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Satanism and CFI
Posted: 12 August 2007 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Absolutely! grin

For the second and third, most people agree on the meaning of the word, they just use different criteria to establish whether a particular phenomenon meets the definition. As for “scientific,” that’s tougher. Ultimately, I think the concept is what is usually at issue, more than the word itself, and people apply the word based on whatever concept they hold of science, even if it is mistaken. But part of the reason reference to dictionaries can’t be used to solve meaningful disagreements about language is that meaning isn’t uniform or static; it doesn’t reside in the dictionary but in the patterns of use. That’s why I added the caveat that the “true” meaning of a word may not exist. But if a large majority of average-educated native speakers of English decided that “proof” meant “what God told me in my dream last night,” well that’s what it would mean and we rationalists would have to go looking for another word to use for what we mean by it, or try to reclaim the word for our concept of it.

The issue of staking out a position on what a word “should” mean and then trying to bring others around is a fascinating one. The recent symbolic burying of “the N-word” is a great example of the power words have and how important it is to people to control their meaning. I do think that groups can influence the popular understanding of what words mean over time, but I think there is also a great deal of inertia in the language, as well as spontaneous mutations in meaning that are uncontrollable. And I still think any such effort has to begin with an honest assessment of what the word means to the culture at large right now, and then a process of redefining it. Simply arguing that anyone who uses the word differently, even if it is a large proportion of the population, is wrong and ignorant isn’t sufficient.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 05:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 06:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Well, I wouldn’t say vox populi=vox Dei, since there’s no such thiing. But if you’re trying to say that the meaning of words doesn’t derive from their common usage, I disagree. If you’re trying to say something else, then my Latin isn’t adequate to figure out what.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 August 2007 03:54 PM

. . . you seem to think that only the narrow-minded and ignorant would find the word troublesome, and I just think that judgement is a bit unfair. I accept that Mr. Gilmore means to use the word as he has defined it, so my objections to his point of view have nothing to do with fear of devil worship. I just think it’s naive to assume people discovering CFI through POI are going to hear what you hear in the word.

As for the PR issue, it was you who suggested it as one of many reasons for not permitting the masturbation discussion (though you attributed the concern to “some colleagues”), which is why I suggested there might be some hypocrisy in dismissing it now. At the time I thought it was a bit inconsistent with the notion of free inquiry to worry about misperception, so I am a bit chagrined to find myself today wondering if would be smarter for PR reasons to avoid associating CFI with the Church of Satan. . . .

. . . But your defense of the interview still seems dismissive of any legitimacy to concerns about it (“hand-wringing,” “ignorance” of what the word Satanism means, “fear” of negative PR). . . I just found your response itself a little less than open to different points of view.

I submit that the man wanting to debate his reasons for his sexual activity with his child on this discussion forum (which was decided to be outside the forum’s scope) is not the same thing as one kind of atheism (controversial or misunderstood as it is) being explored on a radio show and podcast that often treats such topics.

I do defend our decision to have the high priest of the church of satan on point of inquiry, and I did realize some might object to potentially negative PR or troublesome associations with the word “satanism” (comments mentioned before I chimed in on this thread show this). But I certainly don’t want to dismiss any of that concern, and am open to other points of view about this (heck, I set up this forum in part to provide a place for people to express these heights of emotion about the interviews i do, and I appreciate ohiodoc being so open about his getting “furious,” etc.).

Nonetheless, I do submit that there is misunderstanding of what “satanism” is, just as there is widespread misunderstanding of what “atheism” is. But the fact that most people will hear “satanism” and think something other than what gilmore espouses doesnt keep me from exploring the topic —i’d argue that the common misunderstanding of atheism is no good reason to not talk about atheism, even if some well-meaning humanists suggest we shy away from exploring atheism because it might put humanism in a bad light, just as some well meaning atheists suggest we not talk about satanism for fear of putting atheism in a bad light.

As for concern about cfi being associated with the church of satan, see my comments above about similar concern regarding our marxist/humanist and other dialogues in the past.

