crap FPP, even without the flame war
September 24, 2004 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Sheesh. Forgetting the fact that this is a crap FPP, do we have to have this stupid argument again? I get really tired of reading the uninformed, bigoted opinions of anti-religion types with chips on their shoulders. You are free to not believe in God; I am not bothered by your not-believing. But you not-believing is not evidence of intellectual or moral superiority. It's just a choice you made, a choice I can understand and respect. How about some reciprocation already?
posted by eustacescrubb to Etiquette/Policy at 7:21 PM (171 comments total)

And it's a crap FPP because it's misleading - I was actually looking forward to reading a collection of wisdom from the world's religions.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:24 PM on September 24, 2004


Devil's Dictionary:

BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion
that you do not entertain.
posted by abcde at 7:32 PM on September 24, 2004


I hadn't actually read the FPP at the time and hence assumed it was a longer anti-religious FAQ, and now I think it's stupid too, but I stand by my snark anyway ;)
posted by abcde at 7:34 PM on September 24, 2004


Is that Bierce, abcde?

And, for the record, religious bigots irritate me just as much.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:36 PM on September 24, 2004


"I get really tired of reading the uninformed, bigoted opinions of anti-religion types with chips on their shoulders."

You misunderstand. We don't have chips. We just think your invisible friend is silly. Not the same thing. I encourage you to believe if it makes your life better. But it's still silly.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:39 PM on September 24, 2004


I thought it was funny partly because it was misleading. And it has been too long since the last religion-bashing session so we're about due.
posted by euphorb at 7:39 PM on September 24, 2004


You misunderstand. We don't have chips. We just think your invisible friend is silly.

Bullshit. I don't post to the blue with links to sites insinuating that atheists are silly. The very fact that it was done at all suggests a chip. Plus it's pretty passive agressive. Almost like trolling.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:44 PM on September 24, 2004


I don't post to the blue with links to sites insinuating that atheists are silly.

If chosen carefully, a FPP that insinuates that atheists are silly could be incredibly popular. The theists would have a great time laughing at the atheists, and the atheists would laugh, in ironic tones, right back at the theists. Everyone gets a good laugh, except for anyone who doesn't really care one way or another.

However, if chosen poorly, such a FPP would go down in flames and risk swift deletion.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:53 PM on September 24, 2004


Well, personally, I do believe being non-religious makes one intellectually superior.

So, uh, sheesh.
posted by azazello at 7:56 PM on September 24, 2004


Well, personally, I do believe being non-religious makes one intellectually superior.

You're entitled to that belief, but ironically, there's not very much evidence to support it. It just shows your preference. Einstein believed in God. Stephen Jay Gould believed in God. Newton believed in God. Stephen Hawking believes in God. (all of these men believe(d) different things about God, but that's beside the point). Richard Dawkins does not believe in God, but he's still pretty damn smart.

And if you read the arguments by the anti-religionists in the thread itself, there's mounting evidence against it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:11 PM on September 24, 2004


I was wondering how long it was going to take for the thread in question to get MeTa'ed (not that I think it should be, but kind of sad when they same kind of threads get dragged here time after time to what amounts to no real resolution many times).
posted by jmd82 at 8:12 PM on September 24, 2004


Mutual respect. All I ask for.
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:13 PM on September 24, 2004


I understand your plea for civility, but for the sake of argument, why should I treat with respect an argument I think is silly? Take UFO loons. I enjoy making fun of them. Why should I stop?
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:21 PM on September 24, 2004


Because they are a minority and therefore unworthy of consideration.
posted by Krrrlson at 8:24 PM on September 24, 2004


Wait, that's why you shouldn't stop...
posted by Krrrlson at 8:25 PM on September 24, 2004


Whoa, whoa, I think we're all missing the bigger picture here.

Namely, gwint's bigger picture, that shows George W. Bush's face superimposed over northern Florida. That's gotta make ya think.
posted by soyjoy at 8:34 PM on September 24, 2004


Stephen Hawking is an atheist or at least agnostic from everything I've seen. He mentions God often but it's usually a manner of speaking rather than an expression of faith. Richard Feynman was an atheist. Carl Sagan was as well. They're all very intelligent people, they're all atheists. There are a lot of intelligent people amongh the faithful as well.

By picking and choosing the dregs of society or the cream of the crop you can prove that any group of people is stupid, dishonest, immoral, intelligent, trustworthy or righteous.

I don't think I believe in God but more importantly I don't care. I don't care if you believe in God or not as long as the expression of your beliefs doesn't require changes on my part.
posted by substrate at 8:40 PM on September 24, 2004


Yes, let's take the cannabilistic death cult seriously. It, along with other religions, has done just so much damn good for this world. Why, where would we be without people believing that everyone else is going hell, that the end of th eworld is a good thing because it puts us closer to heaven, and that it really doesn't matter what harm our actions cause, just so long as we're sincerely regretful about it afterward.

Religion is obviously well worth our respect.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 PM on September 24, 2004


eustacescrubb - you can't simultaneously condemn the post, claim to respect the opinion it represents, and then demand respect in return. At that point, intolerance of people who Believe pretty much *is* reciprocity.

The God FAQ is a pretty thin little laugh. Not the greatest post in the world, I grant you. If your complaint is that the post sucks, I pretty much agree with you. I'm trying to think of the opposite case, so as to evalutate your claim of intolerance...

So I guess the opposite case would be if some Xtian posted a snarky little joke about how all the unbelievers think they know what's up, but they won't get into Heaven in the end, and isn't that a funny joke on them.

I guess that probably would get shouted down pretty hard around here. Perhaps even called out in MeTa. But even then, the MeTa callout would be no more intolerant than yours is.
posted by scarabic at 8:57 PM on September 24, 2004


He mentions God often but it's usually a manner of speaking rather than an expression of faith

Heh. I saw a theologian debate once that this more or less amounts to believing in God against one's own will. He claimed that most people have built their worldview around the space a deity figure occupies, even if they haven't filled the seat in the center with anyone in particular. It was an interesting debate. I wish I had a record of it.
posted by scarabic at 8:59 PM on September 24, 2004


I'm an atheist and an empiricist. And I'm embarassed by the simple-minded arguments of the anti-religious in that thread and this. Not to mention the bigotry.

However, eustacescrubb, keep in mind that MeFi exists (as we all know) much within the context of USA society. And that culture is ostentatiously religious for a western "advanced" nation and notably intolerant of the irreligious. In this larger social context, there's simply no comparison of the bigotry experienced by the irreligous (particularly the atheists) to the bigotry perpetrated by the irreligious. Not that that's an excuse, mind you. Just an explanation.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:59 PM on September 24, 2004


I don't think I believe in God but more importantly I don't care.

Pre-bloody-cicely. Religious types would have a much greater impact in anti-religious threads if they learnt to let go of that pathetic "Atheism is a religion too! Science is faith too!" argument and instead provided positive reasons why they believe what they do. Talk about a tired argument! Is it that hard to grasp that a lot of people who don't believe in a god don't feel that way out of spite, out of anti-religious zealotry? A lot of people who don't believe in a god simply don't give a shit. Religion simply doesn't have any impact on their life. It's nothing personal. Don't waste your time attacking us as hypocrites, waste your time explaining why you believe what you do and trying to convert us! It would be much more fun for all involved.
posted by Jimbob at 9:00 PM on September 24, 2004


Don't waste your time attacking us as hypocrites, waste your time explaining why you believe what you do and trying to convert us! It would be much more fun for all involved.

It goes both ways...
posted by jmd82 at 9:10 PM on September 24, 2004


waste your time explaining why you believe what you do and trying to convert us

Oh yeah, that would go over real well. I wager that "discussing" religion on Metafilter will be a far greater shitflinging than politics here ever was.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:16 PM on September 24, 2004


I laughed, I cried, I attempted a simultaneous genuflection/masturbation (genubation?)

A++++++ WOULD DEFINITELY BUY THIS FPP AGAIN
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:17 PM on September 24, 2004


Oh yeah, that would go over real well. I wager that "discussing" religion on Metafilter will be a far greater shitflinging than politics here ever was.

Like I said, it would be much more fun for all involved...hysterical preaching beats tiresome semantic argument any day.
posted by Jimbob at 9:20 PM on September 24, 2004


that pathetic "Atheism is a religion too! Science is faith too!" argument and instead provided positive reasons why they believe what they do

Unfortunately, virtually none of the science folk can do this either. The proportion of atheists in the world who've directly observed the experimental results that modern science is built on is tiny. Teeny tiny. There are more well-reasoned theologians in the world than people who've seen an atom. And science itself is currently full of unanswered questions and puzzles that seem to defy its very basis. Basically, most "science folk" believe what they were taught in school, and find that it's prrrretty logical and prrrrretty consistent with their everyday lives. In other words: it works for them and satisfies them. And that's not as different from the faithful's point of view as they'd like to think.

Oops. Sorry. I trotted out that pathetic argument again.
posted by scarabic at 9:21 PM on September 24, 2004


...keep in mind that MeFi exists (as we all know)...

I really wish you people would stop talking about this MetaFilter as if everyone believed in it. Next you'll be telling me that it was created by this all-powerful being who controls who gets accounts and who doesn't.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 9:26 PM on September 24, 2004


you know, once you deBligh the new testament, all jesus really said at the last supper was "eat me".
posted by quonsar at 9:28 PM on September 24, 2004


(all of these men believe(d) different things about God, but that's beside the point).

