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Jerry Coyne - CFI Declares War On Atheist
Posted: 02 October 2010 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Ophelia Benson - 29 September 2010 11:58 AM

Michael

Hmm. Maybe CFI should just refresh everyone’s memory about the last para on the About page.

Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:

an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy

an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies

an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.

Emphasis added. Maybe CFI should become more aware that there is a raging backlash against atheism going on, and that the whole point of that is to stigmatize non-closeted nonbelief. Maybe that way people would write more carefully, and thus avoid saying things like what Shook said in his opening paragraph.

This is why I support CFI.  Thanks Ophelia.

I think the Shook piece overempasizes a nuanced part of the argument—one of the many reasons Christopher Hitchens can effectively debate theists is that he is indeed familiar with the religious arguments and can rebut them; likewise Dawkins.  To the extent that this was Shook’s point, it is valid—it is also true that to convince someone that what they think is wrong, it really helps to understand their perspective.

However, Shook’s essay can be viewed as saying the burden is on atheists to read all the religious tracts and rebut them one by one, or that God Exists Unless Proven Otherwise…. This is not true.  The burden is on the religious rationalists to listen to reason and consciously reconcile their beliefs with the lack of evidence. Atheists can help.

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Posted: 05 October 2010 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Jackson - 02 October 2010 04:12 AM
Ophelia Benson - 29 September 2010 11:58 AM

Michael

Hmm. Maybe CFI should just refresh everyone’s memory about the last para on the About page.

Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:

an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy

an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies

an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.

Emphasis added. Maybe CFI should become more aware that there is a raging backlash against atheism going on, and that the whole point of that is to stigmatize non-closeted nonbelief. Maybe that way people would write more carefully, and thus avoid saying things like what Shook said in his opening paragraph.

This is why I support CFI.  Thanks Ophelia.

I think the Shook piece overempasizes a nuanced part of the argument—one of the many reasons Christopher Hitchens can effectively debate theists is that he is indeed familiar with the religious arguments and can rebut them; likewise Dawkins.  To the extent that this was Shook’s point, it is valid—it is also true that to convince someone that what they think is wrong, it really helps to understand their perspective.

However, Shook’s essay can be viewed as saying the burden is on atheists to read all the religious tracts and rebut them one by one, or that God Exists Unless Proven Otherwise…. This is not true.  The burden is on the religious rationalists to listen to reason and consciously reconcile their beliefs with the lack of evidence. Atheists can help.

Unfortunately, as Free Thinkers are in the minority, we are faced with a situation where we must convince the majority (theists) that our objections are not an attempt to destroy society, but rather to introduce Reason and Truth. But this requires the introduction of a set of principles, values and reasons, in written form. Verbal arguments, however clear and indisputable are soon forgotten. How often do we hear the term “But it is written in the bible”?
This is why I proposed a major effort to compile a book or encyclopedia of “Virtues and Responsibilities in a Humanist Society”. A book which can compete with the various “holy books” on issues such as scientific truth, personal virtues and responsibilities which exist outside the framework of the “Holy Word”.  A book which can be referred to by Free Thinkers as ” But it is written” and can be used and cited in debate.
Thus no need for in-depth knowledge of every book written. We only need One book that covers most of it.
It has been said before that if one wants to replace an entire social structure (based on religion) one must show a viable and functional replacement on which a more reasoned society can founded. Most people want some authoritative guidance in their personal life, so that they can make sense of it.

p.s. how often do we consult Wiki for clarification or citation. But that is mostly dry and impersonal.

[ Edited: 05 October 2010 11:41 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 05 October 2010 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Write4U - 05 October 2010 11:17 AM

Thus no need for in-depth knowledge of every book written. We only need One book that covers most of it.
It has been said before that if one wants to replace an entire social structure (based on religion) one must show a viable and functional replacement on which a more reasoned society can founded. Most people want some authoritative guidance in their personal life, so that they can make sense of it.

