Friday, May 26, 2017

The Friendly Atheist feels the Manchester bombing may have been justified

I'm not making this up.  This is the Friendly Atheist's headline:  "A Terrorist's Belief in Islamic Paradise May Have Justified the Manchester Bombing."  See it for yourself.

No, Friendly Atheist, nothing justifies an act of terrorism.  No way it may have been justified.  It simply wasn't--not in any way, shape, or form.  Period.  End of discussion.

I think, by the way, what he meant was that the terrorist used a reward of paradise as his justification for carrying out the bombing.  That's a good deal closer to English--closer, at least, than the FA is capable of traveling.

Oh, and the awful writing doesn't stop here: "This is why atheists pay so much attention to a God we don't believe in.  These sorts of tragedies occur due to unchecked, unquestioned acceptance of irrational dogma."  No, this is why atheists pay so much attention to belief in a God.  You can't pay attention to something that doesn't exist, can you?  And to offer a single cause for acts of terrorism, even if you've qualified those acts ("these sorts of tragedies" i.e. religiously based suicide bombings), is moronic, as most thinking people agree that the motivations are many and varied.


Lee

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Repost: Carl Sagan, the great science popularizer, vs. 1846 Sunday School text

Carl Sagan's famous essay, "Pale Blue Dot," is quoted and praised all across the cyber-galaxy, but just how original is it?  Ever wondered that?  How does it stack up, quotation-wise, against the 1846 American Sunday School Union text, The Starry Heavens (The Solar System, Part II)?  Let's find out by comparing select passages between the two texts.  Let's discover what 19th century children were learning about astronomy in Sunday School class in the days before the Civil War.

Sagan quotes are followed by select passages from The Starry Heavens:

Sagan: "The Earth is a small stage in a vast cosmic arena." And, "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark."

The Starry Heavens: "What is the whole of this globe on which we dwell compared with the solar system, which contains a mass of matter so many millions of times greater?  What is it in comparison with the hundred millions of suns and worlds which, by the telescope, have been descried through the starry regions?"

Sagan: "Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one other, how fervent their hatreds.  Thinks of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

The Starry Heavens: "What, then, is a kingdom, a province, or a baronial territory, of which we are as proud as if we were the lords of the universe, and for which we engage in so much devastation and carnage?  What are they, when set in competition with the glories of the sky?"

Sagan: "Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light."

The Starry Heavens: "(The objects connected with astronomy) show us what an insignificant being--what a mere atom, indeed, man appears amidst the immensity of creation!"

Sagan: “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.”

The Starry Heavens: "We have reason to believe that the most exalted beings in the universe--those who are furnished with the most capacious powers, and who have arrived at the greatest perfection in knowledge--are distinguished by a proportional share of humility."

We close with a highly ironic Sagan quote: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths."   Do those "conventional faiths" include 19th century American Christianity?

Lee

Getting the fallacies wrong

The YouTube fun continues--I pointed out there (i.e., at the Matt Dillahunty post) that the appeal to authority fallacy (I forget its formal name) is something completely different than what they are suggesting.  It's not something that happens anytime one cites an authority in an argument; it's more like citing a false authority.  For instance, nine of out ten birdwatchers recommend a particular brand of truck tire--are birdwatchers, as a group, qualified to do so?  Are they experts in that area?  Some wold be, certainly, but as a group, of course not.

Or, here's what Einstein says about camera lenses.  Einstein was one of our species' smartest humans, but I'm not aware he had any expertise in that area.  Appeal to authority is a kind of empty name-dropping.  Like, nine out of ten Hollywood actors believe global warming is, to a significant extent, caused by humans.  I happen to believe that, too, but not because actors push it.  I believe it because it's the general consensus of climate experts.

Bogus authority.  Or, what the hell did Arthur Godfrey know about laundry detergent?  When we cite a legit authority, we're committing no fallacy.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.

I'm glad we cleared that up.

I wanted to clarify, btw, that my sarcastic and not always nice comments about the various logic-and-reason celebs are that way because the folks in question are pretending to be experts on subjects they are not expert in.  (Philosophy, for one big example.)  Hence, they have some sharp retorts coming--knowingly or not, they're scamming their listeners and followers.  Pretending to be something you're not isn't the greatest crime in the world (unless, of course, you're taking people to the cleaners, money-wise, and I don't think any of these folks is doing that), but the logic'n'reason celebs have certainly harmed the cause of promoting logic in cyberspace, given the drivel they post.  Want a bogus definition of the No True Scotsman fallacy?  No problem; just go to some source other than Wikipedia or Standford, and you may very well get your wish.  Their behavior comes down to spreading nonsense in the name of combating nonsense.

