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PZ Myers, Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Chris Mooney - New Atheism or Accommodation?
Posted: 15 October 2010 10:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]
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atomb - 15 October 2010 12:37 PM

Is it not obvious that we need the entire spectrum so that there is a voice to convince every type of person?

That’s the resolution I come to in thinking about this issue.

Chris Mooney made a point about research that suggested that the ‘soft’ way of argument was more effective.
I was ready to concede this as something worth looking at, but it’s surely just the weight of those participants who happen to have a personality which is inclined to be convinced by softness. Which may be a majority - but this doesn’t invalidate other modes of argument. There is surely a spectrum that needs to be covered.

I have known some people for whom it is much more appropriate to figuratively ‘slap’ them with argument to cock them into rethinking their position. Anything less than that and they keep getting these recurring wooly feelings that maybe they should start using crystal-healing and believing in wonder-gods.

I think PZ’s point goes beyond this though, and I think he would say ‘who cares’. If an idea is worthy of criticism, criticize it.
There’s no point in dancing around trying to use the right tactics to prevent hurting people’s feelings or running people up the wrong way. If you see a bad idea, you attack it in the way that your personality dictates, within reason. Regardless of who’s idea it is.

Furthermore, PZ’s point (I thought) was that by trying to tiptoe around people’s unsubstantiated/goofy/weird beliefs we’re partly ignoring the very problem we’re trying to solve. Do you really want to avoid criticizing magnetic-wonder-drugs while trying to convince a school-board that creationism shouldn’t be taught in a science class?

This sort of sneaky, double-standard seems more like a tactic of a used-car salesman.

[ Edited: 15 October 2010 11:20 PM by FurryMoses ]
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Posted: 16 October 2010 03:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]
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BlindWatcher - 15 October 2010 10:57 PM

....
Chris Mooney made a point about research that suggested that the ‘soft’ way of argument was more effective.

It certainly would seem to depend on what the point of the ‘argument’ is.

If he is trying to convince religous folks to vote Democratic, he doesn’t want to tick them off—he just wants their votes.
If he is trying to let them accept evolution in schools, he just wants them to accept evolution and doesn’t care about the other stuff.

But PZ and the new atheists in general want to assert that we need to run things without assuming that there is a God looking over us,
either fixing things if things get too bad, coming again in a rapture at the end of time, or rewarding folks with Heaven.  There is a fundamental
premise of the new atheists that we need to take care of this world for the future of mankind and that this is what matters.  This is
consistent with a “deist” view of God particularly if it also doesn’t include heaven (people who invoke “deism” as a defense for fuzzy atheism
are a little fuzzy on this point—I’m assuming deists think God has permanently checked out and is working on another universe somewhere)


Jackson

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Posted: 16 October 2010 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]
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If I could ask a scientist who adheres to mainstream religion anything, it would be, “How can your trust laboratory data if “God” intervenes in the natural world?  Do you consider a “God fudge factor” in statistical analysis of that data?”  Of course, Jennifer and Chris might see that as being a rude question.  I don’t care.  I want to know a scientist’s position on that question before I buy anything that he or she is selling as being a valid scientific conclusion.

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Posted: 16 October 2010 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]
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I was brought up with the same ideals as I used with my children: separate the issue from the person. Be hard on the issue and soft on the person. I like your honesty and disagree with the view that…. The statement that X is a nutty statement because…is at a different level of discourse from saying the other is a nutty person, or simply is nutty. How rational is it to use one statement on which to base a free personality diagnosis?

