Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God.

Are all human lives valuable for what they are? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Richard Dawkins is well-known today as a leading contemporary spokesman for atheism. If you asked most people today to name a famous living atheist, Dawkins would likely be on top of the list. In fact, according to this site, he’s the #1 leading atheist in the world. Perhaps in some ways we could describe Richard Dawkins as the Pope of atheism.

PopeDawkins

This is actually more fitting than most realize. The idea is that in the so-called Dark Ages, you went to the priests who were the bearers of all knowledge. The correct view on that is that the religious leaders likely were some of the most knowledgeable people around. The false view is that it’s because the only knowledge they had was knowledge of the Bible. No. Active learning was going on in many areas. Not all would have a specific interest in “natural philosophy” as science was called, but all would know something about it.

Today, science has become the new priesthood with a scientism that says science is the only way you know anything and that all knowledge must be scientific and if you can’t establish something scientifically, it can’t be true. Never mind that this criteria has never once met its own standards. It is an undercurrent in our society. Whenever an opinion comes on an issue, if it is said that “a scientist says” that is automatically the most valid opinion, never mind that it could be something the scientist has never really studied. His opinion matters because he is a scientist.

None of this is to knock science. No one should want to. Science is our friend. Scientism is our enemy. The putting of science in the supreme place as the supreme guide to knowledge is also our enemy. It is no desire to belittle scientific knowledge, or any knowledge for that matter. It is a desire instead to deal with the practical worship of science.

Many of us know about Dawkins’s recent outrage that has been sparked due to twitter remarks. It would be bad enough if that was the only embarrassing story of the week, but it is not. Consider this story from just last Saturday. In it, Dawkins is compared to an evangelist who develops a following if you donate to his circle. Reality is Dawkins is even more expensive than the evangelists that he would criticize. Let’s look at some highlights. A lengthy quote will suffice.

the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.

When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

I can suspect that this will be met with zealous opposition where this is shared by internet atheists and their followers, which will really demonstrate the case. Those who are followers of Dawkins really study the issues just as little as he does, if not less, which might be surprising seeing as it’s hard to imagine studying religious issues less than Dawkins. Thankfully, there are some atheists who are thoughtful and seek to understand the issues that realize Dawkins is an embarrassment to their cause and want him to just go away. The more atheists keep upholding Dawkins however and referring to works like “The God Delusion” as if it was a philosophical masterpiece, the more Christians who know what they’re talking about will see no reason to take them seriously. In fact, if I meet anyone who considers “The God Delusion” to be recommended reading to show why Christianity or theism should not be taken seriously, I know that this is a person uninformed on the issues. Actually, that applies to anyone who recommends any of the new atheists.

Many of you might not have noticed that story about Dawkins because frankly, he’s done something even more embarrassing than that. In fact, this is something I would even say is downright wicked. What Dawkins has done is sparked a controversy based on what he said in his twitter feed. You see, Dawkins heard from someone that they don’t know what they would do if they were pregnant with a child with Down’s Syndrome. It was described as an ethical dilemma.

Before we focus on what Dawkins had to say in response, isn’t it a shame we live in a world where even knowing your baby will have Down’s Syndrome leaves you with a dilemma of if you should kill it or not? You see, the reality is that as soon as that child is conceived and they have Down’s Syndrome, you are already the parent of a child with Down’s. The question you have to ask is if you’re going to be the parent of a dead one or a living one. Not only that, are you going to be the parent of a living child that you and your spouse brought into the world together, or are you going to be the parent of a dead child that died at your own hands.

In fact, I know and have known a number of people with Down’s Syndrome children. Are the children hard to care for? Yes. Can it be frustrating? Yes. Does it cost a lot of money? Yes.

You know, like all children do.

Of course, Down’s children come with extra hurdles, but you know what? They also come with extra joys. They tend to be far more honest and genuine in their love and the parents who take the time to love them see them as the gift that they are and how much they should be appreciated. One friend of ours in fact when she found out the child she was carrying had Down’s was told “There are other options” to which she immediately responded that there were not. That was her baby and she was going to love her baby and Down’s was not going to be an obstacle.

Well done.

So right at the start, we have a problem. We are being told that we really need to consider if people with Down’s Syndrome have lives that are really worth living. Exactly how far will this go? Are we not participating in a eugenics program at this point where we decide only those with desirable traits will live?

Well hopefully Pope Richard was able to give some advice to point out to this person that lives are valuable by the nature of what they are and that yes, things could be difficult, but you know, with the wonders of science we can do so much to ease the burdens that really are there and maybe even find a cure for Down’s someday! Surely this was said!

Or maybe not.

What was said?

“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

Dawkins is in an even worse position than the questioner. He sees no ethical dilemma. It is said so easily. Abort it and try again. In fact, it would be immoral. Why?  Well Dawkins later said in his response to the outrage that:

“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

Now none of us would object to increasing happiness and reducing suffering, but what we ask is if the ends justify the means. Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result? That is in fact something that I wish to keep pressing when it comes to the abortion debate. The question we need to ask is “Is the act of willfully terminating your own pregnancy wrong?”

You see, in reality, we can agree with many of the reasons that someone would want an abortion. We can agree they should be financially stable. We can agree many are not ready to raise a child yet. We can agree that many need emotional security. We can agree that it is fine for a woman to have a career. No one is saying any of these things are evil in and of themselves.

What we are saying is that none of those justifies the murder of an innocent child.

Dawkins has decided in advance that these children cannot be happy and that they can only be suffering and they cannot bring happiness to their parents but only bring suffering.

Interestingly, this same person who wondered about a child with Down’s also admitted to being on the autism spectrum (like my wife and I) and asked about that. Dawkins’s response?

People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

Well thank you Dawkins for saying I have a great deal to contribute. Apparently, the reason you think I’m valuable to the human race is that I can contribute something worthwhile. In other words, I am valuable for what I do. Too bad those babies with Down’s Syndrome don’t have enough value in being, you know, human beings.

The response to all of this was as expected and even included this satirical piece. (Warning: It does have language, but it was the greatest laugh I had all day yesterday.) The sad part is too many internet atheists were defending Dawkins as if his point was obvious. Sure. Why not abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome?

Now Dawkins did apparently issue an apology, though it was quite a backhanded one. It would be like a man saying to his wife “I’m sorry I had an affair, but you have just been so frigid lately, and this woman was just so hot, and I have these needs that I have to have met, and it was meant to be a private thing between her and I and you were never meant to find out.” We could go on and on with it. 

Dawkins has no apologies for the comment. In fact, his clarifying comment said he would still recommend abortion for the same reason. What he is sorry for is that it started a twitter war. In the above analogy, it would be like the husband issuing an apology not because he cheated on his wife, but rather because he got caught doing so. From this point on Dawkins, went to make statements about the people who were complaining about what he had to say.

It never occurs to Dawkins that what he said was utterly reprehensible. Dawkins has before said

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

Let it be said in response that if you meet someone who seeks to justify the murder of an innocent child in the womb, wicked should in fact be one of the first things in your mind. It looks like in the world of Dawkins, denying evolution would be a worse crime against humanity than aborting a baby with Down’s Syndrome.

It will be a wonder to see what happens if Dawkins or those like him were truly ever in charge. He has already made a statement about what children he thinks bring suffering into the world. Perhaps he’d also team up with his friend Peter Boghossian. This is the same Peter Boghossian who has a chapter in his Manual for Creating Atheists (A book that I reviewed here and keep in mind that Tim McGrew massacred Boghossian’s chickens here) that lists containment protocols.

That’s right. What can we do to “contain” people of faith? This included such steps as treating faith (A term Boghossian does not know the meaning of) as a public health crisis and to remove the religious exemption for delusion from the DSM, which is the diagnostic rule book for psychological disorders.

Dawkins might say he would not want to impose his beliefs on others, but would his followers have that same belief? Boghossian seems fine with treating those of us who are Christians or believers in any deity as if we have a disease. 

The sad part is technically, Dawkins is not contradicting his atheism in any way. For a Christian, to think it okay to abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome would be a contradiction of their view of life, but for Dawkins, it does not have to be. Of course, there are many individual atheists who are pro-life and thank God for them, but the only requirement for being an atheist is “Don’t believe in God.” You can not believe in God and be a psychopath or be a philanthropist and both of them are consistent with the statement “God does not exist.” You cannot be living a life of sin in Christianity and have that be consistent with “I am a follower of Christ.”

Well Professor Dawkins, the sad reality is that you don’t see children with Down’s Syndrome as a gift to the world, which indeed they are as many parents with Down’s Syndrome children would tell you, but we can certainly say that you, Professor Dawkins, are a gift to the church. You are a great example of what will happen the more and more we move away from God and let people like you have the most say in what goes on in our culture.

Let’s just hope most people have enough moral sense to know not to like it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

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75 Responses to “Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God.”

  1. Atomic Mutant Says:

    Yep, you are totally right. If we would stay with god, we would know, that the abortion rates are WAY to low. God kills 15-20% of all unborn babies JUST. FOR. FUN. Not the mention all the babies dying in the flood, the firstborn sons of egypt, etc.etc. Yep, you are right, when it’s about abortion, we really should stay with god, as he really knows how it’s done.

    • apologianick Says:

      Sorry, but in most strains of Christianity, unlike Islam, God is not the active cause of everything that happens, including miscarriages and such. So first off, you say He causes it and then that He causes it for fun. Do you have any data for that?

      And as for the flood and Pharaoh, in both cases, there was a way of escape for the parents to protect their children and it was never taken.

      Note also this is simply ignoring the reprehensibility of Dawkins’s statements.

      • Atomic Mutant Says:

        So, your god is not omnipotent, did not create the world this way, did not create humans this way, did not know how it would turn out. Ok. Next god, please.

        And no, I just pointed out the hypocrisy people tend to show when worshiping a mass murderer.

      • apologianick Says:

        Good grief. Omnipotence has never once meant God is the active cause of everything. Where did you hear that?

        Also, for murder, would you care to tell what the Hebrew word for murder really means? Note that murder is not the same as killing. The two are different.

      • Atomic Mutant Says:

        What do I care about the Hebrew word? Killing of the whole world (including all unborns and including all babies) is murder, no matter who does it.

        And if god is a) the first cause, and b) knows how everything will come out, then he IS the active cause of everything.

        If you know that buying a bottle of beer will – without fail – lead to the death of some guy in 1.000 years… You ARE also guilty of his death, because you could have prevented it.

      • apologianick Says:

        Atomic: What do I care about the Hebrew word? Killing of the whole world (including all unborns and including all babies) is murder, no matter who does it.

        Reply: No it’s not. By this thinking, if someone is attacking me or my wife and I kill them to save one of us, I’m guilty of murder. If a soldier kills a terrorist, that’s murder. If a police team kills someone holding several others hostage, that’s murder. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder.

        Atomic: And if god is a) the first cause, and b) knows how everything will come out, then he IS the active cause of everything.

        If you know that buying a bottle of beer will – without fail – lead to the death of some guy in 1.000 years… You ARE also guilty of his death, because you could have prevented it.

        REply: Knowing what will happen and actively causing it are not the same thing. The reason something is allowed is because there is a greater good that can come out of it. Plantinga demonstrated this long ago, which is why informed atheists have dropped the logical problem of evil and moved more to the existential problem of evil.

        Try to learn some basic theology and philosophy. Okay?

      • Atomic Mutant Says:

        What does “someone who attacks your wife” have to do with “killing the whole world”? Nothing. You are grasping at straws here, sorry. We are talking about THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD. Including ALL unborn babies, all newborns, all children, etc.

        And now, we are not talking only about knowing, but also being the first cause. YOUR action leads to something AND you know it. That is not the same thing as only knowing it (but, of course, if the add the myth of a loving god here, we would see, that knowing it and not preventing it is not loving, especially as all the guys go to hell).

        So, you didn’t even answer my points but some other points that vaguely go into the same direction and dare to try teaching me philosophy? Thanks, but no thanks.

      • apologianick Says:

        Atomic: What does “someone who attacks your wife” have to do with “killing the whole world”? Nothing. You are grasping at straws here, sorry. We are talking about THE WHOLE FUCKING WORLD. Including ALL unborn babies, all newborns, all children, etc.

        Reply: What it has to do with it is that it demonstrates that not all killing is murder. If you agree, you have to show how this is murder. Now note with the flood that there was given 120 years of warning and anyone else could have got on the ark if they wanted to. For Egypt, the steps to take to prevent a death were told. Kill a lamb and put the blood on your door. In both cases, an escape was prevented.

        Atomic: And now, we are not talking only about knowing, but also being the first cause. YOUR action leads to something AND you know it. That is not the same thing as only knowing it (but, of course, if the add the myth of a loving god here, we would see, that knowing it and not preventing it is not loving, especially as all the guys go to hell).

        REply: Doesn’t work. This assumes that everything is of a physicalist nature and can’t act otherwise. We are the cause of our own actions because we do things freely. It doesn’t matter if they’re foreknown or not.

        Atomic: So, you didn’t even answer my points but some other points that vaguely go into the same direction and dare to try teaching me philosophy? Thanks, but no thanks.

        REply: Yeah, since apparently you have the bizarre idea that if God does not cause everything, then He is not omnipotent.

      • Atomic Mutant Says:

        Ok, so the unborn babies should grab a knife, cut their way out of their wombs and then somehow walk to the ark, which might be on the other side of the world? Erm… Sure, yes, that’s a plausible solution to escape the flood. And of course, the bible does not say that god warned everyone – just Noah. Even if we assume that Noah told other people (without being commanded to – and contrary to Jesus statement that the people were surprised by the flood), Noah could not have told EVERYONE, so the chances are good that there were people who weren’t informed (don’t invent things that aren’t in the bible, if god warned the world, a huge miracle, then wouldn’t you assume it was in there? It’s not, so it probably didn’t happen).

