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I'm sick of all these campers May 24, 2011 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Do we really need another thread about Harold Camping? There were already two still open threads last week, one on May 22nd and one on May 20th. There was also a site wide prank and related MeTa. The links and threads are mostly the same thing - crowing about the inaccuracy of his predictions. I'm not sure why this one story needs this much coverage.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn to Etiquette/Policy at 5:08 PM (279 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

We did not need it at all, but it's a bit late now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dude, that thread was posted 7 hours ago. What do you think the chances of it being closed up now are? Also, cortex weighed in on the mattDude, that thread was posted 7 hours ago. What do you think the chances of it being closed up now are? Also, cortex weighed in on the matter.er.
posted by gman at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2011


Well, that's normal.
posted by gman at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2011 [32 favorites]


Yeah, I flagged that shit. The OP's rationale for making the post was some bunkass nonsense: "I just thought it might be interesting to see some of the reactions that both Camping and his followers had after the predictable outcome."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great, and now gman gave me a stroke or something.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


It's a bunch of the usual crap, yeah. More lolreligion, because the other three threads weren't enough for people to get their superiority on.
posted by Gator at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Page views, LiB, page views.
posted by Ardiril at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2011



Dude, that thread was posted 7 hours ago. What do you think the chances of it being closed up now are? Also, cortex weighed in on the mattDude, that thread was posted 7 hours ago. What do you think the chances of it being closed up now are? Also, cortex weighed in on the matter.er.


I was asleep, and I'm surprised nobody made a MeTa.
compare Bin Laden and Doctor Who. there are still huge active threads for them to post updates in.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2011


Please post less, lovecraft in Brooklyn
posted by to sir with millipedes at 5:14 PM on May 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


please don't tell people what to do, to sir with millipedes. LiB is an eager noob, yes, but puts up good stuff, which should be encouraged.
posted by jonmc at 5:18 PM on May 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


We felt like we were going to be playing whack-a-mole all day. We figured there was no way we were going to avoid either 1. another Camper thread or 2. a MetaTalk. We figured we'd rather have a "Why was this included" MeTa than a "Why was this deleted" all other things being equal.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:18 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think negative whack-a-mole references unfairly denigrate a fun arcade game.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


Jessamyn, if you give me temporary mod powers I promise I will only use them to delete Camping threads until they stop getting posted.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


I promise I will only use them to delete Camping threads until they stop getting posted.

UNFAIR TO CAMPERS
posted by scody at 5:27 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I tried four times to flag that one, but my flag didn't stick. I have no idea why.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:28 PM on May 24, 2011


You know what...I'm really impressed. There is a reverse racism thread, a seemingly anti-Beyonce thread that isn't what it seems, and sex trafficking thread. None of them has spawned a meta talk thread. Congratulations, everybody!
posted by hal_c_on at 5:34 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Page views, LiB, page views.
posted by Ardiril


You seem to have some sort of hair up your ass about something today, Ardiril. What's up with that?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:40 PM on May 24, 2011


Well, it's not like these end of the world predictions happen that often. Gotta strike while the iron is hot.
posted by phunniemee at 5:48 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been "weighing in on the mattDude" all afternoon, if you know what I mean.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:52 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have no idea what I mean.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:52 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Compare Bin Laden and Doctor Who

I prefer Doctor Who.
posted by Trurl at 5:53 PM on May 24, 2011 [43 favorites]


I know that it sucks to have to keep deleting variations on the same topic when the get posted and reposted and rereposted, but by leaving that post up, you've rewarded the lazy.
posted by crunchland at 5:58 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, isn't this now another thread about Harold Camping?
posted by lesli212 at 6:02 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing new there, Alvy.
posted by Ardiril at 6:03 PM on May 24, 2011


Because he, and anyone who believes him are easy marks, and we are cheap smarmy bastards with an overdeveloped sense of shadenfreude. Plus, I know Cortex really enjoys interacting.
posted by timsteil at 6:06 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey now, it's not the end of the world or anything.
posted by loquacious at 6:16 PM on May 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Do we really need another thread about Harold Camping?

No.

There were already two still open threads last week, one on May 22nd and one on May 20th. There was also a site wide prank and related MeTa. The links and threads are mostly the same thing - crowing about the inaccuracy of his predictions. I'm not sure why this one story needs this much coverage.

And now there's a MeTa. So you know... good work moving us away from the topic there. ;)

There are plenty of nice fpp's that could use some love. You could always comment on 'em....
posted by zarq at 6:22 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey now, it's not the end of the world or anything.

That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, balloon boy - Lenny Bruce is not afraid.
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn,
world serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs.....
posted by zarq at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Compare Bin Laden and Doctor Who

Oooh, I know this, I know this! One is a reckless pontificating lunatic who destroys civilizations and ends up hurting his own people more than all his enemies combined, and the other one is Bin Laden. What do I win?
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:43 PM on May 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


I know that it sucks to have to keep deleting variations on the same topic when the get posted and reposted and rereposted, but by leaving that post up, you've rewarded the lazy.

It's a devil's bargain, definitely. Triage makes for ugly compromises sometimes around here, but in a lot of respects what happens on the front page as in significant part an expression of the will of the userbase, even if the will seems a little bit meh sometimes.

Page views, LiB, page views.

Ripe horseshit, Ardiril. The front page would look wildly different if minmaxing the monetization of pageviews was actually a priority in how we moderate.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:50 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Ripe horseshit"- I'm gonna use that.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:59 PM on May 24, 2011


by leaving that post up, you've rewarded the lazy.

Where lazy = jessamyn and cortex, absolutely.

I get what you're getting at, but at some level we have to realistically be honest with ourselves that there are a finite number of mod hours we have to spend on things, and letting one post stay [if we accept that people will keep making them] if it was a good post [relatively speaking] was a better deal than fighting with the people who would not only make continual Camper posts but would also launch an angry MODS R CENSRZ MeTa thread.

So, I am not disagreeing, but these are the wacky choices we get to make sometimes. I wish the world were different to, but this is a situation in which I don't think that additional mod actions were going to achieve the desired result.

Page views, LiB, page views.

No. We do not play those games. Anyone who says we do is selling something. And also wrong.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:01 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]



Oooh, I know this, I know this! One is a reckless pontificating lunatic who destroys civilizations and ends up hurting his own people more than all his enemies combined, and the other one is Bin Laden. What do I win?


And who often communicates a message of destruction through the worldwide media (at least in the new series).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:09 PM on May 24, 2011


More lolreligion, because the other three threads weren't enough for people to get their superiority on.

Less lolreligion and more like lolobviousconartist. As one thread in the bunch showed in particular, the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:01 PM on May 24, 2011


the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time.

The community is not anti-atheist.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:02 PM on May 24, 2011 [26 favorites]


As one thread in the bunch showed in particular, the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time.

Try being a non-Christian theist around here for a while, then come back and tell us how Metafilter is anti-atheist.
posted by zarq at 8:12 PM on May 24, 2011


Well, God's account has been disabled.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:14 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We felt like we were going to be playing whack-a-mole all day"

One of you more-clever-than-me people really should program a flash game that is in the style of whack-a-mole but with words or images representing the over-hyped topics of the day. Then release it under the title: "MetaFilter Mod: The Role-Playing Game."
posted by Jacqueline at 8:28 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some fun things to note:

God's a Mac user.

Not only did mathowie piss him off, but he got into an argument with sweetjesus. Oh, and pretty much everyone else in that thread.

Which eventually raised the question:

if God gets banned from MetaFilter, will Matt end up on Fox News?
posted by matteo at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2005 [+] [!]

posted by zarq at 8:31 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]




I'm just thinking. On alternate days, I have been the best and worst citizen here. I have both appreciated the love and run my own wrong ass out of town voluntarily as was necessary before anyone needed to show me the door. So how bout this. yeah there's a lot of us and you don't know or owe me nothing. All I'm saying is if you have. maybe you know maybe Cortex while he might really want to go out for a good meal, but he will settle for a frickin hotpocket to keep things from blowing into hell. At a difficult time in another mod's life, maybe you could just kind of let it go for a Tuesday. Maybe just be a good sport, and I swear you only have to do it once on my account. But over this? Really? I swear, I think I only know like 4 mefites personally in the flesh and all. But I know that we are all way better than being this crappy about something so petty.
You will find it worth your membership.
posted by timsteil at 8:51 PM on May 24, 2011


Better two shorter threads than one long thread that takes forever to load, isn't visible form the front page, and doesn't have a prominent link to the latest news.

Seriously, flaggers, why do you care???
posted by orthogonality at 9:20 PM on May 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


If I don't exercise my flagging finger, it atrophies, and I really want to be ready the next time James Brown dies.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:23 PM on May 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Better two shorter threads than one long thread that takes forever to load, isn't visible form the front page, and doesn't have a prominent link to the latest news.

Seriously, flaggers, why do you care???


Because it's cheap, and snarky, and the news doesn't deserve this many threads. Even the endless Gaga/Minecraft/Lovecraft threads come from a place of love and enthusiasm. This is 'oh, that thing we've been mocking all week? we're still mocking it!'

Newsfilter like Bin Laden and Wikileaks at least has constant developments. We knew the Rapture wasn't going to happen. It didn't happen. It continues not happening. We don't need a daily post about it not happening.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:25 PM on May 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I care about MetaFilter being a quality community with interesting links that isn't just a bunch of repetitive crap about "the latest news" on any particular subject, but especially not something that's largely for the purpose of cheaply mocking and disparaging people. Crap like this starts fights and generally makes MeFi as a whole look bad.

And once again: FLAGGING IS NOT CENSORSHIP. It is not downvoting, auto-hiding, karma-reducing badness. It's a non-gamable alert system that serves to bring potentially problematic stuff to the mods. If you don't want to flag stuff, that's your option, but get it through your head that there's nothing wrong with other people using it for its intended purpose.
posted by Gator at 9:29 PM on May 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


something that's largely for the purpose of cheaply mocking and disparaging people

But according to Ricardo's law of comparative advantage, we should specialize in what we're best at! And we're tops at mocking and disparaging!
posted by orthogonality at 9:44 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


And we're tops at mocking and disparaging!

We're actually not that good at it because there's not a real singularity of purpose to it around here. Some people enjoy the snark and others don't. So it's hit or miss whether something's going to turn into a real Snarktacular Pile-on and Circle Jerk, or just fizzle out and be just another bad post about a love-to-hate topic.

Other sites do that sort of thing as if it were their JOB and if you ask me, I'd say let them do it there. If you're someone who values snarking as an art form and you're slumming on MetaFilter you have to sort of admit that maybe you're just in the minors.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:48 PM on May 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is a site that managed to find humanity and meaning in Juggalos, who are usually a Designated Snark Target. It's one of its best features.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:53 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like camping. There can never be too many camping threads. One of my favorite things about camping is waking up before everybody else, starting a fire from the coals of last night's fire, making a pot of coffee, and sneaking off into the forest just as the sun hits the tips of the trees and the dew begins to steam off the branches. Deer are just starting to make their way back from the edges of the lake after their morning drink, and racoons are just wandering back from late night shenanigans.

Of course when the dead finally rise up, the scene will be slightly less picturesque.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:59 PM on May 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


That was actually the first time that I have disagreed with a mod.

ACK! ARMAGEDDON!
posted by Splunge at 10:28 PM on May 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I met God at the edge of town



video's kind of silly but the song is sublime
posted by philip-random at 11:46 PM on May 24, 2011


Now seems as good a time as any to once again bring up the existence of this gentleman:

God Shammgod

posted by drjimmy11 at 11:49 PM on May 24, 2011


My nominee for Best Wikipedia Sentence Ever:

Because he did not have the $600 required to legally change his name, he was known as God Shammgod from that point onward.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:56 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sick of campers at all, they are comfortable and stylish if a bit pricey. Good footwear is very important on many levels.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:59 AM on May 25, 2011


Dr Dracator: "I'm not sick of campers at all"

Camping: It's a legitimate strategy!.
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:08 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Leave those threads be! I happen to like the sweet taste of easy meat. This too will pass and new posts that require Thought will come along, so let me enjoy dessert in peace
posted by Redhush at 4:37 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, God's account has been disabled.

Huh? Seems to be working fine from my end. Is this mic on?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:11 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I get what you're getting at, but at some level we have to realistically be honest with ourselves that there are a finite number of mod hours we have to spend on things, and letting one post stay [if we accept that people will keep making them] if it was a good post [relatively speaking] was a better deal than fighting with the people who would not only make continual Camper posts but would also launch an angry MODS R CENSRZ MeTa thread.

I think the solution is to leave the first such thread up, but edit it to make the OP look stupid. When the meta thread happens it will take care of itself.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:19 AM on May 25, 2011


The community is not anti-atheist.
posted by jessamyn ★ at 8:02 PM on May 24


I don't believe that.
posted by timsteil at 6:28 AM on May 25, 2011


I don't believe that.

I'll allow that belief is a complicated thing. And it's very true that there are a few users who are axe-grindy about atheism. I suspect that number is considerably lower than the people who are axe-grindy about theism.

So, personally, I think the community is anti-activist-atheist [and anti-pushy-theists], though I think it's tough to nail down definition enough so that we can talk about this without hollering at each other. I don't enjoy this conversational direction and so rarely participate in it. Our general assertion is that people need to be civil to each other even if you think what the other person believes is wrong and/or deeply societally problematic. This edict gets broken the most often when we're talking about religion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:34 AM on May 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time.

I had to re-read this multiple times because I was convinced that I had parsed the sentence incorrectly.

This edict gets broken the most often when we're talking about religion.
Truth.
posted by DWRoelands at 7:54 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm an atheist and have never felt the community was anti-atheist. Also, I read timsteil's comment as a quick joke.

I "don't believe" that
posted by various at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2011


the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time.

I think that if a significant amount of the pushback is coming from Astro Zombie or Rory Marinich, both of whom are atheists, and then cortex and jessamyn (both atheists) tell you to dial it down some, there's a good chance that the community is anti-something, but I'm not sure how you come up with the word 'atheist' for that spot.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:58 AM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think metafilter is remotely anti-atheist.

Metafilter has well intentioned multi-culturalists who insist on seeing the good side of everything and cynics who insist on seeing the bad side of everything, and also a lot of partisans who insist on seeing everyone on their team as perfect and every one who's not as evil.

And that's just in Apple threads.
posted by empath at 8:41 AM on May 25, 2011 [18 favorites]


...aaaaaand Empath wins the internet.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 8:53 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


the community is and will remain pretty anti-atheist for some time

If you truly believe that (and are not just trying to get a rise out of people), I genuinely cannot understand how you could possibly come to such a conclusion.

To quote myself from a prior thread on this topic, experience shows that almost every metafilter thread that is even tangentially about religion will have, within the first 20-30 comments (often much earlier) a snide "invisible sky giant / invisible sky daddy / people with faith are the equivalent of retarded children" comment from one of the oh-so-clever, oh-so-original members of the Metafilter Atheister-Than-Thou Brigade.

The only extent to which this community is anti-atheist in any way, shape or form is the extent to which, after several comments along those lines, a few people (some of whom are theists, some agnostic, some even atheist) may say something along the lines of "hey, you know not all people of faith are the same or even believe the same things, and anyway maybe you could be a little less aggressive and dickish in your rush to mock and condemn all theists."

If you read that as the community being somehow "anti-atheist" (rather than "anti-being-a-dick-about-it"), you have an almost pathologically warped view of this community.
posted by dersins at 8:56 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


The "don't be a dick" crowd are certainly part of the problem, consistently preferring to derail rather than just flagging for offensive and/or off-topic content and writing something worth reading.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:05 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


KirkJobSluder: "The "don't be a dick" crowd are certainly part of the problem, consistently preferring to derail rather than just flagging for offensive and/or off-topic content and writing something worth reading."

I'm sorry, but are you now complaining about tone in religion threads?

Mefite, heal thyself.
posted by zarq at 9:16 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


We figured there was no way we were going to avoid either 1. another Camper thread or 2. a MetaTalk.

We had to let them shit all over the living room. Otherwise, they were going to shit all over the living room.
posted by banshee at 9:23 AM on May 25, 2011


If you read that as the community being somehow "anti-atheist" (rather than "anti-being-a-dick-about-it"), you have an almost pathologically warped view of this community.

Or it's conceivable that, for some, the definition of atheist includes right-to-be-a-dick-to-theists, because theists have traditionally treated our kind so horribly over the years, so an-eye-for-an-eye and all that Old Testamentism.

And I'm only being half-not-serious here. As I suggested in the May 22 thread ...

The problem, I guess, is that the atheism thing is rather like the revenge of the nerds. Kicked around their whole lives out there in "the real world" -- beware when they kick back. Except the problem here at MeFi is that the majority are "the nerds" (ie: if not atheist, certainly agnostic), so this kicking back ends up coming across bullying -- the piling on of a far weaker opponent. Definitely ugly.

There's a few folk in this thread who I've often found good company here at MeFi, but in this thread, in the shadow cast by their triumphalism, let's just say their shit is smelling rather toxic.