The "skeptic" movement was in trouble from the start, what with a brilliant but uneducated magician the main star, media-wise, of the show (we're talking James Randi).  You push the idea that just anyone can practice scientific skepticism, and, before you know it, just anyone is.  Never mind that scientific skepticism is a highly specialized application of critical thinking, one that requires expert knowledge in a specialized area.  Never mind the reality.  Just hype it as something anyone can do, and, before you know it, anyone is.  And so we have a blogosphere packed with bogus definitions of elementary logical fallacies and essays which falsely accuse believers of committing an affront to reason simply by believing in a higher power.  And, craziest of all, we have atheists who apparently object to all of the "if/then" stuff that goes on in philosophy.  No one is allowed to imagine that something could be true; one has to know whether or not it's so.  One needs proof--conclusive proof.  What would philosophy look and feel like without the intellectual license of "If A is so, then..."?

Lee

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Dillahunty/Licona debate: A review


I watched the YouTube(d) debate (allegedly around the question, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?") between Matt Dillahunty and fundamentalist Mike Licona, and Matt took a full 57 minutes to start talking about the need for evidence, the need to demonstrate that it's possible for someone to rise from the dead, etc., etc.  This is the skeptic's single line: Show me.  I have no problem with asking for proof, but why not lay his cards on the table at, say, 57 seconds in, thus saving us all a lot of watching and listening?

The debate can be summed up as:

Mike:  The supernatural exists.
Matt:  We don't really know what the supernatural would be, and I'm not going to accept the existence of anything supernatural until the supernatural is demonstrated to exist.

Or:

Mike: (Paranormal claims)
Matt:  Proof, please.

Do we really need 2:29:20 of that?  (Who do I mean by "we"?  Anyone who hates him or herself enough to sit through such a thing, I guess.)

Licona took issue with Matt's application of Occam's Razor, so there's not much hope for Licona, who is intelligent but fundamentalistic to the core.  Matt is equally a fundamentalist, and by that I mean a Christian fundamentalist.  A dry fundamentalist, as it were.  (Apologies to Firing Line.)  He considers himself an atheist (he doesn't believe in God, after all), but anyone who considers the Resurrection the central fact (or fiction) of Christianity is a fundamentalist.  Matt's not simply stating someone else's point of view here--he's stating his.  It's the tiresome fundie notion that the truth, meaning, validity, etc. of scripture depends upon whether or not the miracles described in the text are real or made-up.  Yawwwwwn.

Two Christian fundies battling it out--one a believer, the other a nonbeliever.  I only put myself through this because I've questioned Matt's debating skills and felt, because of this, that I ought to watch him debate.  Enough.

Background: Matt put up a hilarious YouTube video in which he glibly dismisses ontological arguments as inadequate.  I questioned his qualifications to do so, which was not a response to any of his arguments, and certainly not an argument on my part.  "What are your creds?" is not an argument for anything.

Nevertheless, he accused me of committing the argument ad hominem fallacy, which I did not, in any way, do.  Kind of miffed me.  It's too bad I don't have the ability to laugh at such things; instead, I get annoyed.  But maybe I enjoy getting annoyed.  (Me, and countless other internet addicts.)

Matt's rambling style doesn't impress me--it gives every impression that his knowledge of fallacies, critical thinking requirements, the purpose of scientific skepticism, etc. is pretty superficial.  Sorry, but someone who finds a logical fallacy where it's not happening is not someone whose expert act is likely to fool me.

I'm not taking "sides" on the Resurrection, by the way--i.e., on the question of whether or not it really happened.  I regard it as what it is--a very important Christian narrative, one whose meaning is far more important than any "debate" over its historicity.

Lee


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Words don't have meanings. Except when they do.

I'm watching this Matt Dillahunty video at YouTube: Debating Theists.  He's like a macho fundie preacher--the tone, the cadence, the "I'm the man" bearing.  But we can't be judging people by how they act and look, and by what they say.  Because, um....

Er....

So, early on, he asserts that words don't have meanings--they have usages.  Seriously.  Quote: "We inject meaning into words."

Later on, he talks about semantics (as a potential roadblock to debate!!).  He says, "Semantics--it's about what words mean, and it's important."

Cue the Spike Jones interlude.


Lee

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Antony Flew vs. Matt Dillahunty

Welcome to today's installment of Antony Flew vs. Matt Dillahunty.

