What Do People Know About What They Pretend to Discuss?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Tiassa, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    This is a question for atheists at Sciforums: What do you actually know about the "gods" and religions you criticize and complain about?

    I mean, the thing about all the atheistic criticism of religion and religious people I see around here is absolutely and disgracefully ignorant. It's almost as if "atheism" has become, at Sciforums, a supremacist identity movement worshiping self-love and intellectual sloth.

    And it turns out that when you try to discuss things with these atheists, all they can do is bait and wait, as if they were some manner of divine predator hunting those they consider weak. Ask them what they know, they wait for someone to answer their petty challenge, because it's not about history or philosophy or scholarship; in the end, it reads like petty supremacism as a cult among ignorant people.

    So, come on, instead of just failing to understand people they think themselves smarter than, perhaps the atheists at Sciforums might remember the idea of demanding proof of God. I'm asking something far simpler, that one be capable of showing a clue what they're on about, and aren't just another flapping, ignorant bigot.

    No, really: Asking meaningless questions and waiting for some stupid, English language learning religious person to inadequately answer an idiot-stupid question the querient is not even capable of comprehending so that one can feel smarter for telling that person off is, well, worse than merely meaningless behavior.

    So, yeah, I'm curious: Atheists at Sciforums have, traditionally, believed themselves smarter than religious people. And while the survey data might say this or that about college degrees and income, I'm curious what you actually know, because for years it's seemed like pretty much nothing. Is it ignorance, sloth, maybe some arcane sense of strategy? Because it really is striking how little knowledge is actually shown in these critiques; they're more like parlor games and wordplay.
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  3. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    I think you have a very valid point and I'm sad to say, I have been guilty of some of the things you are talking about. People should be free to think and believe whatever they want as long as they do not hurt or force their beliefs on others.
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Actually, the way I read it, that is not Tiassa's main point. (Indeed it seems to me that there should not be a "safe space" for beliefs on a discussion forum. Beliefs should be subject to challenge, in my opinion.)

    It seems to me the real point here, though, is that we have some people who love to ridicule religions and religious belief based on the shallowest and most puerile of caricatures of what the religions or beliefs in question really are. To give one example, this is especially obvious in the relentless, pointless ridiculing of selected bits of the Old Testament, ignoring all the theology and scholarship over the centuries that has guided the actual - and evolving - strands of belief in Christianity as to how to regard the OT. It is notable that the New Testament, which is basically what distinguishes Christianity from Judaism and supersedes it in Christian thinking, is hardly ever used as a punchbag in this way.

    We have just got rid of a bunch of sockpuppet trolls who were especially bad at starting this sort of low quality, custard pie - throwing exercise. Perhaps we might now get some discussion that bothers to research a bit what current religious beliefs and doctrines really are*, before attacking them.

    But I may be misinterpreting Tiassa, so I'll welcome any correction if applicable.