We can do better.

posted by philip-random at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


We had to let them shit all over the living room. Otherwise, they were going to shit all over the living room.

Actually, Meta is more like the kitchen. Less formal. And easier to clean up all the spilled blood afterward.
posted by philip-random at 9:25 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well yes zarq, I have been working on being less fighty in my participation in those threads. But my complaint for over a year now is that it's seemingly impossible to have a conversation about a government apology for Turing to go back over a year, or Rob Bell's evangelical Universalism for something last month without it becoming a referendum on rude atheism.

For the most part, I've just been flagging the more offensive comments on both sides along with the "atheists are dicks" meta.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:33 AM on May 25, 2011


In defense of KirkJobSluder, I was pleasantly surprised by some of his commentary in that thread. Not that I'd given it much serious thought, but I guess I had him pegged as one of the "being-a-dick-about-it" atheists, and thus had come to sort of cringe when I saw his name showing up under a comment (yes, in the fighty threads, I do sometimes read the name before the comment, just to steel myself) ... but lo and behold, he was being quite reasonable.

Thank you for that, sir.

(he said, assuming that a Kirk would be male)
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on May 25, 2011


along with the "atheists are dicks" meta

Okay now, I realize that as a theist maybe this is some confirmation bias on my part, so if so I apologize. But it seems to me that it is constantly and only some (some) atheists here on Metafilter who keep ignoring subtleties like the word 'some.' I honestly cannot recall anyone sincerely saying in any thread that 'atheists are dicks'-- I do not believe that sentiment has been expressed. I believe the idea expressed is that 'some atheists are dicks when they behave in a certain manner'-- and, often, that behavior is of the variety of failing to use words like 'some,' such that these few people say things like (paraphrasing) 'religious people are idiots' and the like.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:51 AM on May 25, 2011


philip-random: " Or it's conceivable that, for some, the definition of atheist includes right-to-be-a-dick-to-theists, because theists have traditionally treated our kind so horribly over the years, so an-eye-for-an-eye and all that Old Testamentism."

But most of us come from groups of people that have been either persecuted, slurred, enslaved, oppressed and/or attacked by another over the years. I feel like a broken record saying this, but intelligent, reasonable people should not engage in lazy stereotypes. It never adds anything to the discussion and riles people up to the point where they feel they have to defend themselves.
posted by zarq at 10:06 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Athei Star Dix. It's Latin. It means, "Here is the sockpuppet I want for Father's Day, please."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:10 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder: "Well yes zarq, I have been working on being less fighty in my participation in those threads. But my complaint for over a year now is that it's seemingly impossible to have a conversation about a government apology for Turing to go back over a year, or Rob Bell's evangelical Universalism for something last month without it becoming a referendum on rude atheism.

Ok. So why is that? What specific comments have the theists been complaining about?

My sense has been that the complaints have been quite specific, and not framed as "spaghetti monster references hurt my feelings."

For the most part, I've just been flagging the more offensive comments on both sides along with the "atheists are dicks" meta."

I'm glad to hear that. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 10:12 AM on May 25, 2011


I think it's unfortunate that that last thread was left alive. If only the mods agreed with me all the time. *sigh*

It's not just MeFi; the rest of the Web and mainstream media (is the web mmm now?) was all over it, too. There's an edge of neener-neener that I don't like much in the stories. Hard to resist, though, people made a great big deal about it and... nuthin.
posted by theora55 at 10:18 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


some atheists are dicks when they behave in a certain manner

The problem, of course, is that saying "religious people are wrong" is considered 'being a dick' by a large number of people here. So, like, speaking openly about their beliefs, ever, is a problem because people here take it as a challenge to everything they hold dear.

Though, of course, it's fine for those exact same people to vociferously denounce certain christian groups who have minimal representation here like Catholics, Mormons or Fundamentalists and Millenarians.
posted by empath at 10:23 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


RC Sproul, Jr. had a very insightful blog post with regard to Mr. Camping and the reactions of many evangelicals to his prediction not panning out...
Last night thousands of Camping’s followers went to bed disappointed and confused. Their pride bubbles deflated rather quickly when 6:01 came. This morning, however, millions of evangelicals woke up not with rapture fever, but with a bad case of pride. We woke up this morning praying, “Lord, I thank you I am not like other men. I don’t follow embarrassing gurus. I have a nice and respectable millennial position. I don’t cause you embarrassment on the national news, giving the devil room to laugh” and of course, the devil laughs, roars in fact, his plan a success.

It is not my desire to make light of Camping’s errors. I want neither to mock them nor to minimize them. They are egregious, his views on the church most egregious of all. It is my desire, however, to own my sin, to guard against my own temptation more than to point and laugh at others. It is my desire daily to hope that Jesus would come back, and that He would find me not pointing and laughing at others, not either looking up to heaven in expectation, but looking to the ground in humility, beating my breast and praying, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.”
http://rcsprouljunior.blogspot.com/2011/05/humility-in-name-of-love_6237.html
posted by DWRoelands at 10:28 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess to elaborate -- every time someone makes a blanket statement about religious belief, a dozen people chime into say that their particular version of religious belief is completely unlike all the other silly religious beliefs that other people have and is deserving of more respect than a blanket dismissal, as if we have to carefully consider every minutely different variation on the same doctrine individually before having an opinion on it, meanwhile, of course, the fact that they haven't given the same consideration to the thousands of religious beliefs which they also (implicitly) dismiss.
posted by empath at 10:30 AM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


The problem, of course, is that saying "religious people are wrong" is considered 'being a dick' by a large number of people here.

Again, I don't think that's true. I think the pushback is against people saying 'religious people are idiots/fools/deluded Kool-Aid drinkers/bigots/homophobes/pedophile apologists/greedy/liars' or the like. Speaking only for myself, I would love a decent conversation with you or Blazecock Pileon or any number of atheists about your beliefs and my beliefs, and where we can come together and where we differ, and why. But if your/his/her/their presentation of your beliefs involves calling me a deluded idiot for having a different opinion than you do, I don't want to have that conversation.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:38 AM on May 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


empath : "I guess to elaborate -- every time someone makes a blanket statement about religious belief, a dozen people chime into say that their particular version of religious belief is completely unlike all the other silly religious beliefs that other people have and is deserving of more respect than a blanket dismissal, as if we have to carefully consider every minutely different variation on the same doctrine individually before having an opinion on it,

Not exactly. If we're going to make assertions then it's reasonable to expect that we'd take care to make sure we're not wrong. Wide-sweeping declarations about all religions and their followers tend to be inaccurate. There are many, many levels of religious belief and observance among those who self-identify as some flavor of theist.

...meanwhile, of course, the fact that they haven't given the same consideration to the thousands of religious beliefs which they also (implicitly) dismiss."

Define "dismiss"

I'm quite serious. It is quite possible to attack acts performed in the name of a specific religion while making no judgment about its spiritual teachings.
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on May 25, 2011


It is quite possible to attack acts performed in the name of a specific religion while making no judgment about its spiritual teachings.

If you adopt a religion, you've implictly dismissed the others -- they're mutually contradictory, all of them. I assume you're not a hindu, for example. Have you studied the Vedas and heard the testimony of all of the people about how their interactions with their local gods? If you're not a fundamentalist christian, you reject that the bible is the literal word of god, yet have you done bible study and prayer with every individual sub sect and allowed God to enter your heart so you could experience his direct revelation of the bible's truth? I could go on and on.

There are thousands and thousands and thousands of religions that you think are wrong. Even if you say "All religions share a universal truth", then you are still disagreeing with the millions of people who DON'T believe that all religions share a universal truth, which is, in fact, a fundamental belief of most religions.

Any affirmative statement you make about your religious belief implicitly denies and dismisses the beliefs of others, so unless you're going to ban all discussion of religion, it must be allowed for atheists to make the case for atheism without constantly accusing them of being rude and disrespectful.

All of you are atheists to someone.
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on May 25, 2011 [13 favorites]


empath, you keep making comments about the implicit dismissal of other people by theists. What people implicitly think or dismiss doesn't really matter to this conversation, so much as what people are SAYING to and about each other, explicitly. Going back to your earlier comment about making blanket statements and "as if we have to carefully consider every minutely different variation on the same doctrine individually before having an opinion on it," wouldn't it be simpler and better participation in the community to just...not make those blanket statements in the first place? Implicitly dismiss all you want, other will do the same, but what we're talking about here is the explicit disparagement of people who believe differently.
posted by Gator at 11:17 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Implicitly dismiss all you want, other will do the same, but what we're talking about here is the explicit disparagement of people who believe differently.

What I'm saying that saying: "I don't believe in god" is no more disparaging of other people's beliefs than "I believe in god."

There's no difference between saying "I don't believe in god" and saying "All people who believe in god are wrong."

There's no difference between saying "I believe in god" and saying "All people who don't believe in god are wrong."

And I think the tut-tut'ing about 'rude athests' is particularly hypocritical when everyone was having a grand ol' time piling on Camping and his followers, I guess because there was nobody here to stand up for them or take offense for them.
posted by empath at 11:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


shakespherian: I honestly cannot recall anyone sincerely saying in any thread that 'atheists are dicks'-- I do not believe that sentiment has been expressed.

It has been expressed. Sometimes I flag it and sometimes it gets deleted so I'm not finding the more outrageous examples in my archives without a big search. In a more recent thread we've been told that atheists are spiritually stunted, unreasonably skeptical, tone deaf, and asking the wrong questions which I'm not certain is much better.

Perhaps more importantly the reason why I have a knee-jerk reaction is that the presumption of atheistic rudeness is so ubiquitous as to drive just about all of the discourse about atheists in culture. With a day after the NYT published an article about MASH (Military Atheists and Secular Humanists) asking for on-base meeting space and possibly Humanist Chaplains, my aggregator delivered a half dozen editorials that Humanist Chaplains couldn't work because they can't be trusted to serve members of other faiths in a civil manner. Wash, rinse, and repeat for just about every issue in which atheists are involved.

zarq: My sense has been that the complaints have been quite specific, and not framed as "spaghetti monster references hurt my feelings."

On the contrary, I find that it is often framed as, "spaghetti monster/tooth fairy/invisible unicorns/fairy tales hurt feelings." And even if we consider that the specific complaint is valid, it usually has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the post, and involves a fair bit of lazy stereotypes, admittedly from both sides, but still off-topic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:24 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no difference between saying "I don't believe in god" and saying "All people who believe in god are wrong."

Of course there is. There is a huge semantic difference, among the many other differences with those statements. If this is the way you truly feel in your heart, that is fine. Do not tell me or other people what we truly feel in our hearts. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:26 AM on May 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


In a more recent thread we've been told that atheists are spiritually stunted, unreasonably skeptical, tone deaf, and asking the wrong questions which I'm not certain is much better.

In which case, that's bad and wrong and had I seen those comments I would have flagged them, and I apologize for saying they didn't exist.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with Empath to a degree. By putting forth the propositions that accompany my faith (I'm a Christian), I am implicitly stating that I believe that many tenets of many other people's faiths are false. I don't think this is untoward or impolite or unreasonable.

There's nothing wrong with, as Empath puts it, "making the case for atheism". Any reasonable person should welcome the presentation of ideas other than their own.

However, "making the case for [insert worldview here]" should not by synonymous with "mocking people who believe differently." There's a world of difference that I think most adults would acknowledge
posted by DWRoelands at 11:31 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


"should not BE synonymous", dangit.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:32 AM on May 25, 2011


However, "making the case for [insert worldview here]" should not by synonymous with "mocking people who believe differently."

Until the atheists expanded the topic to religion and christianity as a whole, everyone was perfectly happy to mock the rapture folks. We even had a site-wide prank about it.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


It would be cool if when we have abortion discussion pro-life positions would not be dismissed as "Just wanting to control women's bodies."

A lot of people have a sincere belief that their position is a position that aims to defend innocent human life from murder. You don't know what is in someone's heart.

And yeah, if you believe in a religion it's hard to not believe other people are wrong about their religion. We get the same thing in vegetarian discussions.

I'm an ethical vegetarian, that implicitly means I think people who eat meat are unethical, right?

Well, it isn't quite that simple. I respect your belief and I'm not gonna preach, but if I thought it was right I would eat meat too.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:34 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath : "If you adopt a religion, you've implictly dismissed the others -- they're mutually contradictory, all of them.

I remain unconvinced of this. Some religions are contradictory. Most teach similar lessons and instil similar values.

I assume you're not a hindu, for example. Have you studied the Vedas

Yes.

and heard the testimony of all of the people about how their interactions with their local gods?

All the people? No. A select few, yes. I don't pretend to be anything more than an interested amateur student.

If you're not a fundamentalist christian, you reject that the bible is the literal word of god, yet have you done bible study and prayer with every individual sub sect and allowed God to enter your heart so you could experience his direct revelation of the bible's truth? I could go on and on.

There are thousands and thousands and thousands of religions that you think are wrong. Even if you say "All religions share a universal truth", then you are still disagreeing with the millions of people who DON'T believe that all religions share a universal truth, which is, in fact, a fundamental belief of most religions.

Any affirmative statement you make about your religious belief implicitly denies and dismisses the beliefs of others, so unless you're going to ban all discussion of religion, it must be allowed for atheists to make the case for atheism without constantly accusing them of being rude and disrespectful.

All of you are atheists to someone.
"

I'm really unsure of how to answer this. You're making an assumption about my beliefs that doesn't hold true for me, but I suspect that any answer I give you to try and explain won't be adequate.

Ah well.

I don't expect anyone to share my personal theistic beliefs, nor do I think my beliefs are necessarily better than anyone else's. They work for me, specifically. If I attend a service at a synagogue, I may take a lesson from it that is different than the traditional teachings of Judaism. In my mind, that's part of what my being a Jew is: in all things, you're supposed to educate yourself, weigh your experiences and draw your own conclusions.

I spent more than 15 years attending temples and churches and services of various faiths. Still try to, though with far less frequency these days. This was part of the process for me: I explored, learned, weighed and drew my own conclusions.

I don't have a problem with the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or most other religions, as long as they don't infringe upon the rights of others. So preaching that Christ was the Messiah is fine. Preaching that homosexuality is a sin is not. Dominionism strikes me as arrogance.

But otherwise, I don't judge whether their teachings are right or wrong. They are simply not right for me or my life at this moment. My disbelief isn't an either/or state. I honestly don't know who's right and who's wrong when it comes to certain core beliefs. Christ may well have been the Messiah. Reincarnation may well exist. Hell may well exist. Any personal dismissal on my part is not disparagement. Nor do I declare publicly that my beliefs are right and another religion's are wrong -- unless those beliefs are teaching hatred or some forms of Othering -- or are being used as an excuse to attack someone else's personal rights.

If I weren't Jewish, I'd probably be agnostic.

Does that make sense to you?
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Until the atheists expanded the topic to religion and christianity as a whole, everyone was perfectly happy to mock the rapture folks.

FWIW, I wasn't, but I don't know how many more 'We should respect people and not be needlessly cruel' lectures from me the site can tolerate.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:37 AM on May 25, 2011


Until the atheists expanded the topic to religion and christianity as a whole, everyone was perfectly happy to mock the rapture folks. We even had a site-wide prank about it.

I'm not really sure what this has to do with the point of my comment, but if you don't want to engage seriously, that's certainly your prerogative.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:38 AM on May 25, 2011


And you can respectfully say that a person is wrong about a great many things. Something that changed much of my thinking about Christopher Hitchins was discovering that he road-trips to debates with his opponents, and is currently being treated by a man he debated on stage. I still think he's wrong on politics and torture, but I'll defend the proposition that I can disagree without reducing him to a caricature.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


empath : " Until the atheists expanded the topic to religion and christianity as a whole, everyone was perfectly happy to mock the rapture folks. We even had a site-wide prank about it."

Not everyone. Nor did "everyone" agree with the prank. But I kept my mouth shut about it because it honestly wasn't such a big deal that it would have been worth going against the grain.
posted by zarq at 11:40 AM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not really that hard to say that you believe someone is wrong without equating their beliefs with mental illness. Faith and or lack thereof is a highly personal and emotionally charged subject. A subject that's serious and important enough to warrant a bit of extra care in examining one's choice of language. Especially among friends.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:49 AM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nor for that matter was the intention of the prank to mock believers (even a very specific outlier subset) so much as to be silly about the ridiculous amount of accumulated meme juice that odd bit of pop eschatology had gathered up. Which is not to say I can't understand people turning up an eyebrow at it, and insofar as us making a giddy decision to do something silly might have left folks put out I hear that, but it should be pretty clear that "ha ha, take that people who have Christian beliefs!" isn't where we were coming from.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


but it should be pretty clear that "ha ha, take that people who have Christian beliefs!" isn't where we were coming from.

Well, you were making fun of a specific subset of Christians that passionately and sincerely believed that the world was coming to an end and were dealing with the consequences of their lives that had been shattered by that belief turning out not to be true, and I have a really hard time interpreting it any other way, even if I try really hard.

You all gave the go ahead for taking shots at those guys for having a fringe belief, but as soon as the atheists started expanding the topic, everyone said 'woah, woah, wait a second, now that's over the line'.

