Author Topic: God is imaginary  (Read 33715 times)

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Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #464 on: August 11, 2008, 01:12:40 PM »
The people here have had the case laid out in front of them quite plainly enough.  Ignorant is only something I might give to the new "JustMe".  I can live with stupid as an alternative explanation for several of the others, though not all.  In the larger picture, the unwilling must be castigated, the ignorant must be brought to knowledge and the stupid, well, we should have not a lot of trouble pushing them into it.  After all...

Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #465 on: August 11, 2008, 01:15:17 PM »
The people here have had the case laid out in front of them quite plainly enough.  Ignorant is only something I might give to the new "JustMe".  I can live with stupid as an alternative explanation for several of the others, though not all.  In the larger picture, the unwilling must be castigated, the ignorant must be brought to knowledge and the stupid, well, we should have not a lot of trouble pushing them into it.  After all...

lol, well in fact, this is what most Christians believe will happen in the "last days"

Talk about manifest destiny. Lead the way Dave!!!

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #466 on: August 11, 2008, 01:23:46 PM »
...and adds his sure-to-be-unpopular opinion of those points and the knee-jerk responses start.

This made me laugh and reminded me of this, which Red linked to a while back, about the relationship between pleasantries and scary facts and success rate.

I'll tell you what, though, DTE.  When I start up, maybe my way isn't the most popular.  But as has been noted here, it has not been entirely ignored, and the people who have taken my side are good people and the kind I like best which means, particularly for starting out, they are the ones we need the most.  At some point, those people will take a greater role (which is fine) and start phasing me out into other places (also fine) for greater effectiveness and success.  Like what you have just done.  Everyone has a personal role to play.  I have known and said from the beginning that it is not my place to be at the forefront of this forever.  But I am important now.  This, at the beginning, is where I put together people who are capable of grasping the larger picture effectively.  GG and others like him don't get it, so they slap on a one-dimensional label and call me a power hungry madman.  It's not true at all.  I just know that I can help the people that are the really really best ones find each other.  When we stand together, we do so as peers.  When we act, we put effectiveness first and accept that and embrace that as the route to problem-solving.  All of that IS what MY plan is, to play MY personal role.  I do not intend to create a plan beyond that, because that's not my place and it's not where I am best put to work.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2008, 01:26:38 PM by Davedave »

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #467 on: August 11, 2008, 01:29:01 PM »
lol, well in fact, this is what most Christians believe will happen in the "last days"

Talk about manifest destiny. Lead the way Dave!!!

It's "last days" all right.

Offline Assyriankey

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #468 on: August 11, 2008, 02:12:01 PM »
The thing is, though, I’m not going to make the issue either Dd’s broad brushed, “anyone” nor his conclusion that they are demonstrable liars. Why? Because I don’t care whether Dave thinks that or whether he’s actually correct. I care about results—not just here, but in all of my life—and contending with Dave about whether they’re all demonstrable liars or that I have a point about ignorance and stupidity does nothing to produce results.

So you want to be allowed to highlight davedave's slur (liars), then expand upon it (ignorance and stupidity) but you are not interested in defending either of these statements.  I too think discussing them is a waste of time but for different reasons.  Say no more.

Your careful comment on each of davedave's 5 points only confirmed to me the ridiculously obvious content of his plan.  Surely there must be more to it than that?

It’s neither the issue nor the fight. The fight is against the discrimination against rational atheists (us) by superstitious atheists (the mainstream religious) and Dave has laid the case that we’re not effective in that fight.

Aaah, it's a case rather than a plan.  My bad : )

Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #469 on: August 11, 2008, 02:17:07 PM »
lol, well in fact, this is what most Christians believe will happen in the "last days"

Talk about manifest destiny. Lead the way Dave!!!

It's "last days" all right.

That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

Offline DTE

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #470 on: August 11, 2008, 02:24:21 PM »
Quote
That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

As I understand it, that's a reasonable point. Just to be clear, you're contending that the bible's "last days” persecution of Christians could be seen in an aggressive, or militant, approach. Correct?

If so, I think the point loses steam in McWilliams’ observation that only “serious” Christians would cling to such a thing; I’ve addressed those persons in my Culling the Christians post above.

Further, being challenged, even strongly challenged for their beliefs and the implications of those beliefs does not rise to the level of “last days” persecution, nor does the loss of favored political status. I don’t doubt, however, the zaniest Christians would find biblical parallels, but that gets us right back to McWilliams’ point.
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Offline Red McWilliams

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #471 on: August 11, 2008, 02:40:26 PM »
Your careful comment on each of davedave's 5 points only confirmed to me the ridiculously obvious content of his plan.  Surely there must be more to it than that?