All in all, I dont see you and me disagreeing much, except about how interesting the interview was. If we ever get stan lee on to explore his kind of secular humanism (something i’m really looking forward to if it ever happens), or someone like bishop john spong to talk about his skeptical religion, and “jesus for nonbelievers,” or certain hollywood celebrities we’ve been in touch with, I imagine some listeners might get up in arms, since they might prefer a different choice of guest. But even I dont like every guest on Charlie Rose or Jon Stewart. And I probably dont need to say that we dont choose guests on poi based on a popularity contest but based on our judgements on who has something important to say on our topics of interest.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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I really can’t see how anyone would have a problem with the church of satan being interviewed. I would laugh at them as people and consider them pretty much the same fetish thing as vampire cults, but disbar them from the CFI podcasts? Why?  This is Point of Inquiry after all.  I always used to carry out any devil worship rituals as a kid when people told me about them, because I never thought they’d work.  What used to amuse me was the way these people would tell me a “frightening” tale about someone having died in their sleep or contacted the devil or whatever and then when I started doing what they’d said in the tale they would start all of this : “No! You don’t understand what you’re messing with”.  I would say to them that they didn’t but that I sure as hell knew exactly what mirrors, black candles and words could do.  I would say my little experiments were free enquiry and I further developed them (when I reached sixth form) as an unbeliever test (i.e. I would start performing a satanic ritual in front of whoever had just told me they didn’t believe in the supernatural and see if they stayed around or ran off).  I think the church of satan proves that practicing devil worship doesn’t make anything bad happen and just shows one more piece of nonsense up for what it is. I don’t have a problem with offending other people’s silly beliefs - religious, superstitious or just general. They’re free to laugh at mine too.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 09:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Well, instead of furious I should have said disgusted, nauseated or extremely disappointed.

May I ask what is the correct definition of “Satanism”?

I am totally confused, now the topic is objectivism? Was Ayn Rand a “Satanist” if we follow that line of reasoning? rolleyes

Can we do Forum polls? I would like to know how this audience really feels about this “issue”.

Can a person really claim being a “Satanist” at the same time claiming to be an atheist? Bill never inhaled, “never had sex with that woman..” ( she just gave him a BJ cool smile)

Public perception is reality for society. Secular Humanism already has a negative perception for most Americans, now CFI has offered loudspeaker to a “Satanic kook”!

Having the usual disclaimer may serve the lawyers, but I doubt that anybody browsing the web that loads the POI webpage will come out understanding that CFI is not a “Satanism” branch or vice-versa.

I guess that most people will not even listen to the podcast. Do you have the web statistics about how many hits POI received, how many downloaded the podcast or listened online?

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Posted: 12 August 2007 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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I personally love interviews like this week’s, or like the Dr. DeBUNKO interview (though I do like comics anyway…), which someone else mentioned as related.

What I find valuable about these interviews is that I get to hear about something very close to “normal” POI topics, but with a little more to them.  All of the other shows are fantastic.  I’m always able to determine what I agree or disagree with, and the most recent show was no different.

I’d never even given much thought to Satanism before this podcast; it just never occurred to me to research it.  Hearing this interview, then, was very beneficial.  There was enough overlap with the typical POI talk to make it relevant, and enough of a new and slightly different perspective to make it interesting.

I just want to voice my support for continuing to have the occasional guest who, when I see the podcast description, surprises me a little, and who, when I listen to the episode, makes me think about something new without disposing of the show’s general area of interest.

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Posted: 12 August 2007 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Let me preface this by repeating that I have no problem with DJ interviewing cultural competitors.

That said, thousands of people have been imprisoned, tortured, hanged and burned to death on the false Christian charge that they worshipped Satan. So it appears to me that giving modern-day Christians the incorrect idea that there are actual Satan worshippers either now or in the past is a foolish idea, or a joke in the poorest of taste.

It is even moreso when we realize that these supposed Satanists aren’t actually worshippers of Satan, but are actually pretty run-of-the-mill Nietzschean/Objectivist/Libertarians, of the sort one finds in virtually every high school classroom. Now, as I have said before, people are perfectly free to define terms how they see fit. However, we are also free to point out the silliness of those definitions, and this sort of Satanism is a very silly sort indeed. Comparing it to ‘atheism’ is about as wrongheaded as can be. Atheism is quite clear: an atheist is an a-theist, someone who does not believe in God. Although there is clear vagueness here about what counts as “God”, this sort of vagueness is precisely the same sort that infects all of language. In the main, if we say so-and-so is an atheist we all know what that means.