It happens all the time in religious threads here, where people happily pile on to catholics or mormons or 'fundies' or whatever, but any criticism of religion as a whole gets shouted down as being rude.
posted by empath at 12:09 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cortex, I appreciate you clarifying that. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on May 25, 2011


any criticism of religion as a whole gets shouted down as being rude.

I'm not sure why you keep saying this sort of thing, because I've already a couple times pushed back against this and you haven't really addressed my objections.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2011


You all gave the go ahead for taking shots at those guys for having a fringe belief, but as soon as the atheists started expanding the topic, everyone said 'woah, woah, wait a second, now that's over the line'.

Well, that is how community works. You tend to get away with stuff for a while, but if you're pushing the boundaries too much, pushing buttons too hard and making too many folks uncomfortable, you tend to hear about it -- sometimes rather loudly. Which doesn't make THEM right and YOU wrong, but it does raise the stakes of staying your current course (the old, "Is this a hill I want to die on?" issue).

Personally, I've often been amazed at just how badly certain folks around here want to keep on hurling dung at the believers. And no, I don't see the opposite happening much (if at all) -- not on MetaFilter, that is.
posted by philip-random at 12:37 PM on May 25, 2011


I would listen to a religion podcast featuring zarq, vorfeed, philip-random, and Pater Alethias (sp?). I would listen to it so hard.
posted by jtron at 12:44 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying that saying: "I don't believe in god" is no more disparaging of other people's beliefs than "I believe in god."

That is true. I don't think that anyone is arguing otherwise.

There's no difference between saying "I don't believe in god" and saying "All people who believe in god are wrong."
There's no difference between saying "I believe in god" and saying "All people who don't believe in god are wrong."


Like jessamyn, I disagree with those statements. There is a difference between discussing your own beliefs and those of others. Both of those statements are far too simplistic. A more nuanced view of belief and its implications would hold that it is possible to believe one thing personally and still allow others their own beliefs.

But that's not even the point here. It doesn't feel as though anybody's objecting to statements like "people who believe X [or don't believe X ] are wrong." The objections are to dismissive, insulting, frankly dickish statements about "silly, primitive drivellings [sic]" and the now-deleted remarks about all theists being "retards," as well as pointless and objectively untrue broad-brush proclamations about extreme fringe groups like Camping's and others being representative of every single person of faith ever in the whole wide world.

Is this a "tone argument"? You're damn right it is. As an on-line community, just about all we have is our tone, and our ability to at least try not to be dicks to each other.
posted by dersins at 12:47 PM on May 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've often been amazed at just how badly certain folks around here want to keep on hurling dung at the believers.

It's just another somebody dung somebody wrong song.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:50 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter:...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:50 PM on May 25, 2011


empath, I agree with what dersins said, but that's not even the point here. The point is that, as best I can tell, you're trying to say that Camping's clearly a looney tune, but his assertions are no more loony than any other religious teaching, and therefore he's representative of all other religionists. That, of course, is false. Most Christians would tell you that what Camping's up to is not religion. It's idolatry, at best; a transparent con job at worst. You confuse Camping's ravings with religion because you are ignorant of what the religion he uses as a cover (Christianity) actually is. And so, in your ignorance, you slander religion Please stop.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:20 PM on May 25, 2011


It happens all the time in religious threads here, where people happily pile on to catholics or mormons or 'fundies' or whatever, but any criticism of religion as a whole gets shouted down as being rude.

I'm beginning to wonder if we're talking about the same website.

"Religion is responsible for more suffering than any other social force in history" is a pretty brusque thing to say, but I would be surprised if anyone "shouted you down" for it. I wouldn't even consider it rude, and I'm a pretty strident Christian. (Note: That is a manufactured quote for the purpose of the discussion, but not too far afield from some things expressed on Metafilter from time to time).

That statement is really quite different than this one:
These rubes are not the back bone of our country, they are uneducated, racist, xenophobic, sexist, homophobic, theocratic, inbred halfwits who should be disenfranchised and cared for as one would care for a child. They should not be allowed to run their own police forces or their local governments. Those should be handled by people who have some sense. Let the peasants have their Jesus and their meth, but for god's sake stop acting like they have any place in a functioning democracy.
Certainly, you can see a difference between these two statements. The former is taking issue with an idea, and doing so in a way that isn't derogatory to anyone. The latter is just ugliness.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:29 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: "Most Christians would tell you that what Camping's up to is not religion. It's idolatry, at best; a transparent con job at worst. You confuse Camping's ravings with religion because you are ignorant of what the religion he uses as a cover (Christianity) actually is."

As a Christian I perfectly understand what Empath is saying - from the perspective of someone who doesn't believe in religion at all, what is the real difference between idolatry and regular Christiandom since neither are real? Its like asking what the difference is between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise.

However, I do agree with desrins.
posted by charred husk at 1:33 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its like asking what the difference is between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise.

One looks like it was glued together from model kits manufactured in the 70's; the other made the Kessel Run in about 11.5 parsecs.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:37 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


DWRoelands: " That statement is really quite different than this one:"

That thread and one other also spawned a MeTa. So it's not as if the sentiment was allowed to go unchecked.
posted by zarq at 1:37 PM on May 25, 2011


Its like asking what the difference is between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise.

The Enterprise is real. The Millennium Falcon is made out of some mystery metal that will totally defeat scanners with nothing but a half inch plate.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2011


I think that if a significant amount of the pushback is coming from Astro Zombie or Rory Marinich, both of whom are atheists

AZ is Jewish, last I remember, and Rory calls atheists bigots for the sole crime of daring to be an atheist. It's a free country and people are free to be who they are, but I doubt the "pushback" against strawmen is coming from dyed-in-the-wool atheists.

cortex and jessamyn (both atheists) tell you to dial it down some

Cortex and jessamyn have not told me to "dial it down some", because they haven't needed to here, then, or whenever these threads come up.

If that is incorrect, then I welcome any repost of a comment or email sent to me from them that uses that language with regards to this subject matter.

Because atheist strawmen invariably get turned into the bad guys, and because I'm getting really tired of reading how and why atheists are bad people, it is really the case that I almost always stay out of such threads.

But then we have had to have discussions in the past about your history of twisting my words, and you have once again tried to mischaracterize who I am, what I have said, and how people respond.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on May 25, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "AZ is Jewish, last I remember, "

This February he said he was an atheist.
posted by zarq at 1:49 PM on May 25, 2011


charred husk, I have to disagree with you. A closer analogy (but still only an analogy) would be the difference between the model of the Enterprise used to shoot the opening credits of Star Trek (TOS) and the ideal of a star ship that has inspired many to go into astronautics and other space-related fields to contribute their part to making that ideal vision come true. It's a category difference whether atheists choose to acknowledge it or not.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:53 PM on May 25, 2011


This February he said he was an atheist.

IIRC he's a Jewish atheist, just like I am.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:59 PM on May 25, 2011


It's a category difference whether atheists choose to acknowledge it or not.

charred husk wasn't asking how you see yourselves. charred husk was explaining how you might appear to atheists. Presumably in your analogy, you get to be the ideal. However, from the atheist perspective, that's a totally arbitrary choice. Any other religious person, even Camping, has as much right to choose either ship, given that it's all purely subjective.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a category difference whether atheists choose to acknowledge it or not.

A difference that only matters to people who believe in one or the other. Does a blind man really care about the difference between cerulean and seafoam? (excuse my color ignorance for not picking two colors that actually are close)
posted by nomisxid at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2011


Astro Zombie refers to himself as an atheist. Rory Marinich refers to himself as an atheist.

I am not going to ask you, again, to explain how I've twisted your words, because the last time that happened I tried to be honest and open to the possibility that I'd been wrong and, if I recall correctly, you refused to respond to any of my questions until I admitted that I'm a liar.

Both Jessamyn and cortex have both said, many times in many threads, that theism/atheism needs to be done better on the site, sometimes (or even often) with the emphasis directed at particular behavior from particular atheists. For example. Also for example.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This February he said he was an atheist.

No problem. I'm just going on how he has self-identified here for the time that I have been on the site. Mental note updated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on May 25, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: " No problem. I'm just going on how he has self-identified here for the time that I have been on the site. Mental note updated."

No worries. The lines can definitely blur. People who self-id as Jewish aren't necessarily observant.
posted by zarq at 2:09 PM on May 25, 2011


dersins: Is this a "tone argument"? You're damn right it is.

Then flag it and move on, or bring it to meta so that people who want to have a more nuanced discussion about the topic of the FPP can do so?

Crabby Appleton: I think, that you're missing the fundamental disagreement here. Christians appear to be arguing against Camping on the grounds that he's delivering a bad interpretation of the End Times as opposed to some other good interpretation. Atheists don't believe that there is a good interpretation, as the urgency of salvation is a bad answer to an unnecessary and bad question. The fact that Camping was obviously wrong, does not make any other flavor of End Times, literal, metaphorical, or mystical any more credible.

Now that said, Camping does complicate things because he's not only obviously wrong, he's possibly a con artist as well.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:12 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both Jessamyn and cortex have both said, many times in many threads, that theism/atheism needs to be done better on the site, sometimes (or even often) with the emphasis directed at particular behavior from particular atheists. For example. Also for example.

Those examples do not contain any evidence of the moderators telling me to "tone it down" with regards to any comments I have made about religion. In fact, I am not the subject of either example.

In other words, neither example has much of anything to do with me.

If you cannot quote me honestly, if you cannot characterize what I say or how people respond to it honestly, do the entire site a huge favor and please just do not read or respond at all. Period. Thank you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:14 PM on May 25, 2011


shakespeherian: " Both Jessamyn and cortex have both said, many times in many threads, that theism/atheism needs to be done better on the site, sometimes (or even often) with the emphasis directed at particular behavior from particular atheists. For example. Also for example."

I'm rather stunned to find that there are atheists here who feel that proselytizing to theists is a good idea. The end of this thread has been eye-opening.
posted by zarq at 2:14 PM on May 25, 2011


In other words, neither example has much of anything to do with me.

I didn't say it did, BP.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:17 PM on May 25, 2011


Yeah, I flagged that shit. The OP's rationale for making the post was some bunkass nonsense: "I just thought it might be interesting to see some of the reactions that both Camping and his followers had after the predictable outcome."

Excuse me but that's a particularly dickish thing to say. You might not like the thread but only an ass would cast aspersions on my rationale. What you quoted, what I said, happened to be exactly why I posted it.

Whether I should have posted the thread is obviously debatable but here are the facts:

- Metafilter, according to both Jessamyn, and cortex had been flooded with post-predition threads all day.

- My particular thread, unlike the three other deleted ones (one sentence-one link threads) posted several links to analysis of the fallout of what happened afterwards

- The thread itself received a couple or few hundred comments and then there's this metatalk thread afterwards receiving a bunch more. Obviously there's some interest. Yeah, this is a hate thread about the link - I get that but guess what a really uninteresting thread gets no talk about it at all - just dies on the metavine. This one did not do that.

- There's something about this topic and/or Camping that generates controversy , even if it's I hate that guy! controversy. and THAT'S why I posted the thread . Because I saw that feeling in myself and I saw it on the web and I was interested in what was happening after the fallout.

Now I get the fact that MeFi is not dick-free - just less dick than a lot of the internet. It's perfectly valid to let everyone you know hopw much you hated something. Just don't be a dick and transfer that shit on to me.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:20 PM on May 25, 2011


Any other religious person, even Camping, has as much right to choose either ship, given that it's all purely subjective.

My analogy did not posit two ships. It posited an ideal (specifically, the ideal of a star ship) vs. a model of a ship. The ideal exists in the mind. The ship model exists on the back lot of Paramount Studios.

A difference that only matters to people who believe in one or the other.

Maybe so, but that's not the point. The point is that you don't get to make arguments based on conflating two different categories of object once the difference has been explained. Unless you want to be intellectually dishonest.

Atheists don't believe that there is a good interpretation, as the urgency of salvation is a bad answer to an unnecessary and bad question.

Interesting to know, but I'm not really interested in atheists' moral evaluations of Christian doctrine, and it's irrelevant to the point (see above).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:23 PM on May 25, 2011


If you cannot quote me honestly, if you cannot characterize what I say or how people respond to it honestly, do the entire site a huge favor and please just do not read or respond at all. Period. Thank you.

You've misquoted and mischaracterized me repeatedly, you schizophrenic ass.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2011


you schizophrenic ass.

Knock it off or we'll be happy to knock it off for you. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


you schizophrenic ass

Yeah, Rory, it's bad luck.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:29 PM on May 25, 2011


controversy , even if it's I hate that guy! controversy. and THAT'S why I posted the thread .

Posting a controversial thread for the sake of the controversy, or for the sole purpose of "I hate that guy/those people, they suck, amirite" doesn't make for a good post. I hope you've taken note of the mods comments that the only reason your thread stayed up was because they figured they had to let one stay up to keep from playing whack-a-mole, and yours was just marginally better constructed than the cheaper single-link lulz that others were posting.

At this point, I'd like to renew a pony request that I've made at least a couple of times in the past when crap like this boils up: Why can't we have a little more visible mod presence in these crappy threads, if the threads absolutely must stay? Please note, I'm not asking for more deletions (necessarily), but would it kill the mods to pop in with a note every so often, such as [no comments removed, but the tone is getting pretty unpleasant in here, could everybody please dial it back? Thanks].

The reason I ask for this is because I think mod comments do make a difference in getting people in mid-grar to catch themselves and realize they're getting overheated. The other reason is for the sake of new people -- Poet_Lariat, for example, has only been here for a few years, and may not have the same frame of reference for What Makes a Good Post as people who've been here longer, and even newer people have less of a reference. Nobody goes back and reads years of MeTa arguments. People take their cues from what they see, right now. If people SEE the mods popping in OCCASIONALLY with some notes like this, aren't they more likely to think, "Oh, that's NOT how things are supposed to be around here" than not? Yes, I know that the mods do a lot of moderation via email and back-channel stuff that we don't see, but that's my point. People take their cues from what they see. And can anyone seriously, with a straight face, object to such OCCASIONAL comments from a mod to dial things back in contentious threads? Is anyone going to cry CENXXORSHIP on that, really?
posted by Gator at 2:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Knock it off or we'll be happy to knock it off for you. Thank you."

Yeah, can't we all just get along? Let's all gather 'round in a circle, hold hands, and sing "Kumbaya, My Lord" together ... oh wait oops that doesn't work either.

Um... KITTENS AND PUPPIES!
posted by Jacqueline at 2:36 PM on May 25, 2011


zarq: Could you be a bit more specific?

Crabby Appleton: It is relevant when you're faulting atheists for rejecting the whole kit and kaboodle. Are there differences in eschatology across Christendom? Of course. They're all (probably) wrong, and I don't need to critique a hundred different variations on the same theme to say that the theme is flawed.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:39 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Posting a controversial thread for the sake of the controversy, or for the sole purpose of "I hate that guy/those people, they suck, amirite" doesn't make for a good post

One of the worst things about internet "discussion" is you inevitably get into a "discussion" with someone who is just going to pick a dozen words out of what you actually said and attempt to argue based on that. I believe if you actually read what I wrote you see that my rationale was more than you describe.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2011


Maybe so, but that's not the point. The point is that you don't get to make arguments based on conflating two different categories of object once the difference has been explained. Unless you want to be intellectually dishonest.

No - that's your point, which consists of correcting while exactly ignoring his point. His point, was that they are the same to the atheist. Fictional. Your point is that your fictional ship is better than that other fictional ship, because your ship was built out of pure idealium instead of plastic.

And my point is that this is a distinction that exists only in our minds, because anybody has an equal right to claim that their ship is the ideal ship and the other ship is just a crappy model. Which is really the beauty of philosophy (yours, mine, and anybody's). We all get to say whatever we want, and nobody is supposed to challenge us on it, because that would just be rude. "Okay, maybe your ship is this great ideal of a ship, but my ship is the ultimate ideal of a ship times infinity! But at least we do agree on one thing: his ship is just a crappy model."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:41 PM on May 25, 2011


By the way: I'm totally trademarking "Idealium."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


By the way: I'm totally trademarking "Idealium."

Good luck with Steve Jobs then. I hear the iPad 3 is made out of pure Idealium
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:45 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why can't we have a little more visible mod presence in these crappy threads, if the threads absolutely must stay?

Because, honestly, it's a lot of work for threads we don't care so much about, threads that aren't the site's main purpose, where the same set of people have the same arguments repeatedly and expect different outcomes. People can stay out of those threads, moderate their own tone, and come to MeTa or write us emails, all of which are helpful things. Close-reading contentious threads is not really something we do here as mods most of the time, and certainly not in situations like this. We put trust in the users to behave decently and we talk to them when they don't and we chime in here if we need to. The whole point is that you need to moderate yourselves in most cases.

If you want a MeFi with more tightly-moderated threads, I suggest you make your peace with that not being on the To Do list here. We pop in when we can, we pop in when we see stuff that is flagged, we pop in when things are egregious, but there's a limitation to what we can do and what we feel is the right thing to do with the guidelines and the community that we are working with.

but would it kill the mods to pop in with a note every so often

With respect, the implication that we can't be bothered as opposed to say, being too busy or making other site activities our priority seems perhaps more unkind than you may have intended it, but maybe that's my bad week talking.