It sure does seem obvious, yet for some reason, non believers have never gathered together, rationally discussed  the most effective ways to combat theism, devised ways to test those ideas, then discussed the results and isolated the most effective options.

Clearly, it's something we should do, yet there appears to be considerable resistance to doing this.
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Offline john

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #472 on: August 11, 2008, 02:51:26 PM »
That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

Very well.  What do you recommend?
If anything can mean everything, then nothing can mean anything.
I can also be found at isgodimaginary.com

Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #473 on: August 11, 2008, 03:07:37 PM »
That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

Very well.  What do you recommend?

Nothing. You're euchred with these kinds of people. If you stoop to their level of militancy they'll take it as a sign that the end is nigh.

If you come at them with a whole bunch of snuggly niceties they'll accuse you of being a wolf in sheeps clothing.


Just give up now.  ;D

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #474 on: August 11, 2008, 03:28:30 PM »
That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

Everything will be taken as a sign their revelations are real.  Every time an earthquake knocks over a few groceries in the supermarket, it's a sign that the impending fury of the Creator of the Universe is in its opening stages.  I don't think we're quite so stupid as to allow that to dissuade necessary action.  Backlash from Christians is no reason to stop.  In fact, it's all the more reason to redouble our efforts.  The idea that some group of superstitious nutjobs might paralyze progress is exactly why we have to fight back.

« Last Edit: August 11, 2008, 03:34:18 PM by Davedave »

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #475 on: August 11, 2008, 03:34:50 PM »
Just give up now.

Ha ha.  John gets the answer he deserves.

Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #476 on: August 11, 2008, 03:38:59 PM »
That's my point. Becoming more militant, decrying religion and threatening actions like "castigating those unwilling" will be taken as a sign their revelations are real. You're making it happen. You're doing them a favour and I think that's what you're missing.

Everything will be taken as a sign their revelations are real.  Every time an earthquake knocks over a few groceries in the supermarket, it's a sign that the impending fury of the Creator of the Universe is in its opening stages.  I don't think we're quite so stupid as to allow that to dissuade necessary action.  Backlash from Christians is no reason to stop.  In fact, it's all the more reason to redouble our efforts.  The idea that some group of superstitious nutjobs might paralyze progress is exactly why we have to fight back.


Except that in your case your actions are a choice. An earthquake is not a choice.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #477 on: August 11, 2008, 03:41:48 PM »
Well, the earthquakes are already happening.  Why fight it?

Offline john

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #478 on: August 11, 2008, 03:49:13 PM »
Just give up now.

Ha ha.  John gets the answer he deserves.

I wasn't expecting more, but I did demonstrate that JTW has no real interest in advancing the discussion.
If anything can mean everything, then nothing can mean anything.
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Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #479 on: August 11, 2008, 03:57:30 PM »
Well, the earthquakes are already happening.  Why fight it?

Why add to it?

Offline JTW

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #480 on: August 11, 2008, 03:58:29 PM »
Just give up now.

Ha ha.  John gets the answer he deserves.

I wasn't expecting more, but I did demonstrate that JTW has no real interest in advancing the discussion.

This discussion hasn't advanced in several pages. Don't look at me.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #481 on: August 11, 2008, 04:00:47 PM »
Why add to it?

Um, because I don't care?

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #482 on: August 11, 2008, 04:16:36 PM »
This discussion hasn't advanced in several pages. Don't look at me.

Well, Assy got an answer to his question.  I'm sure it proves that I continue to evade questions that do something to my something.

Offline L6

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #483 on: August 11, 2008, 04:30:41 PM »
This is observably true. Even if the group is not particularly effective or bright, it will do better with a coordinated, results-driven plan than without. It’s why sales teams with quotas outperform better trained teams sans quotas.
My entire job is centered around tracking marketing dollars for the sole purpose of measuring effectiveness of campaigns. Even questions as (relatively) simple as "how many units were sold per each of these here dollars?" and "what is the lifetime value of a member obtained from these here dollars" are not always easy to answer, because even though my eyes are on every step of the process, there is also money coming in and going out that is impossible to track with today's technology.

Even if "effectiveness" is defined for an as-of-yet atheistic cause, the challenge of tracking it is a big one. Even if it's a tangible result, such as getting someone elected or getting a law passed, we might lack reliable feedback as to whether (or how much) our efforts specifically contributed toward that result.

