Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pope Benedict and Emperor Paleologus on Islam atheism

One of the salient modern critiques of Islam was made by Pope Benedict XVI in his Regensburg address in 2006. Benedict quoted Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus in his discussion in 1391 with an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.

Paleologus asked:

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman..."

The Emperor noted the Islamic use of violence to spread its faith. Pope Benedict discussed the moral depravity of using force and violence to compel religious observance, and noted subtly that Islam seemed a bit prone to this box-cutter proselytizing (my words). 

Benedict's speech outraged Muslims around the world, sparking riots and several murders of Christians. Muslims responded with violence to a speech pointing out Muslim propensity to violence. Irony was not a topic that preoccupied the Prophet. 

But Paleologus/Benedict's question gets to the heart of the issue, not only with Islam, but with atheism as well. 

Both intellectual traditions claim accomplishments in human affairs. Atheists claim expertise in science, reason, and libertarian secular government. 

But of course all of the advances for which atheists claim credit have a long history of incubation and realization in Christian culture. Modern science as we know it developed only in Christian culture, and the transmission and development of the philosophical, political, artistic, and legal accomplishments of classical Greek and Roman civilizations was almost entirely through Christian civilization. 

So one may reasonably ask:

"Show me just what atheism brought that was new..."

What do we find new that atheism has brought to humanity? There has been much that is evil and inhuman. What could rightfully be called atheism's contribution to humanity, aside from atheism's expropriation from Christianity and other religions? After all, atheists in non-Christian cultures do as little science and literature and philosophy as their theist non-Christian culture-mates. Christianity seems to nourish culture, even nourishing those within Christian culture who hate it.

What has atheism brought that is unique to it, that is new and good

40 comments:

  1. Michael,

    For all your faults, one thing I will say about you; you are tedious. This is your - what - tenth posting on this topic? It seems like it.

    To repeat multiple previous objections; in previous centuries, at least before the 20th century, almost all scientists were Christian of one kind or another. They were either doing science despite their religious beliefs or because they imagined understanding the world might throw some light on 'the mind of God'.

    Newton would be regarded as a heretic by many Christians nowadays. He had very unconventional views on the Trinity for example. Christians are happy to accept him as one of their own though because of his deserved reputation. He did do a lot of his work on the pseudoscience of alchemy, thinking it more important than the physics and mathematics.

    Most of the elite scientists nowadays are atheists, so it's reasonable that in future centuries people will be looking back and wondering at the limited success of overtly Christian scientists in producing anything of note.

    Assuming of course that your friends in the anti-science Christian Right don't cause the extinction of humans before then.

    Your comment about atheist scientists not producing anything in non-Christian countries. Tell me whether this is true at the end of this century when we discover whether the 21st century is the Chinese century, just as the 20th century was the American century.

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  2. @bach:

    [For all your faults, one thing I will say about you; you are tedious. This is your - what - tenth posting on this topic?]

    I'm like an elementary school teacher, having to repeat simple things so my slower students (atheists) can catch up. If you're not careful, I'll have to assign homework.

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    Replies
    1. Michael,

      Once was enough. We are intelligent after all; we are atheists, don't forget, and quite capable of thinking for ourselves and rejecting the dogma and incoherence of organized religion.

      The threat of homework will only work on believers. They're the ones who slavishly follow orders.

      Organizing atheists is like trying to herd cats.

      Delete
  3. Bach,
    In the days of Newton, my entire church would have (and eventually was) thought of as heresy. Christianity adapts, grows, and matures with age. One may only hope Atheism is capable of that. But citing the recent works of Dawkins, Dennet et al, the brand within communism, and the carious 'churches; of atheism seem to be devolving. Of course, that could be an abbertaion akin to the Westboro types...again there is always hope.
    I doubt very much anyone but the 'new atheists' of today (God willing, and progress of that faith is real) will view the Christian culture as impeding science. They will have history to show them otherwise - provided some revisionist movement does not blind them to it. Inhibitions against certain types of cold blooded, pointless, and self serving research is not to be opposed to the idea that science is useful. I have faith that any future race worthy of being called 'human' will see that very clearly.
    They may, in fact, have good reason to thank Christianity, once again, for tempering the lust of the elite.

    Also you assume that it is some Hegelian 'Christian right' that stands against science, when in fact most Christians are very PRO science.
    It is simply that we do not share the view of the role of science is one of divine and supreme wisdom. We see it, as do most human beings, for what it is: a philosophical tool.
    Only your 'scientific' elite see it as the only means to ascertain truth. We all know why! To retain the cultural power and influence they now possess, they see it necessary to hold up the tool they have as the single path to truth.