I thought the FPP was funny. But I think this comment is even funnier--if there is a God who is, as described by pretty much every religion, an all powerful being, couldn't s/he at least have left enough guidance so that we could all believe (or not believe) in the same thing? IMO the fact that such intelligent individuals cannot agree on such a fundamental concept completely cancels out any value of their beliefs as exemplars.
posted by billsaysthis at 9:30 PM on September 24, 2004


I've seen some Believers turn that one around, billsaysthis, and say that even though the bible was edited together at various times by various bodies of mortal men, you can't really question it's divinity on those grounds. If you accept at all that it's the Word of God, then you have to assume that in his Infinite Wisdom he has guided it through the ages to Perfection. There's no degrees about it.

/head spins
posted by scarabic at 9:41 PM on September 24, 2004


In college, we read a good bit of the OT, much of the NT, translated portions of the Gospels from the Koine Greek, read Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas et al and, from the beginning of sophomore year where this material is concentrated, many students who had previously shown remarkable maturity, thoughtfulness, intellectual agility, and respect for other people's opinions suddenly became rigid, intolerant, disrespectful and sometimes plain dimwitted (this was true of both the religious and irreligious). I was deeply disappointed and discouraged. But a very wise and kindly tutor (professor) said to me that given our social context, were students to one day start coming to these classes without truckloads of baggage, he'd be very worried. You need extremely controlled conditions and lots of goodwill to have a productive discussion regarding religious beliefs. Apropos of all the poo slinging here, there, and whenever this comes up on MeFi, is my point.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:04 PM on September 24, 2004


If science is a religion, it's a totally awesome religion that rocks the ass of Christianity! Science drives a totally awesome Porsche and Christianity drives a busted old hunk of junk!
posted by Hildago at 10:28 PM on September 24, 2004


So you prevented the furthering of this argument by posting a direct lead to it here? Good call.
I'm off to /. to tell them let's not argue the merits of Lunix again.
posted by moift at 10:53 PM on September 24, 2004


EB: I'm curious as to why you think the introduction of those characters caused such a stark change in the student's behavior? When we talked about them in my philosophy courses, class discussion and involvment sky-rocketed- I know the study of them changed how I think (I like to think for the better). In all my years here, none of my classes have ever delved into a shitfest over religion. We've had atheists, creationists, the whole gambit. Yet, our discussions have always remained civil and very stimulating. Maybe I just got lucky, but I prefer to think it's a sign that there is hope for humanity where can peacefully discuss our differences without going apeshit.
posted by jmd82 at 10:56 PM on September 24, 2004


I suppose I am an agnostic but, on the other hand, I am deeply interested in religion and religious experience. True believers, theist or atheist, creep me out. My operating policy is pretty much a friend once said to me in 1973: Man, don't be goofin' on anybody's religion !.

*I consider Scientology a scam and tax shelter rather than a religion, let it be noted.
posted by y2karl at 11:34 PM on September 24, 2004


Well, personally, I do believe being non-religious makes one intellectually superior.

I think I can safely say it at least gives one a hell of a lot more free time.
posted by kindall at 11:43 PM on September 24, 2004


jmd82: it was a relative measurement. These students were more intellectually disciplined and less likely to bring their preconceptions to the seminar table than anyone or anywhere else I've ever seen. But this was noticebly less the case in this particular context.

The institutional ethos, the culture, was to approach these books from a very naive stanpoint. (Not uncritical or uninformed, but naive.) That is to say, accept the books and their arguments at face value and see where that leads. My expectations were that we would discuss, say, Job very much the same way we discussed the Illiad. But it didn't work out that way. Relative to every other discussion (among more than two or three people) of religion I've ever had elsewhere before and sense, these were well-intentioned, open-minded and respectful. Compared to the majority of our other tutorials and seminars, not so much.

Here's an example: when reading books from what Christians call the "Old Testament", more than a few Christians were continually guilty of interpreting the text from a Christian, NT perspective. They'd talk about how this or that verse is obviously talking about "Jesus", and I'd ask in my probably very irritating manner: "Wait, you mentioned 'Jesus'. Who is this 'Jesus' fellow? I don't recall him being mentioned." So much of the discussion was not about the text but about what they already thought they knew about the text and, too often, what they felt about what they thought they knew about the text. Usually couched in tendentious readings, of course.

This happened with Marx, too, of course. And others. But most strongly and consistently with the religious texts.

Another example is that a surprising number of people took Anselm's Ontological Proof seriously where, were it a proof of almost anything else, they'd have laughed it out of the room.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:12 AM on September 25, 2004


I read a thourough biography about Mr. Einstein and I can absolutely, positively, assure you the man was as strongly Agnostic as ever. As a scientist, he was never willing to rule out anything he couldn't prove. Note agnostic is nothing at all close to religious, you might say agnosticism is to religion as doubt is to a courtroom.

"God does not play dice with the universe" is simply use of English at it's finest, not an indication he believes in a God any more than when I say "Jesus Christ that is some K-Rad hotness" is an indication of my educational level and / or religious affilition (if any).

To make this crystal clear:

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." -- Albert Einstein.
posted by shepd at 12:32 AM on September 25, 2004


Yes, let's take the cannabilistic death cult seriously. It, along with other religions, has done just so much damn good for this world. Why, where would we be without people believing that everyone else is going hell, that the end of th eworld is a good thing because it puts us closer to heaven, and that it really doesn't matter what harm our actions cause, just so long as we're sincerely regretful about it afterward.

If this is pretty much the limits of your understanding of Christianity, you are not qualified to discuss the issue.
posted by weston at 1:00 AM on September 25, 2004


(Although I *was* amused by the fpp anyway)
posted by weston at 1:11 AM on September 25, 2004


people took Anselm's Ontological Proof seriously where, were it a proof of almost anything else, they'd have laughed it out of the room.

While not exactly laughable, I thought that's what the replies to him about the "best possible island" was for? (btw, I bet people from Anselm's era would laugh at a lot of things that go on today, no?)
posted by jmd82 at 2:07 AM on September 25, 2004


Crap FPP, eh? It's the funniest thing I've seen on MeFi in days. And, no, I would not say that I believe the statement "God does not exist" to be true. I just got a laugh out of it, mostly because of the way it was presented. Must everyone be so thin-skinned? I think it's healthy to take a joke at your own expense from time to time.
posted by epimorph at 2:14 AM on September 25, 2004


But you not-believing is not evidence of intellectual or moral superiority.

Except that, hmmmm, it sort of is. I'll let a better man than I explain:

"Isn’t belief-that-there-is-not-a-god as irrational, arrogant, etc., as belief-that-there-is-a-god? To which I say no for several reasons. First of all I do not believe-that-there-is-not-a-god. I don’t see what belief has got to do with it. I believe or don’t believe my four-year old daughter when she tells me that she didn’t make that mess on the floor. I believe in justice and fair play (though I don’t know exactly how we achieve them, other than by continually trying against all possible odds of success). I also believe that England should enter the European Monetary Union. I am not remotely enough of an economist to argue the issue vigorously with someone who is, but what little I do know, reinforced with a hefty dollop of gut feeling, strongly suggests to me that it’s the right course. I could very easily turn out to be wrong, and I know that. These seem to me to be legitimate uses for the word believe. As a carapace for the protection of irrational notions from legitimate questions, however, I think that the word has a lot of mischief to answer for. So, I do not believe-that-there-is-no-god. I am, however, convinced that there is no god, which is a totally different stance and takes me on to my second reason.

"I don’t accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me “Well, you haven’t been there, have you? You haven’t seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally valid” - then I can’t even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation we’d got, and we’ve now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I don’t think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I don’t think the matter calls for even-handedness at all."

I completely agree with Mr Adams. I'm not saying that people who are religious are more stupid, but I do wish that, when entering this sort of discussion, the religious would be prepared to admit that when discussing their faith they are completely suspending rational thinking. Plenty are prepared to make this admission: it is called faith, after all, and if there was some sort of conclusive proof that God existed, it would all be very easy.

But - to the logical thinker, atheism is not a "choice" to be made - it is the only option because it is point-blank ludicrous to believe that something exists when there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
posted by nthdegx at 2:51 AM on September 25, 2004


Why is it that God can't defend himself in these posts? Why is it left up to people like eustacescrubb to make the whiny complaint in metatalk? And don't tell me its because God doesn't have a mefi account. I'm sure Matt could arrange a special one just for Him.

Of course, that would probably open the floodgate for every twobit god and their friends wanting an account. Then threads would be full of stuff like Auchimalgen bitchin about how she is such a great protector of mankind and Quatzequatl would be flappin around like a nutcase. And we can all do without Sekhmet screwing up otherwise an otherwise sensible thread.
posted by Meridian at 2:59 AM on September 25, 2004


Thank God (!!) you avoided this argument (again) by creating this thread. Your foresight in this matter is impressive. Perhaps this metatalk thread will, as the last one did, eclipse the three-hundred comment barrier. We can only hope.
posted by The God Complex at 3:13 AM on September 25, 2004


THE OFFICIAL GOD FAQ

Question: “Is there a God?”

Answer: “Searched pages from metafilter.com for " god ". Results 1 - 10 of about 865.