        And sorry, no way out for egypt there, as only the Israelites were informed about the trick (which somehow leads to the question, why god needs such a hint? Even Santa has a list of the nice children…). So, not a single egyptian was offered this way out. Again, countless babies died, murdered. You can try to justify the killing of babies, if you want to.

      • apologianick Says:

        Atomic: Ok, so the unborn babies should grab a knife, cut their way out of their wombs and then somehow walk to the ark, which might be on the other side of the world? Erm… Sure, yes, that’s a plausible solution to escape the flood. And of course, the bible does not say that god warned everyone – just Noah. Even if we assume that Noah told other people (without being commanded to – and contrary to Jesus statement that the people were surprised by the flood), Noah could not have told EVERYONE, so the chances are good that there were people who weren’t informed (don’t invent things that aren’t in the bible, if god warned the world, a huge miracle, then wouldn’t you assume it was in there? It’s not, so it probably didn’t happen).

        Reply: Depends on how big you think the world is. Since I don’t hold to a global flood, 120 years is plenty of time to inform the Mesopotamian Valley.

        Also, Jesus makes no message of surprise. He just states that the people were eating and drinking and going on with their lives until the flood came. I take it to mean they ignored the message, just like they ignore the message about the coming of Christ.

        And no, children often pay the price for what their parents do.

        Atomic: And sorry, no way out for egypt there, as only the Israelites were informed about the trick (which somehow leads to the question, why god needs such a hint? Even Santa has a list of the nice children…). So, not a single egyptian was offered this way out. Again, countless babies died, murdered. You can try to justify the killing of babies, if you want to.

        Reply: No. The announcements were made publicly beforehand. That’s how Egyptians knew to bring their cattle in even. Such was the nature of prophetic judgments like that.

      • cornelll Says:

        Atomic

        Nick is correct, you are thinking of a god that holds to occasionalism,

        We don’t think God is the cause of the fire that comes from the match that we strike whilst lighting it, so you end up attacking a strawman

    • a truthseeker Says:

      At, it seems like you missed the part about humanity being exceedingly violent before the Flood, so the judgment was NOT murder (this isn’t really debatable). It’s unclear exactly what you think God should have done (let alone whether you have sound reasons for it). Let’s examine some of the alternatives:

      1) Have Noah kidnap all those babies?

      Well how’s he going to care for them all? If their parents come onboard, great — but it’s quite a stretch to imagine the eight people who did go aboard to take of all those babies, plus all the animal kind representatives, even though there WAS physical room. And you don’t think maybe those violent parents might fight back?

      2) Not do the Flood, and just… I guess, lightning-strike all the evil parents?

      Now you have most of the same problems as above, except now the babies are strewn around in many dwellings and it would take time to find them all, plus the Bible also says animal life had grown very violent so that problem won’t be fixed. Remember that biblically this included things like tyrannosaurs and other dragons. Now Noah doesn’t have to fight those parents but those humans also aren’t protecting their babies from predators. Many dwellings could have been hidden too, to protect against both human and animal enemies

      3) Not do the Flood and kill only the most violent of all?

      The rest would still likely overwhelm the only good people left (Noah’s family) soon, and we do not have actual evidence there was a wide degree of variety to this. In ancient cultures peer pressure (essentially) was a lot more powerful than today; most if not all other than Noah probably conformed to the way of life they thought was best (violence, murder, etc.). Not to mention the babies who still had parents continue to be indoctrinated into violent ways.

      4) No punishment at all — all the problems of #3, just way more. Both of these might soon result in extinction.

      Bottom line is the alternatives end up with MORE babies suffering and dying over a longer period of time, and the fault lies squarely with the violent humans.

      The rest of your rambling responses seem to evidence a poor understanding of biblical Christianity as you fell prey to many strawmen and other fallacies, like the false dichotomy that either God is omniscient or nothing bad happens. Those things are basics that have been dealt with in detail and for a long time by Christian apologists — please do your homework before you decide to spout off an opinion, okay? 🙂

      • Atomic Mutant Says:

        I congratulate you on calling babies, unborn, etc. murderers in the sad attempt to justify the unjustifiable. Accept reality, it cannot be justified. It is MASS MURDER of INNOCENT people. End of story. By trying to justify it, you are just showing that you have absolutely (sorry for the pun) no sense of morality worth discussing.

      • tildeb Says:

        ATS, you know the creation story in Genesis is a myth, right? No? Well, it’s no wonder you’ve confused metaphor with literal, myth with history.

        A literal god wiping out not just humans and not just babies but almost every critter on the earth is hardly an advertisement of a high moral standard regarding the sanctity of life.

        Atomic Mutant is quite right to suggest about a third of all implanted embryos naturally abort but fails to mention that about 75% of all fertilized human eggs suffer the same natural fate and never implant. All he’s doing is equating what’s ‘natural’ to god’s supposed ‘design’ to demonstrate that forced birthers fail to hold their god to the same moral standard they wish to impose on all of us. You missed that point entirely before rushing to conclude that opinions grounded in knowledge AM holds (rather than the religious beliefs you hold that are untethered to reality) are somehow ignorant and misguided.

        They’re not. Your beliefs are.

        May I suggest that you stop presuming that these criticisms raised by people like AM have been dealt with apologetic claptrap. The claptrap you demonstrate here is maintained and promoted by those who mistake their religious beliefs for knowledge… even when these beliefs are demonstrably contrary to the models of explanations we use that work for everyone everywhere all the time (like genetics, an explanatory model that demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that we do not descend from a single couple or a population of eight; the smallest population bottleneck for most us is about 12K and a subset for a few of about 1200.. not that you care in the least about what’s actually true if it is in conflict with what you believe to be true.).

  2. Not just aborting babies with Down’s syndrome – Dawkins supports infanticide | Wintery Knight Says:

    […] the way, Nick Peters has also written about Dawkins’ comments, and I stole the image of Pope Dawkins from his […]

  3. labreuer Says:

    I think the Epicureanism (aponia) from 50 Great Myths About Atheism says it well:

    Unlike Christianity, atheist views of the world do not see that there is much redemptive value in human suffering. (69)

    The Christian holds that Jesus was made perfect through suffering (Heb 2:10), that trial and tribulation perfects character (Ja 1:2–4). The atheist really doesn’t have much use for suffering, it seems. It is almost that suffering qua suffering is a gratuitous evil, to many atheists I have encoutnered.

  4. tildeb Says:

    Ah yes, the continued vilification of Richard Dawkins for religious reasons, I see. Christian love at its finest.

    As an evolutionary biologist, Dawkins spent his career being subjected to the ongoing religiously inspired attacks and personal vilification against his area of expertise. In ’96 and after the release of Climbing Mount Improbable he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science. The goal of this Chair was to communicate science to the public. He did this mostly by writing books, namely, Unweaving the Rainbow, A Devil’s Chaplain, The Ancestor’s Tale, and realized his effect was always mitigated by what he called a fixed false belief: creationism.

    To address the root of creationism, Dawkins then wrote the book called The God Delusion – a book he said he had wanted to write for quite some time but deflected by his editors as an area of few book sales.

    After Harris published to surprisingly good sales The End of Faith, Dawkins came out with this book which was followed by Dennett’s Breaking the Spell. Late but always welcomed to the party for writing best sellers came The Hitch with his God is Not Great. Miliions and millions of these books sold worldwide and public speaking demands grew for their participation.

    Along comes Andrew Brown of the Guardian – a self-admitted atheist of little appreciable writing talent who has made himself a career of writing only invective about Dawkins and the New Atheist movement these four horsemen has championed. This is the source used in the above post. Nice scholarship, Nick.

    What is not mentioned, of course, is the the purpose of the Foundation in Dawkins’ name and to which most of this money goes nor any mention of what the Foundation does… such as financing – along with Harris – a 24 hour personal protection detail for fellow atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali… for many years. What a selfish brute.

    The Foundation also funds court cases, gives out awards and burseries for secular organizations and individuals, helps financially various Camp Quest startups, and many other worthwhile endeavors. None of this matters to those who are intent on following Brown’s lead and vilifying Dawkins as a selfish brute. Lost, of course, is the reason why Dawkins goes after those religions that most prominently support creationism. Hence the central criticism against Dawkins usually involves some version of the Courtier’s Reply and believers like to slobber all over themselves congratulating themselves for their cleverness in establishing only in their own minds that Dawkins’ argument is too base to apply to their own sophisticated versions used to justify the slight variants for religious belief in creationism.

    It’s a pathetic trope but too alluring to the eyes of those so greedy to vilify the man.

    The abortion component of the post is just another means to try to vilify Dawkins the man to act as a proxy argument to counter his well reasoned argument why support for creationism remains a fixed false belief. This personal vilification is standard operating procedure for religious apologists and faitheists in general (like Brown) and the author of this post specifically.. someone who, like a moth attracted to the open flame, cannot resist any opportunity to dip into this tried and true tactic time and again as long as the target is a New Atheist.

    • labreuer Says:

      Along comes Andrew Brown of the Guardian – a self-admitted atheist of little appreciable writing talent who has made himself a career of writing only invective about Dawkins and the New Atheist movement these four horsemen has championed. This is the source used in the above post. Nice scholarship, Nick.

      Care to defend that claim with evidence? For example, I came across Brown’s Otto Dov Kulka’s memoir shows we will never understand what happened in Auschwitz, which does confirm that his ability to write isn’t all that good, but disconfirms your “only”, unless you have some evidence that Brown’s primary source of income is by “writing… invective about Dawkins and the New Atheist movement”?

      Hence the central criticism against Dawkins usually involves some version of the Courtier’s Reply and believers like to slobber all over themselves congratulating themselves for their cleverness in establishing only in their own minds that Dawkins’ argument is too base to apply to their own sophisticated versions used to justify the slight variants for religious belief in creationism.

      This is like the attack of irreducible complexity, but the atheist version against theism. It’s like demanding that theism have simple answers, or it’s wrong. Nevermind that atheist Michael Ruse would give TGD an F if it were submitted as an undergraduate philosophy dissertation. Or suppose we take up basic understanding of a foreign culture; here’s some TGD:

          Jesus’ family values, it has to be admitted, where not such as one might wish to focus on. He was short, to the point of brusqueness, with his own mother, and he encouraged his disciples to abandon their families to follow him. ‘If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.’ The American comedian Julia Sweeney expressed her bewilderment in her one-woman stage show, Letting Go of God:[95] ‘Isn’t that what cults do? Get you to reject your family in order to inculcate you?'[96] (284)

      Here you have Richard Dawkins reading an English translation of a Greek text written in a culture 2000 years ago and 2000 miles from London, and thinking he can just take it at its face value, which given Dawkins’ presuppositions, is that religion is dumb. So of course Jesus was saying this terrible thing. Let’s juxtapose Dawkins’ parochialism to that of a true scholar, Allan Bloom:

          Greek philosophers were the first men we know to address the problem of ethnocentrism. Distinctions between the good and one’s own, between nature and convention, between the just and the legal are the signs of this movement of thought. They related the good to the fulfillment of the whole natural human potential and were aware that few, if any, of the nations of men had ways that allowed such fulfillment. They were open to the good. They had to use the good, which was not their own, to judge their own. This was a dangerous business because it tended to weaken wholehearted attachment to their own, hence to weaken their peoples as well as to expose themselves to the anger of family, friends, and countrymen. Loyalty versus quest for the good introduced an unresolvable tension into life. But the awareness of the good as such and the desire to possess it are priceless humanizing acquisitions. (The Closing of the American Mind, 37–38)

      It is clear that if you are to detach from culturally constructed and supported conceptions of ‘the good’—see The Social Construction of Reality—you will have to detach sufficiently from your culture, including everything in it. Now, it couldn’t possibly be the case that Jesus knew this fact, and that “hate” meant sufficient detachment from a very ethnocentric, isolationist culture.

      If you would class the above analysis of a bit of TGD as the Courtier’s Reply, then you are a philistine, a hater of culture pure and simple. You would literally hate the fact that different cultures are different and that it might actually take effort to understand a people 2000 years in the past and 2000 miles distant.

      • tildeb Says:

        Regarding Brown, lab, I was using hyperbole. Yes, some of his articles do not include the name ‘Richard Dawkins’ but Google shows 624000 references that contain both names. Why the Guardian continues to employ the man is one of those great mysteries that borders on supporting evidence for some dark occult explanation. He is good company with Michael Ruse… both fleas to Dawkins’ literary success. Being graded by Ruse – who PZ once called a ‘clueless gobshite’ for his rabid and unfounded vilification of New Atheists – is hardly a grade marker worthy of scholarly respect. Both of their egos do their writing.

        Again, lab, the purpose of TGD was to address the root problem empowering unjustified attacks against evolution, one that had and continues to have no scientific merit. That root problem was and remains religious belief in creationism… including ID. The target audience of TGD was not sophisticated theologians able to convince themselves and the weaker minded among us that the square peg of theology is just another kind of perfect fit metaphysically speaking for the round hole of reality; it was the typical weak religious believer who might never have considered the fact that exercising such belief contrary to and incompatible with a scientifically valid model without any evidence aligned perfectly with the medical definition of delusional thinking. It takes a very great deal of mental gymnastics and approving selected scholarly works to justify that the no-evidence methodology is revelatory about the hidden causal agency busy twiddling and tweaking our reality we New Atheists call the Christian god… in all its supposedly various and even sophisticated forms.

