What can I say to accomodationist atheists?

138


Discussion by: 78rpm

Certainly not a matter of not coming out. But they won't speak up. I have two friends, a couple of the most intelligent people I know, both of whom are de facto as atheist as I am. If you would ask them point blank if they believe in a deity, they would say they don't. But that is as far as they go, and they are always chiding me about the depth of my own feelings on the subject and about my active involvement with Freedom From Religion Foundation. They see me as a wild-eyed radical when I object, for example, to manger scenes in front of city halls.They say, "Aw, what're you getting all worked up about? They're not hurting anything."  I can't get them to see that religion is a self-perpetuating mind virus. I can't get them to see that there is constant pressure by the would-be theocrats here in the U.S. to run things their way.

138 COMMENTS

  1. You should never expect to change someone’s mind during a debate or discussion. You should be hoping that they will ponder what you said, and over months or years, if your arguments are sound, slowly come to your point of view on their own. But this is a best case scenario.

    Be calm, be patient, be rational, and point out instances where government tolerance of religious belief actually kills, for example children of faith healers who die from lack of care, churches shielding child abusers from justice, or children dying from measles who were not vaccinated. There are a range of issues related to government allowing religion and faith to influence the law, and some are more pressing than others. Mangers are less important than children dying.

    • In reply to #1 by canadian_right:

      You should never expect to change someone’s mind during a debate or discussion. You should be hoping that they will ponder what you said, and over months or years, if your arguments are sound, slowly come to your point of view on their own. But this is a best case scenario.

      yes absolutely. This is how I handle religious people. And how I’d handle radical atheists if I came across many.

      Be calm, be patient, be rational, and point out instances where government tolerance of religious belief actually kills, for example children of faith healers who die from lack of care, churches shielding child abusers from justice, or children dying from measles who were not vaccinated. There are a range of issues related to government allowing religion and faith to influence the law, and some are more pressing than others. Mangers are less important than children dying.

      bit one sided. What about the good that religion does? It gives structure and meaning to many peoples’ lives. In my town the local churches contribute a lot to both the homeless shelter and the women’s refuge (they may do other things but those I know about). Churches help support food banks when the current economic difficulties force more people into poverty. I also like the buildings and even the mangers! A good chunk of our history and our culture is based on religion (for both good and bad).

      Oh and the measles one is also something non-religious people do.

      Amazing I’ve been an atheist since the age of 7 or 8 and end up being the person to point out this stuff.

      • In reply to #19 by nick keighley:

        What about the good that religion does?

        There’s nothing wrong with religious organizations except the religious part. Charitable work is just fine. What is questionable is that it should be necessary. When there are hungry people in the world’s richest countries, this is an economic injustice which points to a huge failure of government.

        • In reply to #21 by aldous:

          When there are hungry people in the world’s richest countries, this is an economic injustice which points to a huge failure of government.

          There is no doubt that there is an economic race to the bottom. It is all very well blaming Government but it is the people that voted for the Government that broadly determine the nature of that Government. If we wanted a caring Government then we would vote for such a Government. Instead we appear to have voted for Governments that take the safety net for the poorest in society away while society seems all to happy to blame those out of work for their own predicament.

        • In reply to #21 by aldous:

          In reply to #19 by nick keighley:

          What about the good that religion does?

          There’s nothing wrong with religious organizations except the religious part.

          we’re gonna have to disagree on that one. I’ve no objection to what people privately believe

          Charitable work is just fine. What is questionable is that it should be necessary. When there are hungry people in the world’s richest countries, this is an economic injustice which points to a huge failure of government.

          oh I agree (though not everyone on the right would). Not all charities feed the hungry. Sometimes charities fill in gaps that government doesn’t cover- sometimes by choice, sometimes by over-sight. For instance many people think the UK pays out too much in over-seas aid. People who don’t think this can put their money where their mouth is and give money to Oxfam.

  2. Firstly, being an atheist does not require one to despise religion– organized or not. There’s no reason whatsoever to waste time, energy or emotion on hating a man-made cultural phenomenon that’s been with us since the beginning of time.

    Religious rites and practices of every denomination are nothing more than a psychological “story” or ritual narrative humankind has been revising and retelling for tens of thousands of years. It is responsible for the early forms of science, astronomy, history, cosmology and philosophy, if not the very origins of civilization and government itself. The way we tell ourselves stories and dreams may be essential to the evolution of our entire nervous system as well.

    It is incumbent upon atheists to speak out, but not to denounce, decry or destroy religion. That would be as senseless and destructive as trying to destroy ancient forms of literature or the Mayan Codex. Modern scientists, thinkers, philosophers and storytellers are learning and will continue to glean vital information about how, why and what makes humans believe the things they do by studying all forms of religion from the most primitive to the New Age. Learning about religion, mythology, psychology, evolution and neurology will be the lineaments of a future science yet to be defined.

    The reason we speak out, aside from whatever legitimate grievances we might have, is not to persuade, convince or convert the religionist, the fanatical “true believer” or the blind follower, for that is an impossible, thankless and futile task. We speak out without fear of reprisal, because we have but one goal in mind, or as Lawrence Krauss reminds us: As educators our duty is not just to educate, but to destroy ignorance.” We speak out relentlessly and indefatigably with one purpose in mind i.e. to encourage others to do the same and no longer remain complicit with the ever encroaching regressive ignorance, prejudice and nescience that “believers” would impose upon us were we to remain as silent as we have in the past.

    • In reply to #2 by mchasewalker:

      Firstly, being an atheist does not require one to despise religion– organized or not. There’s no reason whatsoever to waste time, energy or emotion on hating a man-made cultural phenomenon that’s been with us since the beginning of time.

      Actually being an atheist doesn’t require you to do anything beyond not believe in any gods. There is no pledge of atheist allegiance, required atheist actions, ten atheist commandments …

      It is incumbent upon atheists to speak out, but not to denounce, decry or destroy religion. That would be as senseless and destructive as trying to destroy ancient forms of literature or the Mayan Codex.

      Or as senseless as stopping the Mayan sacrifice of young girls. This is a fascinating cultural practice that science should preserve and study for the insights it gives us.

      Michael

  3. Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. Muslims have no need to divide and conquer their opponents since atheists are doing it for them. I’m with Ayaan Hirsi Ali on this one. Wait until we have defeated Islam, then we can start worrying about the few trivial privileges that are left to Christianity.

    • In reply to #3 by keith:

      Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. Muslims have no need to divide and conquer their opponents sin…

      That is such a western biased point of view. Look at the history of the US since WWII. We have been at war with at least one country pretty much non stop since. We have regularly intervened in governments that don’t behave the way we want them to and either subverted the will of their own people via subterfuge (Iran, Chile) or outright aggression (Iraq, Vietnam).

      The US claims the right to essentially kill anyone the American president decides needs to die. With no trial no due process at all just an arbitrary decision by the imperial president. There isn’t a more text book definition of tyranny. The US overthrew the democratic government of Iran and installed a tyrant who routinely tortured political opponents.

      And after all that you expect Islamic people to say “oh please save us from the Muslims”? I know some very well educated people from the region who would laugh in your face. The truly ironic thing is that one of the reasons Islam is so powerful in the middle east is because the US explicitly planned it that way. When our puppets like the Shah or the tyrant in charge of Indonesia were preparing their lists of teachers, labor leaders, and others to be killed and tortured we advised them to be lenient to the Muslims because we saw Islam as a firewall against the godless commies. As a result in nations like Egypt the only group that was able to resist the US backed puppet were Islamic extremists. That is one of the main reasons they have so much credibility in the region. They were the only group that had a chance to survive and that had the support to offer at least token resistance to US puppets.

      • I have had too many online debates with people who have been taught by their Marxist lecturers that that America is the worst country in the world. I find this debate silly and boring. And no, I am not American. In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #3 by keith:

        Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. Muslims have no need to divide and c…

        • In reply to #13 by keith:

          I have had too many online debates with people who have been taught by their Marxist lecturers that that America is the worst country in the world. I find this debate silly and boring. And no, I am not American.

          I’m not a Marxist (I just like their hats) and nothing I said in my previous comment hinged on any Marxist analysis. I think Marx was a lot like Freud, he got almost everything wrong and his whole methodology was flawed but there is still a fair amount of insight in some of his work.

          I raised specific points of fact in my comment that you ignored. Simply saying it’s “silly” is not a response.

          And for the record I am an American and actually I am mostly proud of my country. No nation is without blame and we’ve committed more than our share of crimes but at various points in history we’ve actually been a beacon for others who were trying to advance human progress. I’m actually pretty patriotic when it comes to talking about people like Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Lincoln, I think they were all very interesting and brilliant men and its amazing that such men could be leaders of a great power.

          The reason I criticize America is not because I hate it but because I love it and want it to return to the ideals of people like Jefferson who would be appalled at things like the CIA overthrowing democracies, drone strikes, and the Iraq occupation.

      • In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

        Wow, and six people actually liked this anti-American rant of yours. As Christopher Hitchens said, “There you have it ladies and gentleman — there you have it. You see how far the termites have spread and how long and well they’ve dined.”

    • In reply to #3 by keith:

      Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. Muslims have no need to divide and conquer their opponents sin…

      Keith, if you are an American, then your own backyard is littered with the same fundamentalists as those that inhabit the Muslim world. I find no difference between the American Taliban and the Afghani Taliban. Both fanatics. Both religious fundamentalists, just a different brand name (Coke or Pepsi). Both believe that they, and only they have the one true belief handed down from god. They, and only they will be to ones to go to heaven. They and only they hold the key to the future of the planet… “Everything will be excellent as long as you all follow us explicitly.”

      I find both kinds of Taliban equally dangerous. The Afghani’s have guns, the Americans have political lobbying power. Both will do whatever it takes to impose their fundamentalist on every single human being on the planet.

      So don’t worry about just the Muslims, treat all religion the same and promote rational and tolerant arguments.

      In relation to 78rpm’s friends, I wouldn’t worry. When it comes to a vote, they will be with you. You will never get rid of religion from humanity. The political goal should be to limit religion to consenting adults in private. The most important thing is to limit its power to make decisions. If people want to get together privately and perform some rituals, I don’t particularly care. It is only when they leave the privacy of their ceremony and try and influence a third party decision, base on their personal religious views, they I will go to the barricades.

      • In reply to #11 by David R Allen:

        In reply to #3 by keith:

        Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. Muslims have no need to divide and c…
        David, people who think that American fundamentalists (I assume this is who you mean by your daft label ‘American Taliban’) clearly haven’t been following the news for the past decade or so. Sam Harris points out the silliness of seeing an equivalence between the desire to believe that the Earth is 6,000-years-old and be anti-abortion on the one hand, and the desire to cut people’s heads off and plant bombs in public places on the other. Oh, and then there’s the small issue of the inferiority of women and the killing of apostates. Still, if you think this is mere nit-picking then that’s your affair.

        • In reply to #14 by keith:

          In reply to #11 by David R Allen:

          In reply to #3 by keith:

          Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise have a lot in common with. M…Oh, and then there’s the small issue of the inferiority of women and the killing of apostates. Still, if you think this is mere nit-picking then that’s your affair.

          Sliding doors. Reverse the power roles. (Allocated by luck) Muslims run a prosperous, safe and secure America. No motivation to do anything much. Afghanistan is haunted by the American Taliban. Tell me again that Christian fanatic fundamentalists, given the right circumstances wouldn’t behave in the same way as the Islamic terrorist. That’s my point.

          The fact that the American Taliban don’t fly planes into buildings is no proof of anything. Given the right circumstances, those whom god has chosen are capable of anything. Its not religion that is the problem, it is the fanatic cloaked in religion.. They have the motivation. They have the license. They have the sanction of god. So I see an equivalence. I find that when one side points a finger over the fence at the other as says, “See, they’re the problem. Those Muslims. Them over there. If we get rid of THEM, we’ll be sweet.” Which is what your doing. But of course, they’re all just looking in the mirror, they just don’t know it.

          • In reply to #15 by David R Allen:
            >

            The fact that the American Taliban don’t fly planes into buildings is no proof of anything.

            I thought they flew cruise missiles and drone to ground missiles, into buildings!

          • In reply to #15 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #14 by keith:

            In reply to #11 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #3 by keith:

            Personally I think all non-Muslims should be forming alliances to counter the biggest threat to civilisation. I don’t think that now is the right time to pick arguments with sensible Christians who we otherwise h…

            I have to say that one or two bits were too cryptic for me. Sliding doors? Looking in mirrors? I genuinely didn’t really know what you meant and feel that such topics should be handled, not through a glass darkly, but in straightforward language. It makes things easier for the person reading.

            Whether Christians would act as Muslims are now doing is pure conjecture on your part. Apart from that, surely we have to deal with the situation as it is, not as might be if we lived in another kind of world.

            I believe Sam Harris’s analogy of sport is pertinent here. Both badminton and kick boxing are called sports but they are very different. Simply because Islam and Christianity are both called religions is no reason to assume that they are therefore identical in every way. There may very well be something intrinsically violent and aggressive about Islam. After all, look at the two men who inspired their religions. One was a milk sop while the other was a warrior who slaughtered unbelievers. it would be odd if both religions attracted the same kind of people.

          • In reply to #24 by keith:

            it would be odd if both religions attracted the same kind of people.

            Both Islam and Christianity have achieved vast numbers of adherents by the same violent methods of conquest. Once you have subjugated the people and destroyed or downgraded the old gods, you maintain and expand the religion of the conquerors by control of government, the economy and education. Subsequent generations are not believers because of the charisma of the founders of the religion but because they are brainwashed into it as children and pressured into it to survive or prosper in a society which demands religious conformity.

            In the Americas, the crushing power of the Religion of Peace — Christianity obviously– has been particularly evident.

          • In reply to #25 by aldous:

            In reply to #24 by keith:

            it would be odd if both religions attracted the same kind of people.

            Subsequent generations are not believers because of the charisma of the founders of the religion…

            I’m not talking about charisma. I’m talking about the books the leaders inspired. if you are in any doubt as to the difference in tone and content, read Sam Harris’s The End of Faith. I think you will find that the New Testament which Christians follow and the Koran differ greatly.

          • In reply to #25 by aldous:

            In reply to #24 by keith:

            Both Islam and Christianity have achieved vast numbers of adherents by the same violent methods of conquest.

            I agree that Islam spread through violent conquest. However, would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’? To my knowledge Christianity spread fairly peacefully. However, if you know of marauding Christians forcing conversions on pagans and people of other religions, please elucidate.

            In the Americas, the crushing power of the Religion of Peace — Christianity obviously– has been particularly evident.

            I’m not sure that Americans would recognise the ‘crushing power’ and how it controls the economy etc. that you are talking about. Are you sure you are not, you know, overstating things for effect? Are you sure that your hatred of religion isn’t blinding you to the fact that Christianity today is not the powerful evil you are portraying it as?

          • In reply to #62 by keith:

            I agree that Islam spread through violent conquest. However, would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’? To my knowledge Christianity spread fairly peacefully. However, if you know of marauding Christians forcing conversions on pagans and people of other religions, please elucidate

            Charlemagne (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne) was one of the bloodiest religious conquerors. As christianity spred it was forced on the peoples of Europe with a “convert or be killed” ultimatum. A simple internet search will bring up many instances of this and the numbers involved. The Pagans had no choice, that is why christianity spread so quickly.

            You may also like to look up the way anyone with a good sceintific knowledge or medical knowledge was treated as a heretic (varying punisments including banquisment, torture or death) by the church very soon after Constanine had destroyed the tetrarchy and forced christianity on to the people.

            To suggest christianity does not have a bloody past is simply ignoring the truth.

          • In reply to #63 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #62 by keith:

            Stephen,

            Yes, I think you are right. Charlemagne and the burning of heretics had slipped my mind, as did the Inquisition. I am pleased you didn’t wheel out the Crusades as others have done, which I see as merely a push back against Muslim incursions into previously Christian lands.

            The truth is that I have always been very anti-Christian but have slowly become annoyed when I hear atheists insisting that Christianity is still every bit as horrible as Islam nowadays. My own view is that Christianity has largely reformed itself and that its core text, the New Testament, doesn’t lend itself to aggression against others quite so easily as does the Koran. This position, which I find quite uncontroversial, has had the same effect on this site as someone kicking a hornet’s nest.

          • In reply to #74 by keith:

            In reply to #63 by Stephen Mynett:

            My own view is that Christianity has largely reformed itself and that its core text, the New Testament, doesn’t lend itself to aggression against others quite so easily as does the Koran. This position, which I find quite uncontroversial, has had the same effect on this site as someone kicking a hornet’s nest.

            Au contraire. This position is quite common on RDnet these days. I would even say it has become part of New Atheist™ dogma. You still seem to think this site is a bastion of liberalism when it comes to Islam. It really isn’t, Keith. Trust me on this. Do me a favor and check out some of the comments on this thread, or this one. The scales will fall from your peepers.