    As for the Chinese, I do think they have much potential. Once they shed communism, they will be a serious force to be reckoned with.
    Of course, once that is done, the official atheism and religious oppression required to enforce it will be a thing of the past. I wonder how big their growing Church will be by then? How man Buddhist and related faiths will return? How Islam will fair in the North and West? I imagine a Renaissance of sorts for all these faiths.
    Our nation, for one, is working very hard at building bridges with China. These bridges have tolls/fares though. They require the resources we offer, we require them - in return - to move away from the totalitarian (and consequently atheist) ideology of Mao towards a new China. Also, I am sure you would approve, is a pressure to stop urbanizing the population with forced resettlements to highly environmentally damaging mega-cities and towards a far more sound and 'sustainable' approach of free movement and agricultural stability.
    We, in Canada, are quite aware of the invaluable force and power of FREE Chinese people. They make most excellent Canadians, and would make for a globally important China.
    As for it being the Chinese century (or American) I think posterity will have a better view of this period. It will not be limited to 100 year plans, I suspect.
    Perhaps the 'age of technocracy'? If the atheist movement wants a piece of that history, they need to make some radical changes in their outlook and approach.
    I would suggest getting 'back to the business' of life and living, and far less of the antithetical actions and rhetoric they embody today.

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    Replies
    1. CrusadeRex,

      Complete bullshit.

      You only have to look at Michael to see an example of the anti-science Christian Right with his previous demand for defunding of the NSA.

      Science never claims to have absolute wisdom. All scientific theories are provisional and subject to refutation or modification as new data is accumulated.

      China is no longer a communist country. It's an authoritarian capitalistic country.

      Atheists wouldn't have to 'push against' theists were it not for characters such as Michael who continually spout rubbish.

      Delete
    2. Bach,
      You're exhortation only confirms my ideas on the subject. I will note, however, that 'bullshit' is a very good fertilizer. Perhaps an idea is growing in your mind you are not comfortable with?

      "You only have to look at Michael to see an example of the anti-science Christian Right with his previous demand for defunding of the NSA."
      Dr Egnor is a tenured Neurosurgeon. His issue is with the AGENDA of the scientific elite, not the practice of science - which he has dedicated his life to. His problem is with SCIENTISTS in an organization, not with the practice of science itself. But, I fear I speak for him.
      I am sure he will have his own response to that comment.

      "Science never claims to have absolute wisdom."
      It cannot make any claims at all. It is a tool. My hammer has no opinion and makes no claims either. I am not against my hammer when it drives nails and pries boards and planks. I would be against someone using it inappropriately as a weapon to control my neighbours, countrymen, and family.

      "All scientific theories are provisional and subject to refutation or modification as new data is accumulated."
      It is not the ink and paper of the theories that the dangers lie in. It is the SCIENTISTS who hold, as you yourself note, and elitist role.

      "China is no longer a communist country. It's an authoritarian capitalistic country."
      It moves in that direction, I agree. But to suggest it has left the controlled economy plan entirely, or to suggest the Communist Regime does not hold the power is to deny the facts. A shift is required, and hopefully we will all live to see it.

      "Atheists wouldn't have to 'push against' theists were it not for characters such as Michael who continually spout rubbish."
      I don't buy that. I think the New Atheist's antithetical position is ALL they have. They have nothing to ADD, they simply seek to take away and reorganize what has been available for centuries. They spin this as 'freeing' people, but it is actually a naked attempt at detraction.
      At least the communists had a plan, even if it was an evil and oppressive one.
      New Atheism? Now that IS bullshit.
      Maybe someone should spread some seed on it instead of just throwing it in people's faces?

      Delete
    3. CrusadeRex,

      Atheists as a group don't have an agenda. They just state that there's no god or the supernatural.

      To have an agenda, you need an ideology, and atheism doesn't have an ideology.

      Communism has an ideology. So too does Christianity and Islam. The delusional idea that there's some future utopia and that anyone who opposes it must be evil and mostly be harshly treated.

      New atheists are exactly the same as old atheists, with the exception that Christians can no longer burn them legally at the stake.

      Delete
    4. Atheist ideology:

      There is no God or gods.
      There is no reason for existence.
      There is no afterlife
      There is no accountability in the afterlife
      There is no divine moral law
      Human beings are animals, without value that transcends nature
      The mind is material. There is no soul.
      99% of all human beings who have ever lived have been deluded about the most important fact of existence.
      Atheists are the only ones who have gotten the most important question right.