Is anyone going to cry CENXXORSHIP on that, really?

Sure they will, happens all the time. When we jump in with a "cool it down" comment, especially if we haven't deleted comments, people often take it as some sort of call-out whether we intended it that way or not. People who are already in need of cooling down. I know it seems like a nice idea but it often doesn't have the effect that is intended.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:46 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Less dick than a lot of the internet.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:47 PM on May 25, 2011


something something it's how you use it something something
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:48 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good luck with Steve Jobs then. I hear the iPad 3 is made out of pure Idealium

No wonder I couldn't get a good WiFi connection, stupid thing was always looking for a better hotspot. I'm glad I left that piece of shit at the bar.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Its like asking what the difference is between the Millennium Falcon and the Enterprise.

What it is, is ignoring the point that the Tardis is far superior to either.
posted by philip-random at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Less dick than a lot of the internet.

That's not much of an advertisement right there.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:52 PM on May 25, 2011


I think we can punch that up a bit for the international audience. I'd go with something like: "Way less dick than you'd expect."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:54 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Shockingly little dick.'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:56 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm making the T-Shirt
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:56 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Knock it off or we'll be happy to knock it off for you. Thank you.

Blazecock Pileon will reference me in threads specifically to suggest I'm not a pureblood atheist or that I think he's a bigot. He'll misread things I write to him to feed his persecution complex. He derails threads and refuses to let them get back on the rails again. He acts in bad faith as a member.

I don't think he's a bigot. I think he's either skimming arguments and then getting fighty about what he imagines them to be in his head, or else he's incapable of imagining that somebody could find him unpleasant and unnecessary without also disliking him for his atheism. I don't know enough about his past to know if his planet-sized persecution complex is warranted or if he suffers from actual paranoia or if he's just another lazy Internet Person who'd rather shit on a web site he likes than leave a thread and go for a walk, but whichever it is, it's a problem.

He's a member whose contributions to the web site I really enjoy except for in this small narrow field, and once he gets here he's not only unpleasant, he's actively hostile to me and a few other members. I've attempted to address him directly before and he goes out of his way not to respond to me; then he'll show up after I've left a comment and try and start a little pissyfight with me and then leave again. I know there's no rule on MetaFilter saying you've got to participate in a thread in good faith, and I've avoided posting a MetaTalk callout because I think callouts lead to angry feelings and rarely to anything actually getting accomplished, but he's a problem user who makes this web site less enjoyable for me (and for all the people who keep writing me every single time he starts one of his pissfests, too, so clearly I'm not the only one).

I hope this doesn't sound sniffy and snotnosed, Jessamyn, but sometimes I find it very hard to write and leave the comments I make about religion here. This is a subject that I'm very much in conflict over, and a lot of the time I feel really vulnerable expressing my thoughts and concerns and worries. Blazecock is the one user who repeatedly will jump in after I've worked something out and not even attack my argument, but just attack me as a person. I almost disabled my account last week after he threadshat in that Stephen Hawkings discussion because you know I'm not comfortable with the way that you're willing to overlook a user who treats other users with scorn and condescension. MetaFilter's blind spot moderation-wise is that it'll let users be mean and scornful of one another, but I really don't want to be the person to take that complaint to MeTa because I've got better things to do.

I wouldn't be in this thread if somebody hadn't pointed out that he was again going after me. I'm sorry for using potty language. So here's how I feel about the Blazecock issue, and now I'm gonna leave the thread to avoid being fighty. Blazecock, I'd love to talk to you one-to-one, because I really do enjoy you as a user when you're not pushing your vendetta. My email's in my profile, and I welcome you to use it. But I'd like you to stop using me as a straw man, for the probably childish reason that I let myself be emotionally vulnerable with some of the things I write here, and your responses hurt.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am an atheist who is culturally Jewish and ethnically Irish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2011


'Shockingly little dick.'

Tiny cartoon of Richard Burton on the logo. Ship it!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2011


jessamyn, I guess I'm a little unclear about how coming to MeTa or writing you emails is in fact helpful if you say yourself that you're disinclined to spend any time in those threads. Also, I didn't say you should "close-read" or "tightly moderate" those threads (which I agree, would be more work than it's worth), just that a little more visible mod disapproval of the crappiness would go a certain way towards reminding people not to be crappy (and making it clear to newbies that crappiness is not the accepted norm). If it's picking up a lot of flags but you're disinclined to plow through them in detail, why not just drop a reminder, preferably before it's gotten to "you're a retard" "NO U" levels? I'll accept what you say about people crying censorship no matter what, but I would think that would be a good tradeoff against the kind of crappiness we see in threads like these.

The "would it kill you" remark came out of my frustration, I apologize for the way it came across.
posted by Gator at 2:59 PM on May 25, 2011


Crabby Appleton: Interesting to know, but I'm not really interested in atheists' moral evaluations of Christian doctrine, and it's irrelevant to the point (see above).

But that's exactly what you're doing when you demand that atheists judge doctrinal differences among the various schisms of Christian faith. Since I'm not a Christian, it's not my place to judge who is and isn't a real Christian.

I can say that the doctrine that Jesus Christ the Messiah saves anybody from anything doesn't make a lick of sense to me, except as a nice literary or psychological metaphor. I'm equally skeptical of flights of angels lifting the elect from the horrors of Armageddon and banishment to an eternity devoid of God's love. If that offends you, then I think we have deeper conflicts than just tone.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:02 PM on May 25, 2011


I am an atheist who is culturally Jewish and ethnically Irish.

And I'm an agnostic who is culturally Jewish with red hair and freckles.

...cue Odd Couple Music ...
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:03 PM on May 25, 2011


I'm a dog.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:04 PM on May 25, 2011


if you say yourself that you're disinclined to spend any time in those threads.

There's a difference between "hey you might want to check out what is going on right now" and expecting us to just sit in a thread waiting for people to be jerkish and then dropping in a well timed comment between when things start getting heated and when people are calling each other retards. We show as much visible mod disapporoval as we think this site will stand without the disapproval itself becoming part of the problem. Everyone has ideas about what would make things better and I know it's frustrating when what we've chosen isn't what you would choose, but that's what we have here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:06 PM on May 25, 2011


I'm a dog.
Who knew?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:07 PM on May 25, 2011


I wanna be your dog.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:07 PM on May 25, 2011


No one can tell you're a dog on the internet, UNLESS YOU COME OUT AND TELL THEM, IDIOT.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:08 PM on May 25, 2011


I AM A GOLDEN DOG!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


His point, was that they are the same to the atheist. Fictional. Your point is that your fictional ship is better than that other fictional ship [...]

I understand perfectly well that an atheist considers both fictional. So what? A proposition can be true of false (fictional). But an ideal is something to which the categories of fictional/nonfictional have no particular relevance. All ideals are fictional, in the sense that they are not objects in the world. Even atheists' ideals. So who cares that an ideal is fictional? We might care whether an ideal is good or bad, inspiring or boring, etc. But this is all just an analogy, so I don't want to spend too much time on it. To answer KJS, it looks like I'll need to directly address the matter to which the analogy was drawn.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:14 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


But your analogy stakes the claim that your version (of ship, fiction, religion, pick your own metaphor) is based on an ideal, but the other is not. I'm still curious as to what your defense of that position might be.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:19 PM on May 25, 2011


Meaning I honestly don't understand, not meaning I'm attacking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2011


We show as much visible mod disapporoval as we think this site will stand without the disapproval itself becoming part of the problem.

Yeah, this is part of the practical reality: if we're leaving a lot more comments in threads just to say OH HEY KEEP NOT BEING ASSHOLES, that's going to itself bother people and leave some folks on the borderline about moderation visibility feeling like we're taking it out on them. It's happened plenty of times before.

People have very strongly differing feelings about how this place should work, how much moderation intervention or presence there should be in a discussion, how disputes should be resolved, whether it's just to chastize both sides of a dispute if one party's behavior was not identical to the others, whether saying "hey, folks, please cool it" is itself an unjustifiable chastisement of those merely implied to be involved, etc, etc.

For the record, I watched that newest Camping thread all fucking day yesterday. I didn't speak up a bunch because there weren't a bunch of spots that specifically seemed to need it. I removed a couple things, it was mostly even keeled. If it had seemed like it need more steering, I would have. But that's a draining way to moderate, and not the sort of babysitting we can do every day let alone to every potentially bumpy thread, and to an extent people taking the time to flag or email us or gently and productively guide the thread away from problematic stuff through positive and substantial commenting needs to be a big part of the process.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:22 PM on May 25, 2011


expecting us to just sit in a thread waiting for people to be jerkish

I know about your bad week and I sympathize, but again, I didn't suggest that.
posted by Gator at 3:25 PM on May 25, 2011


At least tell me, do you agree that people take their cues from what they see, which is why people are encouraged to lurk before joining this or any other community?
posted by Gator at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear all, contrary to suggestions on previous occasions I rarely, if ever, do the drunk-posting thing, and when I do it usually just makes me silly. Last night was a regrettable exception, and I do indeed regret it. It was my birthday and I started celebrating a little bit too early in the day, to put it mildly. My sincere apologies for my dismal descent into too much vino and not enough veritas.
posted by Decani at 3:34 PM on May 25, 2011


Gator, I'm not sure what to tell you. We're not going to start chucking mod comments into threads at a significantly higher volume than we currently do. We try to speak up when (a) we see something going wrong and (b) we think commenting on it will help the situation. If you feel like you see a specific situation that could use a comment along those lines, feel free to let us know and if we agree we'll pop into the thread.

But the return on investment for trying to be really visible everywhere on the site is decidedly non-linear and not without complications. For one, to the degree that people take their cues from what they see, much more aggressive mod finger-wagging is an invitation for more volunteer finger-wagging that may not itself be anything like an unambiguously good thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:35 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: Oh I think it matters a great deal for the same reason that I object to spirituality being reduced to a mere set of self-referential symbols. Ultimately this debate isn't about my participation in religious ritual, or about the volumes of classical and modern religious music I have on my iPod, but about experiential relationships with or in the Universe.

I don't argue that my friends and relatives should give up their experienced relationship with Jesus Christ, only that my own relationship with the Universe be equally respected.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of yesterday's Camping thread (which I was in and out of pretty much all day), I actually forgot it wasn't a META at some point, as so much of it had folks discussing how they should present their ideas vs the ideas themselves. This is not a bad thing by the way. Just curious, and to my mind a credit to MeFi that it never did quite NEED to go to META ... though there were a few moments.

And then we got ourselves this one anyway.
posted by philip-random at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2011


The old one had got kind of a mildewy smell. Anyway: What did you get US?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:40 PM on May 25, 2011


I had to break off my relationship with the Universe. Turns out She was seeing someone else.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:48 PM on May 25, 2011


But your analogy stakes the claim that your version (of ship, fiction, religion, pick your own metaphor) is based on an ideal, but the other is not. I'm still curious as to what your defense of that position might be.

No, the analogy is not that direct. But rather than continuing to elaborate the analogy, I think it will be clearer for me to address the Camping thing directly. I have to go out tonight, but I think this is important so I'll address it when I get back, or in the morning at the latest.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:50 PM on May 25, 2011


Great! I have to bail for now, too. I'll check in tomorrow. Thanks!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:53 PM on May 25, 2011


At least tell me, do you agree that people take their cues from what they see, which is why people are encouraged to lurk before joining this or any other community?

It's not that simple, no. We tell people to not harass the n00bs generally. I'll send people an email if I think someone's been jerkish to them in a way that's not-deleteable but at the same time not that cool from our perspective, especially if they are new. At some level anything we do as mods has a "this is policy" vibe to it and we try to be very careful when we make those sorts of statements. Telling people to cool it down is a great idea, but when we do it, it's seen as a threat. When users do it, it's a lot less that way. So we are very very careful about that and this thread didn't rise to needing that level of attention in our opinion. We've done it in the past, we'll do it in the future, we're unlikely to increase the rate at which we do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:34 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Decani:Last night was a regrettable exception, and I do indeed regret it. It was my birthday and I started celebrating a little bit too early in the day, to put it mildly. My sincere apologies for my dismal descent into too much vino and not enough veritas.

Then I suppose you don't remember making a pass at cortex then? Just as well that post got deleted anyway.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:05 PM on May 25, 2011



Until the atheists expanded the topic to religion and christianity as a whole, everyone was perfectly happy to mock the rapture folks. We even had a site-wide prank about it


I wasn't. As I say every time this comes up, I'm an atheist. I do not believe in God. I haven't believed in God since I was 13. I don't believe in aliens, unicorns, Cthlhu, Buddhism, good luck, angels, or Heaven. I pretty much don't believe in anything.

But I see no point in mocking people who do unless they're trying to cause me harm, and I especially don't see the point in spending 3 threads beating a dead horse of a fraud/joke who's not only been dismissed by atheists but been dismissed by every other Christian.

It's like... my immediate family is mostly atheist (possibly because of me). My aunt is a nun. She's quite nice, and doesn't try to convert us, so I've told my brother not to mock her beliefs. My uncle will proselytize to us, and when he does we respond with well-reasoned arguments (and occasionally mockery). We don't say 'INVISIBLE SKY FAIRY!' every time they open their mouths.

There are shades and gradations of belief. They serve functions beyond explaining natural phenomena. I've taken religious history classes. I've read the main holy books. It's all bullshit, but every religious claim doesn't have to be greeted with 'BULLSHIT'.

The Rapture thread could have been an interesting discussion on prophecy and the nature of belief and the history of millennial movements. Instead it was smug jokes and old memes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:12 PM on May 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Invisible sky fairy? I thought it was Invisible sky wizard. Have I been not believing in the wrong thing all these years?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:20 PM on May 25, 2011


Then I suppose you don't remember making a pass at cortex then? Just as well that post got deleted anyway.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:05 AM on May 26


God damn. I thought I did that to Astro Zombie. Oh whisky, you're the devil!
posted by Decani at 5:28 PM on May 25, 2011


That pass was accepted, and you sent roses afterward, like a perfect gentleman,
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:42 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ending a sentence with a comma is really annoying,
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never like to completely feel as though I have made my poin
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:22 PM on May 25, 2011


Great now I have to go read Broom of the System again.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:22 PM on May 25, 2011


;
posted by Jacqueline at 10:00 PM on May 25, 2011


I rarely, if ever, do the drunk-posting thing, and when I do it usually just makes me silly. Last night was a regrettable exception, and I do indeed regret it.

What's your excuse the rest of the time?

I felt this MeTa's acrimony level was dropping.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:17 PM on May 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's your excuse the rest of the time?

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:17 AM on May 26


Oh, you know. Being a generally unpleasant person.
posted by Decani at 10:43 PM on May 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If all the atheists and theists and in-betweeners who want an interesting conversation would flag the LOLXTIANS one-liners as soon immediately after they shit up the thread, instead of replying to them as if they're worthy of a rational response, we could probably have a pretty good time.

If you see something mean/lulzy, flag it and make a point of contributing something sensible instead.
posted by harriet vane at 12:00 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's all bullshit, but every religious claim doesn't have to be greeted with 'BULLSHIT'.

This type of thing bothers me. I'm not opposed to people attempting to establish norms of politeness, even subtle ones. But it's ridiculous for you to expect other people to be exactly as dismissive of religion as you like to be personally, and absolutely no more than that. I mean, is it OK to say religion is bullshit or isn't it?

Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to say religion is bullshit. I've been an atheist since I was six, and I've had quite enough of that discussion. I have no beef with god. I've never typed the words "flying spaghetti monster" in my life, before now. I like a few things about religion and a lot of things about religious people, and it generally doesn't please me to be rude to anybody. I feel downright weird taking the side I find myself taking in these threads. But I just can't wrap my mind around the way some atheists here can't seem to begin to mind their own business.

The fact is that religion is a thing that affects everybody. Is it so impossible to just deal with the different ways people react to its presence in their lives, even if it means having to scroll past opinions you disagree with or arguments you're bored of or jokes you don't think are funny? I certainly don't support genuinely mean-spirited remarks about religion, or anything, but I find the increasingly relentless effort to enforce a generally deferential (yes) attitude to the topic to be just as inappropriate. If something is offensive enough to be deleted, fine. But the notion some people seem to want to advance here, that a few throwaway jokes about sky-wizards constitute some kind of a real problem, one that actually merits the denunciatory derails that certain members continually indulge in, is not a reasonable one. There is a maximum amount of control anyone can expect to exert over other people's contributions, and there is a minimum amount of control anyone can be expected to exert over their own. I wish people would direct their derail detectors inward a little more often.

Which is another way, I guess, of calling bullshit on laments about all the great things every wasted thread Could Have Been if not for the wicked merchants of lulz, as if anybody ever stopped anybody else from putting two words together about "the nature of belief" or whatever we'd all prefer to think we were really interested in. No, no, no.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:56 AM on May 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's no difference between saying "I don't believe in god" and saying "All people who believe in god are wrong."