          • In reply to #74 by keith:

            In reply to #63 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #62 by keith:

            Stephen,

            Yes, I think you are right. Charlemagne and the burning of heretics had slipped my mind, as did the Inquisition. I am pleased you didn’t wheel out the Crusades as others have done, which I see as merely a push back against Musl…

            In contrast to your comments, I find atheists here very coherent in their world view and reasoning. Their distance to religions doesn’t change. They won’t favor any religion. Try to understand…

          • In reply to #74 by keith:

            In reply to #63 by Stephen Mynett:

            In reply to #62 by keith:

            Stephen,

            Yes, I think you are right. Charlemagne and the burning of heretics had slipped my mind, as did the Inquisition. I am pleased you didn’t wheel out the Crusades as others have done, which I see as merely a push back against Muslim incursions into previously Christian lands.

            The truth is that I have always been very anti-Christian but have slowly become annoyed when I hear atheists insisting that Christianity is still every bit as horrible as Islam nowadays. My own view is that Christianity has largely reformed itself and that its core text, the New Testament, doesn’t lend itself to aggression against others quite so easily as does the Koran. This position, which I find quite uncontroversial, has had the same effect on this site as someone kicking a hornet’s nest.

            I understand the point you are making but disagree the the core text of christianity is the NT, the OT is still a vital part of many christian thinking and there are many different interpretations of both. Look at those preachers who travel to take part in homophobic events all around the world, Andrea Minchello Williams, the odious lawyer, travelling to Jamaica to take part in events to urge the country to keep homosexuality illegal. There are also the religious healing groups who cause many to die because they persuade people not to use, or deny them the right to use, medicines that would keep them alive.

            Modern christianity may have factions that would refuse to accept the use of the barabaric practices of islamic fanatics but that does not mean they are any better. Is there that much of a difference between killing someone with a bomb or allowing a them to die by persuading them that prayer, not medicine, is the most effective way of dealing with their problems.

            Some christians have moved on, some muslims have as well, but there are still far too many fundamental types of each and I cannot agree that christianity as a whole has reformed enough or is showing signs of doing so.

          • In reply to #62 by keith:

            However, would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’?

            Are you serious? Have you heard of the crusades? The inquisition? Christians have regularly gone to war over religious differences and often given people the choice “join our religion or be tortured to death”. It was standard practice through much of the middle ages to offer Jews and other non-Christians the choice of torture or conversion.

            Or if you want more recent examples look at the North and South America. Colonialism and Christianity always went hand in hand. The missionaries would come first and would convert the natives to Christianity (usually by some implied or actual force) and part of being a good Christian was to leave their native lands to the various corporations could drill and mine the natural resources.

            Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee has some heart breaking examples of this in North America. Or an even better book IMO is: Thy Will Be Done: The Conquest of the Amazon : Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil

            That book really goes into the untold story of how closely the American Christian evangelical movement worked with corporations like Standard Oil in South America and Africa to essentially destroy indigenous societies in every way possible: physically and socially.

          • And for the less violent indoctrination of the youngsters there is the Good News Club

            In reply to #64 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #62 by keith:

            However, would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’?

            Are you serious? Have you heard of the crusades? The inquisition? Christians have regularly gone to war over religious differences and often given people th…

          • In reply to #68 by Marktony:

            And for the less violent indoctrination of the youngsters there is the Good News Club

            And for those who need a bit more of a push there is Jesus Camp

          • “This video is not available in your country”

            Is that a good thing?

            In reply to #70 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #68 by Marktony:

            And for the less violent indoctrination of the youngsters there is the Good News Club

            And for those who need a bit more of a push there is Jesus Camp

          • Never mind, I found The Highlights

            Not sure they were wise taking on Harry Potter.

            In reply to #70 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #68 by Marktony:

            And for the less violent indoctrination of the youngsters there is the Good News Club

            And for those who need a bit more of a push there is Jesus Camp

          • In reply to #72 by Marktony:

            Never mind, I found The Highlights

            Not sure they were wise taking on Harry Potter.

            In reply to #70 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #68 by Marktony:

            And for the less violent indoctrination of the youngsters there is the Good News Club

            And for those who need a bit more of a push there is Jesus Camp

            Sorry the clip I linked to was only the highlights and they charge now for the full version. There used to be free versions on Youtube, actually I posted one before my account got revoked. It’s a film worth watching, the children all seem so cute and smart and seeing them brainwashed like that is truly disturbing. I always thought that movie made a good case for the “religious indoctrination equals child abuse” idea.

          • In reply to #64 by Red Dog:

            Maybe we partly agree on something. I am now all in favour of leaving the other countries of the world to their own devices. I want nothing more to do with Iraq, Syria, Bosnia, Sierra Leone or the rest of Africa. Let them do with each other what they will. I would make an exception for Israel since that strikes me as a country that is worth defending. I think all interventions are seen as invasions, both by those with the upper hand in the country being invaded and by a certain section of people in our own societies. I would also withdraw all foreign aid since I am told this always comes with strings attached that are beneficial to the donor countries. Of course, if we hadn’t shown some countries how to get oil out of the ground it would still be there now and they would be as poor as they were 100 years ago. Still, let’s not mention any of the good things, eh?

          • In reply to #62 by keith:
            >

            However, would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’? To my knowledge Christianity spread fairly peacefully. However, if you know of marauding Christians forcing conversions on pagans and people of other religions, please elucidate.

            Christianity in its various forms have been inflicted by ruler in cahoots with politically meddling religious leaders, throughout its history. Apart from colonials imposing their religion on the conquered. the various Xtian sects have used regularly authority and force to impose their religion on others.

            I see Stephen Mynett and Red Dog have already pointed out some examples, so I just pick out this one as typical of the time.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recusancy
            >

            In the history of England and Wales, recusancy was the state of those who refused to attend Anglican services; the individuals were known as recusants.[1] The term, which derives ultimately from the Latin recusare (to refuse or make an objection)[2] was first used to refer to those who remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and did not attend Church of England services, with a 1593 statute determining the penalties against “Popish recusants”.

            The “Recusancy Acts” began during the reign of Elizabeth I and were repealed in 1650.[4] They imposed various types of punishment on those who did not participate in Anglican religious activity, such as fines, property confiscation, and imprisonment.[5] Despite their repeal, restrictions against Roman Catholics were still in place until full Catholic Emancipation in 1829.[6] In some cases those adhering to Catholicism faced capital punishment,

            People were fined, imprisoned or had their land confiscated for refusing to regularly attend Church of England services.

          • In reply to #62 by keith:

            [...] would you like to expand on how Christians ‘achieved vast numbers of adherents through violent conquest’? To my knowledge Christianity spread fairly peacefully. However, if you know of marauding Christians forcing conversions on pagans and people of other religions, please elucidate.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Crusades
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reconquista
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albigensian_Crusade
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition

        • In reply to #14 by keith:

          In reply to #11 by David R Allen:

          David, people who think that American fundamentalists (I assume this is who you mean by your daft label ‘American Taliban’) clearly haven’t been following the news for the past decade or so. Sam Harris points out the silliness of seeing an equivalence between the desire to believe that the Earth is 6,000-years-old and be anti-abortion on the one hand, and the desire to cut people’s heads off and plant bombs in public places on the other. Oh, and then there’s the small issue of the inferiority of women and the killing of apostates. Still, if you think this is mere nit-picking then that’s your affair.

          Were you yourself not following the news at all in the couple of decades that preceded the past one, Keith? There was the small matter of the goings-on in Northern Ireland, in which Christians planted bombs in public places with alarming regularity.

          As to the inferiority of women, Islam doesn’t have a monopoly on the view that my half of our species should be subordinate to the other half. The anti-abortion lobby in the US, Christian to a man, whose more extreme members have themselves been known to plant bombs when it suits them, purports to be about saving the lives of the unborn, but is really about keeping women under the thumb of a patriarchal theocracy by denying them the right to determine what happens to their own bodies.

          The more religious a particular American state is, the greater the chance it will have the death penalty. Lethal injection may not be as public as decapitation, but then we have television and other media to get across the idea that an eye for an eye is the ideal and this will be enforced.

          The killing of apostates. I’ll give you that one; Christians and Jews tend not to kill those who leave the religion, although it it is mandated, in Deuteronomy 13:6-11, which states,
          >

          “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again”.

          If the American Taleban, a fairly apt and far from ‘daft’ label in my humble opinion, were to gain absolute power in the future, and once abortion were criminalized and the last homosexual chemically castrated, don’t you think they would then turn their attention to those who sought to abandon the faith? Their god after all, far from being a milksop, is a vengeful god.

          Happy New Year, by the way, to you and everyone!

          • In reply to #35 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #14 by keith:

            In reply to #11 by David R Allen:

            David, people who think that American fundamentalists (I assume this is who you mean by your daft label ‘American Taliban’) clearly haven’t been following the news for the past decade or so. Sam Harris points out the silliness of seeing a…

            Hi Katy,

            Firstly, I am in favour of the death penalty in certain cases so the fact that the religious states in America have it doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. It depends who you listen to, but I am inclined to believe the people who say that the death penalty does lead to a reduction in murders. You see, my own sympathies lie with would be victims rather than their murderers. And yes I know, some people have been falsely put to death. And some people have been falsely imprisoned for life. And a certain kind of person might be dissuaded from killing if the penalty is harsh enough. You just have to weight up various probabilities and the consequences of your policies.

            My second point is a more general one. My brother used to argue back in the 1980s that the British police was just as bad as the East German Stasi. I don’t know if he still argues the same thing. Most of us grow out of such beliefs. Anyway, to prove his point he would reel off examples of brutality and unfairness by the British police. Once you get into matters of degree, as most arguments between sensible people are given that no organisation, country, religion or anything else is either purely good or purely evil, then the argument becomes one of who can gather together the most and worst examples of brutality. But here I want to appeal to your fairmindedness. For me it is enough that sensible people agree that the Stasi were indeed worse than the British police, that America has generally acted better than most powerful countries throughout history (it’s easy to behave well when you are Andorra) and that Islam is innately more anti-women, anti-apostate and anti-gay than Christianity. And we are talking now, not about history or some hypothetical future, but reality as it is. Yes, you can list the two or three mad men who have killed abortion doctors and that mad bloke who burnt the Koran a year ago. My argument is similar to the one that ‘men are generally bigger than women’. Your argument (and that of many others here) is that you can find lots of examples of women who are bigger than men so the idea that men are generally bigger than women must therefore be wrong.

            At the risk of annoying you, I recognise my old self in your arguments. I too used to look for equivalences in my own culture for the evils of other cultures. I think the psychology goes something like this. Stupid people tend to think their own society is best simply because it is their society. More intelligent people try to be more neutral, more objective and learn to compensate for this innate tribalist bias. Stupid people observe this and, not wanting to look like tribalists themselves, excessively criticise their own culture. They also assume that anyone who doesn’t join in this self-flagellation must be stuck in the tribalist phase i.e. he is an idiot. They seem to not understand that some things in this world really are worse than others and that it isn’t necessarily simply tribalist bias that makes me prefer Christianity to Islam (I am, of course, an atheist). I think you should trust your lying eyes here and entertain the idea that Islam really is the main religious problem of today.

            I’m sure you won’t pay any attention to me but this is also the of Sam Harris. I’m not saying that Sam Harris is always right or that you have to change your mind because of him. I’m just pointing out that you don’t need to be a conservative bigot like me to believe that Islam really is more dangerous than Christianity.

          • In reply to #56 by keith:

            It depends who you listen to, but I am inclined to believe the people who say that the death penalty does lead to a reduction in murders.

            I always find it odd when people say things like this. It’s no different than people who say “well it depends on who you listen to but I just can’t conceive of how we are descended from primates” or “well it depends who you listen to but I’m inclined not to believe that climate change stuff”

            Questions of fact shouldn’t be decided on your gut. There is good data on the issue and it overwhelmingly demonstrates that the death penalty is not positively correlated with a decrease in violent crime. You are right in that it “depends on who you listen to” because just as with climate change and creationism there are people with vested interests in not believing certain positions for ideological reasons. So yes if you listen to those people who are lying and misinformed they will lie about and misinterpret data but if you take an honest look at the evidence it’s pretty clear.

          • In reply to #57 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #56 by keith:

            It depends who you listen to, but I am inclined to believe the people who say that the death penalty does lead to a reduction in murders.

            I always find it odd when people say things like this. It’s no different than people who say “well it depends on who you listen to but…

            Red Dog, you seem to have a very black or white idea of facts, as though they speak for themselves. Interpretation of the data I have read suggests that the death penalty is effective in reducing crime. Other people point to other data which they claim suggests something different. who would you go with on this? Do you have a mystical sixth sense that tells you which of these groups is correct? At least I was honest enough to admit that there is another side to this argument. Perhaps you would have preferred it if I had pretended that all the data was in and that everyone agreed, both on what that data suggests and how we should act on it. Without wanting to be rude, your suggestion that there is never any room for disagreement on data sets is rather naive.

          • In reply to #61 by keith:

            Red Dog, you seem to have a very black or white idea of facts,

            Facts are like that. Something is either true or it isn’t. Its simply a fact that there is no correlation between states or nations that have the death penalty and decreased violent crime. To the extent that there is a correlation it is in fact the opposite, that when a state or nation gets rid of the death penalty the violent crime tends to go down.

            I wouldn’t argue that removing the death penalty decreases violent crime though, I don’t think the data supports that because correlation does not equal causation. IMO it’s equally likely that when states or nations get rid of the death penalty it is also a part of a general trend to more reason based policies and those policies as a whole are what leads to the decrease in violent crime.

            That is just a fact. If you listen to the people who advocate for the death penalty, at least the few who actually pay attention to facts, they don’t argue for it based on crime prevention because they know there is no case for that. Instead they argue based on abstract notions of justice or social order.

            as though they speak for themselves. Interpretation of the data I have read suggests that the death penalty is effective in reducing crime.

            Interpretation can pretty much lead anywhere. I’m talking about facts, overwhelmingly there is no positive correlation between the death penalty and violent crime.

            Other people point to other data which they claim suggests something different. who would you go with on this? Do you have a mystical sixth sense that tells you which of these groups is correct?

            I would go with people who use actual data backed by reputable sources as opposed to people like Fox News who just invent or distort facts.

          • In reply to #56 by keith:

            In reply to #35 by Katy Cordeth:

            Hi Katy,

            Hey Keith.

            Firstly, I am in favour of the death penalty in certain cases so the fact that the religious states in America have it doesn’t strike me as a bad thing. It depends who you listen to, but I am inclined to believe the people who say that the death penalty does lead to a reduction in murders. You see, my own sympathies lie with would be victims rather than their murderers. And yes I know, some people have been falsely put to death. And some people have been falsely imprisoned for life. And a certain kind of person might be dissuaded from killing if the penalty is harsh enough. You just have to weight up various probabilities and the consequences of your policies.

            I think Red Dog covered the logical inconsistencies in this, Keith, and I don’t really have anything to add; only perhaps to suggest that you might want to cite some of the studies you mentioned in your comment #61 which you say demonstrate capital punishment’s efficacy as a deterrent against crime so we can make up our own minds about the data they contain. If any of them comes from an organisation with the word ‘Family’ in their title, that’s usually a good indication they may be dodgy.

            …For me it is enough that sensible people agree that the Stasi were indeed worse than the British police, that America has generally acted better than most powerful countries throughout history (it’s easy to behave well when you are Andorra) and that Islam is innately more anti-women, anti-apostate and anti-gay than Christianity. And we are talking now, not about history or some hypothetical future, but reality as it is.

            It’s nice when you get to clearly define the parameters of an argument. Unfortunately, that dog won’t hunt, Monsignor. If one looks at the state of things as they are at this moment, trapped in amber, it might well be the case that Islam is innately more anti-gay and anti-women than Christianity. I tend to think that’s extremely debatable: homophobia in Christian Africa is rife, and misogyny in Christian America is always bubbling away just under the surface, waiting for the right guy to enter office and usher in a new era of chauvinism.

            It’s easy to behave well when you are Andorra. Presumably what you mean is that as a large country any crimes America has committed can by excused. I guess you’re right: all that cotton wasn’t going to just pick itself. Aahh, that’s history though, so off-limits. Slavery in the US is illegal today, and that’s all that matters.

            Yes, you can list the two or three mad men who have killed abortion doctors and that mad bloke who burnt the Koran a year ago. My argument is similar to the one that ‘men are generally bigger than women’. Your argument (and that of many others here) is that you can find lots of examples of women who are bigger than men so the idea that men are generally bigger than women must therefore be wrong.

            I mentioned the attacks on planned parenthood clinics only as an aside to the main point, which was the US anti-abortion movement is about the control of women: making us subservient to men as per the dictates of the Bible. The hysteria over contraception in Obamacare and the Sandra Fluke business is further proof that the Christian Right wishes to send the country hurtling backwards in time to an era when men were men and women damn well knew their place. That was my argument, not the stuff about lunatics bombing medical buildings. I think you’ve created a bit of a straw man here.

            At the risk of annoying you, I recognise my old self in your arguments.

            Don’t worry about annoying me; I love to be annoyed. That’s why I come on this site. You’ve used this ‘I recognise my old self’ stuff before in response to me, Keith, on one of your inexcusably infrequent sojourns to RDnet. You even trotted out the balls about younger people tending to be left wing only to grow more conservative when they acquire the wisdom of age, and I regret not taking issue with it then because, as I say, it’s balls. Lefties who turn Righties don’t do so because they’ve become wise; they do it because they’ve grown comfortable and scared of change.