Conclusion? It seems like what we've been hearing is true, after all - God is all around us!
posted by taz at 3:28 AM on September 25, 2004


I find it interesting that everyone's centering around the ideas that belief in God = Christinaity and that religion = Christianity, when I never mentioned Christianity. That also suggests a chip on the shoulder.

eustacescrubb - you can't simultaneously condemn the post, claim to respect the opinion it represents, and then demand respect in return. At that point, intolerance of people who Believe pretty much *is* reciprocity.

That's only true if the post, the joke to which it links, and the fact that some people don't believe in God are all the same thing. They're not. The post is crap; the joke is worn and dumb; but that people don't believe in God is understandable, and I can respect their not-believing.

nthdegx, is that Douglas Adams? Most of what Adams has to say about religion is usually funny and wise, but the bit you quoted doesn't prove that non-religious people are more intellectual or moral. It just proves Douglas Adams has an opinion one way about that.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:40 AM on September 25, 2004


The civilized reaction to the original post would be to chuckle, shake your head if you're so inclined, and move on.

The fact that it's erupted into two threads is, well, sad. And shows a lot of people have a lot of insecurity.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:53 AM on September 25, 2004


In related news what's the BBC's loss is bittorrent's gain.
posted by Blue Stone at 5:05 AM on September 25, 2004


True believers, theist or atheist, creep me out

They're all closet agnostics anyway.

A++++++ WOULD DEFINITELY BUY THIS FPP AGAIN

Larf owt lowd! :-) I might steal that one for a future thread.

you know, once you deBligh the new testament, all jesus really said at the last supper was "eat me".

Now, I'm definitely going to use "deBligh" as a substitute verb for "truncate" from now on. Nice one quonsar, you truly can be funny sometimes. You get two smileys from me :-) :-)
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:36 AM on September 25, 2004


A lot of people who don't believe in a god simply don't give a shit... It's nothing personal.

That may be, but it's irrelevant to this discussion. To a lot of people on MeFi, it clearly is personal; they can't let a mention of religion pass without ladling on another heaping pile of their best "wit" and/or vilification (yeah, religious people are so dumb! and immoral too!!). I applaud your attempt to bring some tolerance to these discussions, eustacescrubb, but it was doomed (which is why I didn't make this MeTa post myself). The nonbelievers around here are (by and large) so smug, so certain of their rightness and superiority, that they have no interest in even pretending to be polite about it.

Or, what EB and y2karl said.

I wonder what this place would be like if Matt were a religious type? Not that he's in any way responsible for the assholery, just curious as to what would happen if it were him calling out the boring attacks on people who believe and their beliefs.
posted by languagehat at 7:14 AM on September 25, 2004


you know, once you deBligh the new testament, all jesus really said at the last supper was "eat me".

brilliant
I'm still laughing
I heart the q
posted by mr.marx at 7:20 AM on September 25, 2004


I give theists the same respect I give Flat Earthers or babbling psychotics, and for the exact same reason.

You can argue all you want, Eustace, but people who continue to believe in fairy tales after they reach adulthood will be ridiculed mercilessly.
posted by mischief at 7:38 AM on September 25, 2004


you know, you're all a bunch of idiots.

except for those that made me laugh. kudos.
posted by Stynxno at 8:35 AM on September 25, 2004


"you're all a bunch of idiots"

Well, of course! This is just a website after all.
posted by mischief at 8:46 AM on September 25, 2004


Y'know, I've actually met a few religious types that have a sense of humour. But not here...
posted by i_cola at 9:42 AM on September 25, 2004


weston: if you don't recognize the truth of "cannabilistic death cult," then you have a limited understanding of Christianity.

The very core of the Christian ritual is focused entirely on the death of a god and the consumption of his human flesh. While all their other rituals and trappings and teaching might vary, they all agree to chow down on a god.

It's a tough fact.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:23 AM on September 25, 2004


jim bob - Religious types would have a much greater impact in anti-religious threads if they learnt to let go of that pathetic "Atheism is a religion too! Science is faith too!" argument and instead provided positive reasons why they believe what they do.

1) it's useless to parade "positive reasons" before people who will only mock them as irrational, "dumb" and "not as big a waste of time as video games"

2) it's not a pathetic argument if it hasn't been refuted

3) it's also not a pathetic argument if it shows the closed-mindedness of those who argue against it ... and it did
posted by pyramid termite at 10:31 AM on September 25, 2004


The nonbelievers around here are (by and large) so smug, so certain of their rightness and superiority, that they have no interest in even pretending to be polite about it.

So true. I might even enjoy getting into it with them, since it's a fun topic. But anyone so pig-headed about their views on the subject (in either camp) doesn't deserve the time of day. Anyone who prances around announcing that they've got it all figured out and it should be - DUH - obvious to you too, is, plainly, an asshole. That is, either they're world-class philosophers and physicists with published studies or writings that thoroughly treat the subject, or they're just more assholes who believe what they read and insist you should believe it too (sound familiar?).

And I think eustacescrubb has raised one point that's been totally ignored: mainly that a rude, rabid, mean anti-religion person - far from having a monopoly on Truth - is probably compensating for something from his/her own childhood. Spankings at Catholic school. I don't know.
posted by scarabic at 10:31 AM on September 25, 2004


I try to be respectful of people's beliefs. I think life can be pretty rough, and if you found something that gives you meaning or whatever, then good for you.

Still, I find it pretty hard to believe that everybody who is calling into question the smugness of the non-believers would give equal consideration to the guy on the corner yelling about how the government is using alien technology to control his thoughts. I somehow suspect that most (though not all) people would tend to think of that guy as delusional and possibly dangerous, and they'd try to stay well away from him.

It would be a pretty rare person who would say well, his views and beliefs seem as likely as mine and at the end of a day, it's all just a leap of faith.
posted by willnot at 10:56 AM on September 25, 2004


you know, once you deBligh the new testament, all jesus really said at the last supper was "eat me".

Ah. So: once you've applied a ridiculous degree of selective reductionism to something, you've got a small kernel of the easily-mocked?

I hear some folks call this "biting wit". It sure seems to work for Karl Rove.
posted by namespan at 11:51 AM on September 25, 2004


Hehehe. I love this place.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:54 AM on September 25, 2004


It's not all relative, and I think it's more rational and supportable to not believe in the existence of a God than it is to believe. But there's no reason to be an asshole about it.

Besides which, the overwhelming majority of human beings on the planet today and who have ever lived, as far as we know, are/were theists or animists. It's not at all like there's that one crazy person on the street corner, it's closer to we one rational person on the street corner surrounded by crazies.

Or so we think. But that's what the crazy guy thinks, to.

The arrogance of being dismissive, intolerant, smug, superior, etc. about theisms and theists is astonishing. It's equivalent to saying that 99% of everyone, everywhere, are crazy and freaking idiots. Which, I realize, some (or many) of you believe. But if went around proclaiming that loudly, I think you'd hardly be surprised to find that it pissed people off. Knowing that you're "right" may be some comfort, but it's cold comfort, I'm sure.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2004


I understand that religion is beyond rational debate. It's largely based on faith-regardless-of-evidence, and hence cannot be refuted using logical argument. But it's fun to debate it anyway.

It's equivalent to saying that 99% of everyone, everywhere, are crazy and freaking idiots.
I wouldn't say that at all. Almost all of them are simply mislead. But, certainly, a lot of them believe I'm going to burn forever, and I take offence to that. No-one has the right to talk to little old non-violent me about tolerance, while their holy book proclaims that fact.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2004


But, certainly, a lot of them believe I'm going to burn forever, and I take offence to that.

Why? They believe that about me, and it doesn't bother me in the least because it's not true.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2004


Still, I find it pretty hard to believe that everybody who is calling into question the smugness of the non-believers would give equal consideration to the guy on the corner yelling about how the government is using alien technology to control his thoughts.

But what if because of this belief, the fellow began being nicer to others, and started donating his time to charity, and worked really hard at becoming more helathy, emotionally and socially? See, I think we're more likely to judge alternative viewpoints based not on the viewpoint, but on the pragmatic effect it has on the world. William James argued that conversion might have physiological roots, but that even if this is so, the final judgement ought to be based on the results of the conversion on a case-by-case basis.

"Immediate luminousness, in short, philosophical reasonableness and moral helpfulness are the only available criteria. Saint Teresa might have had the nervous system of the placidest cow, and it would not now save her theology, if the trial of the theology by these other tests should show it to be contemptible. And conversely if her theology can stand these other tests, it will make no difference how hysterical or nervously off balance Saint Teresa may have been when she was with us here below." (from The Varieties of Religous Experience)

"These other tests" are pragmatic ones like "does her theology make her behave better or worse?"

I've known plenty of Christian, Buddhist and Muslim asshats, people for whom conversion was bad because it made them behave badly. I've known just as many people for whom conversion saved thier lives, or has been the catalyst for great improvement in thier lives.
The reason we might judge the crazy guy in willnot's argument crazy has more to do with his beliefs' effect on his ability to function in society than it does on the content of his beliefs. For an example of this, visit the thread about the Muslim convert who wanted to wear a burka while palying basketball. Most people's objections have to do with the fact that her faith causes her to want to deviate from normative practice, and not about the content of the faith itself.


It's largely based on faith-regardless-of-evidence, and hence cannot be refuted using logical argument.