Antony: "What is true, or false, is propositions.  What is valid, or invalid, is arguments.  These notions and these distinctions are absolutely basic.  To say that an argument is true or that a proposition is valid is as uncomprehending or as inept as to say that someone got to first base in basketball or that someone made a home run in tennis."--How to Think Straight: An Introduction to Critical Reasoning, Antony Flew, Prometheus Books, 1998.

Matt, to caller: "The arguments are either correct or incorrect, independent of who said them, right?"--Atheist Experience, Mar. 12, 2017.

Yikes.  As my piano teacher would say, "Ouch!"



Lee

Friday, February 24, 2017

FFRF waxes indignant; ducks swim; birds fly

Challenged writer/thinker Hemant Mehta, yet again:

"Here’s one of the (many) problems with religious thinking: Even when there’s a perfectly rational explanation for something, you have to find a way to attribute it to the supernatural."

No, you only think this is so because YOU'RE A FUNDIE, HEMANT!!!!!!!!!

The famous locksmith punchline, revistied:

Me:  Why are you fundies, atheist and theist alike, convinced all believers are like yourselves?  And why can't the error in your non-reasoniong be successfully explained to you??
Atheist fundie:  Becuase we're fundies.  And because we're fundies.

Hemant is brilliant: he plays the really, really subtle and ingenious game of meaning all Christians when he specifies "conservative Christians."  He doesn't understand what it means to qualify something.

In other "news," back in 2012, this heinous act of vandalism happened to a really mature FFRF billboard:



I have issues with the devil's horns.  I mean, it should have been Mickey Mouse ears.


Lee

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Myth: Atheists think conservative Christians hold all the power

What to do about all these ridiculous myths about atheists--how they allegedly act and what they allegedly believe?  False notions persist, despite the best efforts of atheists to debunk them.  For instance, heard the one about how atheists think conservative Christians rule the country?  What a joke!  Can you imagine atheists making such a claim?  I mean, really.  Good grief.  Nobody is enough of a moron to believe....

Um... er....

Yeah.


What to say?  I just talked to Westminster winner Rumor, and she's aghast--she honestly thought humans were smarter than that.
 



"Conservative Christians have all the power?  What moron or morons think that??"--Westminster winner Rumor, smarter than the cyber-atheist community put together, then squared, then multiplied by four.


Lee

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Austin Cline explains it by declaring it so

Good Lord, read this: It's the greatest of all cyber-thinkers, Austin Cline, trotting out the "atheism is the absence of belief" bullshit, and, like, really explaining it: Austin Has Spoken.

As ever, disbelief has nothing to do with belief.  Except that, to anyone who can read or think, it of course has everything to do with it.  You know, I'm no longer able to believe in God, because if there were a God, why would God create something as deadly to the cause of lucid thinking as the cyber-atheist brain?

Not believing something is true isn't the same as believing it is not true.  I see.  Except that it absolutely IS.

I swear to God and Greyhound, the word games of atheists are fit for toddlers (though I don't advocate subjecting them to same).  Their "A is not the same thing as A" horse crap is puerile in the extreme, and one could be forgiven for concluding such notions were born in a mental home.  The idiot blather of pop atheism can't be properly refuted--or refuted at all--because it doesn't mean a goddamned thing to begin with.  That's the simple secret of pop atheism: gibberish cannot be refuted.  Speak it, and then dare people to prove you wrong.  Never mind that you're pissing on one of the fundamental don'ts of skepticism: the "Prove I'm not right" error.  Because rules (of any kind) do not apply to the great and awesome YOU.

Austin brilliantly refutes the "myth" that atheists are dodging responsibility for their own beliefs by CALLING IT A MYTH.  That settles it!!  No debate necessary.

I'll just sit here and shout the truth at you, as if shouting made it so.  Then I'll accuse other people of being irrational.

Just for kicks, here are some side by side atheist quotes--just the four I've assembled so far.  I'm using initials for the authors, not to respect their privacy or anything, but because I'm too lazy to type out their juvenile cyber-handles:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
M: The basic problem is Christians, whose whole rationale is built on cosy certainties, just do not get it that atheists aren't saying there is no god.  (from Do Atheists Ever "Find God"?--F. Atheist)

MA: There are no gods. Time to grow up.  (from When It Comes to Faith-Based Violence, Americans Give Christianity an Undeserved Break--Friendly Atheist) 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Atheists are aggressive and rude (10 Myths Many Religious People Hold About Atheists, Debunked--Alternet.org.)

