Tom Flynn and Ron Lindsay discuss holiday celebrations for humanists

December 16, 2008




















  CFI President and CEO Ron Lindsay discusses humanist approaches to Christmas with the new Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism, Tom Flynn  



#101 r strle (Guest) on Thursday January 01, 2009 at 11:12am

To Starman,

“I may not have stated my former position effectively. Let me restate it for the purpose of clarity. I hated the thought that I would never have consciousness again after death precisely because I knew there was no existence beyond the grave.”

Frankly I will tell you that based on all you have written on this blog I do not think that you ever really accepted the position that “there was no existence beyond the grave.”  I think you only told yourself, and now your telling the world that you did when you really didn’t.  How, you may ask, did I reach this conclusion?  Well it comes from reading your previous posts and the observation that you do not seem to be aware of and might not be able to accept the limitations to “knowing” things about the universe.  I can best highlight this by asking a question about the quote above.  How did you “know” there was nothing beyond the grave?  I personally DO NOT “know” what is beyond the grave.  I also have never heard of anyone but believers in god who claim to “know” what existence, if any, there is beyond the grave.  What I DO ‘know” is that there is no credible evidence on this side of the grave that there is any existence beyond the grave.  By saying, “I knew there was no existence beyond the grave”, you show yourself to be a person who is basically what I call a “believer” type person.  A person who takes a position, not by an unassuming thoughtful analysis of the evidence, but by reliance of what you “think” makes sense based on flawed assumptions and logic.  To me your statement “I knew there was no existence beyond the grave”, is a sort of unsupportable straw man argument put in place to be easily destroyed so you could find your way back to god.  Did you do this in a conscious planned way? I doubt it.  It has been my experience that believers are very good at dealing with the cognitive dissonance that comes about when the evidence challenges his/her basic non-evidenced based assumptions or beliefs about the universe.  In the end it all comes down to believing or not believing a proposition and then making the “evidence” support that predetermined proposition consciously understood or not.  In the many discussions and arguments I have had with believers like you over the years I encourage them to see that believing anything is unnecessary and that believing often leads to begging the question logic (I think this is what you are doing here) and faulty analysis of the evidence (you have cited no evidence for or against existence beyond the grave).  I have a sister whose main criticism of me is that I think too much with my head and not enough with my heart.  What she means by this is that I do not allow or I try to limit the influence of my emotional responses on the logical analysis of data.  To this I plead guilty.  My read of all you have written so far is that you are like my sister and many other believers I know.  You have allowed your emotional response to fears of death and loss of consciousness along with wishful thinking to influence your perception of the evidence streaming into your brain through your senses from the from the world around you.  You are also allowing the same emotional responses to shape change your assignment of definitions and analysis of evidence to allow yourself to come to a (consciously of unconsciously) preordained conclusion.  Until and unless you can put aside the emotions of fear and hate of death and loss of personal consciousness when analyzing the evidence for a god of any kind you are doomed to falling prey to self deception and faulty interpretation of the data.  The history of science is littered with brilliant thinkers who let belief, emotional commitment and wishful thinking lead them to accept and promote ideas that were patently and obviously false.

I have a few reading suggestions that you might find helpful:

Science Good, Bad and Bogus by Martin Gardner

Voodoo Science, The road from foolishness to fraud.  By Robert Park

Breaking The Spell by Daniel D. Dennett

The God Delusion By Richard Dawkins

The Selfish Gene By Richard Dawkins

Everything You Know About God Is Wrong by Russ Kick

Flim-Flam!  By James Randi

“My current “...belief in something beyond this world” is based on
evidence, not faith, or at least not “blind” faith.”

Credible Evidence?  You cite none anywhere in this or your other posts.
Neither do I, you might respond?  Well that is because there is no credible evidence for god or an afterlife.

“I was doing the research to attempt to prove that God did not exist”

Another example of flawed reasoning.  There is no way you can prove that god does not exist.  All that can be determined is that there is no credible evidence for the existence of god.  I also refer you to several previous comments on this blog.

“But when I was given contrary information that made sense I would accept it, usually with a “yes, but”

You cite no “contrary information” probably because there is none?


“Socrates’ admonishment to “Follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

What evidence?  I know of no evidence to follow.
“I did not go from religion, to atheism, and back to religion. I went from
religion, to atheism, to Christianity.”

Last I looked “Christianity” was a religion.  Another example of shape changing definitions and flawed logic.

“If nothing else I have demonstrated an open mind.”

One should not have a mind so open that one’s brain falls out.  I don’t know the origin of this but I heard it first from Carl Sagan

“Regarding your conclusion to “ life to the fullest for tomorrow I
might die”; I’d be curious how you square that with Pascal’s Wager? “

Read pages 103-105 in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.  Better yet read the whole book!
Also see, #100 nmtucson (Guest) on Thursday January 01, 2009 at 8:04 am.  As usual she has given a clear logical thoughtful response.

#102 Toronto Condo (Guest) on Monday January 05, 2009 at 4:47am

The Birch example is a perfect portrait of how the Left can take what some extremist says and use it to cover their efforts. Yes, the Birch stuff was kooky, but that shouldn’t excuse the fact that too often stores or people try too hard to not offend and end up offending even more.
It is perfectly fine to wish someone a Merry Christmas if that is the holiday they are celebrating. If you see someone wearing a yarmulke, it is perfectly fine to wish him a Happy Hannukah. The generic “Happy Holidays” takes the meaning out of the occasion if used inappropriately.

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