      Sounds like an ideology to me.

      Delete
    5. bach:

      [New atheists are exactly the same as old atheists, with the exception that Christians can no longer burn them legally at the stake.]

      Name the atheists who have been burned at the stake by Christians (covering the period 30 AD through 2012) legally, illegally, whatever. I'll accept other methods of execution as well.

      Names, bach. I want examples. I want numbers.

      Delete
    6. Bach,

      "Atheists as a group don't have an agenda."
      LMAO! That's the best joke I have seen posted in weeks. Here I was thinking you humourless... shame on me.

      "They just state that there's no god or the supernatural."
      They write books on the subject. Entire polemic works about the evils of religion, superstition, and what can be done to usher in a new age of enlightened or whatever. You know? The the earthly UTOPIA you just mentioned in your post.

      "To have an agenda, you need an ideology, and atheism doesn't have an ideology."
      New Atheism is a tool for the 'progressive' ideology. It is a rather puerile aspect of it, but none the less they use it with frequency.

      "Communism has an ideology."
      Yes they do. Communists, that is. Communism itself is an ideal. It doesn't really have anything.

      "So too does Christianity and Islam."
      They are the basis of many ideologies and movements, this is true. But, in their raw form they are broad faiths.

      "The delusional idea that there's some future utopia and that anyone who opposes it must be evil and mostly be harshly treated."
      Future Utopia?
      They believe there is MORE than this life, and are content with their lot(s) in it.
      The Utopia is decidedly a 'progressive' approach. As is futurism and transhumanism. Many of the leading minds of these movements are - you guessed it- ATHEISTS. There is also a spattering of new age types. But mainstream religious thinkers? Not bloody likely.

      "New atheists are exactly the same as old atheists.."
      If you mean they are just as lazy, boring, drenched in banality, and utterly ridiculous - you're right.
      I would disagree that they are identical, though. The old atheists were somewhat more philosophically educated...well, more broadly educated in general. Many of these 'New Atheists' seems to be myopic specialists in specific fields. The old brand atheists (they still exist) are FAR more tolerant and open minded. They realize their view is a metaphysical one based on a kind of faith. So they respect the faith of others.
      The New Atheists are like the Westboro Brand Atheists.

      "{...]with the exception that Christians can no longer burn them legally at the stake."

      Could you mean heretics, Jews, and Pagans during the 15th century in France and Spain, something before? You may want consider: heresy is the PERVERSION of God's word, not the ignorance of it.
      During my research I have found most Atheists were largely ignored throughout history. Simply denying God's existence is more akin to autistic (then 'deficient') thinking than heresy. It was to be pitied, not punished. I suppose some of the people killed in such a horrible fashion may have been Atheists, but then many were honest Christians who just happened to be on some totalitarian asshole's shit-list.
      Such behaviour, when it did occur, was abhorrent and utterly against the teachings of Christ. Christianity is no longer in the dark ages. We are not exactly the same as the old Christians, you see.

      No stakes for anyone here, anyway.
      Unless maybe you mean 'burned their steaks'? If so, I would suggest that is not some right wing or theistic conspiracy to ruin the supping of the Godless. Just a need for more HP.
      I have had my steak burned as well. I do not see it as reasonable to blame it on my ideological opponents. I have actually had a damn good steak in a communist country more than once...though generally speaking the chicken and pork was better. Hey! Some of that was served on a stake!

      Delete
    7. Michael,

      Atheists burned legally at the stake by Christians? How about Lucilio Vanini in 1619. He tried to avoid his fate, which included torture before burning, by writing a book attacking atheism in 1619, which was pantheistic rather than Christian.

      This took 1' to find. Of course I could find others just as easily. Being a publicly avowed atheist at a time when Christians had political power was not a good idea. Atheists had to hide under other labels or face the consequences.

      And again. Atheism doesn't have an ideology. A worldview perhaps. That there's no god, no afterlife, justice for crimes have to be attained here on Earth not left to some mythical afterlife, human existence is a matter of chance and not preordained, humans make their own futures which are not made by a mythical god, the mind is a product of the brain and there's no soul, morality is made by humans together not ordered by a fictional god in sacred texts which get ignored by believers when it suits them...

      Atheists can adopt an ideology, and then proceed to do good or bad, but then they're acting in the adopted ideology, not as atheists.

      Christianity, however, does have an ideology. There's a future utopia, either in heaven or on a reformed Earth when the old one is stuffed up completely. All you have to do to get to the utopia is to BELIEVE. People who don't believe are evil. Non-belief is the most important characteristic disqualifying them from election to public office. Etc, etc, etc.