Just because you keep repeating this doesn't mean it'll suddenly become true. The fact that you think religious discourse doesn't make use of reason shows you don't understand religion; that you think science doesn't require a priori assumptions that are as strict as any religious doctrine demonstrates that you don't really understand science either.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2004


Yes, it bothers me. It doesn't bother you because you've accepted and got used to it. If everyone believed you were going to die in a freak yachting accident tomorrow, that would piss you off.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:13 PM on September 25, 2004


God Bless Us, Every One.
posted by jonmc at 12:16 PM on September 25, 2004


But you and I believe something about them that is, for them, the equivalent. We believe that their lives are completely meaningless, a waste of time. (By their reasoning and instinct, not mine or yours. I certainly don't think that. Of course, I suppose I do think that a little bit if someone is living their life completely in accordance with the expectation of an afterlife that I think won't happen, especially if the way they are living their life doesn't make them or other people any happier or the world a better place.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2004


No-one has the right to talk to little old non-violent me about tolerance, while their holy book proclaims that fact.

And: this straw man (who here has suggested you're going burn in hell?) is another example of the fact that even though no one here is arguing a case for Christianity, you keep responding as if you were arguing with a fundy Christian - suggesting that you do indeed have a chip on your shoulder. Perhaps instead of posting sub-par flame bait to MeFi, you should resolve your issues with whatever fundies have done you wrong and leave us non-fundies in peace.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:19 PM on September 25, 2004


I guess my point is that people everywhere are pretty much offended by other people's differing beliefs, even if they say that it's not the beliefs but the actions that offend them. And yet they always assume that their own beliefs don't, can't, or shouldn't give anyone else offense.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:22 PM on September 25, 2004


I didn't mention Christianity, you did. Plenty of religious works say unbelievers go to hell, you know. And regardless of whether you're a fundamentalist or not, when you say that your holy text is the truth, you're accepting that fact.

But anyway, regarding the faith-without-question element, to take Christianity as an example,
Mat 4:7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

To take Islam as an example,
Ch. 5 O you who believe! do not put questions about things which if declared to you may trouble you
A people before you indeed asked such questions, and then became disbelievers on account of them.


etc etc

Science is an attempt to find the truth by questioning, and religion is usually an attempt to hold on to a certain truth by avoiding questioning.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:33 PM on September 25, 2004


Drop the supernatural trappings of religion so that it becomes a philoophy and then we'll talk. As long as theists deify space aliens (or the equivalent) though, I will laugh.
posted by mischief at 12:38 PM on September 25, 2004


^s^
posted by mischief at 12:39 PM on September 25, 2004


Funny how people feel so comfortably defined by "-ists" and "-isms" when they ultimatly cannot know what they are talking about. Does God exist? We can't answer the question. We can't even ask the question in a way that makes any sense. What do we mean by God? Or by exist? Who are we asking this question to and what do we expect to be a proper answer? Some things in the universe are empirical and available to our sense. Other things happen within ourselves and can only be represented, but not reproduced. They both have their place no matter which "-ist" you are or "-ism" you believe.

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:49 PM on September 25, 2004


Drop the supernatural trappings of religion so that it becomes a philoophy

It's been done, but if you insist on sending up snake handlers because you love employing the straw man tactic, laugh on.
posted by scarabic at 12:51 PM on September 25, 2004


Why do we have to drop the supernatural?

Now who's being myopic?

Pah. Science as dogma. :)
posted by Blue Stone at 12:52 PM on September 25, 2004


Good explanation, elwoodwiles, of why agnosticism is the "obvious" choice, if there is one, and atheism is going out on a limb (as is faith).
posted by scarabic at 12:53 PM on September 25, 2004


Now let's all join hands and sing "Down By The Riverside,"....
posted by jonmc at 12:56 PM on September 25, 2004


Stephen Jay Gould believed in God.

Admittedly true, but let's have a look at what he actually says about it.

here...
Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am—for I have become a major target of these practices.
...
I am both angry at and amused by the creationists; but mostly I am deeply sad. Sad for many reasons. Sad because so many people who respond to creationist appeals are troubled for the right reason, but venting their anger at the wrong target. It is true that scientists have often been dogmatic and elitist. It is true that we have often allowed the white-coated, advertising image to represent us—"Scientists say that Brand X cures bunions ten times faster than…" We have not fought it adequately because we derive benefits from appearing as a new priesthood. It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all these grounds. But the culprit is not, and cannot be, evolution or any other fact of the natural world. Identify and fight our legitimate enemies by all means, but we are not among them.

... and here
Why get excited over this latest episode in the long, sad history of American anti-intellectualism? Let me suggest that, as patriotic Americans, we should cringe in embarrassment that, at the dawn of a new, technological millennium, a jurisdiction in our heartland has opted to suppress one of the greatest triumphs of human discovery. Evolution is not a peripheral subject but the central organizing principle of all biological science. No one who has not read the Bible or the Bard can be considered educated in Western traditions; so no one ignorant of evolution can understand science.

Newton believed in God.

He was a unitarian, he also found fault with some of the major tenets of organized religion, for example the trinity.

Let them make good sense of it who are able. For my part, I can make none. If it be said that we are not to determine what is Scripture what not by our private judgments, I confess it in places not controverted, but in disputed places I love to take up with what I can best understand. It is the temper of the hot and superstitious art of mankind in matters of religion ever to be fond of mysteries, and for that reason to like best what they understand least. Such men may use the Apostle John as they please, but I have that honour for him as to believe that he wrote good sense and therefore take that to be his which is the best.

Those two examples would probably not pass the declaration of faith in modern dogmatic churches of the US, or any of the organizations that lobby for political changes in their name. They both have a personal faith that does not require them to force their views on others. If that's Christianity then fine, but that's not how it seems from what I see of any number of public issues and organized religions' responses to them.
posted by milovoo at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2004


Those two examples would probably not pass the declaration of faith in modern dogmatic churches of the US, or any of the organizations that lobby for political changes in their name.

Neither would I, probably. So what?
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2004


Well, there's the obvious answer, that between fundamentalism and complete atheism there exists a lot of middle ground, where probably many people stand.
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on September 25, 2004


weston: if you don't recognize the truth of "cannabilistic death cult," then you have a limited understanding of Christianity.

This would make a tidy rebutal if I were questioning your phrasing "cannabilistic death cult," and despite the fact the phrase is (a) loaded and somewhat deceptive and (b) denominationally incorrect in some cases, I'm not arguing those points becuase the core of truth at its heart is correct.

What I did say was probably better said in namespan's comment: there is so much more to Christianity that this characterization is a ridiculous reduction, and if that's the limits of your understanding of Christianity or religion, then you literally do not know of what you speak. Or do you honestly think you've effectively summarized Christianity in the phrase "cannabilistic death cult"? This reminds me quite a bit of people who, when I was getting my Math degree, asked "What are you going to do with that -- accounting?"

One can come to a conclusion about God and religion based on the force of rationalist arguments, but just because you've done so doesn't mean you actually understand the various religious animals that those arguments would apparently (perhaps even ostensibly) nullify. I don't think that means that you owe anybody a study of their religious beliefs, but it would be at least civil to not assume you really understand (much less mock) those beliefs and why they've come about until you've done some serious time exploring them from a non-hostile standpoint.

And, by the way, I can actually appreciate the phrase "cannabilistic death cult" because like most funny shading, it can bring certain details into relief, but *these* parts of your statements of Christianity:

Why, where would we be without people believing that everyone else is going hell, that the end of th eworld is a good thing because it puts us closer to heaven, and that it really doesn't matter what harm our actions cause, just so long as we're sincerely regretful about it afterward.

are just plain wrong. Both from you and the fundies. : )
posted by weston at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2004


Well, yeah, I'm an agnostic, in the same way I'm agnostic about whether my fridge is the rightful king of Swaziland. There comes a time when the weight of evidence is such that you can effectively say something isn't true, even if you can't mathematically prove it isn't.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:15 PM on September 25, 2004 [1 favorite]


If everyone believed you were going to die in a freak yachting accident tomorrow, that would piss you off.

that doesn't bother me as much as the fact that they perpetually flock around me with flotation devices and offers of discount swim lessons at the Y.
posted by quonsar at 1:33 PM on September 25, 2004


But anyway, regarding the faith-without-question element, to take Christianity as an example,
Mat 4:7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"


Interesting that, in this story, Satan is trying to persuade Jesus to sin by using passsages from the Bible taken out of context. Interesting because you've taken this one out of context. "Test" here doesn't mean "ask questions of" but something closer to "exasperate".

Satan has suggested that Jesus attempt suicide to see if the angels will really catch him if he falls. Satan is taking a passage from Pslams (a book of liturigies and poems) literally, an interpretation Jesus considers invalid.
Rather than debate hermenuitcs with Satan, Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy, which literally says "Do not put the Lord to the test as you did at Massah." What happened at Massah was that God had sent Moses to lead the Israelites from slavery. Upon doing that, the Israelites began to bitch about the hardships of freedom (having to find their own water, in this case). God gets irritated with them for putting him "to the test." In short, the passage in no way means what you claim it means. My knowledge of the Qu'ran isn't as solid as my knowledge of the Bible (something I'm working to change, btw), but I'm going to do a little scientific reasoning here and say it's reasonable to assume that since you've been talking out of your ass for the whole discussion, and that you're talking out of your ass w/r/t to the Bible passage, that the flatulent sounds that fill this thread are you talking out of your ass regarding the passage from the Qu'ran.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:38 PM on September 25, 2004


None of you can prove anything. Somehow, I find that the most satisfying answer of all.
posted by dame at 1:44 PM on September 25, 2004


There comes a time when the weight of evidence is such that you can effectively say something isn't true, even if you can't mathematically prove it isn't.