    * Further thought: in the USA in particular, there seems to be a profusion of sects in which anybody can take the bible and construct his or her own homespun theology from it. Being homespun, these groups are likely to end up with naive and untenable sets of beliefs, just like someone trying to be Isaac Newton in his own back yard instead of reading about science first. The established churches however have much more worked out, subtle and self-consistent sets of beliefs. It is these that should be the subject of serious (preferably informed) questioning, I feel. Attacking homespun sects is like shooting fish in a barrel, but makes no real impact on the serious systems of belief that have evolved in the churches.
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    I would add to this that Americans (U.S.), by and large, don't travel, and they seem mostly unaware that these fundamentalist strains (in Christianity) are largely non-existent outside of the U.S. Even in Canada, during the Stephen Harper era--when they adopted some U.S.-style "conservatism"--they really only embraced the neoliberal aspects, as the fundie-informed social stuff was so alien to them.
  8. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    The emperor wears no pants. It doesn't matter if he's not wearing jeans, slacks, overalls, or shorts. What's all this esoteric knowledge that's supposed to make a shit-ton of difference to the basic question?
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Speaking for myself, I try and believe I am only critical of religion and people discussing their deity beliefs, if and when I see them using that belief either insidiously or openly, to be critical of science particularly cosmology, without any empirical evidence either invalidating that area of science, or validating some deity as the cause of it all.
    The thing I see around here in actual fact, is certain people doing their level best to try and belittle science at every turn, and in whatever methodology, often claiming they have invalidated GR or casting doubt on the scientific methodology.
    I see it as the other way round...that is religious people and IDers, baiting whenever they see a gap in scientific knowledge, via their "god of the gaps" speculative. The last time I looked this whole forum was still under the banner of science and as such, the scientific methodology should take pride of place.
    If I walked into a church next Sunday and started to shout out for all to hear, about how science has progressed humanity and how it has pushed any real necessity for any God into near oblivion, then I would certainly expect a violent backlash from at least part of the congregation.
    I do understand why people believe in God, my wife is a true Christian in every sense of the word and we have been married now for 42 years, and both our first marriages.
    On my personal knowledge, as most should be able to tell you here, I simply am a retired Maintenance Fitter/Machinist/Welder, who has brushed up on what little general knowledge I may have, by reading reputable books and partaking in science forums.
    What meaningless questions are these? If some religious fanatic tells me that god created the universe and you and me, why is it meaningless for me to ask who created god?
    Again speaking for myself, I would ask why do religious people so often believe they are smarter then someone that adheres to the scientific method? Why do so many some generally "closeted believers" pretend that they have overthrown 21st century cosmology and other aspects of science that at least has some empirical evidence supporting it? There certainly are very smart religious people and probably also dumb ones, and that applies to Atheists and Agnostics also.

    My view is the more insidious believers, see themselves on a white charger, conducting some evangelistic inspired mission against science, and taking it in a false display of courage into the Lion's den [a science forum] due to the fact that science in general and cosmology in particular, has eliminated any need for any deity at least back to a small fraction of a second post BB..
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    For me, it's just one of those long disappointments of history; if you look back far enough in the archives, I used to be one at the heart of the critique against religion. A number of things happened along the way, but insofar as atheists themselves might be concerned, their role, and not only here at Sciforums, but there are plenty in atheistic pop-culture, as well—

    (And the unfortunate requisite disclaimer that goes here has to do with the phrase "atheistic pop-culture", because one of the results of this weird phenomenon I'm describing about apathy and ignorance in critique includes an episode in which the best argument one of our atheist neighbors could come up with is to screech about there being no "atheist movement", and, y'know, it was utterly a coincidence that we read news stories of Atheist congregational social gatherings, stylish logos, fundraising efforts, and a coalescing—their word—movement. My point to that end is, I'm not sure what to call it. Once upon a time it was people filing obvious lawsuits; it's one thing to pick on the comedian and the pedophilia advocate, but other celebrity intellects defending or promoting atheism were, like so many, very good at strident anti-identification. But calling it an atheistic movement really pisses off some identifying atheists.)​

    —has been precisely discouraging. Part of it has to do with this assertion of atheism actually being an anti-identification, which in turn leads to cat and mousing the lowest common denominator, because that is the point of this particular manner of asserting atheism.

    And this is what that manner of atheism does, and is for: If you read through my posts, there are times when I'm on a furious, righteous bender, and most days there is someone to be offended at the tone regardless of the content. But when I'm feeling all righteous like that, I actually know why, and it is further true that at my most charged, I defy anyone to match me. The practical point, though is more abstract: People don't like that kind of charge running through the proverbial herd; communities are unsettled by perceptions of hostility. At the same time, though, we all want it. In my lifetime, we have gone from one definitive set of bullies backed by the societal establishment to those bullies and subsequent generations of their sector bawling about being called bullies, and don't just think it's about gay people (wait for it) because the thing is that the Gay Fray is the one civil rights fight we have from the old way of doing things whose beneficiaries unquestionably include white men. That atheism is another actually does have some relevance in broader considerations, but we can set it aside for the moment. Because when we finally got around to dealing with bullying in my society, there are enough in our society to elect the complaint of the bullies about being bullied by being called bullies to the presidency; in other words, we haven't gotten around to dealing with shit.

    And in all of that, the one thing is that we all have a need to be able to intimidate another; it seems inherent in the fact of life on this planet and in this Universe, and it seems behaviorally evident.