      As an atheist, I'm quite happy to look at any politician's policies and decide whether they make sense, rather than looking at the religious beliefs. I look at the person, not the person's religion.

      Many years ago, there was a celebrated case in Australia in which a Seventh Day Adventist pastor and his wife Lindy Chamberlain were accused of sacrificing their 12 week old daughter Azaria at Ayres Rock, whereas their baby had been dragged away by a dingo, a type of semi domesticated wild dog, from their tent in the camping area, and killed. Most Australians at the time believed she was guilty, because she was emotionless in public (stoic due to her faith) and her church was regarded with suspicion.

      She was sentenced to a long gaol punishment, and only released 3 years later when further evidence was discovered by chance exonerating her.

      I never doubted her innocence. The prosecution case was weak and highly implausible. The forensic evidence stank to high heaven. Jury members later said that they didn't understand the evidence, so they ignored all of it, and convicted her because they didn't like her.

      Delete
    8. So the only "atheist burned at the stake by Christians" was a psycho ordained priest-turned-pantheist who thought that blacks, and not whites, came from apes who was executed by the French government 400 years ago.

      That's the best you can do?

      You made the ridiculous claim that atheists have been burned at the stake by Christians, but you can't really think of any actual examples in 2000 years.

      What a joke.

      There were tens of millions of Christians murdered in substantial part for their faith in the 20th century alone, in the Soviet Union, communist eastern Europe, republican Spain, Mexico, communist China and Southeast Asia, as well as in Nazi Germany.

      Most of the murdered Christians were killed by atheists.

      Delete
  4. I second some of the comments of bachfiend above. Yes, according to Stephen Snobelen, the co-founder of the Canadian Newton project, Isaac Newton was not only a staunch Arian, emphatically denying the Trinity doctrine. He was also a mortalist, denying the existence of the immortal soul.
    It is UNDENIABLE however, that Newton was a strong believer in the Bible, and in the purposeful creation of the Universe by the Biblical God. It is also, in my view, undeniable that as Joseph Needham,the noted British sinologist claimed: The reason for the scientific preeminence of the West was primarily the fact that the
    belief in a rational, purposeful, law-abiding God, strongly motivated the fruitful scientific method, whereas Chinese (and even Islamic) notions of the haphazard nature of the world, hindered progress.
    In this I disagree with bachfiends comments.

    Furthermore, as I recall, Newton was adamant in branding the Roman Catholic establishment as the "Whore of Babylon" in Revelation.
    If Egnor is strict in his Catholic belief, I guess this will make arguably the greatest scientific genius in history a damnable heretic in his eyes.
    Of course, the same reaction would ensue from the scions of Protestantism.
    Martin Luther would conceivably have welcomed the burning of Mr. Newton for his heretical aberrations and abject philosemitism, as would I am sure the extolled theologian Jean Calvin, who actually got another pre-scientific genius, the discoverer of pulmonary circulation, Dr. Michael Servetus, burnt at the stake for the same.

    I fully agree with Dr. Egnor that Islam proves its credentials as a "Religion of Peace"[TM] on a daily basis.
    I am happy to see that the Catholic Church have in the recent century moderated its views to such an extent that I would strongly prefer it to Islam today.
    A while back however, the pattern of behaviour of the two world religions was I am afraid scarily similar.

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  5. I was at the Reason Rally yesterday, and one thing I couldn't help but notice was the diversity of the participants. It's quite likely that women outnumbered the men. There where young and old, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. I've never seen such a large crowd reflect the notion that America is a mixing bowl better than this crowd.

    There is an immediate trust when you know the person you are interacting with is dedicated to reason. You can rest assured that in all likelihood the person you are talking to is either implicitly or explicitly a humanist, focusing on human values and needs, instead of the values and needs of a capricious god.

    This simple dedication to reason that leads to atheism opens up pathways for interaction that cut across social boundaries like a hot knife thru butter. Just knowing that the person you are dealing with is like you, open to any argument and persuasion and willing to change their mind if new evidence is presented makes engaging someone and their ideas almost always a fruitful conversation.

    This is Atheism, and this is new.

    -KW

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  6. @KW:

    Spare me the "reason" tripe. The effort by believers in "shit just happens" to portray themselves as avatars of reason is hilarious.

    Atheism is ultimately the assertion that there is no Reason behind existence. Atheism's acolytes have no claim to be more reasonable than theists. Most polemic atheists I've encountered are pitifully uneducated on the genuine philosophical issues underlying God's existence and agency.