I'm happy to help figure that out, but I can't do that until a goal is set and criteria for effectiveness are given.
God's existence is contingent upon the illusion that morality is dictated by religious authority.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #484 on: August 11, 2008, 04:39:41 PM »
It's not about perfection.  It's about process.  It's about the fact that we are mindful and looking, that effectiveness is on our minds.  Clearly, not everything will be possible to nail down exactly.  That's life.  But we can make a conscious effort to deploy our efforts in ways that make comparison and tracking easier.  That's how we would do it if we were serious about it.  The organization that hired you to do this for them understands that perfection isn't possible, but you do what you can to get the best data you can and perform suitable analyses.  They must be fairly serious about achieving a better marketing strategy.  There are plenty of businesses that don't do those kinds of investigations.  Those businesses obviously aren't serious about their marketing.  Are we serious about our efforts to market our ideology?  If so, I suggest implementing a rational process of investigation and evaluation.  Something about that seems to scare the crap out of a number of the atheists here, though when I speculate why that might be, my opinions are ... sure-to-be-unpopular.

Offline L6

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #485 on: August 11, 2008, 04:57:47 PM »
To compare results of different methods, each method needs to have the same goal and thus same criteria for effectiveness (or a function to transform results into a common denominator). Why not brainstorm a variety of methods, see which would be easiest to measure and track, and then attempt them based on effort versus estimated effectiveness?
God's existence is contingent upon the illusion that morality is dictated by religious authority.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #486 on: August 11, 2008, 05:09:42 PM »
Because this involves testing on a society-wide scale and we wouldn't currently have the resources to even undertake the two easiest ones.  We can't get a bus ad in the most atheistic city in the world.  We can't manage to get people to send letters with $5 inside.  So the first order of business is organizing.

Offline L6

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #487 on: August 11, 2008, 05:56:09 PM »
Certainly methods can be tried on sample sizes of "society". No marketing effort is ever seriously mounted without running tests first. If you want $5 from everyone, spend $X of your own money, and perform a test. Given you can measure results, show how those $X converted, project how $X*Y would convert (convert as in result/dollar spent), and show what $5 will accomplish. Then ask for $5 from everyone to A) recoup your original cost and either B) mount a larger campaign or C) run another test, using the same methology on a different target.

Taking the bus ad example, there should already be some data available on its effectiveness. FFRF and FreeThoughtAction have both put up highway billboards. I'm sure they would be willing to share information about their metrics. Then cross-reference that with other data in other markets on the effectiveness of billboards vs bus ads, and assume the correlation would be the same for whatever metric you're measuring.

Being organized for its own sake isn't enough. Imagine you're a kid on the playground, shouting, "Everyone who wants to play, come here!" Even if every kid on the playground came to you, they'd quickly leave to do their own thing if you didn't present them with your idea of having fun right away. Hold up a big red kickball, however, and yell, "Everyone who wants to play kickball, come here!" and you're practically done, because everybody knows what the methodology of kickball is.

Now hold up a plastic yellow ball and yell, "Everyone who wants to play Yellowball, come here!" All the kids come to you and say, "Oh I wanna play. How do you play Yellowball?", which is asking about the methodology. But you don't have an answer, so they lose interest. "But Yellowall is more fun than kickball!" Okay, how do we play it? "That's not up to me. The first step was getting you all here; now you need to make up the game." But why would we do that, when we were having fun at kickball? "Kickball isn't as fun as Yellowball COULD be, if only you'd invent it with me." Hmm...how about we go play kickball, and when you have the rules ready, we'll give Yellowball a shot.

That's reality, and it's not irrational.

Edit: verb tenses

Edit: you can't expect to get people to stop playing kickball to help you come up with yellowball; you need to find people who either don't like kickball or whom you can convince that there is a better game out there somewhere, if only you can work together to find it
« Last Edit: August 11, 2008, 06:09:37 PM by L6 »
God's existence is contingent upon the illusion that morality is dictated by religious authority.

Offline JustMe

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #488 on: August 11, 2008, 06:04:17 PM »
Davedave, sometimes you make some good points, and I think the core idea of measuring results and conducting experiments to determine what works and what doesn't is a great one. I wish you could just state that more clearly in less space. I support that idea. It seems pretty obvious, really. If only you could avoid going off on tangents about people being lazy and stupid and something about sloshball and ripping Christian's hearts out, you'd be so much further ahead. But enough with the criticism, on to some thoughts and suggestions.

As has been pointed out, it's difficult to measure these sorts of things, but  the effort is worthwhile. So, open question to anyone: How would you measure our success?