        The Courtier Reply belongs to – as I said – those who use it as the central criticism for Dawkins’ TGD. This seems to me to be the vast majority – including such giants of intellect as Brown and Ruse. Look at how often you and Nick use the same criteria to dismiss legitimate criticism of belief in creationism… as if there exists some external scholarly body of work that successfully fills in the absence of evidence for the claim. That reading list can be endless, and atheists know perfectly well that this is the line of defense – the shifting of the burden of proof – for any and all religious belief concerning how reality operates. The lack of evidence for creationism is typically pushed aside as unimportant by the dedicated religious believer in POOF!ism and supplanted by an eagerness to denigrate atheists for their supposed scholarly lack that guides them into being such terrible people ready and willing to send believers off to the gulag.

        It’s just another tedious trope.

      • apologianick Says:

        Has anyone said anything about creationism here? Not I. I don’t touch the issue at all.

      • labreuer Says:

        Regarding Brown, lab, I was using hyperbole. Yes, some of his articles do not include the name ‘Richard Dawkins’ but Google shows 624000 references that contain both names.

        “Richard Dawkins” “Andrew Brown” returns 42,400 results. In contrast (just to get a sense of numbers), “Richard Dawkins” “Randal Rauser” returns 6,330 results, based on 23 articles tagged “Richard Dawkins” and probably Disqus comments as well. For being an evidence-based person, your research is quite shoddy. I’ll bet you have no evidence that Andrew Brown even makes the majority of his income criticizing New Atheism.

        Being graded by Ruse – who PZ once called a ‘clueless gobshite’ for his rabid and unfounded vilification of New Atheists – is hardly a grade marker worthy of scholarly respect. Both of their egos do their writing.

        I was confused for a second, about whether it was Meyer’s and Dawkins’ egos which were writing, or Ruse and Brown. I’m not impressed by a non-philosopher calling a philosopher “clueless” on philosophical matters; what is to distinguish between that and the New Atheists being utterly disdainful of philosophy, as if logical positivism didn’t crash and burn? That being said, I didn’t mean to refer to Ruse as an appeal to authority; a friend who got his PhD from USC’s philosophy department took a straw poll of Dawkins’ TGD and got a similar response to Ruse’s reaction. USC’s philosophy department is quite good. So what really seems to be the case is that it’s New Atheism v. philosophy.

        Again, lab, the purpose of TGD was to address the root problem empowering unjustified attacks against evolution, one that had and continues to have no scientific merit.

        Oh give me a break, TGD is about much more than anti-creationism. To phrase it like you have is tantamount to wanting to ban sharp knives because they can be used to hurt people. Christian faith does not necessarily lead to YEC. You appear to have creationism (YEC) on the brain, as if it’s the greatest evil of our age. If you want, I can pull up quotations from Peter Berger about the irrationalism of intellectuals about just communism alone—the idea that ‘rationality’ makes you more truth-focused does not seem supported by the evidence. Indeed, those with greater powers of rationality are better at rationalizing just about anything.

        Look at how often you and Nick use the same criteria to dismiss legitimate criticism of belief in creationism… as if there exists some external scholarly body of work that successfully fills in the absence of evidence for the claim.

        You’re seeing things that aren’t there. You’ve manifestly ignored Dawkins’ shoddy work in understanding just a random bit of TGD to which I flipped upon reading your comment. Apparently, you care more about purpose than truth: as long as Dawkins is pursuing a purpose you see worthwhile, the means are neither here nor there. I say no: the way to truth is via truth. We are not sophists.

        That reading list can be endless

        The solution is easy: don’t talk about things you don’t understand and don’t care to spend the time understanding.

    • apologianick Says:

      Honestly Tilde, do you just have a big giant statue of Richard Dawkins nearby you or something? You seem to react so vehemently when someone dares to question the new atheists.

      You should note that many atheists have a problem with them as well, and for good reason.

      • tildeb Says:

        Nick, you’re not daring to question; you are intentionally maligning the character of Dawkins and misrepresenting the man’s contribution to that very endeavor: daring to question.

      • apologianick Says:

        No Tilde. Dawkins does not dare to question. Real questioners educate themselves with both sides of an argument. On religion, Dawkins has not done that. His arguments are a joke and even Michael Ruse, an agnostic, has said they would get an F if he turned them in as a philosophy paper. I have no problem with questioning. I have a problem with questioning without being willing to study the best that the other side has to offer.

        I’ve read quite a few of Dawkins’s books after all. Some are better than others. With a book like The Blind Watchmaker, I could grant every scientific argument in there and have zero problem whatsoever.

        You know, if you were really daring to question, you’d be able to read books before you criticize them. But then, you just can’t take it if anyone dares to challenge your hero.

      • tildeb Says:

        Oh, we call such atheists faitheists in that they condescend to both believers and the ‘wrong’ kind of non believers…. you know, the ones who dare to criticize religion publicly for its pernicious effects. Such faitheists are indeed plentiful. Dawkins like to call them the “I’m an atheist, but…” member. That’s why they are called fleas if they’ve written books criticizing Dawkins: as parasites, they require the blood of the host to feed.

      • labreuer Says:

        Apparently then, Dawkins needs the blood of Jesus to feed. After all, where would he be without religion as a punching bag? He might have to admit problems with human nature and not scapegoat something else!

      • apologianick Says:

        Ironically, Tildeb is proving the point at the start of the article in the Spectator with the cult-like following for Dawkins. That is exactly what I see going on here. Especially with the talk about creationism. No one here says anything about it. I don’t write in defense of it or condemnation of it. I hold to John Walton’s view on the account of Genesis and leave the rest to the scientists.

      • tildeb Says:

        Nick, I don’t know if you’re just being obtuse or if truly having difficulty grasping my point: I’m pointing out what your sophisticated approach seems to miss, namely, that the entire reason for Dawkins’ book written because of the responsibilities he had for his Chair was to counter-attack anti-scientific creationism and those who supported it.

        That you cannot seem to grasp this fundamental point reveals a gross misunderstanding of Dawkins’ motivation for writing the book and intended audience targeted. All your comments about his lack of theological sophistication are irrelevant. What you deem scholarship for your beliefs is not the same for the audience Dawkins targeted. Before you chastise me yet again for a crime I did not commit, as if that addresses my point here when it obviously only serves your bizarre need to try to malign my character for your own amusement, take a moment and understand my point first before spreading more distortions about Dawkins.

        By all means, disagree with the man’s thesis. But take my advice: you really should stop maligning characters of people with whom you disagree and pretending your efforts reflect well on your dedication to your piety. It doesn’t. It reflects very poorly on your own character.

      • apologianick Says:

        And if he had just gone after YEC, I wouldn’t have said a darn thing about him. If he wanted to critique a model like Hugh Ross’s scientifically, I wouldn’t have a problem. No. He does not do that. He has gone after Christianity entirely. He has made the statement to mock people of faith and ridicule them wherever you find them. That is not limiting it to science. He writes on history and theology and philosophy that he does not understand.

        You are the only one here who mentioned creationism. No one else did. No one else cares about it.

        As for maligning his character, he’s done a good enough job of that himself. His statements about the status of children with Down’s Syndrome is enough to show his character. There was not a distortion spread at all there.

        Personally, you need to get over your obsession with Dawkins. Some of us here just dare to question the Pope of atheism. I figured you’d like that, but I guess scholarly research doesn’t apply if it means that we question Pope Richard.

      • labreuer Says:

        […] the entire reason for Dawkins’ book written because of the responsibilities he had for his Chair was to counter-attack anti-scientific creationism and those who supported it.

        I’m pretty sure that TGD is more than what you say. You see, I’ve read it. You didn’t read Feser’s Last Superstition, but perhaps you did read TGD. So are you going off of only internal textual evidence for your claim, or are there other bits to which you could refer me? I would expect something very different if TGD were actually solely focused on eliminating YEC. Attacking religion qua religion if his criticism were actually YEC would be like amputating the arm to cure a gangrenous finger, if not just killing the patient outright.

        All your comments about his lack of theological sophistication are irrelevant.

        So properly interpreting a culture 2000 years in the past and 2000 miles away is sophisticated? Surely you cannot mean this, so please defend Dawkins’ actions, which I laid out with textual evidence. I’m pretty sure that talking about Jesus’ statements about ‘hating’ family and self is pretty freaking far removed from YEC. But perhaps you can draw a connection!

        But take my advice: you really should stop maligning characters of people with whom you disagree and pretending your efforts reflect well on your dedication to your piety. It doesn’t. It reflects very poorly on your own character.

        Do you seriously believe that you do not do precisely the maligning you so decry? You call Massimo Pigliucci “The Pig”, perhaps because he criticized your beloved PZ Meyers. I can only conclude that you are well-described by Mt 23:1–4, which is not an enviable position.

      • apologianick Says:

        Dare to question! Unless you question the new atheists.

        Be a skeptic….unless you’re skeptical of the new atheists!

      • apologianick Says:

        Dare to question! Unless you question the new atheists.

        Be a skeptic….unless you’re skeptical of the new atheists!

      • labreuer Says:

        I am tempted to sympathize a tiny bit with @tildeb. However, when you take into account sociologist Peter Berger’s observations about intellectuals, you find that IQ doesn’t offer much guarantee that you will be better connected to reality. A wonderful case in point is what intellectuals managed to convince themselves about Communism as enacted by the USSR and China. It is really hard for me to believe that creationism has done nearly the damage that acceptance of Communism did.

        Or I could point out Milgram experiment § Results, and how the terrible predictions by precisely the people who should know best indicates gross incompetence in understanding human nature, which (a) surely had an element of “we don’t want to believe humans can be that bad”, and (b) probably hindered us from understanding what Hitler was doing in Germany. See no evil, hear no evil: allow evil to fester until many people have to die before it is seen for what it is and fought off. The following is from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, quoted by Ralph C. Wood:

        It was granted me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains . . . an unuprooted small corner of evil.

        I think intellectuals did not (and really: still do not) want to believe what he was forced to accept after having his face mushed into reality.

        And so, we end up arguing about creationism, pretending that the title “The God Delusion” is obviously first and foremost about creationism. Yes, the best way to promote the public understanding of science is to use deceptive book titles. Or perhaps @tildeb is full of crap as to what Dawkins’ actual motive was. It’s not uncommon for people to have a bad experience with a group of people, and then associate the group with pure evil. It is easy to be blind to the good in people and groups. After all, if religion is evil, then maybe I, an atheist, am not!

      • apologianick Says:

        Well to be fair, authors don’t always have control over the titles of their books.

      • labreuer Says:

        I hear that again and again. The more I think about it, the more this is a license to deceive by passing the buck. Dawkins held The Simonyi Professorship Chair for the Public Understanding of Science. To mislead the public would be a gross intellectual failing. Surely there was a publisher willing to allow him a proper title? I just think he considered The God Delusion the proper title, despite @tildeb’s protests the contrary. You see, @tildeb’s case is apparently shattered if Dawkins is doing more than critiquing creationism.

      • apologianick Says:

        Oh I agree. I’m just saying that the title might not be directly his idea, but even if it was totally apart from him, you and I know since we actually read the book, that the content is still not just anti-creationism.

      • tildeb Says:

        From an interview in January 2007 by Terrence McNally (TM) for Alternet with Richard Dawkins (RD):

        TM: People finally say, “What’s it to you? Why not be an atheist if that’s what works for you, and leave the rest of us to be as religious as we wish?” This, I believe, is offered as a challenge to your open-mindedness or your respect for others. You’re being called “an atheist fundamentalist.”

        RD: “Fundamentalist” usually means, “goes by the book.” And so, a religious fundamentalist goes back to the fundamentals of The Bible or The Koran and says, “nothing can change.” Of course, that’s not the case with any scientist, and certainly not with me. So, I’m not a fundamentalist in that sense.

        Why not live and let live? Why not just say, “Oh, well, if people want to believe that, that’s fine.” Of course, nobody’s stopping people believing whatever they like. The problem is that there’s not that much tolerance coming the other way. Things like the opposition to stem-cell research, to abortion, to contraception — these are all religiously inspired prohibitions on what would otherwise be freedom of action, whether of scientists or individual human beings.

        There are religious people who are not content to say, “Oh, well, my religion doesn’t allow me to use contraceptives, but I’m quite happy for anybody else to.” Instead, we have religiously-inspired prohibitions on aid programs abroad, including in areas where HIV AIDS is rife, prohibiting aid going in any form that might be used to help contraception. That is religion over-stepping the bounds and interfering in other people’s freedom. So, religion does not observe this “live and let live” philosophy.

        TM: In other words, if it were just a philosophical belief that had no impact on the world, fine.

        RD: Exactly. I don’t think you’ll find many people criticizing any gentle religion, like Jainism.

        The other thing is that, as a scientist and an educator, it is impossible to overlook the fact that, especially in America, there is a vigorous and virulent campaign to suppress the teaching of scientific biology. In state after state, there are court battles being fought. Scientists have to go out of the laboratory and waste their time responding to these know-nothings who are trying to stop the teaching of evolution or give equal time to creationism or intelligent design, or whatever they like to call it. They actually are trying to interfere with the freedom of children to learn science and the freedom of science teachers to teach their science properly.

        TM: Why did you write The God Delusion?

        RD: I care passionately about the truth. I believe that the truth about whether there is a God in the Universe is possibly the most important truth there is. I happen to think it’s false, but I think it’s a really important question.

        Also, because I felt that the world actually is drifting, parts of it anyway, towards theocracy in very dangerous ways. Education in my own field of Evolutionary Biology was under threat. There are all sorts of reasons why one might worry about the looming rise of religious influence, especially in the United States of America and in the Islamic world.