    Atheism is many things. An exemplar of reason is not one of them.

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    Replies
    1. "Atheism's acolytes have no claim to be more reasonable than theists."

      We've been over and over this. You get your morals by cherrypicking one set of authors, and from the society in which you were raised. I get my morals by cherrypicking other authors, and from the society in which I was raised.

      Precisely zero difference.

      But it takes reason - the ability (or at least the willingness) to view the evidence around us objectively and honestly - to realize that supernaturalists have no more lock on morality than naturalists.

      You will never admit that - you're too committed, dug too deeply into your trench, and I think too afraid, to look at the "God" question honestly. My guess is the fear comes from the fact that while you think belief in God is a social good, deep down you just can't bring yourself to admit that you don't actually believe there is a supernatural entity handing out divine moral guidance.

      Jesus was a great philosopher in many ways. So was Plato. So was Aristotle. So was Epicurus. There is a long list. And they all have dramatic influence on our society's morality. Convincing people that there is an invisible bookkeeper, an ever-present policeman - certainly helps maintain moral codes when the society grows beyond a village.

      But none of that makes God real. That's the only conclusion possible from the evidence, no matter how many examples of "things exist therefore God" arguments you spew forth.

      Delete
    2. Jesus was no philosopher. Any philosopher who declares "The Father and I are One" and "Before Abraham was, I AM" and "To have eternal life you must eat My Flesh and drink My Blood..." would be locked up.

      Jesus made radical assertions. Either He was God, or He was nuts.

      His sayings have deep wisdom, but He is no philosopher, and never claims to be.

      Delete
    3. Michael,

      Or Jesus was just honestly mistaken. Or he was misreported (the most likely explanation).

      Despite your repeated claims, the gospels were written at least 30 years after the death of Jesus by Greek speakers who did not know Jesus personally.

      The disciples weren't traipsing through Gallilee armed with spiral bound notebooks and biros, or dictaphone tape recorders, to record verbatim the sayings of Jesus.

      Delete
    4. Mike,
      "Jesus made radical assertions. Either He was God, or He was nuts. "
      It is a wise mind that can avoid the dialectic synthesis and maintain the position of truth.
      Good call, Mike.

      Delete
    5. "Jesus made radical assertions. Either He was God, or He was nuts."

      Direct from Egnor's mouth; Jesus was nuts.

      Or, more likely, Jesus was mostly constructed out of a itinerant Jewish rabbi with a collection of myths and legends attributed to him without any real reference to whoever is sitting at the center of the myth. He's as mythological as King Arthur, and the mythological version likely has as much relation to the version described in the Bible as the "real" Arthur has to Malory.

      Delete
  7. KW,
    "I was at the Reason Rally yesterday, and one thing I couldn't help but notice was the diversity of the participants."
    What is that? An atheist car race of some sort?

    "It's quite likely that women outnumbered the men."
    Okay...maybe not. Sounds like a nightclub?

    "There where young and old, black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. I've never seen such a large crowd reflect the notion that America is a mixing bowl better than this crowd."
    Don't you mean 'melting pot'? Was this some aspect of the Tea Party thing yesterday that was all over the news? I was unaware they had an atheist chapter.

    "There is an immediate trust when you know the person you are interacting with is dedicated to reason. "
    Gulp, gulp. Down goes the kool aide!
    Finding a group fun (venue or whatever your on about)or of similar interest is one thing, but to assume because someone is able to reason that you can trust them (ie ANYONE can reason) is just a bit naive, don't you think KW? A strong prescription for disillusionment and betrayal. I think the word you folks would use for someone who thinks like your above quote is 'chump'.

    "You can rest assured that in all likelihood the person you are talking to is either implicitly or explicitly a humanist, focusing on human values and needs, instead of the values and needs of a capricious god. "
    Resting is for the lazy. Assurance is never found in fold of absolute strangers, even if you were drunk.
    Further, are you trying to say that people who do not agree with your faith and cosmological view are unreasonable and untrustworthy? What a paranoid, and frankly BORING attitude.
    Weird night-club or festival or whatever, KW. Maybe try something more '5 star' next time.

    "This simple dedication to reason that leads to atheism opens up pathways for interaction that cut across social boundaries like a hot knife thru butter."
    Interesting analogy. A knife cutting through a society. Personally, I prefer the ties that bind to the knife that severs.