            I too used to look for equivalences in my own culture for the evils of other cultures. I think the psychology goes something like this. Stupid people tend to think their own society is best simply because it is their society. More intelligent people try to be more neutral, more objective and learn to compensate for this innate tribalist bias. Stupid people observe this and, not wanting to look like tribalists themselves, excessively criticise their own culture. They also assume that anyone who doesn’t join in this self-flagellation must be stuck in the tribalist phase i.e. he is an idiot. They seem to not understand that some things in this world really are worse than others and that it isn’t necessarily simply tribalist bias that makes me prefer Christianity to Islam (I am, of course, an atheist).

            I can’t escape the impression that I’ve rather subtly just been called stupid, which is probably fair enough in the circumstances as I can’t make head nor tail of the sequence of events in the above paragraph.

            I think you should trust your lying eyes here and entertain the idea that Islam really is the main religious problem of today.

            My eyes, in fact most of my senses, inform me that with a few notable exceptions, most of the harm inflicted by exponents of Islam is on other exponents of Islam, whereas Christianity manages to visit its malevolence on those of any caste, creed or religion. Before the most notable of the exceptions I alluded to, which occurred as we know just over twelve years ago, most westerners, excluding the bulk of posters here of course, who were all au fait with the evils of Islam long before a bunch of psychopaths got incredibly lucky and managed to alter the course of events for good, wouldn’t have been able to differentiate between a Sikh, a Muslim and a Buddhist. So let’s not forget that the notion that Islam is the main religious problem of today is a fairly new one. There’s always a new boogieman, and those with a sense of history – damn, there I go again mentioning the aitch word – know how easy it can be to get caught up in the latest bad-guy fad. My guess is that fifty years from now, China will have nuked most of the Islamic world anyway and fifty years after that, Islam will be nothing but a memory.

            I’m sure you won’t pay any attention to me but this is also the of Sam Harris. I’m not saying that Sam Harris is always right or that you have to change your mind because of him. I’m just pointing out that you don’t need to be a conservative bigot like me to believe that Islam really is more dangerous than Christianity.

            I think you, Sam Harris and many, many others are proof positive that terrorism works. No, strike that: that advertising works. Islamic extremists have over the past decade or so been engaged in an extremely effective viral advertising campaign in the West. A campaign whose aim is to foment discord and convince westerners that nearly two billion of their fellow planetary travelers are ‘the enemy’. And, gotdang, hasn’t it worked! Intellectuals like your Mr. Harris accept this and promote racial profiling at airports; ordinary, perfectly nice young men become alienated and resentful at the mistrust they have to face and the looks of fear they encounter every time they step outside the door wearing a backpack, and begin listening to hate preachers; and Saatchi & Saatchi are kicking themselves, or strangling their wives, that they didn’t think of it first.

          • Hi Katy,

            Did Red Dog really show up logical inconsistencies in my views on the death penalty? If he did I missed it, though I could certainly see that he disagreed with me. Since you asked me to supply evidence to back up my belief that the death penalty does indeed deter crime, here is one study I immediately found:

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/11/AR2007061100406.html

            while this one, which I am inclined to trust, says that the evidence is still inconclusive:

            http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/does-the-death-penalty-deter-crime-studies-are-inconclusive-20120418

            There, the word ‘family’ doesn’t appear in either. What was it you were saying about not getting to set the terms of debate, madam? If I don’t get to talk about reformed Christianity as it is on the ground now as opposed to an unreformed Islam, how is it that you get to disallow certain words from my search engines?

            By the way, even if I am wrong about the death penalty deterring crime, I would like to know where the logical inconsistency is. And I would especially like you to show me where Red Dog pointed out this logical inconsistency.

            I would have responded at greater length to your post because I like the way you write. Even so, I can see there is too much distance between our views for it to be worthwhile – two people have to have a certain amount in common for the other’s arguments to make sense. Apart from that, there is a certain snideness in your remarks that has rather put me off the whole thing. I quite enjoy a debate but am less keen on sneering.

            It’s a pity that you couldn’t understand my point about the different political stages some of us go through. I thought I had expressed it quite well. Never mind.

            Anyway, I’m quite happy for you to continue believing that Christianity is just as big a threat to the world as Islam, that the threat from Islam has really been invented by scaremongers like Sam Harris and that in reality the great majority of Muslims believe the same things that we do, though this video rather suggests that this is not the case:

            http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/islam-or-islamophobia2

          • In reply to #79 by keith:

            I would have responded at greater length to your post because I like the way you write. Even so, I can see there is too much distance between our views for it to be worthwhile – two people have to have a certain amount in common for the other’s arguments to make sense. Apart from that, there is a certain snideness in your remarks that has rather put me off the whole thing. I quite enjoy a debate but am less keen on sneering.

            Oh. Okay. I thought we had a bit of a connection in spite of our political views. Sorry for the sneering and the snideness.

            In that case, I’ll keep my response brief.

            The Crimson one showed up the logical inconsistency of regarding facts as something one can cherry pick in service of one’s argument. There are occasions when Mr Gradgrind’s approach is the correct one.

            You do get to talk about reformed Christianity. The rest of us are free to mention the unreformed version which makes up the bulk of the religion. It isn’t all tea and scones with the vicar at the village fete.

            Sorry your point about the different political stages some of us go through was incomprehensible to me.

            I will continue to believe that the great majority of Muslims believe the same things ‘we’ do. I believe I’m hungry, I believe I’m sleepy, I believe I’m horny, I hope my daughter’s wedding goes off without a hitch, I hope the lump I just found is benign…

            The link you provided has been discussed ad nauseam no fewer than three times on this site: here, here and here.

            If you’re silly enough to believe that what was said at this conference represent the views of the majority of Muslims, as Sam Harris, Jaclyn Glenn and the majority of posters on those threads do, then shame on you for being so gullible.

          • In reply to #81 by Katy Cordeth:

            Katy, some studies show that the death penalty deters crime while other studies seem to show the opposite. Where precisely are the ‘facts’ in all this? Are you accusing the people who did the studies – both sides – of randomly choosing their facts or the people, like me, who decide which of the studies sounds more likely to be true? I still don’t see the logical inconsistency of coming down on one side of an inconclusive issue. It’s only when the facts are known that not believing them is silly. But the point here is that the facts aren’t known, though perhaps you are mistaking your own views for facts.

            I believe I’m hungry, I believe I’m sleepy, I believe I’m horny, I hope my daughter’s wedding goes off without a hitch, I hope the lump I just found is benign…

            I have no idea where this came from, especially the ‘I believe I’m horny’. What on earth possessed you to write that? Don’t you think it’s a bit vulgar?

            If every single Muslim puts up their hand when asked if they agree with certain extreme opinions, and surveys show that a large percentage of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed and that various people are legitimate targets for jihad, what is silly about taking them at their word? If it had been only the men on the panel who had expressed such extreme views than I could see your point. The interesting thing was that almost every person in the room raised their hands when asked about these extreme views. What do you find silly about concluding that it might not be the lunatic fringe who believe such nasty stuff?

  4. Your friends are failing to comprehend what it is to be religious (because they are not). They should consider the fact that many religious people do actually believe this supernatural stuff. The young men that flew the planes into the world trade centre on 9/11 were well educated and intelligent young men who still believed Allah Was Great (and something about 72 virgins). Religion is not a bit of harmless fun. Aside from providing a base for terrorism and ware fare there is also issues like sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church, traumatizing young children with stories about not seeing your mummy and daddy in heaven, degrading public education systems (eg. USA), holding back equality for women, spreading aids and poverty with bans on contraception, etc, etc. By giving passive support to religion they are supporting all this misery in the world.

    • In reply to #7 by Catfish:

      Your friends are failing to comprehend what it is to be religious (because they are not). They should consider the fact that many religious people do actually believe this supernatural stuff. The young men that flew the planes into the world trade centre on 9/11 were well educated and intelligent…There is also the issue in some groups like the one I was raised in of children being frightened by the idea of being left behind at the Second Coming.

  5. In the words of that great Irish Comedian ‘Dave Alen’ ” Good Night, Happy New Year and may your God go with you!!” or not as the case may be, but you get my gist…….. have a good one!!

  6. In the words of that great Irish Comedian ‘Dave Alen’ ” Good Night, Happy New Year and may your God go with you!!” or not as the case may be, but you get my gist…….. have a good one!!

  7. It didn’t bother me for years and years, I was even a republican. It was when I finally started paying close attention to what politicians and their lackeys from the faith world were saying that I recognized a need to exercise my freedom from religion. Your friends will get there eventually, hopefully before they lose something they cherish like freedom of speech.

  8. I am of the belief that there is no God. I firmly believe we have one life and that’s your lot. My objection to religion is that they seem to want to tell others what they should do and what offends them. If I read your post I read that you are spending time objecting to things and being offended by what you see as wrong. You also appear to be telling others (your friends and local government) exactly what they should (or perhaps should not) believe. How is that any different? Because, in your opinion, you are right?

  9. Most people are not going to be activists in any cause. It should be seen as progress that there is an increase in people who have no interest or involvement in religion. Naturally, they’re going to defend their position when challenged. Maybe they feel a little guilty about not doing anything about the issue. Instead of making feeble excuses for lack of action, they counter-attack and ridicule the activist. Maybe it’s a genuine commitment to live-and-let-live. The majority are not going to have the commitment and enthusiasm to join the campaign whatever it is.

    • In reply to #17 by aldous:

      Most people are not going to be activists in any cause. It should be seen as progress that there is an increase in people who have no interest or involvement in religion. Naturally, they’re going to defend their position when challenged. Maybe they feel a little guilty about not doing anything about the issue.

      I don’t

      Instead of making feeble excuses for lack of action, they counter-attack and ridicule the activist.

      I simply see no reason to attack other people’s belief system, when they aren’t hassling me.

      Maybe it’s a genuine commitment to live-and-let-live.

      personally I think societies run better if people generally have that attitude. Or at least the ones I like to live in

      The majority are not going to have the commitment and enthusiasm to join the campaign whatever it is.

      • In reply to #26 by nick keighley:

        I simply see no reason to attack other people’s belief system, when they aren’t hassling me.

        It depends on the circumstances. In most situations, there’s no reason at all to be discussing metaphysics, even if you have any inclination towards this kind of discussion in any case.

        The problem is when believers don’t believe in free speech. For free speech to flourish it has to be exercised and in debate and discussion it’s right and necessary to reject the position that religion should get a free pass on the grounds that believers are ‘offended’ or ‘hurt’ when you disagree with them.

  10. I’m with your friends! You sound crazier than some of the religious people. I too, if asked, will say that I am an atheist and do not believe in god(s) (or spirits, ghosts etc etc). Freedom From Religion sounds a bit kooky. You find manger scenes offensive?! Or is just outside the city hall that offends you? Religion is not a virus. It’s not even a good metaphor. Maybe the US has particular problems.

    But brow beating people to agree with your beliefs is at best counter-productive,

    • In reply to #18 by nick keighley:

      Religion is not a virus. It’s not even a good metaphor.

      Hi Nick. I wonder if you’ve read ‘The God Virus’ by Dr Darryl W. Ray, available here in the RDFRS Store.
      I submit that whole book, with all it’s references, as a refutation of both parts of your statement above.

      I can also refer you to Prof RD’s ‘Viruses of the Mind’ in his books, which was the driver behind ‘The God Virus’.
      I challenge you to read this & other similar books before making unsupported assertions like you did…. Mac.

      • In reply to #44 by CdnMacAtheist:

        In reply to #18 by nick keighley:

        Religion is not a virus. It’s not even a good metaphor.

        Hi Nick. I wonder if you’ve read ‘The God Virus’ by Dr Darryl W. Ray, available here in the RDFRS Store.

        no I haven’t. I’ll add it to my “to read” list (rather long at present!). I was guessing this was another variant on memes which I also find a rather poor metaphor.

        I submit that whole book, with all it’s references, as a refutation of both parts of your statement above.

        I can also refer you to Prof RD’s ‘Viruses of the Mind’ in his books, which was the driver behind ‘The God Virus’. I challenge you to read this & other similar books before making unsupported assertions like you did…. Mac.

        It isn’t an unsupported assertion, it’s a fact! A virus is a biological object made up DNA or RNA and protein. It “hijacks” cells and “persuades” them to make more viruses. Tacking the name onto anything else is to use a metaphor.

        from
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus

        A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.

        • In reply to #83 by nick keighley:

          In reply to #44 by CdnMacAtheist:

          Hi Nick. I see the god virus more as an analogy & when you read the book, you’ll see how well it works as one. Being infected by a faith memeplex isn’t the same as being infected by a biological virus, but the similarities are striking.

          The book isn’t pricey for 234 pages, easy to read & is by an American ex-very-religious secular psychologist. It wouldn’t be on sale through RDFRS if it wasn’t well-written, deeply-reasoned & heavily-referenced. When it gets on top of your list, enjoy this quite different view of the religion & faith phenomenon…. Mac.

  11. “Aw, what’re you getting all worked up about? They’re not hurting anything.” I can’t get them to see that religion is a self-perpetuating mind virus. I can’t get them to see that there is constant pressure by the would-be theocrats here in the U.S. to run things their way.

    Religion may be built on wishes and nonsense, but if you target what is most contemptible first then you will uses your resources far more effectively and probably co-opt more active support from others.

    For me ALL dogma fails, religious, political, folk wisdom of every stripe. Fed by the pressing need to not use one’s brain at any cost, but rather experience the warm satisfying glow of confirmation bias, dogma is the over-arching problem. But can I get my fellow atheist Libertarians to see this?

    Setting your sights too high is a recipe for disaster. Idealism here as elsewhere is mostly dumb because it is dogma dressed up. By concentrating mostly on the specific bad behaviours (or behaviour) beliefs cause, we can more rapidly mitigate the harms those bad behaviours cause and we may find a better path into the greater problem of intellectual abdication.

    The bad behaviour for me, first last and always is the poverty of moral decision making by the dogmatic. Religion, claiming as it does to be THE moral author is the very worst offender here but many political ideologies though they may start out better soon screw up in the complexities of real human societies.

    For me it is working very well with individuals in general conversation to take this “moral” position. It works in all the contexts that most exercise me. I point to one religious sect that morally gets a pass from me and that is Quakerism. Their approach to morality as being a daily process of due diligence by all answerable to themselves is exemplary.

    Attacking the morality of vested interest groups and its curtailment of individual responsibilities and its impoverishment of the moral process flips around the expectations. Truth doesn’t float some people’s boat as much as you and me, but morality brings everyone up short in my experience.

  12. Oops Catfish, I seem to have tacked my comment onto the segment of yours that was quoted. My comment is about the issue of children being frightened by aspects of Christianity such as being left behind at the Second Coming. I was brought up in a group that taught this and was terrified by it.

  13. What can I say to accomodationist atheists?

    I dunno, how about Congratulations for not being so arrogant you think every other person on the planet must believe as you believe and think as you think ?

    I love this accommodationist thing. It brings to mind those Muslim extremists you see being interviewed who insist that Islam will eventually dominate the world and those who think otherwise should be given no quarter. It’s just so… so childish, and counterproductive to the goal of fostering peace and stability, to imagine that the atheist ‘movement’ can go it alone, without making allies of the moderate religious.

    I genuinely wonder what those take-no-prisoner atheists imagine is going to happen to religion. Do they think it can be eradicated? Do they believe, as in the slogan on the t-shirt Richard looks so uncomfortable modelling, that “together we can find a cure”? Childish.

    Religion isn’t the problem. We are. Religion is neutral, as someone said. If a pharmaceutical company creates a drug which is able both to increase the human IQ and lower aggression, and introduce it to the worldwide water supply so that every single person gets a dose, then religion may disappear. Possibly. But until that time, trying to inculcate rationalism in an intensely non-rational species is trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

    We have to deal with things as they are, not as we would wish them to be. The planet is overwhelmingly religious at present; we can either make friends with those who espouse a liberal, humanist version of their faith, as much as it pains us and as baffling as we may find some of their views, or we can sit in the sandbox alone, playing by ourself, muttering “Sheeple,” and “Religiots.”

    Again, religion is – say it with me – neutral. It can be used to psychopathically scary effect, or to organize nice village fetes with tombolas and jumble sales to help those in reduced circumstances. But it’s only ever a tool. Remove its teeth and religion can be positively charming.

    The ‘Accommodationists’, the Hester Prynnes of the atheist movement, are apparently the only ones smart enough to recognize this truth.

    Sucks to be a grownup.

  14. For Keith.
    Sliding Doors is a reference to the movie of that name. An example of how and accidental reversal of roles creates situations. Thus, if the Islamic and Christian roles were reversed, there would be no difference. Sorry if the analogy was too obscure. BTW… Keith, can you give me a list of Communist countries around the world today. Just interested.

    Now back to the American Taliban. I endorse Katy Cordeth’s comments. And I would add as another example of the terrorist nature of the American Taliban. Americas foreign policy is shaped by the Christian lobby. The aid given to Africa is limited by the religious views of the brutally powerful American Taliban lobby. As a result, millions needlessly die in Africa from AIDS. And don’t get me started on the crimes against humanity by the Catholic church who’s official policy is the deny the use of condoms on Africa. Now, how many people died on 9/11 as a result of Islamic terrorism and how many people have died in Africa from preventable HIV infection. (American Taliban.) The figure has just ticked over 30,000,000.