There's no difference between saying "I believe in god" and saying "All people who don't believe in god are wrong."


I disagree. I don't generally believe in God, but I could be wrong. Thus, other believers may not be wrong (not because that *I think* I might be wrong, but rather simply because of the external condition that I could be wrong, regardless of what I think.)

My beliefs != objective truth ("right" or "wrong"). If I say "I don't believe in God," that clearly does not mean "...and because of my belief, everyone else who disagrees is incorrect." Clearly, others who believe differently are indeed at odds with my belief, but that does not mean that they are objectively wrong. As I understand it, the idea is that objective proof is kind of orthogonal to the whole faith idea.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 5:40 AM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, hey, forgot to mention:

I don't know if MetaFilter has a money-back guarantee, but I think I'd back one even if Matt didn't. You're not happy with the moderation? That's unfortunate; I'll pay back your five bucks after your account is disabled. Yes, it *is* a community, and to some extent we all shape the rules here. The rest of you (and our hosts) please forgive me when I say this--but the fact of the matter is that MetaFilter is run by a benevolent dictator. I mean no malice when saying this; I mean it in the sense of it being anecdotally the best form of government. It works pretty well when the dictator's interests align well with your own.

...and not so well otherwise, true. Unfortunately, someone's always going to be upset if you're doing anything of substance.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 5:49 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


KirkJobSluder: "zarq: Could you be a bit more specific? "

Sure.

vorfeed is advocating "arguing people out of religion" by "throwing thought-grenades," which "works better than restricting ourselves to 'respecting the beliefs' of people who are already certain that their beliefs are correct."

On my initial read-through I thought notion was saying something similar here, here and here, but having re-read the thread, I can see that he isn't.

The idea of anyone aggressively "witnessing" to the unreceptive disturbs me. It's a tactic used by religious fundamentalists. Christian missionaries, evangelists, dominionists etc., all aggressively impose their beliefs on others without respect for the beliefs or desires of their targets. They often do so with misleading tactics, such as the Jews for Jesus movement. Thankfully, through forced conversion is a less frequently used tactic these days.

There is debate amongst evangelicals regarding the ethics of aggressive proselytization. Unsurprisingly, the conclusion being drawn is that as long as they're not "dehumanizing" or forcing people to bend to their will, there's nothing wrong with imposing their beliefs on others, either through legislation or modern missionary work. It's all mind-numbingly hypocritical.

I'm having difficulty reconciling the idea that such a tactic would be considered acceptable by a group of people who have had it used against them.
posted by zarq at 7:06 AM on May 26, 2011


Sorry. That should have read "a member of a group of people."
posted by zarq at 7:07 AM on May 26, 2011


Since it would be rude of me to talk about someone here without letting them know, I left a note in the original thread for vorfeed.
posted by zarq at 7:16 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The idea of anyone aggressively "witnessing" to the unreceptive disturbs me.

I think that's an extremely uncharitable read of what he said. There was a stand up comic called 'geechie guy' that did what he called 'joke grenades' -- jokes that took a while to get, because you had to think about it first. That's how I read 'thought grenades', just assertions of atheistic ideas in conversation that don't pay off until much later. I don't all read it as advocating a sustained rhetorical assault.
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that's an extremely uncharitable read of what he said.

If vorfeed objects, I'm sure she'll let me know. It's possible I misunderstood her comment, and have asked her for clarification in the original thread.

There was a stand up comic called 'geechie guy' that did what he called 'joke grenades' -- jokes that took a while to get, because you had to think about it first. That's how I read 'thought grenades', just assertions of atheistic ideas in conversation that don't pay off until much later. I don't all read it as advocating a sustained rhetorical assault.

She's referring to that as a single tactic which is part of "a mixed strategy" which "works better than restricting ourselves to "respecting the beliefs" of people who are already certain that their beliefs are correct." All in the goal of "arguing someone out of religion" without respect to that person's beliefs.
posted by zarq at 7:35 AM on May 26, 2011


If "Respecting the beliefs" of religious people means never telling them that you think they're wrong, then I agree that we shouldn't always respect the beliefs of others. If your sensibilities are grossly offended by a criticism of your beliefs in a conversation about religion that you freely engaged in then your option is always to walk away.

I don't think that we should randomly bother people on the street and tell them that there is no god, obviously, but if you can't talk about during a conversation about religion, when can you talk about it?
posted by empath at 7:51 AM on May 26, 2011


empath : "If "Respecting the beliefs" of religious people means never telling them that you think they're wrong, then I agree that we shouldn't always respect the beliefs of others.

I have absolutely no problem with people discussing religion or telling each other that they think they're wrong in their beliefs. Imo, unchallenged / blind faith is a dead end, intellectually-speaking.

If your sensibilities are grossly offended by a criticism of your beliefs in a conversation about religion that you freely engaged in then your option is always to walk away. "

Agreed.

It's the (para)phrase "arguing someone out of religion without respect for their beliefs" that I'm sticking on. I don't feel that jibes with the idea that one's target is either freely engaged or believes they can walk away.
posted by zarq at 8:07 AM on May 26, 2011


Christian missionaries, evangelists, dominionists etc., all aggressively impose their beliefs on others without respect for the beliefs or desires of their targets.

I do a lot of work with Christian missionaries and happen to do a lot of short-term mission work myself. The people and groups and organizations I work with simply do not do what you say that we do.

The conversation is not improved with broad-brush falsehoods.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:30 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


DWRoelands: " I do a lot of work with Christian missionaries and happen to do a lot of short-term mission work myself. The people and groups and organizations I work with simply do not do what you say that we do.

Okay. Explain to me the "mission" of a Christian missionary, please.

The conversation is not improved with broad-brush falsehoods."

If I'm wrong, I'm open to being corrected.

But over the years I've known quite a few Baptists who became missionaries. They were distastefully aggressive about preaching their beliefs and disrespectfully imposing them on others. So my personal experience in this regard has clearly been different than yours.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sure. In my solitary opinion, the purpose of a Christian missionary has two facets:

- Reflect Christ. To me, this means helping people in need. My church's most recent mission team spent a week in New Orleans clearing debris that's still laying around from Hurricane Katrina. We also restored several homes to livable conditions for residents who could not afford to do so. On other mission trips, we've provided day camps for poor kids, spent time with the elderly in assisted-living facilities, cleaned up filth-strewn lots in inner-city Baltimore and put roofs on houses in the Bahamas.

- Spread the gospel. We ask people if we can pray with them or for them. We approach people in public spaces and talk to them about Christ. We invite people to pray. We invite people to accept the Gospel.

None of the service that we do is ever preconditioned on listening to a gospel message. If someone is hungry, we feed them. If someone needs clothes, we clothe them. We use those encounters as an opportunity to talk about the Gospel, but if someone doesn't want to hear it, we don't press the issue.

In my involvement in missions, I've probably worked with about 250 people and half a dozen Christian mission organizations. I've never seen anyone "imposing" their beliefs on anyone else.

I used to be an atheist, and I've known quite a few atheists who are overbearing jerks. It would be unfair of me to say that "all atheists impose their beliefs on others" because my negative experiences with a few jerks. If I did that, I would expect to be taken to task for it ; and rightfully so.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:55 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


We use those encounters as an opportunity to talk about the Gospel

That right there is imposing your beliefs. In order to partake of your charity, I would feel obligated to either listen to your gospelchat, or have an uncomfortable conversation about why I didn't want to. I feel like using charitable efforts to insert Jesus conversations takes advantage of people who need help.
posted by chiababe at 11:11 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


DWRoelands: "- Reflect Christ. To me, this means helping people in need. My church's most recent mission team spent a week in New Orleans clearing debris that's still laying around from Hurricane Katrina. We also restored several homes to livable conditions for residents who could not afford to do so. On other mission trips, we've provided day camps for poor kids, spent time with the elderly in assisted-living facilities, cleaned up filth-strewn lots in inner-city Baltimore and put roofs on houses in the Bahamas.

Which is great. Sincerely, it really is.

- Spread the gospel. We ask people if we can pray with them or for them. We approach people in public spaces and talk to them about Christ. We invite people to pray. We invite people to accept the Gospel.

Jewish notions of charity include the concept of anonymous giving: the recipient does not know the donor. This isn't required, or necessary. But it's considered one of the best forms of charitable giving: gifts given without any sort of overt or inadvertent obligation.

Obviously that's not possible with missionary work. But when missionaries are trained, how much time is spent addressing the power imbalance between the person providing services and gospel and those they are working with? There is always a power imbalance inherent to charity-- a dependence forms between giver and givee. If it's not acknowledged openly and handled incredibly carefully, the situation could easily turn coercive. And the responsibility to prevent that in any relationship lies with the person or entity with the most power -- the missionaries themselves. Otherwise, the balance tips and the "have" winds up taking advantage of the "have not."

We use those encounters as an opportunity to talk about the Gospel, but if someone doesn't want to hear it, we don't press the issue.

I'm truly glad that gospel is not being held as a precondition to charity. But could it not easily be perceived by a grateful recipient as an obligation? Obviously, someone receiving help may be receptive or manipulable and whether coercion of any kind is intended or not, inequities must be handled with great care.

In my involvement in missions, I've probably worked with about 250 people and half a dozen Christian mission organizations. I've never seen anyone "imposing" their beliefs on anyone else.

Good.

I used to be an atheist, and I've known quite a few atheists who are overbearing jerks. It would be unfair of me to say that "all atheists impose their beliefs on others" because my negative experiences with a few jerks. If I did that, I would expect to be taken to task for it ; and rightfully so."

That's fair, and you're right: I shouldn't have lumped everyone together.

But as I said, my personal experience hasn't shown me otherwise.
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In another Camping thread, AsYouKnow Bob commented as follows: But to a lot of people, "Jesus will take you up to heaven" looks to be on the same side of that line as the ridiculous claim that "Jesus will take you up to heaven at 6:00 on May 21st". Even other Christians say that Camping was nuts. But some of us see the differences between those two claims as only a matter of detail.

I'm not sure of the precise meaning of the "line" he's referring to, but it doesn't matter, because the last sentence expresses the issue I'm addressing. The difference between these two claims is not just a matter of detail. They are two very different claims qualitatively. I'll make my argument for this below.

Also, in this thread, KirkJobSluder writes: Are there differences in eschatology across Christendom? Of course. They're all (probably) wrong, and I don't need to critique a hundred different variations on the same theme to say that the theme is flawed.

There may indeed be a number of Christian eschatologies that differ in details but agree in broad outlines, and there's no reason to address each one in detail. But, again, that's not exactly the case here.

Consider the first claim, "Jesus will take you up to heaven." This reads, to me and, I believe, to many Christians, more like a metaphor than a literal factual claim. It is an expression of Christians' faith and hope that God will, ultimately, "make things right." I doubt many Christians would disagree with that sentiment. And, really, why believe in God at all if you don't believe that?

Faith is not "belief without evidence." Faith is the commitment of one's whole being to one's Ultimate Concern. For Christians, one's Ultimate Concern is God.

Where atheists tend to miss the point is when they take everything literally, and automatically jump to the conclusion that the statement "Jesus will take you up to heaven" means something like the following:
1. There is a literal place in this universe called "heaven".
2. Heaven is located in the direction "up" (i.e., along a vector from the center of mass of planet earth, passing through my current location on the earth's surface, of some unknown but definite length).
2. Jesus is a discrete supernatural entity.
3. Jesus will, at some definite but as-yet unspecified time (as human physicists currently measure time) physically translate your body to heaven.

That's just not what it means to me, nor to many other Christians.

On the other hand, the statement "Jesus will take you up to heaven at 6:00 [PM EDT] on May 21st" seems to me to mean exactly that, except with the date and time fully specified. (We could quibble about whether heaven is inside this universe or outside, whether your body would be moved or just your "soul", etc. But the bottom line is that, by virtue of having specified a time and date, this formulation becomes a falsifiable claim. Which, in my opinion, is already outside the purview of "religion", for any useful definition of the term.)

The latter claim is something with which almost all Christians would disagree; particularly so because it is a falsifiable claim that actually turned out to be false. But most Christians disagreed with it well before it was falsified, based on various doctrinal grounds.

So it seems impossible to make the argument that Camping's claim is representative of religious claims in general (even specifically Christian claims).

Now, as far as I'm concerned, atheists are free to assert what they want. I know very well that many atheists believe, the above argument notwithstanding, that all religious claims are fully as bogus as Camping's. But even if that assessment were correct, it would not be self-evident to anyone not yet fully committed to atheism. And, frankly, the assertion is insulting to many Christians, and not at all convincing to them. So why make it?

It's not my goal to "shut atheists up." I'm a radical when it comes to free speech. And I think it's good for theists to hear atheists' arguments (and vice versa). But I reserve the right to critique what atheists say.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:10 PM on May 26, 2011


Crabby, I personally know hundreds of Christians who believe in a literal heaven. It's not so out there to assume a lot of Christians take it literally. In fact, I've never come across someone who asserts that it's a metaphor for making things right (and I spent years and years and oh so many years raised in a Christian school and church), but it's comforting to know that theory exists.
posted by chiababe at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2011


Crabby, you are still missing the point.

If you don't accept that there is a Jesus, that there is a god, that there is an heaven, or a soul, or an afterlife, than the entire debate over which Christian group is 'more wrong' is pointless to an outsider.

And, frankly, the assertion is insulting to many Christians, and not at all convincing to them. So why make it?

Because it's true?
posted by empath at 12:49 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


chiababe, as long as they don't believe something like "heaven is an artificial satellite in orbit around the star Epsilon Eridani," I think they're OK on the falsifiability front.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:50 PM on May 26, 2011


I think they're OK on the falsifiability front.

Are you sure about that?

The idea that there is an immortal soul that interacts with the physical world through the human body is a theory about reality than can be tested empirically.
posted by empath at 12:53 PM on May 26, 2011


If you don't accept that there is a Jesus, that there is a god, that there is an heaven, or a soul, or an afterlife, than the entire debate over which Christian group is 'more wrong' is pointless to an outsider.

Excuse my obsessiveness, but I'd like to rephrase this very slightly: If an outsider doesn't accept that there is a Jesus, that there is a god, that there is a heaven, or a soul, or an afterlife, then the entire debate over which Christian group is 'more wrong' is pointless to that outsider.

I agree with that point. But then why would that outsider even bother making the claim (self-evident, given all his assumptions) that Camping's claim is indistinguishable from other religious doctrines? And in particular, why bother making the claim to people who obviously don't share any of his assumptions? I don't know the answer to that, but maybe it's because he just wants to annoy Christians. It's hard to see any other utility in it.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:07 PM on May 26, 2011


Are you sure about that?

The idea that there is an immortal soul that interacts with the physical world through the human body is a theory about reality than can be tested empirically.


Well, I'm pretty sure. But I haven't read the article you linked to yet. (TL;DR—at least right now.) But I do want to read it. I suspect it's making some unwarranted assumptions. But I know better than to respond to it without reading it thoroughly first, especially with a horde of hungry atheists lying in wait :-).

In the interim I'll attempt to weasel out by saying that belief in an "immortal soul" is not essential to Christianity. The Bible refers to the resurrection of the body, after all. And I don't see it mentioned in the Nicene Creed.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:16 PM on May 26, 2011


Whoops, forgot about this one. Just for completeness:

Because it's true?

No, because it's false, and insulting to their intelligence.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 1:18 PM on May 26, 2011


I don't feel that jibes with the idea that one's target is either freely engaged or believes they can walk away.

What I meant by this is pretty much what I said: "I was openly against religion". That means talking honestly with friends and with random people who bring the issue up -- "assertions of atheistic ideas in conversation that don't pay off until much later" pretty much sums it up. It also means being openly against religion here on mefi. Also, I had a Darwin fish on my car at one point (it got torn off, poor little fish!)

If there was ever anyone who felt that they couldn't walk away from me, they sure didn't say so... in fact, most have been happy to give as well as they got, and those who weren't were fine with changing the subject. So no, I'm not suggesting that people knock on doors with atheist tracts, or stand screaming on street-corners. My point is simply that "respecting" religious beliefs is not the only conversational method which "works" to convince people -- being straight-up about your own beliefs works, too, whether they are sufficiently "respectful" to religion or not.
posted by vorfeed at 1:27 PM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please don't resolve this issue today. I'm slammed at work, and won't be able to participate today, but if you promise not to discover the truth while I'm gone, I promise to read every word when I get a break.

Thanks, friends!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:44 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm pretty sure. But I haven't read the article you linked to yet. (TL;DR—at least right now.) But I do want to read it. I suspect it's making some unwarranted assumptions. But I know better than to respond to it without reading it thoroughly first, especially with a horde of hungry atheists lying in wait :-).

I read the article. As an atheist who skipped lunch today, I found it unconvincing in its attempt to conclusively rule out the possibility of the existance of souls on the basis of very well-understood laws of physics.

The fundamental point from that article seems to be that the interactions of sub-atomic particles are completely explained by the known laws of physics, as described by certain equations, and those equations don't include a "soul" term anywhere in them. Since there's no apparent influence of souls over the operation of the human brain, or any other part of the universe, at even the very tiniest scales, then such a thing must not exist.