Since the only "weight of evidence" that makes sense here is equivalent to "things that can be explained without the need for God," how would you comment on the ratio of things you know and/or can explain to the ratio of things you (yet?) don't know and/or can't explain?
posted by Krrrlson at 2:00 PM on September 25, 2004


So this god...
posted by Eamon at 2:46 PM on September 25, 2004


Ok, ok, one second. eustacescrubb, are you seriously and honestly saying that religious faith always requires evidence? And that religious people attempt to find contradictions to their beliefs in the same way people using the scientific method do? That's what you seem to be saying. I mean, please, if you're saying that, go ahead and say it explicitly.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:10 PM on September 25, 2004


Krrrlson - Sorry, I don't understand the question.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2004


So this god... it transsubstantiates?
posted by boaz at 3:15 PM on September 25, 2004


P_G - if I assumed correctly, you were making the point that it doesn't make sense to believe in a God when all that we observe can be explained without one. I grant you that if, one day, humanity learns all there is to know and can explain it fully, that circumstance can be taken as substantial evidence, though not proof, that there is no God. Today, however, for all we have learned we know next to nothing. Isn't it somewhat presumptuous to refer to that as a "weight of evidence?"
posted by Krrrlson at 3:29 PM on September 25, 2004


weston: *these* parts of your statements of Christianity: [snip] are just plain wrong. Both from you and the fundies. : )

Our social systems are almost all based on eons of religious belief and practice. Religion has been used as the foundation and justification for almost every aspect of our collective behaviour. From the subjugation of women to the pursuit of greed, to the bloodshed of endless warfaring, the history of human behaviour is informed by religion.

We could have a world where our abundant resources are used in a manner which sustainably benefits everyone.

Instead, we have a world where a greedy few live well based on the deprivation of others, and that is due in very large part to religious belief systems.

Religion is a great method of raising one's own self up from the muck. On a personal level, it can be a Very Good Thing.

Religion is even better, though, at destroying others. On a social level, it has consistently proven itself a Very Bad Thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2004


When God sneezes, what do the angels say?
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:53 PM on September 25, 2004


It's equivalent to saying that 99% of everyone, everywhere, are crazy and freaking idiots. Which, I realize, some (or many) of you believe.

EB: Don't you believe that every (completely) human being born since the first one is an irrational, imperfect entity? Regardless of religion or the existence of God this is demonstrably true.

IAC, from my observations, almost everyone takes their view of religion and God from their parents and other early in life influencers, with very few taking the time to re-evaluate as an adult. In my own case I see this very strongly and, despite my complete belief that no human ever born understands or has expressed anything close to the true nature of how the Universe came into existence, I still occasionally use the G word.

Further, religion seems to hold us back, as a group, from true social evolution. Despite whatever good individuals may derive from their beliefs. Crusaders vs. Islamisists, anyone?

On preview: what fff said!
posted by billsaysthis at 3:54 PM on September 25, 2004


Instead, we have a world where a greedy few live well based on the deprivation of others, and that is due in very large part to religious belief systems.

religious texts have often condemned the greedy and those who deprived others ... would you care to back up this absurd statement with quotes from the bible that back it up?

i was going to drop this discussion, but i can't let a ridiculous statement like this stay uncontested

elwoodwiles ... "get your umbrellas out!"
posted by pyramid termite at 4:06 PM on September 25, 2004


OK, I'll try and explain what I mean.

I don't believe there is a god. I treat the word "god" as meaning a sentient being who can interact with the universe using powers one would regard as supernatural, and who at least partially treats us based on the way we behave. People these days use the word to mean "nature", "physics" or "the universe" - I'm not of course arguing against the existence of those things.

It is intensely obvious to me that the universe is not designed by choice, by a sentient being who thinks in a similar way to you or me. An obvious reason is the cruelty of evolution, and mutation. Humans (and animals) are frequently born in terrible pain, to die shortly after birth. A sentient person, who it would be beneficial for me to worship, would not choose to occasionally and randomly do this. The reason this occurs is because the laws of physics allow it to occur. The laws of physics are not based on human morality, and they don't treat people depending on their behavior. They are not sentient.

Can I definatively say that, external to our universe, there is not a sentient creator, who put the laws of physics into play? No, I can't. I can, however, say with total certainty that he does not interact with the universe, at least not in a sentient manner, and thus I can say that we can have no evidence that he exists, and can have no reason to worship him. We would be well advised not to waste our time.

I base these beliefs on, amongst other things, the fact that I have never experienced him directly; or indirectly; that all supernatural events said to be caused by him can be explained by physics; or occured too long ago to be studied or recorded in any reliable way; the myriad contradictory faiths that come and go throughout history, and the obvious and understandable psychological reasons for the existance of those faiths; the fact that the vast and hostile emptiness of space with the occasional dead rock orbiting a burning ball of gas is clearly not an environment designed with living things foremost in the creator's mind; the fact that Bad Things happen to Good People; and to People Who Don't Even Have The Opportunity To Process Information Whether For Good Or Ill; the fact that there is no statistical tendency for prayer to cure disease; or to ensure wellbeing; or to ensure anything; the fact that man is clearly a product of evolution not intelligent design; the fact that every holy book affirming a creator's existence makes statements that have been contradicted by scientific discovery; etcetera

Can I definitively say that death is the end, and that there is no afterlife that we can be punished or rewarded in? Yes, I can. I can because science has shown us how our ablities and behavior are based on the configuration of molecules in our brains, not on some conceptual "soul". We are defined by our matter. When the matter is destroyed, we are destroyed. For a soul to "be" us, allowing us to live after death, it would have to be a copy of our matter at the point of death.

Let's say a person has a car crash, and loses their sense of smell, because the molecules in the part of their brain that allow that sense are dislodged. Is a copy of that sense-of-smell area of the brain made at the point of impact, and encoded in soul-form? Does it float around in heaven sniffing things, waiting for the rest of its host so he can once again smell the heavenly roses? If that seems unlikely, it is equally unlikely that each part of a brain is encoded into the soul as a bullet passes through it. The human body isn't a binary on/off machine, and death is gradual, and so a soul would have to be encoded gradually, each part of the brain and spinal cord being recorded just prior to destruction. A soul-making event would have to be a very magical thing indeed. Especially since it gives off no heat or light or any evidence of its existence at all.

Sorry, I need to stop typing, I have things to do.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:17 PM on September 25, 2004


"It's been done"

If the supernatural has indeed been dropped from religion, then why do they continue to believe in a god?
posted by mischief at 4:28 PM on September 25, 2004


Well, in a sense I do think that almost all people are crazy and freaking idiots. And I think that the theists are wrong, and (for the most part) irrationally wrong. But being "crazy" and a "freaking idiot" is really relative. If most people are these things, then as an insult, or reproach, or whatever, it's exactly useless to say so.

I have to live with all these crazy people. And, anyway, I know a bunch of them and, other than this belief I don't share, they don't seem to be crazy or freaking idiots. Not anymore than anyone else, including me.

Okay? I'm pretty much a life-long atheist and even though I'm technically an agnostic (as discussed in the other thread), as a practical matter I'm 100% atheist and I have no doubt, none whatsoever as a practical matter, that neither a God nor an afterlife exists. My beliefs are very strong about this, they're examined and reexamined and also (unlike quite a few atheists) exist in the context of a great deal of knowledge and experience with theism. Also, I grew up in the Bible belt where there was a fundy church on every corner and the high school prom was a yearly controversy (because of the dancing). If anyone would be anti-religious, it'd be me. And, probably when I was a lot younger, I was to a degree. And a lot of things theists believe to me seem to be self-evidently nonsense.

But then, so many people believe in so many things that I think are self-evident nonsense. I'm a true-blooded skeptic. To me, most people believe all this crazy stuff. People aren't rational. Now, I like to think that I'm rational, and I think that probably I am more rational than most, but I no longer have much confidence that there's really that much different between me and all these people that believe all these things that I think are crazy. I don't think I'm that different, really.

But finally, I don't let it bother me that almost everyone seems to be crazy people beleiving crazy things because, well, everyone seems to be crazy people believing crazy things. What's the point in being upset about it? It's not going to change. I might influence a person here or there to be more rational or whatever, but the world is going to continue to be a crazy place.

And the bottom line is that, unlike perhaps many other people, ultimately I like most of these crazy people. In the grand scheme of things, there are worse things people can be and things they can do. I use my energy speaking out against the crazy things people do in the name of religion, not religion. Because, frankly, they'd do these same things in the name of something else if religion wasn't there to be an excuse. Religion isn't the problem.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:33 PM on September 25, 2004


ARGH LONG POSTS
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:40 PM on September 25, 2004


Well, in a sense I do think that almost all people are crazy and freaking idiots.