    I concur with Red Dog in his thoughts on America. It all started so well with the founding fathers, but it’s all gone pear shaped. The rest of the civilized world is desperate for America to get back to the ideals of the founding fathers. We need America leading the free world on social justice and the environment. America is stuck back in the 50′s, its glory days post WW2, stilling fighting the cold war. The rest of the world has moved on. Civilization has advanced. America is being held back in part, because of the American Taliban political lobby. And Keith, if you are worried about reds under the bed destroying democracy, shed a tear for America which is no longer a democracy, but a lobbyocracy, government by the amount of money you have, and how much media pressure you can swing to threaten Congressmen and Senators. Dare i mention the NRA…..

    So in summary, religion should be practiced (all over the world) by consenting adults in private, and it has no place in a civilized world in the halls of power. This applies to Keith’s bogeyman Islam, and equally applies to fundamentalists Christians, or fundamentalists of any religious brand.

    • In reply to #39 by David R Allen:

      For Keith.
      Sliding Doors is a reference to the movie of that name. An example of how and accidental reversal of roles creates situations. Thus, if the Islamic and Christian roles were reversed, there would be no difference. Sorry if the analogy was too obscure. BTW… Keith, can you give me a l…

      Sorry David, I still think your insistence on calling fundamentalist Christians ‘Taliban’ silly. I have no idea why you think I believe their are reds under the beds. Because I told Reddog I thought he had been influenced by cultural Marxists? As far as I know communism is dead and buried so I really have no idea why you want me to list presently communist countries. Let me guess, you were trying to insinuate that I am some kind of crank who is stuck in the 1950s and is a fan of McCarthy? And my ‘bogeyman’ is Islam, and as we all know, bogeymen are really just figments of our fevered imaginations, right? It’s so much easier to dismiss someone in this way than to actually deal with the possibility that Islam might be dangerous or that some people (yourself?) have indeed been influenced by cultural Marxists.

      I find your description of American policy and history tendentious but since there are very good books around and you still hold this view, then I’m sure there is nothing I can say will put a little perspective on things. If someone is determined to see only the Kissingers of America, then so be it.

  15. But that is as far as they go, and they are always chiding me about the depth of my own feelings on the subject and about my active involvement with Freedom From Religion Foundation.

    There will always be those in relatively safe and secure societies who will with snooty airs of superiority, dissociate from the conflicts or hard work needed to maintain standards.

    This usually leads to the easy line of least resistance – “Not my fight”, approach – with the follow-up of – “somebody (else) should have done something about that before it got so bad”!

    There are greedy and selfish antisocial characters in societies, just as there are assertive ignoramuses who are wrong. If numbers of such people accumulate in places of power while nobody wants the personal inconvenience or aggravation of “rocking the boat”, that is how societies, companies, countries and empires collapse into chaos, banditry or dictatorships as the dodged abuses escalate.

  16. The fact that millions of children every year have the tips of their penises cut off because their parents believe that a fictional god commanded them to do this as a mark of their covenant with him is something that any rational and compassionate human being should be sickened by and want outlawed. The fact that Jews and muslims have been practising this medically unnecessary barbaric act of physical abuse on defenceless children for thousands of years should not supercede the protection and basic human rights of the child..

    • In reply to #41 by brown dwarf:

      The fact that millions of children every year have the tips of their penises cut off because their parents believe that a fictional god commanded them to do this as a mark of their covenant with him is something that any rational and compassionate human being should be sickened by and want outlawed….

      Interestingly, I checked and could’t find a word in Qoran regarding circumcision. It is weird that Muslims follow Jewish tradition..

      • In reply to #42 by YesUCan:

        Interestingly, I checked and could’t find a word in Qoran regarding circumcision. It is weird that Muslims follow Jewish tradition..

        It’s not weird. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are called the Abrahemic religions because they all share essential aspects of faith and prophets. Jesus and Mary are both worshiped in Islam. It’s natural they share various backward ideas about sex, women, etc.

      • “Interestingly, I checked and couldn’t find a word in Quran regarding circumcision”

        Well here is the justification that Islamic websites give:

        “Then We inspired you: ‘Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith’.”

        (Qur’an 16:123)

        Seems Abraham had his foreskin cut off (yahweh told him to, you see?), and allah orders them to follow Abraham, so if we follow this to its logical conclusion, I will provide you with the syllogism:

        1. Abraham cut his foreskin off
        2. The quran says “do whatever Abraham did”
        3. Therefore the quran says cut your foreskin off.

        So this is what the ‘clerics and scholars’ use to justify it. Perhaps you have been reading the quran (ahem) “out of context”?

  17. In reply to #38 by Katy Cordeth:

    I genuinely wonder what those take-no-prisoner atheists imagine is going to happen to religion. Do they think it can be eradicated? Do they believe, as in the slogan on the t-shirt Richard looks so uncomfortable modelling, that “together we can find a cure”? Childish.

    Not a childish slogan, more juvenile. It’s aimed at American college kids, I imagine. Give the guy a break. Like any other similar American site, the foundation sells merchandise to help keep the show on the road. Granted, they might have got Jaclyn Glenn to model the tee-shirt.

    It’s campaigning hyperbole to talk about eradicating hunger/crime/drug addiction/ etc.etc. Holding the view -not one that takes genius to arrive at-that the gods are mythical beings does not preclude amicable discussion with advocates of some particular superstition. A discussion I saw between Richard and the former Archbishop of Canterbury is one of any number of examples of just that. Shrill militancy is more the style of religious types than rationalists.
    Alliances of convenience, or even of conviction, with religious groups — not even a particularly moderate one, in this case, are perfectly OK when there’s a shared interest.

    The Reform Section 5 Campaign was borne out of the unlikely partnership of the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society. The Christian Institute was alarmed at the way Section 5 had been used against street preachers, while the NSS saw it as part of our ongoing commitment to free expression for everyone.

  18. I sense in your topic a state of mind similar to that of religious people. In fact, I observe this kind of attitude more and more, and it makes me think that atheism is becoming a religion itself.
    I myself am an atheist. All I needed to become one was common sense (and I was born and raised in a very religious society).

    ”I have two friends, a couple of the most intelligent people I know, both of whom are de facto as atheist as I am.”
    I feel you’re implying that intelligence has something to do with being an atheist. That will also imply that being religious makes you less intelligent; witch of course is not true (there are a lot of extremely intelligent believers, and they chose to believe in god, they are not priests or pastors).

    “I can’t get them to see that religion is a self-perpetuating mind virus.”
    This is false. It seems to be true but it’s not. You must see the nuances. Religion is nothing but a form of superstition. In other words there’s no difference between Christianity let’s say and astrology, or talking to the dead, or spotting ghosts; no difference at all.
    Religion is a symptom. The real virus is superstition, lack of reasoning.

    If you really want to “cure” someone of religious belief teach him about common sense. Make him search for the truth.

    • In reply to #47 by paulconstantin:

      I observe this kind of attitude more and more, and it makes me think that atheism is becoming a religion itself.

      I certainly consider atheism to be a belief rather than a religion because religion carries an implication of rituals and funny hats. However it is the fact that we recognise that we might be wrong that perhaps sets us apart from the religious. The fact that we might in fact need to alter our belief based on evidence that makes us more accepting rather than closed minded.

      I personally consider that we have enough evidence to know that the world was not created in seven days and certainly not in the manner described in the Bible. The scientific community have put forward the big bang theory as a possible option for the origin of everything. My simple mind cannot possibly hope to comprehend how they came to this conclusion and nor can I realistically check their theory. I have to trust in the scientists so how is this different to the deluded trusting the word of their priests?

      • In reply to #48 by naskew:

        “I certainly consider atheism to be a belief rather than a religion because religion carries an implication of rituals and funny hats.”

        There are people that call themselves atheists and have rituals and sometimes wear funny hats (!)
        There are also people that call themselves atheists just because they think it’s cool.
        There are also people that call themselves atheists just because they feel constricted by the moral system taught by the church (it doesn’t matter witch one). If you denounce Catholicism just because you want to have sex before marriage you’re not necessarily a critical thinker.

        The problem is that more and more people adhere to atheism without actually understanding what it means. They talk, and act with the same aggression of a religious fanatic.

        In an ideal world atheism would not exist because theism wouldn’t have existed in the first place…

        “I personally consider that we have enough evidence to know that the world was not created in seven days and certainly not in the manner described in the Bible.”

        Christianity is not the only religion on Earth.
        We had enough evidence since at least the 18th century!

        “The scientific community has put forward the big bang theory as a possible option for the origin of everything.”

        It’s the best explanation for the emergence of our universe, not for the origin of everything! Who know how many universes are out here…

        “I have to trust in the scientists so how is this different to the deluded trusting the word of their priests?”

        It’s quite an ambiguous sentence. I think you’re trying to put forth the contrast between scientists and priests.
        A priest is either a deluded individual or a skilled conman. A scientist is an explorer, someone who tries to understand the world as best he can.

        We are not atheists because of science! Theism is denied by common since. You don’t need to understand the Theory of relativity in order to keep away from superstitious belief.

        • In reply to #49 by paulconstantin:

          There are people that call themselves atheists and have rituals and sometimes wear funny hats (!)

          Yes but there is no requirement for an atheist to wear funny hats or perform rituals. Generally speaking the only entry qualification to an atheist club would be to deny the existence of a deity. The original poster certainly appears to qualify in that respect. The difference is that while I firmly believe there is no God, his position appears to be more fundamental, as in there is no God and nobody else has a right to take a different point of view.

          As for the word atheism, yes I agree with those that state that it should be redundant word. What was the alternative proffered? Tea pot agnostic? It is entirely logical to us that there is no deity so the double negative of ‘atheist’ seems redundant, worse it gets confused with anti-theist which sounds hostile. I have members of my broader family who are church goers, while I think they are wasting there time I am not opposed to their practices unless it shows intolerance of others (homophobia for example) or negatively affects the lives of the innocent (banning of contraception for example).

          My point about the priests and scientists is not so much about the priests or the scientists, it is about the individual follower. I trust the scientists to change their mind to adapt to whatever ‘truth’ they find but I still have to rely on them to make the scientific discovery. Just because someone says we have evidence of evolution that does not make it true, just because someone says the universe started with a big bang that does not make it so. Just because someone says they have spoken to God and he weeps for the disbeliever, that does not make it a lie. The difference is that the scientist will attempt to show his evidence when asked to do so but the average Priest will simply demand belief and that is why I am an atheist.

          You suggest that keeping away from superstition but how do you test if some stated fact is superstition? My mother firmly appears to believe that some harm will come to her if I bring an unfolded umbrella into the house. Now this is easy to test and, unbeknown to her, it has been. As a teenager I frequently unfurled and umbrella in the house and so far nothing really bad has happened. However even my simple test is not proof that the theory of erected umbrellas indoors is a poor one.

          Remember that perhaps the superstition, as we would both call it, came from an observation that bad things appeared to happen after umbrellas were opened in doors. A theory was made and many people lived by that theory. Nonsense we would both agree. But now someone comes along and states that the universe started with a big bang. Sure it fits the evidence and we all wisely nod our heads and say that must be the way it is. No! The current evidence suggests that that is the way it was, but unless we have absolute proof it will always be a theory and when a better theory comes along we will accept that theory instead.

  19. To echo the sentiments of many others on this board (I’m afraid I haven’t read through ALL of the comments yet) I don’t think Atheism is a cause that is required to be, nor should be, campaigned for.

    Atheism itself is nothing more than a claim as to the existence or non-existence of a deity. At it’s core it is subjective and arbitrary, which is probably why your friends do not feel it is such a dire cause that needs to be fought for and why it seems to some people that those flying the banner of Atheism are just as bad as the religious.

    It is not Atheism we need to fight for, it is the various attitudes and philosophies that we perceive as stemming from our atheism that are the real cause, when in fact it is likely the other way around, our atheism is most likely a result of our valuing of scientific inquiry, our valuing of truth over fantasy, of humanistic morality and of a rational common-sense approach to it all.

    These values are the real goals we should be striving for, for a better standard of education and to diminish superstition in general, not just one symptom of it. This, combined with a greater standard of living, will inevitably lead to either atheism, or deism, and at that point it’s just a matter of whether the individual wants to hang onto a degree of hope for an afterlife.

  20. encourage them to read TGD maybe?

    or have answers to the assertion they’re not hurting anything. the children brought up to reject other views and cultures without question, the charity that is is misused to promote religion before helping the needy, the crimes covered up by the vatican which would only be possible if automatic deference is given, the death and suffering in developing countries where preachers are perpetuating child witch killings, avoiding HIV treatment to pay for useless suppliments or takeing advice to rape a virgin. the diseases such as polio that should be eradicated but thanks to religion are very much still here and on the rise (helped along with the murder of medical volunteers), the power weilded among countries that call themselves democratic but have theocreatic lawmakers putting the word of their magic book before the will of the people, the irreversible damage done to children undergoing genital mutilation (obviously horrific among girls but jewish boys have died of STDs or had their penises removed completely in the name of religion)….

    Your friend may be guilty of lazy thinking. there’s little harm in believeing in religion (there is harm still as anyone brought up in religion will know) but those who have the power are ruining the planet because their beliefs disagree with scientific facts, people are being persecuted for their beliefs or lack of, or their sexuality, or even their colour.

    If they’re so opinionated they won’t listen, don’t try and convince them but maybe lending a book might help.

    • In reply to #52 by SaganTheCat:

      the irreversible damage done to children undergoing genital mutilation

      Totally agree. I find it almost freakish that we allow children to be forced to undergo totally unnecessary surgery (which always carries risks) in the name of religion. To me this is simply child abuse.

      • In reply to #54 by naskew:

        In reply to #52 by SaganTheCat:

        the irreversible damage done to children undergoing genital mutilation

        Totally agree. I find it almost freakish that we allow children to be forced to undergo totally unnecessary surgery (which always carries risks) in the name of religion. To me this is simply chi…

        When I was young many boys were circumcised and this had nothing to do with religion. It was just considered to be more hygienic in those days. I get fed up with the idea that male and female circumcision have anything much in common. The latter is barbaric, the former nothing much to get excited about. That is especially how my friend viewed it when he had to be circumcised at the age of 30 because of an infection caused by the foreskin.

  21. Red Dog wrote,”Jesus and Mary are both worshiped in Islam.”

    I believe this would be indignantly denied as heresy by a large majority of Muslims. They revere Jesus (second only to Mohammed) and Mary, but they worship only Allah.

    Katy Cordeth wote, “The more religious a particular American state is, the greater the chance it will have the death penalty.”

    See also Steven Pinker’s book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” (2011) ISBN 978-0-670-02295-3. He discusses influences on homicide rates and shows that one strong correlation is with the proportion of the population with religious belief.

    keith wrote, “Simply because Islam and Christianity are both called religions is no reason to assume that they are therefore identical in every way. There may very well be something intrinsically violent and aggressive about Islam. After all, look at the two men who inspired their religions. One was a milk sop while the other was a warrior who slaughtered unbelievers. it would be odd if both religions attracted the same kind of people.”

    Interesting point. You should bear in mind also that Christianity is about 500 years older than Islam. When Christianity was the same age as Islam is now, it was a much more violent religion than it has since become (it’s still bad enough in some places, but in Europe it has mostly been tamed by the 18th C. Enlightenment and other free-thinking influences). Most of its violence took the form of internal strife (Catholic-Protestant), much as Islam’s is nowadays (Sunni-Shiah).

    Within England in the 16th C., Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) became notorious for burning Protestants; Queen Elisabeth’s executions of Roman Catholics were more of a response to a Papal pronouncement that she was illegitimate, therefore a usurper, which made every RC in England either a heretic or a traitor. Her popularity and the population’s general distrust of the Roman Church were both increased by the Spanish Armada. Around about this time, French RCs killed Protestant Huguenots enthusiastically; see St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

    The English Civil war in the 17th C. was mostly a political power struggle, but had a religious component also. Meanwhile most of the other European countries were engaged in the 30 Years’ War (1618-1648) which started as a Protestant-RC conflict. In some areas during this period, populations declined by 1/3 to 2/3 because of the war, starvation and disease.

  22. More on the death penalty, there is a good discussion of it in Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our nature and his review of the data confirms what I said that there is overwhelming evidence that the death penalty does not correlate to decrease in crime, if anything just the opposite. Just one of many quotes:

    At the same time that the rate of capital punishment went down, so did the number of capital crimes.

    Pinker, Steven (2011-10-04). The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (p. 151). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

  23. In reply to #82 by keith:

    In reply to #81 by Katy Cordeth:

    Katy, some studies show that the death penalty deters crime while other studies seem to show the opposite. Where precisely are the ‘facts’ in all this? Are you accusing the people who did the studies – both sides – of randomly choosing their facts or the people, like me, who decide which of the studies sounds more likely to be true? I still don’t see the logical inconsistency of coming down on one side of an inconclusive issue. It’s only when the facts are known that not believing them is silly. But the point here is that the facts aren’t known, though perhaps you are mistaking your own views for facts.