Likely how the Bible got started.  grin

Just usually easier to get by-in from the public if you envoke the name of a deity.

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Posted: 05 October 2010 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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Gnostikosis - 05 October 2010 11:49 AM
Write4U - 05 October 2010 11:17 AM

Thus no need for in-depth knowledge of every book written. We only need One book that covers most of it.
It has been said before that if one wants to replace an entire social structure (based on religion) one must show a viable and functional replacement on which a more reasoned society can founded. Most people want some authoritative guidance in their personal life, so that they can make sense of it.

Likely how the Bible got started.  grin

Just usually easier to get by-in from the public if you envoke the name of a deity.

True, it removes responsibility from the believer. But as Evolution (a consensus finding of 99.9% of authoritative scientists) now has become acceptable in theist circles, replacing the myth of instantaneous Creation of homo sapiens, without much controversy.
In the past, those scientists would have been burned at the stake. That proves it can be done, but will take patience and preferably a Book of consensus knowledge, disproving the myths or clarifying the allegories contained in the holy books, while recognizing the common values espoused therein. As you correctly inferred, replacing Biblical Theist philosophy with Rational Humanist philosophy will take a long time and a “concerted effort”.

[ Edited: 05 October 2010 02:43 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 05 October 2010 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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That’s assuming nothing happens to derail the “rational” future you invision.

I don’t think man has that much control that he can determine the future. I don’t think it’s going to be what anybody expects.

I don’t think the people who wrote the Bible expected or intended Christianity.

The truth of such a book doesn’t matter as much as people’s perceptions of it. I’m not sure that we can really control people’s perceptions.

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Posted: 05 October 2010 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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Gnostikosis - 05 October 2010 04:38 PM

That’s assuming nothing happens to derail the “rational” future you invision.
I don’t think man has that much control that he can determine the future. I don’t think it’s going to be what anybody expects.
I don’t think the people who wrote the Bible expected or intended Christianity.
The truth of such a book doesn’t matter as much as people’s perceptions of it. I’m not sure that we can really control people’s perceptions.

I agree with that observation and that something very drastic has to happen before people will come to their senses. The way things are developing now I am afraid that such an event is in the near future. But it would be good to prepare for such an event and in the aftermath have a philosophical foundation prepared and ready to offer as a sane and workable solution to the survivors.
A post apocalyptic blue-print, if you will.

[ Edited: 05 October 2010 05:20 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 06 October 2010 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Write4U - 05 October 2010 05:14 PM
Gnostikosis - 05 October 2010 04:38 PM

That’s assuming nothing happens to derail the “rational” future you invision.
I don’t think man has that much control that he can determine the future. I don’t think it’s going to be what anybody expects.
I don’t think the people who wrote the Bible expected or intended Christianity.
The truth of such a book doesn’t matter as much as people’s perceptions of it. I’m not sure that we can really control people’s perceptions.

I agree with that observation and that something very drastic has to happen before people will come to their senses. The way things are developing now I am afraid that such an event is in the near future. But it would be good to prepare for such an event and in the aftermath have a philosophical foundation prepared and ready to offer as a sane and workable solution to the survivors.
A post apocalyptic blue-print, if you will.

I am of the opinion that the multitudes are led by myths and legends. At least more so then practical rational thought. I often wonder if someone like Moses was an atheist who created a God for his people to follow.

So I don’t question the noble intent of your undertaking I question the practical effectiveness of it. The trick of changing on a large scale the mental perception people have of truth is going to take more then a book I think, regardless of how well written. However that is no reason not to write it.

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Posted: 06 October 2010 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Gnostikosis - 06 October 2010 11:19 AM
Write4U - 05 October 2010 05:14 PM
Gnostikosis - 05 October 2010 04:38 PM

That’s assuming nothing happens to derail the “rational” future you invision.
I don’t think man has that much control that he can determine the future. I don’t think it’s going to be what anybody expects.
I don’t think the people who wrote the Bible expected or intended Christianity.
The truth of such a book doesn’t matter as much as people’s perceptions of it. I’m not sure that we can really control people’s perceptions.

