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Chris Hedges - I Don’t Believe in Atheists (merged)
Posted: 05 May 2008 04:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Point is, that Harris does not advocate bombing the Middle East. He calls it “an unthinkable crime.” He’s merely worrying that the Western world may be forced into that situation.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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OhioDoc - 05 May 2008 04:16 AM

Nagasaki and Hiroshima…

Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

If we have different labels and reasons, does it make the final action different?

I’m with you, Ohio. Now, I understand that Harris does not want bombing, but he does say things that might lead those, like the current abministration (sic), to believe it is the right thing to do - and I’m sure god will lead his bush into temptation.
BUT I DIGRESS - as many here have done.

Regarding the interview - just the interview, was there anything that was said that is objectively wrong?

Ohio - I did watch all of the videos you were kind enough to list. I enjoyed them very much and I appreciate your listing them, but I did not see how they related to Hedges. Even the speach by Hedges was largely just a b-slap of the current abministration, and I tend to agree with people doing that.

I’m fairly sure that I am of like mind of those posting here - but can someone catch me up to objective reasons why Hedges is so bad?

Still trying to learn.

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(Atheists are myth understood)

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Posted: 05 May 2008 05:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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hasheesh - 05 May 2008 01:46 AM

take for example the opposition from atheist community to the idea that students should be able to choose which theory of creation they want to believe in for themselves in the classroom. I believe in evolution but I wouldn’t want it to be force fed to my kids like it was to me where I knew any questioning from me would result in ridicule or hostility. maybe there is another perfectly explainable theory of how we arrived on Earth other then evolution or the religious theories.

evolution has some gaps which most atheists prefer to jump with a leap of faith. It just annoys me how darwin has become a prophet with blind , rigid followers just like other religious institutions trying to prove their point even if it means joining humans skulls with monkey jawbones. and there is this undeniable superiority complex I detect when talking to atheists who are so sure they belong to a higher IQ level of humanity and it’s their job to save humanity from religious savages.

I didn’t allow religion to tell me how to think why should I let atheism do that

Hi Hasheesh. I think that very often one person’s ridicule and hostility is another person’s “telling it like it is.”  Whether another person is rude or not does not say anything about the truth claims he or she is making. It may only indicate naivete about how to best get people to listen to one’s point of view ... or it may be an intentional strategy to motivate people.

For someone who believes in evolution, you bring up points that more often I hear from creationists ... but that’s off topic for this thread.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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hasheesh - 05 May 2008 01:46 AM

take for example the opposition from atheist community to the idea that students should be able to choose which theory of creation they want to believe in for themselves in the classroom. I believe in evolution but I wouldn’t want it to be force fed to my kids like it was to me where I knew any questioning from me would result in ridicule or hostility. maybe there is another perfectly explainable theory of how we arrived on Earth other then evolution or the religious theories.

evolution has some gaps which most atheists prefer to jump with a leap of faith. It just annoys me how darwin has become a prophet with blind , rigid followers just like other religious institutions trying to prove their point even if it means joining humans skulls with monkey jawbones. and there is this undeniable superiority complex I detect when talking to atheists who are so sure they belong to a higher IQ level of humanity and it’s their job to save humanity from religious savages.

I didn’t allow religion to tell me how to think why should I let atheism do that

1.  Not that it would justify a blatant superiority complex, but Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Dennet do belong to a higher IQ level than the vast majority of humanity.  I think that is obvious.

2.  I don’t see that evolutionists (including myself) jump gaps in the theory at all.  Evolutionists admit that the theory is not 100% perfect as it is but they know that the proper way to deal with that is continued study and inquiry.  Religious/creationist folk tend to seize upon any gap in E. theory and gleefully paper it over with God.

3.  Atheism is not going to tell you how to think man, not like religion tries to.  If you deny religion your punishment is clear: hell.  You can argue with an atheist until the cows come home and he’s never going to condemn you to a lake of fire for all eternity.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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the fact that Sam Harris thinks that a muslim nation upon acquiring long range missiles will not be able to resist firing them at a western nation tells me that he does not have any idea of public opinion and politics of muslim nations or their history. I cannot write anything to change this black and white view. just visit a muslim country if you get a chance.

about evolution.. I accept it as the theory most likely to be right one but until the gaps are filled I can’t close my mind to other possibilities.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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hasheesh - 05 May 2008 06:26 AM

the fact that Sam Harris thinks that a muslim nation upon acquiring long range missiles will not be able to resist firing them at a western nation tells me that he does not have any idea of public opinion and politics of muslim nations or their history. I cannot write anything to change this black and white view. just visit a muslim country if you get a chance.