AA: It is not God who makes (Christians) behave sacrificially; it is the fear of the club that god will insert into their ass that does the trick. (Billy Graham Can't Explain Why Some Atheists Are Good and Some Christians Are Not--FA)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Oops.  These folks have never heard of consistency, have they?

Just smile and wave.

Lee

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Wrong, wrong, wrong....


Last post, I wrote (and wrote and wrote) about the idiocy of applying scientific skepticism to every damn statement, since s.skepticsm has a very, very narrow application, at best.  It works for fielding bizarro claims, and it can serve an educational purpose when people like James Randi challenge the assertions of psychics and the like.  In both instances, there's a reason to challenge the claims in question.

For everyday claims, not so much.  Generally speaking, there simply is no justification, s.skeptic-wise, to aggressively go after people for their beliefs, something that "skeptics" do for a vocation.  If you want to hammer folks for believing in whatever, go for it (though, I'd advise, not in person)--but please don't do it in the name of scientific skepticism.  Thanks.  I expect this silly practice to stop right away in accordance with my wishes.  This instant.  Now-ah.  Thank you.  Call again.

I said, RIGHT NOW!!  Dang it all.

So, lately we have any number of skeptics telling us to use skepticism against Trump's lies, which might be the thing to do if and when he claims werewolves are the biggest threat to the American way.  Otherwise, it's stupid advice.  And, besides, the news people are doing a terrific job reporting the lies.  They're on his case.  Now, had they gotten on his case before he won....  But at least they're doing it now.

So, don't use a form of critical thinking designed to field claims for UFOs and leprechauns when you're evaluating Trump's fabrications.  Please.  Thank you so much.

What I really want to talk about is a very recent Unfriendly Atheist post (happening now), in which people get one thing wrong after another.  They're having a wrong-athon, so to speak.

Now, the No True Scotsman fallacy has nothing to do with a Scotsman or Christian simply claiming, for any reason you can think of, that another Scotsman or Christian is not the real, true, authentic, genuine, etc. article.  Zilch!  It's when a contingent (neither necessarily true or necessarily false) proposition is switched, upon being proved false, to a logically necessary claim ("No Scotsman..." becoming "No TRUE Scotsman...").  But tell that to the folks in the comment section in question.  I dare you.  (Don't.  They exist to ambush anyone not in their herd.)

What else?  In the main piece, Hemant cites the word "true," but I don't spot that word anywhere in the page he links to.  (Wait--it shows up once.  Okay.)  And, back to the comments, we get the idiotic myth that biblical text can mean anything we want it to, that any reading will suffice.  Ye Gods.  Have these people been to school?

Anyway, I predict the comments will keep on coming.  So far, this has been a migraine weekend for me, and I need a laugh.


Lee

Friday, February 17, 2017

Skeptics of cbyberspace, unite!

By the way, I didn't mean to call the FFRF folks bullies.  I don't know what came over me.  I meant to call them thugs, but somehow I typed the other word.  I must have been not-possessed by the not-Devil.  That's my not-excuse.

To begin, just a postscript to my last post, in which I talked about the "misconceptions" atheists routinely complain about--behaviors that they're not guilty of, yet which they do anyway.  American Atheists: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods."  You know, as if that distinction amounted to anything.

Yet, we have Ricky Gervais saying on Twitter, "I disbelieve in all gods equally."  Oops.  And we have the Freedom from Religion Foundation braintrusts declaring on their banners, "There are no gods."

So, as we can see, it's a yuuuuuge misconception that atheism is a disbelief in gods--except when media-prominent atheists disbelieve in gods.  Damn.  These characters don't even try to align their actions with their words!  It's hilarious.  Hey, Trump has some openings for you guys--if anything, you're overqualified.

To topic: skepticism.  So-called.

Some history--Skepticism=scientific skepticism, which was designed as a way of fielding or screening idiotic claims (ancient aliens, Nessie, UFOs) before they've had a chance to derail a discussion, question session, lecture, etc.  Some skeptics actively debunk claims of the paranormal, while others simply do their best to keep them at a ten foot pole's reach. In my opinion, scientific skepticism (the real deal, not the current inept facsimile thereof) rocks.

But we already know how terrible these folks are collectively when it comes to anything that requires mental discipline, such as thinking in sequence, stating the truth, observing the obvious, etc.  So, of course, "skepticism" was long ago perverted into a yuge pile of bull on a popular level--something to do with shouting people down the moment they self-identify as religious; something to do with pretending, idiotically, that a highly specialized critical thinking application like skepticism can or should be used for the vast majority of claims ("I had eggs for breakfast;" "PROVE IT!!!!"); and something to do with chanting "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," as if chanting it entitled you to set the proof bar as high as you wish, just because.