The same is true of saying so-and-so is a theist, or a Christian. A theist is someone who believes in, and worships, God. A Christian is someone who believes in the divinity of Christ. A Satanist is someone who believes in, and worships, Satan. I don’t see that making up misleading terminology here is to anyone’s benefit, except, frankly, to the benefit of those extremist Christians who want to foment evidence that Satanism is rampant in modern day America. It’s a childish exercise.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I have been listening to POI from the first episode and I cannot think of a single one that I did not love, including this one.

D.J. is an excellent interviewer and I find his style both engaging and thought provoking. I had not been exposed to satanism previously and had no idea what it might be about. I found Mr (Magus?) Gilmore equally engaging and quite a personable fellow. I was actually disappointed that DJ felt that he had to add extra emphasis to the usual disclaimer and wondered why he would do so considering what I perceived as the target audience for the show in general. Now I see why. And I am even more disappointed. Though no-longer in the POI podcast.

I thought that at the top of NecAsperaTerrent’s list of words should have been “Theory”, constantly, people who fight for the public acceptance of evolution have railed against the popular (mis-)conception of this word when applied to the sciences. But now I see that exact same sort of misconception being championed here in regards to satanism.

OhioDoc, while I respect your right to an opposing view, it seems that even though you listen to the podcast it seems you did not hear. The worship of satan as a supernatural entity was denied and there is nothing evil about the church. Also I’m sure you would find it as distasteful (or possibly amusing) to see satanists offering to help humanists discard their humanism as I found your (hopefully unintentional) condescending offer to help them discard satanism.

To be clear, I had no exposure to satanism before this podcast. However I found the concept intriguing and have been looking into it. I suspect that it is a little too theatrical for my taste, I am reclusive and shy by nature.

I look forward to many more stimulating interviews conducted by DJ, I am also looking into attending TAM6 next year and hope that DJ also does, it would be an honour to meet him.

Thank-you for your time to read this post, any offense is not intended.

Darcy Cowan
NZ resident.

[ Edited: 13 August 2007 05:47 AM by darcy.cowan ]
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Posted: 13 August 2007 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Probably this will be my last post on this topic, I don’t like futility exercises.

I probed another forum with this issue: http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?p=311833#311833

My point has not changed, CFI may be shooting itself on the foot.

I am still appalled about the satanic mass in CFI West, maybe they also had crystals and a feng shui designer. Do they offer colonics too? tongue laugh

I probably will continue to listen, if I don’t like the podcasts I’ll spend my time in a different endeavor.

I will try to get directly involved with CFINO, pursue the war against woo and theatrical antics at the “grass root” level; make sure that CFINO never allows public displays of kooky nonsense that can be associated with CFINO.

I can only hope that CFI does the same.

I will have to remain a closet agnostic/non-theist as long as Society does not understand my position and organized groups do not help improve the public perception of disbelief.

I wonder what would be Dr. J. Miller’s opinion on this matter?

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Posted: 13 August 2007 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Are we to be in favor of only nearly free inquiry? [/quote}
Or are we to accept uncritically any and all points of view as equal? I find it disappointing that the critiques that have been made of the Satanist message, and the concerns about how this message might be confused with, and impede the message of CFI and CSH, are being repeatedly dismissed as ignorant, narrow-minded, or an attempt to stifle inquiry. Several of us, myself and Doug for example, have stated clearly that we have no interest in censoring the episode, but that we find the ideas presented by Mr. Gilmore at odds with values that we espouse and that we see as important to the mission of CFI, that we find his use of the term Satanism either naive or outright disingenuous, and that we approve of separating his agenda and point of view clearly from that of CFI and CSH. These are, I think, fair and reasonable criticisms. You may answer them if you disagree, and we can either come to agreement or agree to differ. But it is not consistent with the spirit of free and critical/skeptical inquiry to assume such responses are motivated by only ignorance, prejudice, or a desire to limit free thought.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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mckenzievmd - 13 August 2007 11:46 AM

Are we to be in favor of only nearly free inquiry?
Or are we to accept uncritically any and all points of view as equal? I find it disappointing that the critiques that have been made of the Satanist message, and the concerns about how this message might be confused with, and impede the message of CFI and CSH, are being repeatedly dismissed as ignorant, narrow-minded, or an attempt to stifle inquiry. Several of us, myself and Doug for example, have stated clearly that we have no interest in censoring the episode, but that we find the ideas presented by Mr. Gilmore at odds with values that we espouse and that we see as important to the mission of CFI, that we find his use of the term Satanism either naive or outright disingenuous, and that we approve of separating his agenda and point of view clearly from that of CFI and CSH. These are, I think, fair and reasonable criticisms. You may answer them if you disagree, and we can either come to agreement or agree to differ. But it is not consistent with the spirit of free and critical/skeptical inquiry to assume such responses are motivated by only ignorance, prejudice, or a desire to limit free thought.