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Posted: 17 October 2010 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]
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There are far more people who gamble than there are people who are overtly religious. Nearly all of them justify gambling on ignorant and erroneous ideas about probability. And the state promotes it with bad logic and deliberate deception.
  More people subscribe to absurd and stupid erroneous thinking and harmful practices concerning medicine, health, and diet than attend church.
  We are supposed to grant a pass to minorities, the handicapped, and homosexuals for some outrageous lies and propaganda. Some of the most ancient and fundamental mores and attitudes of our culture are being transformed by the fallacious argument that the homosexual agenda is an equal rights issue. The absurd and brutal misconceptions of Marxism are still broadly taught and excused in our educational system. “Hate crimes” laws are thought crime laws but no one can or does decide what he is going to think or feel. We have laws and regulations intruding on every aspect of life: environmental, handicapped access, automotive gas mileage, open burning, hiring, work safety, educational, toilets, light bulbs, bottles and bottle caps, and thousands more, by legislators and bureaucrats with little knowledge and no concern for indirect and unforeseen consequences or even the actual basic operations of the laws of nature or economics involved, let alone optimizing marginal returns of benefit per dollar.
  I’m an atheist and I confront and debate Creationists because that is my competence. But religion is not all Creationism. It is far more sophisticated, benevolent and beneficial to society (despite grievous historical and lesser current sins), than political liberalism (despite important historical and lesser current beneficences). At least Christianity and Judaism are. Atheism, skepticism, and science are becoming whores for political liberalism which is much more consistently contrary and hostile to science and rationality and far more dangerous to life and well being than Christianity ever was.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]
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rg21 - 17 October 2010 06:19 AM

There are far more people who gamble than there are people who are overtly religious. Nearly all of them justify gambling on ignorant and erroneous ideas about probability. And the state promotes it with bad logic and deliberate deception.
  More people subscribe to absurd and stupid erroneous thinking and harmful practices concerning medicine, health, and diet than attend church.
  We are supposed to grant a pass to minorities, the handicapped, and homosexuals for some outrageous lies and propaganda. Some of the most ancient and fundamental mores and attitudes of our culture are being transformed by the fallacious argument that the homosexual agenda is an equal rights issue. The absurd and brutal misconceptions of Marxism are still broadly taught and excused in our educational system. “Hate crimes” laws are thought crime laws but no one can or does decide what he is going to think or feel. We have laws and regulations intruding on every aspect of life: environmental, handicapped access, automotive gas mileage, open burning, hiring, work safety, educational, toilets, light bulbs, bottles and bottle caps, and thousands more, by legislators and bureaucrats with little knowledge and no concern for indirect and unforeseen consequences or even the actual basic operations of the laws of nature or economics involved, let alone optimizing marginal returns of benefit per dollar.
  I’m an atheist and I confront and debate Creationists because that is my competence. But religion is not all Creationism. It is far more sophisticated, benevolent and beneficial to society (despite grievous historical and lesser current sins), than political liberalism (despite important historical and lesser current beneficences). At least Christianity and Judaism are. Atheism, skepticism, and science are becoming whores for political liberalism which is much more consistently contrary and hostile to science and rationality and far more dangerous to life and well being than Christianity ever was.

The reason most atheists are liberals is because conservatives are generally know-nothing ignorant racist homophobe hicks. I realize that’s a generalization, but I promise you it’s prevailing. It’s hard to be an atheist and at the same time be a know-nothing ignorant racist homophobe hick, but you pulled it off. Congratulations!

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Posted: 17 October 2010 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]
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Thank you Myers and Hecht for a wonderful podcast smile

I thoroughly enjoyed Myers and Hechts view point in spreading science. Being someone who was once a fundamental Christian and is now passionately enthralled with the scientific method, I found myself constantly applying the arguments to my ‘conversion’. While being a thoughtless soldier of fundamentalism I had encountered enough ‘angry’ atheist who merely strengthen my passion for credulity. Prior to my awakening to reality I was reading The God Delusion, and found myself laughing at the angry and childish tone Dawkins took. As Myers mentioned, the angry approach strengthens a person current belief, or at least in my case. Dawkins, Harris, and Myers style of promoting science was viewed as atheistic evangelism to me, and further my disdain for science. I actually felt a repulsion to evolution, and the angry atheist poured coals on this fire.

I had my beliefs crushed when my cousin, whom is no scientist, approached me in a kind manner. He did not bark and yell, he did not ridicule or belittle me, as the angry atheists do, and as a result I took him up on his challenge. There was no need for me to be defensive and I was forced to think out the issues instead of engage in a childish yelling match. Yelling the truth had never gotten through to me, but lovingly challenging me destroyed my fundamental foundations. For these reasons I find myself completely supporting Hecht and Mooney and seeing such tactics used by Myers to be useless.