I agree with that observation and that something very drastic has to happen before people will come to their senses. The way things are developing now I am afraid that such an event is in the near future. But it would be good to prepare for such an event and in the aftermath have a philosophical foundation prepared and ready to offer as a sane and workable solution to the survivors.
A post apocalyptic blue-print, if you will.

I am of the opinion that the multitudes are led by myths and legends. At least more so then practical rational thought. I often wonder if someone like Moses was an atheist who created a God for his people to follow.

So I don’t question the noble intent of your undertaking I question the practical effectiveness of it. The trick of changing on a large scale the mental perception people have of truth is going to take more then a book I think, regardless of how well written. However that is no reason not to write it.

I’ll admit that to replace God (the unseen hand) would take patience, but then it took Christianity and the other religions many years to percolate through society as well and that was in an era of ignorance. I believe with the more recently acquired scientific knowledge and modern tools of communication it would take considerably less time to spread the message of Reason. After all, the old multiple gods were replaced by one single god, which shows that gods can be replaced.

Such a Book could contain the explanation that the “hearing the voice of god” is in fact “the person’s internal voice”. It is a well documented medical fact that we speak to ourselves, we answer ourselves, we chide ourselves, we even debate with ourselves. None of these thought processes are from an external source but by an internal process. Here of course is were a consensus medical conclusion would lend weight to the argument.
Thus all the obvious questions and citations of the bible or of a “holy” individual can be rationally explained (without disputing the moral truths of that message). This would be the purpose of writing the book to begin with, to offer a reasoned explanation of the message and messenger, without destroying the beneficial values contained in the message. This is how christianity replaced the ancient gods.
Unless we (Rational Thinkers) make our (good) message known, the majority (Theists) will continue to be dominant and be able to refer to Atheists, etc, as the “devil”, the destroyer of ALL things that are good.

[ Edited: 06 October 2010 12:27 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 07 October 2010 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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Write4U - 06 October 2010 12:25 PM

Such a Book could contain the explanation that the “hearing the voice of god” is in fact “the person’s internal voice”. It is a well documented medical fact that we speak to ourselves, we answer ourselves, we chide ourselves, we even debate with ourselves. None of these thought processes are from an external source but by an internal process. Here of course is were a consensus medical conclusion would lend weight to the argument.
Thus all the obvious questions and citations of the bible or of a “holy” individual can be rationally explained (without disputing the moral truths of that message). This would be the purpose of writing the book to begin with, to offer a reasoned explanation of the message and messenger, without destroying the beneficial values contained in the message. This is how christianity replaced the ancient gods.

I have to disagree here, because I think there is an assumption of an answer here without having any experience with the phenomenon. Hearing a voice, having an internal debate is all something I’m aware occurs. None of it explains the “supernatural” experience some people experience. There maybe a different explanation for such experiences however the “inner voice” doesn’t cover it.

Not that my disagreement means anything, however just understand that some number of people will find the explanation insufficent.

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Posted: 07 October 2010 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Gnostikosis - 07 October 2010 09:45 AM
Write4U - 06 October 2010 12:25 PM

Such a Book could contain the explanation that the “hearing the voice of god” is in fact “the person’s internal voice”. It is a well documented medical fact that we speak to ourselves, we answer ourselves, we chide ourselves, we even debate with ourselves. None of these thought processes are from an external source but by an internal process. Here of course is were a consensus medical conclusion would lend weight to the argument.
Thus all the obvious questions and citations of the bible or of a “holy” individual can be rationally explained (without disputing the moral truths of that message). This would be the purpose of writing the book to begin with, to offer a reasoned explanation of the message and messenger, without destroying the beneficial values contained in the message. This is how christianity replaced the ancient gods.