Except you, of course?
posted by jonmc at 4:44 PM on September 25, 2004


pretty generic ... i've decided to disbelieve in britney spears because i don't like her records ... if she did exist, she wouldn't subject me to such pain

ethereal bligh ... true ... people will use anything to justify what they really want to do anyway ... including religion, the scientific method and what they heard in the bar last night
posted by pyramid termite at 4:47 PM on September 25, 2004


Can I definitively say that death is the end....... Yes, I can.
No you can't, fool. Take 20 hits of acid and call me in the morning.
posted by JohnR at 4:49 PM on September 25, 2004


"you love employing the straw man tactic"

Damn, I missed this line. Anyway, straw man tactic? No tactic at all, actually. I stopped participating in this argument decades ago. Now, I just use this as an opportunity to take potshots at the faithful.

You should note as well that I never start religious discussions; I only respond to theists. Keeping their beliefs to themselves is religion; any public display of those beliefs is politics.

Anyway, back to the interdimensional voyager war... ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:59 PM on September 25, 2004


*gives god the finger*

suck it!
posted by bargle at 5:00 PM on September 25, 2004


jonmc, read six sentences further.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:09 PM on September 25, 2004


pyramid termite, if people acting in the name of jesus actually paid attention to what the man said far fewer people would take issue with them. But they don't, and we do.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:12 PM on September 25, 2004


There's a lot roiling around in here, but one thing I'm noticing is that people have a problem with theists not necessarily theism and they like to discredit the idea of god by making fun of religious people. One of the reasons this debate sucks is that people are just taking shots at each other, not discussing ideas.

It's true that people have been burned at the stake for the sake of religion, but casting the entire concept of faith out the window because of the way some other people have practiced it is akin to throwing out the concept of science because it turned out heat isn't a liquid after all.
posted by scarabic at 5:25 PM on September 25, 2004


P_G - so in other words, you do not believe in a sentient, kind deity, whose actions you understand and whose morality is similar to yours. You find that religious texts, religious practice, and various religious nuts have failed to prove his existence to you. You do not believe that a soul can be the exact replica of a human being, or that we will continue to exist after death in the form of such precise ethereal replicas.

Fair enough. But is it enough to make your fridge the sovereign of Swaziland? I doubt it. Your conviction is rooted in the assumptions that you know what God should be like, that you can understand his actions, that you can directly observe his interactions with the universe. And as for explaining things away, consider how little you know about everything from the workings of the universe to the workings of your own mind. It's fine that you wish to make a conclusion based on what seems right to you, my aim is not to convert anybody to anything. But to claim it as intensely obvious and definitive... eh. I find that unconvincing.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:45 PM on September 25, 2004


It's true that people have been burned at the stake for the sake of religion, but casting the entire concept of faith out the window because of the way some other people have practiced it is akin to throwing out the concept of science because it turned out heat isn't a liquid after all

Woah theah, massa scarabic! Your comparison is so loose I'm getting wet in Mountain View from the Jeanne rainstorms! Some other people? This is my biggest complaint about religionists: They make arguments that fail logical analysis at every level.

The idea of god. Hmm, how do we discuss an entity about which none of us have directly observed experience other than the simple fact of our common existence?

krrrlson: your conception of reality is so different from mine I wonder how we can ever have intelligent discourse. Your second paragraph makes a terrific argument in favor of what most, for lack of a better term, non-religionists would say is our number one desire: keeping those beliefs out of public policy and law. Sadly, that isn't how our legislatures are behaving. Can you make a few phone calls?
posted by billsaysthis at 5:56 PM on September 25, 2004


Er, I agree with you on the idea that religion should be kept as far from government as possible, but as for that conception of reality and intelligent discourse business - what the hell are you talking about?

In case it's not clear, by the way, I was talking about personal spirituality rather than a particular organized religion, and, coincidentally, scarabic's analogy seems pretty reasonable to me in that context.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:16 PM on September 25, 2004


termite: I can't let a ridiculous statement like this stay uncontested.

Oh, come now! Don't make yourself a fool. One common theme to the world religions is that the higher up the ecclesiastical chain, the wealthier the priest; and the bigger the religious organization, the wealthier it is.

The Pope is a multibillion dollar enterprise. Sun Myung Moon lives a life of luxury. The bleeding Dalai Lama is far wealthier than you. Jimmy Swaggert has fortunes. Scientology is all about concentration of wealth.

The various holy books say all sorts of things about wealth and charity.

The actions of the religious elite, on the other hand, speak a whole other language.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:38 PM on September 25, 2004


There's something lovely about the sentiment expressed in "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." until you realize that people are far, far wealthier today than in Jesus' time. One hopes God corrects for inflation.
posted by boaz at 7:06 PM on September 25, 2004


I get really tired of reading the uninformed, bigoted opinions of anti-religion types with chips on their shoulders.

Please tell me who is holding the gun to your head and I shall ask them to remove it. Clearly you are no different from the Falwells of the world who would like nothing better than to shut up anyone and everyone who says something they don't want to hear. Your comments in that thread were shallow and provoking, but you don't hear me asking you to shut up and go away. However much I might be wishing it in my head, I know that that's a line that it's wrong to cross.
posted by rushmc at 7:28 PM on September 25, 2004


fff - so, you've made the astonishing discovery that what religious leaders do is different than what a religious belief system says ... and of course people who follow the scientific method and/or atheistic ideologies such as communism show a similar willingness to exploit their fellow man for money

hmmm ... maybe it really doesn't have anything to do with what people believe but what they are ... possibly, just possibly, they'd be worse if not for the influence of religion? ... is it also possible that the problem isn't that people believed something, but they didn't act on those beliefs?

there are many religious leaders who don't amass fortune for themselves ... of course, you're not going to hear about them because they don't seek fame either
posted by pyramid termite at 7:39 PM on September 25, 2004


P.T., what's the point of (a specific) religion if the top people don't adhere to its own rules?
posted by billsaysthis at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2004


Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many people who have such bedrock beliefs in how a scientist work is actually one themselves?
posted by jmd82 at 8:50 PM on September 25, 2004


Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many people who have such bedrock beliefs on how God works are actually God themselves.
posted by boaz at 8:57 PM on September 25, 2004


The problem with the intention of this post, as with most religions, is that it wants to exercise censorship.

fff: Our social systems are almost all based on eons of religious belief and practice.

If I remember my Marx correctly, it is men who bulid social systems, religious beliefs, and practice. Would it be the other way around, would suggest a power of the supernatural.
posted by semmi at 9:04 PM on September 25, 2004


the point is what you can do for yourself and the world around you ... and how god can help you do that by giving you the strength and wisdom to ... and to be grateful for what you have, whatever that is ... and compassionate towards the people you know of, whoever they are

just out of curiousity, i wonder how many people who have such bedrock beliefs about anything are simply consoling themselves against the demands of faith and the pain of doubt ... which are closely related
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 PM on September 25, 2004


This doesn't even rise to the level of sophomoric. To the degree that there's even any arguments being waged in this, this, whatever it is, they're the most rudimentary arguments about metaphysics, epistemology, and religious belief. It's like a red tag sale at ClicheMart. And the worst thing is that it's the people I ostensibly agree with, the irreligionists and the atheists, that are the biggest fucking jerks in these two threads. I wish there actually were some Old Testament God that would strike some of you fuckers dead. You're making it embarassing to be an atheist. You know, you don't win the game if you become as big of an asshole as, say, Pat Robertson. You lose. Stop acting so much like the people you claim to hate.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:24 PM on September 25, 2004



just out of curiousity, i wonder how many people who have such bedrock beliefs about anything are simply consoling themselves against the demands of faith and the pain of doubt ... which are closely related


Wow, I'm sure no one has ever had this insight before. And I'm sure no one has ever quickly followed it with an insinuation about needing a crutch or a threat of punishment as motivation to be a good person.

These two threads now exist as a testament to the fact that someone got offended by a joke in which it was stated that god didn't exist. Whoever these people are, god, if he does exist, thinks you should stop worrying about him and straighten your priorities.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:39 PM on September 25, 2004


I wasn't trying to be as big of an asshole as Pat Robertson, but now I realize that even being as big an asshole as you is beyond my abilities. Here's a big fucking clue for you; it's all so cliché because it's been the exact same bullshit for 5000 years. Just erase Ra and write Zeus, erase Zeus and write YHWH, erase YHWH and write Jesus, erase Jesus and write L. Ron Fucking Hubbard. And the band plays on. Thank LRFH for those scientists so we at least have a good supply of new toys to play with while we're doing this.
posted by boaz at 9:39 PM on September 25, 2004


My previous post was of course directed to EB, not to the coolest one time Simpsons character ever.
posted by boaz at 9:53 PM on September 25, 2004


Atheism: Proof that you don't need a religious framework to be infallibly morally superior to everyone around you.
posted by darukaru at 9:55 PM on September 25, 2004


Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many people who have such bedrock beliefs on how God works are actually God themselves.

LOL
posted by rushmc at 10:21 PM on September 25, 2004


125.