I found it interesting when Myers distanced himself from such allies as Kennith Miller. I wonder if he will follow the argument where ever it leads him? After reading Hoods book ‘Supersense’ I have begun to realize how we all share the same roots of supernaturalism that is shared with religion. I found it interesting how he called out Dawkins for engaging in the supersense when he gives reverence to his copy of Origin of Species. Will Myers distance himself from Dawkins as he is clearly demonstrating an attribute of a behavior that is derived from the same stuff religion is derived from? I doubt it.

I also found the angry atheist attacked the weak. There is no glory in winning a battle when the person you were fighting is a child! I found Dawkins always went after the most extreme fundamental, and never the intelligent moderate. Why doesn’t Dawkins address arguments presented by the likes of John Polkinghorne or Owen Gingerich. Why is it that most angry atheist only go after the clueless creationists? The only angry atheist that made me think twice was Hitchens, and for me it was because he had original argument, and went after the giants instead of the pathetic.

Too me, it seems more that the angry atheists are on a crusade to have everyone think like them, even if it means them doing so without critical thinking. I find their agenda similar to fundamental evangelism. I have met a handful of people of have altered their views based on such books as The God Delusion, but they change their views whenever something new comes out and becomes mainstream. Is this lack of critical thinking truly a win for science? I think the human condition is prone to go with the flow, and few are truly critical. Let us be honest, the majority of fundamentals are ‘simple’ people, and I don’t think they think much about much, and merely go through life doing. Sure angry atheist can convert some of these people, but if they do so and those people are blindly following we should seriously consider the validity of the ‘win’. Will this lip service amount to any significant gain, I doubt it.

I believe a lot is at stake. I wasted my brains away for the first 30 years of my life. I have found a passion for science, but my fundamental roots have destroyed so much. I never took notice of science in school and find myself ignorant to so much that I want to know, but feel it is too late to pursue. I’d love to go back to university to learn more, but have a career and no extra time. It is as if a piece of my life is missing, and should have been there. I wonder how many fundamentals are out there that are unaware of a passion for science? I wonder how many of them will never see the light because the angry atheist get spotlight?

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Posted: 17 October 2010 04:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]
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Holly molly, this thread is still going strong. wow.

So whatchagonna-do for the election?
You know that one day out of 730 when your opinion matters?
Where is the rubber going to meet the road?
“faith-based”  or “rational”?
gotta moment?... http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/8711/

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We need each other, to keep ourselves honest

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Posted: 17 October 2010 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]
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I also found the angry atheist attacked the weak. There is no glory in winning a battle when the person you were fighting is a child! I found Dawkins always went after the most extreme fundamental, and never the intelligent moderate. Why doesn’t Dawkins address arguments presented by the likes of John Polkinghorne or Owen Gingerich.

What arguments advanced by Polkinghorne or Gingerich do you find compelling?

I haven’t heard any that are. Yes, their religious ideas aren’t as ludicrous on their face as those of Ken Hamm, but at the core they are the same—riddled with logical fallacies and based on superstition, not science or reason.

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Posted: 17 October 2010 09:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]
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dwilton - 17 October 2010 04:55 PM

I also found the angry atheist attacked the weak. There is no glory in winning a battle when the person you were fighting is a child! I found Dawkins always went after the most extreme fundamental, and never the intelligent moderate. Why doesn’t Dawkins address arguments presented by the likes of John Polkinghorne or Owen Gingerich.

What arguments advanced by Polkinghorne or Gingerich do you find compelling?

I haven’t heard any that are. Yes, their religious ideas aren’t as ludicrous on their face as those of Ken Hamm, but at the core they are the same—riddled with logical fallacies and based on superstition, not science or reason.

You mention that you have not heard any arguments from Polkinghorne or Gingerich, but I would be curious to know what arguments you have heard from them? Have you read any of their books? If so can you please tell how their arguments aren’t more compelling? If they are more compelling, wouldn’t it make sense to show them wrong. To me, it makes more sense to tackle the hardest arguments first.