Even though I think the author is probably right, I don't find that argument convincing. We don't even completely understand how our own consciousness arises from the physical processes in our brain cells. Until we're sure that consciousness does arise exclusively from physical processes, I'm open to the possibility there's something else involved too, that is outside our current understanding and observation of physics. I think it's unlikely, but neither impossible, nor obviously ridiculous.

So if I can be open to one thing that might exist and yet is not observable through known physics (some component of consciousness), then why couldn't another, very similar sort of thing exist, like a soul? I think this is also unlikely, but also neither impossible, nor obviously ridiculous.
posted by FishBike at 1:55 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


That right there is imposing your beliefs.
I think that you and I are probably using the word "imposing" very differently. It's perfectly possible to discuss my beliefs without imposing them on anyone. The word "imposing" carries with it the sense of authority or coercion, and there's none in the mission work that I do. If you don't think it's possible to discuss one's beliefs without imposing them, then we're probably at an impasse on that particular issue and we'll simply have to agree to disagree.

In order to partake of your charity, I would feel obligated to either listen to your gospelchat, or have an uncomfortable conversation about why I didn't want to.
No, that's not true, and I've already explained that there are no preconditions. If we're doing a community cookout, everyone who shows up gets fed. Not everyone gets talked to about the gospel. If we're doing visitation with the elderly, we try and spend time with each resident of the facility. We don't talk to every resident about the gospel.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:57 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And in particular, why bother making the claim to people who obviously don't share any of his assumptions?

Because if believers are pointing and laughing at some fringe christian group for making an absurd claim, then it's worth pointing out the entire edifice upon which their shared belief is based is equally absurd. Almost every part of christianity, once you get past the idea that Jesus was a charismatic cult leader in Palestine who had some good ideas about human relations, is absurd on its face.

It's worth mentioning that to me and other non-believers, if the question is "Who is more right?", there's not a meaningful distinction to be made between his belief and theirs, in the same way that they might not feel there is, for example, a meaningful distinction to be made between Sunni's and Shia, in terms of which interpretation of the Koran is the correct one.
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on May 26, 2011


We don't even completely understand how our own consciousness arises from the physical processes in our brain cells. Until we're sure that consciousness does arise exclusively from physical processes, I'm open to the possibility there's something else involved too, that is outside our current understanding and observation of physics.

Well, let's assume that consciousness doesn't arise from physical processes. That still leaves the question of how this consciousness affects the body. We've examined the physical operation of the body in minute detail at every scale, and there is nowhere that the known laws of physics break down-- where something happens that is unexplainable by the known physical laws. And it's not as if people aren't looking.
posted by empath at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2011


The question of consciousness is kind of ancillary to the question he as asking, is what I'm getting at. It may not even exist, in the sense that we think of it. Any kind of soul or spirit which can impact the physical world (ie, control your body) would still have to manifest itself as an 'uncaused cause' -- some action that occurs on its own without any physical reason for it, but no one has ever seen that in the activity of the brain or neurons. Every interaction can be traced to a physical cause.
posted by empath at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2011


Crabby Appleton: I'm not certain it's reasonable to address this discussion given that you contradict yourself and grossly misunderstand my position. Since you brought it up, the doctrine I disagree with is what's contained in the Nicene Creed (along with a few other statements of belief that were ritual observances in the tradition I was raised in):

(Referring to Christ) Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man; He suffered, and the third day he rose again, ascended into heaven; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I don't believe in a God. And if I did, I wouldn't be a Christian in the above sense anyway:

Therefore, I don't believe in your view that God will, "make things right," a physical rapture, that my Grandfather is in Heaven, Rob Bell's last-chance universalism, or Lewis' view of heaven and hell. I don't believe in any of these options for the same reason, that Christ is a bad answer to a bad question. As I've made it clear, I don't believe it as a literal truth, or a metaphor expressing a mystical truth.

Of course, I wouldn't write such hogwash as to say that Camping's eschatology is indistinguishable from yours. In fact, I've written the exact opposite.

My argument isn't that all of the Christian escahtologies are the same, only that a radical disbelief in the foundations of Christian faith result in rejecting most of them equally. And I'd much rather hear your interpretation of eschatology without a lecture that I'm acting in an offensive way by expressing my disbelief of it.

This is a principle you seem to understand, but treat as offensive to write anyway (with again, the ridiculous exaggeration that we're treating you and Camping as "indistinguishable.") Why does it matter? Because I have posthumous emotional relationships with people that I loved in life. Because these ideas are important as I write my will and advance directives for medical care. Because I have relationships and engage in rituals with people who do believe in an afterlife. Because it's a part of my experiential ("spiritual" to use the word broadly) relationship with the Universe. It is a key part of who I am.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:47 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Atheists being dismissive and/or disrespectful of religion is not a huge problem for me; people do that. Religious folk do it, too. I just wish they could bother to be nuanced about it. I have a great appreciation for nuance in discourse. But apparently being nuanced requires too much respect, or something.

For example:
they might not feel there is, for example, a meaningful distinction to be made between Sunni's and Shia, in terms of which interpretation of the Koran is the correct one.

As far as I'm concerned, not only do you not need to like Islam, or be 'deferential' to belief in Islam, you don't need to feel there's a meaningful distinction to be made there, theologically. But if you jump into a political thread about conflicts in the Middle East and assert that there's no meaningful distinction between people who are sometimes literally killing each other over the distinction, you might at least consider that your contributions will not be as helpful or insightful as they possibly could be. Likewise, in a thread about a radical fringe sect of Christians, declaring there's no difference between them and other Christians is basically kind of a derail. There is a clear difference: they do different things. It's not a trivial difference if "the things they do" is the subject under discussion.

Ah well. At least this thread decided it was open season for camping/camper/campground jokes though. I lol'd.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:55 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy crap, that's it...Harold's just announcing there will be a Rapture every single time he thinks there could possibly be a Rapture, so that he can get the jump on it whenever it finally does show up. He's spawn-Camping the Rapture.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:59 PM on May 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, let's assume that consciousness doesn't arise from physical processes. That still leaves the question of how this consciousness affects the body. We've examined the physical operation of the body in minute detail at every scale, and there is nowhere that the known laws of physics break down-- where something happens that is unexplainable by the known physical laws. And it's not as if people aren't looking.

It would be very convincing if we saw something going on in neurons, say, that contradicted our current understanding of physics. And you're right, we don't see that, and people are looking.

I'm thinking more of the other direction: it would be very convincing if we could build a model of a human brain (for example) in a computer, based only on our current understanding of physics, and show that consciouness arises in that model. That would make a really compelling case that nothing is going on that we don't already understand, that there is no component of "mind" that exists separately from "brain". No one has done that, yet, though it doesn't seem fundamentally impossible to do it.

Are there any processes that go on in the brain that cannot be precisely predicted determinstically? Roger Penrose wrote about this in the Emperor's New Mind and referred to stuff like collapsing quantum wave functions, which cannot be individually predicted, only characterized statistically. We think those are essentially random processes, but what if they aren't entirely random in all cases?

That, to me, is where a little wiggle room exists for some currently not understood mechanism for "mind" to influence "brain". And to be clear, I think it's a very little amount of wiggle room, which could be closed off entirely by the kind of model/demonstration I mentioned above, using something like, say, a pseudo-random number generator in place of apparently random processes, since its output is entirely predictable in advance.

So if there's room in my world view for that kind of thing, there's room in it for souls as well. Just not a lot of room, and as is the case for concepts like gods in general, the better we understand our universe, the more the space for such concepts gets pushed farther out to the edge. I don't believe in any of those concepts, I just don't think we're at the point where we can conclusively rule them out completely in all forms.
posted by FishBike at 3:09 PM on May 26, 2011


mstokes650: But apparently being nuanced requires too much respect, or something.

Perhaps you can start by demonstrating some? I'm not holding my breath though.

...assert that there's no meaningful distinction between people who are sometimes literally killing each other over the distinction...

Oh, good grief. Empath clearly qualified his statement. To use a statement about theological differences to infer that political differences are being denied demonstrates a profound lack of nuance. But here again, does anyone really think that Sunni/Shia conflicts are going to be solved by a bunch of Westerners making a theological judgement between the two? Is it really disrespectful for a person to say, "I don't believe Mohammad was a prophet?"

Most of us can walk and chew gum at the same time. We can also say that Christianity is generally wrong about the need for salvation, that Camping is especially a nut for predicting a date, that he's ethically a bad man for making money on it, and acknowledge that other flavors of Christianity have different interpretations of those prophesies. Nuance can understand all these things without creating ridiculous straw men.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:26 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The word "imposing" carries with it the sense of authority or coercion, and there's none in the mission work that I do.

Would you grant that coercion takes place by missions who, say, trade food to the hungry, or shelter to the homeless, in exchange for religious subservience? Most missionaries operate by way of this kind of barter system, which is rooted in exploitation of human misery.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:23 PM on May 26, 2011


I'm hard-pressed to understand what you're on about in your above comment, KirkJobSluder, unless you're assuming that I'm addressing you-and-only-you here. But I'm not. Here's what I'm addressing:

From another thread about Camping, smcameron commented:

A microcosm of all religion, all spirituality even. It's crap, all the way down.

AsYouKnow Bob commented:

People like Camping are the epitome of organized religion.

And then he commented:

Camping's claims were no different from the claims of any other Christian sect.

Astro Zombie subsequently railed against this, and was attacked for it.

Subsequently, lupus_yonderboy commented:

As far as we're concerned, this is what religious people do - believe ridiculous things that no one would accept without some sort of authority backing it up.

So if there really is some difference between these people's beliefs that Christ was coming today, and the rest of Christianity's belief that he's coming soon, well, you really need to clarify it to the rest of us, because just telling us we're somehow bad for not seeing it isn't at all convincing.


That's what I've been trying to do—clarify the difference. (Somehow I ended up doing it in this thread instead of the other one, but, you know, it's easy to get confused, with so many threads.)

So, KJS, I never accused you of believing any particular Christian doctrines, literal or metaphorical. I never accused you of saying that Camping's eschatology is indistinguishable from mine. But those comments I cited above are insulting and intellectually dishonest, and I decided to point that out.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:45 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a doubtless futile attempt to make amends for my rudery the other night I will post something more thoughtful about nuanced theological matters.
posted by Decani at 5:05 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nuance can understand all these things without creating ridiculous straw men.

Well, Crabby's already hit some of the high points, but here's a couple more later ones:

What seems like a specific lunacy to you is just one of the manifestations of a much greater lunacy to me. -c13

Camping may not represent all religion. But he represents ideas and methodologies shared by all religions. -aychedee

You're just drawing distinctions between various eschatological beliefs that the rest of us just aren't that interested in. He found out he was wrong yesterday. The rest of you will find out when you're dead. -empath

Oh, and here's where empath used exactly the same Sunni/Shia analogy. This time around he's learned to be more specific (as long as you don't consider specifying "theologically" to be just using 'weasel words' like the word 'some') but he previously was not drawing such fine distinctions.

So, we reach one of two conclusions:
1.) These posts refuse to acknowledge that there's any significant difference between Camping's followers and 'mainstream' Christians, in a thread about the actions of Harold Camping and his followers (again: would you consider any of these comments as being appropriate in a thread about a Sunni/Shia conflict?) thus displaying a remarkable lack of nuance, or:
2.) These posts are made of straw!

(obligatory - Metafilter: These posts are made of straw!)
posted by mstokes650 at 5:36 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really don't know what's so difficult to understand.

I'm really trying to figure out a way to put this.

You've got two people on street corners who claim they hear voices in their head. One of them says the voices are from an implant that the CIA put there to control his mind. The other says it's the devil, telling him what to do.

Is there a distinction between their personal beliefs? Sure, they have different delusions. Is the difference meaningful, though? I would say no.

Nonsense is nonsense is nonsense, regardless of the specifics.
posted by empath at 7:38 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who do different things are meaningfully different, regardless of whether or not the thoughts going on inside their head are similar. Insisting that they are the same because they share the similar thoughts unavoidably derails any discussion about what any of those people are actually doing. I don't know how to make it any simpler than that.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:44 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, let's just look at a partial things you have to accept as true before you start getting into distinctions between Camping and all the other mainstream christian church.

There is an omnipotent, all powerful being named Yahweh, or El.

He created the world.

The first man ate of the 'tree of the fruit of knowledge' and brought 'original sin' into mankind

He appeared to moses and commanded him to lead the israelites out of egypt.

He flooded the world killing everyone in it, except for Noah.

He commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son.

In order to free humanity from the burden of original sin, he impregnated a virgin so he could bring his own son into existence.

This son brought about miracles, rose the dead back to life, and the romans killed him, and then he came back to life in 3 days.

Jesus predicted that the end of the world would come, but no man will no the hour or the day.

Paul of Tarsus had the dead jesus appear to him while he was on a horseback and personally converted him to christianity.

God gave a vision to John the Divine of the end times.

Jesus is going to come back some day, physically raise the dead back to life and there is going to be a final battle in Israel and all the Jews are going to be converted to christianity.

And you're going to say because these guys set a specific date, that's completely out of bounds, while everyone who believes this litany of nonsense is completely sane.

While I look at that list and just shrug my shoulders. I mean, if you're going to believe all of that, why not believe the guy that says it's going to happen next week? If you're going to believe that, why couldn't you believe that, I dunno, saints intercede personally with god to help you when you pray for them?

Why not believe that Jesus came to america and found a lost tribe of Jews and converted them and god revealed this when Joseph Smith looked at some tablets he found in his back yard with a magic rock? You're telling me that one thing is completely rational and sane and the other is just nuts, but on what basis?

When you've completely abandoned all evidence and reason to believe a nonsensical collection of myths, on what basis can you say that someone like Camping is wrong? The answer is, you couldn't know. You guessed and got lucky. The next guy might be right. Or the next guy.

What if the pope announced that Vatican researchers found a lost book of the bible, all of the cardinals have been studying it, and he had a personal revelation that the end was coming in 6 months? Do you think a billion Catholics would just say, no that's just crazy? Of course not. Probalby not all of them, but a whole lot of them would believe every word and there would be mass panic.

Obviously, all the Christians on metafilter don't believe all of those things are literally true, but a LOT of Christians do. Most Christians do, in fact, if you look at the polling on it.
posted by empath at 7:55 PM on May 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Crabby Appleton: I never accused you of saying that Camping's eschatology is indistinguishable from mine.

Wrong, and wrong since you quoted and cited me twice as in favor of that argument. And did you really think you'd get away with that?

As for the rest of the pull quotes, your interpretations appear to be uncharitable to the extreme. Especially in cases where there are obvious qualifiers included. But even so, how can one object to religion qua religion or Christianity qua Christianity without accusations of "intellectual dishonesty" and "insult" for doing so?

It seems to me that you're demanding that every criticism of religion be delivered along the lines of, "afterlife beliefs are wrong, but not Crabby's bless his nonexistent soul." Just because someone doesn't accept your theory of non-falsifiability as a critical theological difference in this case, doesn't make them intellectually dishonest.

As I keep saying, it's possible to say that someone's wrong, without saying that they're a bad person. You and Camping are wrong for the same reasons. You're wrong that the non-falsifiability of your beliefs gives your interpretation any more credibility. We can disagree civilly, or you can claim dishonesty and insult. I think I stopped caring at this point.

mstokes650: See the above. But you have a couple of problems here.

First of course people are criticizing Camping on the theological grounds that he's offering a bad interpretation as opposed to a good interpretation. But non-Christians are not obligated to accept your argument from popularity that mainstream Christianity has a good interpretation. If someone were to claim that Shia views can be dismissed out of hand because Sunni views are more reasonable, you'd probably hear many of the same objections.

Second, you and Crabby are demonstrating what I consider to be a scummy and somewhat dishonest strategy of liberal and moderate Christians: trying to demonstrate their reasonableness by throwing conservatives under the bus so to speak. Taking an aggressive middle ground doesn't make you more correct. In fact, I sort of admire orthodoxy for its intellectual rigor and (at least in my experience) discipline in behavior. I honestly can't play intellectual favorites there.

On preview:

People who do different things are meaningfully different, regardless of whether or not the thoughts going on inside their head are similar.

What makes Camping then meaningfully different from any other religious figure with a media-production company, including the Pope? They both have a radio network, and they both say that you need to get right with God through his son Jesus Christ otherwise bad things will happen to you.

If you're claiming that Camping is outrageous because he put judgment day on the calendar rather than saying we should act as if judgment day could come for us at any time, that's a theological dispute rather than a behavioral one.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:14 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Now watch as I'm accused of denying the existence of the Protestant reformation because I compared Camping and Pope Benedict in the same sentence.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:20 PM on May 26, 2011


(And it interests me that it's always atheists who get singled out as insulting for rejecting Christianity qua Christianity and not the other major religions who say, "cute story, but I don't think so.")
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:34 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rationality frightens the irrational.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:38 PM on May 26, 2011


Wrong, and wrong since you quoted and cited me twice as in favor of that argument.

