least, that your family-resemblance concept disagrees with the old simplification, which still circulates.

    Those who argue that 'religion' is responsible for no end of evils throughout history and if religion were eliminated, the world might be a paradise — Actually, this is near the heart of the question, and likely what makes some people so nervous. A general question would be what effect any particular critique intends. We might in our moment acknowledge how much of critical discourse around Sciforums seems to orbit self-gratification, and no, the behavior is not uniform; there are cases in which the underlying critical arguments are utterly fallacious, and viciousness is pretty much the point.

    (Brief digression: I once managed to offend an atheist, here, with the prospect of the responsibilities of empowerment. It had to do with the idea of atheism empowered; you can't just make shit up as you go. And all the other could do was pitch a fit, demanding, What about the theists? How another atheistic advocate fulfilled that question of empowerment is a much longer digression. Still, it might be worth considering the prospect of a setting in which atheism is empowered, instead of oppressed, victimized, and reactionary.)​

    The thing is that when we address the relationship between religion and everything wrong in the world ... well, take a look around. Once the discourse requires a more subtle address, what do we get? Absurd pretenses of confusion that really don't suit the ostensibly rational and enlightened posture, pretentious distraction, and diverse manners of protest. Meanwhile ...

    That's the exact opposite argument — ... one of the reasons to recall these various bits drawn from Sciforums history is that they ought to be familiar to people. I know these silly, Christianist pretenses about a lack of morality are offensive to some atheists, so, yes, given how annoying and offensive the lack of morality argument is, the question of whether a pretense of atheism would have changed someone's decisions is pretty obvious. As I said, there are reasons to ask.​

    How interesting.

    True enough, though.

    The quote would be from the early pages of the introduction. My copy is elsewhere, right now, but, really, compared to what ought to be accessible to people who have been around for a while, it seems like overkill.

    The underlying question is straightforward. The implications could be very interesting, and even important.

    To what degree would a pretense of atheism have altered the decision to sell out the U.S. Army to occultist neo-Nazis abroad? To what degree would a pretense of atheism have altered the decision to seek explosive power to attack antifa? To what degree would a pretense of atheism mitigate danger?

    And sure, the likely answer is that it wouldn't. Straightforward, right?

    Now, let's try a point on criticism.

    Pick five atheists from around here; keep it to yourself, you don't need to name them. Once upon a time, they, you, and me, could have all agreed that certain religiously-motivated behavior presented particular dangers, and needed to be addressed. Is that complicated? Try this: Religious people doing dumb, dangerous, and bad things that harm other people for the glory of God.

    Anyway, it's like I told a neighbor recently, about the Covid churchgoer who was protected because she was covered in Jesus' blood: That neighbor behavior toward religious people only further entrenches dangerous religious beliefs. Those five fellows you picked, will they be of any use other than agitating religious people's emotions and hardening religious resolve?

    Less complicated, except maybe not: If you have one right answer in all your life, it is worth precisely what?

    There are reasons why certain threads go exactly nowhere. It's nearly unfair, at this point, to pick on the One Thread to Rule Them All, that in turn needed a companion thread, but there is a reason those threads collapsed. If he has one right answer—e.g., that some iteration of God does not really exist—what did that actually get him? Two threads inevitably about other things, leading back to the same old. Would atheism have stopped the neo-Nazi? No, not really.

    How does that tie together? Quite obviously, it's a reflection on the state of the discourse. The implication that some need to find a new argument is probably what unsettles a few people.

    And how particular should I be? There's someone who loathes the barbs about morality, and maybe he should skip out on the relativsitic justifications of an amoral politic. Or the critic reflecting on a lifetime of frustration who still apparently doesn't have a clue what he's referring to. We'll hear from them when and if we do.

    But consider: Is there a short form of what I just said? Kind of, but—

    • Would atheism have helped? Nope. Then why complain about religion? This, of course, is also a fine time to remind that the atheistic criticism at Sciforums isn't really about religion, but politics.​

    —would that really have failed to confuse?

    One of the reasons I use a lot of words, Yazata, is because the short form generally doesn't work, around here; people find it too vague and confusing. Trying to backfill according to every objection only confuses people even more.

    (Do you actually consider the audience, here, when you post, or do you write to a phantom idyll?)
     
  20. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think the short form suits you better. You should use it more. Would it have mattered if he was an atheist? As you say, nope.

    All that so you can ask why people complain about religion!

    He was pretty clearly deranged. Is everyone who acts in a harmful way in the name of religion deranged? Probably not.

    Should people not complain about Nazis or the Satanic?

    This is a bizarre approach to get around to asking such a simple question. Trust me, your long-winded ways aren't preventing the asking of more questions to clarify. Excess verbiage to ask such a simple (and obvious) question isn't needed. The question itself wasn't even needed.
     
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    To reiterate: Would that really have failed to confuse? One of the reasons I use a lot of words is because the short form generally doesn't work, around here; people find it too vague and confusing. Trying to backfill according to every objection only confuses people even more.

    Of course it didn't fail to confuse; you make my point for me. Again, and like earlier, a coincidence between someone objecting yet being apparently unable to comment on the actual explanation. Or, in the short form, what you don't read tends to escape you. To wit: "All that so you can ask why people complain about religion!" Apparently you missed the next sentence, reminding that the atheistic criticism at Sciforums isn't really about religion, but politics.

    Thus—

    —I just don't think the perpetually ill-tempered critic who never seems to know what he's on about is necessarily qualified to make that assessment.

    Meanwhile, there remains a general reflection on the state of the discourse, and the implication that some need to find a new argument is probably what unsettles a few people. And if you missed that by merely attending the short form, well, once again, of course the short form did not fail to confuse.
     
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I agree about the ill tempered writer on here. To wit: that would be you. When you're constantly upset with everyone around you, perhaps the problem is you?

    Religion is about politics. The various religions have always made it that way. Otherwise it's a personal thing and there's nothing to discuss.

    See how this works, short and to the point. No quoting needed, no rambling.
     
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    This strikes me as very unclearly expressed:

    " .... there are all sorts of reasons to ask. Perhaps I'm recalling a bizarre redefinition of religion, a political simplification, from once upon a time. More practically, there is the easily recognized point that atheism does not in and of itself prevent ignorance, prejudice, tribalism, and such. We might also consider an old canard about a dearth of morality in the absence of God; or another about moral relativism. It could be that maybe Melzer might have gone with other groups, instead of occultists and al Qaeda, were he an atheist, but every once in a while it's fair to look past the religion. When considering Nazi and neo-Nazi creed, code, and cult, we're hardly going to wipe our brows in relief because at least it's not religion. To the other, Satanism, in this case, is a symptom.

    Meanwhile, it's true, I figured the 2014 book, by the scholar of theology and history, responding in some substantial manner to a generalization about religion causing wars, was probably overkill, and I could largely stick with considerations derived from my time at Sciforums."


    It seems to be fairly typical of your communication style.

    As to what I am guessing is the subject matter of the thread, I rather agree with Seattle that there doesn't seem any reason to bring this person's odd religious beliefs into the explanations for his conduct. Plenty of religious nutters commit even worse crimes. It seems more likely he was a nutter first and then decided to label himself a Satanist, neo-nazi or whatever.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2020

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