    The other day I went off on Comcast, via Twitter. What? They openly acknowledged Linux exclusion, so I called them terrible human beings. And, yeah, I felt better, afterward. And then someone was dumb enough to respond to me, and, furthermore, to glibly and condescendingly sales-pitch me about how great the individual or company—it's unclear which—thinks Linux is, and didn't bother acknowledging the evidence of their acknowledgment of exclusion. Naturally, I lashed the hell out of that poor phuck, too. And, let's face it, everybody needs a job, but when you work for Comcast, or, say, Bank of America, or Microsoft, or any of a number of large corporations, the fact that you are part of the problem has been evident for a while, now, so, yeah, it's pretty easy to phucking bury the poor bastard whose job was to flak me shite, and feel better for doing so. Nonetheless, what does it really accomplish? I already know the only reason that person cares is if I've made them feel badly. Actual solutions? They're not coming; this is Comcast we're talking about. Still, it's a person, and the reason I'm pissed off is that it's not their job to actually care. Nonetheless, is it appropriate to treat people that way? Probably not, except for the fact that I've always lived in a society where it is, in fact, somehow appropriate because we keep showing each other our fury, and everybody seems to think they have their reasons why it's okay for them.

    And so it goes, y'know? We either figure it out or not.

    This particular range of behaviors and atheistic identity that has me so annoyed whenever I get anywhere near it—watch my attitude get even worse every time I step into the Religion subforum—really does waddle and quack like an easy version of communally-ritualized sectarianism asserting (self-) righteous indivdiual rage.

    And to the one, it's a version of what we humans do. To the other it's kind of a weird inversion of what it pretends to be. To the beeblebrox, so, also, is that a common aspect of human behavior.

    And the meta-beeblebrox, there, is a matter of function; this identity bloc imitates, parodies, apes the religious social and anti-intellectual behavior, including cult, creed, code, and articles of faith—I occasionally recall the episode not even posting the arguments of other atheist advocates in society at large could dissuade this one from requiring that religion be redefined in order shield the critique from diverse scrutiny—and, in the end, really does look curiously like a religion—and Godddess grant I already regret this part even before I write it—much similar to a joke in my circles about how once upon a time it was Satanism, then it was Witchcraft; that is to say, white middle-class Christians don't stray far from the flock when we abandon Christianity. These days it's atheism; and again we must waste some words for the unfortunate requisite disclaimer, this time acknowledging that no, it's not all atheists, just like it's not all witches or Satanists.

    But it's true; atheists generally don't stray far from their original flock. Identifying atheists raised in Christian-oriented societies assert their atheism in the context of a Christian-oriented society. Which, in turn, is why Satanism, or why Gardenerian or faerycraft revivals overlapping eurochristian history. If one is an atheist raised in a Muslim-oriented society, the response framework will similarly attend its society.

    In not straying far from the flock, the identity assertion generally isn't learning about other religions so much as other responses to other religions.

    It's kind of like jokes about coachmen. Maybe the joke doesn't make sense. Maybe I don't even know it's a joke, and need to be told. And maybe if I grew up in an American family with Hungarian roots, such that my grandfather told me all sorts of superstitious stories about "Gypsies", such that they weren't merely stories in a Dolch illustrated young readers book I never read, I wouldn't need to be told. I always use the movie Dogma as an accessible example; there are a few jokes that most atheists misconstrue or simply don't know are there, but, like the bit with blessing the golf clubs, certain contexts will only occur to people; I never would have written the joke, but while I happen to know a friend of mine who was never Catholic and identifies as atheist looks at it like a weird, vicious absurdism underpinning a humorous sub-archetype (comedic infrastructure?) from the late eighties into the nineties, I took it like vaudeville. I'm not Catholic, but I went to a Jesuit high school, and while I'm not professional student of theology I have studied at least some of the source record, so I'm familiar with some of the evolution of the basic joke at the heart of the film, and the great jesting innovation of blessing the golf clubs would be like finding an untouched iteration of goodnight Gracie that seems obvious in hindsight but only someone like Webb Glass could tease out, and at the end of what should have been a brilliant career.

    I might take the moment, for instance, for Exchemist's point:

    This is actually a long problem. Perhaps we might now get some ... er ... yeah, y'know? But after all these years, why would I expect the atheistic bloc at Sciforums to change? I'll come back to it more as this goes along, but it seems to me that if I sit at the table with these atheists and say, "Yes, religious people are especially bad at this and that", my question is going to be, "So why do you let them set the terms?"