    Sorry, but I’m pretty intellectually lazy. I didn’t even go to the wwws you provided about capital punishment. I did note that of those you cited only one apparently was conclusive in its assertion that the death penalty was an effective deterrent. As John Wayne would say, Is that all ya got pilgrim? You are sounding an awful lot like an intelligent design exponent here.

    I believe I’m hungry, I believe I’m sleepy, I believe I’m horny, I hope my daughter’s wedding goes off without a hitch, I hope the lump I just found is benign…

    I have no idea where this came from, especially the ‘I believe I’m horny’. What on earth possessed you to write that? Don’t you think it’s a bit vulgar?

    Did you think I was talking about myself? I was just pointing out that the concerns of the average Muslim are in no way different to those of the typical Christian, Jew, atheist, Buddhist or Ragu-head (my own pejorative for followers of the FSM, damn them all). All most of us want is a full tummy, a soft mattress to sleep on, the occasional bit of how’s yer father, and for our family to be healthy and happy. The idea that Muslims go to bed with the words ‘Death to the West’ on their lips is just silly, and something only a fool or a noted neurologist and weirdling would believe.

    If every single Muslim puts up their hand when asked if they agree with certain extreme opinions, and surveys show that a large percentage of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed and that various people are legitimate targets for jihad, what is silly about taking them at their word? If it had been only the men on the panel who had expressed such extreme views than I could see your point. The interesting thing was that almost every person in the room raised their hands when asked about these extreme views…

    Oy. This is probably way off-topic now, and I think my comments on those threads addressed it, including this one, which I felt was especially subtle, devious even in its intricacies and verbal legerdemain; but also this. In a nutshell, don’t try and impute the words or attitudes of a roomful of people who may have gone to an event specifically to listen to a particular speaker onto about two billion people, even if the people in the room are saying what you want them to say.

    That conference’s attendees weren’t speaking for every other Muslim, Keith; People like Harris just think they were, or effect to because it suits their agenda. If you went to a Christian shindig and the guy on stage, the person everyone in the audience had given up their time to listen to, asked all those who opposed gay marriage to put up their hand and the majority did, would you conclude they were representative of Christianity as a whole? I would hope not.

    …What do you find silly about concluding that it might not be the lunatic fringe who believe such nasty stuff?

    Because the majority of people are not political. Only the political are. As I said, most people just want a full belly etc etc. It uses up energy to hate. A lunatic fringe, or a liberal fringe, or any sort of fringe is by definition a fringe. And I don’t mean they’re a decorative border of thread, cord, or the like, usually hanging loosely from a raveled edge or separate strip. They may claim to represent their group, but – and here’s where you’re going to accuse me of being snide or sneering again – that isn’t necessarily so.

    If surveys show that a large percentage of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed and that various people are legitimate targets for jihad, what is silly about taking them at their word?

    I’m sorry, are you saying that such surveys have been conducted and the results are as you claim, or is this just a hypothetical? Do a significant number of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed? Fudge them and the horse they flew in on if so.

    • In reply to #85 by Katy Cordeth:

      Do a significant number of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed? Fudge them and the horse they flew in on if so.

      But you won’t be changing your stance, regardless of whether the figures are right or wrong, right? Rather than talk of ‘fudging’, if I were you I would start to wonder whether I hadn’t been a little complaisant in my assumption that ‘we all want the same things’.

      I did note that of those you cited only one apparently was conclusive in its assertion that the death penalty was an effective deterrent.

      Yes, I could have found more studies that give credence to the view that the death penalty works. Would the have made any difference, given that you didn’t even click on the two that I provided? I also have a link to the survey about what British Muslims believe but I’m sure you will either be ‘intellectually lazy’ and not click on it or refuse to accept the figures because it was the Centre for Social Cohesion who carried out the survey. By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Douglas Murray (previously the head of CSC) I recommend you become so. He’s great. Here’s the link for you to ignore:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/2461830/Killing-for-religion-is-justified-say-third-of-Muslim-students.html

      The idea that Muslims go to bed with the words ‘Death to the West’ on their lips is just silly

      Did I say this? I don’t remember saying it. Ah, I see. Exaggerate wildly and then your opponent will look unhinged. I get it.

      …don’t try and impute the words or attitudes of a roomful of people who may have gone to an event specifically to listen to a particular speaker onto about two billion people…

      My God, are there two billion of them? Things are worse than I thought! If we can’t impute beliefs from Muslims gatherings and surveys, how exactly should we impute them?

      They may claim to represent their group, but – and here’s where you’re going to accuse me of being snide or sneering again – that isn’t necessarily so.

      I’m damned if I can see anything snide or sneering about this. However, I can see what you are up to (again). Choose something totally innocuous you have said and then wonder aloud if this will upset the delicate, sensitive flower at the other end of the computer. The genuinely snide and sneering bits can then be forgotten. Naughty.

      It’s easy to behave well when you are Andorra. Presumably what you mean is that as a large country any crimes America has committed can by excused.

      No, what I meant is that small countries can’t afford to come over all expansionist whereas there is always that temptation for bigger, more powerful countries. I can’t work out if your misunderstanding was willful or not. I just can’t see how you arrived at your interpretation. Because it suited your position that I believe such things?

      • In reply to #87 by keith:

        In reply to #85 by Katy Cordeth:

        Do a significant number of British Muslims believe that apostates and gays should be killed? Fudge them and the horse they flew in on if so.

        But you won’t be changing your stance, regardless of whether the figures are right or wrong, right? Rather than talk of ‘fudging’, if I were you I would start to wonder whether I hadn’t been a little complaisant in my assumption that ‘we all want the same things’.

        I’m not even sure what my stance is. I would say that people are entitled to believe whatever they want. If a significant number of British Muslims think apostates and gays deserve to die… well, thank God they live in a country which has rather harsh penalties for murder. What’s that saying, something about wishes, horses and riding beggars? What are British authorities supposed to do, lobotomize them? Subject them to this business? Send ‘em all back?

        I wonder how many of those who gave the opinion that death was an appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay or leaving Islam would actually be fine with it if it were to happen. I tend to think people of whatever description are overwhelmingly decent and balk at injustice. That’s kinda why Muslim countries are not usually democracies.

        I stand by my view that “we all want the same thing,” and will continue to do so. The majority of Earth’s human population just don’t have the luxury of being political; they’re much too busy putting food on their families. Politics for the most part is a leisure activity enjoyed by those with full bellies and iPads.

        Yes, I could have found more studies that give credence to the view that the death penalty works. Would the have made any difference, given that you didn’t even click on the two that I provided? I also have a link to the survey about what British Muslims believe but I’m sure you will either be ‘intellectually lazy’ and not click on it or refuse to accept the figures because it was the Centre for Social Cohesion who carried out the survey. By the way, if you aren’t familiar with Douglas Murray (previously the head of CSC) I recommend you become so. He’s great. Here’s the link for you to ignore:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/2461830/Killing-for-religion-is-justified-say-third-of-Muslim-students.html

        Would it have made any difference if you had provided more surveys and I wasn’t quite so lazy? Probably not. But only because for every survey someone presents, somebody else will come up with another which says exactly the opposite. Surveys can be spun; I think it’s called push polling? These things are always open to interpretation. Let me know when there’s a definitive answer to the question of whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent.

        Even if it were proven, there are other reasons than its efficacy for opposing capital punishment, chief among them being there is no way to undo it if those subjected to it are found to be innocent after all. And the fact that it is barbaric, but that’s more of a personal view.

        The idea that Muslims go to bed with the words ‘Death to the West’ on their lips is just silly

        Did I say this? I don’t remember saying it. Ah, I see. Exaggerate wildly and then your opponent will look unhinged. I get it.

        Don’t get the hump. What you said was:

        Anyway, I’m quite happy for you to continue believing… that in reality the great majority of Muslims believe the same things that we do, though this video rather suggests that this is not the case:

        http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/islam-or-islamophobia2

        Harris got all excited because he thought he had found the holy grail which would prove everything he says about Islam and Muslims was correct. You, and a significant number of site members here, agreed with him. A few of us were able to see it for the poisoned chalice it was. My statement was simply encapsulating the prevalent view that Muslims are aliens who represent a danger to the West. I wasn’t quoting you directly.

        …don’t try and impute the words or attitudes of a roomful of people who may have gone to an event specifically to listen to a particular speaker onto about two billion people…

        My God, are there two billion of them? Things are worse than I thought!

        Well, you know how those brown devils breed. I’m sure it won’t be long before their numbers exceed two billion. Where are George W and Anthony Charles Lynton when you need to to help ‘thin out the ranks’?

        If we can’t impute beliefs from Muslims gatherings and surveys, how exactly should we impute them?

        Impute means to assign the characteristics of a few onto an entire group. I just thought I’d clarify that in case there was some confusion. That being said… well, you don’t. You don’t get to look at a few surveys or a pissant conference held in God’s icebox and say “Ah, this must be what all 1.6 billion or about 23.4% of the world population (happy?) believe.”

        They may claim to represent their group, but – and here’s where you’re going to accuse me of being snide or sneering again – that isn’t necessarily so.

        I’m damned if I can see anything snide or sneering about this. However, I can see what you are up to (again). Choose something totally innocuous you have said and then wonder aloud if this will upset the delicate, sensitive flower at the other end of the computer. The genuinely snide and sneering bits can then be forgotten. Naughty.

        You clearly have a better understanding of the way my mind works than I do, Keith, as I wasn’t aware I was doing anything of the kind. While you’ve got me on your couch, I’ve recently been having this recurring dream. I’m being chased down a hallway by all these men with enormo… no, best not to get sidetracked. If ever a topic comes up here about psychoanalysis, you better believe I’m going to take advantage of your insight into my father… penises… psyche!

        It’s easy to behave well when you are Andorra. Presumably what you mean is that as a large country any crimes America has committed can by excused.

        No, what I meant is that small countries can’t afford to come over all expansionist whereas there is always that temptation for bigger, more powerful countries. I can’t work out if your misunderstanding was willful or not. I just can’t see how you arrived at your interpretation. Because it suited your position that I believe such things?

        No, my misunderstanding was just that: an honest mistake. I genuinely thought that was what you meant. You have spent some time on this thread defending the US, saying “that America has generally acted better than most powerful countries throughout history,” against all evidence to the contrary, so I don’t think I can be blamed too much. Before I googled it, I actually thought you were talking about the planet from that Avatar movie.

        • In reply to #88 by Katy Cordeth:

          What are British authorities supposed to do, lobotomize them? Subject them to this business? Send ‘em all back?

          Well, it would be lovely to send them all back but since that isn’t going to happen and even I would be sad to lose one or two of them, then stopping all immigration from Muslims to the West before they gain demographic hegemony would be fine with me. Some predictions suggest that they will be in a majority in Britain by 2050, but I suspect it will take a little longer. Either way I think you might want to start dusting down your burka, or at least your daughter’s.

          I wonder how many of those who gave the opinion that death was an appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay or leaving Islam would actually be fine with it if it were to happen. I tend to think people of whatever description are overwhelmingly decent and balk at injustice.

          What a peculiar thing to say. Clearly you haven’t understood the point that many Muslims don’t think it is an injustice to kill gays and apostates. If they thought it was unjust they wouldn’t believe it, would they? That is the whole point. Once again you are confusing your own personal view with what you believe everyone agrees is just. Since you believe that most Muslims are sensible then they can’t possibly believe that killing gays and apostates is just, despite what the surveys are telling us.

          I stand by my view that “we all want the same thing,” and will continue to do so. The majority of Earth’s human population just don’t have the luxury of being political; they’re much too busy putting food on their families. Politics for the most part is a leisure activity enjoyed by those with full bellies and iPads.

          You seem to have a thing about the world being split into those who live and those who think politics. Maybe you haven’t noticed but Islam is not a political party, it’s a religion. Apart from that, as far as I know, putting food and the table and being either very religious aren’t mutually incompatible. In fact the opposite is true. Poor people tend to be the more religious.

          Would it have made any difference if you had provided more surveys and I wasn’t quite so lazy? Probably not. But only because for every survey someone presents, somebody else will come up with another which says exactly the opposite. Surveys can be spun; I think it’s called push polling? These things are always open to interpretation. Let me know when there’s a definitive answer to the question of whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent.

          This is a bit rich. I had no intention of linking to any research until you asked me to back up my belief that the death penalty works with data. Now I have done so tell me that such things aren’t worth looking at. Couldn’t you have told me that before asking me to find links?

          Harris got all excited because he thought he had found the holy grail which would prove everything he says about Islam and Muslims was correct. You, and a significant number of site members here, agreed with him. A few of us were able to see it for the poisoned chalice it was.

          Oh well, that’s a relief that you and a few others can see reality for what it is. We can now dismiss nutcases like Sam Harris. How is it that you became so omniscient?

          Well, you know how those brown devils breed. I’m sure it won’t be long before their numbers exceed two billion. Where are George W and Anthony Charles Lynton when you need to to help ‘thin out the ranks’?

          So let me get this straight. George W. Bush invaded Iraq so as to kill off as many Muslims as he could. Is that it? And the soldiers who stayed on as a peace keeping force to keep the Sunni and Shia from each other’s throats. Was that also a cunning plan to keep down the numbers of Muslims? I’m not much a of a fan of Bush but if that is your view, then I have to say it is not very well thought through. However, it will get you lots of ‘likes’ on silly websites where other people go so as to air their equally vacuous views.

          You clearly have a better understanding of the way my mind works than I do, Keith, as I wasn’t aware I was doing anything of the kind. While you’ve got me on your couch, I’ve recently been having this recurring dream. I’m being chased down a hallway by all these men with enormo… no, best not to get sidetracked. If ever a topic comes up here about psychoanalysis, you better believe I’m going to take advantage of your insight into my father… penises… psyche!

          I don’t think you need me to psychoanaylise you. However, I think you do need to be a little more self aware.

          You have spent some time on this thread defending the US, saying “that America has generally acted better than most powerful countries throughout history,” against all evidence to the contrary, so I don’t think I can be blamed too much.

          I personally think that America has, over history, struck a good balance between self interest and respect for other cultures. In the old days strong countries would just have marched into Arab lands and taken their oil. As it was, the West showed the Arabs how to get oil out of the ground and then paid them exorbitant prices for the privilege of buying it off them. I think the Vietnam War was sensible given the threat from communism. I think invading Iraq was all part of the neocons’ nation-building strategy and a good way to get rid of a psychopath in charge of a country. However, over the last few years my views have changed a little and become more cynical. I now believe that you can’t export democracy and we should just leave the non-western world to its own devices as long as it isn’t threatening us. There should be no intervention in Syria, or in Libya, or in any of the African countries. If they want to slaughter each other, that’s up to them.

          • In reply to #89 by keith:

            In reply to #88 by Katy Cordeth:

            What are British authorities supposed to do, lobotomize them? Subject them to this business? Send ‘em all back?

            Well, it would be lovely to send them all back but since that isn’t going to happen and even I would be sad to lose one or two of them, then stopping all immigration from Muslims to the West before they gain demographic hegemony would be fine with me. Some predictions suggest that they will be in a majority in Britain by 2050, but I suspect it will take a little longer. Either way I think you might want to start dusting down your burka, or at least your daughter’s.

            I see what you’re doing here, you rascal. You’ve read this comment I recently posted which included a link to a Channel 4 News article which refutes the nonsense about how Britain will have become a Muslim-majority county in half a century and are pointing out that I am not above citing other sources to bolster an argument. I’ll address that in a moment.

            Either way I might want to dust down the family burkas? I really hope this is just a pastiche of the kind of frightened statements often made here at the Clear-Thinking Oasis by those who have clearly seen too many George Romero zombie movies and you don’t actually believe this. If it isn’t, I think I may have overestimated your intelligence.

            I wonder how many of those who gave the opinion that death was an appropriate punishment for the crime of being gay or leaving Islam would actually be fine with it if it were to happen. I tend to think people of whatever description are overwhelmingly decent and balk at injustice.

            What a peculiar thing to say. Clearly you haven’t understood the point that many Muslims don’t think it is an injustice to kill gays and apostates. If they thought it was unjust they wouldn’t believe it, would they? That is the whole point. Once again you are confusing your own personal view with what you believe everyone agrees is just.

            I’ve already explained how surveys can be deliberately skewed to elicit the answer those commissioning them desire. The question Do you think the Qur’an is correct and homosexuals should be killed? in a survey of British Muslims would result in a higher number of affirmative responses than Do you think homosexuals should be killed? because in the former you would be asking them to say their holy book was wrong.

            Same as if you were polling conservatives in the US and asked Is President Obama right to…? or Did George W. Bush do the moral thing when…?

            Push polling.

            Since you believe that most Muslims are sensible then they can’t possibly believe that killing gays and apostates is just, despite what the surveys are telling us.

            I never said most Muslims are sensible. If there’s one thing human beings are overwhelmingly not, it’s sensible. We are human though, and, apart from the psychopaths among us, capable of empathy. For the majority of those billion and a half Muslims actually to believe that gays and apostates deserve to die would require them to have been born, or turned, into psychopaths… or zombies, since we’ve already alluded to our flesh-eating friends.