Yes, it's absolutely true that totally far-out claims (doughnut monsters from Pluto, ducks with ESP, Trump knowing what the hell he's doing, etc.) have one heck of a burden of proof (Sagan's illiterate quote, translated into English), but that knowledge, plus a buck-something, will get you a cup of Joe at McDonald's when it comes to dealing with 99.9 percent of the claims made by humans.  Taking the "Show me" approach to reasonable claims is a stupid and dishonest thing to do, since it simply assumes the claim in question--be it, "I shopped at Kroger yesterday"--lends itself to detailed, point by point interrogation.  ("Really?  What aisles did you visit?  SPEAK UP!!")

In other words, if your claim is totally fringe, totally out there, then the job of substantiating it is yours, baby, and yours only.  If your claim is somewhere in the orbit of reality, then there's no justification whatsoever for someone systematically taking it apart, as if, for example, it were necessary to prove that people eat breakfast.  Or that eggs are a breakfast staple.  To even suggest that the full burden of proof rests on the person making an ordinary, everyday claim is simply stupid.  And self-serving.  Or desribe the pop-atheist movement.

Later on, I'll ask the burning question, why in the hell are we laypeople expected to treat atheists (who, apparently, aren't laypeople) as experts in critical thinking?  Isn't that like treating our current president as a master of restraint?

Lee




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Let Reason Prevail

The righteous, harassment-happy bullies at the Freedom from Religion Foundation have one mission, and one mission only--to prank public squares, parks, etc. with their juvenile signs and banners.  Here's their standard bit:


The FFRF is dedicated to promoting the separation of church and state.  How do they accomplish this?  By finding every possible excuse to involve government in issues of faith.  That'll do it!

Idiots.  Absolute idiots.  But I'm sure they're great people, otherwise.


Lee

Monday, February 13, 2017

Games with words





Ooooooops.  Hasn't Ricky gotten the memo on disbelief?  Tsk, tsk.  I quote from the "What Is Atheism?" page at the American Atheists website:

Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system.  Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Repeat: "Atheism is not a disbelief in gods."  In his Tweet, Ricky appears to have confused disbelief with absence of belief.  I hope he doesn't get kicked out of the club.

Oh, and "To each their own" is ungrammatical, "each" being singular.  Of course, Ricky wants to avoid "his," and "his or her" is awkward, so he uses the standard illiteracy, "to each their...."



Lee



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Friendly vs. unfriendly atheism, and other topics

Unfriendly atheism: "Religion is evil and stupid, and it's got to go!" (Scowl)

Friendly atheism: "Religion is evil and stupid, and it's got to go!" (Smile)

(But, but... we atheists don't scowl!!)

The fixed "debates" of atheism are getting on my nerves (thanks, Ricky Gervais!)--maybe it's because they're enjoying a media comeback.  Of course, in the weird reality zone in which cyber-atheists reside, the debate never ends.  (What is "the debate," you ask?  The debate between science and religion, of course.  So why don't we all just stay home and let the two duke it out, you ask?  Damn good question.  I guess it's because science and religion are constructs, not walking and talking beings.)

Anyway, in the standard cyber-atheist narrative, Dawkins and Harris have people of faith cornered up a tree, desperately clinging to our God of the Gaps, trying in vain to defend ourselves against the unbeatable forces of logic, reason, science, and Maher's turd-in-the-pool analogy.  So our job is to convince our betters that we're not deluded, not hostile toward reason, and so on.  Our job is to prove we're not wrong.

Is that how debate works?  Of course not.  People walk into a debate as equals or not at all.  A format in which the cyber-atheist is right by default is the most incredible kind of cheating--incredible, because the cheaters will swear they're not cheating.  Because of the entitled side's utter inability to see that they're asking people of faith to play the loser in a fixed contest.

(What do you mean, 'play' the loser?  You people are already losers!!!)  Exactly.

And what's with this popular misconception about claims?  Namely, that claims come in one variety only, with each and every claim made by anyone at any time subject to being "scientifically" borne out as factually true?   (As if science were the only field dealing in testable truth.  How about, oh, history?)  So, if I say, "God is real," I have to prove it?  How?  With photographs?  A throat culture?  Dental records?

And is "God is real" the equivalent of, "I can prove, using real-world evidence, that God exists"?  No.  It's a statement of belief.  For instance, let's say my favorite color is red.  So I say, "Red is the neatest color of them all."  Which is a claim, any way you slice it.  Hearing this claim, does the skeptic say, "Prove it!!"?  Only if he or she is an idiot, because my "claim" is a statement of preference and noting more.  In other words, it's an opinion.  It's subjective.  What is there to prove?