      • tildeb Says:

        He would be a very contented evolutionary biologist doing good biology rather than having to waste so much time and effort and ink defending a model that seems to work for everyone everywhere all the time and demonstrated by therapies, applications and technologies that are consistent and reliable from those who insist without evidence that the model is wrong… for purely religious reasons.

      • apologianick Says:

        You’re talking about something no one else here is talking about or even cares about.

      • apologianick Says:

        You’re talking about something no one else here is talking about or even cares about.

      • labreuer Says:

        If that were really true, Dawkins could just list, on one column, the things that the theory of evolution has done to promote human thriving, and on the other, the things that YEC have done to promote human thriving. His war is so clearly more than creationism. You know what this is like, it’s like the Crusades, originally in response to a request for aid in the face of invading Turks, turned into a war for glory and riches. Maybe Dawkins really was originally incensed by creationism. But only originally. Now, it is clearly so much more. Now you have him saying things like:

        A couple days ago Dawkins posted a tweet heard around the world. When asked about the life of a fetus diagnosed with Down Syndrome he replied:

        “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

        When this is the case:

        Among 2,044 parents or guardians surveyed, 79 percent reported their outlook on life was more positive because of their child with Down syndrome….

        Skotko also found that among siblings ages 12 and older, 97 percent expressed feelings of pride about their brother or sister with Down syndrome and 88 percent were convinced they were better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome. A third study evaluating how adults with Down syndrome felt about themselves reports 99 percent responded they were happy with their lives, 97 percent liked who they are, and 96 percent liked how they looked.

        So much for evidence-based reasoning. Only when convenient, eh?

      • Clinton Wilcox Says:

        Tildeb,

        I’m not sure what any of this has to do with Dawkins’ comments on abortion. He did mention abortion briefly in The God Delusion, but just like the rest of the book, his arguments regarding abortion were poor. He’s a good biologist, granted, but he would do much better for atheism if he would stop trying to do philosophy, which he’s lousy at, and stick to doing biology, which is where his strength is. All of your comments seem like a massive red herring to distract from the fact that Dawkins made barbaric comments on Twitter about how it’s immoral to raise children with Down’s syndrome.

        A few comments on Dawkins’ interview:

        RD: “‘Fundamentalist’ usually means, “goes by the book.” And so, a religious fundamentalist goes back to the fundamentals of The Bible or The Koran and says, “nothing can change.” Of course, that’s not the case with any scientist, and certainly not with me. So, I’m not a fundamentalist in that sense.”

        Dawkins is misguided here. The Bible doesn’t change because it was written over the span of a few thousand years and was finished 2,000 years ago. But to say that it’s no longer relevant is also false because the truths of the Bible are timeless. The same things people struggle with now were the same things people struggled with then. Truth never changes with public opinion.

        That being said, scientific advancement was carried by Christians. By people who believed in God and that God gave us minds to reason and wanted to use those minds to explore and learn about the universe God created. A belief in the Bible doesn’t stunt scientific knowledge or advancement.

        RD: “Why not live and let live? Why not just say, “Oh, well, if people want to believe that, that’s fine.” Of course, nobody’s stopping people believing whatever they like. The problem is that there’s not that much tolerance coming the other way. Things like the opposition to stem-cell research, to abortion, to contraception — these are all religiously inspired prohibitions on what would otherwise be freedom of action, whether of scientists or individual human beings.”

        More misguided tripe from Dawkins. These are not religiously inspired prohibitions. Yes, many pro-life people are motivated by their religious convictions, in the same way that many slavery abolitionists were motivated by their religious convictions to end slavery. But the reality is the the unborn from fertilization are living members of the human species. This is supported by science. Embryologists consistently agree with this. All pro-lifers are saying is that ALL human beings deserve equal respect. Experimenting on human embryos is fundamentally no different from the Nazis experimenting on Jews during the Holocaust. Abortion is the killing of an innocent human child. These are not religious ideas, they are supported by science and philosophy.

        RD: “There are religious people who are not content to say, “Oh, well, my religion doesn’t allow me to use contraceptives, but I’m quite happy for anybody else to.” Instead, we have religiously-inspired prohibitions on aid programs abroad, including in areas where HIV AIDS is rife, prohibiting aid going in any form that might be used to help contraception. That is religion over-stepping the bounds and interfering in other people’s freedom. So, religion does not observe this ‘live and let live’ philosophy.”

        Yet Dawkins doens’t have one shred of evidence for this (which is to be expected, as the New Atheists make a lot of claims without evidential support. Religious organizations are always on the forefront of providing humanitarian aid. Hospitals were first built by the Catholic church. Most charities are Christian organizations. There is no effort by the pro-life movement to outlaw contraception. That’s just fear-mongering by Richard Dawkins. The reason the pro-life movement is trying to outlaw abortion is because once a child has been conceived, ending their life by abortion is murder.

        RD: “I care passionately about the truth. I believe that the truth about whether there is a God in the Universe is possibly the most important truth there is. I happen to think it’s false, but I think it’s a really important question.”

        Dawkins may believe he’s passionate about the truth, but The God Delusion is a poor example of trying to find truth. That book has made atheist philosophers like Michael Ruse “ashamed to be an atheist.” Dawkins is not interested in finding truth, only in insulting “delusional” religious believers.

      • tildeb Says:

        Well, put Dawkins’ thesis that equates religious belief to be delusion (for whatever rationalizations you wish to empower most) to bed once and for all… demonstrate the existence of this causal agency called god.

        You see the problem?

      • apologianick Says:

        First off Tilde, even before the demonstration, that wouldn’t do it. By this standard, anyone who answers a wrong answer on a math quiz would be delusional. If delusion simply means “being wrong about what you believe” then everyone is delusional on some level.

        Second however, I’d just say that I’d stick to the Thomistic ways for God, something that Richard Dawkins does not understand due to his never having read the Summa or read the necessary philosophical background.

      • tildeb Says:

        I see you’re making stuff up again and pretending that is what other say.

        I don’t say that delusion is equivalent to being wrong about what you believe and I would appreciate it if you would remove the quotation marks you’ve intentionally put on them to misrepresent yet again what I say. I say that Dawkins explains why there is no difference between the medical definition of delusion and belief in a creationist god. The psychiatric definition for delusion is “a false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence”. That fits the more than 80% of Americans who believe in some divine causal agency of creationism. Try to recall accurately if you can see through those biased scholarly eyes of yours what Dawkins actually says is the reason for the writing of TGD: to address fixed false beliefs.

        Note also Boghossian’s criticism of the psychiatric definition for which he has been pilloried by people you consider equivalently scholarly as yourself , that it makes a privileged except for fixed false beliefs if they are cultural or religious… for no other reason than to so privilege these fixed false beliefs because they are religious and/or cultural (very often the ‘cultural’ examples for fixed false belief derives from some religious tradition).

        And yes, Nick, I did describe your method upthread and the prblem with it. Your method for determining truth claims specifically about which bits of the bible are literal/historical and to be believed as such versus bits that are to be properly interpreted to be merely figurative and/or metaphorical and/or mythical (like how to correctly interpret the flat versus spherical earth references) has no means independent of your belief to differentiate. Sure, you claim biblical scholarship backs your biased view up (I wonder why there are so many contrary interpretations backed up by the same stable of scholarly works?) but that does offer ME a method I can use and achieve the same results as you. Your method depends on your a priori beliefs, and then you exercise confirmation bias and misrepresent these cherry picked works to be justified because it is supposedly scholarly. They are justified because YOU determine they are to be considered so and not on the merit of them able to differentiate which bits are which with reliable and consistent results available to all.

        You started this thread off with Atomic Mutant and presented the fictional exodus of Jews as if historical, for example. You know perfectly well (at least, I presume such a follower of Scholarly works about the bible as you must obviously be would stay abreast of this paradigm-shifting consensus) that today’s scholarship of the Pentateuch interprets the exodus to be wholly a work of fiction. Not a peep from you about this gross misunderstanding held by the majority of Christians. No sir. You ignore scholarship that agrees that nothing in the first five books of the bible is to be interpreted as literal/historical. Yet I suspect your reliance on biblical scholarship is put aside when convenient to grant your bias free rein so that you can continue to believe bits and pieces from these first five books to suit your general interpretation… scholarship be damned.

        Your method doesn’t work to yield knowledge, Nick. It works only to support your biased beliefs and not question them.

      • labreuer Says:

        I say that Dawkins explains why there is no difference between the medical definition of delusion and belief in a creationist god. The psychiatric definition for delusion is “a false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence”. That fits the more than 80% of Americans who believe in some divine causal agency of creationism. Try to recall accurately if you can see through those biased scholarly eyes of yours what Dawkins actually says is the reason for the writing of TGD: to address fixed false beliefs.

        When you say “creationism”, do you mean YEC, or the idea that the universe is not causally closed to an outside mind?

        Note also Boghossian’s criticism of the psychiatric definition for which he has been pilloried by people you consider equivalently scholarly as yourself , that it makes a privileged except for fixed false beliefs if they are cultural or religious… for no other reason than to so privilege these fixed false beliefs because they are religious and/or cultural (very often the ‘cultural’ examples for fixed false belief derives from some religious tradition).

        Please provide evidence of a few scholars actually making this argument.

        (I wonder why there are so many contrary interpretations backed up by the same stable of scholarly works?)

        18+ interpretations of quantum mechanics, all backed up by boatloads of excellent evidence.

        Your method depends on your a priori beliefs, […]

        As does everyone’s methods, yours not excluded. The world is merely split into those who know that their methods depend on a priori beliefs, and those who are deluded into believing otherwise.

      • apologianick Says:

        Tilde: I see you’re making stuff up again and pretending that is what other say.

        Reply: I see you’re unaware of recognizing sarcasm. Typical fundy atheist trait to take everything literally.

        Tilde: I don’t say that delusion is equivalent to being wrong about what you believe and I would appreciate it if you would remove the quotation marks you’ve intentionally put on them to misrepresent yet again what I say.

        Reply: Misrepresent? You really think people reading that will think you actually say that? It’s just called sarcasm.

        Tilde: I say that Dawkins explains why there is no difference between the medical definition of delusion and belief in a creationist god. The psychiatric definition for delusion is “a false personal belief that is not subject to reason or contradictory evidence”. That fits the more than 80% of Americans who believe in some divine causal agency of creationism. Try to recall accurately if you can see through those biased scholarly eyes of yours what Dawkins actually says is the reason for the writing of TGD: to address fixed false beliefs.

        Reply: We’re talking about belief in God and not belief in creationism. You’re the only person here who really cares about creationism. Many of us here could probably agree with many of Dawkins’s concerns with creationism.

        Do I deny that most Americans don’t think deeply about their faith and the reasons why they hold it? Not a bit. I also don’t deny most atheists do the same for their faith.

        Tilde: Note also Boghossian’s criticism of the psychiatric definition for which he has been pilloried by people you consider equivalently scholarly as yourself , that it makes a privileged except for fixed false beliefs if they are cultural or religious… for no other reason than to so privilege these fixed false beliefs because they are religious and/or cultural (very often the ‘cultural’ examples for fixed false belief derives from some religious tradition).

        Reply: I would agree with Luke and like to see the scholars making this claim.

        Tilde: And yes, Nick, I did describe your method upthread and the prblem with it. Your method for determining truth claims specifically about which bits of the bible are literal/historical and to be believed as such versus bits that are to be properly interpreted to be merely figurative and/or metaphorical and/or mythical (like how to correctly interpret the flat versus spherical earth references) has no means independent of your belief to differentiate. Sure, you claim biblical scholarship backs your biased view up (I wonder why there are so many contrary interpretations backed up by the same stable of scholarly works?) but that does offer ME a method I can use and achieve the same results as you. Your method depends on your a priori beliefs, and then you exercise confirmation bias and misrepresent these cherry picked works to be justified because it is supposedly scholarly. They are justified because YOU determine they are to be considered so and not on the merit of them able to differentiate which bits are which with reliable and consistent results available to all.

        Reply: No. Not at all. I choose them because I think the best argument for what the text says. Guess what? So does everyone else. In any field, the interpretation of the data is going to be done subjectively, but for the most part, we all deal with the same data. There are different outcomes and interpretations of events. This is true in every field. Why should I think understanding Scripture, a book far removed from us by culture and time and place, would be any different? Note also that I do happen to read critical scholars who disagree with my overall view and I have found their insights very helpful in many times and have changed my interpretation of a text a number of times based on what they say.

        Tilde: You started this thread off with Atomic Mutant and presented the fictional exodus of Jews as if historical, for example. You know perfectly well (at least, I presume such a follower of Scholarly works about the bible as you must obviously be would stay abreast of this paradigm-shifting consensus) that today’s scholarship of the Pentateuch interprets the exodus to be wholly a work of fiction. Not a peep from you about this gross misunderstanding held by the majority of Christians. No sir. You ignore scholarship that agrees that nothing in the first five books of the bible is to be interpreted as literal/historical. Yet I suspect your reliance on biblical scholarship is put aside when convenient to grant your bias free rein so that you can continue to believe bits and pieces from these first five books to suit your general interpretation… scholarship be damned.

        REply: Not at all. I will read it and I have no problem with it. I read a number of scholars who advocate the JEPD theory. (Note that. I read them. I don’t just read about them.) I disagree with it. For the reality of the Exodus, I think Hoffmeier has made some excellent points that need to be addressed by those who are skeptical and I think the case that Deuteronomy is a Suzerainty treaty is quite excellent.

        Tilde: Your method doesn’t work to yield knowledge, Nick. It works only to support your biased beliefs and not question them.