    "Just knowing that the person you are dealing with is like you, open to any argument and persuasion and willing to change their mind if new evidence is presented makes engaging someone and their ideas almost always a fruitful conversation."
    Any argument EXCEPT ones that you disagree with, anyway. In the real world we call that an 'echo chamber'.

    "This is Atheism, and this is new."
    This hypnotic enthusiasm you espouse is basic conditioning, and it is as old as the hills.

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  8. Crusade Rex,

    'This hypnotic enthusiasm you espouse is basic conditioning, and is as old as the hills'.

    The kettle calling the pot black?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bach,
      RACIST!!! I am an Iron-Canadian kettle. Don't label me by the colour of my metal!
      JK.
      No it is the professional de-conditioner/conditioner calling the conditioned 'Conditioned'.
      I don't trust someone because they wear a cross or attend a Church. The world is stocked full of hypocrites and liars who call themselves this or that.
      Never mind total strangers at a rally or festival or whatever KW is on about. I might chat with them, but if I do not know them I will make no such naive assumptions. Nor would I send money into some televangelist who claims to be God's spokesman.
      Do you Bach? Do you attend rallies and trust complete strangers because they happened to show up at the same time and profess to be 'reasonable?
      I highly doubt it.
      I have never seen you write something as utterly soft-headed as that comment by KW.
      Well, almost never.

      @KW,
      Bach just basically said you're as brainwashed as any theist. Kettle and pot.
      You get that right? Your reasonable comrade just accused YOU (and me) of being a drone.
      Better fire up the strobe lights and chant some Dawkins before that sinks in! It's the only way to stay reasonable, after all.

      Delete
  9. "What has atheism brought that is unique to it, that is new and good? "

    Honesty

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    1. Atheists discovered honesty!

      Delete
    2. Shame they did not find any truth,humility or tolerance in that grand exploration of the mind...er brain.

      Delete
  10. Atheists didn't discover honesty, they're just willing to apply it to their world view.

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    1. ... unlike everyone else, who lies about reality.

      I presume that humility, unlike honesty, wasn't discovered by atheists.

      Delete
    2. RickK,
      You are seriously going to attempt to make the point that all atheists are honest in their 'world view'?

      Let's start with you. Be honest with yourself and us then: Admit Atheism is a FAITH based metaphysical belief, and not some illusive scientifically proven fact or truth that only the elect and truly 'reasonable' few understand.
      Make that admission and your point will gain great credibility - at least for one atheist.
      You'll then be on a level with those of faith and conversation on the metaphysical truths/logic of that position can begin.
      From there perhaps we can discuss how you come to feel this way about ALL atheists, even the ones you have never met.

      Delete
    3. CrusadeRex,

      The kettle calling the pot black is a figure of speech. You're actually much more conditioned than any atheist in thinking, with any evidence, that there's the supernatural.

      Atheists just state that there's no evidence for the supernatural, besides hand waving of course.

      Atheists can be convinced that there is the supernatural. But only with ADEQUATE evidence. Not bogus arguments such as fine tuning. Or Aquinas.

      And again. You don't understand science. Science doesn't prove. It just fails to disprove. The evidence for any scientific theory could be so overwhelming that rejection of the theory would be considered perverse. But the theory could be overthrown tomorrow with one piece of new evidence, if it's adequate.

      Delete
    4. [Atheists just state that there's no evidence for the supernatural, besides hand waving of course.

      Atheists can be convinced that there is the supernatural. But only with ADEQUATE evidence. Not bogus arguments such as fine tuning. Or Aquinas.]

      Aquinas is bogus? I've posted in detail on the First and Second Way. Would you care to point out what is bogus about the demonstrations of God's existence?

      Back up your claim, and I'll post it.

      Delete
    5. Michael,

      Yes, Aquinas is bogus. Your explanation of the 1st and 2nd ways are not convincing to me. You're not a very good teacher. Your explanations were of a par with your summary of evolutionary biology as being 'survivors survive'. Grossly inadequate. Of a par with your explanation of hylemorphic dualism; empty rhetoric, madeup definitions of words which have a completely different meaning in usual everyday use.

      Also, you'd asked me an atheist burnt at the stake, and I gave you one, Lucilio Vanini, after just 1' search on the Internet. If you're not satisfied with that ... Well I'm not going to go through a list of the 10,000 or so people killed by the Inquisition to decide whether they'll meet your 'no true Scotsman' definition of atheist or not.

      You also claimed that you didn't like Vanini because he also thought that negroes descended from apes (he was wrong - all humans ARE apes). How is that worse than Christians at the same time abducting negroes, packing them into slave ships and sent across the Atlantic to be sold as chattels into slavery for the rest of their lives?