As stated, the angry atheist go after the weak, for the sake of looking superior. If mocking a far lesser mind is the heart of critical thinking then all the power to them! I am more than sure that if you had read any of Polkinhornes work on religion that you’d agree his arguments are far superior to any argument that Dawkins challenges. Heck, Dawkins didn’t include the interview with Swinburne in The Root of all Evil as Swinburne was in a league of his own in comparison to the others Dawkins interviewed. Dawkins did not look near as superior against Swinburne.

Those that are far more mellow seem to encourage the one thing that the angry atheist profusely banter on about, but do little for, critical thinking. Bart Ehrman has sound argument and does not waste his time responding to the arguments of the woo-woo crusaders. Robert Wright also takes on the tougher argument and responds with fresh insights that forces a person to think over their views.. Barbara Kings arguments are far more powerful than any angry atheist, in my eyes, as she lets the science do the talking and not petty ad hominem attacks. Bruce Hood is another who lets the science lead a person to the truth. For me, I found these authors inspired me to question my beliefs, and their works were integral to the altering of my mindset. While the angry atheists (with the exception of Hitchens) did nothing for me, as hurling insults at someone does not lead them to challenge their beliefs… well, unless you are they type that jumps ship when your feelings get hurt, but then again, thats not critical thinking.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 03:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]
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Eli Winsor - 17 October 2010 03:26 PM

....
While being a thoughtless soldier of fundamentalism I had encountered enough ‘angry’ atheist who merely strengthen my passion for credulity. Prior to my awakening to reality I was reading The God Delusion, and found myself laughing at the angry and childish tone Dawkins took. As Myers mentioned, the angry approach strengthens a person current belief, or at least in my case. Dawkins, Harris, and Myers style of promoting science was viewed as atheistic evangelism to me, and further my disdain for science. .....

While I don’t agree with some of our points or share your perspective entirely,  I had a “similar” experience when I was in elementary school.  We had a Catholic school in our neighborhood and some of the neighborhood kids we played with went there. One day they told me that only Catholics go to heaven (or something like that)—they had been told this by the Sister.  Now if I had put two-and-two together and concluded “this is total baloney” things would have been different, but I responded like Eli suggested and resolved to show that an Episcopalian could be every much a devout Christian as a Catholic. 
However—the reason this is not a true analogy is that PZ Myers position is actually TRUE.

I think rather than emphasizing how many scientists believe in God to make people feel better about scientists, I would emphasize that the majority don’t and that this is a clue.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 04:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]
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To me, it makes more sense to tackle the hardest arguments first.

Fine, in your opinion which is the hardest argument? Give me the best and I’ll shoot it down.

This is right out of the standard theist playbook. Accuse the atheist of not addressing the best argument for God and then refusing to say what that argument is. If the atheist takes on the argument, then “it wasn’t one of the good ones.” If the atheist responds to a particular theist, then “he/she wasn’t the best choice.” The best argument for the existence of God is always over the next hill.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 07:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]
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dwilton - 18 October 2010 04:38 AM

To me, it makes more sense to tackle the hardest arguments first.

Fine, in your opinion which is the hardest argument? Give me the best and I’ll shoot it down.

This is right out of the standard theist playbook. Accuse the atheist of not addressing the best argument for God and then refusing to say what that argument is. If the atheist takes on the argument, then “it wasn’t one of the good ones.” If the atheist responds to a particular theist, then “he/she wasn’t the best choice.” The best argument for the existence of God is always over the next hill.

This is right out of the handbook of blind faith! Have you stolen your tactics from a revival? You clearly have not read literature from either Polkinghorne or Gingerich, hence why you refuse to respond to anything specific about their arguments. It is entirely possible to be credulous for the truth.When someone supports an idea solely because it supports their views it does not make them critical. What good is supporting truth if you have never questioned why it is truth and only claim it truth as it is what you want to believe, they have demonstrated credulity. There is no honor in believing in truth because it supports you, but there is honor believing in truth because you have done your best to examine it. Critical thinking does not mean supporting a position because those smarter than you support it. What good is it to replace one system with another when the adherents came to their position from the same mechanisms as the original system? I

How about you show how you came to your position (that Polkinghorne and Gingerichs arguments are not the best) other than through blind faith you appear to be showing. You made it appear that you have read their work, so please, comment on it, and do so without using wiki, as after all, you read their books! Polkinghorne has a slew of books that go deep in to quantum physics and faith, so why not comment on some of them instead constantly dodging the fact that you let Dawkins do your talking.