I think a first step is to get a baseline of exactly where we are now. People throw statistics around, but does anyone have an actual analysis of religious belief by geographic area, or we all just pulling numbers out of nowhere? What's the best statistical analysis we currently have available, and how often is it updated? Also, do we have a summary of the strength of the atheist community right now? As in, how many people are active, how many associations are there, how many different campaigns are going on? Do we have answers to these questions? If so, they should be prominently displayed on atheist community websites (which I haven't visited many of, but I notice no such measures are displayed here). This would communicate to new recruits that we measure ourselves, so it may be a way of "unifying our base". Also, collecting this type of information helps make a solid case to potential cash donors.

Also, it would be good to get a list of all of the different methods that are currently being tried. Different success metrics may apply to different methods, but each method should have something measurable attached to it, if possible. With things like "Meme vaccines" it might be very hard to measure, because what you're talking about is the spread of ideas. Does anyone have an idea how we can get around this? Another issue is that what gets measured gets done, so we need to be careful about our metrics. For example, call centers (which are great users of metrics) run into a lot of problems with "gaming the system". For example, if the metric is average call time, the customer service level goes down, and customers have to call back more, and in the end the measurement is counter-productive.

Another thing - if we're building an actual organization, we need people willing to devote time and effort to the organization, outside of this forum and its moderation and administration. Example activities would be tracking our progress, linking with other organizations, finding out if there are other organizations doing the same thing, and managing the collection and spending of cash on various projects. Anyone else have ideas about the structure we should have, or the activities the organization should undertake? Volunteers?

Just throwing some thoughts out here. L6, thumbs up for excellent posts.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #489 on: August 11, 2008, 06:09:50 PM »
L6,

I think that attitude is part of the problem.  We cannot wait for someone else to hand us solutions.  We have to develop them ourselves.  The children analogy is unfortunate because though it may reflect a reality, it is that reality of a childish view of this that continues to hamper us.  The truth is that I wouldn't expect a bus ad to have the effect intended alone, any more than Coca-Cola relies on bus ads to create their market awareness.  If I pass out flyers for a new Italian restaraunt, some people may look at the ad and come in.  But we don't have an "in" and its doubtful that the nature of what we are talking about is scalable.  I spoke earlier about emergent properties and branding is an emergent property of advertising.  Since what is under discussion here is a social movement, the pieces of it are almost certainly not going to be additive.  That is not to say that bus ads aren't important or that your suggestions about examining bus ads aren't in the right vein.  It's just that we should not have expectations of spend dollar, win convert.  The reference to the bus ads and the Five Dollar Campaign was merely an indication of the state of our community.

That's why I have said from the start here that this is going to require everyone to embrace their personal role as a necessary part of action.  It is also what I mean when I say that this process will help us develop the skills necessary to properly plant our flag against religion.  We will NOT be like children on the playground anymore.  We will have grown up.  We will be adults and purposeful and I just don't think that the kids on the playground will be able to long resist the will of such a group.

Offline L6

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #490 on: August 11, 2008, 06:13:45 PM »
It's just that we should not have expectations of spend dollar, win convert.
You're quite right. It's spend dollar, make more than a dollar back. The converts are just an intermediary.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2008, 06:15:55 PM by L6 »
God's existence is contingent upon the illusion that morality is dictated by religious authority.

Offline Davedave

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #491 on: August 11, 2008, 06:15:37 PM »
Do go on...

Offline L6

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Re: God is imaginary
« Reply #492 on: August 11, 2008, 06:28:02 PM »
Sorry, trying to tie up things at work here.

Think of the churches. Their goal is not to get more converts. It's to make money. The whole "saving people" thing is just a front. An atheist cause should really be no different than that, a good cover story to make money. To think otherwise is too idealogical, IMO; we live in a capitalist country, so any solution for social change we devise needs to work within that framework.

If one of our methods for social change is to influence elections, and another to pass laws, those are simply expenses that take away from our net profit. The purpose of either of these methods may appear to be for social change, but the real purpose behind them is to retain converts so that they'll continue to give money. "See what we're using your money for, and see what good it did (show a fancy chart and some statistics)? Give us more!"

The churches are big enough that they have their hands in many secular businesses. They're getting money from people who aren't even in their camp. If you've eaten at In 'N Out burger, you've given to the Mormons, for example. I practically give money to religion simply by existing.

Is there a way we can get money from religious people? Sell home communion kits with pre-consecrated wafers for old people who can't go to church, for example? (Damn, that might not be a bad idea.) Old people won't be around for long and won't be converted, anyway, so get money from them to use against the next generation.
God's existence is contingent upon the illusion that morality is dictated by religious authority.