        Reply: If you think I’ve got something wrong, show it by giving a better explanation of the data. There are no silver bullets to data and we all have to work. I’m more than willing to change my mind if you can explain the data in a better way, but then I could just say it’s you doing it to support your a priori beliefs.

        If I was unwilling to question my beliefs, I would not read books that disagree with me, something you should try doing sometime.

      • labreuer Says:

        demonstrate the existence of this causal agency called god.

        You see the problem?

        It is quite the interesting problem; I suggest Evan Fales’ recent Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles to anyone who is honestly and seriously interested in the matter. In addition to Fales’ work, there is the important question of how one would even characterize a violation of causal closure in any way other than in god-of-the-gaps fashion.

        The first cause argument itself rears its head for folks like Caltech’s Sean Carroll, who in Fluctuations in de Sitter Space, argues that under the Everett many-worlds interpretation, you simply do not get random, causeless quantum fluctuations. Instead, you need an observer to kick things off, as defined here. And so, Lawrence M. Krauss’ A Universe from Nothing may need an external cause in order to get going. Now, the MWI could turn out to be false, but it probably isn’t the only system that needs at least an initial kick to get going. Oh, Carroll apparently thinks reheating solves the observer problem, but that’s faith-based belief, not math- or evidence-based belief.

        My personal guess is that God subtly subverts all static systems, such that they have the option to become something more, something better. The way he would do this would be through the weakest possible means, like futzing with the infinitely-highest order derivative. This matches with scripture that talks about God working through weakness, and it also maximizes the ability of created beings to take God’s actions and shape them themselves. In other words, it allows created beings to learn how to handle higher- and higher-order derivatives, so that they are in ever-greater dominion over reality. This is, of course, what was expected in the Garden of Eden.

        What I bet you really want to hold to, @tildeb, is that randomness spawned reality. But randomness is not a force, it is an admission of “I have no clue”.

      • tildeb Says:

        As unlikely as it may be, I fully agree with you, lab; I have no clue if or how the universe began (randomness in this context simply means unguided and I suspect that’s probably true) but it can be scaffolded. I’m pretty sure you don’t know either.

        What I do know is that religious belief and its scholarly examination isn’t going to show us the way to finding out more about this because it never has advanced our knowledge about reality. That’s not what religious belief does. Its exercise – claiming certain fundamental beliefs about divine causal agencies and their natures as if knowable – usually masks the accurate statement “I don’t know and neither do you” with “But my religious belief allows me to pretend I do.”

      • labreuer Says:

        What I do know is that religious belief and its scholarly examination isn’t going to show us the way to finding out more about this because it never has advanced our knowledge about reality.

        Bullshit. For example, the following is from sociologist Peter Berger, who knows what he’s talking about when he says “proto-individuation”:

        There turned out to be enormous ethical implications to this proto-individuation. It is very clearly expressed in the dramatic confrontation between King David and the prophet Nathan recounted in the twelfth chapter of the Second Book of Samuel. David had caused the murder of Bathsheba’s husband in order to incorporate her in his harem—a perfectly acceptable expression of royal prerogative in terms of oriental conceptions of kingship. After Nathan cleverly leads David to condemn a man who shows no pity in destroying what another man loves, the prophet tells David that he is just such a man—”You are the man.” This sentence sovereignly ignores all the communal legitimations of kingship in the ancient Near East. Indeed, it ignores all the social constructions of the self as understood at that time. It passes normative judgment on David the man—a naked man, a man divested of all the trappings of a community, a man alone. I believe that this view of the relation between God and man, and therefore among men, continues to be normative for a Christian understanding of the human condition. (A Far Glory, 99–100)

        Now, if you don’t want to call things like this “knowledge about reality” then go for it, but I’m gonna stake out a claim that understanding the importance of this conception of justice (for a history of concepts of justice, see Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs) constitutes “knowledge”. Or consider St. Paul:

        There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)

        In a society ruled by dikē—a cosmic order which is both natural and morally right—what Paul is doing is outrageously disruptive and wrong. Alasdair MacIntyre sketches this Greek conception of justice in the beginning of Whose Justice? Which Rationality? The Christians were called ‘atheist’ by the Romans once it was clear that this strange, woman-respecting sect was here to stay. Why ‘atheist’? Because the Christians doubted the religious institutions of the day which gave society structure and order. Christians were actively subversive to culture, before they themselves got subverted (for more on this, see sociologist Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity).

        But go ahead @tildeb, claim that the only true knowledge of reality is Baconian: knowledge which gives you power to manipulate reality—and people—to your whims. Deny formal and final causes, so that you can pick your own purposes and means with impunity. Be proud you can be part of utterly reshaping what the human being is, like C.S. Lewis feared in The Abolition of Man. For after all, if the only knowledge is what science produces, then what constitutes human thriving is merely opinion and can be manipulated ad infinitum.

        If you see the above paragraph as an invalid model of yourself, I challenge you to distance yourself from it with convincing reasoning. You don’t have to convince Nick Peters or me, for both of us could be unreasonable. Instead, offer something you think that any rational person would accept. Convince us that what I’ve laid out above do not constitute extremely important strides forward in the history of humanity.

      • tildeb Says:

        Welllab, you go right ahead and stake out your claim and then show how without religion we can’t understand it. What you’re offering as far as I can see is philosophy about ethics. No Oogity Boogity is required.

      • labreuer Says:

        Welllab, you go right ahead and stake out your claim and then show how without religion we can’t understand it. What you’re offering as far as I can see is philosophy about ethics. No Oogity Boogity is required.

        You just moved the goalposts. Here’s what you originally said;

        What I do know is that religious belief and its scholarly examination isn’t going to show us the way to finding out more about this because it never has advanced our knowledge about reality.

        I see that your strategy, on falsification of this statement, is to require your interlocutor to show how it couldn’t have happened any other way. Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to do that and neither do you. For example, I highly doubt you can show that sans the Enlightenment, that science could not have experienced a flowering with much heavier Christian influence throughout. Scholars reject the conflict thesis, FYI.

      • tildeb Says:

        I claim that religion as a method of inquiry into reality doesn’t produce knowledge.

        You claim it does and offer what I think is simply philosophy.

        I’m asking you to isolate the variable you claim it is – religion as the producer of knowledge about reality – and show how it is the essential requirement.

        I don’t see it.

        But I do know that religion as a subject constantly lays claim to whatever it is allowed steal… in this case, philosophy. I’m just not falling for it.

      • labreuer Says:

        I’m asking you to isolate the variable you claim it is – religion as the producer of knowledge about reality – and show how it is the essential requirement.

        Please define ‘religion’ rigorously, as well as ‘knowledge’. For the latter, you are welcome to appropriate Francis Bacon’s redefinition of ‘knowledge’, although I will have criticisms of that redefinition. For example, I believe it utterly excludes moral knowledge from the realm of ‘knowledge’. For the former, I was enlightened by the radical diversity of what has gone by ‘religion’ by both Keith Ward’s The Case for Religion and The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach. Are you aware, for example, that folks in the East don’t even necessarily understand ‘religion’ as a category—at least until recently?

  5. apologianick Says:

    Ah yes. How dare you question the Dawkins! You are to dare to question, but you are not to question the Dawkins!

    So have you put together an International Statement on Dawkins Inerrancy yet?

  6. cornelll Says:

    Richard Dawkins should have his own soccer team

  7. apologianick Says:

    It’s interesting Tildeb brings up abortion. Let’s look at this group here:

    http://www.secularprolife.org/

    What is their mission?

    The Mission of Secular Pro-Life is to end elective abortion.* We work toward this goal through:

    Secularism. SPL seeks to increase the inclusiveness of the overall pro-life movement by creating space for pro-life atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secularists. We also seek to provide pro-lifers of any religious or spiritual beliefs–or none at all–with the secular, pro-life perspective. We encourage all pro-lifers to understand the secular pro-life perspective so our movement can engage people using shared bases of understanding.

    You see Tilde, abortion happens to agree with a religious position, but I’m sure you’ll also find laws against murder and rape agree with a religious position as well and are in fact taught in Scripture. Does that mean that you will oppose them because they are taught by a religious group too? Of course not.

    What matters is the claim itself. For abortion, we just simply have to ask about what is in the womb “What is it?” and if it is a real human being, can there be a justification for killing it simply for the crime of existing?

    Besides that, in Dawkins’s book, he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he enters in areas outside of his knowledge base, which is quite consistently in that book. That’s why Michael Ruse went after it so much and he’s no friend of Christianity. It’s just bad argumentation. Dawkins did not do his necessary background research to attempt to understand the worldview he was arguing against.

    btw, if he mentions Islam so much specifically as a threat, then why not write a book also against the Koran? Sam Harris claimed to start writing on 9/11 which is when Muslims attacked us, but most of the book is spent not against Muslims but against Christians.

    I would think if the new atheists see religion as a threat, they might want to especially go after the one that consists of the most people killing us.

    • tildeb Says:

      I didn’t raise the abortion component of your post, Nick. You did. And the purpose becomes apparent: to try to malign Dawkins’ character as some kind of immoral brute. This was Brownie’s intention as well, suggesting Dawkins collected tithes from his adherents just like a pope fleeces his flock. It’s stupid. For someone who claims scholarship to inform his opinions, you fail spectacularly when the basis of your argument is to parrot Brownie.

      You also mistakenly link those who disagree with Forced Birthers to atheism. Empowering women to have access to and control over responsible reproductive healthcare is something enlightened people support. Not all atheists are so enlightened. Not all religious folk are unfriendly to it. So what? Well, according to your bias, you will select the ‘scholarship’ of a Brownie not because it’s accurate or true but because it serves your biased purpose. You excuse your reprehensible approach by claiming because you disagree with Dawkins’ description of religion, you can now vilify his character. That’s why I said this approach was pathetic, childish, and churlish… just like Brownie’s writing about Dawkins and all aspects of New Atheism.

      Yes, all religion is a threat to reasoned approaches to issues in the pubic domain because it uses a broken method that doesn’t produce the knowledge basis for making reasonable and informed judgements. Religion is the flagship of faith-based belief but New Atheists constantly criticize its liberal and pernicious use elsewhere. That’s why most scientists join the movement’s purpose to get faith-based beliefs out of the public domain because physicists and chemists and medical researchers and geologists and astronomers and so on see faith-based belief encroach on their subject expertise, too, and be granted privilege as if it offered something knowledgeable when it never does. If enough superstitious idiots tried to get astrology taught as an alternative ‘theory’ to astronomy, alchemy along with chemistry, in the science classroom, perhaps creationists (over 80% of all Americans, for example and not just YEC idiots) might begin to grasp the extent of this idiocy in the public domain. They might (I sincerely doubt it, however) just begin to grasp the idiocy of trying to do the same with their sophisticated personal favorite of POOF!ism.

      Because Boghossian talks more specifically about why the methodology used to justify these idiotic claims matters so much to reveal religion’s failure to produce knowledge that is worthy of the confidence and trust so many people give to it , of course he’s going to be subjected to the tried and true method of vilifying his character by those sophisticated believers like you who do so in the name of assuring the flock that the argument isn’t a threat to their unjustified and unsupported superstitious beliefs. What a bonus to the pious if he said anything about abortion! In the meantime we’ll wait for some faitheist to write yet another condescending article maligning his character in the name of helping out those poor and foolish religious believers whom the faitheists like Brownie and Ruse assume deserve their scholarly intervention.

      Harris write quite a bit in The End of Faith about the dangers of Islam as being greater than the hobbled religions of the West. He speaks of its incompatibility with fundamental enlightenment values upon which our liberal secular democracies have been built. For this, he has been vilified as an intolerant racist. We just don’t see religious folk armed with sophisticated scholarship rallying to his defense, now do we? And the reason is because Harris’ argument against the pernicious effects of Islam armed with public power are identical to the same reasons for the dangers empowering Christian privilege. The reasons used to support the fundamental belief in Islam is the same as the fundamental belief in Christianity. That’s why religious representatives who hold contrary and incompatible beliefs can get together in the same room and share the same condemnation for atheism as the ‘enemy of God’… not that sophisticated faitheists can grasp why this is sufficient evidence to grant truth to power for the New Atheist movement.

      • apologianick Says:

        Tilde: I didn’t raise the abortion component of your post, Nick. You did. And the purpose becomes apparent: to try to malign Dawkins’ character as some kind of immoral brute. This was Brownie’s intention as well, suggesting Dawkins collected tithes from his adherents just like a pope fleeces his flock. It’s stupid. For someone who claims scholarship to inform his opinions, you fail spectacularly when the basis of your argument is to parrot Brownie.

        Reply: Fair enough on abortion, but it looks like your reply to Brown is “It’s stupid.”

        Dang it! Hard to beat an argument like that!

        Tilde: You also mistakenly link those who disagree with Forced Birthers to atheism.

        Reply: No. I merely showed that this is not just a religious opinion. The view on when life begins is a matter of science and metaphysics both. It does not have to be stated in any holy book. One determines it by looking at the data. The data is, these are living human beings and you are supporting their murder.

        Tilde: Empowering women to have access to and control over responsible reproductive healthcare is something enlightened people support. Not all atheists are so enlightened.

        Reply: And I suppose the enlightened people are the people who agree with you. Right? Who was it who stood up and proclaimed that the enlightened were the enlightened?

        Tilde: Not all religious folk are unfriendly to it. So what? Well, according to your bias, you will select the ‘scholarship’ of a Brownie not because it’s accurate or true but because it serves your biased purpose. You excuse your reprehensible approach by claiming because you disagree with Dawkins’ description of religion, you can now vilify his character. That’s why I said this approach was pathetic, childish, and churlish… just like Brownie’s writing about Dawkins and all aspects of New Atheism.