There is a reason that Dawkins claimed he was bewildered with the beliefs of Polkinghorne, but did not attempt to argue them. It is much harder to definitively win when you are playing on equal grounds. Again, the angry atheist beat their opponents with ad hominem, and their opponents are always the weak. It would seam that those such as Mooney truly care about science, as they don’t mock those with infantile beliefs, instead they let science do the talking, and encourage critical dialog. The authors I listed in the previous post all discussed science, and didn’t need to pollute their work with childish bantering. The science can defend itself, it does need an angry ass standing up for it. Look at the good Myth Busters has achieved for promoting science. Science is cool enough on its own.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]
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This is exactly why atheists should not debate theists.

Give me the argument of Polkinghorne or Gingerich (or anyone, who put it forward is irrelevant) that you consider to be the best. Please tell me what that argument is. You say they have these great arguments, but you refuse to state what they are. I can’t argue something that isn’t defined.

I could select what I think is the “best” of their arguments, but that may not be the one that you consider convincing, and any argument I choose to refute will not be the “best” one. If I refute all of them, Polkinghorne and Gingerich will then cease to be good examples and some other theist will be touted as the best example. The history of atheist-theist debates is littered with examples of theists “moving the goalposts” when their ideas are refuted. I’m not going to engage in that.

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Posted: 18 October 2010 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]
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Eli Winsor - 18 October 2010 07:03 AM
dwilton - 18 October 2010 04:38 AM

To me, it makes more sense to tackle the hardest arguments first.

Fine, in your opinion which is the hardest argument? Give me the best and I’ll shoot it down.

This is right out of the standard theist playbook. Accuse the atheist of not addressing the best argument for God and then refusing to say what that argument is. If the atheist takes on the argument, then “it wasn’t one of the good ones.” If the atheist responds to a particular theist, then “he/she wasn’t the best choice.” The best argument for the existence of God is always over the next hill.

This is right out of the handbook of blind faith! Have you stolen your tactics from a revival? You clearly have not read literature from either Polkinghorne or Gingerich, hence why you refuse to respond to anything specific about their arguments. It is entirely possible to be credulous for the truth.When someone supports an idea solely because it supports their views it does not make them critical. What good is supporting truth if you have never questioned why it is truth and only claim it truth as it is what you want to believe, they have demonstrated credulity. There is no honor in believing in truth because it supports you, but there is honor believing in truth because you have done your best to examine it. Critical thinking does not mean supporting a position because those smarter than you support it. What good is it to replace one system with another when the adherents came to their position from the same mechanisms as the original system? I

How about you show how you came to your position (that Polkinghorne and Gingerichs arguments are not the best) other than through blind faith you appear to be showing. You made it appear that you have read their work, so please, comment on it, and do so without using wiki, as after all, you read their books! Polkinghorne has a slew of books that go deep in to quantum physics and faith, so why not comment on some of them instead constantly dodging the fact that you let Dawkins do your talking.

There is a reason that Dawkins claimed he was bewildered with the beliefs of Polkinghorne, but did not attempt to argue them. It is much harder to definitively win when you are playing on equal grounds. Again, the angry atheist beat their opponents with ad hominem, and their opponents are always the weak. It would seam that those such as Mooney truly care about science, as they don’t mock those with infantile beliefs, instead they let science do the talking, and encourage critical dialog. The authors I listed in the previous post all discussed science, and didn’t need to pollute their work with childish bantering. The science can defend itself, it does need an angry ass standing up for it. Look at the good Myth Busters has achieved for promoting science. Science is cool enough on its own.

Are you afraid to put forth one of these compelling arguments or what.  I have not read the work you have listed but I’m not in any hurry to either when you refuse to give any examples of why they are so great.  People don’t have infinite time to waste on every religious apologetics book out there so give me a good sales pitch as to why this is worth anyones time.

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