            I stand by my view that “we all want the same thing,” and will continue to do so. The majority of Earth’s human population just don’t have the luxury of being political; they’re much too busy putting food on their families. Politics for the most part is a leisure activity enjoyed by those with full bellies and iPads.

            You seem to have a thing about the world being split into those who live and those who think politics. Maybe you haven’t noticed but Islam is not a political party, it’s a religion.

            Yes, with political arms, like all religions. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

            Apart from that, as far as I know, putting food and the table and being either very religious aren’t mutually incompatible. In fact the opposite is true. Poor people tend to be the more religious.

            Indeed. Religion is a community activity and if benefits those without a high income to be as much a part of the community as possible. It doesn’t pay to rock the boat by becoming political, except to affect a show by publicly supporting any candidate whom your church, mosque, temple or community at large has endorsed.

            Moving on because, as I say, I’m not sure what your point is.

            Would it have made any difference if you had provided more surveys and I wasn’t quite so lazy? Probably not. But only because for every survey someone presents, somebody else will come up with another which says exactly the opposite. Surveys can be spun; I think it’s called push polling? These things are always open to interpretation. Let me know when there’s a definitive answer to the question of whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent.

            This is a bit rich. I had no intention of linking to any research until you asked me to back up my belief that the death penalty works with data. Now I have done so tell me that such things aren’t worth looking at. Couldn’t you have told me that before asking me to find links?

            Hey, just because I glaze over when confronted with survey after survey, and start thinking about shoes, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate research once it’s had the spin taken off. I do rely on other people for this: my red dogs and my phil rimmerses; people who have a more analytical mind than my own and relish making mincemeat of bogus statistics. Hence my statement that I’ll be all ears when a definitive answer to the death penalty thing is announced, and my link to the Channel 4 Fact-check thing. Be conclusive and I’m a field of corn; ask me to analyse data and I fall into a coma.

            Harris got all excited because he thought he had found the holy grail which would prove everything he says about Islam and Muslims was correct. You, and a significant number of site members here, agreed with him. A few of us were able to see it for the poisoned chalice it was.

            Oh well, that’s a relief that you and a few others can see reality for what it is. We can now dismiss nutcases like Sam Harris. How is it that you became so omniscient?

            We’re not at home to Mrs Sarky, Keith. It’s not omniscience, but simple logic: if there had been a significant number, much more than a hundred or so, in that conference room in Oslo and the majority put up their hand, then it might have been the story Harris, that Jaclyn Glenn chick and the good folks at RDFRS desperately wanted it to be.

            Well, you know how those brown devils breed. I’m sure it won’t be long before their numbers exceed two billion. Where are George W and Anthony Charles Lynton when you need to to help ‘thin out the ranks’?

            So let me get this straight. George W. Bush invaded Iraq so as to kill off as many Muslims as he could. Is that it?

            Nope.

            And the soldiers who stayed on as a peace keeping force to keep the Sunni and Shia from each other’s throats. Was that also a cunning plan to keep down the numbers of Muslims?

            Nuh-uh.

            I’m not much a of a fan of Bush but if that is your view, then I have to say it is not very well thought through. However, it will get you lots of ‘likes’ on silly websites where other people go so as to air their equally vacuous views.

            I’m in luck, then. When did I say it was Bush and Blair’s intent deliberately to kill as many Muslims as they could? They just didn’t give a fig about the number of casualties. These people were collateral damage; irrelevant. Halliburton… sorry, the GWB administration, along with its loyal puppy, went into Iraq to get the black stuff and secure building contracts, after having convinced a gullible world that Saddam had WMDs and was responsible for 9/11.

            I don’t know about the soldiers who are posted to desert locations ostensibly to maintain order. I’ve no reason to believe the great majority of them are anything other than good, decent Christian men and women, sworn to uphold and defend America’s interests in the rest of the world; that they don’t treat their prisoners as playthings, fodder for their amusement or sadistic impulses.

            You have spent some time on this thread defending the US, saying “that America has generally acted better than most powerful countries throughout history,” against all evidence to the contrary, so I don’t think I can be blamed too much.

            I personally think that America has, over history, struck a good balance between self interest and respect for other cultures. In the old days strong countries would just have marched into Arab lands and taken their oil. As it was, the West showed the Arabs how to get oil out of the ground and then paid them exorbitant prices for the privilege of buying it off them. I think the Vietnam War was sensible given the threat from communism.

            I can’t tell if you’re joking now. You are joking, right? Tell me you are. Western nations, the US in particular, kindly showed the Arabs how to get oil out of the ground, in a teach-a-man-to-fish sort of way, and then paid them over the odds for it, as an act of kindness, presumably. I’m welling up, Keith; there are tears in my eyes. What you describe should be a Norman Rockwell painting.

            They were also instrumental in overthrowing the Shah of Iran and bringing about the Iranian Revolution, so mucho thanko for that; helped to make Osama bin Laden, the Taleban and Al-Qaeda what they were/are; and going back to those Arabs we were so kind to, teaching them how to extract and refine their lands’ precious natural resources, kept and continue to keep the monstrously corrupt House of Saud in the position of power it occupies today. You remember them, don’t you?

            Our benevolence helped to create present-day Saudi Arabia, Iran, Osama, Saddam, Gaddafi… need I go on?

            I think invading Iraq was all part of the neocons’ nation-building strategy and a good way to get rid of a psychopath in charge of a country.

            A psychopath they helped to install and keep in power, until he started to become bolshy. They were fine with Saddam’s psychopathy when it suited them.

            However, over the last few years my views have changed a little and become more cynical. I now believe that you can’t export democracy and we should just leave the non-western world to its own devices as long as it isn’t threatening us. There should be no intervention in Syria, or in Libya, or in any of the African countries. If they want to slaughter each other, that’s up to them.

            What about the Arab Spring? Were you supportive of the demonstrators in Tahrir Square; you know, these people?

            If they want to slaughter each other it’s up to them. Even though it was the West which helped to create the almighty clusterf#ck in the Muslim world, you’re happy to wash your hands and say ‘not my problem’.

            Remember in your comment no. 79 when you said:

            Even so, I can see there is too much distance between our views for it to be worthwhile – two people have to have a certain amount in common for the other’s arguments to make sense.

            I can see now that you were dead right. There can be no common ground for me with someone who is content to leave innocent men, women and children to be slaughtered by their governments, countrymen or neighbors, while enjoying the fruits of all this suffering.

          • In reply to #90 by Katy Cordeth:

            I see what you’re doing here, you rascal. You’ve read this comment I recently posted which included a link to a Channel 4 News article which refutes the nonsense about how Britain will have become a Muslim-majority county in half a century and are pointing out that I am not above citing other sources to bolster an argument.

            Sorry Katy, I haven’t actually read anything of yours, though I am sure I am missing out.

            Either way I might want to dust down the family burkas? I really hope this is just a pastiche of the kind of frightened statements often made here at the Clear-Thinking Oasis by those who have clearly seen too many George Romero zombie movies and you don’t actually believe this. If it isn’t, I think I may have overestimated your intelligence.

            Actually I do believe it. You just need to walk round my city, as I did today. White people now constitute a minority in my city and the writing is on the wall for us. This is partly because we are under-breeding and partly because we are escaping. I myself escape to Japan, where I work, for 7 months of the year. I don’t know why you think that Britain won’t go the way of other countries that have a sizeable Muslim population. It starts off amicably enough and then leads to ever greater demands. This has been the pattern throughout history in countries where Muslims live. Anyway, I personally am hoping to marry a nice Japanese lady and then I no longer have to look at what has become of my poor old city.

            It is more than possible that you have overestimated my intelligence. However, as with religion, I’m not convinced that intelligence plays much of a role in it. Conservatives just have different views. The reason that their views look so daft to you is because our whole foundations are different. That is why you and I arguing over manifestations of these differences is pointless. Our first principles our miles apart.

            The truth is that I adhere to the belief that people who believe counter-intuitive things tend to be more intelligent than those who simply believe what comes naturally and I am willing to admit that liberal beliefs have to be learned and are thus counter-intuitive. All of us are born racist and tribalist and we have to be educated out of it. I generally think this is a good thing. I just think liberals have gone too far with their counter-intuitiveness.

            I’ve already explained how surveys can be deliberately skewed to elicit the answer those commissioning them desire. The question Do you think the Qur’an is correct and homosexuals should be killed? in a survey of British Muslims would result in a higher number of affirmative responses than Do you think homosexuals should be killed? because in the former you would be asking them to say their holy book was wrong.

            Same as if you were polling conservatives in the US and asked Is President Obama right to…? or Did George W. Bush do the moral thing when…?

            So surveys are out and so is anecdotal evidence. What are we left with?

            Yes, with political arms, like all religions. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

            I’m not sure that this assertion that all religions have political arms holds water but I’ll let that pass.

            Indeed. Religion is a community activity and if benefits those without a high income to be as much a part of the community as possible. It doesn’t pay to rock the boat by becoming political, except to affect a show by publicly supporting any candidate whom your church, mosque, temple or community at large has endorsed.

            Okay, so poor people who just want to put food on the table are more than averagely religious but not political. But you have just claimed that all religions have political arms. How do you go about separating the religious element from the political element in Islam? Is it really true that the overly-average religious manage to shun the political aspect of their religion? How do they manage this?

            We’re not at home to Mrs Sarky, Keith. It’s not omniscience, but simple logic: if there had been a significant number, much more than a hundred or so, in that conference room in Oslo and the majority put up their hand, then it might have been the story Harris, that Jaclyn Glenn chick and the good folks at RDFRS desperately wanted it to be.

            Sorry, but you yourself refuted this. There could have been one billion Muslims in that room and by your previous logic they would all have been putting their hands up because the question had been asked in a certain way and there was pressure being put on them to answer in a certain way. Therefore your claim that if there had been a few more than a hundred present you would have been a bit more convinced just doesn’t hold water. And who the devil is Jaclyn Glenn?

            Halliburton… sorry, the GWB administration, along with its loyal puppy, went into Iraq to get the black stuff and secure building contracts, after having convinced a gullible world that Saddam had WMDs and was responsible for 9/11.

            If all Bush wanted was oil, why didn’t he just do a deal with Saddam like Jacques Chirac of France did and buy it off him? It would have cost America a tiny fraction of what the invasion cost, and was always going to cost. Katy, I thought only exceptionally stupid people still trotted out the ‘It was for oil’ stuff. Regarding WMDs, please read the book, ‘The Bomb in my Back Garden’ by the director of Saddam’s nuclear program. I don’t remember anyone claiming that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. However, I do remember some substantiated claims that he was supporting terrorism. Are you sure you aren’t just making this up to suit your argument, if that’s how it can be described?

            Sorry, I have now reached the part of your post where you give me a lesson on American history and I just don’t know where to start, so I won’t. Do you honestly think that you have given a reasonable description of the history of America and the Middle East? I don’t even think writers like Edward Said or Noam Chomsky would follow you quite so far into the morass of tendentiousness that you have just created.

            In a way you lot on the left are to blame for the cynical view that some conservatives have taken up (me included). I used to be a neocon, which, contrary to what many leftists believe, want to try to spread democracy to other countries. However, when we saw how the left blames the West for every intervention that goes wrong, we decided to just wash our hands of the whole lot of them. We intervened in Libya to aid the people of the Arab Spring and now Libya is a mess and the West is apparently to blame again. Cameron and Obama wanted to intervene in Syria and if they had had their way the Jihadists would now have the upper hand and people in the West would (quite rightly) be blaming Obama and co.

            The truth is that Muslim countries are a mess and intervention in any of them just invites the wrath of the native populations and the leftist section of our own societies, the latter who see malevolence in their governments no matter what they do. And of course they feel totally vindicated when the native populations fail to stop slaughtering each other. The West must be blamed for this too, because didn’t they intervene and wasn’t the situation just great before they did?

            So from my point of view, a plague on all their houses: the Muslim countries and the left. Nothing good can come of sticking our oar into their business since we are then responsible for them until the heat death of the universe and the left will make sure that anything that goes wrong .e.g. when a Sunni plants a bomb in a shia area that this is the Americans’ fault.

            Since you mention the invasion of Iraq, just let me give you my (not Bush’s or Blair’s) reason for supporting it. I was not that bothered about WMDs or that our oil supply might stop. Instead I was reading the Amnesty International reports of what life was like in for normal Iraqis and I read about the torture there (I used to have an Iraqi friend, Karim, and we took it in turn to cook for each other). I would have had a lot more respect for the The Stop the War coalition if their banners had read, ‘Stop the war, keep Saddam in power and let the torture of the Iraqi people go on’. That, at least, would have been honest and an acknowledgement that their stance represented a trade off. Instead they pretended that the alternative to invasion was peace in Iraq. That was simply not true for anyone who was genuinely interested in Iraq rather than merely anti-American, as most protesters were.

          • In reply to #91 by keith:

            I would have had a lot more respect for the The Stop the War coalition if their banners had read, ‘Stop the war, keep Saddam in power and let the torture of the Iraqi people go on’.

            On your banner, the slogan would have been, ” Saddam is responsible for the death of many Iraqis so let’s invade and kill a lot more.”

          • In reply to #92 by aldous:

            On your banner, the slogan would have been, “Saddam is responsible for the death of many Iraqis so let’s invade and kill a lot more.”

            I think on his banner, the slogan would have been “Saddam is responsible for the death of many Iraqis so let’s invade and kill as few as possible.”

          • In reply to #91 by keith:

            In reply to #90 by Katy Cordeth:

            I see what you’re doing here, you rascal. You’ve read this comment I recently posted which included a link to a Channel 4 News article which refutes the nonsense about how Britain will have become a Muslim-majority county in half a century and are pointing out that…

            Hope you don’t mind me asking, Keith, but have you edited your comment since you posted it? Outside the one hour window, I mean. I would’ve sworn on a stack of Bibles that it ended with the stuff about tendentiousness and Noam Chomsky and then your saying you were out or done or something. I visit the thread after a few days and there’s all this extra stuff, starting “In a way you lot on the left are to blame for the cynical view that some conserva…”

            No matter. Since you’re no longer out or done, I’m free to respond to your post, so here goes.

            Actually I do believe it. You just need to walk round my city, as I did today. White people now constitute a minority in my city and the writing is on the wall for us. This is partly because we are under-breeding and partly because we are escaping. I myself escape to Japan, where I work, for 7 months of the year. I don’t know why you think that Britain won’t go the way of other countries that have a sizeable Muslim population. It starts off amicably enough and then leads to ever greater demands. This has been the pattern throughout history in countries where Muslims live. Anyway, I personally am hoping to marry a nice Japanese lady and then I no longer have to look at what has become of my poor old city.

            Good for you. Japanese women do tend to be subservient to their men; it’s the whole geisha mentality thing I shouldn’t wonder. Japanese society is very traditional generally. I’m not surprised it appeals to westerners of a more conservative disposition. I hope for all our sake that as the worldwide human population increases and more of us whites flee our native countries rather than submit to the rule of Musselmen and the inevitable replacement of our systems of jurisprudence with sharia law that our exodus to countries like Japan isn’t met with a backlash by these nations’ indigenes; that white Europeans don’t become the target of the sort of jingoism which has come to characterize a lot of western politics. I don’t know about you but my skin, supremely white as it is, is particularly sensitive to pain.

            I think we’ll be all right as long as Japan’s economy is flourishing. Fingers crossed though that the Nikkei doesn’t take a downturn – I have no idea what that means! – and the country doesn’t enter recession. Being married to one of them might not count for much as the value of the Yen plummets; they may be polite as all outdoors but they’re still human, with the human tendency to assign blame, however unfairly. Greece’s Golden Dawn movement didn’t go after native Greeks.

            It is more than possible that you have overestimated my intelligence. However, as with religion, I’m not convinced that intelligence plays much of a role in it. Conservatives just have different views. The reason that their views look so daft to you is because our whole foundations are different. That is why you and I arguing over manifestations of these differences is pointless. Our first principles our miles apart.

            I know some conservatives; nice people all. I’m capable of understanding their views while at the same time disagreeing with them. Communication between us doesn’t require a rosetta stone.

            The truth is that I adhere to the belief that people who believe counter-intuitive things tend to be more intelligent than those who simply believe what comes naturally and I am willing to admit that liberal beliefs have to be learned and are thus counter-intuitive. All of us are born racist and tribalist and we have to be educated out of it. I generally think this is a good thing. I just think liberals have gone too far with their counter-intuitiveness.

            You believe your conservatism in innate then; that you were born mistrusting and generally resentful of others. I’m curious where this intelligence comes from. I thought notions of IQ had largely been discredited, the same as phrenology and other nineteenth-century quackery.

            All of us are born racist. No. Swing and a miss. None of us is born racist. Racism is a learned behavior. Stick a baby on a white teat, a brown teat, a black teat and it will suckle quite happily providing said teat is dispensing milk. Watch a group of six year olds at play and ask one of them to identify a friend without pointing and she won’t think to say “the black one,” or “the white one”.

            I’ve already explained how surveys can be deliberately skewed to elicit the answer those commissioning them desire. The question Do you think the Qur’an is correct and homosexuals should be killed? in a survey of British Muslims would result in a higher number of affirmative responses than Do you think homosexuals should be killed? because in the former you would be asking them to say their holy book was wrong.