    (Having thus postured as if in immediate response, it is worth noting my concurrence that homespun theology and American Christendom are important considerations; as is Parmalee's↑ consideration of what this stuff looks like abroad, and especially in the immediate wake of Australians swamping their Christianists in a postal survey. This post is just getting long ....)​
  11. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    The religion section seems to be a magnet for trolls on all sides of the fence. This thread appears to be no exception.
  12. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    If your point is that atheists can be as ignorant as any religious nut, I agree. There is nothing about rejecting the idea of God that prevents sexist, racism, or knee-jerk irrational tribalism. The atheist movement is currently being split up along those lines, with some saying that atheism and social justice go hand in hand, and others that subscribe to atheism as well as alt-right bigotry. Still others say that atheism should stand alone, that's it's a position on God and nothing more.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    I'm largely going to borrow from another thread. For instance:

    There are a couple times in the preceding discourse I used a line about studying and learning about religion. It really is important, because, while there are many ways to define religion, one inevitable aspect is communal expression, and we generally only remember to think about that when making political complaints about religion. You're familiar with dialectics, and, yes, I do find it strange how there seems to be a tendency to shy away from the word in my society even while people engage, and also seek to understand, the processes. But they stay away from the fundamentals for two reasons: Hegel is long and boring, even in the short volumes; Communists love dialectics beyond love, and we might suggest, as a generalized prejudice, an abusive relationship. American society, for instance, pretends to not like Communists, so we're constantly rediscovering what we refused to pay attention to the first time around. Or, you know, the most recent; I personally believe the historical cycles are accelerating, the periods contracting. (It's a mass media thing, and I keep foolishly expecting some manner of stabilization.)

    Aside from dialectics, you might be one who remembers me using the phrase, "psychoanalytic meaning of history", a post-Freudian concept derived by classicist Norman O. Brown in the mid-1950s.

    And in either case, it's something pretty much everyone does, anyway: When we consider history, a significant portion of our analysis is given to interpretation.


    There is also this:

    Consider a weird bit we've heard from Christianity, at least in my lifetime. Certain quarters would claim that humans have free will because God doesn't know, which is a boundary against omnipotence, and also creates a range in which God is not. Fifteen to twenty-five billion of these ranges over time that we can estimate from what we know; there are over seven billion of them currently operating on planet Earth right now.

    The word "totality" is insufficient: Consider an abstract all of everything ever, that was or wasn't, including potentials abstractions like an absence of particular potential. In the psychoanalytic meaning of history, what we can infer from the record available to us is that the monotheistic godhead is a human invention that, approximately, represents our relationship to certain ideas, some of which seem to result from fear, and that our species has yet to evolve past. It's the weirdest trap, an effect of how the human mind works, and we might be dealing with it wrongly, as such, but perhaps we cannot select out of it as a species, and can only learn to deal with it properly. Remember that the so-called "God" phenomena in our brains are associated with our perceptive and creative operations. We are neurotic creatures, and there are reasons we perceive and imagine gods.


    And this:

    What we have left is a word describing an abstraction which, in turn, describes the ineffability of reality. This isn't really something to believe in or not; as the saying goes: God is. Accepting this tautalogy isn't a matter of believing in anything.

    It does, however, allow us to study the role of this abstraction in dialectic form, such as the psychoanalytic meaning of history, or the criticism, and, inherently, the comparative. The question of believing in God or not pertains to, especially as an artificially constructed dualism, is fundamentally fallacious. It is a political argument, and much akin to a religiously-derived political argument delineating righteous and unrighteous, holy and unholy, clean and unclean. If it was an historical argument proper, i.e., theological, there would be utility in actually studying what human beings have said and believed and done about God. Indeed, in that context, the godlings people invent along the way are matters of historical evidence inasmuch as they are recorded and discussed.


    And also this:

    For the moment, I would recall a discussion in which an associate noted Devil's Advocate in order to grant that God exists. Something about the point, in the moment, felt really pretentious, and I think it is because the only reason one needs to "grant" anything is that they are operating according to terms that require them to do so.