I agree with you on that. I do think that Harris is not very well informed about the Muslim world compared to scholars like Scott Atran.

about evolution.. I accept it as the theory most likely to be right one but until the gaps are filled I can’t close my mind to other possibilities.

I feel the same way, though we might differ on the degree of confidence which we have in the theory.

Richard

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Posted: 05 May 2008 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Point is, that Harris does not advocate bombing the Middle East. He calls it “an unthinkable crime.” He’s merely worrying that the Western world may be forced into that situation.

I believe this is an accurate summary of Harris’ view (but not only his)... and captures the profound and even genocidal dimension to neo-con “clash of civilizations” racism.

The Western world might be ‘forced,’ you see, as Hillary Clinton argued this week, to ‘obliterate’ Iran in defense of Israel(!).

Why? It’s all the fault of Islam, which makes its adherents go ‘dewy eyed’ at the prospect of paradise. The poor Western imperialists will have ‘no choice’ but to ‘obliterate’ them preemptively!

How can any decent person fail to gag at the rancid, stinking imperialist racism that animates Harris, Hitchens and their supporters? Whatever else you can say of Hedges, he nails them dead to rights on this. It is very disturbing to see how much traction the neocon world-view has obtained among ‘secular humanists’. 

A couple of weeks ago I heard a podcast interview with one Andrew Thompson, an academic, holding forth on the ‘psychology of Muslim suicide bombers’... that really made me wonder to what extent government agencies like the CIA are actively targetting the secular/atheist/humanist community with pro-war disinformation/propaganda campaigns.

Something to keep in mind.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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I thought DJ Grothe did an excellent job in this interview, especially with Hedges continuous smugness and pomposity. It is one thing to disagree with the interviewer and challenge him quite another to cut off dialogue with his dismissals and unwillingness to follow the questions and develope an answer.
DJ, I thought had more than enough patience and showed a very professional side, which is a great deal more than I could say about Hedges.
I am interested in other viewpoints,but after that interview I’m hesitant to buy a Hedges book, maybe check it out at the library, but not willing to fill Hedges coffers.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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traveler - 05 May 2008 04:57 AM

Regarding the interview - just the interview, was there anything that was said that is objectively wrong? [...] I’m fairly sure that I am of like mind of those posting here - but can someone catch me up to objective reasons why Hedges is so bad?

For starters:  His assertion that the “new atheists” are racists is indefensible (he certainly provides no coherent defense of the slander) and the claim that Sam Harris advocates that we nuke the Middle East is flat-out wrong. Besides slander and misrepresentation. Another reason I would consider him to be “so bad”, is that he is hypocritical.

Hedges inaccurately lumps together all of the “new atheists” into one ideology.  Not only is such a lumping together wildly inaccurate (about the only ideological common ground that Daniel Dennet and Christopher Hitchens share is that they are both secularists) but it’s also hypocritical given his stance that the lumping together of all Islam by “new atheists” is disdainful. Moreover, Hedges arguments rely on hyperbola. More often than not, he ignores important distinctions in the arguments of those he would slander in favor of characterizing their positions in the most cartoonish fashion ... and once again, this is exactly the type of behavior that he condemns the “new atheists” for with regard to their attacks on Islam.

I listen to Sam Harris a lot. Here is one of the most important distinctions that Hedges misses;  it’s the distinction between dogma and religion. What Harris argues is that believing in things that are not true is a dangerous liability. Moreover, Harris argues that Religions in particular both encourage people to believe things on insufficient evidence and to assert those beliefs as fact (i.e. dogma). Dogma is at the crux of what Sam Harris is criticizing - “religion” is just one particularly problematic carrier and promoter of dogma. Harris would be among the first to say that dogma is not unique to religion:  Stalinism, Maoism, and Nazi-Fascism all relied on powerful ideological dogmas, but religious dogma, in Sam’s view, deserves special attention because in our liberal society, we insolate religious dogma from public criticism in a way that we do not protect others type of dogma (such as political dogma).