            Same as if you were polling conservatives in the US and asked Is President Obama right to…? or Did George W. Bush do the moral thing when…?

            So surveys are out and so is anecdotal evidence. What are we left with?

            What makes you think you’re entitled to be left with anything. Not everything is knowable.

            Yes, with political arms, like all religions. I’m not sure what you’re getting at here.

            I’m not sure that this assertion that all religions have political arms holds water but I’ll let that pass.

            Were you in need of the lavatory when you wrote that sentence? Never mind, I know from your comment #82 that your conservatism carries within it a certain amount of prudishness.

            I’m fairly certain all religions are political at heart. If you can name one which has never tried to exert some influence in the political arena I’d be very impressed.

            Indeed. Religion is a community activity and if benefits those without a high income to be as much a part of the community as possible. It doesn’t pay to rock the boat by becoming political, except to affect a show by publicly supporting any candidate whom your church, mosque, temple or community at large has endorsed.

            Okay, so poor people who just want to put food on the table are more than averagely religious but not political. But you have just claimed that all religions have political arms. How do you go about separating the religious element from the political element in Islam?

            Again, why do you assume you get to? I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, Keith, but you don’t have an automatic right to know everything.

            Is it really true that the overly-average religious manage to shun the political aspect of their religion? How do they manage this?

            Beats me.

            We’re not at home to Mrs Sarky, Keith. It’s not omniscience, but simple logic: if there had been a significant number, much more than a hundred or so, in that conference room in Oslo and the majority put up their hand, then it might have been the story Harris, that Jaclyn Glenn chick and the good folks at RDFRS desperately wanted it to be.

            Sorry, but you yourself refuted this. There could have been one billion Muslims in that room and by your previous logic they would all have been putting their hands up because the question had been asked in a certain way and there was pressure being put on them to answer in a certain way. Therefore your claim that if there had been a few more than a hundred present you would have been a bit more convinced just doesn’t hold water.

            Very well said. They would all have been there for a specific reason; they would all have been ‘political’ Muslims. Now you’re gettin’ it.

            And who the devil is Jaclyn Glenn?

            She was the author of this thread which I linked to in my comment #81 and you responded to.

            Halliburton… sorry, the GWB administration, along with its loyal puppy, went into Iraq to get the black stuff and secure building contracts, after having convinced a gullible world that Saddam had WMDs and was responsible for 9/11.

            If all Bush wanted was oil, why didn’t he just do a deal with Saddam like Jacques Chirac of France did and buy it off him? It would have cost America a tiny fraction of what the invasion cost, and was always going to cost. Katy, I thought only exceptionally stupid people still trotted out the ‘It was for oil’ stuff.

            I never said it was entirely about oil; I also mentioned building contracts. Would it be exceptionally stupid of me to bring up the fact that Halliburton made a cool $39.5 billion from the Iraq War?

            Regarding WMDs, please read the book, ‘The Bomb in my Back Garden’ by the director of Saddam’s nuclear program. I don’t remember anyone claiming that Saddam was responsible for 9/11.

            I’m midway through The Very Hungry Caterpillar at the moment but I’ve made a note of the book you mention. You don’t remember anyone claiming Saddam was responsible for 9/11? Really? Were you on Mars in the years following that event? A significant number of Americans still believe Saddam and Osama were in cahoots; that Osama was the Stiletto to Saddam’s Baron Silas Greenback.

            However, I do remember some substantiated claims that he was supporting terrorism. Are you sure you aren’t just making this up to suit your argument, if that’s how it can be described?

            Saddam may have been supporting terrorism outside Iraq, but he kept a tight lid on terrorist elements within the country. The Taliban for one.

            Sorry, I have now reached the part of your post where you give me a lesson on American history and I just don’t know where to start, so I won’t. Do you honestly think that you have given a reasonable description of the history of America and the Middle East?

            You have to play to your audience, Keith, and dumb it up or down accordingly. :)

            I don’t even think writers like Edward Said or Noam Chomsky would follow you quite so far into the morass of tendentiousness that you have just created.

            In a way you lot on the left are to blame for the cynical view that some conservatives have taken up (me included). I used to be a neocon, which, contrary to what many leftists believe, want to try to spread democracy to other countries.

            Whether they want it or not. Jeezalu, you try to impose your own system of governance on other cultures out of the goodness of your heart and certainly not for any other, possibly nefarious reasons, and the ungrateful sonsabitches resent you for it. Who could have imagined it?

            However, when we saw how the left blames the West for every intervention that goes wrong, we decided to just wash our hands of the whole lot of them.

            So it was leftist opposition to neocon activity that frustrated that movement’s goals. Nothing to do with resistance from the countries themselves.

            Did you stop being a neocon or remain one and it was the neocon movement whose goals altered? It isn’t altogether clear to me.

            We intervened in Libya to aid the people of the Arab Spring and now Libya is a mess and the West is apparently to blame again. Cameron and Obama wanted to intervene in Syria and if they had had their way the Jihadists would now have the upper hand and people in the West would (quite rightly) be blaming Obama and co.

            The truth is that Muslim countries are a mess and intervention in any of them just invites the wrath of the native populations and the leftist section of our own societies, the latter who see malevolence in their governments no matter what they do.

            I agree there is a contingent on the left that enjoys it when America enters into a conflict and fails, but it’s unfair to tar us all with this brush. There are a-holes on the left just as there are on the right. For the record, I was in favor of western military intervention in Syria and still am. Recent revelations about torture and the hundreds of horrifying images revealed cement this view: Bashar al-Assad should have been taken out long ago and I’m sorry the weakling Cameron folded as quickly as he did in the face of such scant opposition.

            And of course they feel totally vindicated when the native populations fail to stop slaughtering each other. The West must be blamed for this too, because didn’t they intervene and wasn’t the situation just great before they did?

            Again, there are a-holes on the left as much as etc etc. I have to say I hope I never reach the stage where I’m willing to abnegate my principles, meager as they are, not because of opposition from the other side but from those who should be on my side but because of their douchiness are not.

            So from my point of view, a plague on all their houses: the Muslim countries and the left. Nothing good can come of sticking our oar into their business since we are then responsible for them until the heat death of the universe and the left will make sure that anything that goes wrong .e.g. when a Sunni plants a bomb in a shia area that this is the Americans’ fault.

            That’s pretty despicable, Keith. It’s also typical of many of those on the right: under the guise of some sort of cynical world-weariness, you have managed to shuck any responsibility you might have whilst laying the blame not just on the ungrateful recipients of your wonderful, selfless and entirely beneficent attention, but on traitorous lefties.

          • In reply to #101 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #91 by keith:

            In reply to #90 by Katy Cordeth:

            I see what you’re doing here, you rascal. You’ve read this comment I recently posted which included a link to a Channel 4 News article which refutes the nonsense about how Britain will have become a Muslim-majority county in half a century…

            Kath and Keith. Consider this statement.

            An ideology is an argument in the absence of evidence.

            Look at all of the ideologies of the left, right, green etc. Every ideology. Go back and review how they were created. Marx with Das Capital. Hitler with Mien Kampf. Freidman, Keynes. Adam Smith with capitalism. They all sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be. They created a template based on their own ideas, then tried to shoe horn it onto humanity. What none of them did was ask, “What is the evidence?” They tried, and all have failed or will fail, to force humanity to conform to their ideology.

            An easy test is Marx sitting in Engels attic with a quill, candle and inkwell. Communism. Socialism. Whatever. Predicated on the fallacy that somehow humans will all sit down nicely and play in the sand box together, sharing their lunch. The evidence is that we have evolved to be a selfish and greedy species whose altruism extends only to near genetic relatives or to a powerful person, who it is in your interests to suck up to. If Marx had looked at the evidence, he would have dismissed socialism outright. Fascism. Easily dismissed. Just about anything that ends in “ISM” is a thought bubble. (Except autism) They are example of backwards thinking. Idea first. Evidence second. You will always see people in defense of their ideology cherry pick some evidence in support of their view, but when the totality of evidence is considered, all ideologies fail.

            It’s bit harder to spot the failure in capitalism, but it is still there. The key underlying foundation of capitalist theory is growth. All of the maths, all of the equations of capitalism rely on growth to make their models work. China is down to 7% growth. Spain, Greece and Italy aren’t growing enough. Growth in the labour market. Growth in resource extraction. Growth in population. And that growth is always measured against last years growth, so it is compounding interest. Exponential growth. Now ask yourself this key question.

            Can you have exponential growth forever in a closed biological system?

            Read it again. Can you have exponential growth forever in a closed biological system? Consider an island. Manhattan Island. Its the only piece of land on the planet. How many people can it support. A dozen hunters and gatherers? A hundred maybe. With modern technology, remembering that the island is your only resource. Maybe a thousand. Now. Put 10,000 people on the island. Watch what happens. How long before violence breaks out over resources. How long before famine starts wiping out the population. How long before every tree and every calorie is gone. What does it look like. Hell on earth??? Put a million people on the island!!!

            The earth is a closed biological system. It has a carrying capacity. There is obviously a limit to how many people this “Island” can support in a civilized way. (Stress on CIVILIZED) The average of all of the attempts to define this population number is around 1 billion humans. Now given we are at 7 billion, and heading for 9-12 billion, what chance does capitalism have of being a valid ideology. Growth. Where?? How?? What will the world look like. A plague of humans. Every tree cut down. The entire planet is a farm. Every drop of ocean is producing farmed fish. Is this civilized. Is this smart. Is this sustainable. Do you want you grand children going to war over water. This is what the exponential growth of capitalism is going to produce.

            It is just so obvious that capitalism is a failed ideology, just like every other ideology that a human brain has invented since human brains became capable of inventing. Scrap all ideologies. Sorry Keith. Right wing conservative capitalism will kill you in the end.

            Decisions, every decision of every human being during every waking second should be based on evidence. You might need to go through a series of evidence based decisions to reach a final conclusion, and then act. But if your decision is not based on evidence, it will fail. Socialism fails because we won’t share. Capitalism fails because growth cannot be infinite.

            The world needs to rapidly develop a “Steady State” economy based on zero, and probably reducing growth if we are to survive.

          • In reply to #103 by David R Allen:

            Marx with Das Capital. … [deletions] … They all sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be. They created a template based on their own ideas, then tried to shoe horn it onto humanity. What none of them did was ask, “What is the evidence?” They tried, and all have failed or will fail, to force humanity to conform to their ideology.

            Have you ever tried to read Das Capital? Marx tried to develop an all encompassing theory of economics based on what he saw around him and his knowledge of history. It may well have been a hopeless endeavour but he did look at evidence. The ideology came latter.

            Michael

          • In reply to #105 by mmurray:

            In reply to #103 by David R Allen:

            Marx with Das Capital. … [deletions] … They all sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be. They created a template based on their own ideas, then tried to shoe horn it onto humanity. What none of them did was ask, “What is…

            Yes. Yes. And right and right.

            But it still failed. It failed because humans have very primitive evolutionary urges not to share, unless there is some benefit to their survival. It doesn’t matter what Marx wrote, thought or did, communism will always fail, because Marx ignored evidence. Evidence that negated his ideology.

            Evidence first, ideology second.

          • In reply to #106 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #105 by mmurray:

            In reply to #103 by David R Allen:

            Marx with Das Capital. … [deletions] … They all sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be. They created a template based on their own ideas, then tried to shoe horn it onto humanity. What none…

            I don’t care whether Marx was right or wrong. My only point is that your claim that he (and the others you mentioned)

            ** sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be.**

            is wrong. They all actually took account of evidence.

            Michael

          • In reply to #107 by mmurray:

            In reply to #106 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #105 by mmurray:

            In reply to #103 by David R Allen:

            Marx with Das Capital. … [deletions] … They all sat down with a pen and ink, and wrote down how they thought things should be. They created a template based on their own ideas, then tried to sh…

            And again, I concur. They did take account of evidence, but not all of it.

            Any thoughts on why capitalism is a failed ideology. That was my main thrust.

          • In reply to #108 by David R Allen:

            Any thoughts on why capitalism is a failed ideology. That was my main thrust.

            No not particularly. I suspect we are also likely to get jumped on as way off-topic.

            Michael

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  24. I have just read The God Delusion, my first Dawkins book, and I wanted to find a way of expressing how much I had enjoyed it, but it seemed inappropriate if I couldn’t coherently, yet concisely, express my own point of view on God.

    Of course, I specify, on God, as I whatever I believe, I could never imagine my belief system being herded by any sort of religion. To my mind all religions are essentially based on some one else’s beliefs, rather than one’s own.

    What I was worried about was that I fell into the category of ‘weak’ agnostic, because, although I have never believed in God, I lacked the sort of certainty that would allow me to honestly describe myself as an atheist.

    However, at the beginning of chapter 4 there is a quote from Douglas Adams, and it helped me find the words to describe and thereby justify my ideas and ideals.

    So, I say that I am in awe of the universe, so in awe that it makes me feel ignorant. So in awe of what we still have yet to discover that I feel duty bound to hold my head a kernel of wonderment at what those discoveries might be.

    That kernel isn’t God, mine or anyone else’s, and so I will describe myself as an atheist with a sense of wonder…

    • In reply to #94 by marxman:

      I have just read The God Delusion, my first Dawkins book, and I wanted to find a way of expressing how much I had enjoyed it, but it seemed inappropriate if I couldn’t coherently, yet concisely, express my own point of view on God.

      Of course, I specify, on God, as I whatever I believe, I could neve…

      This is a relatively new phenomenon, the awe-filled atheist. I noticed it first when Christopher Hitchens started talking about the awe he felt when looking through the Hubble Telescope. Of course Richard Dawkins had already published ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’ and had already talked about ‘awe’ and ‘wonder’. And suddenly everybody on this site seemed to spend their whole lives looking through telescopes and microscopes and feeling awe. It was really annoying, like the latest dance craze or the latest trendy figure of speech. Everyone was trying to outdo everyone else with ever greater professions of the awe they felt about being alive. I didn’t believe a word of it. Life went on as it always had, shopping, standing in queues, going to work, creosoting the fence, watching TV and reading. I think atheists were afraid that the faithful had cornered the market in awe and wonder and were determined to grab some of it for themselves, regardless of whether they actually felt it or not.

      • In reply to #95 by keith:

        I think atheists were afraid that the faithful had cornered the market in awe and wonder and were determined to grab some of it for themselves, regardless of whether they actually felt it or not.

        One line of defence by the religious is that atheists are over-rational and unfeeling and that religion makes you brim over with joy at the wonders of nature and art because it is all God’s work. A glance at a line-up of religious dignitaries is enough to show that any claim that these dry old sticks are swept with powerful emotion and rapturous bliss, inaccessible to atheists, is laughable. However, taking the claims of the religious the least bit seriously, leads to laboured statements of the bleedin’ obvious. No, it isn’t necessary, and doesn’t even help, to think that Yahweh did it, to be amazed by the night sky or a stupendous backhand down the line by Roger Federer. No, you don’t have to be a Christian to be transfixed by the Ghent altarpiece. Why would you have to be a Muslim to get aesthetic pleasure from the Taj Mahal, a monarchist to visit Versailles or Balinese to be hypnotised by the playing of a gamelan orchestra? Yet, Christian apologists make nonsensical claims to spiritual superiority and countering them can make for a rather petty discussion.

        • In reply to #96 by aldous:

          You may be right that religious people feel no more awe than atheists, yet I don’t believe it. I think just as children see magic in the world due to Disney, Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books (all fictions), so religious people feel awe because of what they imagine is behind our universe (another fiction). If I were to believe that there is a kind being up there who created us all and who watches over us, I too would feel differently about the world. It would feel a warmer place. A world made by a very big and powerful father-figure seems more human than the cold, indifferent forces that really made the world. The fact that the truth is more important to me than feeling warm and safe is neither here nor there when it comes to my previous comment.

          But even if I concede that atheists feel just as much awe as the religious (something I have never disputed until I wrote the above paragraph), this is still irrelevant to my point which was: atheists sometimes feel pressured into feeling awe and wonder after Hitchens and Dawkins pointed out that religious people seem to have had a monopoly on those feelings. Until a decade ago you never heard swarms of atheists claiming to feel small and insignificant when they gaze up at the night sky. Now you can’t open an atheist webpage without reading such professions. This is a new phenomenon, rather like Smart Phones and Crocs.

          • In reply to #97 by keith:

            Until a decade ago you never heard swarms of atheists claiming to feel small and insignificant when they gaze up at the night sky.

            You are small and insignificant in comparison to the entire universe.

          • In reply to #97 by keith:

            But even if I concede that atheists feel just as much awe as the religious (something I have never disputed until I wrote the above paragraph), this is still irrelevant to my point which was: atheists sometimes feel pressured into feeling awe and wonder after Hitchens and Dawkins pointed out that religious people seem to have had a monopoly on those feelings.

            Religious people often claim a monopoly of awe and wonder, but that is largely an emotional expression of incredulity and magic belief, as a substitute for understanding.

            Until a decade ago you never heard swarms of atheists claiming to feel small and insignificant when they gaze up at the night sky. Now you can’t open an atheist webpage without reading such professions.

            You tend to find astronomers and cosmologists expressing awe at the scale and detail of the universe since we have acquired images from the latest space telescopes.