    This provides a contrast to a notion I refer to fairly regularly, the psychoanalytic meaning of history; and it would behoove us to attend the fact that this phrase comes from a classicist.

    Because, okay, if you're familiar with J. G. Frazier, The Golden Bough, a 1922 tome on the cult at Nemi and ceremonial magick, imagine compressing all of that—my copy runs 864 pages, including index—compressed into an examination of pre-Islamic myth that runs a thin one hundred sixty-nine pages, including notes, bibliography, and index. Jaroslav Stetkevych, Muhammad and the Golden Bough: Reconstructing Arabian Myth (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana Univ. Press, 1996), is nigh on impossible.

    The thing is, one need not grant shite in order to comprehend the basic process: This is a literary criticism built from what scraps the historical record provides, and does function as an artistic critique reflecting the psychoanalytic meaning of history. At no point does the question of God's existence matter a whit. Artistic, generally, or more particularly literary, or even historical criticism are reasonably appropriate and require no Devil's Advocates.


    We might note a phrase that keeps coming up, the "psychoanalytic meaning of history", which is just one way of looking at it. To reiterate and accentuate:

    This is a literary criticism built from what scraps the historical record provides, and does function as an artistic critique reflecting the psychoanalytic meaning of history. At no point does the question of God's existence matter a whit.

    If I ask why any of these people are discussing religion at all, generally speaking I figure to get some responses about other people's behavior. Origin↑ for instance, notes in this thread, "People should be free to think and believe whatever they want as long as they do not hurt or force their beliefs on others", and that sounds familiar to me.

    But from there, who is looking just to shout back at people they perceive wronging them, and who is looking at the subject in larger terms? At some point the question of why they behave this way is important; an informed critique of the historical record is helpful to just about any outlook on such subjects intending any substantial utility. And if the point is just to laugh at stupid people one doesn't like, then stupid is as ignorant does.

    If a problem exists that my neighbor and I need to solve, the asshole standing on the sidewalk interrupting us as we talk it out better have a goddamn clue and reason for getting involved other than, say, not liking my neighbor and needing my life to continue in disruption because it's more important for the asshole to harangue my neighbor than it is for my neighbor and I to solve our problem.

    And that is what it is. My neighbor might be a complete asshole, too, but that does not mean the self-superior sack of shit wandering around town fucking with other people's business for the sake of his own satisfaction has any sincere purpose other than being antisocial, and there is only so much the rest of society owes the suicide pact.

    And, you know, everybody has their asshole days, but if everyone is an asshole and some people are trying to work some shit out, what respect does anyone owe wilful ignorance as disruption?

    Is there some third line we ought to be attending? Some aspect of affirmative identification about such behavior we can examine?

    Because while some might actually find it perfectly acceptable to wander around town giving people shit in order to enjoy shitting on people, some of those people are trying to figure out actual human mysteries, and in such cases you will find your answer: Trying to understand people without attending the historical record is an act of futility. If, however, futility is the point, then why would one bother trying to understand any of it?

    Historical literacy can help us bridge the gaps.

    It is true, I expect that had I left my response at simply the preceding sentence, with nothing else to explain what it means ... well, look, it's just one of those things that ought to be filed under duh, but isn't because, well, experience reminds such presumption is actually dangerous.

    We are not going to dress the emperor by waiting for a chance to snip off his dick just to call him a eunuch. And while it's true I can postulate some possibilities based on my observations of discourse in history—i.e., because I paid some attention to the historical record—the question remains why it matters whether the emperor wears pants or not. At some point, we become just as prudish as Hazel Quarrier fitting the pagan girls for brassieres.
  14. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Assholes will be assholes, but it could be that non-assholes also act like assholes because religious tradition taught them to. Maybe there is a human trait that tends towards assholery. I think that pointing out the fallability of religion might eliminate loyalty to at least one bad reason to be bad.

    I'm all for trying to understand the social reasons people turn towards religion, but I don't think they excuse it. The same way there are sound evolutionary reasons for alcohol abuse, but that doesn't make alcoholism OK.
  15. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    My 2 cents worth

    Religious people believe in magic which works outside of the physics of the Universe and while they are clueless about how the magic works (and can't produce examples) they are sure the magician, and the result produced, exist just for them

    Scientists believe they know most of the physics of the Universe with no magic required, and are clueless why religious people think magic is required to fill in the unknown physics and why religious people believe the Universe was made just for them

    I might have a 3rd cent to add but now it is time for coffee

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  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I addressed a similar question before.