Regarding the first "wrong": oh, for fuck's sake. I used the indefinite "you" and you think I'm addressing you directly. Just substitute "one" for "you" so that your literal-minded reading algorithm won't be led astray.

(Aside for any theist who might be interested in trying to have a conversation with an atheist on an on-line forum: That is how painstakingly meticulous you have to be in your wording. Any less and you have to deal with vindictive accusations of lying, etc. If that's what you want to deal with, then go ahead and comment.)

As for the second "wrong", I cited you for what you wrote, and just to make sure there was no ambiguity, I quoted what you wrote, and I responded to what you wrote and only to what you wrote. Just to make this painfully explicit, as I know I must, I responded to your comment about there being "a hundred different variations" on eschatologies by writing: "There may indeed be a number of Christian eschatologies that differ in details but agree in broad outlines, and there's no reason to address each one in detail. But, again, that's not exactly the case here." And then I proceeded to show why that's not exactly the case here.

And did you really think you'd get away with that?

Yeah, but you were just too smart for me, weren't you? You really caught me out. I just wonder whether those guys on TV who are talking directly to you will get away with it. I'm sure they're much craftier than I could ever aspire to be.

It's past my bedtime. Maybe I'll respond to the rest of your shit-pile of a comment tomorrow.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:33 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aside for any theist who might be interested in trying to have a conversation with an atheist on an on-line forum:

I don't think this sort of sidearmed snide remark is necessary.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 PM on May 26, 2011


If you're claiming that Camping is outrageous because he put judgment day on the calendar rather than saying we should act as if judgment day could come for us at any time, that's a theological dispute rather than a behavioral one.

And if I'm claiming that Camping is outrageous because he encouraged his followers to sell their houses, quit their jobs, and blow their life savings, it's not really theological at all, is it? Those are all purely behavioral things; I could just as easily be upset at a successful politician or financier or dietician or (secular) talk show host or whoever that convinced a lot of people to do some or all of those things. It's also meaningfully different from the Pope's advice to his followers, last I checked, though I confess I don't really keep up with the Pope's day-to-day. If the Pope someday starts encouraging the same real-world behaviors, I won't have any problem with lumping the Pope in with Harold Camping, at that point. Regardless of his reason for doing so.

It is singularly odd to have an atheist insist that the theology is the only thing that can be disputed about a situation.

Taking an aggressive middle ground doesn't make you more correct.

Wow. I just...I don't even know how to fathom that one. Does your contempt for moderates apply to, say, politics, too? How about diets - moderation = bad? Do the words thesis, antithesis, and synthesis mean anything to you? How do you feel about agnostics? Are spineless middle-grounders who just don't dare commit fully to a side better or worse than people who actually actively prefer the middle ground? Wow. Seriously, that there paragraph was like a trip through the looking glass, I am left with sooo many questions. In any case, I can assure you that there's nothing "dishonest" about my dislike for fanatics of any type or cause; it's entirely genuine.

(And it interests me that it's always atheists who get singled out as insulting for rejecting Christianity qua Christianity and not the other major religions who say, "cute story, but I don't think so.")


And it interests me that it's always [sweeping generalization] [mad libs] and not about the actual specific situation, no matter how many specific posts I link to. I didn't notice a surfeit of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Zoroastrians, Satanists, etc. in that thread going "LOLXTIANS, they are ALL THE SAME" and turning the thread into a referendum on Christianity (or religion) as a whole. But you know, it was a long thread, maybe I missed them? Feel free to pull some quotes or provide some links.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:41 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if I'm claiming that Camping is outrageous because he encouraged his followers to sell their houses, quit their jobs, and blow their life savings, it's not really theological at all, is it?...I could just as easily be upset at a successful politician or financier or dietician or (secular) talk show host or whoever that convinced a lot of people to do some or all of those things.

Well, Jesus encouraged his followers to do the same. As I said in the original thread, I'll give Camping credit for being different from the usual doomsday cults. He actually tried to get lots of people to 'save' themselves instead of gathering his closest followers in a locked room. And it seems like he took on Jesus's left-wing economic position too - not quite enough to follow it himself, but hey, you can't have everything I guess.
posted by harriet vane at 11:13 PM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for the rest of the pull quotes, your interpretations appear to be uncharitable to the extreme.

LOL. Seriously? My interpretations are uncharitable? I'll keep that in mind.

Especially in cases where there are obvious qualifiers included.

I don't see any qualifiers in the remarks I quoted.

But even so, how can one object to religion qua religion or Christianity qua Christianity without accusations of "intellectual dishonesty" and "insult" for doing so?

It seems to me that you're demanding that every criticism of religion be delivered along the lines of, "afterlife beliefs are wrong, but not Crabby's bless his nonexistent soul." Just because someone doesn't accept your theory of non-falsifiability as a critical theological difference in this case, doesn't make them intellectually dishonest.

I took pains to point out exactly what I considered insulting and intellectually dishonest in my comments above. I'm not going to repeat it here just so you can ignore it again.

As I keep saying, it's possible to say that someone's wrong, without saying that they're a bad person. You and Camping are wrong for the same reasons. You're wrong that the non-falsifiability of your beliefs gives your interpretation any more credibility.

I don't know, it's hard to imagine any less credibility than that which one garners by making a definite prediction and having it fail.

Second, you and Crabby are demonstrating what I consider to be a scummy and somewhat dishonest strategy of liberal and moderate Christians: trying to demonstrate their reasonableness by throwing conservatives under the bus so to speak. Taking an aggressive middle ground doesn't make you more correct.

So, wait ... I'm expected to defend beliefs that I don't even hold? That's original. I'll keep that in mind the next time some atheist starts up with the "atheism means disbelief in God, that's all!" evasion.

And, just so you know, you and some other atheists here are demonstrating what I consider to be the cowardly and contemptible strategy of singling out the intellectually weakest forms of religion to attack.

In fact, I sort of admire orthodoxy for its intellectual rigor and (at least in my experience) discipline in behavior. I honestly can't play intellectual favorites there.

So are you saying that you admire Camping's intellectual rigor? Does his numerology appeal to you on an intellectual level?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:27 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby: Regarding the first "wrong": oh, for fuck's sake. I used the indefinite "you" and you think I'm addressing you directly. Just substitute "one" for "you" so that your literal-minded reading algorithm won't be led astray.

When you quote and cite someone, you no longer get the privilege of hiding behind the indefinite "you." You are, according to the pragmatics of internet discourse that emerged back in the 1970s, addressing a specific person. The "meticulousness" is simply owing up to it and not weaseling out later with a denial.

mstokes650: And if I'm claiming that Camping is outrageous because he encouraged his followers to sell their houses, quit their jobs, and blow their life savings, it's not really theological at all, is it?

Sure, but that's not the only grounds on which Camping is being criticized in these threads and the elephant is still in the bedroom as to WHY blowing life savings is a bad idea in this case. The difference between Camping encouraging people to give up their life savings to the ministry, and churches that encourage people to give up a significant chunk of their income to fund politics against their best interest strikes me as a difference in degree rather than kind.

It is singularly odd to have an atheist insist that the theology is the only thing that can be disputed about a situation.

No, but since the argument being made is that Camping is wrong, not just because he's a con man, but because he's offering a bad interpretation of scripture. Atheists should be free to express non belief that there's a true interpretation of scripture.

Wow. I just...I don't even know how to fathom that one. Does your contempt for moderates apply to, say, politics, too? How about diets - moderation = bad? Do the words thesis, antithesis, and synthesis mean anything to you? How do you feel about agnostics? Are spineless middle-grounders who just don't dare commit fully to a side better or worse than people who actually actively prefer the middle ground? Wow. Seriously, that there paragraph was like a trip through the looking glass, I am left with sooo many questions. In any case, I can assure you that there's nothing "dishonest" about my dislike for fanatics of any type or cause; it's entirely genuine.

I did not say that I hold moderates as people in contempt, only the weak argument of, "I'm not a fanatic about this issue, therefore my views are the most reasonable." Moderation is a virtue when it's solidly grounded (Huxley's agnostic method) and a vice when it's little more than shallow stereotypes (most internet Agnosticism). Politically, the attempt to "compromise" on same-sex civil unions but not marriage satisfies neither the Constitutional rights of same-sex couples, or social conservatives who started the fight over piecemeal rights.

And especially I find the tendency of religious liberals to defend their own beliefs by taking weak potshots at conservatives and atheists as misguided to be flawed. I don't doubt that it's earnest, but it usually involves obviously prejudicial stereotypes of both groups.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:32 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know, it's hard to imagine any less credibility than that which one garners by making a definite prediction and having it fail.

Making definite predictions is kind of the best way to establish the truth or falsehood of your beliefs. The fact that you don't think it's smart to make any based on your belief is a bit telling.
posted by empath at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2011


Crabby: Why are you calling out as "insulting" and "intellectually dishonest" posts that make a point that you've already conceded: the differences among Christian religious faith are pointless to outsiders?

The central problem is that you have things exactly backwards. I don't reject Christianity's stronger claims because of Camping. I reject Camping because I don't believe Christianity's strongest claims to the afterlife. If we reject the strong claim, then rejecting the weak claims as well would be reasonable, does it not?

I'm not saying you should defend any beliefs you don't hold, only that your defense of your own beliefs should involve something better than holding up Camping (and Christians who believe in a definite End Times) as lunatic foils for your own claimed reasonableness. My annoyance is that moderate and liberal Christians treat it as a foregone assumption that religious conservatives (in general, not just Camping) are crazy. And in my encounters with them, sometimes they are, and sometimes they have some important things to say.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:18 AM on May 27, 2011


Making definite predictions is kind of the best way to establish the truth or falsehood of your beliefs. The fact that you don't think it's smart to make any based on your belief is a bit telling.

Atheist: Religion is un-sci-en-tif-ic!
Theist: I decline to make any scientific predictions.
Atheist: Why aren't you scientific?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:30 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath : " Making definite predictions is kind of the best way to establish the truth or falsehood of your beliefs. The fact that you don't think it's smart to make any based on your belief is a bit telling."

Actually, it could mean simply mean that someone is open-minded. That their beliefs are not so rigidly structured and dogmatic that they won't refuse to modify them when new information develops. Which incidentally is part of the scientific method. E pur si muove, etc.
posted by zarq at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you take the agnostic theist route (it can't be proven or supported by empirical evidence) then it all comes down to arbitrary claims that one arbitrary interpretation of one arbitrary set of scriptures and personal experiences is more valid than another.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:50 AM on May 27, 2011


That their beliefs are not so rigidly structured and dogmatic that they won't refuse to modify them when new information develops

Or that their beliefs are so nebulous that they aren't subject to being modified by new information coming in. If you don't put your beliefs to the test, they don't really mean much.
posted by empath at 6:59 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Applying political terms like "moderate," "radical," "liberal," " conservative" to differences in religious views usually causes more confusion than anything else. "Moderate" means something if it means opposition to fanaticism, but often just means 'I dislike this group than I dislike some other group,' or that they're seen as being 'in between' in some way, where the "moderate" position may well be perceived as qualitatively different, not 'in between,' by the people who actually hold those positions. "Liberal" in a theological sense means opposition to dogmatism, but this ends up being equated with political liberalism. Some theologically religious groups take positions that are seen as politically liberal, but this is not always the case. "Conservatism" means adherence to tradition, but different religious groups have different traditions and being theologically conservative does not automatically translate into political conservatism. Quakers are traditionally liberal or progressive in terms of American politics, in part because of their theology's emphasis on social justice and pacifism. They're not "moderately" religious, or less theist than other theists. They believe what they believe just as strongly as Southern Baptists believe what they believe. Being a conservative X is not the same as being a conservative Y and not remotely the same as being a conservative Z.

(We also run into problems when we try to apply these terms under the assumption. that they always mean what they've come to mean in contemporary American politics. to contexts where they mean or meant different things, either to political conflicts in other countries or to other time periods.)
posted by nangar at 7:53 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The central problem is that you have things exactly backwards. I don't reject Christianity's stronger claims because of Camping.

I'll try to explain this one last time. Camping's prediction is a different kind of statement from most statements of religious doctrine. Even the atheists here acknowledge that, as they tell us how much they respect him for making a falsifiable prediction.

The rhetorical thrust of the remarks I quoted in my comment above is clearly to smear all religious belief by associating it with Camping's loony statements. If that were not the case, there'd be no need for those atheists to refer to Camping at all. Taking a statement by Camping that isn't even in the same category of statement as most religious beliefs and using that to smear or ridicule all religious beliefs is intellectually dishonest. It's also just a shitty rhetorical tactic. And it's clearly insulting, in that it says to Christians "your beliefs are in the same intellectual category as Camping's, i.e., looney-tunes."

I reject Camping because I don't believe Christianity's strongest claims to the afterlife. If we reject the strong claim, then rejecting the weak claims as well would be reasonable, does it not?

I sincerely mean no offense by this: I actually don't really care why you reject Camping. This discussion is not primarily about you.

That notwithstanding, I have to say that my answer to your question is "no". Camping's statement is a testable statement of empirical fact. (Which has been tested and found false.) As such, you can't really reject it based on any general objections to Christian claims. To be intellectually consistent, you have to evaluate it on its own terms.

Kind of funny, isn't it? You could reject my beliefs based on a broad hand-waving general rejection of religious truth claims, but in order to reject Camping's belief you actually have to take it seriously long enough to refute it on its own terms, because it makes specific, testable assertions of fact.

I'm not saying you should defend any beliefs you don't hold, only that your defense of your own beliefs should involve something better than holding up Camping (and Christians who believe in a definite End Times) as lunatic foils for your own claimed reasonableness.

I don't think I'm doing that here. I'm not trying to make my beliefs look better, I'm saying that Camping's beliefs don't make mine look any worse, because they are different in very fundamental ways. In fact, what I've been doing here is pretty narrowly focused, and certainly shouldn't be construed as a general attempt to defend my beliefs. I suppose I could try to try to write a general and comprehensive defense of my beliefs here, but frankly it's not an appealing prospect. I don't think I have the time or emotional energy to undertake that now.

My annoyance is that moderate and liberal Christians treat it as a foregone assumption that religious conservatives (in general, not just Camping) are crazy. And in my encounters with them, sometimes they are, and sometimes they have some important things to say.

I'm not surprised. I think you like them for the reasons that Slavoj Zizek (quoted at greater length here) states:
For both liberal[-sceptical] cynics and religious fundamentalists, religious statements are quasi-empirical statements of direct knowledge: fundamentalists accept them as such, while sceptical cynics mock them. No wonder that religious fundamentalists are among the most passionate digital hackers, and always prone to combine their religion with the latest findings of science. For them, religious statements and scientific statements belong to the same modality of positive knowledge. The occurrence of the term 'science' in the very name of some of the fundamentalist sects (Christian Science, Scientology) is not just an obscene joke, but signals this reduction of belief to positive knowledge. [...] This is what we can learn from Lacan about the rise of religious fundamentalism: its true danger does not reside in its threat to secular scientific knowledge, but in its threat to authentic belief itself.
(My interpolation in the first line of the above quote is for clarification and comes from an earlier point in the longer quotation linked above.)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:00 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


try to try to

Forgot to omit needless words.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:09 AM on May 27, 2011


The difference between Camping encouraging people to give up their life savings to the ministry, and churches that encourage people to give up a significant chunk of their income to fund politics against their best interest strikes me as a difference in degree rather than kind.

Hand-waving away the difference (in kind) between a portion of disposable income vs. total income + life savings. Nice. You must be fun in economic threads.

No, but since the argument being made is that Camping is wrong...

Ahh, the old passive construction. I am sure there are times when passive construction does not automatically signify a strawman, but I am also sure this isn't one of them. Being made by who? Links, quotes? Look back at that thread - Alvy Ampersand, in the first post, quotes the Bible (least I assume that's what he's quoting) and that post, which really does seem to offer a different scriptural interpretation as more correct, passes completely unremarked upon. A few posts later someone suggests that bankrupting your followers is bad (not exactly theological) and from there it's straight down the "all Christians are the same" rabbit hole, despite verb, EmpressCallipygos, myself and others insisting repeatedly that there are observable behavioral differences between Camping's people and other Christians.

your defense of your own beliefs should involve something better than holding up Camping (and Christians who believe in a definite End Times) as lunatic foils for your own claimed reasonableness.

I still have yet to hear a convincing explanation of why a moderate should have to defend their own beliefs at all in a thread about Camping's doings and carryings-on.

I'm still kind of perversely fascinated by the notion you seem to forward that "moderates are more reasonable than fanatics" is a "weak argument" rather than virtually a truism, and by your unrelated example suggesting political compromise is bad or weak, but I'll have to continue that one later today if I get a chance, maybe by memail.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:19 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


You could reject my beliefs based on a broad hand-waving general rejection of religious truth claims, but in order to reject Camping's belief you actually have to take it seriously long enough to refute it on its own terms, because it makes specific, testable assertions of fact.