            Those with scientific inclinations have been following these discoveries and watching the amazing rate at which our knowledge has been expanding.

            Theist AWE derived from abandoning attempts to understand in favour of the befuddled incredulity of god-did-it, is not the same as thinking about the awesome discoveries which are being made using the tools of science.

          • You tend to find astronomers and cosmologists expressing awe at the scale and detail of the universe since we have acquired images from the latest space telescopes.

            And even today, many theists would just assume that those people expressing awe and wonder were religious. These days atheists even have the cheek to claim they have morals.

            In reply to #112 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #97 by keith:

            But even if I concede that atheists feel just as much awe as the religious (something I have never disputed until I wrote the above paragraph), this is still irrelevant to my point which was: atheists sometimes feel pressured into feeling awe and wonder after Hitchens and…

  25. In reply to number 53 by kenm. You say Muslims revere Jesus (second only to Muhammad). According to Islam when Muhammad ascended up to heaven he met Jesus in the second heaven. Adam was in the first heaven, Joseph was in the third heaven, Enoch was in the fourth heaven, Aaron was in the fifth heaven, Moses was in the sixth heaven, and pride of place in the seventh heaven was Abraham. Abraham is the second most revered prophet in Islam.

  26. In reply to number 53 by kenm. You say Muslims revere Jesus (second only to Muhammad). According to Islam when Muhammad ascended up to heaven he met Jesus in the second heaven. Adam was in the first heaven, Joseph was in the third heaven, Enoch was in the fourth heaven, Aaron was in the fifth heaven, Moses was in the sixth heaven, and pride of place in the seventh heaven was Abraham. Abraham is the second most revered prophet in Islam.

  27. In reply to number 35 by Katy Cordeth. You say that during the Northern Ireland troubles, Christians planted bombs in public places with alarming regularity. I think you find there was a substatial number of nonbelievers who were part of the IRA and the UFF. All of these guys would have identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

    • In reply to #102 by Bob Springsteen:
      >

      I think you find there was a substatial number of nonbelievers who were part of the IRA and the UFF. All of these guys would have identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

      You have evidence for this?? Non- believers were supporters of the pro Catholic IRA or the Paisleyite protestant UFF terrorists? Why would they want either of these groups in government??

      • In reply to #111 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #102 by Bob Springsteen:

        I think you find there was a substatial number of nonbelievers who were part of the IRA and the UFF. All of these guys would have identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

        You have evidence for this?? Non- believers were supporters of the pro Catholic IRA or the Paisleyite protestant UFF terrorists? Why would they want either of these groups in government??

        There is evidence Alan. The core of the IRA was pure Communist / Atheist. Too up the documentaries of the IRA guys in prison, where they talk about collecting all their resources together and sharing everything equally. They openly talked about their communist ideology.

        And as to “Why”. It was Standard Operating Procedure for communists to ride on the coattails of issues, with the plan to take over once the struggle was done, just like they did in dear old Russian. They are still doing it today, those die hard Trotskyites. They target environmental groups now who thankfully are wise to the tactic, and eject them once they “Come out”.

        • I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous with Atheism?

          In reply to #115 by David R Allen:

          In reply to #111 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #102 by Bob Springsteen:

          I think you find there was a substatial number of nonbelievers who were part of the IRA and the UFF. All of these guys would have identified themselves as either Catholic or Protestant.

          You have evidence for this?? Non- bel…

          • In reply to #116 by Marktony:

            I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous with Atheism?

            In reply to #115 by David R Allen:

            I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous with Atheism?…

            Why were they trained in East Germany. Why did they have links with Baader Minhof, Black Sept, Japanese Red Army, Black September and The Jackal. They were part of the the KGB’s arms length revolutionary plan. While they were Irish Nationalist, in alliance with the majority Catholic population, their intention was to take over in Ireland after the “Revolution”, post ousting of the British.

            Communism is atheist in ideology. Marx said religion was opium of the masses. Stalin did a bloody deal with the clergy of the orthodox church. Stalin would leave the church alone if the church would ignore Stalin’s genocide. The following is out for Wikiepedia.

            “Marxist–Leninist atheism (Russian: Марксистско-ленинский атеизм) is a part of the wider Marxist–Leninist philosophy (the type of Marxist philosophy found in the Soviet Union), which rejects religion[1][2] and advocates a materialist understanding of nature.[3] Marxism-Leninism holds that religion is the opium of the people, in the sense of promoting passive acceptance of suffering on Earth in the hope of eternal reward. Therefore, Marxism-Leninism advocates the abolition of religion and the acceptance of atheism.[4][5] Marxist-Leninist atheism has its roots in the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin.[6]“

          • Why were they trained in East Germany. Why did they have links with Baader Minhof, Black Sept, Japanese Red Army, Black September and The Jackal. They were part of the the KGB’s arms length revolutionary plan. While they were Irish Nationalist, in alliance with the majority Catholic population, their intention was to take over in Ireland after the “Revolution”, post ousting of the British.

            Sounds like they were Catholic communists then. I’m surprised to hear the Japanese Red Army were Catholic.

            Communism is atheist in ideology.

            I class myself as an atheist because I don’t believe in any Gods.
            You obviously have a greater knowledge in this area – perhaps you could list some of the key parts of atheist ideology and point out which parts the communists liked?

            From the Wiki page on the Russian Orthodox Church:

            The Soviet government stood on a platform of antireligion, viewing the church as a “counter-revolutionary” organization and an independent voice with a great influence in society.

            and

            The Russian Orthodox Church supported the White Army in the Russian Civil War (see White movement) after the October Revolution. This may have further strengthened the Bolshevik antipathy against the church.

            So not surprising that Stalin tried to destroy the power of the church by promoting atheism and brutally suppressing the Church, but there was no underlying ‘atheist ideology’ being followed. It was about a ruthless dictator killing those that got in his way. What it does show is totalitarian states can get away with slaughtering people even without religion.

            This also from the ROC Wiki page:

            “The Soviet Union was the first state to have elimination of religion as an ideological objective. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed. Orthodox priests and believers were variously tortured, sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals, and executed.”

            Most organized religions were never outlawed. Why? Because it was the ROC that threatened state interests.

            Take a look at the Party Program of the successor to the communist party of the soviet union. Atheism not mentioned but it does say “The party is in favour of cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

            If communism is atheist ideology, how do you explain Christian Communism. These guys seem to think Jesus was a communist?

            And why did the Russian Orthodox church recently publish a calendar devoted to Stalin?

            Marx said religion was opium of the masses.

            Here is Hitchens with the actual Marx quote.

            Stalin did a bloody deal with the clergy of the orthodox church. Stalin would leave the church alone if the church would ignore Stalin’s genocide.

            Exactly. And here is Hitchens response when an audience member tried to blame atheism for the atrocities committed by Stalin.

            In reply to #118 by David R Allen:

            In reply to #116 by Marktony:

            I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous with Atheism?

            In reply to #115 by David R Allen:

            I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous wi…

        • In reply to #115 by David R Allen:

          In reply to #111 by Alan4discussion:

          There is evidence Alan. The core of the IRA was pure Communist / Atheist. Too up the documentaries of the IRA guys in prison, where they talk about collecting all their resources together and sharing everything equally. They openly talked about their communist ideology.

          Just because communist states suppressed religions along with other dissenting views, does not mean that all communists are atheists. I know quite a few left wing activists who integrate their Catholicism in their politics. The earlier southern Irish theocracy illustrates this. Xtianity will do deals to promote its influence with any flavour of politics, – be it South American or African dictators, Stalin, Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, the Mafia, or Putin.

          Tool up the documentaries of the IRA guys in prison, where they talk about collecting all their resources together and sharing everything equally.

          Didn’t some Xtians promote that view – even in bible stories?

  28. You object to manger scenes in the front of city halls? Theyre right its not hurting anyone

    You do understand people dont have to be worked up about the same shit you are and atheism is just a default position of non belief that in no way indicates that they believe that religion is evil or that any form of athiest “activism” is worthwhile not to mention they probably have a mllion things theyd rather be doing.

    [Last line removed by moderator to bring in line with our Conditions of Use, which require civility towards other users.]

  29. Let your friends know they are part of the problem. Allowing a “crime” to happen (not sure if unconstitutional equates to illegal) is the lazy person’s way of doing it themselves. When they say “it isn’t hurting anyone” what they mean is “it isn’t hurting me”. Well, just because I may not be in a car crash I witness doesn’t mean I drive past and let the victims die, even when it is their fault. Get out of the car and lend a hand, there is a wreck ahead!

  30. In reply to #116 by Marktony:

    I thought the IRA were Catholic Irish nationalists. And why do people seem to think Communism is synonymous with Atheism?

    It certainly wasn’t so in the formulation of Liberation Theology.

    It has been described as “an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor’s suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor”.[2] Detractors have called it Christianized Marxism.

    Interestingly Irish Catholic Missionaries figured quite highly in this-

    Irish missionaries, conscious of their own history as a colonized and oppressed people, had little difficulty resonating with the liberationist movements in Latin America. And the Latin American people, for their part, had little difficulty in accepting and welcoming Irish missionaries due to this shared colonial experience.

    • In reply to #121 by aldous:

      Stalin didn’t act in accordance with atheist morality since there isn’t any.

      In the God Delusion Richard asks why an atheist might feel that his beliefs (or lack thereof for the pedants) might lead him to attack another group. Well equally he accounts for the devout fundamentalist attacking (for example) homosexuals as getting them before we all get caught up in God’s rather shotgun approach to revenge (namely flooding cities, plagues, etc) that catches the believer who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now if a fundamentalist Christian might take these actions, might not a ‘fundamentalist’ atheist see an equivalence in killing Christians to avoid those Christians bringing about the end of times?

      • Stalin was an atheist trying to prevent the ‘end of times’?

        If they seriously believed these Christians were going to bring on the ‘end of times’ then would you still class them as atheist?
        Anyway, the atheists would be too busy online debating the religiosity of Hitler and Stalin to actually do anything about it.

        In reply to #122 by naskew:

        In reply to #121 by aldous:

        Stalin didn’t act in accordance with atheist morality since there isn’t any.

        In the God Delusion Richard asks why an atheist might feel that his beliefs (or lack thereof for the pedants) might lead him to attack another group. Well equally he accounts for the devout fun…

        • In reply to #123 by Marktony:

          Stalin was an atheist trying to prevent the ‘end of times’?

          No that was not really my point. It was that the argument that atheists have no reason to start any kind of battle along religious lines is flawed. Clearly religious people are a threat to us atheists and their threat might be by some be considered so realistic that it justifies a pre-emptive strike.

          If they seriously believed these Christians were going to bring on the ‘end of times’ then would you still class them as atheist?

          You do not need to be theist to believe that another human might use a weapon of mass destruction in a bid to bring about what the deluded believer might consider end of times but what to the atheist would just be mass death. You can argue that the current war on terror is just such a strike.

          • You do not need to be theist to believe that another human might use a weapon of mass destruction in a bid to bring about what the deluded believer might consider end of times but what to the atheist would just be mass death. You can argue that the current war on terror is just such a strike.

            I assume you don’t mean that the current war on terror is a Christian attempt to fulfil an ‘end of times’ prophecy, but instead you think the war on terror could be seen is an atheist attempt to limit the the ability of Islamists to attempt to bring on the end of times.

            Since the ‘war on terror’ was George Bush’s response to 9/11 (he was the first to use the expression I believe), you would be implying that George Bush is a closet atheist.

            In reply to #124 by naskew:

            In reply to #123 by Marktony:

            Stalin was an atheist trying to prevent the ‘end of times’?

            No that was not really my point. It was that the argument that atheists have no reason to start any kind of battle along religious lines is flawed. Clearly religious people are a threat to us atheists and the…

          • In reply to #125 by Marktony:

            Since the ‘war on terror’ was George Bush’s response to 9/11 (he was the first to use the expression I believe), you would be implying that George Bush is a closet atheist.

            Well I need no convincing that the current ‘war on terror’ was initiated by a Christian living in a country populated by predominantly Christian people. What I think you will find though is that if you say the war on terror is a Christian v Muslim war that you will find a lot of those Christians will deny that.

          • In reply to #126 by naskew:

            Well I need no convincing that the current ‘war on terror’ was initiated by a Christian living…

            if you say the war on terror is a Christian v Muslim war that you will find a lot of those Christians will deny that.

            Many atheists will deny that also. However, the Xian perpetrators knew that their enemy was all Muslims. They first called their Terror War a “Crusade”.

            “This crusade – this war on terrorism – is going to take a while..” Bush, Sept 16, 2001.

  31. Taking the Ten Commandment as a sample of a religious moral code, we notice that only some of the commandments are specifically religious.

    The religious ones are:
    Worship me, the Jewish tribal god./ Do not make religious idols/ Do not blaspheme against God/ Keep the Lord’s day holy

    Followers of other religions and none would not consider these as moral imperatives at all.

    The non-religious commandments are:
    Respect your parents/ Don’t commit murder/Don’t commit adultery/Don’t steal/Don’t commit perjury/Don’t covet your neighbour’s wife and other property.

    This is common ground for those of all religions and none. I don’t mean that they are instantly acceptable but that they are recognizably moral concerns. There are no specifically atheist moral precepts. So, it would be incorrect to judge Stalin for acting by these non-existent standards.

    • In reply to #128 by Len Walsh:

      Say “Sorry”.

      Piss off!!

      We “appease” women, gay folk, Muslim refugees and climate scientists quite deliberately.

      Why appease that which does not require appeasing?

      Just apologize.

      Would ya just piss off!

      Accommodationist Atheists are a bind. They give succour to arseholes. If hey have nothing constructive to say, then say nothing.

      (Battens down the hatches as he awaits the flak)

      • In reply to #129 by Ignorant Amos:

        In reply to #128 by Len Walsh:

        Piss off!!
        Would ya just piss off!

        Would ya just piss off!

        Accommodationist Atheists are a bind. They give succour to…

        You enjoy my sincere gratitude for that Iggy.

        Someone else posted this by Joseph Sobran:

        The attempt to silence a man is the greatest honour you can bestow on him. It means that you recognise his superiority to yourself.

  32. Maybe try asking them if they would prefer public funding to go to medical research rather than to some church next time they are sick.
    Then maybe they’ll realise that there is indeed a problem.

  33. As an atheist why are you intolerant of others who believe in a deity?? What is it to you. You are almost sounding like some mad man who would rid the earth of any one who doesn’t think your way!! You get involved in the Freedom From Religion Foundation… and I would guess that you would take exception to anyone who said you don’t have this right? Please give others the same rights!!

    I hope you go to work over Easter and Xmas, so as not to be taking advantage of the Christians.

    Atheism is not a movement to change the world and to wipe out all religions it’s a way of live.

    Live and let live your approach can only breed hatred!!

    • In reply to #133 by GRAViL:

      As an atheist why are you intolerant of others who believe in a deity??

      Most here are not intolerant of thoughts. It is generally the religious who promulgate the idea of thought crime. It is the behaviours, the unwarranted interference in other peoples’ lives that some religious are strongly prone to that “we” most object to, that and the maddening passivity of otherwise decent religious others in not complaining about this partisan and anti-secular behaviour amongst their own. The assumption of moral authority with no supporting evidence (at least none shareable or worthy of use in a court of law) is an arrogance so commonplace, so automatic in the religious mind, that it takes a little stridency sometimes to get you to notice what and how you are saying things.

      Are all religious prone to this unwitting arrogance? No. There are patches, growing patches, of relief from its former oppression. The very highest points of, say, Christian enlightenment for me that are adding to this release from thought policing are the Quakers. I was happy to point my young teenage daughter at them when she wanted to explore Christianity.

      They are the epitome of evidenced moral thinkers. Taking as a tenet of their faith that people themselves are the moral authors of our collective lives, that we are uniquely equipped to be so and MUST be so, moves them into the position of moral innovators. We may disagree how we (humans) came to be so equipped for moral judgements, but, frankly, who cares?

      Religious thought, without this liberating idea of being equipped for moral authorship, leaves in place the deadweight of religious moral dogma, un-evidenced, un-shareable outside the dogmatic group.

      Too many of you are driven to seek to force feed this to others’ children and far, far too many of you don’t complain about those efforts.

    • In reply to #133 by GRAViL:

      As an atheist why are you intolerant of others who believe in a deity??

      The principle of secular humanism is that everybody is free to express their religious beliefs within the law, whether they are voodooists or adherents of any other creed. This does not mean that those beliefs are exempt from discussion or debate. Protestants are free to say that Roman Catholic doctrines are wrong. It’s not only between faiths that there is disagreement but within them as well. Some Anglicans say that women can never be bishops, others disagree. There are fierce disagreements within denominations on many matters. What is not permitted in a secular state is that they should start murdering one another over their disagreements, as has happened throughout history and continues to happen today as a result of the divisions created by religion.

      Naturally, the same principles apply to those who are not attached to any religious sect. Yet this is what you seem to deny. I suggest that you are the one who is guilty of intolerance in seeking to discriminate against those without religious beliefs. Unfortunately, this intolerance is widespread and peaceful opposition to religious belief is punishable by death in a number of countries and also subject to legal repression in many others.

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