    I have one test for god(s): is it supernatural? Yes? Then I am skeptical. Skeptical enough to refuse to accept it without extraordinary evidence.

    Do I need to read his curriculum vitae? Must I know his eye colour?

    The point here is: there are some cases where you don't actually need to know a lot about something to have a high degree of confidence that it is false.
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  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    And if that's your only concern, then, yeah, that's your only concern.

    His CV? His eye color? Okay, do you require that I must think so poorly of your critical skills? Or perhaps this is an important point of contention: Why does it matter that there is a high degree of confidence that something is false?

    And here's the thing with that last: Is it running around in circles? Are we back to that impotent whining about people forcing beliefs onto others? That is, is it important because that falsehood has living impact?

    Because, honestly: CV? Eye color? Yeah, I hear you clearly enough despite the muffled voice; come out from under your bridge.

    I don't know, maybe understanding why something is happening might be a little more important to the living impact of falsehood than screeching for the sake of self-satisfying cacophony. I mean, I could be wrong about that, but whatever. You would know best, right? Maybe some day it would be worth your time to tell people instead of play silly games about it.

    No, really: CV? Eye color. Honestly, would you simply prefer I not take you seriously on these subjects.

    The simple fact is that you don't have a clue what you're criticizing.

    • • •​

    Excuse it?

    Is all you're concerned about judgment?

    No, really, is the self-satisfaction of pronouncing judgment your ultimate goal? Because it's true, actually knowing anything other than how to speak condemning words is not a prerequisite to such pronouncements.

    Think of it this way: People care enough to complain about religion, but they don't care enough to actually complain correctly.

    The way I see it is that at some point, bad ideas kill. The point isn't to excuse past damage, but to mitigate and hopefully someday even be able to prevent future harm.

    So those of you who are in this for lazy sport? Yeah, there's a reason why the rest of the world doesn't thank you.

    It's one thing to say you're not helping. Why, though, go out of your way to make things worse? Seriously, why not tell the alcoholic, "Why don't you just quit drinking? See? Simple solution, right there, buddy."

    You're not going to offend me by comparing delusional aspects of religion to alcoholism, but neither is your dearth of human compassion the sort of posture intended to provide any decent utility.

    And it's true, what actually makes your line even worse is that you don't even know why you're comparing religion to alcoholism other than perception of self-satisfaction. I mean, I get it, but you do know why alcoholism is a disease, right? Your fuck-all need for judgment becomes the problem.
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Of course there are deeply reasoned and intellectually respectable theistic points of view. But they are scarce in the big world, and will be vanishingly rare on a science forum - most responses to theistic stuff here will be responding to troll level fundamentalist Christianity being used as a political tool.

    Which is something to remember about the shallow-affect smart-Alec brand of public atheist, as well, the Mahers and Dawkins's and so forth: they are dealing with the bulk of theistic belief as it walks and talks and has its being in the big world. They aren't dealing with the .1%.

    And none of them are getting in between anyone and their neighbors.
  19. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes it is characterised as a disease but only to allow it to fall under the medical system for treatment (so they get funded) and not the social realm which is a bit wishy-washy treatment wise (with their funding)

    It should be social even though medical has a better track record of better help

    In very simple terms it is a repeating self inflicted injury

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  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I'd forgotten what engaging with you is like. It's not a discussion, it's poo-flinging.

    If you chase away responders, you don't have to give consideration to opposing views. That's working out well for you.

    So I've deleted my considered responses. Carry on.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  21. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Only if I'm judging myself to be a success in convincing someone to give up their faith. I view this effort as a compassionate one.
    True, I usually try to understand their position and point out where I think they went wrong.
    Because under the guise of comfort, it's actually harmful to yourself and those around you? Maybe judging the actions of an alcoholic or merely the results of their alcohol use will cause them to do some soul searching.
  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Oh, come on, really? Let's take your response, your "opposing view"↑: The question, sir, is what do you know about what you criticize; your response, like other responders, is to duck that question.