We don't actually know what your beliefs are, so it would be kind of difficult to reject them.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2011


(aside from rejecting them as part of the broader category of 'religious belief'.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on May 27, 2011


vorfeed: "What I meant by this is pretty much what I said: "I was openly against religion". That means talking honestly with friends and with random people who bring the issue up -- "assertions of atheistic ideas in conversation that don't pay off until much later" pretty much sums it up. It also means being openly against religion here on mefi.

OK, then I misinterpreted what you were saying. Apologies. Thank you for clarifying.

FWIW, I have no problem with you or anyone else being against or speaking out against religion. The snark sometimes gets on my nerves but I'm usually okay with ignoring it.

But at the same time I hate being lumped in with ignoramuses who don't share my beliefs or respect others. I really, really don't like being lumped in with fundamentalists -- especially those who think they should be allowed to legislate their religion down everyone else's throats. What often spurs me to speak up in these threads is a comment from someone that makes a blanket declaration that all religious beliefs and all religious types are the same and/or equally damaging. I don't believe that's true. Many theists are not antiscience or interested in converting the planet. Some of us don't give a damn what anyone else believes as long as it's not infringing on us. So by speaking up I hope to inject some understanding and say, "we're really not all like them. And we're against this, too."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not trying to silence dissent. Which is kind of tangential to the topic. Sorry for rambling.

Also, I had a Darwin fish on my car at one point (it got torn off, poor little fish!)

See, that just sucks. I love the Darwin fish.

If there was ever anyone who felt that they couldn't walk away from me, they sure didn't say so... in fact, most have been happy to give as well as they got, and those who weren't were fine with changing the subject. So no, I'm not suggesting that people knock on doors with atheist tracts, or stand screaming on street-corners.

Good! :)

My point is simply that "respecting" religious beliefs is not the only conversational method which "works" to convince people -- being straight-up about your own beliefs works, too, whether they are sufficiently "respectful" to religion or not."

I'm okay with that. Again, thanks for explaining. I really appreciate it.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


(aside from rejecting them as part of the broader category of 'religious belief'.

Precisely, empath. Why would you care what my beliefs are? After all, "Nonsense is nonsense is nonsense, regardless of the specifics." Right?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:46 AM on May 27, 2011


empath : " Or that their beliefs are so nebulous that they aren't subject to being modified by new information coming in. If you don't put your beliefs to the test, they don't really mean much."

True. Of course, testing one's beliefs isn't always going to be as clear-cut as a prediction of "The world will end on May 21." :)
posted by zarq at 8:46 AM on May 27, 2011


Precisely, empath. Why would you care what my beliefs are? After all, "Nonsense is nonsense is nonsense, regardless of the specifics."

I don't particularly, but you brought up the fact that we haven't rejected your beliefs specifically. If you tell me you're a Christian, I know all I need to put them in the category of 'nonsense'. If you desperately want me to go point by point telling you why I don't believe all the things you do with specificity, I can. But you have to say what they are first.
posted by empath at 8:48 AM on May 27, 2011


True. Of course, testing one's beliefs isn't always going to be as clear-cut as a prediction of "The world will end on May 21." :)

Sure, it can also be something like "God is going to answer my prayer to heal my cancer."

Which a friend of mine who works as a mammogram technician told me that one of her patients (a Christian Scientist) told her just like week. The tumor was already well past the point where a mammogram was even needed to diagnose. And she wasn't going to see a doctor, she was going to see a 'practicioner' who was going to pray for her, instead.

She'll most likely be dead in a year.

That's a testable prediction, too.

I suppose a belief in the afterlife is testable, but no one who finds out the answer is ever going to clue the rest of us in on the result.
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on May 27, 2011


Crabby Appleton: " In the interim I'll attempt to weasel out by saying that belief in an "immortal soul" is not essential to Christianity. The Bible refers to the resurrection of the body, after all. And I don't see it mentioned in the Nicene Creed."

I noticed this yesterday, but didn't have time to address it.

I'm familiar with what the Nicene Creed says, but perhaps not its significance. How important is it to Catholics? Does it only apply to Catholics or also other Christian sects?

I've never really pondered the Jewish take on human souls, but I'm pretty sure they're mentioned in the Talmud. I know Christians have prioritized what they feel is important in the Old Testament and rejected other things (kashrut, for example,) but if they're mentioned, isn't that also an indication of what Christians believe?
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on May 27, 2011


I don't particularly, but you brought up the fact that we haven't rejected your beliefs specifically.

Not sure how you got that out of what I wrote, but OK, whatever. I think I have a pretty good idea of why you don't believe the things I believe. I've been reading atheist and agnostic writings, starting in my teens with Russell, Ingersoll, etc., for well over three decades, so you don't really need to tell me that. Needless to say, I think you are mistaken.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:58 AM on May 27, 2011


Crabby: You already admitted that they are in the same category from the point of view of an outsider. So the question is, still, why are you calling intellectually dishonest a principle that you've already admitted is reasonable for non-Christians to hold?

But your argument that we should treat the claims differently falls short on two fronts. First, it's reasonable to reject a claim on theoretical in addition to empirical grounds. In this case, both Camping and mainstream Christianity rely on the same theory: Jesus saves souls. Skepticism of that theory leads to skepticism of both.

The second problem is that your insistance on a strictly non-empirical reading of scripture is an arbitrary interdenominational issue of interpretation. Since I'm not guided by the Holy Spirit to engage in issues of interpretation, I'm not qualified to make decisions as to which set of beliefs about the End Times are more correct.

In fact, you're demanding something of me that other Christians have said is highly disrespectful. So the only respectful thing I can do is simply say, "I'm not a Christian because..." So you're putting me in a double-bind of offense either way.

Since my disagreement with Christianity is radical, I'm not obliged to argue every one of 100 variations. To lay out my argument:
There (probably) is no God.
There (probably) is no soul.
Therefore, God does not judge souls.

I struggle to see how this does not apply to both Camping and Pope Benedict.

I'm not trying to make my beliefs look better, I'm saying that Camping's beliefs don't make mine look any worse, because they are different in very fundamental ways.

I'm willing to grant that you see them as fundamental differences. But as you wrote, to me those differences are pointless, and irrelevant to my lack of belief in both.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:03 AM on May 27, 2011


I'm familiar with what the Nicene Creed says, but perhaps not its significance. How important is it to Catholics? Does it only apply to Catholics or also other Christian sects?

The Nicene Creed more or less defines the baseline of Christian belief. And not just Catholics, every major Christian Creed, including Orthodox.
posted by empath at 9:16 AM on May 27, 2011


I'm familiar with what the Nicene Creed says, but perhaps not its significance. How important is it to Catholics? Does it only apply to Catholics or also other Christian sects?

I'd like to answer your question, but I really don't know enough to give you a definitive answer. I'm not Catholic, and my Christianity is pretty non-denominational at this point (to put it mildly). I just view the Nicene creed as a pretty concise and (all things considered) minimalist statement of the essentials of the Christian faith that seems to be pretty generally acknowledged as such. Perhaps someone else here can put it into context for you.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2011


I'm saying that Camping's beliefs don't make mine look any worse

I agree with this.
posted by empath at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2011


Okay, thank you both.
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on May 27, 2011


mstokes660: Hand-waving away the difference (in kind) between a portion of disposable income vs. total income + life savings. Nice. You must be fun in economic threads.

The problem here is that even small, weekly investments in savings can add up to a big pile of security down the road. So yes, the economic harm involved is a difference in degree rather than kind. You're just drawing arbitrary lines in the sand here for the purpose of cultivating an entirely invented sense of insult and outrage.

Being made by who? Links, quotes?

To start with, Crabby Appleton in this very thread: "I'm not trying to make my beliefs look better, I'm saying that Camping's beliefs don't make mine look any worse, because they are different in very fundamental ways. "

And if you feel that someone has posted something that's offensively LOLCHRISTIANS, flag it and move on rather than derailing the thread.

I still have yet to hear a convincing explanation of why a moderate should have to defend their own beliefs at all in a thread about Camping's doings and carryings-on.

Since the argument on the table is that atheists are insulting and intellectually dishonest for not giving special consideration to moderate Christianity, then yes, the question of why we should consider moderate Christianity to be categorically different from all other forms of Christian belief is relevant.

Which again, it's possible to respect people who hold beliefs and also express the opinion that those beliefs are wrong. If you consider the principle, "I don't believe that God judges souls" to be intellectually dishonest and insulting, then I'm not certain how we can have a civil conversation.

I'm still kind of perversely fascinated by the notion you seem to forward that "moderates are more reasonable than fanatics" is a "weak argument" rather than virtually a truism, and by your unrelated example suggesting political compromise is bad or weak, but I'll have to continue that one later today if I get a chance, maybe by memail.

It's not a truism on two counts. First of all moderates routinely paint other people as more fanatical than they really are, and it gets really frustrating to see the twin boogeymen of secularism and fundamentalism pop up week after week. And the second problem is that compromise often results in perfectly horrendous politics that don't address the underlying problem: political and social segregation in Northern Ireland, Dred Scott and the Missouri Compromise, piecemeal gay rights, and appeasement before WWII.

Compromise certainly may be a political necessity, but in MLKs criticism, compromise can also serve as a bandaid over deeper problems rather than addressing them.

But as applied to this particular case, it's not entirely obvious to me that liberal interpretations of scripture are inherently superior to conservative ones.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:36 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby: You already admitted that they are in the same category from the point of view of an outsider.

Let's be clear on what I already admitted: If an outsider doesn't accept that there is a Jesus, that there is a god, that there is a heaven, or a soul, or an afterlife, then the entire debate over which Christian group is 'more wrong' is pointless to that outsider.

I did not admit that the two statements are in the same category. They are not. That is an objective fact. That fact may seem irrelevant to you because you reject the premises on which both statements are based, but it's still a fact, i.e., still a valid, objective distinction. Even if you believe that both statements are false.

I'm willing to grant that you see them as fundamental differences. But as you wrote, to me those differences are pointless, and irrelevant to my lack of belief in both.

They maybe be irrelevant to you, but then you are not the one using a sleazy rhetorical trick to smear Christian beliefs by associating them with Camping's BS. If you are one is attempting to conflate Camping's belief with (say) the beliefs in the Nicene Creed, then the distinctions between those statements become relevant.

If, on the other hand, one is simply saying that he or she rejects the notion of salvation, that the Nicene creed and Camping's prediction are both based on the notion of salvation, and therefore he or she rejects both, well, I don't see any problem with that (except, of course, that he is mistaken in his rejection of salvation, but that's another topic).

I think this is about the best I can do in terms of explaining. If this doesn't help, then I hope that there's someone else here who understands the point I'm making and can explain it better than I can; that's about all I can do.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crabby: That fact may seem irrelevant to you because you reject the premises on which both statements are based, but it's still a fact, i.e., still a valid, objective distinction.

A valid, objective, and pointless distinction then.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:02 AM on May 27, 2011


Here is how I see this thread: News story comes out about how the makers of Budweezer Beer have really been selling nothing but carbonated mule piss all these years.

Some people who don't like beer go: Aha!
Some people who really like beer say: But you haven't tasted my favorite hand-crafted micro brew! Not all beer is the same! You can't say all beer is the same! Don't dismiss my favorite hand-crafted micro brew just because Budweezer sold carbonated mule piss!
Some people who don't like beer say: We are familiar with the concept of beer. We have tried more than one kind of beer. Your favorite hand-crafted micro brew might not be carbonated mule piss, but it is still beer. We don't like beer. Stop telling us that we have to try every kind of beer to dismiss your beer. We don't like beer.
Some people who really like beer say: Our beer is special.
Some people who don't like beer say: We don't like beer. Your beer is not special. It is still beer.
Some people who really like beer say: Our beer is not carbonated mule piss. You can't dismiss our beer just because one brewery made their beer out of carbonated mule piss. Our beer is infused with hand-spun kitten fluff and baby's breath, then funneled down the inner thighs of virgins into bottles made of volcanic glass from Mount Olympus.
Some people who don't like beer say: We don't believe in virgins.
Some people who really like beer say: Aha!

We're arguing different points. To the religious here I say: I grant that there are qualitative differences in the way you choose to express your ideals. What I do not grant is that your actions have any bearing on the relative credibility of the founding claims onto which your ideals have been grafted. Your superstitions are no more credible than Camping's superstitions just because you choose to do good works based on those beliefs and he chose to do... whatever he has done. We don't like beer. (Actually, I love beer.) You think your beer is better than Camping's beer. (It is.) We don't care. (Actually, I do.) We still don't think beer should be served at high school graduation ceremonies, even if it is really good quality beer. (Okay, this one is true.)

And with that... (poof) he was gone.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:39 AM on May 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


You've got two people on street corners who claim they hear voices in their head. One of them says the voices are from an implant that the CIA put there to control his mind. The other says it's the devil, telling him what to do.

But you've also got some guys who just came out to the street corner because they wanted a smoke, and they're also getting accused of being crazy because they happen to be on the same streetcorner; they never claimed to hear voices in their head, however.

I'm cool with people accusing the "I hear voices in my head" of being crazy. I'm not cool with people being called crazy because someone assumes they hear them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you're stretching the analogy a bit. Either you believe in things that the rest of us consider to be fundamentally of the same kind as Camping -- that is belief in God, belief in the Bible as Scripture, belief in supernatural intervention in the affairs of man kind, belief in the soul, belief in an afterlife, belief in revelation as a source of truth, then no one was lumping you in with him. If you do, then we do. Or to use the same analogy, we're just saying "All people who think they hear voices in their head are probably equally as crazy, no matter what the specific details are" and you're going 'Hey, but I don't hear voices in my head!"

If that's the case, then wonderful for you, but nobody was talking about you.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beerist: Hey, we've got some good beer here!
Con-Artist: I'm a Beerist, and I've got some good beer here too!
Beerist: <tastes Con-Artist's "beer", does spit-take> That's cat piss!!!
A-non-clear-beverage-ist 1: Beerist, please! That's a laugh! Con-Artist claims he's a beerist, and his beer is really cat piss, so your beer is cat piss too! LOL Beerist!!!
Beerist: No, our beer is an alcoholic beverage made from yeast-fermented malt flavored with hops. His "beer" is urine from the bladder of a cat. They're very different, and it's dishonest to claim that they're the same!
A-non-clear-beverage-ist 1: Cat piss is cat piss is cat piss! LOL Beerists!
Beerist: You're a lying asshole.
A-non-clear-beverage-ist 2: Both your noxious beverages are not crystal clear. I reject any beverage that is not crystal clear. Therefore your irrelevant distinction between beer and cat piss is pointless. No one should ever drink either, in any case.
Beerist: A-non-clear-beverage-ist 1 is still a lying asshole for saying my beer is cat piss.
A-non-clear-beverage-ist 2: No he's not. You just hate A-non-clear-beverages-ists.
Beerist: <sigh>
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:24 AM on May 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Single malt Scotch is still superior.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:26 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you're stretching the analogy a bit. Either you believe in things that the rest of us consider to be fundamentally of the same kind as Camping -- that is belief in God, belief in the Bible as Scripture, belief in supernatural intervention in the affairs of man kind, belief in the soul, belief in an afterlife, belief in revelation as a source of truth, then no one was lumping you in with him. If you do, then we do. Or to use the same analogy, we're just saying "All people who think they hear voices in their head are probably equally as crazy, no matter what the specific details are" and you're going 'Hey, but I don't hear voices in my head!"

If that's the case, then wonderful for you, but nobody was talking about you.


Actually, you kind of were -- by implying that all Christians hold eschatological beliefs. You didn't just refer to "Christians who happen to eschatological beliefs," you were referring to "Christians," period.

This is not casting dispersion, by the way. It's very possible you were unaware this was how you were coming across. And I appreciate the motivation.

But if your puzzlement was at eschatology, then...I'd have liked to have seen that made more clear as a thing distinct, is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:28 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anybody else thirsty....





...for Truth?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:35 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry. Just procrastinating. Back to work with me!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:36 AM on May 27, 2011


.Actually, you kind of were -- by implying that all Christians hold eschatological beliefs. You didn't just refer to "Christians who happen to eschatological beliefs,

Eschatological beliefs are rather fundamental to being a Christian. Not necessarily the Rapture, but at a bare minimum:
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
posted by empath at 12:20 PM on May 27, 2011


Anybody else thirsty....
...for Truth?


I have a good cup of joe, thanks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:37 PM on May 27, 2011


I believe, empath, that our disagreement is at this point almost entirely semantic; in other words, I think my own conception of "eschatology" is somewhat narrower than yours. So we're never going to be able to come to concensus.

But that's cool; now I know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I mean, mine is the dictionary definition and the definition used by the catholic church.

It's just the theology concerned with what happens at the end of life, or at the end of the world.
posted by empath at 1:41 PM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Philosophical bumper cars on metafilter is way better than daytime t.v. I hail all the well spoken warriors of this thread and thank you all for your well stated, and reasonably respectfully worded views. I ran out of popcorn and started in on my doritoes stash (a high complement indeed) YOU truly make this the best of the web. I really was becoming dizzy untill the beer comparisons.
Art at it's finest
we who are about to die salute you
posted by Redhush at 10:03 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


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