        Reply: Cry me a river. No. I go after Dawkins because he goes after subjects he knows nothing about and spreads misinformation. Also, with regard to scholarship, you should note something. I do read books that disagree with me. I’m not like Mr. “The Last Superstition is terrible. It’s nonsense. It doesn’t deal with XYZ. What? Read it? No! Why would I bother reading it?!”

        I guess you didn’t read it because it doesn’t fit your biased character. Right?

        Any charge you make of reading something after that event is rank hypocrisy.

        Tilde: Yes, all religion is a threat to reasoned approaches to issues in the pubic domain because it uses a broken method that doesn’t produce the knowledge basis for making reasonable and informed judgements.

        Reply: Oh this will be fun. Okay Tilde. Tell me the methodology that I use as a religious person to arrive at knowledge. Go ahead.

        Tilde: Religion is the flagship of faith-based belief but New Atheists constantly criticize its liberal and pernicious use elsewhere. That’s why most scientists join the movement’s purpose to get faith-based beliefs out of the public domain because physicists and chemists and medical researchers and geologists and astronomers and so on see faith-based belief encroach on their subject expertise, too, and be granted privilege as if it offered something knowledgeable when it never does. If enough superstitious idiots tried to get astrology taught as an alternative ‘theory’ to astronomy, alchemy along with chemistry, in the science classroom, perhaps creationists (over 80% of all Americans, for example and not just YEC idiots) might begin to grasp the extent of this idiocy in the public domain. They might (I sincerely doubt it, however) just begin to grasp the idiocy of trying to do the same with their sophisticated personal favorite of POOF!ism.

        Reply: Faith-based. That’s cute. You should know I hate that term. Why? Because most people use faith in the wrong sense, such as Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian, and the rest of the new atheists. Ironically, they really present no evidence of this claim other than their own assertions. No scholarly sources or Lexicons are cited whatsoever. Fortunately, Tim McGrew helped slaughter this when he debated Boggy on the air.

        Tilde: Because Boghossian talks more specifically about why the methodology used to justify these idiotic claims matters so much to reveal religion’s failure to produce knowledge that is worthy of the confidence and trust so many people give to it , of course he’s going to be subjected to the tried and true method of vilifying his character by those sophisticated believers like you who do so in the name of assuring the flock that the argument isn’t a threat to their unjustified and unsupported superstitious beliefs.

        Reply: He’s not. Boggy is clueless and I know because I’ve read his book. There’s a reason again that McGrew massacred his chickens on Unbelievable? I don’t mind Boggy arguing against religion. I don’t mind anyone doing it. I mind them doing it based on false information and without studying the subject.

        You know, like you do.

        Tilde: What a bonus to the pious if he said anything about abortion! In the meantime we’ll wait for some faitheist to write yet another condescending article maligning his character in the name of helping out those poor and foolish religious believers whom the faitheists like Brownie and Ruse assume deserve their scholarly intervention.

        Reply: You know, if you’re so sure that we’re so dumb, I debate on TheologyWeb as does Cornell. You’re welcome to show up any time and show us all these powerful arguments that you have.

        Tilde: Harris write quite a bit in The End of Faith about the dangers of Islam as being greater than the hobbled religions of the West. He speaks of its incompatibility with fundamental enlightenment values upon which our liberal secular democracies have been built. For this, he has been vilified as an intolerant racist. We just don’t see religious folk armed with sophisticated scholarship rallying to his defense, now do we? And the reason is because Harris’ argument against the pernicious effects of Islam armed with public power are identical to the same reasons for the dangers empowering Christian privilege. The reasons used to support the fundamental belief in Islam is the same as the fundamental belief in Christianity. That’s why religious representatives who hold contrary and incompatible beliefs can get together in the same room and share the same condemnation for atheism as the ‘enemy of God’… not that sophisticated faitheists can grasp why this is sufficient evidence to grant truth to power for the New Atheist movement.

        REply: The reasons are the same? You mean Christians believe Jesus is Lord and Messiah both because of the Koran? Not at all. Both groups accept different evidence. While Harris did write on Islam some, he has mainly gone after Christianity, which is quite odd, and yes, Harris also does not know what he’s talking about.

        You might know this if you read anything that disagreed with you, like The Last Superstition, but your bias won’t allow that.

      • tildeb Says:

        Nick, you continue to imply that because I have not read The Last Superstition, I can know nothing about his thesis that I then criticize. Based on this assumption, you then repeatedly charge me with ignorance. This is not true. I have read Feser’s articles promoting it. I have read many articles and reviews about it. I have read the Feser’s many comments responding to these reviews. I have read a very long exchange between him and ex-priest MacDonald fully exploring the thesis. Although it’s true I have not read the book, it’s simply not true that I therefore argue from ignorance. Stop pretending it is. Your assumption is wrong. You argue from your own bias, presuming that your interpretation is always correct and that arguments you deduce from it are therefore correct and scholarly. That’s why you include some snide referral in almost every comment you make about my comment. They’re not accurate. They are pathetic, childish, and churlish.

        I posted the answer to the question, Why did you write The God Delusion, with Dawkins’ own words to back up my claim about the thesis he presented and his target audience, which are not the sophisticated and scholarly beliefs you think best represent your interpreted version of Christianity. This quote supports my criticism against you about misrepresenting teh book and his reasons for writing it (and compounding your error by then misrepresenting my reasons for clarifying why so many faitheists continue to misrepresent him!). You dismiss what he himself says with a wave of your hand and go back to promoting your biased version that anything out of Dawkins’ mouth or pen outside of evolution is mostly ignorance (even though this ‘ignorance’ is clearly represented by what is supported and promoted and privileged by over 80% of the American public).

        Of course, you must vilify me for daring to criticize your methods. Stand operating procedure for faitheists of all stripes… the ones you like are so very scholarly… including yourself, naturally.

      • apologianick Says:

        Tilde: Nick, you continue to imply that because I have not read The Last Superstition, I can know nothing about his thesis that I then criticize. Based on this assumption, you then repeatedly charge me with ignorance. This is not true. I have read Feser’s articles promoting it. I have read many articles and reviews about it. I have read the Feser’s many comments responding to these reviews. I have read a very long exchange between him and ex-priest MacDonald fully exploring the thesis. Although it’s true I have not read the book, it’s simply not true that I therefore argue from ignorance. Stop pretending it is. Your assumption is wrong. You argue from your own bias, presuming that your interpretation is always correct and that arguments you deduce from it are therefore correct and scholarly. That’s why you include some snide referral in almost every comment you make about my comment. They’re not accurate. They are pathetic, childish, and churlish.

        Reply: No Tilde. The very objections you were raising were objections that were issued in the book. You talked about what he did and did not do in the book but you yourself had never read it. Those of us who had read it knew what you were saying was nonsense. In fact, you not only haven’t read it, but you insisted you wouldn’t because why pay money? Well do what I did. Go to the library and get a copy. Then write out a response to it. Until then, continue exhibiting this wonderful atheistic gift of criticizing books you have never read and knowing all that is in them.

        Tilde: I posted the answer to the question, Why did you write The God Delusion, with Dawkins’ own words to back up my claim about the thesis he presented and his target audience, which are not the sophisticated and scholarly beliefs you think best represent your interpreted version of Christianity. This quote supports my criticism against you about misrepresenting teh book and his reasons for writing it (and compounding your error by then misrepresenting my reasons for clarifying why so many faitheists continue to misrepresent him!). You dismiss what he himself says with a wave of your hand and go back to promoting your biased version that anything out of Dawkins’ mouth or pen outside of evolution is mostly ignorance (even though this ‘ignorance’ is clearly represented by what is supported and promoted and privileged by over 80% of the American public).

        REply: Which simply shows Dawkins is going after low-hanging fruit. If he thinks it really is a delusion, why not go after the best of the best? Why go after those who are not informed instead of going after those who are informed? I don’t doubt TGD will have an impact on those who have not studied the subject a bit. So what? Ray Comfort could work on those who have not studied a subject either and I certainly don’t endorse him.

        Tilde: Of course, you must vilify me for daring to criticize your methods. Stand operating procedure for faitheists of all stripes… the ones you like are so very scholarly… including yourself, naturally.

        Reply: Oh I asked you to tell me what my methodology was for obtaining knowledge and determining truth claims. You never did. STandard typical fundamentalist atheist behavior.

      • labreuer Says:

        Nick, you continue to imply that because I have not read The Last Superstition, I can know nothing about his thesis that I then criticize.

        I would love to see a precise quotation of Nick’s, which shows this implication. Please show that you’re not just imputing a terrible view to Nick to strawman him, precisely the claim you are making of Nick (and perhaps me) re: Dawkins. Focus on the “nothing”, please.

      • tildeb Says:

        Lab, read first, then comprehend. I said that Nick implied that not reading the book – as I freely admitted – does not mean I am ignorant of its thesis. Now here you come to demand a precise quote. Well, if there were such a quote, I would have used it. What there is is a repetitive reference by Nick suggesting that he reads material contrary to his beliefs whereas I do not. That’s the bullshit being peddled.

      • labreuer Says:

        If you cannot draw on several specific quotations to support your point, I’m going to suspect that you’re actually making shit up. What you could do, is simply ask if Nick would agree with what you inferred. If he says “no”, then you’d have that for the future, or if you really wanted to for looking at past comments, so that when he says something seemingly in contradiction with that “no”, you can ask him why that might seem contradictory to you. But instead of doing this, you make vague accusations. That simply does not advance the pursuit of truth, in any form. You know what groups thrive on vague accusations? Cults.

        Oh, I’ll add a little bit. Nick has Aspergers; while I don’t have anything diagnosed, I had a lot of trouble socializing when growing up. So, I know how utterly terrible vague accusations are. Basically, vague accusations serve as ways to subtly criticize in plausibly deniable ways. They are death to people like me, and I’ll bet people like Nick. If you’ve read enough of Nick’s stuff, I think you see that he just out and says things—he doesn’t beat around the bush much. So perhaps you could be respectful of this forthrightness, instead of assuming that he has terrible intentions at heart?

        What there is is a repetitive reference by Nick suggesting that he reads material contrary to his beliefs whereas I do not. That’s the bullshit being peddled.

        Then contradict the peddling by listing what material contrary to your beliefs you have actually read. It doesn’t have to be a complete list, but you could produce what you think some of the most compelling works were that you read, even if you didn’t actually find them convincing. Let’s see what your level of scholarly reading is, @tildeb. Nobody can be an expert—even I found Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles to be quite challenging at points—but it will be revealing if turns out that you are making comments that are too strong given your scholarly exposure, or lack thereof.

  8. Apologetics Roundup (8/17-8/23) - Stephen J. Bedard Says:

    […] Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God – Nick Peters […]

  9. tildeb Says:

    Nick states here (as he has done many times in the past) that I have a problem with questioning without being willing to study the best that the other side has to offer as it relates to any criticism of his religious beliefs. He raises the same point to justify his assessment about why TGD is misguided and simplistic because ti doesn’t do this to his satisfaction.

    Now, I’ve had a problem with this assumption about the supposed need to address sophisticated theology when it comes to criticizing religion’s pernicious effects when I’ve argued why religious belief should be granted no privilege in the public domain. I base my justification on the pernicious effects caused by allowing any method that relies on faith-based beliefs any – and I do many any – intellectual respect. I have long thought that faith-based beliefs are a root problem empowering many of the world’s longest running problems. I see no difference in the method used to empower apartheid as it does political totalitarianism, the same method to empower yogis as it does popes, the same method to justify exorcisms as foot detoxification. The central feature requires privileging a belief to be descriptive of reality and then using that belief as if it were deduced from it.

    The method of imposing this kind of belief on reality includes any and all kinds of privileging woo – from religion to raiki, from climate change denialism to anti-vaxers and anit-fluoridation, from homeopathy to naturopathy, from the ramblings of Deepak Chopra to salesmanship of Dr Oz, and so on. These too require the imposition of a model of reality that is divorced from being arbitrated by it. This, I call faith-based belief. By faith-based belief, I mean the subjective imposition of a conclusion – one lacking compelling evidence rather than an adduced conclusion based on compelling evidence – and infusing it with undeserved an unearned confidence and unreasonable measure of trust.

    No matter what the faith-based criticism might be, those doing the criticizing are very often meet by Nick’s line of defense, namely, that until the appropriate reading list is completed, the critic is not addressing the best arguments for whatever woo is being criticized. And this has long bothered me because it is a diversionary tactic from addressing the actual criticism and labels it in minds sympathetic to the belief to be uninformed and therefore easily dismissed without adequate consideration.

    I was pleased to come across exactly this issue and a response to it here. Loftus was quoted saying what I think, namely that

    To teach it correctly (tildeb: philosophy of religion) the professor should tell the truth about the lack of epistemic status of faith. Faith has no intellectual merit. It is not a virtue. It has no method. It solves no problems. It is not worthy of thinking people.

    Reading religious apologetics is an exercise of exactly this: a post hoc rationalization for an a priori assumption of belief with an undeserved and unearned confidence, hope, and trust. No matter how many works one reads to justify some religious or woo-based confidence, this is what one eventually finds at its core. And it is this core that that is criticized, namely, the lack of any means or method to produce compelling evidence from reality for some woo-based model that presumes to describe it.