      You persist in trying to cancel out the small number of people the Inquisition killed by the much larger number of people Communists and National Socialists killed in the 20th century for POLITICAL reasons, for political ideological reasons, in the same way that the Inquisition killed for religious ideological reasons.

      You keep on insisting that atheism has an ideology. It doesn't. It's a world viewpoint. Give me one reference supporting your claim that atheism has an ideology.

      Delete
    6. The Inquisition wasn't interested in atheists, or Jews, or Muslims. The Inquisition only had authority to investigate Christians, and was trying to find heretics.

      The Church executed no one. Executions were carried out by the State, which held its own trials of Christian heretics.

      Most of the Inquisition' (and all of the State)activity was political. Heretics were viewed primarily as a social and political threat. Viewpoints about esoteric matters of religious dogma were of little interest to anyone unless there was likely to be a substantial social or political impact.

      Delete
    7. Michael,

      Your references for your assertions?

      I use as my reference 'God's Jury' by Cullen Murphy, who has examined the Vatican archives, and takes a conservative view of the Inquisition, actually fairly sympathetic view, without hyperbole.

      There were of course 3 Inquisitions. The medieval inquisition, the Spanish inquisition and the Roman inquisition.

      The Spanish inquisition was largely political, but it was still run by catholic monks. The other two were religious.

      Quibbling about the secular authorities being the ones carrying out the executions is just hairsplitting. The ones executed had to first be condemned by religious tribunals.

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    8. Michael said: "Aquinas is bogus? "

      Bach was referring to "evidence". Aquinas is a logic game, not evidence.

      Delete
    9. "The Church executed no one. Executions were carried out by the State, which held its own trials of Christian heretics. "

      Wow... If I wanted to portray atheists as more honest than theists, I could certainly use you as a data point.

      So let me guess - your assertion is that the Church only tortured people to within an inch of their lives, then left executions up to the state authorities, who carried out those executions against the wishes of the Church. Is that what you're saying?

      Are you saying, Michael, that the Church had no hand in the deaths of victims of the Inquisitions? Are you saying that the various state authorities would have murdered all those people anyway had there been no papal bulls or Dominican Inquisitors?

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    10. The inquisitions were secular and religious, often in parallel, conducted by the state and by the Church. It was a complex dynamic and different in different places.

      Secular rulers feared heretics (often justifiably) even more than the Church. In fact, it was common for individuals accused of heresy to request a Church trial, which was known to be much more lenient than a State trial. In a Church trial, repentence and pennance (usually mild) was all that was needed to get the defendent off the hook.

      I point out that no atheists were among the Church defendents, because the Church only investigated Christian heretics, and atheists (and Jews and Muslims) weren't Christians. The Church had no jurisdiction over them.

      I certainly do not defend torture or the use of force by the Church, but many historians have noted that where the Inquisition was active, there was much less civil bloodshed. The contrast between Germany (weak Inquisition and bloody wars of religion) and Spain (strong Inquisition and no other bloodshed) is instructive.

      Heretics were often very socially disruptive and unchecked often contributed to widespread violence. The analogy to the KKK, neo-Nazis, Bolsheviks is real.

      The Church (and the States) faced real dangers, and glib Church bashing misrepresents the reality of the Inquisitions, which were mixtures of excess and some justifiable measures.

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    11. Michael,

      I've asked you for your references supporting your assertions. You still refuse to do so.

      Continuing to make unfounded assertions isn't convincing.

      As I've noted, there were three inquisitions. The medieval, the Spanish and the Roman.

      After unification of Spain, religious freedom was supposedly guaranteed, but there was considerable forced conversion of Jews and Muslims, and any converts thought to be backsliding was a target for the Inquisition.

      I'm not certain about your claim that in Spain with its strong inquisition, there was no other bloodshed. Ever heard of the Morisco Revolt in 1568-70 as a result of the forced conversion and repression of Muslims in Grenada?

      I'm certain I could find other atheists burnt at the stake.

      But actually I won't bother.

      It was actually A JOKE! Originally told by a new atheist to poke fun at the use of the term. If there are new atheists, then there must be old atheists ...

      A joke you didn't appreciate, and as a result took entirely seriously. Which I was pleased to humor and see how far you'd attempt to take it.

      Of course the inquisition tortured its victims. So did the state authorities. It was a harsh and cruel time. Without a police force, crime was treated very harshly to try to discourage others from committing similar ones. The chances of being caught were minimal.