The difference between a belief claim and a testable claim is easy to show.  Situation #1: A person claims that ghosts are real--"There are ghosts," he says.  Situation #2: A person claims that he has ghosts in his attic, and they're knocking things around, and you can see the darn things.  Plus, they talk.  "Come on over and see and hear for yourself!"  I'd go, wouldn't you?

"Show me" is a perfectly reasonable response to the second situation, whereas "show me" makes no sense as a response to the first.  It's the difference between "I believe in Nessie" and "Hey, Nessie's in my back yard, and she's posing for pictures.  $5 more if you want to be in the shot."  I'd be right over, to see what the heck is happening.  And I'd find an empty yard, and, next thing I knew, I'd be on the ground, wallet gone.

Lee

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Don't need their company

No, I don't think the online atheist community is going to Hell.  And, no, I don't want it to, either.

I might end up there myself, and I don't desire their company.  I understand the place is unpleasant enough to begin with.

By the way, ever heard the Hell joke where, behind one of the three doors (always three doors), there are people standing hip-high in manure and drinking coffee?  The nearly-arrived soul chooses that door, and, once he's in there holding a coffee cup with manure up to his hips, the Devil comes in and says, "Coffee break's over.  Back on your heads."


                                           "Hell, no, we don't want those folks down here."

Lee

Hate-blogger Hemant Mehta over the top these days, even for him

Dig this headline at the Friendly Atheist: "After killing their son for wanting to leave church, these Christian parents will go to jail."  Killing their son was justified "according to their religion," says Hemant.  Gosh, and what was their religion, again?  Um, um, let me think....  (Tick-tock, tick-tock) Oh, yeah!  Christianity!

That's what Christians do.  They kill their sons on instruction from their religion.  Really evil book, that (lower-case b) bible.

Here's Hemant's powerful, completely unpredictable closing line: "What would you expect, though, from people who prioritize their religious dogma over common sense and love?"  Which, incidentally, is how Hemant and his comment-section sickies define being a Christian--you know, as folks who value dogma over being decent people.  In short, for the umpteenth time, Hemant is suggesting, in his usual sledge-hammer, yellow-journalism fashion, that This is How Christians Are.  You know, because he was able to locate this example.  That's science.  Hail, science.  Lucky science--you have such priceless advocates on our left.

Remember--these sick puppies believe that any and every believer is responsible for any and every act of any and every member of the Christian community, be that behavior good or bad--though they nearly never seem to notice the good stuff.  (Could it be they don't want to??  Nah.)  We believers are responsible for all of the words in the Bible (and don't bother quipping that you didn't write the book), whether or not we actually follow them.  It's a convenient and cowardly position, since it makes them holy and correct by default, their preferred form of "debate" being "We, your morally superior and infinitely hipper counterparts, want to know why you're so fucked up.  And don't pull the No True Christian™ on us."  Of course, I need to point out once again that the cyber-atheist community is apparently collectively unable to comprehend the elementary point of logic that is the No True Scotsman Move.  They think that the NTS "move" is occurring the moment, say, that the Pope declares Trump to be something other than a Christian.  I remind you, if need be, that the NTS is all about the conflict between two propositions--an initial universal proposition ("No Scotsman...") changed, without acknowledgement or justification, to a logically necessary one ("No true Scotsman...") upon being falsified by a single counterexample.  That's not happening when someone says, "Trump isn't a Christian," even if he or she modifies "Christian" with "true," "real," "genuine," "Bible-loving," etc.  Repeat: not happening.

That's Romper Room-level logic.  And these guys have been struggling with it for more than a decade (so a Google search confirms).  And it's been kicking their butts.

Anyway, the FA is doing the usual neo-atheist offense to logic (they practice many of those) of selectively tacking data onto a bigoted perception by way of "proving" that perception.  I mean, how can we deny that C.'s are horrible and that their Bible is an evil document when you have these parents (and church members) acting in this fashion?  Well, we could factor that evil behavior into the behavior of Christians in general, whereupon we would see that it's way out there.  But sane people already know that killing your kids is way out there in terms of C. behavior.  Please.

And Hemant would readily acknowledge as much, and he'd retire his broad grin for a moment as he denied any intention to paint all C.'s with the same vile slurs.  Bullshit.  Again and again in his posts, Hemant aggressively proposes that such unacceptable behavior as killing your kids, persecuting minorities, pining for a theocracy, etc  is in keeping with Christian beliefs and principles, so how is he not painting the majority (hell, the whole) of the C. community as evil?