No one should dismiss any of that concern you have, and everyone should be open to other points of view about this (again, I set set up this forum in part to provide a place for people to express their opinions about the episodes). But people are ignorant of what Gilmore’s satanism is—to say so is not to dismiss the concern, but to name it. If someone fears association with the devil-worshippers, they show a lack of understanding of what religion scholars and satanists alike would call “satanism.” And some have actually called for deleting the episode, etc. To some, this might well fall within the category of “limiting freethought.”  Others have said they will find it impossible to ever listen to POI again, or to recommend it. As knee-jerky as this is, it is understandable, considering where people are coming from. To challenge these perspectives isnt the same thing as dismissing them. A lot of people will refuse to listen to POI because it sometimes explores atheism. We allhave different comfort levels when we confront fundamental beliefs in our society.

But to repeat: Yes, there is misunderstanding of and ignorance about what “satanism” is, just as there is widespread misunderstanding of what “atheism” is. But the fact that most people will hear “satanism” and think something other than what gilmore espouses doesnt keep me from exploring the topic —i’d argue that the common misunderstanding of atheism is no good reason to not talk about atheism, even if some well-meaning humanists suggest we shy away from exploring atheism because it might put humanism in a bad light, just as some well meaning atheists suggest we not talk about satanism for fear of putting atheism in a bad light.

Freethought and atheism, and even secular humanism, share a long tradition of being adversarial to the overly credulous culture. In that way we have similarities with the Satanists. Of course, as has been said before, we disagree on fundamental ethical questions, but that disagreement is fruitful to explore. As for negative PR, these are discussions our community and its organizers should continue having, not only with Satanists, but with brights, the new humanists, the new atheists, and the parody churches who seek to puncture the pretentions of organized religion in America.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Perhaps it is a regional difference.

The take I got on Mr. Gilmore’s interview was that his Church of Satan was a tongue-in-cheek jibe against Christianity. And that it had a philosophy that did not involve worship of “Satan” since there is no such being. My impression was that Church of Satan was sort of an in your face version of Pastafarianism.

But in my part of the country you’re not going to find a bevy of experts on comparative religion. You can find bushels and barrels of fundamentalists and born again snake handlers who believe in an actual and real Satan as much as they believe in a personal Jesus. In the mind of the general populace Satanists are people who worship Satan. These people hold public office, teach in the schools, man the police department and sit in judgement in the courts. Ask the West Memphis Three about it. I have not had my house burned down for being an atheist, but if were to announce myself to be a Satanist I would be checking the batteries in the smoke detector nightly and under my car for brake fluid every morning.

Maybe the subject matter is a hotter topic depending on what area of the country you are accustomed to. The deep south is a different world.

Having said that, I listened to the interview and I found it interesting. I do not agree that it should be removed. Removing it would be a kind of admission that the subject was taboo and too controversial to be appropriate. It’s part of the record now. It should remain.

I like that it fomented discussion but I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as past interviews. This interview didn’t live up to the ones I’ve enjoyed hearing in the past. He wasn’t ignorant or uninformed, but I was not inspired by him as I have been by Ann Durian, Joe Nickell or Tawfik Hamid. My opinion is that it was more a more “sensational” subject and that the interview is here mostly on that merit.

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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dougsmith - 12 August 2007 11:51 PM

, but are actually pretty run-of-the-mill Nietzschean/Objectivist/Libertarians, of the sort one finds in virtually every high school classroom.

I didn’t finish listening the podcast, but I found what you say. I don’t find much value in objetivism, I feel the attempt to reduce ‘ration’ to the self interest in the sort term (almost limited to an accounting view) is a cheat and misses a lot of thinks which are particulary true in the kind of hughe and complex society in which we live in. Moreover, if we were going to slip in this kind of arguments (much in the way of social darwinism), I don’t find why we should stop on physical violence. 

Regarding to latin phrases, I love this one:

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur

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Posted: 13 August 2007 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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objectivism is a philosophical attempt to justify selfishness and exploitation. its like socialism, but only for predatory capitalisthiests! (yes, you got that right: capitaltheism. capitaltheists serve a god called Market.)

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