The madman.— Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"— As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?— Thus they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried. "I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I! All of us are his murderers! But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? And backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition?—Gods, too, decompose! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives,—who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed,—and whoever is born after us, for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto!"— Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners: they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern to the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering—it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves!"— It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"
posted by joedan at 10:35 PM on September 25, 2004


Meta.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:52 PM on September 25, 2004


EB, are you saying that all these arguments are obvious? Well, um, no shit. Unfortunately, the only tool of those who use reason is just to repeat saying them. There really isn't anything else to say.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:12 AM on September 26, 2004


Obvious to us, I should say. The vast majority of people never think about them.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:16 AM on September 26, 2004


[This is God.]
posted by nthdegx at 4:12 AM on September 26, 2004


These two threads now exist as a testament to the fact that someone got offended by a joke in which it was stated that god didn't exist.

actually, no ... they exist as a testament to an insular and shallow subculture on the net that will grasp at any mediocrity ... like the god faq ... to continue its custom of cynical oneupmanship and self-referential gloating ... because "they" know the "truth" ... and can't stand that the rest of the ignorant world outside of their computer room refuses to see it ... if one of those classic cartoon villains who lament "i'm surrrounded by idiots" were to post here, he'd fit in seamlessly

mocking insights as something "no one has ever had before" and priding oneself on one's l33t mad rat10na1 sklllz are symptoms of this ... alone before their computer monitors, they can finally express their inflated "superiority" before the world ... without any reference to argument or accomplishment, which is so annoyingly required of them in the real world

oh, look ... "liberals want to ban the bible" ... it's time for our morning one minute hate and self-congratulate ... where would we be without people we could look down upon? ... that "vast majority of people who never think" about things ... who accept their "children's story" meekly and allow themselves to be spoon fed their thoughts ... unlike we, who not only have reason and originality on our side, but have miraculously managed to think many of the same things in the same way

i, for one, can't wait to observe the agitation of the goldfish in this bowl when bush gets re-elected ... not that i like bush ... but the shrill denials of reality and mourning over the "idiocy" of them should reach new heights on the metafilter wail and gnashometer ... thank god matt's given you a place where y'all can pump each other up

there's some real cards here ... in fact, we almost have the whole deck

those people like ethereal bligh who have actually attempted to respond thoughtfully are extempt from this, of course ... hmm ... interesting how many people call him a blowhard ... i wonder if his thoughtfulness and the mockery of him are related

time to shuffle the deck with another feel-good controversy of the day ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:25 AM on September 26, 2004


Seriously, pyramid termite, I find your capital-free constantly-triple-dotted writing style really grating. It's not a good way to get your points across.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:00 AM on September 26, 2004


This discussion should be better. But I'm not going to make it better by making it better. Instead I'm going to simply point out that it should be better. And in addition to pointing out that it should be better I'm going to ridicule those who are disappointing me by not making it better. But I am a nice guy - really - and I'm only trying to make the discussion better; not by making it better, perhaps, but by earnestly suggesting that it should be better. Better discussers have had this discussion, and they managed to have a better discussion. If we can't do as well, perhaps we'd be better off not having this discussion at all.

(All of this from a guy who sprinkled us with the astounding multi-paragraphed observation that even some johnnies have difficulty stripping their religious artifacts down to contextual hopsack. EB, really, you can do better. I wouldn't have said anything, but for some reason I'm feeling instructional - in a removed, facile, gilded kind of fairymaestro silvery way.)
posted by Opus Dark at 5:33 AM on September 26, 2004


actually, pyramid_termite, I was chastizing everyone who would take part in a pointless argument like this, but good job assuming that because I wasn't backing you up 100% that it was necessary to assume I was on the other side, and then insinuate something about living one's life alone behind the computer. Very mature of you.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:59 AM on September 26, 2004


This doesn't even rise to the level of sophomoric. To the degree that there's even any arguments being waged in this, this, whatever it is, they're the most rudimentary arguments about metaphysics, epistemology, and religious belief. It's like a red tag sale at ClicheMart.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Not that I disagree much. Just stirrin', son.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:06 AM on September 26, 2004


are you seriously and honestly saying that religious faith always requires evidence? And that religious people attempt to find contradictions to their beliefs in the same way people using the scientific method do?

P_G:

This is really two questions: 1. Do religions do these things scientists do (rely on evidence and self-test ideas and beliefs) and 2. Do they do them in the same way as scientists.
Answer to 1 is "yes"; answer to 2 is "no". Religions have a different methodology that sicence, but, as I've said in the other thread, science is not merely a method; it's a conversation between people who've agreed to set limitations on how they converse. Religion is as well, but the limitations set are different, because religion (when it's not overstepping its bounds) addresses different aspects of human life than science.

The two things scientists do, and whether religions do them:

1. About evidence: a. Many religions involve a "conversion experience" which involves a direct, but subjective and idiosyncratic encounter with the divine. b. Many also usually have a conversion ritual during which outward signs are displayed for the community that are supposed to both symboloize and facilitate that connection. c. Most religions include a "tree will be judged by its fruit" principle - a person is known to be encountering the divine if the divine is having an effect on them.

2. About self-testing: Most religious texts stress how little the individual believer knows and can know. The Bible talks about knowing only in part, and seeing as through a glass darkly. Jesus told parables whose prupose was to force people to think differently - he was part of the tradition of "wisdom" teachers who told befuddling tales that oftenc ontained paradoxes, wehich remind the individual of the limits of their own knowledge. Buddhism tends to do a similar thing with koans and parables. Taoism speaks of the fact that the Tao that can be explained is not the true Tao. All of this is supposed to encourage the individual to set aside preconceptions and be open to new ways of seeing.
Yes, yes, many adherants to religions don't pay attention to this stuff; but that's beside the point, which leads me to five fresh fish's objections.
Most religions deal with mystery - the mystery of the divine and the mystery of being human. It's true that as science progresses, many exterior mysteries (how did life get to be so diverse? why do things go down instead of up when you drop them? why do i breathe?) cease being mysteries, and any institution too old will resist that change in understanding (as the Roman Catholic Church did and has done a lot). But that's less because religion tends toward rigidity and dogmatism and more because institutions do. Most people are content to attach themselves to a dogma, which is usually a compacted, flattened generalization of a genuinely powerful truth, rather than to test the limits of the dogma and refine to it greater accuracy, or to ditch it if it doesn't work. This is jsut as true of science as it is with religion though.
Kuhn points out that the rigidty that institutions foster is a good thing so long as the idea in question is still the best explanation/prediction of phenomenon X. Science is often well-served by the dogmatism of scientists (who resist change - for example, Einstein's refutation of Newtonian physics was not unversally or warmly recieved at first. And there were bitter debates bewteen defenders of phlogiston and that newfangled "oxygen theory". ) This rigidity is useful because it allows people to quit asking, over and over "is this the best explanation?" and lets them get on with trying to make the explanation describe reality.
Religious conversations work similarly. Theology changes over the centuries as the prevailing understanding of God quits being a good explanation (Karen Armstrong's A History of God demonstrates this fairly well).

As for the whole business of how institutions use religion to further evil ends, the same can and has been said of science. Religion was used to bolster arguments for slavery, but so was Darwinism. The fact of the matter is that evil and greedy people will use anything to support thier greed, religion or science. Right now, the Bush administration is using dysfunctional religion, dysfunctional economics, and dysfunctional science to further its goals of making life easier and more fun for the extremely wealthy.
The Nazis used an extremist strain of Catholicism (coupled with extremist right-wing politics) to get people fearing and hating Jews, and then they used advanced science to devise clever new ways of torturing and killing them.

The point being that science can be and has been misused by the powerful and greedy, and so has religion. This is an indictment of the greedy and powerful, not of science or religion.

Please tell me who is holding the gun to your head and I shall ask them to remove it.

rushmc, this is almost a good point; Space Coyote made it earlier. But the "free market of ideas" argument only works if you're the person whose ox is not being gored, and it only works if you ignore what my complaint was - it was twofold - the first complaint being that I didn't like how the comments in the thread were developing, and second because the FPP itself was one-dimensional and shallow. In short, your snark doesn't actually apply to my complaint.

As for the other stuff you wrote: WTF? I kep saying "it's okay if you don't believe, but give me the same respect",a nd I keep trying to move the discussion to more philosophical grounds, and that amounts to being like Fallwell? Perhaps we're thinking of different Fallwells?

but you don't hear me asking you to shut up and go away.

I didn't ask anyone to shut up or go away. I asked for mutual respect.

But I'm starting to think that some of you not-believers see slef-control and respect as the same thing as censorship. "He wants me to what? Be tolerant and considerate? That's censorship!!!"


The problem with the intention of this post, as with most religions, is that it wants to exercise censorship.

I don't recall asking Matt to delete the post. I do recall asking people to be more respectful.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:40 AM on September 26, 2004


I do recall asking people to be more respectful.

Fuck that. With all due respect, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:42 AM on September 26, 2004


Or, expanded version with DVD commentary : I'll bow my head, clasp my hands, and bend my knee to the god manifest in any faith, but I'll enthusiastically poke with sticks every single worshipper of that god or any other, because that's what they fucking need.

A swift slap on the pate, and a kiss on the cheek, and a slap on the butt as they wander out into the world, all a-drip with the metaphorical god's-dead birth-goo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:52 AM on September 26, 2004


Great comment, EB.

When I was in fifth grade, I used to derive great satisfaction from tormenting the believers on my school bus with the question "Can God make a stone so big that he can't roll it?" They couldn't answer it! Their little minds were boggled! I was far above them in the infinite wisdom of my skepticism!

Some people here never seem to have progressed beyond fifth grade.
posted by languagehat at 7:12 AM on September 26, 2004


I really lost it last night. But, in the fashion of people everywhere who have lost it about some cumulative, grating thing they actually have a grievance about, I'm not keen on retracting it, really.

On the debate and the partisans of both sides: it is really old, and it's never been resolved in the sense that an answer is proposed that everyone is agrees is obvious in retrospect and there's nothing more to discuss. People keep rehashing the same arguments, and people keep believing both sides.