    This lack of means to be able to differentiate which bits of scripture to hold as literal and historical versus which bits are to be properly interpreted to be metaphorical and figurative is a core failure on which the rest of Nick’s religious edifice has been built. The correct response to the criticism is to produce compelling evidence from reality for a model that supposedly describes it. Nick’s task is to demonstrate a means to differentiate that is as reliable for me as it is for him and for you and for any other reasonable person. This he cannot do, so he waves towards ‘scholarship’ of the apologetic kind (philosophy of religion) as if this wealth of supposed philosophical ‘knowledge’ pays the cost of lacking reality’s support while ignoring scholarship that of the reality kind (science) and condemning it to be something less than addressing the best theological arguments.

    The bottom line is that Dawkins’ thesis stands on its own merit. It asserts that belief in any god is equivalent to believing in a delusion. Nothing Nick suggests offers compelling evidence that he’s wrong.

    • labreuer Says:

      These too require the imposition of a model of reality that is divorced from being arbitrated by it.

      @tildeb, I would like to know whether you think what sociologist Peter Berger talks about, below, is “faith-based belief”. The first quote is from A Far Glory, the second two from Facing Up to Modernity.

          Another exaggeration may have been the conventional view of the reach of scientific rationality. One does not have to look at religion only in order to find this thought plausible. It is amazing what people educated to the highest levels of scientific rationality are prepared to believe by way of irrational prejudices; one only has to look at the political and social beliefs of the most educated classes of Western societies to gain an appreciation of this. Just one case: What Western intellectuals over the last decades have managed to believe about the character of Communist societies is alone sufficient to cast serious doubt on the proposition that rationality is enhanced as a result of scientifically sophisticated education or of living in a modern technological society. (30)

      Even if it were true that socialism is the only rational conclusion, this would not explain its dissemination among specific social groups. Modern science, for example, may also be described as the only rational conclusion for certain questions about nature—and yet it took millennia before it came to be established in specific groups in a specific corner of the world. Ideas neither triumph nor fail in history because of their intrinsic truth or falsity. Furthermore, the affinity between intellectuals and socialism is clearly more than a matter of rational arguments. It is suffused with values, with moral passion, in many cases with profoundly religious hope—in sum, with precisely those characteristics which permit speaking of a socialist myth (in a descriptive, nonpejorative sense.)” (58)

      The socialist myth promises the fulfillment of both the rational dreams of the Enlightenment and the manifold aspirations of those to whom the Enlightenment has been an alienating experience. Such a promise inevitably grates against its imperfect realization in empirical reality, frustrating and often enraging its believers. This is nothing new in the long history of eschatologies, which is inevitably a history of the psychology of disappointment. (62–3)

      Communism and socialism (differing by whether some property is private or all property is State-owned) have been long advanced by intellectual elites, many of whom were atheists. Indeed, Peter Berger, himself an intellectual elite, talks about the secularization thesis, and how many intellectuals believed it for quite some time. The trick is, it was only parochially true: of intellectuals themselves. The rest of the world simply did not support this theory—or was it a “faith-based” hope, dependent on cherry-picking one’s facts? Too bad reality was never in accord with it.

      Given that the above is a profound example of atheists believing in falsehoods which they clearly should have known were falsehoods, I would like to know whether (a) the problem you address is in any way unique to religion, or even of higher incidence among the religious; (b) what other examples you can point to among highly educated atheist folks of 100% “faith-based” beliefs?

      P.S. Atheist and philosophy educator Jonathan Pearce, recommended from his blog comment Andrew Brown’s Do human rights exist? I wonder if you believe that human rights are (i) divorced from reality, or (ii) arbitrated by it. I know you don’t like Andrew Brown, but that doesn’t mean his arguments are wrong in this instance. Indeed, I think they offer a wonderful criticism of your “faith-based” ideology which you present in this very post—for surely that position itself is not “arbitrated by reality”. Please show me the particles and fields and models thereof which support your position, if you disagree.

      • tildeb Says:

        ‘Intellectual elites’ is code for academics (usually liberal-leaning and quite often atheist) who disagree with whomever is doing the writing. Berger, for example, doesn’t use the local fire department or military as an example of practical socialism in our midst (a public response to a public issue) but reaches for the extreme (communism). I find this kind of reaching a common tactic and rather tedious because it indicates no willingness to exchange ideas or better understand differences (what are the benefits/costs of these ideas rather than those ideas) but to vilify people by artificially constructed group membership in order to dismiss their contribution.

        The problem I usually have with those who think sociology is a legitimate academic subject is that they begin to believe in the reality of their own terms. What you offer as ‘profound example’ of ‘atheists’ believing in ‘falsehoods’ is loaded with problems; it is an artificially created group assigned a common belief that few if any hold (I’ve never met a dedicated communist ideologue in post secondary faculties I’ve spent time in save sociology but gobs of people who support various public forms of socialism… can you find someone ideologically opposed to a publicly funded and staffed fire department?) and then presented as if contrary to reality (in that few communist regimes attain longevity and stability and an improved standard of living for its populations). That’s not profound evidence against some imaginary atheist doctrine that is false; it’s a mental construct that is imaginary.

        Again, I don’t care who empowers some faith-based belief or what their academic qualifications may be. I care that the method used to justify this placement of confidence is guaranteed way to fool us into assuming our beliefs about reality define it.

        Many atheists I know fall into this trap (and it is a trap) as easily as the next person (woo is not confined to religion alone but religion is the mothership in that it advertises such belief-imposed-on-reality to be a virtue)… especially when it involves two other big areas: alt medicine (natural remedies good, chemical remedies bad) and some version of environmentalism (nature good, man bad). When anyone acts on these belief-imposed-on-reality-and-assumed-to-be-true assumptions (faith) empowered not by compelling evidence from reality but belief that the assumption is true a priori, more often than not we will find pernicious effects and ongoing dysfunction.

        You assume that I follow some kind of scientism whenever I speak about respecting reality’s arbitration of our beliefs and categorize my explanations accordingly. But think a moment. In what other area of life would you argue that it is better to empower beliefs to arbitrate reality and then defend this approach (this method) when presented with compelling evidence of dysfunction?

        I see this attempt all the time in people who have to face reality’s usually unpleasant and discomforting arbitration of their acting on their beliefs and then have to deal with the consequences. Dealing with the consequences in a reasonable way usually means having to change the approach that led to dysfunction and then having to learn again to see how to incorporate and change one’s approach to respect reality’s arbitration before addressing solutions. I could write a very thick book on how many common examples we can find where this faith-based method – imposing belief as if it accurately described reality – is the root problem for some kind of pernicious dysfunction… from parenting to politics, industry to ideology, personal psychology to public policy.

        When use reality to arbitrate our beliefs and demonstrate a willingness to respect the results, we usually find a marked decrease in dysfunction and an improvement in quality of life. There is few more powerful an example than to learn from those who have to face the reality of a life-threatening disease and accept its reality. I’ve even seen and heard people who state categorically that doing so – accepting and taking ownership of their disease – was the most profoundly empowering and life-affirming moment of their lives. Yes, they accept that the disease will first disable and then kill them, but without that immanent threat they would never have had to learn how to live fully right now. I think almost all of us are clever enough to learn from this reality how to do the same and enrich our lives immeasurably without first making reality bludgeon us into the right frame of mind to be able to respect it. Dis-empowering our natural tendency to make a virtue of imposing our belief on reality is an essential step to living fully and honestly with eyes wide open right now in the reality we actually inhabit. The benefit for doing so outweighs any benefit that can be attributed for living in a belief-soaked dysfunction if these folk are any indication. If we extend their teaching to our own lives, we can see that our life itself is an equivalent terminal disease that will kill us. Believing it will somehow go on after our death is just another kind of avoidance technique that I think keeps far too many of us us from treasuring not just our lives right here, right now, but the gift exchange we can experience having honest relations with others. And that includes seeing honestly by reality’s arbitration how we live and what effects we cause. This empowers us to be autonomous causal agents responsible for our actions and allows us to own and not borrow our morals and ethics. It makes us charismatically fully human and fully engaged with real life. That’s what respecting reality offers us and I think well worth holding fast against the advice of those scholarly folk who wish to divert us from the living task at hand with the empty promises of some better life after we’re dead. The absurdity of the argument against respecting reality would be laughable if it were not so tragic in anti-life consequences.

      • labreuer Says:

        You assume that I follow some kind of scientism whenever I speak about respecting reality’s arbitration of our beliefs and categorize my explanations accordingly. But think a moment. In what other area of life would you argue that it is better to empower beliefs to arbitrate reality and then defend this approach (this method) when presented with compelling evidence of dysfunction?

        As far as I know, “this method” is value-free, and cannot e.g. motivate an end to slavery. Your focus on means over ends (except for the ends of always applying a given means) is disturbing, and also well-explained by sociologist Jacques Ellul in The Technological Society. Ellul calls this ‘technique’; in The Malaise of Modernity, Charles Taylor calls it ‘instrumental reason’. Serving instrumental reason has not made very many people particularly happy.

        Your focus on science utterly neglects that humans are not just objects, but also subjects. If we merely give each human more power to get what he/she individualistically wants, do you really believe that will end well, given history? Indeed, the very thought that science gives your average person more power is extraordinarily iffy. Here’s why: a major cause of human misery comes from the consequences of the unequal distribution of power; if anything, science increases the possible inequalities.

        Humans, qua humans, do not thrive merely by having food, shelter, sex, and safety. Science can and does improve access to all of these. However, humans have demonstrated a real need to have an impact on the world. If, however, humans are not in sufficient accord, they cause great damage if they have a power to have a real impact on the world. There are two solutions: (A) restrict which humans can have any real impact; (B) align the wills of humans. The predominant solution taken has been (A), which is directly contrary to my assertion in this paragraph. Please tell me how science is going to help, other than e.g. by doing what Jacques Ellul describes in Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes.

        What you have 100% neglected, @tildeb, is that humans do not merely conform themselves to reality; they change reality. It is indeed important to understand reality well enough if you want to change it to your desired ends; this was behind Bacon’s redefinition of ‘knowledge’, and it is why Hitler was so effective in his manipulations. How, precisely will science help arbitrate which directions are better to go than others? I do not want just-so stories, and I do not want to hear you talk about how science will help us meet predetermined ends. I want you to tell me how science helps us choose ends in and of themselves. If you cannot do this, then you have admitted that science is not the be all and end all, and that mere focus on ‘method’ is 100% insufficient and moreover, I would claim, dangerous.

        Science is like a ship’s propulsion; it cannot also be the main hand at the tiller. You have utterly neglected how we choose to steer the ship. Are you willing to fill in that lacuna?

      • labreuer Says:

        our dismissal of Berger’s points misses:

        1. Which period was referred to with the communism quotation. (A Far Glory itself was written in 1993)
        2. The two quotations about socialism as mythology.
        3. The deep truth of The Social Construction of Reality, which gets at how collective human beliefs are actually turned into reality.

        I would love to see you make a list of the 10 top ‘woo’ problems you think the world faces, in order of most important to least important. I am just fascinated to see whether stuff like the religious belief in communism/socialism ranks compared to YEC. There’s also the failure to understand human nature, as evidenced by Milgram experiment § Results. I’m not sure to what extent we today really believe the results of Milgram. I’d love to know how badly you think incorrect models of human nature damage our ability to act well in reality. I put this under the category of ‘woo’, because I claim we want to believe better about the human condition than is the truth.

        I wonder if you can even demonstrate, with evidence, that religion qua ‘religion’ is actually all that dangerous (see Keith Ward’s Is Religion Dangerous?). I can certainly point to various religious beliefs which are dangerous, but I can and have pointed to non-supernatural beliefs which (a) seem awfully ‘religious’ in all senses except the supernatural; and/or (b) seem[ed] quite dangerous. A sharp knife improperly handled is more dangerous than a dull knife.

        Finally, I would love how adhering your beliefs to reality leaves you with any ‘shoulds’ whatsoever. (Including that we should use science!) Would you please explain this? Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean by ‘reality’, or perhaps you think there are some desires which are not 100% predicated upon ‘beliefs’?

      • labreuer Says:

        Believing [life] will somehow go on after our death is just another kind of avoidance technique that I think keeps far too many of us us from treasuring not just our lives right here, right now, but the gift exchange we can experience having honest relations with others.

        You’ve provided zero reason to think that what you describe is necessarily true, rather than contingently true of the communities to which you have been exposed. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis claims:

        If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. (134)

        I recognize this as 100% contingently true; from reviews and interviews I am led to believe that Randal Rauser’s What on Earth Do We Know about Heaven?: 20 Questions and Answers about Life after Death exposes a deep lack of actual imagination of what heaven might be like among Americans, today. It is hard to push toward an amorphous goal. Allan Bloom gets at this topic nicely in The Closing of the American Mind:

            In encouraging this deformity, democratic relativism joins a branch of conservatism that is impressed by the dangerous political consequences of idealism. These conservatives want young people to know that this tawdry old world cannot respond to their demands for perfection. In the choice between the somewhat arbitrarily distinguished realism and idealism, a sensible person would want to be both, or neither. But, momentarily accepting a distinction I reject, idealism as it is commonly conceived should have primacy in an education, for man is a being who must take his orientation by his possible perfection. To attempt to suppress this most natural of all inclinations because of possible abuses is, almost literally, to throw out the baby with the bath. Utopianism is, as Plato taught us at the outset, the fire with which we must play because it is the only way we can find out what we are. We need to criticize false understandings of Utopia, but the easy way out provided by realism is deadly. As it now stands, students have powerful images of what a perfect body is and pursue it incessantly. But deprived of literary guidance, they no longer have any image of a perfect soul, and hence do not long to have one. They do not even imagine that there is such a thing. (67)

        Do you disagree with Bloom? If instead you agree, then perhaps there is indeed a way to believe in heaven, and work toward making part of it real on earth, which does not fall prey to the criticisms you voice. Will you allow for this possibility? If not, are you ruling it out on an a priori basis or an a posteriori basis? If the former, please provide a sound, valid argument. If the latter, please provide sufficient evidence.