      'God's Jury' makes the interesting point that the inquisition defined torture finishes (ie becomes illegal) at the point that the Bush administration defined it as beginning (risk of organ failure and/or death) and everything up to then was allowable.

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  11. Bach,
    "The kettle calling the pot black is a figure of speech."
    Yes. It is as much as to say I am just as conditioned as KW. Or he as me. Pot and Kettle are analogous to our Christianity and Atheism. The colour black is our conditioning.
    A very telling figure of speech to use.

    "You're actually much more conditioned than any atheist in thinking, with any evidence, that there's the supernatural."
    You mistake me for someone else. I am not a person easily convinced by means of argument or polemics. My own belief in the supernatural is experiential. As is my understanding of war. I am not a superstitious or easily persuaded person by any means. I am neither stubborn nor an open book. I cannot afford to be.

    "Atheists just state that there's no evidence for the supernatural, besides hand waving of course."
    Atheists are blinded by eliminative materialism and metaphysical/philosophical laziness. Perhaps, in some cases, by fear too.

    "Atheists can be convinced that there is the supernatural. But only with ADEQUATE evidence."
    I know two such men, personally. They now sensibly call themselves 'agnostic'. They have found no religion, but are aware of the reality that surrounds them in new ways that proved their previous dogmatic materialism lacking. They have left Plato's cave.

    "Not bogus arguments such as fine tuning. Or Aquinas."
    Fine tuning? Do you mean ID or Paleyism? I would agree that they are unconvincing. Akin to evolutionary sciences.
    As for Aquinas, there is nothing 'bogus' about his works. Complex and apologetic surely, but bogus? Sorry. That is a bogus statement.

    "And again. You don't understand science. Science doesn't prove."
    In fact, I do. But the truth is that I don't need to.
    I understand people, and scientists are people.
    Again, I may not understand the workings of another tool (let's say an arc welder) but I do know it is not intended to control, kill, and oppress. Those that would use such a tool to do so ABUSE it's purpose.
    Science is just such a tool (if immaterial) and is being used FREQUENTLY to do those things.
    It is a pity that many scientists do not understand THAT.
    Perhaps in their search for answers to material questions, they have forgotten what it means to be human? I think so.
    The alternative is that they are being USED by something they do not understand. That, I suppose, is also very probable - but much less likely to be accepted by their self-limited perspective of reality.

    "The evidence for any scientific theory could be so overwhelming that rejection of the theory would be considered perverse. But the theory could be overthrown tomorrow with one piece of new evidence, if it's adequate."
    And in the meantime? These theories are expressed as if they were laws, the scientists claim to 'know' this or that, when if fact they hypothesize and theorize.
    The human family pays the price for this hubris in blood and tears.
    I do not stand against science. To say so is to deliberately mischaracterize my position. I am for inquiry of all types.
    I stand against the ABUSE of the sciences by members of the scientific and academic elite.

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  12. Crus said: "RickK,
    You are seriously going to attempt to make the point that all atheists are honest in their 'world view'?

    Let's start with you. Be honest with yourself and us then: Admit Atheism is a FAITH based metaphysical belief, and not some illusive scientifically proven fact or truth that only the elect and truly 'reasonable' few understand. "

    First, I didn't say all atheists are honest in their world view. Your words, not mine. However, when you're raised in a society that is awash in belief in God, then it takes intellectual honesty to ask hard questions, go where the evidence leads, and admit the difference between faith and reality.

    Second - I do not have a faith-based belief, Crus. Faith is the ability to believe an idea in spite of contrary evidence. Strong faith is the ability to retain a belief in spite of very strong contrary evidence.

    Now it's your turn to be honest. You've read and paid attention to my posts in the past. Do you think that my lack of belief in magical supernatural entities is a belief I hold IN SPITE of the evidence? If God spoke from the clouds tomorrow and turned Lake Michigan into an aged Cabernet, do you think I would refuse to accept that magical supernatural entities exist?

    I am a naturalist because every evidence-based argument for supernaturalism falls apart under critical investigation, and all that's left is "faith". I personally don't consider "faith" a positive attribute or a virtue.

    I don't think Thor or Athena exist. I don't see any more evidence for Yahweh than for Thor or Athena. So I don't think Yahweh exists either. I have zero reason to believe that my state after my death is any different than my state a year before my parents met. Sure, there are lots of reasons to HOPE for an afterlife or a benign deity - but hope doesn't equal reality.

    So no, I'm not going to submit to your characterization of my world view as being faith-based. My world view is based a rational review of the evidence, and is open to change if new evidence comes along.

    Now, does that sound dishonest to you?

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