Hemant sees the worst behavior of the Christian community as the most authentic, and that's precisely how he presents it.  Yet we religiously allow folks like Hemant to get away with the "I didn't say that" lie, time after time. Why?  I guess, because we're scared of them.  Because we don't want to lose the "nones" vote, or something like that.  (And didn't those folks vote for Bernie and/or Trump, even after we nominated the woman they hated?)

You tell me why we let these guys carry on like this without collectively raising a single objection.  Think Rachel or Lawrence is ever going to call them out?  You know better, and so do I.

Oh, and savor the sophisticated and enlightened comments following the piece.  In case you think I'm judging these characters too harshly.

(Sample: Meanwhile thousands are spending life behind bars for minor drug offenses. They'll also probably be going to hell for eternity.  But these murderers will be out of prison in a jiffy and spend the rest of eternity in heaven. Presumably licking god's balls.)

Lee

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Religious freedom is all about atheism, and other insane but highly popular secular howlers

No, really.  Apparently, atheists and freethinkers and other super-cool kids need to have their religious freedom protected.  You know, despite the fact they're not religious.  They'll be happy to explain why you and I are nitwits for even asking what religious freedom has to do with it.

"But... but you despise religion.  You regard prayer as a thing for morons.  So you're miffed you weren't included at the Prayer Conference?"  "What a typically clueless theistic statement.  I think I hear the sound of bagpipes.  No, wait--wrong app."

It's possible I can explain the religious-freedom thing--not sure, but I'll try.  You see, seculars, et al. understandably desire to enjoy the same rights and advantages as do folks of faith--for ex., the right to marry, drive a car, get a job, buy beer, become a citizen, wed, vote, start nonprofits, speak on television, write best-sellers, and so forth.  That is to say, they seek equal religious rights, in an illiterate manner of speaking.  Similarly, feminists seek the same rights men enjoy.  But nobody (to my knowledge, at least) refers to feminism as a men's rights movement.  So....

Anyway, these folks get brain-dazed whenever they try to manage two or more ideas at once, so I suppose we should cut them some slack.  Sure, it's a religious freedom thing.  Whatever.  And the women's movement is all about men's rights.

Prostate cancer is a women's issue.  We could go on.

Very recently (so recently, it's still in the cyber-news), stand-up atheist Ricky Gervais had a scripted "debate" with the host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. and it was the usual atheism-is-not-a-belief-system stuff, because not believing something apparently has nothing to do with belief.  You see, while believing is a question of belief, not believing isn't.  How the hell is that possible, you ask?  I can see you never took no courses in logic.

 ("I didn't vote--I stayed home."  "Fine.  You helped Trump win."  "How?  I not-voted.  Not-voting has nothing to do with voting.  I abstained from participating in the election.  So how, in all logic, did I help Trump?"  "Are you a cyber-atheist, by any chance?")

Making a by-now ancient atheist point, Gervais (in a totally unplanned moment, wink, wink) informed Stephen that, "You don't believe in 2,999 gods. and I don't believe in just one more," only he barely managed to get through it.  (No time to rehearse?)  Gervais, you see, doesn't believe in 3,000 gods, and there's that word again: believe.  But atheism is not a belief system, meaning it has nothing to do with belief, and... and....

Every time I step into the alternate reality that is pop-atheist thinking, I'm never sure if I'll get back out.  It's a creepy, queasy sensation, sort of like claustrophobia.

Anyway, staged debates are the only type that deep, deep thinkers like Gervais can (in this case, barely) get through.  I honestly believe that.  Why?  Because staged debates are the only type you ever see atheists doing.  Some guy thinks our planet is two weeks old, and here's the brilliant scientist on hand to say, no, it's at least three weeks old.  Or it's time to play What Theists Think About Atheists, a show in which the atheist gets to sit there and repeat, "No, that's not true."  I'd give these guys four nanoseconds in an actual critical back and forth.

Colbert made a good point about faith--namely, that we non-scientists are placing faith in the findings of science, because accepting expert consensus (on global warming, for instance) makes more sense than rejecting it.  You have to trust someone, and when we opt to trust informed people, we're going with the odds.  Gervais, however, took Colbert's very valid point as a cue to voice the old bit that holy books aren't self-correcting like science texts, which is true but which isn't the issue, but this was a (poorly) staged debate, so what the hay.  Ricky had to stick that in someplace, and the segment was nearing its end.