It’d be nice to know whether or not Hedges disagrees with THE ACTUAL arguments made by Sam Harris and on the issues what basis he disagrees. Dismissing Sam’s arguments as “utopian” does not even begin to address the issues.  Throughout this interview Hedges instead resorts to evasive hyperbola and scary-sounding polarizing characterizations.

[ Edited: 05 May 2008 08:08 AM by Riley ]
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Posted: 05 May 2008 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Balak - 05 May 2008 07:20 AM

Point is, that Harris does not advocate bombing the Middle East. He calls it “an unthinkable crime.” He’s merely worrying that the Western world may be forced into that situation.

I believe this is an accurate summary of Harris’ view (but not only his)... and captures the profound and even genocidal dimension to neo-con “clash of civilizations” racism.

The Western world might be ‘forced,’ you see, as Hillary Clinton argued this week, to ‘obliterate’ Iran in defense of Israel(!).

Why? It’s all the fault of Islam, which makes its adherents go ‘dewy eyed’ at the prospect of paradise. The poor Western imperialists will have ‘no choice’ but to ‘obliterate’ them preemptively!

How can any decent person fail to gag at the rancid, stinking imperialist racism that animates Harris, Hitchens and their supporters? Whatever else you can say of Hedges, he nails them dead to rights on this. It is very disturbing to see how much traction the neocon world-view has obtained among ‘secular humanists’. 

A couple of weeks ago I heard a podcast interview with one Andrew Thompson, an academic, holding forth on the ‘psychology of Muslim suicide bombers’... that really made me wonder to what extent government agencies like the CIA are actively targetting the secular/atheist/humanist community with pro-war disinformation/propaganda campaigns.

Something to keep in mind.

I still don’t see Harris making any moral justification for a Western nation bombing the Middle East. I also don’t see his statements as imperialist or racist. He’s just stating a likely scenario based on the present political climate. I have faulted Harris in the past for using the very same moral calculus in justifying the possibility of torture as Muslims (in the survey he cites) probably use for justifying the possibility of suicide bombing. If you ask someone if they can think of ANY scenario in which such behavior would be justified, most people can come up with some wildly improbable situation and so they answer yes on the survey (to either torture or suicide bombing). His point though was that people have a hard time thinking rationally about such options.

I do think that Harris’ rhetoric is certainly appealing to neocons, but I’m not so sure about placing him in that camp. I’m less familiar with Hitchens, but I suspect he falls squarely in that camp.  Dennett certainly not. Dennett is a outspoken liberal.

[ Edited: 05 May 2008 08:24 AM by rgill ]
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Posted: 05 May 2008 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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I’m a big fan of the podcast, but I thought DJ stepped on it in this one. Hedges seemed very reasonable. DJ attempted to erect one straw man after another and ignored Hedges’ specific points that justified his calling Hitches, Dawkins et al. as “fundamentalists”.

This was one of the first of the POI podcasts I’ve heard where the conventional POI wisdom was challenged. Judging by DJ’s (and some of the posters here), it sure looks like people don’t like their “articles of faith”—whether secular or religious—challenged.

I’ve listened to a lot of Dawkins in particular. I just don’t see how he justifies the leap from “science knows of no god” to “there (very probably) is no god”. I know a good many theists. Very few of them have problems with following science wherever it leads, and these people have no expectation that a god should be discoverable by science. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: they argue that the kind of transcendent god of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is, by nature, outside of creation.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Naturally this man Chris Hedges will attack the new atheists and call them fundamental,  because he is a moderate christian, he believes in the bible, what, a moderate version that has been cherry picked? and that is the issue that all the atheist authors have, that these texts need to be removed as being used as a guide and way of life and placed in the libraries, because they contain the parisite that lies in wait in the hands and minds of all moderates and can be ignited at anytime. This is the problem. As to the subject of sin, Chris Hedges says that freethinkers don’t acknowledge sin, this is strictly scriptural terminology and if he wanted to talk about sin, then how come he didn’t quote the bible, the wages of sin is death, eternal torture, so he believes in torture. I don’t care how much travelling he has done and seen all that he has at first hand, all the more reason why he should be dispensing with his mild moderate christian belief. And when DJ asked him what he thought the 10% american atheist/agnostic/freethinkers should do or how they should act, his answer was, introspection, not self elevation that he accuses atheist authors of, he is a hypocrite, if he is a christian likes he says he is, then he believes in the bible which is the most arrogant book ever written. He kept saying I should know, I’ve been everywhere and for decades, aren’t I wonderful, I should know, you don’t, he is very arrogant.  He is a fool.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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HH: I’m a big fan of the podcast, but I thought DJ stepped on it in this one. Hedges seemed very reasonable. DJ attempted to erect one straw man after another and ignored Hedges’ specific points that justified his calling Hitches, Dawkins et al. as “fundamentalists”.