On the intolerance of atheists: I grew up, and continue to experience, the sneering, smug, pitying, intolerance of theists. Not all theists, mind you, just some. So when I see this same sort of thing from atheists and empiricists and skeptics, people that I think of as my intellectual allies, and, forgive me, the more enlightened of the two groups, it really, really pisses me off. I understand that people are people and they're often jerks whatever they believe—I said that earlier—but nothing upsets me more than when a group of people on my side of the picket line act in a way that make me wonder, "wait, these are the good guys?"

Finally, I've long been tolerant, understanding, and respectful of theists and theism, even though privately, I am often exasperated with them and think they really are, in this particular way, nuts. This contradiction is hard to explain—my best friend, who knows me very well and shares most of my beliefs, has honestly pressed me on this issue more than once, trying to understand why it is. Nevertheless, to be most honest, I have to say what most of you already know, and that is that my beloved sister, probably one of the two or three people I respect most in this world, is a theist. An evangelican, at that. She's extremely thoughtful, an independent thinker, and very good-hearted. In her I see a way of being an American, evangelical, mostly conservative Christian that I deeply admire. Stereotyping all Christian, much moreso all theists, as ignorant, close-minded, bigoted, war-mongering nutcases offends me now more than it ever did.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:15 AM on September 26, 2004


When I was in fifth grade, I used to derive great satisfaction from tormenting the believers on my school bus with the question "Can God make a stone so big that he can't roll it?" They couldn't answer it! Their little minds were boggled! I was far above them in the infinite wisdom of my skepticism!

Are you kidding? I was the kid who got his nose broken for telling the other kids that Santa Claus didn't exist in 1st grade. I haven't even progressed beyond that. So suck it, you superstitious weenies! ;)
posted by boaz at 9:08 AM on September 26, 2004


When I was in fifth-grade, I was telling the big dumb bullies that they were heterosexual homosapiens. Then, when they told me to take it back, I'd say, okay, fine, you're a homosexual neanderthal. Which I thought was very clever.

Sigh. Kind of pathetic of both of us, really, languagehat.

My sister—and take this story as you wish in the context of her theism—figured out on her own in about second or third grade that there wasn't a Santa Claus. One night she explained this to me and our parents. Then, after a pause, said that she decided that she was too young to not believe in Santa Claus and, anyway, it was more fun to believe in Santa Claus, so she decided to keep believing, for a while anyway.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:01 AM on September 26, 2004


pyramid, mocking insights as something "no one has ever had before" and priding oneself on one's l33t mad rat10na1 sklllz are symptoms of this ... alone before their computer monitors, they can finally express their inflated "superiority" before the world ... without any reference to argument or accomplishment, which is so annoyingly required of them in the real world is exactly what you did.

That is amusing.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:02 AM on September 26, 2004


I was telling the big dumb bullies that they were heterosexual homosapiens. Then, when they told me to take it back, I'd say, okay, fine, you're a homosexual neanderthal

EB was a monsoon of pseudo-intellectual blather even in fifth grade.
posted by quonsar at 10:55 AM on September 26, 2004


I do recall asking people to be more respectful.

eustacescrubb : Respect is acceptance.

People keep rehashing the same arguments, and people keep believing both sides.

EB: Wrong. The very argument is about the notion of "believing." One side does, the other side doesn't.
posted by semmi at 10:56 AM on September 26, 2004


Some believers feel that only they have deep, spiritual reasons for their beliefs, but most nonbelievers have similarly deep, spiritual reasons to reject the notion.
posted by semmi at 11:05 AM on September 26, 2004


Kind of pathetic of both of us, really, languagehat

Well, duh! Why do you think we both wound up here?

Respect is acceptance.

Not even close. I respect all kinds of people whose views I don't accept, and conversely (I have the same reaction to the nasty unbelievers as EB: Hey, quit making my side look bad!).

most nonbelievers have similarly deep, spiritual reasons to reject the notion

If their reasons are "spiritual," they have no business sneering at believers. They're doing the exact same thing, just clinging to a different teddy bear.
posted by languagehat at 11:29 AM on September 26, 2004


Just out of curiosity, I'm wondering how many people who have such bedrock beliefs on how God works are actually God themselves.

I think there is a fundamental difference between this dicussion in terms of faith and science: as a person of faith, I claim to only speak for my own beliefs as such (and I would further claim most people do- it's the loud people who make cast a shadow on the rest of us), but people here seem to be talking about behalf of how other scientists do and should act. That is why I raised the question.
posted by jmd82 at 11:51 AM on September 26, 2004


When I was in fifth-grade, I was telling the big dumb bullies that they were heterosexual homosapiens. Then, when they told me to take it back, I'd say, okay, fine, you're a homosexual neanderthal. Which I thought was very clever.

You were beaten severely, weren't you.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:56 AM on September 26, 2004


jmd82, I think part of the fundamental disconnect is that people of faith here on the board such as yourself are claiming to speak only for yourself but the other side, specifically including myself, are reacting to the larger religious polity.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:57 PM on September 26, 2004


I respect all kinds of people whose views I don't accept

languagehat: That says a lot about you. Although what I was talking about was that respecting an idea means accepting it.

If their reasons are "spiritual," they have no business sneering at believers. They're doing the exact same thing, just clinging to a different teddy bear.

Spirit: The vital principle or animating force within living beings.
The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings.
The essential nature of a person.

No teddy bears, just independence.
posted by semmi at 2:55 PM on September 26, 2004


Spirit: The vital principle or animating force within living beings.
The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings.
The essential nature of a person.


So now you're trying to contend that religious folks don't even have spiritual reasons for believing in God?
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:36 PM on September 26, 2004


To respect someone else's belief, you don't have to accept it (in the sense of sharing it), you simply have to accept that they have accepted it. Nothing else is needed - no judgement, just acceptance of it. If you wish to judge, judge them by their actions.
posted by jb at 5:15 PM on September 26, 2004


"they like to discredit the idea of god by making fun of religious people"

That cuz the concept of god cannot exist without religious people. No theism without theists. ;-P
posted by mischief at 6:02 PM on September 26, 2004


"You were beaten severely, weren't you."

Actually, no. I was one of the popular kids, and did okay (not great) in a fight. But I was an annoying smart ass, even then.

At the risk of more personal anecdoteness that irritate people, after writing the above I can't help but feel the need to be completely honest and say that I was one of the popular kids, but secretely had a deep fear of being picked on as a nerd, so I tried to be very aware of and avoid the things that might change my status negatively. I really disliked it, though, when the bullies and popular kids would make fun of the kids that were always picked on, and about 75% of the time I'd stand up for the picked-on kid, secretely being very nervous that this would taint me. I did it anyway, though, because the hyena pack viciousness really bothered me. I'm still this way, obviously. I did, and do, have a tendency to be an intellectual bully when I was mad at someone, which is what the previous anecdote really was all about. I didn't get beat up when I did the previous mentioned little trick, the guy was usually left standing there befuddled while I smirked. Which was fine with me.

This is actually ontopic, as most of my little personal anecdote things are. It's about sneering, intellectual snobbery, ganging up on people, feeling aggrieved, and generally not being a very nice person. That's the topic of this conversation, really.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:59 PM on September 26, 2004


oh, shut the fuck up for once.
posted by quonsar at 7:19 PM on September 26, 2004


No, you shut the fuck up for once, you heterosexual homosapien motherfucker. So there.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:27 PM on September 26, 2004



posted by Stynxno at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2004


Unlike sexual orientation, religion is a lifestyle choice (except for those children who are so thoroughly brainwashed that they require deprogramming). As such, ridicule is as warranted as for any other ridiculous lifestyle choice. Be offended all you want; we don't care. ;-P
posted by mischief at 8:12 PM on September 26, 2004


I did, and do, have a tendency to be an intellectual bully

Pretty ineffectual.
posted by semmi at 9:34 PM on September 26, 2004


Pretty ineffectual.

Good, I feel better about it then.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:34 PM on September 26, 2004


If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother's keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying that there is no God.

-Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004)
posted by sciurus at 10:26 AM on September 27, 2004


Actually, no. I was one of the popular kids, and did okay (not great) in a fight.

You were a popular kid who was also a nerd and stuck up for the underdog? Man of contradictions though you are, I'd sooner believe that you sort of like a dick in your mouth but are very straight.

Couldn't resist, mate.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2004


But's it's all true. I am a man of apparent contradictions. This causes trouble for people who understand the world only superficially.

Oh, look, something shiny!

I'm learning a lot about other people with regard to their reaction to that comment.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:21 PM on September 27, 2004


EB, brother, far as I care (and I do, make no mistake), you're a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.
posted by chicobangs at 12:30 PM on September 27, 2004


"Is that Bierce, abcde?"

No, I think that was a quote from the Devil's Dictionary by Charles Dikkens, the well-known Dutch author.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2004


"Your foresight in this matter is impressive. Perhaps this metatalk thread will, as the last one did, eclipse the three-hundred comment barrier. We can only hope."
posted by The God Complex


Amazing! He really is all-knowing!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:21 AM on September 29, 2004


As melon-scratchers go, that's a real honey-doodle.

Hey Space Coyote! This EB guy does the best William Quick evar! He's got the polysyllables, and the diddley!
posted by lazaruslong at 7:56 AM on September 29, 2004


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