    Look at your own words: "opposing views". You can't even answer the question. You're trying to change the subject. Give consideration to opposing views? How about give me something to work with.

    No, really. One asks a question, and gets evasions, excuses, and counterquestions. And, sure, they might all have their place, but the lack of any direct address of the question is not insignificant.

    I call bullshit; you didn't have any "considered responses". At least, you didn't have any that address the question. I mean, seriously, do you really expect me to believe the, "Sure, I tried evading before, but now that you've called out my evasion I'm not going to actually answer the question", bit?

    No, really, do you expect me to believe that?

    Honestly, the question is what you know about what you criticize.

    And holy shit, dude; it's not something smug like watching y'all writhe on hooks, or anything. It's actually kind of alarming.

    • • •​

    But do you actually do so, I mean, even try?

    And, yes, thank you for saying that, but no, I don't know if that "if" has anything to do with reality, or is just some fluff tossed in lieu of a smokescreen. I mean, sure, I get what you're after, but what the hell does anyone expect to accomplish along those lines if they insist on operating from blind ignorance?

    Years ago I started asking about this aspect in the context of the political-religious article of faith that there is no morality without God. I mean, sure, whatever, it's a really dumb, blind proposition, but that's just it, in all these years I've heard about morality and ethics, how there is no real morality, and so on, but never any proper answer to the accusation.

    And here's the thing about that: When you ask people to explain morality in the context of that conversion, the answer that atheism has nothing to say about such things because it is simply a statement that God doesn't exist takes on the appearance of a weird bias. That is to say: One rejects this proposition for being demonstrably irrational, but these other demonstrably irrational propositions are fair game.

    It's not actually an intellectual or philosophical argument at that point, but a supremacist political argument.

    Actually, I'm just going to go with the proposition that pointlessly haranguing the alcoholic for the sake of one's own satisfaction just isn't constructive.
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    And, actually, something about three or four threads driving my reaction.

    The underlying question is really simple: If that person is wrong, then why let them set the terms?

    The answer is pretty straightforward: Because it isn't about being right, but, rather, taking a piece out of someone else.

    Try this: So, an atheist lays down a demanding dualism, that there is either belief in God or not and there is no middle position. The problem with this is what that atheist means by "God". Trying to get that answer is an exercise in futility. The practical answer that the atheist has trouble explaining would seem to be that by "God", one means whatever any particular theist asserts. What eventually happens is that someone else steps in and offers the most obvious answer in the world: Let us go with this particular common meaning. And you know what's so great about that? Now we don't say, "No, that's not what I'm talking about", because we know what we're on about. Honestly, that's all we needed to know: What version of "God" are we talking about? But a new question does arise: Why did it require so much effort and someone else's intervention just to get to what really ought to be easily accessible?

    And when we're finally able to discuss the dualism, its advocate ... well, is apparently discouraged. Nonethelss, I stand by the assertion↗ that the atheistic political argument would do better to attend the psychoanalytic meaning of history than worrying about separating wheat from chaff.

    Shall we try another: There was a strange sense of detachment about an inquiry regarding the death of Christ, and one of the most obvious strange aspects is its utter disregard for believers. Thus, if one does not care why the people who think the death of Jesus Christ is important actually think it is important, then we might expect one would have difficulty understanding why the death of Jesus was important. And watching the discussion, we might note three or so themes; a couple people question the topic post↗ as a troll job, and there are others who are in on that point because they purport to recognize the troll under the sock. I linked to the post I did because the response is absolutely dysfunctional.

    But there is also a cat and mouse going on in that thread because, you know, whatever, any excuse, because it's not about being right, but, rather, taking a piece out of someone else.

    Round three: The fun here is that we're dealing with another sock puppet just babbling without a clue. Interestingly, and how do I put it gently ... I mean—I just don't understand how anyone could take that topic post seriously. (And, yes, including the idea that, sure, I can kind of guess why this or that religious person decided to jump in, but only generally, and puerility tops pride on the list of reasons.) Yet, people tried, and I don't mean in the good faith context of trying to settle an answer. This thread even features a version of my bit about how it isn't about being right or wrong↗.