At least Gervais is a pleasant, very personable person.  If the religion-sucks movement has any sense, it'll enlist him as their head spokesperson, but it doesn't and it probably won't.

Oh, and about the 2,999 gods thing--logic hardly requires that we either believe in all 3,000 gods (where the heck did that figure come from??) or none.  One of the core atheist beliefs--er, contentions--er, convictions--er. positions is that, if you believe in one god, logic says you're required to believe in all of them.  (Luckily, there are apps for that.)  Except that logic says no such thing.  "All gods are the same" is an opinion, not a fact.  Not that pop atheists would ever stoop to treating a point of view as a fact, even though they do this all the time, pretty much.

Lee


Twitter, home of sophisticated utterances

Fidalgo, of course, is the communications director for the Center for Inquiry.  I guess they hired him for his eloquence....




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cyber-atheist Hell

Just for the sake of supposing, suppose our cyber-atheist friends, when they expire, discover there is a God.

And, worse, that he's as big an asshole as they are.






Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Friendly Atheist says Trump isn't a True Christian™


"Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta posted Friday that even though Trump pandered to Christians (he means evangelicals) during his campaign, "it's not like (Trump's) act was ever believable.  The man never lived like a 'Christian' and he sure as hell didn't know how to speak their language."

(That's par for the grammar course at his blog.)

If you or I went on Mehta's blog and asserted that Trump is not a true, or real, or genuine Christian (or just plain not a Christian), we'd instantly be leaped on by his comment section angels for allegedly committing the No True Scotsman logical fallacy.  Which we wouldn't be doing, of course, because a logical fallacy is an error in reasoning, not a false or debatable proposition.  For instance, if I say, "No man loves cats," I'd be guilty of making a universal proposition that happens to be false (and easily falsifiable--simply point to a male who loves cats), but I wouldn't be committing a logical fallacy.

However, by Mehta's standards, any "true such-and-such" claim does count as a logical fallacy, which must in fairness include his own example.  (His use of quotes around "Christian" alters nothing in this regard.)  Heck, Mehta even unfavorably compares Trump's Christian creds to Hillary's, as if to suggest that hers are more authentic.  Why is this a problem, especially since I agree with that conclusion?  Because on-line seculars have been shouting for the past ten years or more that, because there are umpteen differing definitions of "Christian," no one definition is better or worse or more authentic than another.  And that we C.'s are too stupid to dig this.  And here's Mehta, deeming Hillary's brand as better.  As more genuine, even.

My, my--the loud sound of bagpipes coming from the FA blog.  (Secular in-joke.)


I expect better from these folks.  Actually, no, I don't.

UPDATE (1/29): Mehta is keeping it up.  Quote: "What happened to caring for the least of these?" (Reference to Trump's ban on refugees.)  Hey, dude, aren't those words from a book you've condemned as vile shit?


Lee

Monday, January 23, 2017

Carl Sagan, the great science popularizer, vs. 1846 Sunday School text

Carl Sagan's famous essay, "Pale Blue Dot," is quoted and praised all across the cyber-galaxy, but just how original is it?  Ever wondered that?  How does it stack up, quotation-wise, against the 1846 American Sunday School Union text, The Starry Heavens (The Solar System, Part II)?  Let's find out by comparing select passages between the two texts.  Let's discover what 19th century children were learning about astronomy in Sunday School class in the days before the Civil War.

Sagan quotes are followed by select passages from The Starry Heavens:

Sagan: "The Earth is a small stage in a vast cosmic arena." And, "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark."

The Starry Heavens: "What is the whole of this globe on which we dwell compared with the solar system, which contains a mass of matter so many millions of times greater?  What is it in comparison with the hundred millions of suns and worlds which, by the telescope, have been descried through the starry regions?"

Sagan: "Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one other, how fervent their hatreds.  Thinks of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.”

The Starry Heavens: "What, then, is a kingdom, a province, or a baronial territory, of which we are as proud as if we were the lords of the universe, and for which we engage in so much devastation and carnage?  What are they, when set in competition with the glories of the sky?"

Sagan: "Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light."

The Starry Heavens: "(The objects connected with astronomy) show us what an insignificant being--what a mere atom, indeed, man appears amidst the immensity of creation!"

Sagan: “It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience.”

The Starry Heavens: "We have reason to believe that the most exalted beings in the universe--those who are furnished with the most capacious powers, and who have arrived at the greatest perfection in knowledge--are distinguished by a proportional share of humility."

We close with a highly ironic Sagan quote: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths."   Do those "conventional faiths" include 19th century American Christianity?

Lee