I have to disagree here, because I think there is an assumption of an answer here without having any experience with the phenomenon. Hearing a voice, having an internal debate is all something I’m aware occurs. None of it explains the “supernatural” experience some people experience. There maybe a different explanation for such experiences however the “inner voice” doesn’t cover it.

Not that my disagreement means anything, however just understand that some number of people will find the explanation insufficent.

Explain “supernatural”. It means something we cannot explain in our own limited experience and to religious people this would be ascribed to the voice of god. I call it mass hysteria. I have personally experienced and witnessed “supernatural” forces at work, except I did not ascribe the experience to “the voice of God”.
This is why a consensus medical explanation is a necessary inclusion in explaining the “apparent supernatural” experience.

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Posted: 07 October 2010 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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Write4U - 07 October 2010 03:28 PM

Explain “supernatural”. It means something we cannot explain in our own limited experience and to religious people this would be ascribed to the voice of god. I call it mass hysteria. I have personally experienced and witnessed “supernatural” forces at work, except I did not ascribe the experience to “the voice of God”.
This is why a consensus medical explanation is a necessary inclusion in explaining the “apparent supernatural” experience.

In this case I use this definition….
not of natural world: relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws

Sure, some explain such experiences according to some religious belief because of their religious upbringing and because a particular religion has a ready explanation it re-inforces the religious belief.

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Posted: 07 October 2010 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Gnostikosis - 07 October 2010 04:36 PM
Write4U - 07 October 2010 03:28 PM

Explain “supernatural”. It means something we cannot explain in our own limited experience and to religious people this would be ascribed to the voice of god. I call it mass hysteria. I have personally experienced and witnessed “supernatural” forces at work, except I did not ascribe the experience to “the voice of God”.
This is why a consensus medical explanation is a necessary inclusion in explaining the “apparent supernatural” experience.

In this case I use this definition….
not of natural world: relating to or attributed to phenomena that cannot be explained by natural laws

Sure, some explain such experiences according to some religious belief because of their religious upbringing and because a particular religion has a ready explanation it re-inforces the religious belief.

Explained by whom? The theist child will be given an explanation. “It was the voice of god”. Unless this is countered with a conscensus conclusion of people who can indeed explain certain supposedly “supernatural” experiences, and can indeed be ascribed to an internal conversation with oneself.

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Posted: 07 October 2010 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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Question: What is the pitch and timbre of god’s voice?
Presumably this could be verified by those theists who “hear” the voice of god, but if this voice proved to be a subjective experience and differed from person to person, that might empower people to think for themselves as to the meaning of a relativistic experience and not blindly accept what they perceive, but question the reliability of that “supernatural” experience, and contemplate on this “internal conversation” (at several levels of the brain processes).

[ Edited: 07 October 2010 10:12 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 08 October 2010 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Write4U - 07 October 2010 10:02 PM

Question: What is the pitch and timbre of god’s voice?.

Because ‘god’ is a supernatural being, he can pitch his voice anyway he likes, he would most likely construct ‘his’ voice in a manner most ‘comforting’ to the person he is communicating with.
That is not a good question. Any theist can construct an answer such as the one I just gave, to explain why ‘god’ sounds different to every listener. smirk

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Posted: 08 October 2010 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Write4U - 07 October 2010 10:02 PM

Question: What is the pitch and timbre of god’s voice?
Presumably this could be verified by those theists who “hear” the voice of god, but if this voice proved to be a subjective experience and differed from person to person, that might empower people to think for themselves as to the meaning of a relativistic experience and not blindly accept what they perceive, but question the reliability of that “supernatural” experience, and contemplate on this “internal conversation” (at several levels of the brain processes).

Not everyone who has one of these “supernatural” experiences hears a voice. So I’m just trying to get away from the assumption that an “internal conversation” is necessarily a part of the experience.

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