This was one of the first of the POI podcasts I’ve heard where the conventional POI wisdom was challenged. Judging by DJ’s (and some of the posters here), it sure looks like people don’t like their “articles of faith”—whether secular or religious—challenged.

As one example, DJ several times returned to asking: ‘So anyone who disagrees with you is a fundamentalist?’ as if Hedges had not already answered it.

I agree, POI is to be comended for taking on Hedges, even at the expense of exposing some of the weak points of its own general approach.

Note how DJ was again left with nothing to say, when Hedges called out the anti-scientific nonsense of ‘memetics’. This essentially religious/idealist hobby horse not only dovetails with the pro-imperialist ‘clash of civilizations’ garbage, but has largely been given a free ride by skeptics for decades, without the slightest theoretical development or evidentiary support.

This also recalls Hedges’ distinction between respect for science as opposed to a ‘cult of science’ mentality, a topic I think could easily justify a whole interview of its own.

I’m all for skeptical mop-up operations against the post-modernism pushed by the muddle-headed academic remnants of the New Left. But let’s be materialist minded about this: the big money is surely finding its way into that wing of the Imperialist War Party that smuggles its racist contraband under the camouflage of secular humanism, democratic values and human rights. This is where the real fight for the heritage of Enlightenment rationalism needs to be waged.

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Posted: 05 May 2008 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Hal Helms - 05 May 2008 08:26 AM

I’ve listened to a lot of Dawkins in particular. I just don’t see how he justifies the leap from “science knows of no god” to “there (very probably) is no god”. ...  [theists] have no expectation that a god should be discoverable by science. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: they argue that the kind of transcendent god of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is, by nature, outside of creation.

Here’s your error: The god of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is not a transcendent god that exists outside of creation. The “God of the Bible” is a god that is (as described in the Bible) intricately involved and continually manipulating the mechanisms of the “creation” ...  this god answers prayers, sends messages, and delivers punishments in the form of floods. plagues, etc.  As such, it’s not just that the “God of the Bible” is not shown to exist by science, it’s that the “God of the Bible”  is at direct odds with science; i.e. it is at direct odds with the facts of the universe as revealed by science.

[ Edited: 05 May 2008 10:05 AM by Riley ]
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Posted: 05 May 2008 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Here’s your error: The god of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity is not a transcendent god that exists outside of creation. The “God of the Bible” is a god that is (as described in the Bible) intricately involved and continually manipulating the mechanisms of the “creation” ...  this god answers prayers, sends messages, and delivers punishments in the form of floods. plagues, etc.  As such, it’s not just that the “God of the Bible” is not shown to exist by science, it’s that the “God of the Bible”  is at direct odds with science; i.e. it is at direct odds with the facts of the universe as revealed by science.

I’m not seeing my error, I’m afraid. Christian dogma, at least, posits a god who exists outside of nature but who acts in time and space without inhabiting that time-space. If (BIG if!) that’s true, then

a. how is this god at direct odds with science?...and
b. how would we ever use the tools for probing the physical world to investigate this mysterious god?

Every time I hear one of the Big Atheists railing that God is antithetical to science, I scratch my head. I’m not arguing FOR a god—just that there can be no possibility of disproving something that exists outside of the only system we have. Not only can we neither prove nor disprove such a god’s existence, science itself has nothing to say on this subject.

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