    You want meaningless questions, well, there you go. It's an ongoing theme. As I said ... uh ... in the one including the absolutist dualism↗: Why would I let Kim Davis define God? If I want to argue about what Christianity is, says, or does, why would I let Kim Davis define God? Kim Davis thinks she can openly reject Christ while calling herself a Christian; why ever would I let her define God?


    And then there was a thread—I don't even want to touch it—that came right out and asked for the people the topic poster thought were wrong to say something in order that atheists might disdain it.


    Here is an act of faith: I'm smarter than that person over there because I am [this label] and he is [that label]; it is precisely inappropriate that you should doubt me or expect me to demonstrate that intelligence.

    It's kind of stupid, isn't it?

    Yet it is also the underlying praxis of certain attitudes around here. One way I put it along the way↗ is that while it is true two plus two does not equal three, neither does it equal ninety-seven.


    One of the practical risks of engaging these discussions is general detachment. Once upon a time I could be seen using the phrase, "conceptual integrity", largely because it suited me, but all it means is that bit where each part of your argument works with the rest of the argument. Like the bit with monotheists and free will; God quite suddenly develops finite boundaries that really get in the way of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence.

    The easy way around that problem is to just detach everything from everything else: This has nothing to do with or say about that.

    Our neighbor Spidergoat, for instance:

    It's hard to address this point directly because it is formulated so that any response can be said wrong. Presuming its most apparent meaning, though, we might ask why one aims to convince another to give up their faith. If it is an arbitrary exercise, then what does it have to do with anything? If it has some human concern, like, I don't know, religion screwing with human rights, and sometimes we might even point out that whether with guns and bombs or simple temper tantrums about medical research, religion can kill.

    That is to say, there are contexts in which this question of converting a religious person away from their faith is actually a serious proposition. At that point, some manner of rational historical criticism↑ is helpful.

    So here's a hook: I've asked a question of evangelical atheists in my circles for years, and just as I'm finding right now, the one thing I shouldn't expect are ... well, like your summary of your personal knowledge, hey, great, that's a start in the context of, yeah, at least that gives others some idea of some range of discussion to have. It is, in fact, the rarity of even that sketch that makes it stand out. It's not so much that atheists have to see religion just like I do, but there is this range of atheistic evangelism around me that seems to be making up religion as it goes, in order to have something to criticize. That is to say: If one might aim, as our neighbor suggests, to convince aomeone to radically alter their faith, then it might behoove the advocate to attend what that faith actually is instead of criticize a projection.

    Thus, if we might try a question: If one might aim to convince aomeone to radically alter their faith, how will the advocate help the convert address the psychological, including and especially the psychomoral, vacuum that occurs when we remove God from the matrix?

    A more basic explanation: God is the moral and organizational linchpin of that religious person's perception; once it is removed, things fall apart, and some surrogate structure or device is required to function in its place. One thing an atheistic advocate might try is to explain moral and ethical schemes based on more objective standards. And it's the damnedest thing; I have been told for years that this has nothing to do with atheism.

    The idea is interesting but, well, you know that mocking prayer about, Dear God, please save us from your followers? Yeah, you know, the idea is what it is, but the problem with it is atheists. If atheism is just that simple little statement about God not existing, then atheism is just that simple little statement about God not existing. Once the atheist attempts a critique based on that atheism, it is interacting with other things and cannot be reserved to a vacuum. The result really is the most obvious bullshit a provocateur aiming to discredit atheists could come up with on a half-second's worth of piss: I reject and criticize this [religious] irrationality, but not that other [nontheistic] irrationality.

    At the same time, I would expect that it's pretty clear that no, these people would not assert that it's wrong when justified by God but okay when, well, you know, that's just the way things are, and how nature works. That is, opposing stem cell research because that's what conservatives do and liberals are shite is no better an excuse than because God says so.

    I mean ... right?

    But the reservation of the critique to a vacuum unto itself is inherently fallacious; once that singular, reserved atheistic notion interacts with other ideas, it is accordingly dynamic. Give a man a fish? Teach a man to fish? How about starve him until he says what we want to hear in a manner that satisfies us? That's the thing; we don't know as long as the answer is to try to avoid the question. Functionally speaking, it means conversion or even persuasion and influence are just a façade, and it's all about taking a piece out of someone.

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