        Oh, have you read Ernest Becker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Denial of Death?

  10. Zero One Says:

    THE EVER JUSTIFIABLE FAITH

    Now none of us would object to increasing happiness and reducing suffering, but what we ask is if the ends justify the means. Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result? That is in fact something that I wish to keep pressing when it comes to the abortion debate. The question we need to ask is “Is the act of willfully terminating your own pregnancy wrong?”

    Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result?

    vs

    David’s bit about dashing infants against rocks (Ps. 137:9) was no sick desire to witness acts of random cruelty, but a lament that such action would be taken as needed to preserve his own people from the future acts of cruelty of the Babylonians, which would inevitably come to pass.

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/outrage.php

    IS IT?

    You tell me. Was David lamenting the necessity of a future slaughter for the sake of a good outcome in the Psalm that Holding quotes, or wasn’t he? If he was then the means do justify the ends. Or will those words still even be in that article by the time you read this message? I don’t know stranger reading this, and I can’t even prove he said them because Tektonics doesn’t allow itself to be archived by archive.org.

    You see, in reality, we can agree with many of the reasons that someone would want an abortion. We can agree they should be financially stable. We can agree many are not ready to raise a child yet. We can agree that many need emotional security. We can agree that it is fine for a woman to have a career. No one is saying any of these things are evil in and of themselves.

    What we are saying is that none of those justifies the murder of an innocent child.

    If the artifacts and shards of culture cannot justify murder today, if the horrors of the adoption system and the abuses inflicted on unwanted children are not enough TODAY to justify preventing the completion of a pregnancy, then I submit to you that they were not enough three thousand years ago, or else relativism reigns. If a life is worth living FOR ITS OWN SAKE, TODAY, then it was worth living for its own sake three thousand years ago. And that applies to the Amalykite children and the Canaanite children and the Egyptian Children, and the Israelite children and all whose blood still cries from the horns of the alter of total dedication (herem)…

    and the kind of people who disagree are the kind who (committing the logical fallacy) poison the wells of their opponents with the cyanide of their crocodile, hack in stab nine iron tears:

    those that argue (for example) that, i.e., God could have provided food for all of the Midianite or Amalekite refugees rather than have them killed are of the same sort who prefer a God that doesn’t enforce and rules they don’t like, and cannot escape their own hypocrisy.

    http://www.tektonics.org/lp/outrage.php

    the phone goes click. NEXT:

    That’s right. What can we do to “contain” people of faith? This included such steps as treating faith (A term Boghossian does not know the meaning of) as a public health crisis and to remove the religious exemption for delusion from the DSM, which is the diagnostic rule book for psychological disorders.

    vs

    At the same time, we’re also like a military force. You know why many of you can sit safely in church and worship? It’s because people like the apologists among you are out there in the front lines and are busy taking bullets on your behalf. We’re the ones that are engaging the atheists and cultists and such in the hopes that they will leave you alone. (Of course, we also hope they will come to Christ, but many are just not open yet.)

    You know why many of you can sit safely in church and worship? Because the founders of the United States were intelligent enough to keep a particular church from seizing the reigns of power to destroy or subjugate other churches for their own good. They allowed INDIVIDUALS to worship freely, or at least opened the way. You see, that’s what the priests were doing in the Inquisition. It was for the heretics own good, and for the sake of the collective. It was because men were taught that their highest ideal was to serve others that they finally served them by tying the noose around their brothers neck to save the heretics soul from a trap of the theologist’s making. Better to suffer in this life for a moment, for the fires of an hour, than to suffer at the hands of flames that NEVER go out. There’s the respect that makes calamity of so long a life. It was for their good, and the protection of the other believers that the heretics had to be put down. They, the Albagins, were a threat to society, going to the same worship centers as traditional believers while spreading their views. Just like the early Christians at the synagogues of the teachers of the law.

    “The Bible wasn’t written for us,” They sneer, blanking out the fact that Christ’s words were directly applied to justify every vile crime imaginable, by people who knew better.

    Rupert Hughes, lay historian, actor, director and editor of a five volume history of the world knew this, and pointed it out that Christians have often been the cruelest to each other:

    For all his UNSPEAKABLE HORROR, Mao Zedong tried to drag his country into the twentieth century, and ultimately, some of his policies appear to have produced longer life spans. Tell me, tell me that these peoples’ deaths’ MEANT SOMETHING:

    After the New World was rid of its primitive peoples, after the beautiful civilization of the Incas was destroyed, after the Mayas and all their books were annihilated and their country restored to the jungle, the Christians had only themselves to practice on.


    There were good women of pure life who were enmeshed in the infamous nets of doctrinal dispute and after hours of loathsome ritual and pious humiliation were seated in public squares and cooked over slow fires that gradually consumed the hinder parts first. Carefully handled, a strong woman would live for two hours as she baked.

    This was not the work of illiterates in the jungle. It was the careful, prayerful work of the most enlightened Christians, and the infamy was committed not upon one or two poor souls but upon thousands, upon myriads. It was committed in all the cities and towns of Christendom.

    Then I read what my own Congregationalists did in this country — those noble Pilgrims and Puritans of whom so much good is spoken and so little truth told. My historical research led me to an acquaintance with their fiendish brutality. Tears filled my eyes for the anguishes of harmless old Quaker women stripped and whipped and driven through the snow of village after village with their blood freezing on their half-flayed backs. I read of Baptists lashed “till their skin hung in bloody rags,” of all manner of cruel tyranny inflicted on the minds and bodies of their own people and their visitors.

    “and when the beautiful civilization of the Inca was reduced back to jungle, the Christians HAD ONLY THEMSELVES TO PRACTICE ON (emphasis mind).” (Hughes, Why I Quit Going to Church)

    Dawkins was going after low hanging fruit you say? He couldn’t handle the best and brightest? Well, did you or did you not lament in another post that the misguided teachers outshine the brightest? Did you not say:

    I have said before that when Michael Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and Alvin Plantinga are names every Christian knows and Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and others of that ilk are out there trying to get support, we will have a much more equipped church ready to handle the challenges…

    If the best and brightest don’t represent what the majority of christians believe, then why should a popular book of counter apologetics, meant for a popular audience, and addressing popular arguments for God’s existence, address them? Why does Dawkins have to talk to your beliefs when by your own admission, most people don’t share them, or their sophistication? What makes you so special?

    Baby want a bottle?

    (This insult brought to you courtesy of “RIPOSTE,”

    “Riposte,” Thought Stopping since 1 AD…or third grade, not sure which).

    You claim that Dawkins should have responded to the best, that he had to do the work, to study and educate himself. You claim that if he had you would not have acted toward him as you do.

    Let us examine those claims and that standard. Hector Avalos has recieved awards for his teaching, has degrees in the relevant fields, he can read the bible in its original languages, and he has dealt with Paul Copan’s scholarship, just as you demanded of books arguing for the immorality of the Canaanite genocide on an Amazon Forum. How do you and your “ministry partner,” treat him? What names do you use to describe him? Do you dismiss him as unhinged? Do you respect him at all?

    Dr. Robert M. Price has two degrees at the PhD. level in fields directly related to biblical studies, one in systematic theology. He has written both from the perspective of a liberal believer (Beyond Born Again) and since as a skeptic. He has translated the entire New Testament PLUS gnostic works Plus a commentary (Pre-Niceine New Testament).

    How do you and your “ministry partner” treat him? Do you work with his own description of how he came to believe in Mythic-ism (he states he thought it was crackpot at first and for a long time, just LIKE you)? OR, do you call him a fundamentalist who cannot overcome his former thinking? Do you accuse his motives and take down material against him when the factual accuracy of it is called into question?

    Farrell Till studied the bible for years. He was a missionary, and preached in front of multiple congregations. He called for higher standards in the field of Biblical Errancy and called out other atheists (like Mckenzey) who he felt failed to live up to his standards. AND you always knew who he was addressing, because he linked to both sides IN PRINT, and ON LINE. He didn’t hide behind his website, he didn’t give his opponents fake names, and he didn’t practice smorgasbord debate tactics.

    I personally read on the old theology web (before it so conveniently dispersed) of people, fans of your “ministry partner” fantasizing what was happening to him in hell after he died, and how the devil was pitching a fork into his butt.

    You make the words of Bob Ingersol true, you make him a prophet who stated,

    “These foul ministers…they mock the trials of unbelievers, laugh at their tears and of their sorrows make a jest.” (see the Collected works of Robert Ingersol)

    “If men do this when the wood is green, how much more when it is brown.”

    If you treat these individuals, who Know (or knew) the bible, who dealt and deal with the best of conservative apologetics, and who dedicated and dedicate their lives to studying its sacred content with such disdain, why should ANYONE believe you would have treated Dawkins ANY differently, had he had their knowledge?

    Why should I believe you would treat me any differently, even if I read every book you demanded and dedicated my life to finding out if your faith was true?, as you and other apologists so frequently neglect to do of others?

    I once read “Who Made God, and Answers to 100 other questions of Faith,” edited by Ravi Zacharias. Do you know how many religions it addressed, and in only a few hundred pages? Dozens. It talked of how ridiculous new age thought was using a standard of evidence that would OBLITERATE Christianity if it were applied (and I ought to know cause I’ve read the poison of the skeptics who apply that very standard.) Mary Baker Eddy is given something like two pages or less. Don’t worry though, I’m sure they dealt with her best arguments. Her own book was only about 900 pages in length. No biggie. If your not going to answer it for real, why call them actual answers? Has no one stopped to tell Ravi to do more research in all the years he has been around?

    And so the words of Hughes are made true:

    They assail and ridicule the most sacred tenets of alien faiths. But when their own is attacked they are struck with horror.

    “Christians insult the most sacred tenants of alien faiths, but when their own are mocked, they recoil in horror.”
    (Hughes, Why I Quit Going to Church)

    I also read the Case for Christ, and funny thing that Lee Strobel never bothered to ask a Mormon scholar if the statements of the Museum of Natural History he contacted were true in regard to that work, the Book of Mormon. Of course, he is just low hanging fruit, that Strobel, and that is why his books have sold so very very well. Funny though, it looks like even low hanging fruit could be consistent.

    The horror of the atheist may be that he can believe in anything (and thus act in ways that sicken and kill), but the horror of the christian is that they can do anything if they believe that God has told them so, and afterwords call it righteousness according to a standard they would never us for such acts as abortion.

    How do I know: For if I disagreed with them, those authors you recommend, however good the reasons, how ever pure the thinking, that it wouldn’t be me there getting mocked and getting my face spit in, just as you have treated all these other men (and without even the courtesy of a name.) ?

    You complain when Norman Geisler doesn’t name you in his book (and he doesn’t, I’ve read that part) and yet how many skeptics have you left un-named and un-linked? How much have you complained that your critics want to silence you. But your own words judge you, that you want to drown out the voice of your critics for the sake of the faithful.

    You complain about Boghossian’s views, but your own are parallel. You don’t want the faithful to think. You just said so yourself. For if they read those skeptics then they might have to think, and be confronted with their own doubts. Having preserved the faithful from thinking, you turn to the skeptic and doubter and declare that if they aren’t willing to do the research, you DON’T want them in the kingdom of Heaven. And so the trap is set. For on the one hand a believer has to do but little research, and on the other a skeptic’s study of thirty years can be dismissed with a “Hu, Duh!” All the believer needs to do to be prepared is to read Habermas or Copan, while even skeptics with PhD s are swept away as unhinged Fundy atheists.

    Professor emeritus Mark Roncase…but what is the point. You won’t treat him any better than the others.

    No one is the answer to my question, because you wouldn’t be any kinder to Dawkins if he was educated and half the time you won’t even mention the last individual by name, though he wrote a book that meets your very standards of dealing with the best of the otherside, so much so that multiple Christians endorse it, most famously Dr. Norman Geisler.

    Since you like to mock people, have a drink of blood out of the wine press of your own bloody despicable filth:

    “What’s the matter, scared the sheep will get wind they’re being tended by wolves from the Daughters of Babylon?”

    How’s that pearl taste now, Claudius? Is it as bitter as when you ram it into the mouth of your enemy’s? Is it nice to be treated like a third grade school yard bully called out? For this is your method toward your opponents, sanctioned by you and your Partner, as the fangs come out toward all who question. Then you push your paws into their chest and collapse their ribcage with your verbal y Is this “riposte” better than civilized rational discussion?

    You who will mock the low hanging fruit of Dawkins, but won’t even mention John W. Loftus, who knocks Joel Olstein in the teeth but Ignores (and probably doesn’t know about), Charles Hannel, Dr. Joseph Murphy, Mary Baker Eddy, and you who justify genocide but deride abortion, how can you escape your own bankruptcy? You are like the Pharisees who said if they were living (way back when) they would not have killed the prophets, and in doing so reveal themselves to be the sons of prophet killers.

    God’s jealousy and wrath destroyed the Israelite Nation, and it is destroying me. You don’t want to help, because you just don’t care. It is above your capacity.

    Stop What! Stop What?! Do you really think they’ll stop? With their guns and planes and armies, exerting their petty rule over the entire planet.

    David Banna’s Speech, The Incredible Hulk (2003)

    Fools said I you do not know
    how silence like a cancer grows
    hear my words that I might teach you,
    take my arms that I might reach you,
    but my words like silent raindrops fell,
    down darkened wells,
    into the sound of silence.

    -The Sound of Silence

    “If the whole world has gone to hell, I’ll just keep fighting and believing in myself.”

    -Heero Yuy

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